The Fashion Shoot

He sat there in his studio, deep in thought.  It was after seven and it was getting dark outside.  Still, he wasn’t ready to leave.  He wanted to sit there for a while longer to sort out his mind which was in a muddle.  He had taken scores of photos.  After all, he was a renowned photographer in the fashion and entertainment world.  He had taken photos of many beautiful and exotic women but not once had he ever wanted to become romantically involved with any of them—that was until he met Roxane.  The moment she walked into his studio, he knew he was in trouble.

He reached over and pulled out the top drawer of his desk.  He pulled out a copy of the black and white photos he had shot of her on that first day of their photo shoot.  It was a profile of her standing facing the café across the street.  The white, sleeveless dress she wore hugged her figure.  As he snapped her, he found it difficult to keep it professional.  There were moments when it wasn’t a photographer looking through those lenses at a beautiful model but a man looking at a woman whom he was attracted to.

Each time they saw each other, it got worse.  His attraction for her began to affect his work.  He wanted to see her outside of business but he wasn’t sure if she would want to be in a relationship with him.  For all he knew, she could already be in one.  He put the photo back and as he was about to close the drawer, his eyes fell on the model release.  He took it out and immediately his thoughts went to the day when Roxane signed it.  He leaned back in the chair, his eyes darkening at the memory of what almost happened between them.

He had just taken a shower at the studio when he heard the bell ring.   He quickly pulled on his shirt and went to answer the door.  It was Roxane.  She smiled at him, making his heart stop.  He stepped aside to let her in.  As he turned to face her after closing the door, her eyes dropped to his bare torso.  “How did you get this?” she asked, touching the jagged scar on his right side.

Strong feelings coursed through him at the touch of her fingers on his skin.  He grasped her hand, his breath quickening and he moved them away.  For a brief, maddening moment he was tempted to pull her against him and kiss her but reason won over emotions.

Releasing her hand, he walked past her, his hands shaking as he fastened the buttons on his shirt.  “I have the release form for you to sign,” he said tautly.  “It’s over there on the desk.  While you read it over I’ll go and finish getting dressed.”  He walked out of the room, his back rigid.

From that day forward, he resolved to keep his feelings in check and keep it strictly business.  It wasn’t easy, though.

The beeping from his watch reminded him that it was time to leave.  He sat up, put the release form back into the drawer and closed it.  He got up from the desk, grabbed his car keys and switched off the desk lamp.  The lights from the street crept into the room.  He did a quick look around to make sure everything was okay before he walked to the door.

He opened it and started when he found himself staring down into Roxane’s face.  He stiffened at once, his expression wary.  “What are you doing here?” he asked.

“I needed to see you,” she said quietly.  “I took a taxi over because I wanted to get here as fast as I could.”

“I was just leaving.”

“Please, Raphael, may I come in?” she asked, her expression earnest. “I really need to talk to you.”

He stepped aside so that she could go in.  He turned on the light by the door after closing it.  He turned to face her.  “What do you need to talk to me about?”

Roxane looked at him, her heart pounding.  She was not good at expressing herself.  She got all nervous.  She began to wonder if she should have come here tonight.  On the way over to the studio it seemed a very risky thing to do because she didn’t know what kind of reception she would receive.  Lately, he had seemed so distant but she convinced herself that it was something she needed to do.  However, now that she was standing there, face to face with him, she didn’t feel so brave.  Taking a deep breath, she said what she came to say.  “Things have changed between us and it’s affecting how we relate to each other.”

He swallowed hard.  “I have to be honest with you,” he muttered tightly.  “It’s difficult for me to be professional around you when I’m attracted to you.  It’s affecting my work.”

Relief washed over her and she took a step closer to him, her eyes shining.  “I didn’t know that you felt this way,” she said.  “I thought you changed towards me because you were aware of my feelings for you.”

“That day when you touched my scar, I was really tempted to kiss you.”

“How did you get the scar?”

“From an appendectomy.”

She reached out and raised his tee shirt to look at the scar.  He thought she was going to touch it again and braced himself for it.  But, instead, she bent her head and pressed her lips against it, making his gasp.  Heat coursed through his body and he shuddered.  She raised her head and looked at him, her mouth going dry when she saw the expression on his face.  Then, his hands were pulling her roughly against him and his lips were ravaging hers.  She put her arms around his neck and kissed him back wildly.  She had taken a chance coming here tonight and it had paid off.

 

Source:  Art Law Journal

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The Wedding

Her heart was racing.  She hoped she looked presentable in her V-neck floral knee length summer dress and the pair of wedges which she thought looked better than the pumps she had considered wearing.  To complete the look, she wore the lovely olive leaf pendant which Paolo had given her for her birthday.

