Cyclone Randy

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I’m sitting here in a restaurant on the coast, hungry but still not sure of what to order.  I was alone.  It’s not often that I have dinner alone but this time was different.  After dating on and off, I decided to end my relationship with Derek.  Emotions weren’t involved in my decision.  I exercised perspicacious judgment.  The relationship wasn’t going anywhere so why prolong it?  Now we are both free to move on with our lives.

Tonight, I’m celebrating my freedom.  It feels great to be single again.  I studied the menu for several more minutes and then I finally signaled to the waiter that I was ready to order.  After he left the table, I closed the menu and was about to reach for my cell when he walked in with a woman I’ve never seen before.  I tried not to let seeing them together bother me.  Why should it?  I asked myself.  I hoped that he wouldn’t notice me.  Unfortunately, he did.  I braced myself as he headed over to my table with his lady friend in tow.

Trying to act calmer than I felt, I glanced up and smiled politely.  When he reached the table and was towering over me, I couldn’t help but think how sexy he looked in that black shirt and black jeans.  The little black cross nestled against his chest.  Realizing that I was staring, alarmed, my eyes flew up to his face.  A slight smile tugged at his lips.  Perhaps, it was my imagination but he looked a little smug to me.

“Good evening,” he said, his eyes flickering over me, making me feel hot and bothered.  Why did he have such an effect on me?  It has always been that way since we met a couple of years ago.  Derek introduced us.  I wonder if he knows as yet that we broke up.

“Good evening,” I replied.

“Are you dining alone?” he asked.

I raised my chin perceptibly.  “Yes.”  I was almost tempted to add that there was nothing wrong with a woman having dinner alone when I saw his eyebrows arch in surprise.

“How come Derek isn’t with you?”

Why did he have to ask about Derek?  I might as well tell him.  “He and I broke up.”

His expression changed and he stared at me for several minutes.  “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said finally.

I shrugged.  “It’s for the best.”

He was about to say something else when his companion cleared her throat.  As if suddenly realizing that she was there.  He turned and drew her forward so that she was standing beside him.  “Bena, this is Angela.”

Bena looked at me.  She was very striking although I thought that the grey jersey dress she wore was too casual.  She looked me over before she held out her hand.  She didn’t look too pleased.  “Hello,” she said as we shook hands.

“Hello.”  After we shook hands, she placed her right hand on his shoulder and put her other arm around him.  I think she was letting me know in no uncertain terms that he was off limits.  My eyes shifted to him.  Again he had that smug smile on his face.  My fingers gripped the glass of water.  He was enjoying this.  Men.

Thankfully, just then the waiter came over with my order.  As he set the food down in front of me, Bena turned to me and said, “We will leave alone to enjoy your dinner.”  She turned to him and said, “Let’s go to our table now.”

He nodded before he said to me, “Good evening.”

“Good evening.”  We stared at each other for several minutes before he turned and walked away.

Their table was a couple of tables away from mine and by the window.  I tried to look everywhere except there as I tucked into my pan-fried Rainbow Trout dinner.  I wished they weren’t there.  I couldn’t really relax and enjoy my dinner.  I hardly tasted the Butternut Squash Pie which was one of my favorites.  As soon as I finished the last crumb, I signaled to the waiter.  After I paid the bill, I got up from my table.  I was tempted to walk out of the restaurant without saying goodbye but that would have been rude.  So, after adjusting my dress, I walked over to their table.

Of course, Bena wasn’t pleased at the intrusion but he stood up.  “I just wanted to say goodnight before I left,” I informed them.  I could feel him watching me and try as I did, I couldn’t resist looking at him.

“Goodnight, Angela,” he said.  “It was nice seeing you.”  His expression was serious this time and I wondered about that.

Bena didn’t answer.  She just inclined her head and as  I turned and walked away, I could feel her eyes digging into my back.  What was her problem?  Did she think I was after her man?  I shook my head at the idea.  Ridiculous.  I admit that I’m attracted to Randy Cloud but that doesn’t mean that I want to get involved with him.

Native Indian couple

I think about nothing else but him on the drive home.  I turn on the radio in the car to listen to some music but it doesn’t help.  Frustrated, I turn it off.  I roll down the window but soon roll it back up as the noise of traffic gets to me.

When I get home, I shower and fix myself a nightcap and relax on the sofa for a while.  As I sit there watching the television but not really paying much attention to it, I find myself wondering where Randy and Bena went after dinner.  Did he take her straight home or somewhere else first?  Were they going to spend the night together?  For Pete’s sake, why should what he does with Bena matter to me?

The phone rang.  I got up and answered it.  “Hello?”

“Hello, Angela.”

I nearly dropped the phone when I realized that it was Randy.  “Randy?”

“Yes.”

“Why are you calling me?”  I had to ask.

