A Love Meant to Be

Serena stood there on the Staten Island Ferry, watching the choppy, frigid waters, her emotions churning inside her.  She leaned against the rail and wrapped her arms about her.  I’m pregnant.  She found out that morning when she went to a walk-in clinic.  After leaving there, she decided to come on the ferry ride to get away for a bit so that she could process the news that she was five weeks pregnant.

Robin was the father.  Robin.  She closed her eyes as she thought about him and the night they spent together.  They hadn’t meant for it to happen.  He was still dating her friend, Connie at the time.  It was on a Saturday afternoon and she was on her way home from the movies when she bumped into him.  He was just coming out of the barbershop where he had gone and to get a haircut.

His face broke into a big smile.  He looked handsome as usual dressed in a blue jersey, jeans and a leather jacket with a fur trimmed collar.  The haircut suited him.  “Hello, Serena.”

She smiled up at him, thinking what beautiful eyes he had.  “It’s good to see you, Robin.”

“Do you live around here?” he asked.

“Yes, I live over there,” she said, pointing to a set of buildings behind him.  “So, what are you doing around these parts?”

“I was visiting my brother.  He lives around here too.  Then, I decided to get a haircut.  What about you?  Are you going somewhere?”

“Actually, I just came from the movies and am heading home.”

“Did you go to the movies alone?”

“Yes.”

“What did you go to see?”

“The Black Panther.”

He raised his eyebrows.  “The Black Panther?”

She laughed.  “I know.  I’m not into those kinds of movies but I heard such great reviews about this one that I finally decided that I would go and see it.”

“And what did you think?”

“I actually liked it.”

“Listen, are you in a hurry to get home?”

She shook her head.  “I’m just going home to a leftover dinner and Masterpiece Theater,” she replied.

“What do you say we grab a bite to eat at the bistro across the street?”

“Sure.”

They crossed over the street and went into the bistro which was filled with the sounds of laughter, glasses tinkling and mouthwatering aromas.  They sat at the back in the corner.  She had never been in there before.  The atmosphere was very cozy and relaxed.  He ordered the Fillet Mignon and she ordered the Wild Salmon.

Over dinner they did a lot of catching up because it had been a while since they last saw each other.  He was dating her friend, Connie.  They met at the gym but interestingly enough, Serena knew him much longer than Connie because they used to go to the same university.  Since then she had been attracted to him but nothing had come of it.  He was always in a relationship with someone she knew.  She couldn’t help wondering why he never asked her out and reluctantly came to the conclusion that he just wasn’t interested in being more than friends with her.

“Are things getting serious between Connie and you?”

“Not for me,” he replied quietly.  “Are you seeing anyone?”

She shook her head.  “No.”  It was hard sitting across from him and not stare at him.  Nothing had changed.  She was still madly in love with him.  “How come you never asked me out?” She had to ask.  Her heart began to beat faster as she waited for his answer.

He looked straight at her as he replied, “I was attracted to you the very first time I saw you on campus and I wanted to ask you out but I wasn’t sure you’d want to go out with me.”

She gaped at him.  “Why would you think that?”

“Well, I wasn’t sure you’d want to go out with me because—well, because I’m white.”

“And that’s why you dated other women instead.”

“Yes.”

The check came then and after paying it, he pulled on his jacket.  She put her coat on and they left the bistro.  It was dark outside now.  The temperature seemed to have dropped slightly.  He walked her home and when they were standing outside of her unit, she said, “Thanks for dinner.”

He smiled.  “It was my pleasure,” he said.

“Would you like to come in for a while?” she asked hopefully.

He nodded.  “I’d like that.”

She unlocked the door and they went inside.  After they removed their coats, she led him into the living-room.  “I’ll fix us some hot chocolate,” she said and went into the kitchen.

When she joined him, he was standing at the window, looking out.  She put the two mugs on the coffee table and went over to him.  He turned to face her.  “You have a spectacular view,” he remarked.

“Yes, I do.”

