Life’s Surprises and Unspeakable Joy

It’s lunch break at school and as I was walking down the hallway heading towards the cafeteria, Colton texted me.  He wanted me to have dinner at his place tonight.  Excited, I texted him back.   Things were really heating up between us.

Last night after we left the ice rink, we went back to his place and as soon as we went inside, we were all over each other, kissing and pulling off each other’s clothes.  We ended up making love on the rug in front of the fireplace.  Afterwards, we ordered take in Thai food and ate it while watching a movie.  Then, he took me home.

I guess it was inevitable that I should fall madly in love with Colton.  Actually, I think I fell for him since the first time we met which was at a party celebrating Lance’s 18th birthday.  Colton was there with Heather, his then girlfriend, a very pretty blonde.  The moment I saw him, I couldn’t take my eyes off him.  Several times, he caught me staring at him and smiled.  Then, just before the cutting of the cake, when I was coming out of the bathroom, he was coming down the hallway.  He walked over and stood right in front of me, towering over me.  I looked up at him, thinking that he was the most gorgeous man I had ever seen in my life.  My heart was beating like crazy.  We were totally alone.  Everyone was in the dining-room, gathered around the table.

“So, are you Lance’s girlfriend?” he asked.

I shook my head at once.  “No, we’re just friends.”

He smiled. “Good. I’m glad to hear that. If you’re not busy tomorrow afternoon, I’d like to take you bowling and then for a bite to eat afterwards.”

I was so blown away by the fact that he was asking me out that I didn’t even think of asking him about his girlfriend.  I found out a couple days after that he had broken up with her.

“I’m not busy tomorrow,” I assured him breathlessly.  “And I’d love to go bowling.”  Actually, I have never been bowling but have heard lots of positive things about it.  And it’s on several lists of perfect first date ideas.

“Where do you live?”

I told him.

“I’ll pick you up at five-thirty.”

“Okay.”

“See you tomorrow.”  And then he was gone.  I stayed there for several minutes, leaning against the door, trying to settle my nerves.  I couldn’t believe that Lance’s brother had just asked me out.  The rest of the evening was a blur for me.  I couldn’t sleep that night because I was too excited.  Colton showed up at exactly five-thirty, looking sexy in his white shirt and jeans.  I saw the way he looked at me and I felt tingly all over.  I had my hair pulled back in a ponytail and was wearing a red top with jeans.  We talked a lot on the way to the bowling alley and had so much fun.

Afterwards, we went to an Italian eatery and enjoyed mouth watering pasta dishes.  He didn’t take me home right after.  We went for a drive along the coast, stopped to admire the view of the Bay for a little while and then he took me home.  Outside on the porch, he asked me out on another date which I promptly accepted.

On Monday when I saw Lance at school, I was bursting with excitement.  We were standing by the lockers when I told him about Colton.  He didn’t seem to mind at all, although I couldn’t see why he should.  That was what we were talking about when those girls saw us and went berserk.

After Lance and I parted company, they ascended on me like a swarm of bees and made all sorts of crude and racist remarks which I ignored.  I didn’t get into anything with them.  I was above that.  Instead, I walked away with my head held high.  One of them said that there was no way that Lance would be into me because I was an ugly girl with glasses.  Hmmph.  Well, there was no way that he would be into her because she was hateful.

I didn’t let their remarks ruin my day.  I had a date with Colton that evening and was looking forward to it.  It was on our fourth date that we made love for the first time.  After we went to a concert in the park, we went back to his place.  He made hamburgers which we ate on the terrace while we watched the sun set.  Then, after finishing our Red and Blue Berry Lemonade Slushes, we went inside.

Without saying anything, he took my hand and led me to his bedroom. After closing the door, he began to kiss me.  I put my arms around his neck and kissed him back.  The kisses soon became very intense and the next thing I knew, we were naked, our clothes strewn on the floor.  He backed me over to the bed, pushed me down gently and then got on top of me.  His mouth covered mine the same instant he took me.  I cried out because of the pain but it soon went away and all I could feel then was intense and mind-blowing pleasure.  I will never forget my first experience.

Last week Saturday my parents went out of town to spend the weekend with my sister and her family.  I called Colton and invited him to come over.  He came over in the evening.  We had the dinner which my mother made earlier that day.  There was enough to feed an army.  We went for a drive, stopped for some ice-cream and then went back to the house.  We spent the evening watching television.  It was after mid-night when we went to bed.  We were in my room.  After we brushed, we slipped under the sheets and made love.  We fell asleep in each other’s arms.

The next morning, he was still sleeping when I woke up.  I leaned over and kissed him on the cheek but he didn’t stir.  He was a deep sleeper.  I got up and drew back the curtains for the sunlight to stream in.  I turned to look at him.  He looked so adorable and sexy, laying there on his left side with his hand resting on my side of the bed.  Unable to resist, I bent over and kissed him on his shoulder before   I went into the bathroom and took a quick shower.  I left a clean, folded towel for him to use on top of the wash basin before getting dressed and heading down to the kitchen to make breakfast.  We spent the day together and then he left late afternoon, a couple of hours before my parents got home.  It was the best weekend I had ever had.

As I sit down now at the table to have my lunch, I can’t help but reflect on our relationship.  We have been dating for half a year now.  For me it’s very serious because I’m so in love with him but I’m not sure if he feels the same way.  I know that he wants me.  I can see it on his face when he looks at me.  Just thinking about how much he wants me makes me tremble and feel warm all over.  I wish we were together right this very minute but I will just have to wait until later.

Thankfully, the day went by quickly and at a quarter to six, I was standing outside of his apartment and ringing the bell.  When he opened the door, my eyes eagerly drank every inch of him.  He looked incredible in the black shirt and jeans.  His hair was slightly damp as if he had just taken a shower.  One of my fantasies is to make love with him in the shower.  It was feeling a bit hot in the hallway all of a sudden.

“Hello,” he said with a smile before he reached down and kissed me hard on the mouth.  When he drew back, his face was slightly flushed.  “Come in.”

I stepped inside, my head spinning from that kiss.   A tantalizing smell assailed my nostrils.  “Something smells really great,” I exclaimed as I followed him through the foyer and into the living-room.

“It’s Crispy Lemon Pepper Chicken.  It’s one of my favorite dishes.”

“Do you need any help?”

“No, thanks.  Just relax in the living-room until everything is ready.”

While he was busy in the kitchen, she turned on the stereo and found a station where they played R&B.  Five minutes later, he was setting things down on the table in the dining-room.  He lit two candles.  He called me to have a seat at the table while he went and got our drinks which were Sparkling Pear Punch.  He sat down and smiling, he said, “Dig in.”

“This is delicious!  How did you learn how to cook like this? Did your mother teach you?  My mother taught me—is still teaching me.”

“No, I learned after I moved out and was living on my own.”

“Lance wasn’t kidding when he said that you’re a phenomenal cook.  He even said that you’re as good as or maybe even better than your mother.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“Did you ever make dinner for your ex-girlfriend?”

“No.”

That made me feel really special and I smiled as I raised the glass to take a sip of the punch.

“Have you told your parents about me?”

“Yes, they’re dying to meet you.”

“I bet they are.  Do they know that there’s a considerable age difference between us?”

“Well, they know that you’re not a student.”

“Do they know that I’m white?”

“Yes and they don’t have a problem with that.”

“I’m relieved to hear that.  Jaleesa, there’s something I need to ask you after we finish having our dinner.”

“Okay.”  I wondered what it could be.  I didn’t have to wait very long to find out.  As soon as dinner was over and we were relaxing in the living-room, he turned to me, his expression very serious.

“We’ve been dating for a while now.  In a few months, it will be a year.”

I nodded, my heart beginning to beat faster as I had no idea where this was leading.  I hoped that it wasn’t a preamble for a breakup speech.