“Would you like to go out for drinks with me sometime when you’re not busy.”

“Are you asking me out on a date, Randy?”

“Yes.”

“What about Bena?”

“Bena’s just a friend, nothing more.”

“It’s obvious that she wants to be more than friends.”

“You haven’t answered my question.”

“All right.  I guess there’s no harm in going out for a couple of drinks.”

“How about tomorrow evening around six?”

“Sure.  Do you have somewhere particular in mind?”

He mentioned a bar I’ve never heard of.  As long as it wasn’t somewhere Derek and I have been, I’m fine with it.

“All right, I’ll meet you there.”

“Great.  Have a good night, Angela.”

“You too, Randy.”

I hung up.  Why do I feel as if I’ve thrown myself in the path of an oncoming cyclone?  If I’m not careful, I could get swept away.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for Saturday’s prompt, coast, Tuesday’s prompt, hungry, Wednesday’s prompt perspicacious and today’s prompt, cyclone. If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Some Friend

f435ef6a490c1e14141c059fdce5ead9She was walking to work when she spotted Dexter’s car.  He didn’t see her.  Even if he did, what would he do?  She couldn’t imagine him telling the driver to stop so that he could talk to her.  Perhaps if Meghan was with her, he would.  It was a slap in the face when they went out for dinner one night, he was a little too attentive to her friend.  And what made it worse was Meghan flirted with him.  Their friendship cooled considerably after that.  It hurt knowing that the two people she cared for and trusted the most were seeing each other.

I have to move on, she thought.  I have to get over him.  There were other men out there.  She just had to figure out where to meet them.  Or maybe she should wait on the Lord as her mother advised her to do.  Maybe she should just enjoy being single and when the time was right for her to meet someone, it would happen.  She could do other things in the meantime like travel, enroll in an arts or crafts class, take up a new hobby or volunteer.  The possibilities were endless.

She was fine with being single.  And it didn’t matter that the man she still carried a torch for had just gone by in his chauffeur driven car.  It would be weeks before she saw him again.  She was fine with that.  Her pace quickened.  She had a busy day ahead of her and was determined not to let anything distract her.  As she was nearing the office building, her cell rang.  She fished inside her bag for it.  When she saw the number on the display, her heart skipped a beat.  It was him.  She answered.  “Hello.”

“Hello, Lonette.  Hope I’m not calling you at a bad time.”

“Actually, I’m my way to work.”

“Sorry.  I won’t keep you long.  I was wondering if you’d have lunch with me today.”

She considered that for a moment.  Why did he want to have lunch with her?  Did it have something to do with Meghan?  The last thing she needed was to sit there and listen to him talk about her former friend.  Did Meghan ask him to invite her to lunch so that he could convince her to patch things up with her?  “I can’t,” she said.  “It’s going to be a busy day for me.”

“How about dinner this evening?”

“Sorry, that’s out too.”

“What about tomorrow?  Are you free for either lunch or dinner?”

“No.”

“Are you giving me the brush off, Lonette?”

“No, I’m not,” she protested quickly, too quickly.

“Yes, you are.  Is it because of Meghan?”

“I was wondering when we were going to get around to talking about her.”

“You know there’s nothing going on between us.”

Really?  Well, that’s not what I heard.”

“Whatever you heard, it isn’t true.  I’m not interested in Meghan.  I never was.”

“When we went out for dinner, you didn’t act like you weren’t interested.”

“I know how it might have looked to you, but I swear to you that I was just trying to be nice to her for your sake.”

“What do you mean that you were just trying to be nice to her?”

He sighed.  “I don’t how to say this so I’ll just come right out and say it.  I don’t like Meghan.  I tried to get along with her for your sake and that’s why I was trying to be nice to her when the three of us were together.  I didn’t expect her to flirt with me.  I’m sorry about that.”

Lonette was inside the lobby now.  She didn’t go into the elevator but went into the sitting area.  She sat down on one of the plush leather chairs.  “Someone said that they saw you with her a couple of weeks ago.”

“I was at The Keg waiting for a client when she came over.  She sat down at the table.  I didn’t want to be rude or draw attention so I told her as politely as I could to leave.  She refused to budge until my client joined us.   She had no choice but to leave but before she did, she said that she couldn’t understand how I could be attracted to you.  She said that was why she liked being friends with you.  She didn’t have to worry about high quality men liking you instead of her.  That’s the woman you thought was your friend.  If you don’t believe me, I can give you the number of my client.”

Lonette sighed.  “No, that won’t be necessary.  I still can’t have lunch with you but I’m free for dinner tonight.”

“Good.  I’ll pick you up at seven.  I can’t wait to see you, Lonette.”