He was staring at her and then the next thing she knew she was in his arms and he was kissing her.  She wound her arms around his neck and clung to him as she kissed him back.  They exchanged wild kisses for several minutes and then he picked her up and carried her over to the sofa.

After he put her down, he drew back to remove his sweater, his eyes stormy as they met hers and he was breathing heavily.  She pulled her top over her head and then reached for him, her fingernails digging into his flesh as they kissed feverishly.  They made love and hours later, he left.  She showered and went to bed where she lay staring up at the ceiling for a while, reliving her night with Robin before finally falling asleep.

In the days that followed, she couldn’t stop thinking about him and aching for him but she couldn’t help feeling guilty because of Connie.  When he called her and asked to see her again, she put him off, telling him that it wasn’t a good idea.  It wasn’t long before she started experiencing nausea and other strange symptoms.  She decided to go to a walk-in clinic.

She had to tell Robin.  Taking a deep breath, she dialed his number and when he answered, she said simply, “I need to see you.”  She arranged where they would meet and then she ended the call.

After she got off the ferry, she walked to Battery Park to the spot where she arranged to meet him.  As she waited, she couldn’t help feeling nervous.  How was he going to react to the news that she was pregnant?  Would he be thrilled or feel trapped?  Perhaps he would want to do the honorable thing and marry her or give her financial support to raise the child on her own.  She didn’t want him to feel obligated to her.  And what about his relationship with Connie?

She sighed when she thought about her friend.  She could kiss their friendship goodbye once Connie found out about the baby.  One night of passion had changed three lives forever.  She was determined, however, that no matter what happened, this baby was going to be showered with lots of love and know that he or she is a gift from God.  She placed her hand protectively on her stomach.  Still, it would be so wonderful if Robin and she could be together…She heard her name and turned to see Robin coming towards her.

Her eyes ran eagerly over his tall frame.  It was a little over a month since they last saw each other.  He stood in front of her now.

“I go here as soon as I could,” he said, studying her face.  “Are you all right?”

She nodded.  “Yes, I’m all right.  How are you?”

His eyes darkened.  “Much better now that I’m seeing you.  I haven’t been able to think about anything else but you.  I wanted to see you, Serena.  I wanted to be with you but you told me that it would be best if we didn’t.  So, when you called me today, I was thrilled.”

“I thought it would be best not to see you because of Connie.”

“I broke up with her,” he informed her.

Her eyes widened.  “You did?” she exclaimed.  “Why?”

“After what happened between you and me, I had to end our relationship.”

“Did you tell her about–?”

“No, I didn’t but I told her how I feel about you.”

She swallowed hard, her heart racing.  “How do you feel about me, Robin?” she asked.  She knew he wanted her.  That was obvious the night they made love.  He was like a made man, his hands and lips were all over her, driving her wild.  At one point, he had her hands pinned above her head while he buried his face in her neck, his breath hot and heavy on her skin.  She felt her body respond now to the memories and looking at him now she could tell that he was remembering too.

“I showed you how I feel about you that night,” he told her huskily.  “I’m madly in love with you, Serena.  I have been in love with you since university.”

She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.  Robin loved her.

“I’ve loved you for sixteen years but it seems more like a few days.  It’s like Jacob who served seven years for Rachel’s hand in marriage but to him it was like a few days because of his love for her.”

She felt the tears prick her eyes.  “Oh, Robin,” she cried huskily.  “I love you too.  I have loved you since the day you walked into my English class and sat down next to me.”

He smiled and taking her hands, he drew her toward him.  “One look at you and I knew I was in love.”

“I wish we had told each other how we felt back then.”

“Me too.  Serena…”

She glanced down at their hands.  “Robin, I have something to tell you.”

“What is it?”

Raising her head, to look at him, she announced quietly, “I’m going to have a baby–our baby.”

He stared at her for a long moment.  “You’re pregnant?”

“Yes.  Five weeks.  I found out this morning.”

“You’re going to have a baby.”

We’re going to have a baby.”

“How are you feeling?  Are you okay?  Do you want us to sit down on the bench over there?”