“I think it’s time for a change, Jaleesa.”  He reached into his back pocket and took out a small box.  I watched as he got down on his knee beside me.  My eyes popped open and my hand flew up to my mouth as he opened the box and revealed an exquisite diamond ring.  “I’m a bit nervous,” he admitted as he looked up at me.  “I-I’ve never done this before.”

I was almost beside myself with shock and excitement.  Tears were making him a big blur.  And the fact that he was nervous about proposing for the first time was very endearing.

“I love you, Jaleesa.  I fell in love with you the first time we met.  I noticed you the moment you walked into the living-room on the day we were celebrating Lance’s birthday.  Even though I was there with Heather, I couldn’t take my eyes off you.  And the first opportunity I got, I had to ask you out but before I did, I had to make sure that you weren’t Lance’s girlfriend.  Soon after you and I got together, I broke up with Heather.  I bought this ring weeks ago and have been dying to propose to you but couldn’t find the courage until now.  And even now, I’m nervous as hell.  Jaleesa, what I’m trying to say—to ask is, will you marry me?”

“Yes!” I was blubbering now and after he slid the finger on my finger, I held his face between my hands and kissed him.  He fell back on the carpet, pulling me down on top of him.  We ended up making love in front of the sofa and celebrated our engagement with non-alcoholic wine afterwards.

Yes, life was full of surprises and unspeakable joy.

Colton’s Problem

Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them! – Isaiah 5:11

“What are you doing here?” His breath reeked of alcohol.  He was on the floor, his hair disheveled, the empty glass lying beside him.   “Go away,” he said, waving his hand.  He tried to sit up but his head was pounding.

“I’m not going anywhere,” she told him.  “I’m not going to leave you like this.”

“Don’t you have school or something?”

“It’s Saturday.”

“I don’t care what day it is.  I don’t want you here.”

“Why not?” she demanded.  “I’ve seen you drunk before.”

“You know why I don’t want you here.”

“Is it because of what happened the last time I was here?

“Yes!” the word was a hiss.  He raked his fingers through his hair in frustration.

“We kissed and…”

“And if I didn’t come to my senses, we would have ended up in bed.”

“I thought that was what you wanted.”

“It was—it still is but you’re too young for me.  You’re still going to school, for Pete’s sake.”

“I’m graduating next year June.”

“It doesn’t matter when you graduate.  You’re still too young.”

“I’m seventeen.”

“And I’m thirty-six.  Now, I really don’t want to continue this discussion.  I need to sober up.”

She tried to help him up but he pushed her hands irritably away.  “I’ll go and fix you something to eat while you take a shower.”

He got unsteadily to his feet.  For a moment he had to hold on to the back of the sofa to regain his composure.  “Which part of I don’t want you here that you don’t understand?”

“I hate when you’re like this,” she said. “It makes you rude and nasty. I’ve watched alcohol change my father into a moody, miserable person before it killed him. I don’t want to see the same thing happen to you. I love you, Colton.”

He closed his eyes.  “Please don’t say that.”

“It’s the truth.”

“Aniyah, you’re not making this easy for me.”

“I’m not trying to make anything easy for you.  You need help, Colton.  My church is offering an Addiction Treatment Program.  If my father had gone to it, he would probably still be alive today.”

“I don’t have an addiction.”

“What would you call your drinking?”

“A problem, not an addiction.”

“All right, this program will help you with your drinking problem.  I printed off information from their website.  I put it on the desk in your study.  Read it over as soon as you can.”

“Fine, I’ll read it.  Now, will you please go?”

“I’ll go after I’ve fixed something for you to eat,” she insisted.  “In the meantime, have these.”  She handed him a glass of water and an Advil.

He took them and watched as she disappeared into the kitchen.  He hoped she wouldn’t make a racket in there.  The slightest sound jarred his nerves.  It felt like someone was drilling a hole into his temples.  He sipped the water, swallowed the Advil and drained the glass.  He left the glass on the mantelpiece and headed for the bathroom.  He filled the tub with hot water and poured a few drops of eucalyptus oil.  After stripping, he stepped into the water and settled down.  He stretched out and rested his head against the back of the tub.  He was feeling better already.

The door opened and Aniyah walked in.  “I made you some Chicken Noodle Soup.  Make sure you drink it while it’s still hot.”

He stared at her in consternation.  His face was beet red and his heart was racing.  Underneath the suds, he could feel his reaction to her.  “You should know better than to walk into a man’s bathroom, especially when he’s in there having a bath,” he muttered tightly.

Aniyah couldn’t prevent her eyes from traveling over his wide shoulders and broad chest.  She felt her body react and she swallowed hard.  She wondered what he would do if she decided to join him.  No, she decided.  He wouldn’t be pleased.  I promised him that I would leave after I fixed him something to eat.  I have to keep my promise.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to barge in.  I’m leaving now and just wanted to say goodbye.”

“Goodbye and thanks for the soup.”

“I hope you enjoy it.  I’ll call you later.”  She turned and left the bathroom, pulling the door quietly in behind her.  She leaned against and closed her eyes.  Her chest was heaving.  Loving and wanting him were taking a toll on her.  She didn’t know how much more of this she could deal with.

Colton stared at the closed door.  The hangover was now the least of his problems.  His body was on fire and it had nothing to do with the water which was becoming tepid now.  He wanted her so much he could almost taste it.  It took supreme effort not to come out of the tub and walk over to her just now.  How was it possible that he could be in love with and attracted to a high school senior?  This was madness.

He spent a few more minutes soaking in the tub and then he drained it before taking a very cold shower.  After he had the Chicken Noodle soup which was very delicious, he went into the study to get the information she had printed for him.  He went into the living-room where he pored over it.

There was no point denying it any longer.  He had a drinking problem and desperately needed help.   He was tired of turning to alcohol when he couldn’t deal with his problems.  Instead of getting down on his knees and asking God for help, he reached for a drink.  Well, he was going to change that.  He went into the study, picked up the phone and dialed the number.

It had been several weeks since he started to program and had been making steady progress.  He had gotten rid of all the alcohol in his place and hadn’t had a drop since the day Aniyah found him.  And they were now dating.  He was convinced that she was the right one for him, regardless of the age difference.  He planned that as soon as she graduated from high school, he would propose.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope – Jeremiah 29:11

Sources:  Faith in Recovery; GOOD; Food Network;

 

The Missionary/Calm #writephoto

autumn-018-2
Photo by Sue Vincent

 

“When you went off on a missionary trip to Africa, we certainly didn’t expect you to come back with a wife,” Mrs. Cartland exclaimed, her expression one of disdain as she looked at her son.

Rolf sighed.  “Naija isn’t my wife, Mother.  I’m not sure why you think she is.  I’m sure I was clear in my letter that if I didn’t do something, she was going to be taken out of school and married off to a man old enough to be her grandfather.  In Nigeria, girls like Naija and younger are given in marriage without their consent.”

“And so you decide to bring her to England.  What about her parents?  I can’t imagine that they would let you just whisk their daughter away like that.”

“Her parents and I came up with an arrangement which will benefit all parties.  They were going to give her away in marriage because they are poor and need the money.  The man they were going to marry her to, has money but I offered them more money in exchange for marriage that Naija come to England instead.  I will put her through university.  After, she graduates, it is up to her if she wants to remain here or return to Nigeria.  Her parents agreed that if she should return, she is not expected to be married off but can get a job so she could continue to support them.  While she is here, I will send money to them on a regular basis to keep them.”

“You’re going to send them money?” Mrs. Cartland was aghast.  “And how long do you propose to do that?”

“Until Naija can afford to support them herself.”

“And when exactly will that be?”

“When she finds steady employment after graduating from university.”

