My Reality

Image Courtesy of Stocksy United

I see the fear on her face as we walk towards each other.  It’s broad daylight.  I’m just walking down the sidewalk, minding my own business but she looks at me as if I was going to attack her at any minute.  She walks faster and clutches her handbag tightly.  Maybe she thinks I’m going to make a grab for it.

She moves closer to the wall, trying to put as much space between us as possible.  Her eyes dart back and forth, like a frightened prey and its predator.

Anger and pity fill me.  I’m angry because she assumes that I’m a criminal because of the color of my skin and pity because she’s a victim of her own twisted, racist preconceived notions.

I walk past her.  I don’t look back.  I don’t care to.  I continue walking and with each step, I try to let go of the anger.  It doesn’t do me any good to hold on to it.  But, the pity remains.  I pity her and others like her who live in ignorance.  Perhaps one of these days, this race problem will go away but even as I think it, the idea seems ludicrous.   It will never go away.  It’s something I will have to deal with until the day I die.  Sad, but that’s my reality.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompts for today’s word, Fear.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

News of a Wedding/Span #writephoto

span-2

Photo by Sue Vincent

Although my gaze was fixed upon the water as it rushed forth as if it were late for an appointment, my heart was otherwise engaged in a very distressing matter–a matter which has placed my very constitution for happiness in grave danger.

The whispers of the impending nuptials between George Allerton, my employer and the beautiful Lydia Bridewell have been growing louder.  Yesterday, I overheard Alice, the maid telling Beatrice, the cook that the wedding could be as early as a fortnight.  I wanted to inquire of Mrs. Moore, the housekeeper, if this were true but thought it best not to touch on the subject for fear of betraying my feelings if she did confirm it.  So, I held my tongue and suffered in silence.

For his part, Mr. Allerton has said nothing to me which I find to be very strange as it would be imperative for me to find employment elsewhere.  The thought of leaving Riverdale Manor, little Amy and Mr. Allerton fills me with torment.  Over a span of four years, I have grown to love my life here.  I cannot imagine finding the same happiness elsewhere.

Necessity bids me now to bring the matter of my leaving before Mr. Allerton as soon as possible.  I have made up my mind to broach the subject this evening after dinner and when we are alone in the drawing-room where he and I have spent many evenings together engaged in stimulating conversations.  It is obvious to me that he enjoys my company as much as I enjoy his and it warms my heart that he treats me not as a servant but as an equal.

My gaze swept over the beautiful landscape with the lush green grass and trees which swayed gently in the breeze.  I shall miss this place which has brought me such joy and peace.  I shall miss the solitude and the walks I have enjoyed with Mr. Allerton.   I shall miss seeing little Amy chasing after butterflies while I read or sketched.  And I shall miss Mrs. Moore who has been so kind and good to me.

Tears pricked my eyes and I turn to head back to the manor when I espied Mr. Allerton striding towards me.  I stood there, my heart racing.  Perhaps, he was coming to address the very matter I wanted to bring to his attention this evening.  He had been in town on business.  The manor was never the same when he wasn’t there.  When he went away for days and weeks at a time, it was torture for me.  I missed him dreadfully.

He was standing before me now, his hair as black as the night was tousled from his habit of running his fingers through the thick tresses and his face was slightly flushed from the exercise.  His eyes raked my face making me feel as little self-conscious.  I touched my face which felt hot.

“Miss Foster,” he said as he towered over me.  “I was told that I might find you here.  How have you been?”

I wanted to say that I have been miserable because he had been away and because of the news of Miss Bridewell and him.  Instead, I stepped back a little, attempted a smile and replied, “I have been well, Sir.”

He studied me with those penetrating dark brown eyes of his.  “You don’t look well,” he said, looking concerned.  “In fact, you look very pale.  Are you unwell?”

“No, Sir.  I’m fine.”

He didn’t look convinced but he didn’t press the matter.  “Let us stand over there in the shade,” he suggested.  I followed him over to a group of trees and we stood under their shade.

Perhaps now was the time for me to bring the matter of my leaving to his attention.  Taking a deep breath, my hands tightly clasped in front of me, I said, “Sir, it has come to my attention that I need to find myself another situation.  I will advertise and hopefully find a suitable position very soon.”