She smiled.  “I’m fine,” she assured him.  “I don’t need to sit down.  Are you okay with this?”

His face brightened.  “I’m ecstatic.  Oh, Serena.”  He bent his head and kissed her.

She responded, her heart almost bursting with joy and relief because his reaction to the news was way better than she could have ever hoped for.  “I’m so relieved that you’re happy about this,” she said a few minutes later when she drew back to gaze up at him.

“How could I be otherwise?  We love each other and we’re going to have a baby.  Do you know what that means?”

“No, what?”

“We’ll have to find a bigger place.  After we get married, we can go house hunting.”

“Married?”

“Yes, I want to marry you, Serena.  I’ve waited for over sixteen years for you.”

She put her arms around his neck.  “I can’t wait to marry you and to raise our child in our dream home,” she murmured.

“I told my mother about you.  Before she died, she said that a love meant to be will be, no matter how much time passes or how many obstacles it faces.  I wish—I wish she were here to see this—to see us together and you carrying her grandchild.”  Tears welled up in his eyes as he got choked up.

She reached up and put her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly, blinking back her own tears.  His arms went around her waist, holding her close.  They stood like that for several minutes before she drew back to look up at him.  She brushed the tears away from his cheeks.  “Let’s go to my place where it’s nice and warm.  We can snuggle under the covers as we make plans for our future.”

He nodded and with their arms around each other, they walked to where his car was parked.

Sometimes when it comes to love you may be in for the long haul but in the end, it’s worth the time and effort when it turns out to be the real thing.

 

Advertisements

The Dance

Melody looked over to where she knew Fernando was and her heart skipped a beat when she caught him watching her.  She couldn’t look away and as their eyes locked in a steady gaze, her hips began to move more to the pulsating Latin music.  His younger brother, Jose, oblivious to what was going on, continued to talk to her as they danced.

She knew that Jose liked her but she didn’t feel the same way.  She was head over heels in love with Fernando.  Jose knew that but still he continued to hope that things would change between them.  Melody didn’t want to hurt him but she couldn’t help the way she felt about Fernando and even if he weren’t in the picture, she knew that she still wouldn’t have romantic feelings for Jose even though he was a really nice guy.  She hoped that he would get over her soon.

Just then, Jose twirled her around and when he caught her to him, she smiled up at him and then turned to where…her mouth tightened when she saw Fernando get up from the table to make his way over to Gina, a stunning woman who made no secret that she was attracted to him.  Melody watched as she flirted with him and jealousy surged through her when she saw him take her hand and lead her to the dance floor.

The song which played was salsa and she watched their bodies move slowly to the sensual beat.  Gina’s thick black hair tumbled down her bare back.  How she was able to breath, let alone move in that tight red dress, Melody had no idea.  Fernando was looking down at her and smiling.  He looked sexy in the black dress shirt unbuttoned at the neck and the black pants.  His hair was slightly tousled and Gina reached up and brushed the strands of hair from his forehead before putting her hand on his shoulder again.  It was too much for Melody.  She dragged her eyes away and glanced up at Jose who was looking at her because she had stopped moving.  “I need a breath of fresh air,” she explained and he released her.

“Do you want me to come with you?” he asked.

She shook her head.  “No, I’d like to be alone.”  She forced a smile.  “Don’t worry about me, Jose.  I’m fine.”  She excused herself and quickly walked away.  He watched her go in the direction of the terrace before he turned and joined a group of friends at a table.

Melody stepped out on to terrace, the fresh air and scent of hibiscuses assailed her nostrils.  It was a balmy evening.  A slight cool breeze blew, caressing her skin.  She had her hair in an up-do instead of her usual side plait.  She had followed her sister’s advice.

“You need to do something different with your hair if you want Fernando to notice you,” she told her.  “Put it up.  You want to look like a woman not a little girl.”