“I fear, my Dear, that she’s going to take advantage of your generosity and you will find yourself supporting her for longer than is necessary.  You’re far too indulgent and gullible when it comes to the dregs of society.”

Rolf’s lips tightened but he held his temper in check.  “Mother, I appreciate your concern, but Naija isn’t like that at all.”

Mrs. Cartland didn’t look at all convinced and was about to say something else when her daughter, Rosalind spoke up.  “Rolf, let’s go for a walk.  It looks absolutely gorgeous outside.  Mother, please excuse us.”

Grateful for the interruption, he rose to his feet and after excusing himself, he followed her out of the room.  “Thank you for that,” he said to Rosalind as they walked down the hallway.

She glanced at him.  “No problem.  I could see that you were trying very hard not to blow your top.  And Mother can be very irritating at times.”

“At times?”

Rosalind laughed.  “All right.  Most of the time.”

Rolf’s lips twitched.  They were outside now and it was a gorgeous day.  “Let’s take a walk by the stream.”

“What a splendid idea!”

The stream was about a ten minute walk from the family’s mansion.  “Do you remember when Dad used to bring us here on a Sunday morning?  While he and I fished, you fed the ducks pieces of bread from the egg and cheese sandwiches Mrs. Hogwarth made?”

“Yes and I remember getting pecked by one of them and Dad had to bandage my hand with his handkerchief.  I was scared of the ducks after that.”

“Yes, that’s how Mrs. Hogwarth found out that you fed her sandwiches to them and she clobbered you.”

“Yes, I was scared of her after then too.  Oh, Rolf, what a riotous childhood we had.  I miss Dad.”

“I miss him too.”

“He would be so proud of you, being a missionary and all.  It was something he himself loved.  He always regretted leaving the field when he married Mother.  She never understood his love for it.  She preferred being the wife of a government minister rather a missionary’s.”

“I love being in full-time ministry, helping communities in London and overseas.  It’s how I met Naija.”

“You’re in love with Naija, aren’t you?” Rosalind commented, looking at him closely.

He blushed.  Nothing ever escaped her.  “Yes,” he admitted quietly.

“I see the way you look and act around her.”

“Can you imagine how Mother would react if she knew?”

Rosalind waved her hand dismissively.  “It doesn’t matter what Mother or anyone else thinks, Rolf.  You have to follow your heart.  It’s your life, your future and your happiness that are at stake here.  Remember, Mother wanted me to marry Reginald but I married Maxwell instead?  Reginald was a good man but I didn’t love him.  I was mad about Maxwell and we have been happily married for twenty-six years now.”

“I think you made an excellent choice.  Maxwell is an exceptional man.”

“Thank you and yes, he is.  Does Naija know how you feel about her?”

He shook his head.  “No.”

“Don’t you think that perhaps it’s time you told her?”

His heart lurched.  “I don’t know,” he said in alarm.

“Come on, Rolf, don’t be such a coward.  Sometimes, happiness comes by taking chances.  I took a chance with Maxwell and looked how that turned out.”

What she said made a lot of sense but the thought of revealing his feelings to Naija was daunting.  He would have to think about it some more.  “I’ll think about it,” he said after a while.

Rosalind slipped her arm through his and smiled.  “All right,” she said.  “Sleep on it, then.”  They continued walking alongside the river, enjoying the sunshine and the quietness.

****************************************************

Naija was already at the park, waiting when Rolf got there the following afternoon.  He had just come from a staff meeting.  She smiled when she saw him and the large brown paper bag in his hand.  He smiled as he sat down beside her.  “Have you been waiting long?” he asked.

She shook her head.  “No.  I got here about five minutes ago.  Thanks for getting this.  I’m starving.”

He opened the bag and took out a box of Fish and Chips and handed it to her along with a plastic knife and fork.  He took out the other box.  On the bench between them, he put the cups of flavored milk tea and the straws.   After he said Grace, they tucked into the food.  It tasted as good as it looked and smelled.  As they ate, they talked about different things.   And all the while, he was thinking about what Rosalind had said.  He wanted to tell Naija how he felt but he was terrified.

“What’s wrong?” Naija’s question startled him.

“Nothing,” was his quick response.  A pause and then, wanting to shift the attention away from himself, he asked, “What are you plans after you graduate from university?  Will you stay here in England or return home to your family?”

She thought about it.  “I’ll stay here,” she said.  “I’ll find a job or I can become a missionary and work for you.”

“Being a missionary is an admirable vocation but what are your dreams?  What would you really like to do with your life, Naija?”

“I like writing.  I like to write about what I see around me.”

“Sounds like you’re thinking of becoming a journalist.  That’s very good. Perhaps, you’ll let me see some of your writings.”

“I will,” she promised.  “I keep a journal.  It’s almost full.  I write about university, what I observe on the campus, what I hear on the News and the conversations I have had with my host family.  I’ve written a lot of things about you as well.”

His eyebrows arched.  “Really?  And what exactly have you written about me?”

“How you’ve been so good to me and how blessed I am that you came into my life.  I will always be indebted to you, Rolf.”

A muscle began to throb along his jawline.  “I’m the one who’s blessed,” he replied.  Their eyes were locked.  His heart was racing.  This is foolish, he thought.  I’m behaving like a lovesick fool over a girl almost half my age.  She just sees me as her benefactor, nothing more.  All she feels towards me is gratitude. 

“That isn’t all I wrote about you,” she said shyly.

He swallowed hard.  “What else did you write about me?”

She looked nervous now.  “Rolf, I know that I’m only eighteen years old but, I–I was hoping that our age difference wouldn’t matter to you.”

“What are you saying, Naija?”

“What-what I’m saying, is-is that I want us to-to be more than friends.”

He expelled his breath in an unsteady sigh.  “Are you sure this is what you want?” he asked, his expression tense.

She nodded at once.  “Yes,” she replied.  “It’s what I’ve wanted since we met.”

“Oh, Naija,” he cried, his cheeks suffusing with color.  He set the empty boxes aside and rose to his feet.  He reached down and pulled her up.  “It’s what I want too.”  He pulled her against him and his eager lips found hers.  Overhead the setting sun cast its crimson glow on them.

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt –  Calm at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Sources: Erika and Eva Toh TravelsLondon City Mission

Three Years

“Where are you going this time?” Tami asked Justin as he was packing his bag.  She hated when he went away.  She missed him like crazy.  They kept in touch by phone, email and text messaging but that wasn’t enough.  She missed seeing and being with him.

“Milan.”

“For how long?”

“A week.”  He stopped what he was doing to look at her.  “Are you going to miss me”

“Of course I am.  I always do.  What about you?  Are you going to miss me, especially as you will be around beautiful models.”

He went over to her and reached for her hand, lacing his fingers through hers, his eyes intent on her upturned face.  “I’ll miss you very much as I always do,” he told her.  “I wish I could take you with me but you have to be at school and your parents won’t approve.  They already don’t because of our age difference.  Before you introduced me to them, they thought you were dating a boy from school, not a twenty-seven year old international model.”

“They like you but don’t know what your intentions toward me are and they fear that I’d get hurt.  You’re my first serious boyfriend.”

“I never imagined that I would be in a relationship with a high-school senior but when I first laid eyes on you, I was hooked.  I told myself that it was crazy to have feelings for a girl so much younger than me but it was no use.  I fell for you and I fell hard.”

She reached up and brushed his hair back from his forehead.  “I fell for you the moment I first saw you but I didn’t think that you would be interested in me.  I wasn’t beautiful or glamorous like the women you’re used to being around.”

“You’re beautiful to me, Tami,” he murmured huskily.  “You take my breath away.”  He raised her hand and pressed his lips into the palm, making her tremble.

“Call me as soon as you check into the hotel,” she told him, breathlessly.