“I can’t wait to see you too.”  She rang off and remained sitting there for a few minutes.  What Meghan said stung.  She had no idea that was how she felt about her.  No wonder she didn’t have a problem flirting with Dexter.  She knew I was crazy about him and she still flirted with him.  Some friend she turned out to be.  And to think I almost threw away my chance for happiness because of her.  Furious, she deleted Meghan’s number from her cell before getting up and hurrying to the elevator.

Cade/Untrodden #writephoto

snowy-landscape

Photo by Sue Vincent

Cade lived on his own in a condo in the heart of downtown Toronto.  This wasn’t always the case, though.  He was married once and had a daughter but one day tragedy struck.  While he was out trapping lines, his wife and their eleven month old daughter had just returned from a walk when they were attacked by a bear.  Neither survived the attack. He returned home to find the animal still there and when it charged at him, he shot it.  He found their lifeless bodies and was overcome with grief.  The community reeled from this tragic incident and rallied around him.

He sold the cabin and moved to Toronto.  He wanted to be as far away as possible from where the tragedy occurred.  He never returned to the Yukon or the cabin again.  Too many painful memories and he was bombarded with self-recrimination.  It had been his idea for Joan to spend part of her maternity leave at the secluded cabin.  They would have been safer at their house in Whitehorse.  He blamed himself for what happened.  Joan and Chrissy would still be alive if it weren’t for him.

Moving to Ontario was the best decision he had made.  He stayed with family until he found a job and was able to afford his own place.  He worked for a construction company and became fast friends with the men who worked there.  They were always inviting him to something or the other so he didn’t have time to be lonely.

Ten years had passed since he lost Joan and Chrissy but he still thought about them.  He no longer blamed himself for what happened, however, he still couldn’t bring himself to return to Whitehorse.  There was nothing there for him, anyway.  His life was here now.  His friends were always setting him up with their female friends and relatives and occasionally he would go out on dates but nothing serious ever developed.  He wasn’t ready for a serious relationship, anyway.

He was walking in the park now.  It was a cold morning.  The snow was like a thick white blanket covering the path.  It was quiet.  Hardly anyone was around.  Not many people would venture out on a cold day like today but he loved it.  The air was fresh and crisp.  The coat he was wearing was nice and warm.  His head was covered and the scarf covered his nose and mouth.  He was dressed for this.

After he finished his walk, he decided to go to Tim Horton’s for a hot chocolate.  As he pushed open the door to go inside, he heard someone call his name.  He turned.  It was Roshawna.  She smiled.  “Hi, there.  Didn’t expect to run into you.”

He smiled.  “I could say the same about you,” he replied.  “I would have thought that you would be indoors on a day like today.”

“Yes, it’s pretty cold but I had errands to run.  Before heading home, I thought I’d stop in here and grab a hot chocolate to take the chill off.  What’s your excuse?”

“I didn’t want to be cooped up all day so I decided to go for a walk in the park.”

“You’re a Canadian through and through.  I’ll never get used to this cold and I’ve been living here for years now.”

“Why would you leave sunny and hot Jamaica to come here, then?”

“Better opportunities.”

“Are you in a hurry to get home?”

She shook her head.

“Let’s have our hot chocolates over there by the window.”

“Okay.”

“So, how’s life?” he asked when they were sitting at the table, steaming hot chocolates in front of them.  He liked Roshawna.  She was a live wire.  She was the younger sister of one of his friends.  They met at her brother’s barbecue last year.

“Life’s been busy.  I got a new job at a publishing company.  How about you?  I haven’t seen you in a while.  Been staying out of trouble?”

He laughed.  “What kind of trouble could I get into?”

She smiled.  “With your looks, you can get into all sorts of trouble.  Are you dating anyone?”

“No, not at the moment.”

“Good.  I’m not dating anyone either.”

“Good.”

“Are you busy later?”

“No.”

“How would you like some good home cooked Jamaican food?”

“My mouth’s watering at the thought.”

“Good.  My place tonight at seven.”

“I’ll be there.”

That settled, they talked about other things while having their hot chocolates.

This story was inspired by the tragic true story of a mother and her ten month old infant who were recently attacked and killed by a bear just outside of Whitehorse in the Yukon.  The father wasn’t there at the time of the attack but when he returned, the bear was still there and attacked him.  He managed to shoot and kill it.

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

Source:  AOL

The Flirtation

Christian was pulling on his shirt when the doorbell rang. He quickly buttoned it and tucked in his trousers before leaving the bedroom to go and open the door. He peered through the keyhole and smiled when he saw that it was Amanda.

He buttoned his cuffs after opening the door and stood there in the aperture, his gaze travelling over her slim figure in the light grey skirt suit and the dark purple tee top underneath. “Good morning,” he said softly. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”

Amanda tried to ignore the fact that he looked incredibly handsome in the stark white shirt that accentuated his olive skin and tried to avoid looking into those amazing eyes of his which seemed to see right through her. She showed him the folder she had in her hand. “I brought over the proxy form for you to take with you to the shareholders’ meeting in Boston. Your uncle has already signed it.”