The new hairdo flattered her and showed up her long, slender neck.  The black mini halterneck dress with the plunging neckline turned quite a few heads when she walked into the party.  The high black strappy sandals made her legs look longer than they were.  She danced with several of the men before Jose stepped in but the one man whom she wanted to dance with hadn’t asked her.  So, it was like a slap in the face when he asked Gina to dance.  She grimaced now and she gripped the balustrade in anger and bitter jealousy.  To hell with Fernando Alfaro.  He could dance with all of the women in the room for all she cared.

“Tired from all that dancing?” a voice inquired behind her and she swung round, her heart skipping a beat when she saw Fernando.  She leaned against the balustrade, her eyes wary as they met his.  She caught whiff of his aftershave.  Why did he have to be so irresistible?  Even as she was upset with him, she wanted to throw herself into his arms and tell him how much she loved him.

“Shouldn’t you be in there dancing with Gina?” she tried to sound nonchalant but there was an edge in her voice and her expression betrayed her.  Why does it have to be so bright out here? 

“Should I? What if I want to take a break before I dance with her again?  It was getting pretty hot in there.”

“I bet it was,” she retorted jealously.   “She was all over you and you liked it.”

He studied her, his expression quizzical.  “Which man in his right mind wouldn’t welcome the attentions of such a beautiful and desirable woman?” he inquired, raising his eyebrows and was rewarded with a nasty look.

“Yes, I noticed how you couldn’t take your eyes off her.  It was as if rest of us didn’t exist.”  She was almost beside herself now with jealousy.  She wanted to slap that smirk off his face and then…kiss him.

“That’s not true,” he countered, moving closer to her.  It’s you I couldn’t take my eyes off, he thought, aching to take her in his arms and show her how much he wanted her.  It drove him mad watching her dance with other men, especially Jose and in frustration, he danced and flirted with Gina.  He knew it was a childish thing to do but he was blinded by jealousy.

“I know what I saw,” she declared.  That’s why I left and came out here.  I couldn’t bear to watch you with her anymore.

He saw that she was very upset and decided that it would best to drop the subject.  He held out his hand.  “Let’s not fight any more,” he suggested.  “Let’s just enjoy the rest of the night.”

She knew he was extending an olive branch but she stubbornly refused to take it, folding her arms instead, still stewing over his remark about Gina.  He thinks she’s beautiful and desirable. “Why don’t you go back to your precious Gina and enjoy the rest of the night with her?”

He withdrew his hand. “It’s not so much fun when the shoe’s on the other foot, is it?” he asked.

She raised her chin.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You know very well that the only reason you were dancing with Jose was to make me jealous.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she retorted.  “Why would I want to make you jealous?”

“For the same reason I wanted to make you jealous of Gina.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she insisted and was about to walk past him when he caught her arm and pulled her roughly against him, making her gasp.

“You owe me this dance,” he muttered tightly. When she would have pulled away, his grip tightened.  He held her gaze as they began to move to the music, his eyes darkening with desire and his breathing becoming unsteady.  Being this close to her and holding her in his arms was his undoing.  His gaze dropped to her lips which parted.  Unable to resist, he bent his head and kissed her.  When he felt her respond, it drove him wild and he ravaged her lips.  Melody clung to him, her head tilted far as she returned his kisses.

They stopped dancing and just stood there, clinging to each other and exchanging hot kisses, expressing feelings they had harbored for such a long time.  Then, an image of Gina and him dancing flashed in her mind and groaning, she pushed him away.  She stepped back, trying to catch her breath.  “I—I think we’d better go back inside.”

He stared at her, nonplussed.  “Why did you pull away?” he asked and was about to reach for her when she pushed his hands away.  “Melody…”

“I can’t get what you said about Gina out of my mind,” she told him.  “You as much as admitted that you are attracted to her.”

“I did? When?”

“A little while ago you said that no man in his right mind could resist a beautiful and desirable woman like her.”

Fernando sighed.  “I said that because I wanted to make you jealous the way you made me jealous when you were dancing with other men.”

She gaped at him.  “You were jealous?”