He released her hand to cup her face.  “I will,” he promised before he lowered his head and kissed her.  They exchanged passionate kisses for several minutes before he raised his head and said, “It’s getting late.  I’d better take you home now.”

Reluctantly, she removed her arms from about his waist and stepped back.  Whenever things got hot and heavy between them, he put the brakes on.  She knew he was doing it because he respected her decision to wait until she was married to have sex.  He didn’t react like other guys did.  Instead of calling her a prude, he said, “I think it’s wonderful that you want to stay pure until marriage, especially in this day and age.”

It was frustrating, though when in the heat of the moment, he pulled away like just now.  It was like a someone threw a bucket of cold water on her.  Still, she ought to be grateful that he acted responsibly.  On the drive over to her house, she had the window cracked so that the cold air would cool her down.

Twenty minutes later they stood outside her home, holding hands.  They hugged and kissed.  He waited until she let herself inside before he went to his car.  She was standing at the window looking out.  He waved before getting into his car and driving away.

All week in Milan he thought about her and on the last day before heading to the airport, he went to Tiffany & Co to buy an engagement ring.  When he returned to London, he arranged to stop by Tami’s house to see her father.  After a long, heart to heart conversation, Mr. Miller gave his consent but was adamant that the wedding not take place until after Tami graduated from university.  So, Justin agreed to a three year long engagement.

That evening, he invited Tami over to his place for a home cooked dinner.  It was when they were relaxing on the sofa, that he got down on one knee and proposed.  She gaped at him and then teared up when she saw the ring.  He took her hand.  “Tami, this afternoon, I took the liberty of asking your father’s permission to marry you.  He gave us his blessing on the condition that we wait until after you graduate from university.  Do you mind being engaged for three years?”

She shook her head.  “No.”

He smiled.  “Good.  Will you marry me?”

“Yes!”  Her response sounded like a laugh and sob at the same time.

He slipped the ring onto her finger before rising to his feet.  He reached down and pulled her up.  “I love you,” he murmured as he held her against him.

She put her arms around his neck.  “I love you too.”  As his lips descended on hers, she wished that the three years would go very quickly.

When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possibleNora Ephron

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Knows No Age

Love knows no age, when you find true love, you will not care about the age, all you will care about is spending forever with him – Unknown

Wayne was sitting on his balcony looking out when the doorbell rang.  He glanced at his watch.  It was half-past six.  He wasn’t expecting anyone.  Getting up from the chair, he walked through the living-room and went into the foyer.  He peered through the keyhole.  It was Deanna.  After a slight hesitation, he unlocked the door and opened it.  His expression was inscrutable when he met her gaze.

“I hope I’m not disturbing you,” she said quietly, apologetically.

He shook his head and stepping aside, he said, “Come in.”

He closed the door after her and leaned against it, his eyes focused on her face.  He was afraid to lower his gaze although he already knew that she was clad in a black, v-neck tee shirt, knee length denim skirt which revealed a pair of shapely legs.  Her long hair fell in thick waves about her shoulders and she was wearing the chain he had given her as a birthday present.  She was so lovely but so young…

“How have you been, Wayne?” she asked.

He ran his fingers through his damp and tousled hair.  “Fine,” he lied.  The last few weeks had been hell for him.  He couldn’t stop thinking about the last time they saw each other.  She had stopped by his place that night after calling him on her cell.  He had just stepped out of the shower when the bell rang.  Without thinking, he wrapped a towel about his wet skin and went to answer the door.  He opened it and he saw the shock on her face when he stood there half-naked and dripping.  Reaching out, he took her hand and pulled her inside.

She stood there, trying hard not to stare but it was as if she couldn’t help herself.  Her wide gaze traveled over his wide shoulders, broad chest, muscular arms and flat stomach.  When her eyes returned to his face, she couldn’t hide what was in them.  Without saying a word, he reached for her and pulled her roughly against him, making her gasp.  His head swooped down and his mouth was on hers, devouring it as desire took over reason.  She responded and her arms went around his waist.  They stood there for several minutes kissing passionately and then, the phone rang, jolting them.

Reluctantly, he broke off the kiss and went to answer it.  He had his back to her when he picked it up.  “Hello?”  It was Emma.  She was calling to tell him that she was running a bit late and that she would meet him in front of the theater.  When he hung up and turned around, Deanna was opening the door to leave.  He hurried over to her.  “Where are you going?” he asked.

“I’ve to go and you have a date.”

He pulled her against him and buried his face in her hair.  “Oh Deanna,” he moaned thickly.  “I wish…”

“I’ve to go,” she cried and jerking free from him, she yanked open the door and ran out, leaving him standing there, bereft and frustrated.  That night at the opera was a disaster.  Emma could tell that he wasn’t enjoying himself and instead of having dinner as they had planned, he took her home.  As soon as he let himself into his own place, he called Deanna but she didn’t answer.  Over the next couple of days, he tried to reach her but to no avail and whenever he went by her place, either she wasn’t at home or she wasn’t answering the door.

And now here she was standing the foyer looking up at him with those eyes that drove him crazy.  “I’m sorry about what happened the last time I was here,” she said.

“Are you sorry about what happened between us?” he asked tautly.  He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about it.  Right now he was tempted to take her in his arms and…

“If–if the phone hadn’t rung, I–I would have stayed.”

“Why did you run away?” he asked.

“I–I didn’t run away.  I left because you had a date with–with Emma.”

“Yes, I had a date with Emma.  We went to the opera but skipped dinner.  I took her home and came straight here afterwards.  I called you but there wasn’t any answer.  I had a miserable evening and the past few weeks have been hell for me because of you.  I haven’t been able to eat or sleep.  All I can think about is you, Deanna and what happened between us right here and what would have happened if Emma hadn’t called.”

“I haven’t been able to think of anything else,” she confessed.  “But what about Emma?”

“There wasn’t anything between us.  We went out a few times but my feelings for her have always been platonic.  But you…”

She swallowed hard, her heart pounding.  “What about me?” she asked breathless.

“What I feel for you scares me.  I never imagined that I would feel this way for a girl your age.”

“I’m twenty.”

“And I’m going to be thirty-four next month.”

“Fourteen years isn’t that much of an age difference,” she told him.

“You look much younger than twenty, Deanna.”

“Maybe I should cut my hair so that I look older–”

“No,” he muttered, reaching out and grasping her hair at the nape of her neck and drawing her towards him, his eyes darkening on her upturned face.  “Don’t cut your hair.  I want to bury my face in it whenever we make love.”

She trembled now, her eyes dropping to his lips.  Was that his heavy breathing that she was hearing or hers?  “I won’t cut it,” she promised.  “I’ll wear it up instead…”

Groaning, he lowered his head and kissed her, his fingers, gripping her hair as he plundered her lips.  She wrapped her arms around his waist and pressed against him as she responded wildly to his kisses.  After several minutes, he broke off the kiss to bury his flushed face in her neck.  “I love you,” he whispered.

“I love you too,” she cried.

He raised his head to gaze down at her.  “As much as I want to make love to you, I think we should wait.”

She stared at him.  “Wait?” she exclaimed.  “Why?”

“I want to marry you first and then make love to you on our wedding night.”

“Marry?” she repeated.  “You want to marry me?”

His mouth twitched.  “Of course and the sooner the better.  What about next month–say, on September 8th?”

“September 8th– that’s your birthday.”

“Yes, it’s the day for us to get married.  What do you say?”

“I say yes.”  She reached up and kissed him.

When he came up for air, he suggested, “Now, I really think we should go out somewhere because if we stay here, we’ll end up in bed.”

She nodded.  “You’re right.  Where would you like to go?”

“There’s this new French restaurant which recently opened that I thought we could try and I heard that they have a nice banquet hall too.”