Christian glanced down at it. “You didn’t have to bring it over here, you know,” he said. “I could have easily dropped by the office before heading to the airport.”

“I wanted to save you the trouble,” she said, still avoiding his eyes.

“Well, thank you for taking the trouble. I appreciate it. I would ask you to come in but I am pressed for time.”

“I didn’t come to stay,” she replied shortly. “I just came to drop this off. I have to be heading to the office now.” She held the folder out to him.

He took it but not without deliberately brushing his fingers against her hand. It was then that her eyes flew up to his face and his darkened when he saw what was reflected in them. “Before you leave, let me give you something to think about,” he muttered and before she knew what was happening, he put one arm around her waist and pulled her roughly against him, making her gasp. Then his mouth was on hers, moving passionately and unable to help herself, she responded.

They stood there for several minutes exchanging feverish kisses and then, he raised his head to stare down into her upturned face, his own flushed. “I’ll see you when I get back,” he said and released her.

She stood there, trying to catch her breath. Her legs felt like jelly and without saying a word, she turned and made her way to the lift. She pressed the button frantically and was relieved when the doors opened. She stepped inside and after pressing for the lobby, she leaned against the panel. Her lips were throbbing from the onslaught of his and her hand still tingled where his fingers had caressed it. She hadn’t seen that coming. He had always flirted with her but she didn’t think he was serious. A moment ago, she was proven wrong. It was very clear that he was attracted to her and she couldn’t hide the fact that she was attracted to him too. Now what? She worked for his uncle. Would the old man approve?

Widowed and childless, Christian was all the family he had and he treated him more as a son than a nephew, no doubt planning to one day leave the business to him. He seemed to have Christian’s future all planned and it wouldn’t surprise her if he had someone in mind for him to one day marry. Perhaps, he already did. Her mind went to Hope, the pretty blonde whom she had seen Christian with on several occasions.

Mr. Walker seemed very taken with her and always talking about how lucky the man who married her would be and following that latter remark, his gaze would immediately alight on his nephew, leaving no doubt that he hoped for a match between them. Amanda would say nothing. It wasn’t her place to but the idea of Christian marrying Hope bothered her more than she cared to admit.

Christian didn’t flirt with her when his uncle was around. Usually, they were alone when he did and it disconcerted her because she didn’t know if he was simply amusing himself at her expense. Now she knew that his interest in her was real and not a game. The doors drew open and she stepped out of the lift. She stumbled down the steps and climbed into the taxi cab waiting at the curb.

As it headed to the office, she leaned her head against the back of the seat and closed her eyes. How she was going to get through the day now, she had no idea. Her thoughts would be filled with Christian and what happened between them in the hallway outside of his flat. Already, she missed him and he hadn’t even left the country as yet. He would be gone for a week. She hoped the days would go by quickly so that she could see him again.

When she got to the office, Mr. Walker was already there. She opened her desk drawer, put her handbag in before she went to see him. He smiled as she approached his desk. “Good morning, Amanda,” he greeted her jovially. “Did you have a good weekend?”

“Good morning, Mr. Walker. Yes, I had a good weekend, thank you. I wanted to let you know that I dropped off the proxy form at Christian’s flat.”

“That’s fine, fine. I think it would be good experience for him to AGM meeting for a change. I have been attending them for years. It’s time for someone younger and just as capable to attend in my absence. And it’s good for our business partners to get better acquainted with Christian who will soon be taking over the reins—it’s only a matter of time.”

She stood there not sure of what to say next. “I have been Boston and it’s a great city,” she finally remarked. “I hope he will set aside some time for sightseeing.”

“Yes, yes,” he agreed. “It’s too bad Hope isn’t with him. I’m sure she would enjoy seeing something of the city too.”

It was then that Amanda decided to excuse herself. She didn’t want to hear him go on and on about Hope. At her desk, she got busy with work, although more frequently than not, her mind drifted to incident between Christian and her. She closed her eyes every time she remembered the sensation of his lips on hers. Once when she did that, she was startled when she suddenly heard Mr. Walker’s voice above her.

Flustered, she apologized to him and tried to concentrate on what he was instructing her to do. For the rest of the day, she forced herself to focus on her job and to put Christian out of her mind. At home, when she was alone, she could afford to think about him as much as she wanted.

She was relieved when Friday evening came and looked forward to a quiet weekend. The phone rang when she was about to fix herself something for dinner. “Hello?”

“Hello Amanda.” It was Christian.

Her heartbeat began to accelerate. He was calling her from Boston. “How do you like Boston?” she asked, sinking down to the floor and leaning against the wall.