“Yes,” he muttered thickly and this time when he reached for her, she didn’t resist.  “I get jealous whenever I see you with another man, especially Jose.”

“Jose?  He and I are just friends.”

“He wants to be more, Melody.  I can tell just from the way he looks at you and I can’t say that I blame him.”

“He knows how I feel about you.”

He swallowed, a muscle throbbing along his jawline.  “And how do you feel about me?” he asked, cupping her face and looking deep into her eyes, his darkening when he saw the longing in hers.

She released her breath shakily, her heart pounding wildly against her ribs.  “I love you, Fernando,” she confessed huskily.

“I love you too,” he moaned.  “Every time I look at you my heart stops.”

“And my heart beats only for you,” she murmured, closing her eyes when she felt his lips on hers.  In the background the music played and she thought of the quote, If you dance with your heart, your body will follow.

Two years later on their wedding night, they danced in that very same spot.

 

The Ring

“Keisha, is this a real word?” Spencer asked, glancing up from the board.

They were playing Scrabble but Keisha’s mind wasn’t on the game.  She was thinking about Johann and rehearsing in her mind how she was going to tell him that their relationship was over.  All of last night she wrestled with the decision, her heart breaking at the thought but she couldn’t continue seeing a man who was still hung up on his deceased wife.  The gold and diamond encrusted wedding band was a constant reminder of the woman who used to be her English professor.

“KEISHA!” Spencer’s shrill cry jolted her.

She glared at him, “You don’t have to yell,” she scolded him.

“Well, you didn’t answer my question.”

“Which was?”

“Is this a real word?”

She glanced at the board where the word ASSAY was spelled out.  “Yes, it is and I think it’s worth seven points.”

Spencer looked quite pleased.  “What does it mean?”

“It has several meanings such as to try out or test, to analyze or examine in order to judge, to evaluate and to try or attempt.”  She sighed.  “Spencer, I don’t feel like playing anymore.”

His lips pursed.  “Is it because I’m winning?”

“Of course not,” she retorted as she got up from the floor.  “I’m going out for a while.”  She walked out of the room.

Johann was in his study, sitting at his desk, with papers spread out in front of him but he couldn’t concentrate.  All he could think about was Keisha and how she had seemed a bit distracted last night when they were together.   He couldn’t shake the fear that she might be losing interest in him although last night their lovemaking had been as passionate as usual.  Was she seeing someone else?  The thought filled with him with dread and jealousy.

He leaned back in his chair, dragging his fingers through his hair.  He couldn’t bear the thought of losing her.  After losing Abby, he didn’t think he could fall in love again but fall he did and hard.  Agitated, he got up from the desk and began to pace restlessly about the room.  The first time he met Keisha was four years ago when he went to the university to meet Abby for lunch.  Keisha was with her in the classroom.

He remembered how Keisha stood in front of the congregation and recited Abby’s favorite poem Hope is the Thing with Features by Emily Dickinson before she gave a short and moving tribute.  When it was his turn to give his eulogy, he kept his eyes trained on her and it helped him to get through the though moments.  After the service, he went up to her and thanked her for being there.  He invited her to drive over to the cemetery with him.  It was comforting having her stand there beside him as they lowered the coffin and covered it.  When the funeral service was over, he asked her to go to the house with him.  He didn’t want to be alone.  They didn’t speak on the ride over or even when he let them into the bungalow.  He helped Keisha remove her coat and hung the coats in the closet.  “Where’s the kitchen?” she asked.  After he pointed it out, she went and put the kettle on.  She fixed them some hot chocolate.

They sat on the sofa for several minutes, not saying anything.  Having her there made a tremendous difference and he was grateful that she stayed with him for as long as she did.  Before she left, she fixed him something to eat and promised that she would drop by the next day.  Not surprisingly, he didn’t sleep well that night and was exhausted when he got up.  Keisha stopped by in the afternoon and he was happy to see her.  She brought over dinner she had prepared and after some coaxing, she got him to eat.  After they finished eating she stacked the dishes in the dishwasher and then joined him in the living-room.