She smiled.  “Let’s go.  I’m suddenly feeling very hungry.”

“All right.  And on the way, we’ll stop by De Beers Jewellers.”

Her expression grew serious.  “Don’t worry about the age difference,” she said.  “We love each other and that’s all that matters.  Someone once said that love knows no age.”

“You’re right,” he agreed.  “And love is as ageless as it is timeless.”

A Memorable Birthday

Todd had finally provoked her into ending their relationship.  She refused to continue to tolerate his wandering eye and embarrassing behavior in public.  He tried to sweet talk her into taking him back but it didn’t work this time.  She was fed up with him and wanted a break from relationships.  She was just going to concentrate on her career.  Right now she was at her beach house in Devon, enjoying the solitude and the sound of the waves was very soothing.

One afternoon she was walking on the beach when she saw a stranger sitting on sandy mound, watching her.  She stopped and stared at him, wondering who he was and why he was there.  Curious, she approached him.  He stood up, his six feet plus frame making her feel small.  Well dressed in a dark blue suit over a purple shirt, he was extremely handsome and was most likely in his mid to late twenties.  “What are you doing here?  This is a private beach.”

“Miss Flanning, I’m sorry to be trespassing but I had to see you,” he explained.  “You see, my mother is a big fan of yours and she’s celebrating her fiftieth birthday this Saturday.  I was hoping that if you weren’t otherwise engaged, you would come and sing for her as a surprise.  It would be a real treat for her and most likely the best gift she has ever had.”

Lola was touched by his request.  “I don’t have any engagements this weekend so I will be more than happy to do this for your mother.”

He looked very relieved and smiled.  “Thank you, Miss Flanning,” he said.

She smiled.  “Please call me Lola,” holding out her hand.  “What’s your name?”

“Julian Mortimer.”  They shook hands.

“What time is the party?” she asked.

“At seven.  Here are the particulars,” he added, reaching into the breast pocket of his jacket and taking out an invitation which he gave her.   “I’d like you to come at eight.  By then everyone will be there.”

She took the invitation.  “I’ll be there at eight,” she promised.  “This is a very thoughtful thing you’re doing for your mother.”

“Thank you.  Every year I give her flowers or take her to the opera or ballet but this year I wanted to do something different for her fiftieth birthday.  I surfing the Internet for ideas when I came across a recent interview you had on the BBC.  And the thought occurred to me what a wonderful treat it would be for my mother to have you sing at her birthday party.  The only problem was I didn’t know how to get close to you.  Then, I remembered that one of my friends knows your publicist and he spoke to her on my behalf and here I am.  I hope you don’t mind and that your publicist doesn’t get into trouble because of me.”

“Don’t worry.  No one’s going to get fired or anything like that.  Besides,  I trust my publicist’s judgment and obviously, she believed that this was a worthy cause.  And I must admit that singing at a private venue is a welcome change.”

“Well, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you doing this.  My mother will be thrilled.”

“Are you and she close?”

He nodded.  “Yes, we are.  I’m an only child and after my father died, we became closer because I was all she had.  She doted on and still does.  I love her dearly and would do anything for her.”

“She’s a very lucky woman to have a son like you,” she remarked.

“I believe that I’m the lucky one.”  He glanced at his watch.  “I must be going,” he said apologetically.  He held out his hand.  “It was a pleasure meeting you, Lola.”

She shook his hand.  “It was a pleasure meeting you too, Julian.”

“I look forward to seeing you on Saturday.”

“I look forward to being there.  Goodbye.”

“Goodbye.”  He smiled, making her heart skip a beat before turning and walking away.

She stood there watching his retreating back until he was no longer visible before she turned and walked along the water’s edge.  Truthfully, she was looking forward to seeing him again too.

Saturday came.  She opted to wear a black pant suit with a white sequin top.  Her only jewelry were a pair of pearl earrings.  After examining herself in the mirror and satisfied with the results, she grabbed her handbag and left the house.

Twenty minutes later she was driving up a long, winding driveway flanked by imposing trees until the mansion suddenly came into view.  Her mouth dropped open.  It was was magnificent and it reminded her of one of those mansions she saw in the show, Hidden Mansions or something out of a Jane Austen novel.  The stately home made her beach house look like a doll’s house in comparison.  She parked her car where she saw other cars parked and got out.

Heart racing, she went up the short flight of stairs to the enormous door and stared at the antique lion door knocker before lifting it to alert someone inside that she was there.  A few minutes later, the door opened an gentleman stood there.  She presumed that he was the butler.  “Good evening,” he said.  “You must be Miss Flanning.”

“Yes, I am.”

“Master Julian informed me that you would be coming at this time.  Please come in and I will take you directly to the drawing-room where they are.”

“Thank you,” she said, stepping inside and followed him through an impressive entrance hall with two side by side winding staircases to an exquisitely beautiful drawing room with antique furniture, rug, decorative walls, paintings, high ceiling, gigantic hanging chandelier and enormous windows through which light streamed and afforded one an unobstructed view of lush and immaculate green lawns.  She didn’t have time to really appreciate her surroundings as she was aware that there were over thirty people in the room watching her.  To her relief, Julian was one of them and he immediately came over to her, looking extremely pleased to see her.  “Hello,” he said.  “It’s good to see you again.”

“Hello,” she said, feeling a bit nervous.

“Don’t be nervous,” he said.  “You look very beautiful.”

“Thank you.  And you don’t look bad yourself.”  He looked amazing and very elegant in the black suit and black tie and with his hair slicked back.

He smiled.  “Thank you.  Come let me introduce you to my mother.”  Taking her arm, he escorted her over to the group.

“Which one is she?” she asked.

“The one in the wheelchair,” he answered, startling her.  “My mother has Multiple sclerosis.”

She glanced up at him.  “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I didn’t want you to feel obligated to come tonight.”

“I would have come regardless.  How is she doing?”

“Her symptoms come and go in phases.  There are times when she suffers from fatigue and other times when she seems fine.  Right now, she seems fine.”

“Does she live here on her own?”

“No, I live here too and she has a live-in nurse.  Between the two of us, we take care of her.  I can’t wait to see the look on her face when she sees you.”

Lola blinked back the tears that sprang to her eyes and put on a bright smile as she stood behind him.

“Mother, I have a big birthday surprise for you.”

She glanced up at him.  “What is it?” she asked.

“Here she is.” He stepped aside while she stepped forward.

“Happy birthday, Mrs. Mortimer.”

She saw the woman’s eyes widened in shock.  “Lola Flanning?” she exclaimed, turning to look up at Julian.  “You brought Lola Flanning to my party?”

Julian beamed.  “Yes, Mother.  I wanted to surprise you.”

Mrs. Mortimer’s returned to Lola who held out her hand.  The older woman grasped it, her eyes welling with tears.  “I can’t believe that you’re here,” she said.  “Thank you.”

Lola covered her hand with her other one and leaned over to kiss her on the cheek.  “It was my pleasure,” she said when she drew back, her own eyes moist.

“Yes, Mother, Lola graciously agreed to come and sing for you on your birthday.”

“I look forward to hearing you sing,” Mrs. Mortimer said, “but first, sit beside me.  Have you had anything to eat?”

“Actually, no, but–”

“Julian, please have Sophie fix a plate for Miss Flanning.”

“Please call me Lola and I really don’t want to put you to any trouble–”

“It’s no trouble at all,” Mrs. Mortimer insisted.

Julian excused himself and quickly left the room.  After he was gone, Mrs. Mortimer introduced Lola to the rest of the guests, some of whom were also fans and asked for her autograph.  They were excited that she was going to sing.  One of the women, remarked, “I was so relieved when I read that you had broken up with that womanizer, Todd Collins.  You deserve better.”