“Mama, incontrare Roxane, il mio fidanzato,” Paolo announced as he presented Roxane before his mother who was sitting on an expensive looking sofa backing an antique grandfather clock with two small tables on either side on which sat figurines and decorative vases with flowers in them and oil paintings above them.  It was a beautiful room but she didn’t have time to admire it.  She was standing in front of the woman who was soon to be her mother-in-law and a mighty sense of foreboding came over her.  It was as if her happiness depended upon this meeting.

A pair of dark brown eyes stared up at her.  There was no warmth or welcome in her expression.  She just looked Roxane over and then she turned to Paolo and said, “Voglio parlare con te solo.”

Paolo’s expression was grim when he turned to Roxane.  “Would you excuse us, darling?  My mother wishes to have a word with me.”

She nodded and after glancing at his mother whose eyes were still on Paolo, she turned and quickly left the room.  There was an accent chair where she sat down.  It faced the door of the room she had just left.

She sat there on edge, her heart racing as she heard the voices in the next room.  She knew that they were talking about her.  She was the reason why they were in Milan where his mother and sister lived.  They were there to meet them.  Paolo’s sister Annabella had driven them over to the house.  Annabella was very warm and friendly.  Roxane felt better after having met her, however, when they were alone, Annabella used that as an opportunity to warn her not to get her hopes up about her mother accepting her.

“I’m not sure if Paolo told you this but when he was in his twenties, he was engaged to a girl named Gianna.  He brought her here to meet Mama but Mama refused to approve the match and the engagement was broken off.”

Alarmed, she asked, “Why didn’t your mother approve of her?”

“She was Sicilian.  Mama thinks all Sicilians are involved with the Mafia.  I know it sounds foolish but that was her reason.”

“What if she doesn’t approve of me, will Paolo break off our engagement too?”

Annabella shook her head.  “I don’t think so.  He loves you.”

“But didn’t he love Gianna too?”

“It was more of an infatuation.  It would have fizzled out even if Mama had approved of her.”

“Annabella, I’m so nervous and afraid.”

Annabella smiled and squeezed her hand.  “No matter what happens, Paolo loves you and he will marry you.”

At the time Roxane was grateful for the warning but now she was filled with trepidation.  She loved Paolo and was afraid of losing him.  It was clear from their encounter just now that his mother didn’t approve of her.  She had looked her over and didn’t like what she saw.  There was no smile or greeting–nothing but a critical look.  This was the second time his mother disapproved of the woman he wanted to marry.  Will the outcome be the same?

“è troppo scura!” his mother sounded angry.

Paolo said something which she couldn’t make out.

“Aspettare e sposare una ragazza italiana che non è siciliana,” his mother retorted.

“Mama, Io vado a sposare Roxane perché l’amo e non importa quello che dici.”

Shortly afterwards, the door was flung open and Paolo strode out of the room, his expression thunderous.  He strode over to Roxane and muttered, “Let’s go.  Our business here is over.”

Roxane got to her feet and grabbing her hand he hurried from the room.  He looked so angry that she daren’t say anything at the moment.  Annabella was in the courtyard when they came out of the house.  From the expression on her brother’s face, she could tell that things had not gone well.  Like Roxane, she didn’t ask any questions.  Instead, she said, “I’ll drive you back to the hotel.”

Paolo got into the back of the car with Roxane and he held her hand as they sat there not saying anything.  Annabella turned on the radio breaking the silence with news and music.

When they arrived at the hotel, she got out of the car and hugged them both.  “Roxane, it was really nice meeting you.  I hope to see you again very soon.  Paolo, I’m sorry things didn’t go as you hoped but I hope that it wouldn’t spoil the rest of your trip.  Call me if you need anything.”

He nodded with a smile and then she was gone.  He put his arm around Roxane’s shoulders as they walked through the lobby and headed upstairs to their suite.  Once they were alone, he took her over the sofa and they sat down.  “You must know by now that my mother doesn’t approve of you,” he said.  “Her reason was that you are too dark.”

Roxane lowered her eyes so that he wouldn’t see the hurt in them.  All her life she had been conscious of her dark color even among her own relatives.  They were surprised that a man like Paolo would be attracted to her let alone want to marry her.  “What did you say to that?”

“I told her that when I look at you, I don’t see a woman who is too dark but a beautiful woman with lovely dark skin.  The first time I saw you I couldn’t get over how exquisite you were.”  He bent his head then and kissed her on the side of her neck.

“What else did she say?” she asked, breathless, her skin tingling from where his lips had been.  She looked at him then.

“She said that I should wait and marry an Italian girl who is not Sicilian.”

“Annabella told me about Gianna.  Did you love her?”

He shook his head.  “I was infatuated with her but no, I wasn’t in love with her.”