She found him standing by the fireplace, looking at the frame photos.  He picked one up and took it over to the sofa, showing it to her when she sat down next to him.  It was a photo of Abby and him in what looked like an orphanage with beautiful children.  “That was taken on the day Abby found out that she was pregnant.  She looked so radiant.  We had been trying for a while and it finally happened.  She was over the moon because she wanted so much to be a mother.  And she would have been a terrific one too…” his voice broke.

“What happened?” Keisha asked gently.

“The baby was stillborn.  It was a boy.”

“I’m so sorry,” Keisha whispered.  She reached out and covered his hand with his.   “I can’t imagine how devastated the two of you must have been.”

“All Abby wanted to know what why did our son die and she was afraid to try again in case the same thing happened again.   The doctor explained that it was placental insufficiency.  She advised us to take time to grieve and to consult her before trying to conceive again.  It took a long time for us to get over the loss of our son but before she died, Abby told me that she wanted to get pregnant again.  It was great seeing the sparkle back in her eyes and then one afternoon that sparkle is gone for good…” His voice trailed off as he remembered the awful moment when he learned that Abby had been struck down by a car which ran a red light as she was crossing the street on her way to the drugstore.

Without saying a word, Keisha put her arms around him and held him as he sobbed.  They sat like that for a long time.  It soon became a regular thing for her to stop by and check up on him.   When he was ready, she helped him to sort through Abby’s clothes, trinkets, books, etc and pack them in boxes to donate to her favorite charities and the library.  And when he decided that it was time to sell the house and move to a flat, she went with him to find a new place and helped him to move in.  The first night he was there, she prepared something for them to eat and they sat on the balcony facing the Thames.  Getting through the first year was though, especially when it was Abby’s birthday and Christmas but having Keisha around helped tremendously.  They saw each other several times a week and by the following year he was beginning to live again.

He remembered the night when things between them changed.  It was after dinner and he was getting the movie that they were going to watch ready.  She joined him as usual on the sofa.  They watched the movie and then it was time for her to go because it was a Sunday night and it was work the next day.

At the door, she wished him a goodnight but this time, she reached up and kissed him on the cheek.  When she drew back, he was staring at her and she swallowed when she saw the expression on his face.  Wordlessly, he caught her by the shoulders and pulled her against him.  She watched mesmerized as his lips got closer until they were moving on hers.  Closing her eyes, she put her arms around his neck as she kissed him back.  The kisses became passionate and they were clawing at each other as feelings that had been held in check leapt to the surface.

He closed his eyes now as he remembered how they had made wild love on the rug in front of the fireplace.  She aroused passions in him he never even knew existed and that night was the first of many such trysts.   Suddenly the desire to see her overwhelmed him and he went over to the desk about to call her when the doorbell rang.  Frowning, he hurried from the study and went to answer the door.  His heart leapt when he peered through the keyhole and saw Keisha standing there.  Eagerly, he opened the door, his eyes running over her small frame.  “I was just about to call you,” he said as he stepped aside to let her in.  After closing and locking the door, he turned to face her.  “I’ve been thinking about you all day.”

“I wanted to talk to you about—you’re not wearing your ring,” she exclaimed, staring at his left hand which looked conspicuously bare.

He glanced down at his hand and then back at her.  “I took it off last night when I came home.  It’s in a box in my bureau.”

“Why did you take it off?” She asked.

“I’m ready to move on—with you,” he told her.  “I love you, Keisha.  I didn’t think I could be lucky to find love a second time but I did.”

Tears sprang to Keisha’s eyes.  “I love you too, Johann.  And, to be honest, I came here this afternoon to break up with you because I thought you weren’t ready to move on.  I felt that you were still hung up on Abby and that there was no room for me.  Now that I am saying this, I feel so ashamed.  I sound selfish and insensitive.  I’m so sorry.  You loved her for fifteen years.  I can’t expect you to let go of the memories and the love you have for her because of me and insecurities.  I think you should wear the ring.”