He stared at me.  “What the deuce are you talking about?” he demanded.  “What new situation and why should you advertise?  I think you may have been out in the sun too long, Miss Foster.”

“Sir, it would not do for me to remain in your employ after you are married.”

“Married?  Now, I know you have taken leave of your senses.  Where the devil did you get the idea that I’m getting married?”

“There has been talk of your upcoming nuptials to Miss Bridewell and—”

“Miss Bridewell and I?” he exclaimed.

“Yes, it is believed that in a fortnight you two shall wed.”

He laughed.  “It is true that in a fortnight, Miss Bridewell shall wed but it shall not be to me.”

I looked at him, confused.  “But, Sir, everyone said that she was to wed Mr. Allerton.”

“Yes, she is to wed James Allerton, my cousin.”

I was so overwhelmed with relief that I had to lean against the tree lest my legs give way beneath me.  When I heard the name Mr. Allerton in relation to Miss Bridewell, I just assumed that it was him to whom they referred.  I had forgotten all about his cousin, James whom I recalled had been particularly attentive towards Miss Bridewell whenever they were in each other’s company.

“There is color in your cheeks again, Miss Foster,” Mr. Allerton remarked now, watching me closely.  “I suspect that it has to do with my clearing up a little misunderstanding.”

“Yes, Sir.  It means that it is no longer necessary for me to quit your employ.  I can stay at Riverdale for as long as I am needed here.”

His expression became very serious and he moved closer to me.  “What if I needed you to stay permanently at Riverdale?”

My eyes widened.  “Permanently?” I repeated.  “What about when Amy no longer needs a governess or you decide to marry?”

He reached for my hand.  The feel of his warm fingers against mine made my heart flutter and my breath quicken.  His eyes met mine in a steady gaze.  “Miss Foster—Emma, Amy is no longer in need of a governess,” he said quietly.  “She’s in need of a mother and I am in need of a wife.”

I gawked at him.  “You mean…?”

“Yes, my dear Emma, I am asking you to marry me.”

I felt as if I were in a dream, one from which I hoped never to wake.  This was all so incredible.  My heart was pounding wildly against my ribs and my face was on fire.  “But what will everyone think of you marrying someone beneath your station?”

“When it comes to my heart and what constitutes my happiness, I care not about what others think. And I have always treated you as my equal and not as someone beneath my station.”

I smiled.  “That is true, Sir.”

He smiled.  “Since I am soon to be your husband, don’t you think it’s time you called me George?”

“Yes, George.”

He didn’t answer.  Instead, he held my face between his hands and kissed me.  My heart was bursting with happiness.

At the end of summer, we were wed.

 

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

Carmelo Finds Love

Ettore6

Carmelo Pagliani, a Neapolitan shipping magnate and billionaire owned palatial homes in Tuscany, Monaco and Beverly Hills.  He was never married but he enjoyed the company of beautiful, young and exotic women.  He didn’t have any children.  Life was as he wanted it.  No long-term commitments and no worries about alimony or child support.  He was a free agent who enjoyed the fruits of his hard work.

He came from a large family.  He was the fifth of five brothers and four sisters.  His parents owned a pizza shop which became popular because Sophia Loren visited it once.  The photo of her and his parents hung in a prominent place on the wall.  As a boy, he worshipped the actress and always went with his father to see her movies.  Many years later, he met her at a Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda show in Mexico City.  She was beautiful and charming.  A frame photo of them stood on the mantelpiece in his Tuscan home.

Carmelo was used to getting what he wanted, whether it was to do with business or women.  A couple years ago, he expanded his business to South America.  Last week, he met Dondrea, a stunning African American woman in St. Barts.  He was there alone and she was there with some friends.

The first time he saw her, he wanted to meet her immediately.  One evening before dinner, he approached her as she was stepping off the elevator on her way to the dining-room.  She was alone.  Her friends must have gone ahead.

“Good evening,” he said, holding out his hand.  “Carmelo Pagliani.”

She smiled and shook his hand.  “Dondrea Williams.”

“Is this your first time in St. Barts?”

“Yes, it is.”

“And how do you find it?”

“It has beautiful beaches.”

“Did you come here to celebrate New Year’s?”

“Yes.  It’s strange not being in New York on New Year’s Eve.”

“So, that’s where you’re from, New York?”

“Yes.  What about you?  Where are you from?”