“So, what did you tell your mother after she told you to wait and marry someone else?”

“I told her that I am going to marry you because I love you and it doesn’t matter what she says.”

“So, you are going against her wishes?”

“Yes.  My mother’s wishes are irrelevant.  I’m a grown man, Roxane.  I know what I want and I want you.  I want to marry you.

Putting her arms around his neck, she kissed him and he responded passionately.  A moment later, he raised his head to gaze at her, his eyes dark and smoldering.  “I love you so much,” he murmured huskily.

“I love you too.”

“Let’s get married here in Milan,” he said.

She drew back slightly to look at him, her eyes wide. “Get married here in Milan?” she exclaimed.

He nodded.  “Yes.  We’ll invite just Annabella and a few friends.”

The thought of getting married here in Milan never once occurred to her but she liked it.  “Yes, let’s do it.”

“I’ll call Annabella later and ask her to make the arrangements.  I’m sure she will be thrilled.”

“Not as thrilled as I am at the moment,” she said before she kissed him.

Three days later their wedding day arrived bright and sunny and without any hitch.  They got married in the same church where Paolo was christened.  Afterwards, they were whisked off to a friend’s villa where the reception was held.  Everything was wonderful—the decorations, the food, the music.  Everyone had a great time.  Noticeably missing was Paolo’s mother but that didn’t dampen his spirits.  He didn’t expect her to come even though he had invited her at Roxane’s suggestion.  In spite of how his mother felt about her, she still felt that she should at least be invited to the wedding and it was up to her to accept or refuse the invitation.

“You look absolutely beautiful,” he told Roxane as he took in his arms for their first dance.

She was wearing an elegant off the shoulder wedding gown which she was fortunate to find and purchase at such short notice.  Annabella had gone to the bridal shop with her one morning and the moment she saw the dress, she knew it was the one.  She tried it on and it was a perfect fit.

She smiled now at Paolo who looked very handsome in his tuxedo.  “You don’t look so bad yourself,” she teased. She turned her head and looked at her hand resting on his chest so that he wouldn’t see the tears in her eyes.  She was so happy.  They had a perfect day for their wedding and tonight was simply magical.  His mother’s absence hadn’t spoiled it for her.  She wished, though, her parents could have been there.

He rested his forehead against hers.  “I’m sorry that your parents couldn’t be here,” he said as if reading her thoughts.

“Me too,” she said.  “But, I’m not sorry that we got married here instead of in London as we had planned.  I loved the church and this villa is amazing.  And we get to have our honeymoon here too.  I couldn’t be happier.”

He smiled.  “I’m relieved to hear that.  I want to make you as happy as you have made me.”

She looked at him then, her eyes shining with tears.  “You have made me extremely happy, Paolo, more than you can ever imagine.”

He lowered his head and kissed her as they swayed to the music.

 

happy new wed interracial couple in wedding mood

Sources:  Glam Radar; eBay

The Candlelight Dinner

Renee got into her car and drove over to Callum’s flat.  He had invited her over for dinner.  When she told her friends, they were shocked.  They couldn’t believe that a bookworm had much of a social life.  They concluded that although he was very attractive, no woman would want to date a man who spent most of his time with his nose buried in old and used books.  Renee didn’t agree with them.  She thought Callum was remarkable and enjoyed spending time with him, listening to him relate the interesting stories he read.  He had a penchant for folklore.  His love for books was really quite endearing.  She especially liked it when he recited poetry in that deep, velvety voice of his.  Sometimes the words spilled from his lips like a caress.

She didn’t know exactly when it happened but she had fallen in love with Callum.  It wasn’t something she had intended and she wasn’t sure how she would be able to continue seeing him without betraying her feelings.  Perhaps, he wouldn’t even notice.  Books were his passion and he didn’t seem interested in being in a relationship.  She sighed.  It was just her luck to fall in love with a booklover.

The first time they met it was at a library.  She was reading a book on Greek Mythology when he went over to her.  At first he seemed more interested in the book than in her.  His eyes were riveted on it for several minutes before they rose to her face where they remained.  He smiled at her then and held out his hand.  She shook his hand, thinking what an attractive man he was with dark brown hair falling rakishly across his forehead, green eyes behind a pair of glasses.  He was dressed in a dark green shirt, black vest and black slacks.  He was tall and slender.  She invited him to join her.

He sat next to her and they had a very animated conversation about the contents of the book she was reading and other such books.  Time flew and it was time to go.  They arranged to meet again the following evening at the library.  And after meeting there a few nights in a row, they exchanged numbers and they saw each other frequently.   They met for coffee, went for lunch, had dinner a few times and for went walks in the park, always talking about books.