He took her hands and pulled her toward him.  “You’re not being selfish or insensitive.  If I were in your shoes I would probably feel the same way.  Abby will always have a place in my heart.  The memories will always be there and I will keep the ring but I’m fine with not wearing it anymore.  This bare finger is my way of letting you know that I’m ready to move on.”

She smiled through her tears.  “I hope that I can make you as happy as Abby did.”

“You make me happy in a way no one else can,” he assured her huskily, cupping her face between his hands before lowering his head to kiss her.

Two years later, they got married and after returning from their honeymoon in the Bahamas, they got the news that Keisha was pregnant–with twin girls whom they named Abby and Alyssa.  And to date, Johann still hasn’t worn the old ring.  It is still in the box in the bureau in their new home.

Sources:  Baby Centre; Baby Med

A Second Time

It was New Year’s Eve and Barbara was sitting in her warm and cozy apartment, staring at the crackling flames of the fire burning in the fireplace.  She was alone.  Her son Travis was spending the holidays in Seattle with his girlfriend and her family.  A couple of weeks ago, she had assumed that she would be welcoming in the New Year with Martin.

Martin.  They met two years ago at a mutual friend’s barbecue.  Barbara was a widow with a teenage son and Martin was a divorcee with two teenage daughters.  His ex-wife had custody of the girls and he saw them on the weekends.

Barbara and he hit it off and they began dating.   He was a wonderful man and it wasn’t long before she fell in love with him.  Travis and he got along very well.  She met Martin’s daughters and they were lovely girls.  Last year, the five of them went on a summer vacation together.   Everything was going so well until the afternoon when she left the shopping mall and was walking to her car and happened to see Martin with his ex, Paula in the parking lot, talking.

Barbara stood there and watched them, debating whether or not she should go over to them.  She saw them get into Martin’s car and drive away.  For several minutes, she stood there, all sorts of thoughts and questions whirling in her mind.  Why they together?  Were they thinking of reconciling?  Their divorce had been an amicable one and there was no animosity between them.  They ended their marriage because of religious differences.  Paula was Jewish and Martin was Christian.  When Martin made it clear that he would not convert to Judaism, Paula decided that there was no point staying married.  She filed for a divorce and they agreed that she would have custody of the girls.  And as far as their religious upbringing was concerned, they were already considered to be Jewish because of their mother.  Had Martin changed his mind about converting? 

Barbara took out her cell and dialed her sister’s number.  “Hi, Wanda, it’s me.”

“Hi, Barb, what’s up?”

“I just saw Martin and Paula together.  They were talking and then they got into his car and drove off.”

“What’s so strange about that?”

“Do you think that they are thinking of getting back together?”

“Now, why in the world would you think that?”

“I don’t know.  It’s just how they were interacting.  They were having a deep conversation.  What if he’s thinking of going back to her?”  The thought terrified her because she loved Martin.  She never thought she would fall in love with anyone after losing Donald.  Donald had been the love of her life until prostate cancer claimed his life.

“Trust me, Martin’s not thinking of any such thing.  He loves you, girl.  It’s so obvious.  Don’t jump to conclusions.  When are you going to see him?”

“He’s coming over tonight for dinner.”

“Wait until the time is right and then mention that you saw him with Paula.  It’s possible that he might bring it up before you even have to ask.  Don’t assume the worst.  You’ve been blessed with something most women can only dream of–finding true love a second time.  Don’t throw it away over what could be a perfectly innocent meeting between two people who will always be connected because of their daughters.”

Barbara sighed.  “You’re right, as usual,” she said.  “Thanks, Wanda.”

“Anytime, Barb.  Call me later and let me know how it went.  Love you.”

“Love you too.  Say hello to Barry and the kids for me.”

“Will do.”

Barbara ended the call and put her cell back into her handbag.  She walked briskly to her car and got in.  When she got home, there was a message on her machine.  It was from Martin.  “Baby, I’m sorry I won’t be able to come for dinner tonight.  Something has come up.  I will driving down to New Jersey today and won’t be back until Tuesday.  I will call you as soon as I can.  I love you.”  She stared at the machine.  He wasn’t coming tonight.  He was going to New Jersey.  New Jersey was where Paula and the girls lived.  Why was he going there?  