“Naples but I live in Tuscany.  I too am here to celebrate New Year’s, something I’ve never done alone.”

“You didn’t bring a wife or a girlfriend?”

“I don’t have a wife or a girlfriend.”

She stared at him.  “I find that hard to believe.”

He smiled.  “It’s true.  I’m single.  What about you?”

“I’m single too.”

“Do you think your friends would mind if you had dinner with me instead?” older black woman

She shook her head.  “No, they wouldn’t.  I’ll just let them know.  Do you mind if I introduced you to them?”

“Not at all.”  He followed her into the dining-room and over to a table where five people were sitting.  They glanced up as they approached.

“Guys, I won’t be joining you for dinner this evening,” she informed them.  “This is Carmelo.  He invited me to have dinner with him.”

Her friends introduced themselves and shook his hand.  They exchanged in a lively conversation with him for several minutes before he and Dondrea excused themselves.

“You have very nice friends,” he commented as they sat at a table for two.

“Yes, I do,” she agreed.  “We’ve known each other for years.  They are like family.”

Dinner with her was a wonderful experience.  He enjoyed her company and their conversations.  He didn’t want the evening to end so he invited her to join him for an after dinner drink in the bar.  Afterwards, they went for a walk on the beach.  He escorted her back to her room.  Outside the door, he said, “Thank you for a lovely evening.”

She smiled.  “I enjoyed it too.”

“Will you have breakfast with me in the morning?”

She nodded.  “Yes, I will.”

“I’ll meet you in the lobby at seven-thirty.”

“Goodnight, Carmelo.”

“Goodnight, Dondrea.”

They had breakfast and then they went to the beach where they spent most of the day.  That evening and every evening after that they had dinner together.  And they had breakfast every morning.  During the day, they went on excursions, to other beaches and had lunch at the Shellona Restaurant which overlooked Shell Beach.  On her last evening, he took her for dinner at Casa Club.

When they returned hours later to her room, she invited him in.  He spent the night.  The following morning, they ordered breakfast and had it on her terrace.  Then, he went to his suite while she got ready to leave for the airport.   He was in the lobby waiting for her and he went with to the entrance.  An airport limo was waiting and so were her friends.  He said goodbye to them and while they got into the limo, she and he faced each other.  He took her hands in his.

“Thank you for seven incredible days,” he said quietly.  “I’ve been to St. Barts before but I’ve never enjoyed myself this much.”

“I enjoyed myself very much too.”

“We have each other’s number so we will be in touch.”

“Yes.  Goodbye, Carmelo.”

“Goodbye, Dondrea.”  He raised her hands to his lips.

Then, she was getting into the limo and he stood there watching as it pulled away.  After she left, the rest of his stay at the hotel was dull and he missed her terribly.  He was relieved to get back to Tuscany.

He sat in his study now, staring at the page of his address where her number was written.  Several weeks had passed and he hadn’t called her as yet.  His business had kept him busy and fear prevented him picking up the phone.  Fear of what?  Fear of commitment.  Marriage was something he had never seriously considered but now he was and it was because of Dondrea.

Dondrea was different from the other women he had been with.  Those had been mere dalliances. No feelings had been involved.  When he got bored with them, he ended the relationship.  It hadn’t been casual with Dondrea.  From the very beginning it had been serious for him.  And that’s what scared him.  He knew that he could easily fall in love with her and by the third time they were together, he knew he had.  He wondered if she felt the same way.  With all of his heart, he hoped so.

He picked up the receiver and dialed her number.  His heart skipped a beat when she answered.  “Hello, Dondrea.”

“Carmelo.”  She sounded happy to hear from him.  “How have you been?”

“Busy.  That’s why I didn’t call you before.  How are you?”

“I’m well, thanks.  I’m been reminiscing about St. Barts.”

“Me too.  Dondrea, how do you feel about spending the month of June in Tuscany with me?”

“I’d love to!” she exclaimed.

He smiled.  “Good.  You’ll love it, I promise.”

They talked for hours and then, they ended the call.  They telephoned each other every week.  Then, one day, he decided he would fly to New York and surprise her.  She was beside herself with excitement when he showed up at her apartment.  He spent three weeks with her and on the night before he left, when they were relaxing on the sofa after dinner, he reached for her hand.  “Ti amo,” he said quietly.  “I love you.”