Whenever they were out together, she observed other women admiring him but he didn’t seem to notice at all.   She wondered what he would do if she were to kiss him on the spur of the moment.  The idea had occurred to her but she thought better of it.  Tonight, she hoped that they would talk about other things besides books of every genre.

She arrived at his flat.  She grabbed the bottle of wine that was on the passenger seat and climbed out of the car.  As she walked toward the entrance she drew admiring glances from the group of men who were standing there.  How she wished that Callum would look at her like that.  Perhaps tonight he will.  She was wearing a white dress with broad straps which hugged her figure and the earrings she had picked up from a thrift store.

As she stood outside his door, her heart began to pound.  She suddenly felt nervous as if she were going on a date for the first time.  Calm yourself, she told herself.  Take a deep breath.  A few seconds passed as she pulled herself together, then she raised her hand and pressed the doorbell.

The door opened almost immediately and Callum stood there.  His eyes traveled over her and she detected admiration and something else in them.  “You look amazing,” he commented as he stepped aside for her to enter the foyer.  He closed the door and locked it.  When he turned to face her, she was tempted to reach up and kiss him but instead, she handed him the bottle of wine.   “Oh, thank you,” he said, taking it from her.   “Let me give you a quick tour of my place.”

She removed her slingbacks and followed him.  They went through the living-room which was very spacious and cozy.  He put the bottle of wine on the kitchen counter. “Something smells delicious,” she said.  It smelled like Indian food which she loved.

He smiled.  “We’re having Chicken Tikka Masala.”

“Sounds great.”  They passed by the washroom and paused outside of the bedroom door.  He switched on the light and she looked around the room.  It was immaculate, and decidedly masculine with its colors and wood furniture.  From the window, you could see the Tower Bridge. Beside the window, there was an armchair.  Mostly he sat there and read before turning into bed.  Her gaze went irresistibly to the bed.  It was so perfectly made up, it looked like something out of one of those home decor magazines.  Unbidden, came the thought, has any woman been in that bed?  It aroused jealousy in her.

“No woman has shared my bed,” he said, startling her.  Her eyes were wide as they met his.  Had he read her mind?  “You’re the first woman I have ever invited to my place.” There was a curious expression on his face as he stood there looking at her and then he turned away.  “Let’s finish the tour.”  He switched off the light and started down the corridor.  She followed him, chiding herself for being so transparent.

They paused outside of a doorway and he turned on the light.  It was a library, with four book shelves, lined with books and a desk facing the window.  “This is my favorite room,” he said.  He looked at her.  “I’m sure that comes as no surprise to you.”

She frowned, thinking that there would be more books.  There were empty spaces on some of the shelves.

As if he read her thoughts, he said, “I donated some of them to the library.”

“You donated them to make room for the new ones you are planning to get,” she deduced, looking at him.

He laughed.  “Can’t fool you, can I?” He switched off the light.  “Now, it’s time to have our dinner.  But, first, I will take you out on the terrace for a bit of fresh air.”

She followed him to the terrace.  He drew aside the drapes and opened the sliding doors, stepping out into the cool evening air.   The sun was setting and it cast a crimson glow on the Tower Bridge and the Thames.  It was a magnificent view. Then, she turned, intending to walk along the length of the terrace when she noticed the table.  She gaped.  It was covered with a tablecloth, set with fine dinner ware, two glasses and two candles.  Callum had gone to a lot of trouble.

Touched, she turned to him.  “Callum, I didn’t expect this at all,” she said.  “What a lovely surprise.”  She hugged him and when she drew back to gaze up at him, she felt his arms go around her waist and then he was kissing her.  She responded, her senses swimming and her arms wound themselves around his neck.

Several minutes passed before he raised his head to look down into her face.  “This dinner is my way of showing you how I feel about you.  You are the first woman I have ever invited to my flat or cooked dinner for.  You are the only woman I want in my life.  I love you, Renee.  I have loved you from that day in the library when I came over to you on the pretext of being interested in the book you were reading.  I had noticed you a couple of days before but never worked up the courage to approach you until that afternoon. All those times we spent together, talking about my love for books, I was trying to figure out how to tell you that I loved you.  Tonight, I wanted to show you.”

For a moment, she was too moved to say anything.  Then, she confessed, “I love you too, Callum.  I have loved you since the first time we met.  For the longest while I have been trying to figure out how I could continue being around you and not betray my feelings.”

“Tonight, we can enjoy being with each other the way we have always wanted to.” He lowered his head and they kissed.  “I’d better go and bring out the dinner,” he muttered, reluctantly letting her go.

“Let me help.”

He shook his head and walked over to the table and pulled out the chair facing the Tower Bridge.  “You sit here and enjoy the view,” he suggested.  “I’ll be right back.” When she sat down, he bent his head and kissed her on the nape of her neck before he walked away.