Lola smiled but didn’t answer.  Just then, Julian returned with a plate of a variety of delicious looking and mouth-watering smelling food.  Feeling a bit self-conscious, she began to eat it while the conversation kept going, touching on all sorts of topics ranging from her career to hot vacation spots and favorite charitable organizations.

After she finished eating and was ready, Julian sat behind the piano while she stood beside it and began to sing, her voice smooth and soulful as she belted out her popular ballads while the others watched rapt.  Mrs. Mortimer relaxed in her chair with a smile on her face.  Julian’s eyes were on her the whole time as his fingers ran over the keys.  An hour later, the room was filled with thunderous applause and after bowing graciously, Lola resumed her seat next to Mrs. Mortimer who thanked her, her expression one of deep gratitude.

“You’re more than welcome, Mrs. Mortimer.”

“Please call me, Olivia.  You’ve made this birthday the happiest I have ever had.”

“You owe it all to Julian.”

“Yes,” she agree, looking over to where he stood talking to a couple.  “He’s my pride and joy.  Besides God, he has been my rock through the rough moments of this terrible disease.  I don’t know how much longer I have but I hope and pray that before I go, I will see him settle down with a good woman.”

“Whoever she is, she’d be very lucky to have him,” Lola commented, her eyes wandering over to where Julian was.  Too bad I’m not ten years younger, she thought regretfully.

Just then Julian turned and their eyes met.  Mrs. Mortimer observed them and a smile tugged at her lips.  “It seems like I don’t have to wait long to get my wish,” she remarked and Lola turned to look at her inquiringly.

“I beg your pardon?”

Mrs. Mortimer.  “I was just saying that it has been a long time since I’ve had so much fun.”  That was true.  Tonight was a wonderful evening—one that she would never forget.  And she wished it would last longer but she suddenly felt very tired and she couldn’t prevent the yawn she had been trying to stifle.  In a flash, Julian was at her side.

“Mother, you’re tired.”

“No, I’m not,” she protested.  “Stop fussing.”

“You’re tired,” he insisted.  “I can see it on your face.  It’s after ten.  You should be going to bed now.  I will take you up to your room and Margaret will take care of you.  Please don’t argue with me, Mother.  Say goodnight to Lola and your other guests.”

Mrs. Mortimer sighed.  “Sometimes I wonder who is the parent and who is the child.  Very well, Son, I will say goodnight to these good people and then retire.”  Everyone in the room took turns wishing her all the best and made plans to visit when she was ready.  After they said goodnight to Lola, they left.

Lola took the older woman’s hands in hers.  “Olivia, it was a real treat for me to be here tonight.  You’re one of the most gracious and strong women I have ever met.  And it is my hope that we will see each other again.”

Olivia squeezed her hands.  “Have tea with me one afternoon,” she said.  “I will have Julian get in touch with you.  Thank you for making this birthday a memorable one.  God bless you.  Goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” Lola released her hands and straightened up.  She looked at Julian who was watching her, his expression inscrutable.

“Don’t leave,” he said.  “I will be back shortly.”

“I’ll wait here,” she promised.  After watching him wheel his mother out of the room, she turned and walked over to the windows.  It was dark outside but the lights from the house illuminated the grounds.  She had once considered buying a stately home not far from here but decided to get the beach house instead because it required less maintenance and she liked being close to the ocean.   She wondered what it was like for Julian to grow up in this house and if it was ever lonely for him.  As a child, she had lots of friends and family to play and spend time with so she never experienced loneliness.

She turned when she heard Julian come into the room.  He joined her at the window.  “How is she?” she asked.

“She seems fine.  I left Margaret reading the Bible to her.”

“Your mother is a remarkable woman.  I admire her.”

He smiled.  “Yes, I’m a great admirer of her too.  Her inner strength is all due to her faith and it was one of the qualities that my father loved about her.  Would you like to take a short walk around the grounds before you leave?”

“Sure.  I was admiring them earlier when I first walked into this room.”

They went outside.  It was a balmy night.   He took her around the grounds, showing her the tennis court, the swimming pool and the Garden fountain where they paused for a little while as she admired its details.

As they made their way back to the front of the mansion, she asked,  “Was living here ever lonely for you?”

“Sometimes,” he admitted.  “But, I tried not to show it because I didn’t want Mother to know because she tried so hard to make my life here as content as possible.  As I got older, life got better and attending university helped because I made lots of friends whom my mother invited to spend the summer and Christmas holidays.  I could tell that she loved having a house filled with young people but after I left university, we decided that we wanted it to be like it used to be.  So, we spend quiet summers and Christmases.  And that’s fine for me.  We enjoy each other’s company.”

“I can tell that the two of you have a special bond which I don’t think it will change when you get married—”

He stopped abruptly and turned to face her.  “So, she has been talking to you about my future.”

She nodded.  “Yes, she expressed her wish to see you settle down with a good woman while she’s still around.”

“Do you wish to see me marry a good woman?”

She lowered her eyes.  “It doesn’t matter what I wish.”  The thought of him getting married bothered her more than she cared to admit.  How was it possible for her to care so much about a man she’d only met once before now?

“It matters to me, Lola.  Do you know that all during the week, I have thought of nothing else but seeing you again?  I couldn’t concentrate on my work.  I kept seeing your lovely face.  And tonight, I couldn’t take my eyes off you.  You take my breath away, Lola…”

Her head shot up then, her eyes wide as they met his and her heartbeat accelerating at an alarming rate when she saw the expression on his face.  “We-we shouldn’t be having this conversation,” she stammered.

“Why not?” he asked.

“Well, because…How old are you?”

“Twenty-eight.”

“I’m thirty-nine.  Next year May, I’ll turn forty.”

He seemed unfazed.  “It doesn’t matter that you’re older than me.”

“Wouldn’t you prefer to be with a woman closer to your age?”

“I’ve dated women my age but I was never attracted to any of them the way I’m attracted to you.  So, the answer to your question is no.  I would rather be with you.”

“Well, you can’t be with me,” she told him in frustration because for one maddening moment, she wanted to grab the lapels of his jacket, pull him against her and plant one on him.  She was so attracted to him that it drove her crazy and scared her at the same time.  “I–I need to go now.”  She started to walk away when he caught her by the shoulders.

“Why?” he demanded, his eyes searching her averted face, his grip tightening as she struggled to break free.  “Are you afraid of what would happen between us if you stayed, Lola?  Are you afraid that if I were to kiss you, you wouldn’t want to leave?”  He was breathing heavily now and she could feel his body against her, awakening a desire in her that was so strong it made her gasp and then, his mouth was on hers, devouring it feverishly.  And for one unguarded moment, she responded wildly as she tried desperately to assuage the hunger that was raging inside her.

Then, she came to her senses and with supreme effort she pushed him away and ran to her car, panting.  She got in, slammed the door and after fumbling for the key, she put it in the ignition and the engine roared to life.  When she saw him coming towards her, she frantically put the car in reverse and then sped off.  As soon as she got home, she took a cold shower before she went to bed.  Sleep evaded her.  Her mind was spinning.  All she could think about was the kiss and how much she wanted him.  She closed her eyes in despair.   Julian Mortimer had breached the fortress she had built around her heart.

Three weeks passed since that night.  She was restless.  Her thoughts were filled with Julian.  Every time she closed her eyes, she saw his face and her longing for him clawed at her relentlessly, driving her crazy.  Sleep was fitful and it was hard to concentrate on anything because her mind was constantly on him.  She gave up trying to write the new lyrics and went out on the balcony.  The water was calm and she envied it.  The sun was high, bathing the sea and sand in its golden light.  Seagulls soared in the sky.  What a glorious day.  Too bad she couldn’t enjoy it.