“It’s nice but would be much nicer if you were here with me,” he said. “I miss you, Amanda. Do you miss me?”

“Yes,” the word came out as a breathless whisper.

“I can’t stop thinking about what happened between us the day you came to my flat.”

“I—I think about it a lot too,” she admitted.

“I want to see you as soon as I get back.”

“When will you be back?”

“On Sunday around noon or early afternoon. I want to see you in the evening.”

“Okay. I’ll-I’ll be here.”

They spoke for a while later and then he had to go. “Good night, Amanda.”

“Good night, Christian.”

After she hung up the phone, she sat there for a long while, trying to process what had just happened. Christian had called her from Boston just to tell her that he missed her and wanted to see her when he got back. She wondered what Mr. Walker would say if he only knew. He would have a fit. As fond of her as he was, she wasn’t a suitable choice for his beloved nephew. He would definitely fire her. Standing up, she decided that she wouldn’t worry about Mr. Walker just yet. Instead, she would plan a nice homemade dinner for Christian.

Sunday afternoon, she prepared the Baked rice with chicken and chorizo. It took two hours to cook so by the time Christian showed up it would be nice and hot out of the oven. After she showered and got dressed she shared the dinner out and sprinkled the chopped parsley on top. She served it with a green salad.

Just as she put the stuff out on the table, the doorbell rang. She glanced at the clock. It was exactly six. Christian was always very punctual. Excited, she rushed to the door and opened it. Her eyes ran eagerly over his tall frame. He looked gorgeous in the black silk shirt and black jeans. His hair was slightly damp and a few strands fell rakishly across his forehead.

Pulse racing and heart pounding, she pulled him inside and closed the door. After locking it, she turned to face him and he reached for her, pulling her against him. Their lips locked in a heated kiss which lasted for several minutes before she drew back to gasp, “I made dinner. It’s on the table.”

He smiled. “I didn’t realize that I was hungry until you mentioned dinner.”
She took his hand and led him over to the dining table which was nicely set and ready for them to sit down and eat. Two glasses were on the table and a bottle of non-alcoholic wine. They sat down and after she sat Grace they tucked into the salad first and then the pasta dish.

“Hmmm, this is delicious,” Christian said.

She smiled. “Thank you. It’s a recipe I have been meaning to try for a long time.”

“I’m honored,” he said and had another mouthful.

As they ate, he told her what it was like being at the AGM meeting and the places he was able to visit in Boston during his free time. For dessert she served Roasted banana & cinnamon ice cream. After placing the dirty dishes and glasses in the dishwasher, she joined him on the terrace where he stood, looking out at the city lights and the Tower Bridge in the distance.

He turned when he heard her and reaching for her he held her in his arms. She put her arms around his neck. “You know your uncle would have a fit if he saw us together like this,” she remarked.

“It doesn’t matter what he thinks,” Christian told her. “I’m not a child. I know he has plans for me but I have my own plans.”

“He has his heart set on you marrying Hope–”

“I don’t love Hope. I never did. We went out a few times but it was never serious for me.”

“I’m happy to hear that don’t love her.”

“Why is that?” he asked. “Why are you happy that don’t love Hope?”

She swallowed. “Because I love you,” she admitted.

He groaned. “And I love you.” He lowered his head and kissed her.

They kissed for a long time and then she drew back to ask him, “What are you going to tell your uncle?”

“I’ll simply tell him that I love you and that I want to marry you.”

She blinked. “Marry me?”

“Yes. As a matter of fact, I have the ring here with me.” He reached into his pants pocket and produced a black box. “I bought it when I was in Boston.”

She gaped at the diamond ring as he took it out of the box.

“Will you marry me, Amanda?” he asked. “I know we haven’t dated but I don’t want to be your boyfriend, I want to be your husband. I know without a doubt that you’re the woman for me. I knew it since the first time we met.”

She managed to say “Yes.” Tears sprang to her eyes as he slipped the ring on her finger and then his lips were on hers again. She closed her eyes and hugged him tightly around the neck as she responded to his kisses.  It didn’t matter what Mr. Walker did now.  He couldn’t prevent the inevitable from happening.

Sources:  Jamie Oliver; Lux Bond & Green

The Studio

“You don’t have to be a genius to see that this relationship will not last,” commented Marie as she and Caitlin sat in the corner of a trendy restaurant in the fashionable district of Chelsea.  It was celebratory dinner party for the opening of Ava’s boutique in the area.  She had invited Marie, her sister-in-law who had in turn invited Rachel.  They were sitting having non-alcoholic drinks after a delicious dinner while the others were on the dance floor.

Marie’s remark was directed at Ava and her boyfriend, Reid, a businessman/artist.  They had been dating for less than a year now.  They were dancing but he seemed a bit uncomfortable.   Clearly, he didn’t like the public display of affection but Ava didn’t seem to care.  This was her way of letting the other women know that he was not available.