Renee sat there, digesting what had just happened.   The river Thames shimmered in the setting sun and as she gazed at it, she smiled, thinking how fortunate she was to be sitting here, about to have a candlelight dinner with the man she loved.  Yes, this something she had never imagined would happen but that was how life was sometimes–unpredictable.

 

Source:  Cooking Channel TV

Out of the Rain

The rain beat relentlessly against the window and Kim lay there in the bed, just listening to it and thinking about him.  She just couldn’t get over his peculiar behavior the last time they saw each other.  In all of their many interactions with each other, she had never seen him act the way he did that evening when they were at a dinner/engagement party thrown by their mutual friend, Hannah and her fiance, Bob. It was a very pleasant evening.

Kim was sitting adjacent to Dale and next to Trevor.  Trevor was a nice guy and she chatted a lot with him.  There was no romantic interest on her part, though.  Dale was the object of her affections and had been for a very long time.  It was Hannah who introduced them but all ideas of getting close to him went out of the window when she learned that he was already in a relationship.  She chided herself for even thinking that he were unattached and that even if he weren’t that he would be interested in her.

Whenever they saw each other, Kim was very friendly, social with him but at the back of her mind, she was reminded of the fact that there was no chance for her with him.  She had seen his girlfriend once before the dinner and she was stunning.  She felt frumpy in comparison. Oddly, enough when Dale introduced them, the other woman eyed her with misgiving. Did she sense that she was in love with Dale?  The thought had filled her with trepidation. She had to be careful in the future.  No one, least of all, Dale, could suspect anything.

That evening at the dinner, Dale and his girlfriend were sitting next to each other.  He looked amazing in a striped navy blue suit and a light blue shirt.  He wasn’t wearing a tie and the top two buttons were undone.  Kim quickly looked away when he caught her gaze.  His girlfriend was wearing a rose colored dress with a peek-a-boo neckline and her auburn hair fell in thick waves about her tanned shoulders.

For her part, she was wearing a simple black dress with a flare skirt and her hair framed her face which was devoid of any make-up, except lip gloss.  Although Hannah assured her that she looked great, she felt self-conscious and wished she were at home instead, reading a novel or watching TV.  Still, she tried to make the best of it.  Hannah introduced her to the other guests and she was happy to meet Trevor who made her feel relaxed.

Several times, she caught Dale watching them as they stood beside the doors leading out to the terrace, talking as they had their pre-dinner drinks and at one point when he walked past them, she saw him glance at Trevor.  The look could only be described as disagreeable and that puzzled her to no end.  For the rest of the evening, she wondered why Dale would be hostile toward a man he didn’t know.  At the dinner table, she saw him occasionally look over to where she and Trevor were and then look away when his girlfriend said something to him.

After dinner, she decided to go out on the terrace for a breath of fresh air.  No one was there so she relaxed and allowed her gaze to sweep over the city of London as it was bathed in the setting sun.  It was a beautiful summer evening.  Inside voices, laughter, the tingle of glasses mingled with smooth jazz.  She leaned against the rail, inhaling deeply.

“Out here by yourself?” a voice said dryly behind her and she swung round to face Dale. Her heart pounded wildly against her ribs as she tried to understand why he was out there with her instead of in there with his girlfriend.  “I thought he would never let you out of his sight” he continued as he moved closer, his hands shoved in his pockets, his eyes riveted on her face.

She leaned against the rail for support.  “Trevor’s a nice guy and–”

“I’m sure he is,” he muttered under his breath.  “Is that why you spent most of the evening with him?” he demanded, his expression darkening.

She was about to explain that Trevor had helped her to relax and enjoy the evening when Dale’s girlfriend joined them.  Her eyes flashed at Kim as she clutched his sleeve. “I was wondering where you had disappeared to.  They are serving the dessert now, let’s go in and have some.”

Dale’s gaze lingered on Kim for a while longer as though he were reluctant to leave but he excused himself and walked away.  She stayed out on the terrace for a few minutes more, collecting her thoughts and then she went back inside.  Shortly after that, she took a taxi home.

Stirring from her reverie, Kim climbed out of the bed and went into the kitchen to fix herself a cup of tea.  It was no use trying to sleep.  It evaded her.  Perhaps she would watch a late movie or catch up on her reading.  She was just slipping her feet into her slippers when she thought she heard the doorbell ring.  Frowning, she went into the living-room, wondering who would be showing up at her door at this time and in this weather.  There it was again.  She peered through the keyhole and her eyes widened in shock.  Immediately, her heart began to do somersaults.  It was Dale.  What on earth was he doing here?