Something caught her eye and she started when she realized that it was Julian.  Heart thudding, she ran down the steps and down the grassy slope to the water’s edge where he stood, hands in pockets, facing the ocean.  He was less formally dressed this time, clad in a white shirt and tan slacks.  There wasn’t a wrinkle of crease anywhere on his clothes.  As usual, they looked like they had just come straight off the rack.

“Julian, what are you doing here?” she called out just before she reached him.

He turned at once to face her, his gaze traveling slowly over her figure in the light green top and denim shorts, his gaze lingering on her bare legs.  “Mother wants you to have tea with her tomorrow afternoon at two–that if you aren’t busy.”

“You could have called or emailed me,” she told him.  “You didn’t have to come in person.”  Although I’m thrilled to see you. 

“All right,” he sighed.  “I came because I can’t stay away any longer.  I had to see you, LolaI can’t stop thinking about the last time we saw each other.  When we kissed…”  His eyes dropped to her mouth, his darkening at the memory.

“Julian, we can’t do this,” she protested.  “I’m much older than you.”  The truth was he scared her because the feelings he aroused in her were so powerful and unlike anything she had ever experienced.  What she once felt for Todd paled in comparison.  Her heart urged her to throw caution to the wind and give into her feelings but her mind resisted.

“Lola, please don’t let our age difference prevent us from being together.  Ever since we met, I haven’t stopped thinking about you and longing to be with you.”

“Julian, please…” She felt her resolve weakening fast, especially as he pulling her against him.  The expression on his face mirrored the emotions that were raging inside her, making so hard for her to resist him.  She wanted him with every fiber of her being but…Her hands came up to push him away.

“I know you feel the same way,” he persisted, his eyes darkening on her face.  “I felt it when we kissed and I can see it in your eyes right now.  Oh, Lola…” he moaned thickly before he bent his head and kissed her.

Powerless against her feelings and him, the hands that had tried to push him away gripped the back of his shirt as she kissed him back feverishly, blindly and with total abandon.

They entered into a relationship.  In April of the following year, they got married, much to the delight of Mrs. Mortimer.  Nine months later, she held Olivia, her first grandchild in her arms and as she smiled down into the red, crinkly face, she silently thanked God for granting her far more than she had expected.

 

Source:  NHS Choices;

Love in the Office

When she went to the kitchenette to fill her bottle with water, Anton was there telling a couple of people about his camping trip with his friends.  She couldn’t help but smile.  He was such a droll when it came to telling stories.  She filled her bottle and turned so that she was facing the group.

“Sounds like you had a lot of fun on your camping trip,” she said a few minutes later, when they were alone.

He went over to where she was.  “I did,” he said, his eyes riveted to her face.

She wondered if he knew how much his closeness affected her.  “Good,” she said, sounding a little breathless.  “Where did you go camping?”

“Wild Boar Wood in West Sussex.”

“So, were there any women on your camping trip?” She had to ask.

He shook his head.  “No, just the guys.”

She couldn’t hide her relief and she saw his expression change.

“Even if women were there, I wouldn’t have been interested in any of them,” he said quietly.  “You must know by now, Tina, that I’m deeply attracted to you.”

Her chest began to rise and fall quickly and she seemed to have trouble breathing.  “I’m your supervisor,” she reminded him.

“Yes, I know that we have a working relationship but we can’t deny how we feel about each other.  I know that you’re attracted to me.  I saw the look on your face when I told you that there weren’t any women on the camping trip.  You don’t want me to be with another woman any more than I want you to be with another man.  You can’t deny that you have feelings for me, Tina.  I can see it on your face.”

Her resolve was beginning to weaken.  “I’m older than you,” she said.

“Age is just a number,” he said dismissively.  “Have dinner with me tomorrow night.”

“All right,” she acquiesced.  “You win.” She was no match for the emotions that raged within her or his power of persuasion.

He smiled.  “Good.  I’ll pick you at seven-thirty.”

“I think we should get back to work now,” she said.

“Right,” he agreed.  “I’ll get started on the report you asked me for.”  He excused himself and quickly walked away.

For several minutes, she stood there, wondering if she had acted wisely.  She couldn’t get past the fact that she was his supervisor and that there was a considerable age difference between them.   Yet, try as she did, she couldn’t deny her feelings for Anton.

From the moment she first saw him, she knew that she was in trouble.  His good looks, charm and friendly disposition made him irresistible.  Working with him was a challenge.  Many times, she found herself watching him and wondering if he had a girlfriend.  She couldn’t imagine that someone like him would be unattached.  It bothered her to see him talking to other women in the department, especially the younger ones.

Just yesterday, she had walked by the photocopier on her way to the boardroom for a meeting when she saw him standing there talking to Wendy, a pretty redhead.  He had his back turned to her so he didn’t notice her.  Her steps faltered and as she watched them talking, red, hot jealousy raged inside her.  She was tempted to go over there and interrupt them but she came to her senses and hurried away before he saw her.  When she was in the meeting, she had to literally force herself to focus on the business at hand and put the sight of Anton and Wendy out of her mind.  Later when they were alone in her office going over some files, she said, “Wendy’s pretty, isn’t she?”

He glanced up at her.  “I suppose so,” he said.

“I saw the two of you at the photocopier earlier today.  I think she likes you.”

“Are you trying to set me up with her?” he asked, startling her.

“No,” she protested.  “I—I was just making an observation.”

“Wendy’s a very nice girl but I’m not attracted to her.”  He was staring at her now and the expression on his face made her heart palpitate.  That was the first time she became aware of his attraction for her.

“Tina, Mr. Foster is waiting for you in your office.”  Annette’s voice brought her back to the present.

“Thanks, Annette,” she said and followed her out of the kitchenette.

Several hours later when it was time to leave, Anton stopped by her office.  She was straightening her desk.  He went over to her.  “Normally, I would tell you to have a good weekend,” he said.  “But, I’ll be seeing you tomorrow.”

“Yes,” she said.  She handed him a slip of paper with her address on it.  When he took it, their fingers touched and her breath caught in her throat.  Her skin seemed to burn.  Their eyes met and held for a long time before she turned away to remove her jacket from the back of her chair.   “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Tina.”  She heard him leave and turned round when he closed the door behind him.

Her skin still tingled where his fingers had touched it.  She traced the area, her heart pounding when she remembered the expression on his face as they stared at each other.  The desire she saw there was unmistakable.  She wondered what would have happened if she hadn’t turned away.  On the drive home, she mulled over it and nervous excitement rose in her whenever she thought of seeing Anton the following evening.  What on earth am I going to wear? She wondered, racking her brains to see if there was an outfit that would be suitable.  It had been ages since she had been on a date and it felt very strange going on one with someone she worked closely with.

As soon as she got home, she searched for something to wear and settled on a dress she had bought a month ago and had worn only once.  It was a black slash neck dress with a flare skirt.  On Saturday evening, she put it on and was satisfied with how it looked.  She wore her hair in a chignon, allowing a few tendrils to frame her face.  The strappy black and silver heels completed the outfit.  The doorbell rang just as she took one last look at herself in the mirror.  When she opened the door and saw Anton standing there, her heart leapt.  He looked gorgeous in the charcoal grey suit with the black dress shirt and black tie.  His eyes slid over her and when they returned to her face, admiration and desire shone in their depths.   “You look amazing,” he said quietly.

“So do you.”  As they walked to the lift, she could feel him watching her and she smiled, flattered.

The restaurant, set in a snug 18th century townhouse, was atmospheric in that the tables candle lit.   Over dinner, he told her about himself.  His father was British and his mother French.  He had an older brother and a younger sister.  He asked many questions about her and her family.

When they were having dessert, he said with a serious expression on his face, “I want to have a relationship with you, Tina.  I know that you are hesitant because we work together and the age difference but we can’t deny how we feel about each other.  It’s so hard for me to be around you and not want to touch you or kiss you.  Quite a few people in our department are dating each other.  At least, let’s give it a try and see what happens.   What do you say?”