“I love you too,” she replied.

“Enough to move to Tuscany?”

Her eyes widened.  “You want me to move to Tuscany?” she exclaimed.

“Yes.  I have a villa in San Gimignano.”

She thought about it for a moment.  “Yes.  I’ll move to San Gimignano.”

He smiled.  “Molto bene,” he murmured before he kissed her.

The following year, Dondrea left New York and moved into Carmelo’s villa in San Gimignano.  In May, with friends and family present, they tied the knot.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, Surprise.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Sources:  St. Bart’s Restaurants; Destination Saint-Barths; St. Barts Travel Guide; Date Billionaire;

 

Anna/Rift #writephoto

cracked

Photo by Sue Vincent

“Mama, I’m going for a walk.”

“But, my Dear, Mr. Foster shall be calling on you at precisely three o’ clock.”

Anna stared at her mother.  “Oh, I forgot that he was coming.”

“You would do well not to slight a man of Mr. Foster’s constitution.  I’m sure you’re not impervious to his singular affection for you.”

“No, I cannot say that I am.  I will admit that Mr. Foster is a very amiable man and I have enjoyed our conversations but I’m afraid that my affection for him is of a platonic nature.”

“My Dear, you would do well to remember that you have no beauty or fortune to recommend you to any man.  And so far Mr. Foster is the only gentleman who has shown any solicitude toward you.  Don’t let your fancy notions about love blind you to the fact that if you offend Mr. Foster in any way and he withdraws himself as your suitor, you will end up an old maid like your Aunt May.”

Anna took a deep breath.  She didn’t want to lose her temper.  “Mama, I’m going for a walk now,” she said.  “I can do with some fresh air.”

Her mother looked rather put out and she sniffed indignantly, her expression one of censure as she gazed upon her rebellious daughter.  It was Anna’s fault, really that there was a rift in their relationship.  She had always been a rebellious and unconventional child.  “If you want to go gallivanting about the place, by all means do so,” she said.  “Just make sure that you are here when Mr. Foster calls.  I will not have you embarrass your father and me.”

“I will be back before Mr. Foster comes, Mother.”  And after giving her mother a perfunctory kiss on the cheek, she left the room.

What a relief it was to be out of the house.  The temperature was mild–pleasant, though the sun wasn’t strangely absent.  She headed straight to her favorite spot–the clearing in the wood and the rock with the crack.  When she reached it, her face was flushed but she felt invigorated.  She sat down on the rock and removed her bonnet.  She smoothed her fingers over the golden wisps of her that brushed against her forehead.  She could remain there all afternoon but she had to return to the house before Mr. Foster got there.  Drat.

Why did Mr. Foster have to show such a marked preference for her company when he could easily have shown the same to other young ladies, like her cousin, Charlotte, for example.  Charlotte seemed like a better suited companion for him than she was.  And as her mother liked to remind her, Charlotte was very sweet girl with such an agreeable disposition.

“Why can’t you be more like your cousin?” was her mother’s constant query. As fond as she was of Charlotte, there were times when she found her wanting, not to mention boring.  No, she would never be like dear sweet and irreproachable Charlotte and that suited her well.

After spending a long time there, enjoying the solitude and nature, she reluctantly quit the place and returned home.  Slowly, she entered the foyer, removed her bonnet and made her way to the sitting-room where she would receive her visitor.  Upon entering the room, she was surprised to see a strange gentleman standing there beside her mother who was sitting on the sofa.  “Anna, my Dear, this is Mr. Abbotsford, Mr. Foster’s nephew.”

Mr. Abbotsford bowed and Anna curtsied.  “Miss Fairley.  I’m here on my uncle’s behalf.  Regrettably, he has been called away on urgent business in London and has bestowed upon me the important task of conveying his deepest regret that he’s unable to keep his appointment with you.  I asked me to offer you his profound apologies.”

Before Anna could reply, her mother spoke up.  “Mr. Abbotsford, please inform your uncle that although his absence is of a considerable disappointment for my daughter, that she understands his predicament and that upon his return, she will be more than happy to receive him whenever he is able to facilitate another visit.”

Mr. Abbotsford bowed.  “I shall inform my uncle of your disappointment, understanding and eagerness to see him.”  His gaze shifted back to Anna.