She hastily smoothed her hair and then, taking a deep breath, she opened the door. He stood there, completely drenched.  “I had to see you,” he said.

She stepped aside and let him in.  “You’re soaking wet,” she told him.   “You will need to get out of those wet clothes.”  The idea of him doing that got her pulse racing.  She rushed over to the linen closet and grabbed a towel which she handed to him.  She found the robe she had bought for her father which she had planned to return because it was too large.  She quickly removed the tags and laid it on the bed.  She rushed into the living-room.  “My bedroom is through that door,” she said, pointing. “You can undress in there. There’s a robe on the bed for you.  When you’re done, give me your clothes and I will put them in the dryer.”

He nodded and went to her room, closing the door behind him.  When he emerged a few minutes later, he was dressed in the robe which was a perfect fit and handed her his wet clothes.  She put them in the dryer.  “Make yourself comfortable,” she said. “While I fix us both some tea.”

“Thank you,” he said quietly, his eyes meeting hers in a steady gaze.  He went over to the sofa and sat down, using the towel she had given him to dry his hair.

She busied herself in the kitchen, getting the tea ready and then she carried the tray over to the table in front of the sofa and set it down.  She poured a cup for him and then one for herself.  She turned to look at him, still shocked that he was there in her flat.  “Would you like me to fix you something to eat?” she asked.

He shook his head.  “No thanks, I’m not hungry.  I know that it’s late and not the kind of weather anyone should venture out in but I needed to see you.”  He leaned over and set the cup of tea down.  He turned to look at her, his gaze traveled over her and it was then she realized that she was not wearing a shirt over the white vest.

She set the cup of tea on the table at once.  “I’d better go and put on a shirt or something,” she mumbled and was about to rise from the sofa when his hand on her arm prevented her.

“Please don’t go,” he said. “I came over here for a reason.  I wanted to apologize for the way I behaved the last time we saw each other.  I acted like a jerk and I’m sorry. I was jealous.”

She stared at him, unable to believe what she just heard.  “You were jealous?”

“Yes,” he admitted quietly.  “I saw you with that Trevor guy and was jealous.  You spent all evening with him.  I wanted to talk to you but he was always hanging around.  Then, when I saw you go out on the terrace alone, I followed you.”

“But you didn’t talk to me about anything except to make that remark about Trevor.”

“Yes, and when you told me what a nice guy he was, I reacted.”

“I was going to tell you that he helped me to relax and enjoy the evening when your girlfriend interrupted.”

“She’s no longer my girlfriend,” he informed her.  “I broke up with her that very night because of you.”

“Because of me?”

“Yes.  I couldn’t continue seeing her when I wanted to be with you.  I should have ended our relationship the day you and I met because ever since then, I couldn’t get you out of my mind.  When I was with her, I thought about you and wondered when I would see you again.  At the dinner, she was sitting right next to me but I hardly noticed her.  I couldn’t keep my eyes off you.  Kim,” he reached for her hands, his eyes darkening on her face.  “I’m in love with you.”

Tears sprang to her eyes at that moment.   “I’m in love with you too,” she whispered. “I have been ever since we met but I didn’t think I stood a chance.”

“I knew I was in trouble the first time I saw you,” he murmured before he pulled her onto his lap and his lips found hers.  She wrapped her arms around his neck, responding wildly to his passionate kisses as the rain continued to fall.

Dealing With Our Enemies

The angry voices in the crowd rose to a crescendo, “Crucify Him!” drowning out Pilate’s protest.  They wanted Him dead.  They had delivered Him up and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go (Acts 3:13).  Yet, this was all in fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation.  The innocent was put to death for the guilty. The people had asked Pilate to put Him to death although they had no legitimate cause to do so (Acts 13:28).  They were motivated by envy (Mark 15:10).

He hung on a cross like a common criminal and they mocked Him, urging Him to save Himself.  “If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:40). Little did they know that it was because He was the Son of God, that He didn’t save Himself by coming down from the cross.  He stayed there for their sake and ours.  He took the punishment we deserved.

It must have wounded Him to hear the jeers but the same love that made Him willing to lay down His life was the same love that infused Him when He cried to the Father, Fatherforgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).  He was not overcome by their evil but He overcame it with good (Romans 12:21).

Jesus is our perfect example of how to deal with our enemies.  We don’t let their insults or wrongdoing get the better of us.  We rise above their evil intentions and follow Jesus’ advice “whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12).  He never said that it was going to be easy but as His followers and the children of God, we must make the effort.   And the Holy Spirit is there to help us.

The apostle Paul tells us how to deal with our enemies by quoting Proverbs 25:21, 22. “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”  In acting contrary to what your enemy expects such as showing them love and kindness, it will stir feelings of shame and remorse. As Christians, we don’t treat people as the world does.  We treat them as Jesus would.