She toyed with her Black Currant Sorbet for a moment and then, looking up at him, she nodded.  “Yes, let’s give it a try.”  He was right.  There was nothing to prevent them from having a relationship except her own misgivings which she knew had to do with her fear of getting hurt.  She still couldn’t believe that he was attracted to her instead of someone closer to his age.

He smiled and reaching over, he caressed her hand, making her pulse race.  They spent the rest of the night talking about all sorts of things and made plans to see each other the following day.  When he took her home, he leaned down and was about to kiss her on the cheek when, heart thudding, she turned her head so that their lips touched.

Groaning, he deepened the kiss while backing her into the flat.  Once they were inside, he kicked the door shut, his mouth moving feverishly over hers.  She clung to him, kissing him back while her hands removed his jacket.  His tie and shirt soon followed and then, she broke off the kiss, panting and grabbing him by the hand, she took him to her room.

The following day at the office, they smiled and kept exchanging knowing looks.  She felt like a lovesick schoolgirl.   When other people were around, they acted professionally around each other as before. They spent every evening together, either at her flat or his.  Over the weekends, they went for drives, to the cinema, dinner, the theatre, concerts and nightclubs or for walks along the Quay.  Tina knew that she was falling in love with him and hoped that he was with her.  Once when he was taking a shower, she joined him and as he gazed down into her face, the water beating on his back, she saw the look in his eyes before he kissed her.  There was no doubt in her mind that he cared for her.

One afternoon, she was on her way home to visit her sister, Vivien when she spotted Anton in front of a café.  He was not alone.   There was a traffic signal right there and she stopped as the light turned to red, craning her neck to see him and the girl he was with.  She watched as he leaned over and said something to the pretty brunette, making her throw back her head and laugh.  Then, she saw the girl reach up and put her arms around his neck, hugging him closely.  Her fingers gripped the steering wheel as jealousy ripped through her.

The honk of a car horn behind her startled her.  Dragging her eyes from the two figures on the sidewalk, she glanced up and saw that the light had changed to green.  She pressed her foot on the gas and drove off.  All sorts of thoughts were running through her mind.  Who was the girl and what was he doing with her?  And what about me?  Is he getting bored of me?  But he couldn’t be—not after the way he made love to me last night.  She trembled at the memory.  Is he seeing the both of us at the same time?  Is he sleeping with her too? The pain and jealousy almost suffocated her.

How she managed to get to Vivien’s home without getting into an accident, she had no idea.  As soon as her sister opened the door, she broke down.  Concerned, Vivien hugged her for a moment until she had calmed down, then she put her arm around her shoulder and led her over to the sofa.  “Tell me what’s got you so upset,” she encouraged her gently.  She handed her the box of tissues that was on the coffee table and waited patiently while she dried her eyes and wiped her nose.  “I’ve never seen you like this before.”

Taking her time, Tina told her everything.  “I love him, Vivien.  It really hurt to see him with her.”

“Does he love you?”

She shrugged her shoulders.  “I don’t know.  He hasn’t said so as yet.”

“Based on what you have told me, it’s obvious that he has feelings for you.  There might not be anything going on between him and the girl.  It may all turn out to be innocent.  When you see him tomorrow, ask him about her.”

“And what if he’s seeing her?”

“Then, you must end your relationship with him.” She reached out and covered her hands.  “I hope it all works out for you, Tina.”

Tina didn’t answer.  At that moment, her world was in an upheaval and she didn’t know what she was going to do if it turned out that Anton was two-timing her.

She drove to work the next day, feeling awful.  She hadn’t slept a wink at all last night.  Anton wasn’t at his desk when she got in and she went into her office and closed the door.  She knew she couldn’t avoid him but she dreaded the moment when she would have to talk to him.  Once when he knocked on the door and poked his head in, she pretended that she was on the phone.  He didn’t disturb her after that.

It was after twelve when she came out of her office and stopped short when she saw the same girl she had seen Anton with sitting in a chair next to his desk.  What is she doing here, she wondered, resentfully.  The girl didn’t see her.  She was sitting with her back turned to her and was on her cell phone texting.

She was tempted to walk over to her and find out who she was.  As she stood there, trying to figure out what to do, Anton came up behind her.   She felt him caress her arm and she swung round to face him.

“What’s the matter?” he asked when he saw the expression on her face.

“Who’s the girl over there at your desk?” she demanded in a low, angry voice.  She couldn’t hide her jealousy.

He looked over her shoulder and then back at her.  “You mean my sister?” he asked, raising his eyebrows quizzically.

She gaped at him.  “Your sister?” she repeated, wondering if she had heard correctly.

“Yes, my sister.  Come, let me introduce you.”  He took her by the arm and led her over to the brunette who glanced up at them.  “This is my sister, Louise.  Louise, this is Tina.”

Louise smiled and held out her hand.  “It’s nice to meet you, Tina.  Anton has told me so much about you.”

Tina shook her hand, dazed and feeling like a complete fool.  “It’s nice to meet you too,” she murmured.

Anton turned to her, “Louise and I are going to have lunch.  Would you like to join us?”

She shook her head.  “Thank you, but I already had my lunch and I have a meeting in about fifteen minutes.”

Anton grabbed his jacket and pulled it on.  “I’ll see you when I get back.”

Louise stood up.  She was a tall girl.  “I hope to see you again, Tina,” she said.

Tina managed a smile.  “Me too.”  She watched them as they walked away and then went back into her office.  She sat down at her desk and leaned her head against the leather upholstery, her mind whirling.  The heaviness which had been on her heart was gone.  She went to her meeting in better spirits.  When it was over, she went back to her office and waited for Anton to return from lunch.

When he did, she called him on his extension, asking him to go in and see her.  He went in right away and walked over to her desk.  “You’ve been avoiding me all morning,” he said, “and I’d like to know why.”

She got up from the desk and went up to him.  “I have a confession to make,” she said quietly, wringing her hands nervously.  “Yesterday I saw you with Louise, only I didn’t know at the time that she was your sister and I thought…”

“And you thought that I was seeing another woman behind your back.  Oh, Tina,” he groaned, raking his fingers through his hair in frustration.  “How could you think such a thing?  Can’t you tell by now that I love you?”

Her heart stopped.  “You love me?”

“Yes! I love you so much that I ache inside.”

“I love you too.  I’m sorry for being such a jealous fool.  When I saw you with her, I was so hurt, so jealous.  I—I was going to talk to you about it today but I couldn’t seem to work up the courage to do so.”

He reached for her and pulled her into his arms.  “There’s no reason for you to be jealous of other women,” he told her huskily.  “I love you.  I want to be with you.  I want to marry you.”

She stared at him.  “Marry me?”

“Yes.  That’s why you saw me with Louise yesterday.  She went with me to De Beers to help me to choose a ring for you.  I was planning to propose to you tonight over dinner at my place.  Afterwards, we went to a cafe.  You must have seen us just before we parted company.”

She began to cry and he hugged her tightly.  “I’m so sorry,” she sobbed.

He drew back to look down at her.  “What are you sorry about?” he asked.

“I’m sorry for ruining your surprise and for doubting you…”

“Don’t  cry,” he said.  “You haven’t ruined anything and I would have reacted the same way if I had seen you hugging a strange man.

She smiled at him through her tears.  “I’m so lucky to have you,” she cried.

He cupped her face between his hands and rubbed the tears away with his thumbs.  “I’m the lucky one,” he muttered thickly before he lowered his head and kissed her.  Wrapping her arms tightly around his waist, she kissed him back.

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Sources:  Time Out;Ali Express; Andrew Edmunds; De Beers