Anna met his stare squarely.  He wasn’t at all like his uncle.  He was tall with very striking features.  His black hair framed a very handsome and tanned face.  It was slightly long and brushed against the crisp white collar of his shirt.  He looked and had the manners of a gentleman.  He looked to be six and twenty.  She wondered what his occupation was and why Mr. Foster never spoke of him.

Mrs. Fairley cleared her throat.  “Mr. Abbotsford, if you have no pressing business to take you away, perhaps you can stay for tea?”

“I would be delighted,” he replied.

“Very well.  I shall ring for tea.  Please be seated, Mr. Abbotsford.  Sit there by the fireplace.  Anna, come and sit beside me.”

Anna dutifully went and sat beside her mother.  After arranging her dress and making herself comfortable, she looked over to where Mr. Abbotsford was.  Again she wondered why Mr. Foster had never spoken of him nor introduced him.  Perhaps, it had to do with the fact that he was young and very handsome.  And perhaps, if Mr. Foster were privy to the thoughts that which occupied her mind as she studied his nephew, he would never have enlisted his help to bring her news of the urgent business which had spirited him away this afternoon, preventing him from being at her side now.

As she sipped her tea and listened attentively to the conversation between her mother and their visitor, she hoped that she would see him again.  Surely, Mr. Foster won’t object to her family getting better acquainted with his nephew.  Perhaps, she could persuade her mother to invite him for dinner.  There was no telling how long Mr. Foster would be in London.

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

Choosing Love Over Fear

man playing piano

He sat at the piano, running his fingers over the keys.  His heart was heavy and his mind muddled.  Music was elusive.  He couldn’t concentrate.  All he could think about was her and how much he missed her.  What a fool he had been to let her walk out of his life.  He had allowed fear to get the better of him.

What was he so afraid of?  Of falling in love?  Too late.  He was already madly in love with her.  It wasn’t lack of trust.  He trusted Odeta implicitly which was more than he could say about other women he had been involved with.  Did it have to do with her last relationship?  After they had been together for two years, the guy suddenly decided that he didn’t want to be tied down to one woman.  She later told him that it hurt like hell and it took a while for her to get over it.  And it was when she was starting to pick up the pieces that he came into her life.

They met at a trendy restaurant in Soho.  The usual piano player couldn’t make it because he was sick so as a favor to his friend, the club’s manager, he filled in.   He would never forget the first time he saw her.  She walked in alone, tall and beautiful, her hair cut short like a boy’s, wearing a red, off the shoulder dress which flattered her slender figure.  No jewelry.  Only a touch of red lipstick.  Her dark skin was flawless.  She looked like a model.  Their eyes met.  He wanted to stop playing and walk over to her but he stayed put.  Besides, she was meeting someone.  She walked past him and to a table where an African man was sitting.

african woman in dress bw

He kept an eye on her all evening as he played.  Was the man her boyfriend or husband?  Or were they meeting for the first time?  Was this their first date?  He shook his head.  Forget about it, Man.  You’re out of her league.  She looks like she’s used to being with men like the one she was with now–elegantly dressed, used to dining in expensive establishments like this, drove fancy cars and wealthy.

Still, he couldn’t help himself.  She intrigued him.  And when he took a break and went to the bar to have a drink, he passed by her table.  She looked at him.  He smiled and left the room.

As he sat down at the bar and ordered his drink, he saw the man she was with leave.  He didn’t look upset or anything.  A few minutes later, she came out of the dining-room.  When she saw him, she walked over to the empty stool beside him and sat down.  She ordered a virgin cocktail.  Turning to him, she said, “You play the piano very well.”

This close, she was even more stunning.  “Thank you,” he replied.  “Didn’t your date enjoy my playing?  Is that why he left?”

She smiled.  “He left because he flying back to Cape Town tonight.  And he wasn’t my date.  He’s my brother.”

He couldn’t hide the relief on his face.  “Your brother.  I thought he was your boyfriend or husband.”

“I’m single.  And you?”

“Single.  Are you a model?”

She laughed.  “No.  I’m a Marketing Director.”

“When I saw you, I thought you were a model.  I’m sure I’m not the first man to think that.”

“You’re right.  I have been approached by people in the modelling industry and they always are surprised when I tell them that I’m not interested and that I’m perfectly happy with being in the Marketing business.”

“It’s easy to see why they approach you.  You’re a very stunning woman.”