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Sources:  Blue Letter Bible; Bible Gateway; Bible Hub

The Age Difference

“I wish you were going with me,” Michelle sighed, looking at Connie as she lay on the sofa with her injured leg elevated on a couple of cushions.

“Even if I weren’t laid up here with a bad leg, I wouldn’t go with you,” she told her.

Michelle’s eyes widened in surprise.  “Why not?”

“You’re running away.”

“Running away from what?”

“You mean, from whom.  You’re running away from Paul.  No matter where you go, you can’t run away from your feelings for him.”

Michelle got up in agitation and went over to the window, looking out at the quiet street outside.  “He’s so young—”

“Michelle, he’s ten years younger than you, not twenty!”

Michelle shook her head.  “I should never have gotten involved with him.  I should have followed my mind and kept our relationship platonic but…”

“…You love him and he loves you.  Don’t let your age difference prevent you from being happy.  Besides, you don’t look your age at all.  You look younger.”

“I’m thirty-five years old and in love with a guy who graduated from university just three years ago.”

“So what?  He’s very mature for his age.”

Connie was right.  Paul was very mature for his age.  Still, she wished he were older. “I wish he were older.”

“So, you are going to throw away your happiness because of his age?  Would you feel better if he were to date a girl his age?”

The thought of him with someone else filled her with jealousy.  “No, I won’t,” she admitted.  “I don’t want him to be with someone else.”

“You can’t have it both ways, Michelle.  Either you hold on to him or you let him go.”

“That’s why I think I need to go away for a while.”

“Have you told him that you’re going away?”

“Not yet.  I’m going to tell him tonight.”

“Well, I hope you know what you’re doing.  He’s a terrific guy and he loves you.”

Michelle went over to the sofa, “I’ve got to go now,” she said.  She reached down and kissed the top of her friend’s head.  “Thanks for everything.”

“Call me and let me know how things turned out.”

“I will,” Michelle promised before she left.

It was around eight that night when Paul went over to her place.  He smiled when she opened the door.  After she closed it, he was about to pull her into his arms and kiss her when she pulled away.  “I need to talk to you,” she said, turning away.  For a brief moment, she closed her eyes as her feelings for him enveloped her.  I must do this, she told herself.   Her back was stiff, her hands were clenched and her heart was pounding as she walked toward the living-room.  He followed her.  She sat down on the sofa and he sat beside her, his expression troubled when he saw her face.

“What’s wrong, Michelle?” he asked.  He reached for her hand and was startled when she moved it away.

“I’m going away,” she said, not looking at him.  She was afraid to.  She knew that if she did, her resolve would weaken.

“Where?” he asked.  “For how long?”

“New York and for two weeks.”

“Are your parents all right?” he asked.  “Did you get bad news?  Is that why you’re going?  Let me come with you, Michelle–”

“No, Paul” she cried, getting up hastily from the sofa then and hurrying over to the window, wanting to put as much distance between them as possible.  “I’m going alone. Paul, I don’t think we should see each other anymore.”  There, she had said the words that had been playing over and over in her mind but the pain they invoked was unbearable.

In a flash he was beside her and turning her round to face him.  Tears were running down her face.  She tried to pull away but he refused to let go.  “Why must we stop seeing each other?” he demanded.  His face was pale and his eyes were filled with anguish and confusion.  “I love you, Michelle and I know that you love me.  Why do you want to end our relationship?”

“I’m much older than you,” she muttered.  “You should be with someone your own age.”

A muscle throbbed along his jawline.  “I don’t want to be with someone my own age,” he retorted.  “I want to be with you.”

Michelle closed her eyes as she felt her resolve crumbling.  “Paul, please…” her voice trailed off when she felt his lips on hers and unable to help herself, she responded wildly and the hands that had been about to push him away were pulling him closer.

When at length, he raised his head to look down into her face, his own flushed, he asked, “Do you still want to end what we have?”

She shook her head at once.  “No, Paul,” she cried.  “I won’t let my age come between us anymore.”

An expression of relief came over Paul’s face.  “So, no trip to New York?”

She shook her head.  “I’ll cancel it first thing in the morning,” she promised.

“Good.”  He swept her up into his arms.  “We belong together, Michelle.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck as he carried her out of the room.

The Presentation

They met when she was invited by a student to give a presentation on why it was important for women and girls to be educated in countries where they are marginalized and have little or no access to education.  This was her first presentation as an advocate for the rights of women and girls to receive an education and she was nervous.

She stood in front of a auditorium filled with students from grades 8 to 12.  While the student who invited her gave an introduction, she said a little prayer, to calm her nerves and to give her the strength she needed.  She felt a peace envelope her and she smiled as the girl invited her to go to the podium amidst the applause.