As Rachel watched them, she couldn’t deny that they made a very attractive couple.  Ava had thick dark brown hair that tumbled down in unruly waves down her tanned back.  She looked absolutely stunning in the strapless fuchsia dress.  Several male eyes were on her but she only had eyes for Reid.  Rachel’s gaze shifted to Reid.  He was tall and very attractive.  He looked amazing in the navy blue striped suit, navy blue shirt and matching tie.  His thick dark brown hair was neatly combed as usual.

She remembered the first time she met Reid.  It was at a mutual friend’s place.  It was early autumn and as she came out of the cottage to go for a walk in the gardens, she noticed him standing among stalks of wheat which seemed rather out of place to her.  She expected the grounds to be covered in green grass and surrounded by trees with changing colors.  He was wearing a blue sweater over a checkered shirt and dark blue trousers.  He didn’t notice her at first as she stood there just staring at him and thinking that he was drop dead gorgeous.  Then, he turned his head slightly to the right and their eyes met.

Shortly after, he went over to her, his eyes never leaving her face.  She was wearing a black and white striped shirt and black pants.  She hoped her hair looked fine.  He held out his hand.  “Hello, I’m Reid,” he said.

She smiled as he clasped her hand.  “Rachel.”  After he released her hand, she folded her arms.  She saw the way his eyes slipped over her before they settled on her face again.

“Do you have a jacket?” he asked.  “It’s a bit cool today.”

“It’s inside with my handbag,” she said. “I came out to go for a walk and forgot how cool it was.  I’ll go quickly and get it.”  She went back to the house and when she went back, he was standing where she had left him.

“Do you mind if I join you?” he asked.

She shook her head, smiling.  “I would like the company,” she said.

“Did you come alone?”

“Yes,” she turned to look at him as they headed for the gardens.  “Did you?”

“I came with Ava.”

“Ava Parker?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know her?”

“Not very well.  She’s my friend Marie’s sister-in-law.”

“Yes, I have met Marie.  A very pleasant woman.”

As they walked he asked her questions about herself.  She learned that he met Ava at a gallery where his artwork was on display.  She suddenly stopped and stared at him.  “Are you Reid Faulkner?” She asked.

He nodded with a smile.

“I’ve seen some of your paintings and they are amazing.  They are so real.  My favorite so far is of the homeless young girl.  You did it in black and white.  It was beautiful and haunting at the same time.  It’s now hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in London.”

“I like to paint about current issues,” he said.  “I’m more into realism than the other forms of art like impressionism and romanticism.”

“You captured the sadness in her eyes, the dirty fingernails and the hopelessness of her situation.  Whatever became of her?”

“She’s in a homeless shelter for the youth now.  When she learned that her portrait was in the gallery, she was over the moon.”

“That’s great.  How do you do it—your painting, I mean?”

“I sketch and then, I paint.  I don’t have to have the person pose for me.”

They continued walking and then they decided to head back to the cottage.  When they got there, Ava was waiting in front and as soon as she saw them, she hurried over to Reid.  “There you are,” she exclaimed, slipping her arm in his.  “I was wondering where you had gone off to.  Oh, hello, Rachel,” she said, her green eyes shifting to her and pursing her lips.  The displeasure on her face was unmistakable.  She tugged gently on Reid’s arm.  “There’s someone I’d like you to meet.  Excuse us, Rachel.”

Reid barely got to give Rachel a backward glance before he was whisked away.  They hadn’t had a moment alone after that.  Ava saw to that.  However, she couldn’t prevent them from looking at each other every opportunity they got and on her way home, Rachel couldn’t stop thinking about Reid and how much she wanted to see him again.  And couple months later, here they were in a Chelsea restaurant.

She turned now to Marie who was looking at her.  “You were somewhere else for a bit,” she said.

“I was just remembering something,” she said evasively.  “Why don’t you think their relationship will last?”

“She’s too clingy and men don’t like that.  They don’t like to be smothered.  Besides, I don’t think he’s as into her as she’s into him.  It’s all in the body language, my dear.  Look at him.  The dance is over and he looks relieved.  Why don’t we invite them to join us?”  She waved at the couple as they parted and were heading back to their table.

Rachel’s eyes went immediately to Reid and her heart began to beat fast.  She smoothed her hair down and rubbed the palms of her hands on the skirt of her blue elastic waist dress.  Reid’s gaze went first to Marie and then to Rachel where they remained.  Ava noticed and said, “Why don’t we go over to the bar and sit there or outside on the terrace where it’s a lot cooler?”

At that moment, Marie got up from her seat and said to Ava, “Why don’t we go and freshen up?” and she grabbed her arm and escorted her away before she could object.