She smiled.  “Thank you…I don’t know your name.”

“It’s Ian.”

“Nice to meet you, Ian,” she said holding out her hand.  “Odetta.”

“Likewise, Odetta.  My break will be over in ten minutes.  Would you be able to stick around for half hour?”

She nodded.  “Sure.  I’ll just sit here at the bar until you’re done.”

“Good.  We can go somewhere else and talk.”

“So, what do you do when you’re not playing the piano?”

“Structural Engineering.”

“Sounds interesting.  Tell me about it.”

The ten minutes went quickly and he reluctantly left her at the bar to finish his session.  Half hour later, they were sitting at a cafe, continuing their conversation.  It was after mid-night when he finally gave her a ride home.  They saw each other the following night.  They began dating and things were going well until he got cold feet and told her that he they should take a break because things were moving too fast.  Hurt and angry, she walked out of the apartment.

That was a month ago.  Many times he wanted to go over to her place and apologize.  His life was empty without her.  What a fool he was to ruin a good thing because he was afraid.  And now, here he was alone and miserable, tinkering with the piano and missing her like crazy.

Finally, he got up from the piano and went over to the window.  He stood there for several minutes and then he quickly left the room.  He went into his study, sat down behind the desk and taking out stationary and a pen, he wrote her a letter, pouring out his heart.  By the time he was done, the letter was three pages long.  He folded them and stuffed into an envelope.   After sealing it and adding postage, he got up and left the house.  He walked to the mailbox and after a slight hesitation, he pushed the letter through the slot.

A week later, he was sitting at the piano again trying to play something–anything when the doorbell rang.  Thankful for the interruption, he got up and went to answer the door.  His heart lurched when he saw Odeta standing there.  She must have gotten his letter.  “Hello,” he said when he opened the door.  His eyes eagerly ran over her.  She looked beautiful in the denim dress.

“Hello, Ian.”

“Please come in.”

She went in and he closed the door.  “I got your letter.”

“I figured that’s why you’re here.”

“Thank you for writing it,” she said quietly.  “It explained a lot.”

“Let’s go into the living-room and talk.”

“I was so hurt and angry when you said that you wanted us to take a break from each other.” she said when they were sitting on the sofa.  “You said that things were moving too fast.”

“I’m sorry, Odeta.  The last thing I wanted to do was to hurt you but I was scared.  I was falling fast and hard for you.  I’ve been hurt before and I was afraid of getting hurt again.  And as I mentioned in my letter, I was afraid that you were on the rebound.”

“I can’t blame you for thinking that since we met just a few months after the breakup.  I wasn’t looking for anything.  Believe me, having another relationship was the last thing on my mind but that night when I walked into the restaurant and saw you I was immediately attracted to you.  That’s why I came over to the bar soon after my brother left.”

“I was immediately attracted to you to and was thrilled when you joined me at the bar.”

“Ian, I know you’re afraid of getting hurt.  So am I.”

“I’m still afraid but it’s nothing compared to the emptiness I feel inside without you in my life.”

“Do you want to give us another chance?”

“Yes, Odeta, I do.”

She touched his face.  “I was hoping that you would say that.”

This time I chose love over fear,” he murmured, his eyes searching hers and what he saw in them made his heart sing.  He had nothing to fear now.

Source:  Paired Life

Stolen Water

Stolen water is sweet, And bread eaten in secret is pleasant – Proverbs 9:17

couple-bar

We met at a bar one rainy Saturday evening.  It wasn’t the sort of night or place you would expect to meet someone like her.  I was in Chicago on business.  After having dinner at the hotel, I decided to go for a walk in spite of the rain.  I wanted to check out the Navy Pier but the rain was coming down hard now so I ducked into the first bar I spotted.  The atmosphere was cozy and intimate.  A great place to hang out for a while.  I went over to the bar and sat down.  It felt good to be out of the rain.  I looked around.  This place was ideal for a nightcap or a late night rendezvous.  It reminded me of one of my favorite bars in New York.  I smiled and ordered an El Presidente cocktail.