All sorts of thoughts and questions flooded her mind.  She felt shock and fear and although he ended the message with I love you, she still felt a sense of foreboding.  She wasn’t going see him tonight or on New Year’s Eve.  He was going to be with his ex-wife and their girls.  She was going to be alone–alone with her thoughts and doubts.  She went over to the phone and called Wanda.

“Hi Wanda, it’s me.  Martin called and said that he’s going to New Jersey today and won’t be back until Tuesday.  I’m afraid that he’s going to get back with Paula.  Why else would he be going there?”

“What did he say exactly?” Wanda asked.  Paula told her verbatim.  “You have nothing to worry about, Barb.  Something came up and that’s why he’s driving there.  It must have something to do with why you saw them together earlier today.  Maybe it has to do with one of the girls.  He said he was going to call you.  Wait and hear what he has to say and he did say that he loves you.  I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about.  Martin is not a player.  He’s as honest as they get.  Stop thinking the worst and wait and until you hear from him.”

“All right.  Thanks, Wanda.  I’m sorry that we won’t see each other on New Year’s Eve.”

“Me too.  I know that you don’t want to miss Martin’s call.  Call me when you’ve heard from him.”

“I will.”

“And don’t worry.  Everything will work out.”

“All right.  ‘Bye, Wanda.”

“‘Bye, Barb.”

That was ten nights ago and she still hadn’t heard from Martin.  By now she was convinced that it was over between them.  Agitated and close to tears, she got up from the sofa and began to pace the room.  God, why did you bring this man into my life, make me fall in love with him and then, he ends up back with his ex-wife?  Why didn’t you let me remain Donald’s widow, content with memories of a happy marriage and life?  I wouldn’t be feeling rotten like this now.  I would be at Wanda’s home with Barry and the kids waiting to welcome in 2018.  Then, I would call Travis and wish him a Happy New Year.  Instead, here I am feeling as my world has collapsed around me and this unbearable pain in my heart.  Why, Lord, why?  The tears were falling now and she pressed her knuckles against her lips to smother the sob that rose to them.

The doorbell rang and she started.  Who could it be?  She hoped it wasn’t Wanda.  She really wasn’t in the mood to see anyone right now.  Using her sleeve to dry her eyes, she walked to the door and looked through the keyhole.  Her breath caught in her throat when she saw Martin standing there.  Slowly, she unlocked the door and opened it.  One look at her face and she was in his arms.  “I’m sorry, Baby,” he murmured.  “I should have called but things were so crazy at the hospital–”

She drew back, alarmed.  “The hospital?  What happened?”  She drew him inside the apartment and closed the door.  Her expression filled with deep concern as she looked up at him.

“Yolanda was involved in a hit and run.  When they took her in, she was in critical condition but the doctor managed to stabilize her, thanks be to God.  Paula, Tasha, their grandmother and other family members are with her now.  I told Paula that I had to come back to New York and be with you.”

“I’m so sorry to hear about Yolanda but am very relieved that she’s out of danger.  Paula must have been out of her mind.”

“Yes, she was.  She was at the mall buying a birthday present for her mother when she heard the news and called me right away.  I drove over there as soon as I could and we drove down to New Jersey after I threw some clothes in a bag.  I called you before I left.  I’m so sorry that I missed having dinner with you and spending Christmas together.  I will make it up to you, I promise.”  He held her face between his hands and kissed her.  “I love you, Baby,” he murmured against her lips.

She put her arms around his waist and smiled when he drew back to gaze down at her.  “I love you too.”

As he lowered his head to kiss her again, she silently apologized to God for what she had said earlier to him and thanked Him for watching over Yolanda who almost didn’t survive to see the New Year.  And Wanda was right.  For the second time in her life, God had blessed her with a phenomenal man.

 

 

 

Source:  My Jewish Learning

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

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