Alone, Reid sat down beside Rachel.  “It’s good to see you again,” he said quietly.  “I was hoping that we would meet again.  How have you been?”

She smiled and tried to act calm although she was nervous.  He was staring at her, his expression was intense.  “It’s good to see you again, too,” she admitted, sounding a bit breathless.  “I’m happy to see you and I’ve been doing well.”

“Are you busy tomorrow afternoon?” he asked.

“No.”

“I’d like you to come over to my studio,” he said.  He took out his wallet and removed a business card.  He scribbled something at the back of it and handed it to her.  As she read the name and address of the studio, he added, “I’d like to paint you.”

She glanced up in surprise.  “Paint me?” she exclaimed.  “But why would you want to paint me?”

“You’re beautiful,” he said simply.  “I want to capture that beauty.”

“I’m not sure,” she said, suddenly feeling very self-conscious.  “I’ve never had such a proposition before.” He thinks I’m beautiful.

“Think about it.  I will look out for you tomorrow.  If I don’t see you, I’ll know that you decided not to do it and although, I will be disappointed, I will understand.”

“Thank you,” she said and she put the card in her handbag.  She didn’t feel pressured now.

“If you like, you can still come to my studio just to see my work.”

“I’d like that,” she said.

He smiled and just then, Ava and Marie joined them.  Ava’s eyes flashed at Rachel.

Marie said to Rachel, “I think we should leave now,” she said.  “It’s getting late and I have a busy day tomorrow with the hubby and kids.  Ava, congratulations on your new business venture.  I’ve no doubt that it will be a great success.  Reid, as always it is a pleasure to see you.”

Rachel got up and came round the table so that she was standing next to Reid.  She could feel his eyes on her.  She said goodnight first to Ava whose expression was hostile and then she turned to Reid, holding out her hand.  He took it and her pulse raced when she felt him squeeze it gently.  Their eyes held for a brief moment and then she turned and walked away.

On their way to her car, Marie remarked, “There’s something going on between Reid and you.  I sensed it and I know Ava did too, that’s why she didn’t want to leave the two of you alone.  So, what did he say to you?”

“He invited me to go to his studio tomorrow.  He wants to paint me.”

“Wow, that’s a great compliment.  I wish I had an artist ask to paint me.  Well, are you going to do it or not?”

“I’m not sure…”

“I think you should do it.  It might be fun and besides, it gives the two of you a chance to be alone.”

“But, what about Ava?”

“Ava’s history.  I won’t be surprised if he breaks up with her tonight.”

“I don’t want to be the cause for their breakup.”

“It would have happened even if you weren’t in the picture.  Don’t feel bad about it.  Ava’s not the right woman for Reid.  And that’s a fact that’s clear to everyone, except her, unfortunately.”

Rachel sighed.  “She already doesn’t like me and now I’m giving her a good reason to hate me.”

“Don’t worry about Ava,” Marie advised her.  “She’ll get over Reid in time.”

Rachel thought about it as she lay in bed that night and by morning, she had decided that she would go to the studio.  It was on a quiet street and located on the second floor of a warehouse.  The door was open and she went in.  There was an easel with a blank sheet of paper on it.  Framed paintings stacked against the walls.  Bright light effused the spacious room.  She could smell the paints and she smiled as she looked around.  It was such a treat being in an artist’s studio and seeing his work.  There were a couple of floor lamps, chairs, a stool and a table with the paints.

As she was studying and admiring the paintings on the wall adjacent to the windows, Reid came in.  He smiled when he saw her.  “Hello,” he said.  “I’m glad you came.  I hope you didn’t have any trouble finding the place.”

She turned toward him, thinking how sexy he looked in the black shirt and blue jeans.  “No, I didn’t have any trouble finding it.  It’s a really nice with lots of natural light.  I was just admiring your work.  Some of them, I recognized.  Has Ava ever been here?”

“Once.  Would you like something to drink?”

She shook her head.  “Not right now, thanks.”

“So, what have you decided?”

“I’ve decided to let you paint me.”

He grinned, rubbing his hands together.  “Splendid.  Now, all you have to do is sit on the stool over there and try not to move.  You can set your handbag and jacket on the chair over there.  Thanks for agreeing to do this, Rachel.”

She did as he instructed and climbed up on the stool.  As she sat down, she was glad that she had worn jeans instead of the long black skirt with the side slit.  She watched as he mixed the paints and then stood behind the easel and got to work.  After two hours of not moving, she was relieved when he set his brush down and stepped from behind the easel.

“We’re done for today,” he said.

She slid down from the stool and stretched.  “How long will it take to complete?” she asked.

“Two weeks.  You don’t have to sit every time because I know you’re busy.  I have a sketch that I can work from.”

“I can come in the evenings after work,” she offered.