It was after I took my first sip of the cocktail when she walked in.  I froze.  My heart stopped and everything and everyone in the room faded into nothingness.  All I could see was her.  She was wearing a knee length magenta spandex dress which hugged her in all the right places.  Her thick chestnut hair fell in thick waves down her back.  She closed her umbrella and walked over to where I was.  There was an empty stool right beside me.  She sat there.  The bartender turned around and from the way he acted, I could tell that she had been here before.  After exchanging pleasantries, she ordered a Grasshopper.  When he turned away to fix it, she glanced at me.

Our eyes met and held what seemed like a very long time.  My heart was pounding.  I was nervous and excited at the same time.  It’s been a while since I’ve felt this way.  She smiled at me.  “Hello,” she said.

“Hello.”

“I’ve never noticed you here before.”

“This is my first time here.”

“Are you from out of town?”

I nodded.  “Yes.  I’m from New York.”

Her eyebrows arched.  “The Big Apple.  Hmmm.  What brought you here to the Windy City?”

“Business.”

“What sort of business do you do?”

“I’m a Construction Manager.”

“And what exactly does a Construction Manager do?”

“I oversee the process of new commercial and residential buildings, as well as bridges, tunnels and roads; supervise building deadlines, the progress of workers, and managing the budgets for each project.”

“Sounds interesting.”

“What about you? Are you a model?”

She laughed.  “No, but I’m flattered that you think so.  I work at Bluedog Design.”  The bartender placed her drink in front of her.  He glanced at me and then moved away to serve someone else.

“I’m impressed.”

“So, what do you do for fun?”

“I jog, swim, play Squash and do a lot of reading.”

Her cell rang.  “Excuse me,” she said as she fished it out of her handbag.

I turned my head because I didn’t want to seem as if I were eavesdropping.  I took a couple of sips of my cocktail.

“That was my husband,” she said.  “He’s in Vancouver.”

My head swung around sharply.  “You’re married?”

“Yes.”

I glanced pointedly down at her left hand.  There wasn’t any ring.

She followed my gaze.  “I took it to the jewelry store to have it resized.”

“Oh.”  She’s married.  What a bummer.

“What about you?  Girlfriend? Wife? Both?”

“Neither.”

“What’s your name?”

“Andrew.”

“Tina.” She held out her hand.  I grasped it.  It felt soft and warm.

Her being married put a damper on the evening and I could think of nothing else.  “Doesn’t your husband mind you going to bars alone?”

“This is the first time I’ve been in a bar alone.”

“I know if I were him, I would have a problem with you being here alone in a bar talking to another man.”

“He doesn’t know that I’m here talking to another man.”

“And what if he did, wouldn’t he be upset?”

“Let’s not worry or talk about Sam.  I’d rather talk about you.”

I finished my drink and slid off the stool.  “I have to go.”

Her eyes widened.  “But why?  We were just getting to know each other.”

“You’re married, Tina.”

“I know but you and I click.  The evening is still young.  Still a while longer.”

“I can’t.  We both know where this will lead if I don’t leave right now.  It was a pleasure meeting you, Tina.  My advice to you is that you go home and stop going to bars alone.  Goodnight.”  I turned and walked out of the bar.

It had stopped raining.  I could have gone to the Navy Pier but I decided that I had had enough excitement for one evening.  I headed back to the hotel.

Two years have passed since that night in a Chicago bar and I don’t regret my decision.  I was tempted but I was able to walk away and not look back.  Now, I’m happily married to an amazing woman I met right here in New York.  I believe it that it was my faith that saved me from doing something I would have regretted for the rest of my life.

When faced with temptation, you can either run towards it or away from it.  The more you resist it, however, the more fortified you become.

Sources:  Four Seasons Chicago;Yelp; Sparrow Chicago; Global Business Travel; Bluedog Design

Gordon’s Weekend/Onward #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

It was a long, winding road that seemed to stretch endlessly before him, surrounded by mountains and fields.  It was a drive he normally enjoyed, especially after a hectic week at the office but today, he was too tensed up.  Relax, he urged himself.  You’re doing the right thing.  You’re ending a relationship you had no business getting into in the first place.  You’re getting married in a couple of months time to an incredible woman.  Yes, he was marrying Tessa, something he had been looking forward to for a long time.

His family liked her.  They thought she was the best thing that had ever happened to him.  She was different from the other women he used to date.  In fact, she was not the type of woman he was usually attracted to.  And when they met, it wasn’t love at first sight for him and he wasn’t even interested in more than a platonic relationship with her.  But, after his bitter breakup with Christina, Tessa had been there for him.  Her friendship had helped him through those dark moments.  And little by little, as time passed and as they spent more time together, his feelings for her began to change.  They started dating and then last year Spring, he popped the question.