She stood there, looking at the faces around her and she began her presentation with one of her favorite quotes, “The surest way to keep a people down is to educate the men and neglect the women. If you educate a man you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a family.”  Then, she shared facts, stories and information about the programs and activities that provided to help eliminate the barriers that women and girls faced in their pursuit of a right to an education.  She encouraged the students to get involved.  She answered questions and at the end of the presentation, she handed out pamphlets and fact sheets.   Many students were eager to get involved and she told them to contact her.

As the students filed out of the auditorium, he went up on to the podium where she was gathering her papers together and putting them into her folder.  She glanced up and her breath caught in her throat.  For a moment, all she could do was stare at him.   He had to be the best-looking man she had ever seen.  None of her male teachers ever looked like this.

He smiled and held out his hand.  “Jordan Hampton.”

“Michelle Johnson,” she said, as she shook his hand.

“I enjoyed your presentation.  Thanks for coming.”

“It was my pleasure and I’m happy that you enjoyed it.”  She was feeling shy and a little nervous because he was still holding her hand and his eyes were fixed on her.

He released her hand then, almost apologetically.  “I am interested in learning more about the kind of work you do,” he said.  “May I get in touch with you?”

“Sure.”  She handed him a business card with her contact information.  She also gave him some handouts.

“Well, I must be getting back to my class,” he said.  “I’ll walk with you to the front entrance.”

“Thank you.”  She gathered her things and followed him out of the auditorium.  They went down the hallway to the front entrance.  At the doors, he turned to her.  They shook hands again and said goodbye.

A couple days later, she received a phone call from him.  “Hi, Michelle.  It’s Jordan.”

Her heart started to beat fast.  “Hi Jordan,” she leaned back in her chair and swung round so that she was facing the window.  It was so good hearing from him.  After meeting him that first time at the school, she hadn’t been able to think of anything else.  She had been looking forward to hearing from him.  “How are you?”

“I’m fine, thank you.  How about you?  Have you been giving any more presentations?”

“I’m doing well, thanks.  I have another one next week.”

“Are you nervous?”

“Not yet,” she laughed.

There was a brief pause, then, “I’d like to learn more about what you do—over dinner.”

She sat up.  “Dinner?”

“Yes.  I would like you to have dinner with me tonight, unless… you have other plans?”

She shook her head at once but then realized that he couldn’t see that.  “No, I don’t have any plans.”  And even if she did, she would cancel them, for sure.

“Good.  I’ll pick you up at seven. ”

“I hope you don’t get bored hearing me talk about my work,” she said.

“I won’t,” he promised.  They spoke for a couple more minutes and then the call ended.

He showed up promptly at seven, looking amazing in a white shirt and a navy blue suit.  She was wearing a salmon colored, spaghetti strapped dress which complimented her complexion and her hair was pulled back in a French twist updo.  She smiled when she saw the way he looked at her.  Clearly he liked what he saw.

Dinner was a fun affair.  He started out asking her questions about her work and then questions about herself.  It seemed like he would have been content just talking about her but she wanted to learn about him.  He was a Political Science teacher and had been teaching for fifteen years.  His father was British and his mother, Irish.  He had two brothers and a sister.  He was the second oldest.  When he wasn’t in a classroom, he was on the tennis court or in the gym or reading or spending time with his family and friends.  His favorite movie was The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, his favorite book To Kill A Mockingbird was and his favorite song was Hotel California.

They laughed and talked about all sorts of things.  Then, when they were having their dessert, he said, “I have a confession to make.  I heard most of your presentation but I was distracted.”

She frowned.  “Distracted?”

“Yes.  I was distracted by you.  I couldn’t get over how amazing you looked and how much I was looking forward to meeting you.  I waited until the coast was clear and then I came over and introduced myself.  You were even more stunning up close.  I’m surprised I was able to speak.”

She laughed.  “I was a bit tongue-tied, myself,” she admitted.  “I remember thinking that none of my male teachers looked like you.”

He reached over and covered her hand as it lay on the table.  His eyes were serious as they met hers.  “I’d like to see you again,” he said.  “Are you busy on Sunday?”

She usually went to church in the morning and then spent the rest of the day, getting ready for work the next day. “No, I’m not busy then.”

“How about going with me on a lunch jazz cruise on the Thames?”

“That sounds wonderful.”  She had never been on a cruise or on the Thames before.  What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  She couldn’t wait.

He picked up his glass, his eyes holding hers in a steady gaze.  “Here’s to an amazing evening and to many more like it.”

She smiled as she raised her glass.  “Cheers.”

Source:  Get Your GuideQuotesWomenOne