Why on earth did he get involved with Chanise?  Sure, she was a very attractive woman but there were other women at the office who were very attractive too but he never once looked at any of them.  Yet, the moment he met Chanise, he was attracted to her.  And it didn’t help when they were paired up to work on two very important campaigns.  There were a lot of late hours in the office and working closing together.  He was so conscious of her that at times, it was near impossible to concentrate.  He was relieved when the assignments were over and things went back to normal but he couldn’t stop thinking about her and sneaking peeks at her when they were in the office.  Her desk was adjacent to his.  He could hear her talking on the phone and tried not to listen.  When Tessa called him, he spoke low into the mouthpiece so that Chanise couldn’t hear.

Last year at the office Christmas party, they both showed up without dates.  Tessa couldn’t go because she had a bad cold and Chanise had broken up with her boyfriend.  He tried to avoid her for as long as he could but half way through the night, they ended up talking and then they were slow dancing.  By the end of the night, he was ready to take her back to his place because it was closer.  When he mentioned it to her, she was up for it.  That’s when he knew that she was attracted to him too.  That thrilled him and after saying their goodbyes, they left.  No one seem to think anything of it–after all they were co-workers.  As far as they were concerned, he was just giving her a ride home.  No big deal.  Besides, he was engaged, right?

They didn’t say much in the drive over to his place.  At any time, he could have changed his mind and taken her straight home but he didn’t.  He wanted this.  If he were honest with himself, he would admit that he had wanted this since they met.  As soon as they got to his place and after removing their coats, he took her to his room where she spent the night.

Even though he was plagued with guilt after that first tryst, it didn’t stop him for doing it again and again.  Pretty soon, they were having an affair.  When they were at the office, they acted like nothing had changed between them.  The funny thing is that when they were together, he didn’t think about Tessa at all.  It was only afterwards, when he was alone that he did.  He hated what he was doing to her.  She had no clue.  She trusted him.  He felt like a complete jerk but every time he tried to end his affair with Chanise, he chickened out the moment he saw her.

Last night, he couldn’t sleep.  The guilt was weighing heavily on him.  He had to end his relationship with Chanise.  He had to.  And today, he was on his way to do that.  They were supposed to be spending the weekend at his cottage.  It was in an idyllic rural setting.  He bought it a couple of years ago.  It was his escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.  Tessa loved it and thought that it would be a good idea for him to sell his flat and make this their home once they got married.  She loved the countryside.  He loved it too but wasn’t sure that he wanted to move out of the city.  Besides, being in the city made it more convenient for him to see Chanise.  Chanise.  He sighed heavily.  Breaking up with her was going to be very, very hard but he had to do it.

Her car was parked outside of the cottage when he got there.  Heart racing, he turned off the engine and got out of the jeep.  He walked up to the door and opened it.  She was in the living-room.  She got up from the sofa and went over to him, smiling.  “Hello, Gordon,” she murmured as she put her arms around his neck.

Unable to resist, he hugged her tightly against him.  He buried his face in her neck.  “Chanise…” he muttered thickly.  I can’t do this, he thought.  I can’t break up with her.  He raised his head and his mouth sought hers.  As they exchanged kisses, he picked her up and carried her upstairs to the master bedroom.

Tessa smiled as she drove along the winding road, her eyes danced behind the sunglasses as they swept over the mountains looming ahead. Hold on Tight by R3HAB, Conor Maynard was playing on the radio.  It was the same song that was playing the night Gordon went over to her place after breaking up with his ex.  They sat on the sofa not saying anything.  She knew that he didn’t want to be alone at the moment and she was just there for him.

I bet, he’s going to be surprised to see me, she thought.  She was supposed to be spending the weekend with her aunt in Bristol but her aunt had gotten the dates mixed up.  This weekend she was going to be in Manchester so they were on for the following weekend.  Tessa didn’t mind at all.  She was driving up to the cottage to be with Gordon and looking forward to spending a nice, romantic weekend with him.  She couldn’t wait to see the expression on his face when she showed up unexpectedly.  She laughed at thought and pressed her foot a little harder on the accelerator.

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