“That would be great.  Are you hungry?”

She nodded.

“There’s a bistro around the corner where we can have something to eat or we can order take out delivery and eat here.  Which would you prefer?”

“Take out.”

They had Thai food delivered to them and they sat cross legged on the floor, eating and talking.  It was dark outside by the time they left the studio.  Before they parted, they arranged to meet again at the studio the following day.  For two weeks, she went to the studio and sat for two hours as he painted her.  Finally, the day came when she would see the finished painting.  Excited, she let herself into the studio and closed the door.

She went over to the chair to put her jacket on it when Reid came into the room.  She turned and her breath caught in her throat when she saw that he was not wearing a shirt.  It was in his hand.  He stopped short when he saw her.  “You’re early,” he commented as he pulled it on but didn’t button it.  He went over to where she stood.  Flustered, she turned away.

She felt his hands on her shoulders turning her around to face him.  Their eyes met and what she saw in his made her mouth go dry.  Desire shone in their depths.  “Rachel,” he muttered huskily.  “You must know by now how I feel about you.”

The feelings churning inside her were on her face.  “What about Ava?” she asked, trying not to look at his chest.

“I ended my relationship with her that night at the restaurant.  She blamed you.  She saw the attraction between us.  I told her that I would have ended our relationship even if you and I had not met.  I told her that we were not right for each other.  I felt badly about it but I couldn’t continue pretending that everything was fine when it wasn’t.”

“I feel sorry for her but, I can’t say that I’m sorry that you’re available now…”

“Oh, Rachel…” he moaned before he lowered his head and kissed her.  She kissed him back, her arms going around his neck as she pressed against him.  The sunlight flooded the room, bathing them in its warmth as they exchanged passionate kisses.  “I love you,” he murmured against her lips.

“I love you too,” she whispered.  She had loved him that day when she saw him standing there among the wheat, looking like he just had stepped out of the pages of GQ.

Several hours later, he unveiled the painting and her mouth dropped open when she saw.  Moved to tears, she said, “It’s beautiful.”

His eyes were tender as he looked at her.  “That’s how I see you,” he said quietly. “You’re beautiful within and without.  This painting is going to be for my private viewing.  It’s not going to be placed in any gallery.”

“Good,” she said, putting her arms around his waist.  “I don’t relish the idea of hanging in public for everyone to gawk at me.  Both the painting and I are for your eyes only.” And with that, she reached up and kissed him.

Sources:  End Youth HomelessnessReitman’s; Social Lifestyle Magazine; Albert’s Club

Love at the Library

The moment he walked into the library, he had her attention.  She had seen him a couple of times before.  He would sit at a particular table and spend the next couple of hours reading the same book.  One evening when he left the table for a brief moment, she walked by on the pretense of going over to one of the bookshelves nearby.  She paused beside the table and looked down at the book.  It was a reprint of German Atrocities:  A Record of the Shameless Deeds.   She went back to her table  and sat down just minutes before he returned to his.

One evening when she went to the library he was already there.  She saw him look up and their eyes met before she turned and went over to the book shelf nearby. She skimmed through the shelves until she found the book she wanted.  She took it out and went over to a table.  She placed her handbag on the floor beside her and opened the book.  She tried to read it but couldn’t concentrate.  Unable to resist, she raised her eyes and was startled when she saw him staring at her.  He had removed his reading glasses and they dangled from his hand.

This was a critical moment.  Everything was banking on her response.  And there were two ways she could respond.   She could quickly look away which would give him the wrong message that she wasn’t interested or she could return his stare. Summoning up all the courage she had, she held his gaze.  Something told her to smile and she did.

It seemed that this was all the encouragement he needed.  He closed his book, put his glasses in his shirt pocket and got up from the table.

As she watched him approach, her heart began to pound.  He was so gorgeous.  She couldn’t believe that he was joining her.  All these weeks, she had watched him, daydreamed about him and now here he was standing in front of her with his hand extended.  He was smiling.  “Paolo Cinelli.”

She stared into his dark brown eyes as his fingers closed around hers in a firm handshake.  “Jessica Williams.”

He pulled out the chair opposite her and sat down, placing his book on the table.  He didn’t open it.  He was looking at her.  “For a long time I have wanted to come over and talk to you but you always seemed so engrossed in what you were doing.  I didn’t want to disturb you.”

She closed her book.  It was pointless keeping it open now.  “I didn’t think you noticed me,” she said.  “You were always so absorbed in this book.  Is it very interesting?”

He glanced down at it.  “It is.  I like to read books and watch documentaries about World War II.”

“I won’t mind borrowing it when you’re done with it.”

“You can, on one condition” he said.  “Have dinner with me tomorrow.”

She stared at him.  “So, this book belongs to you?”

“Yes.  I like to read it here in the library because it’s quiet and it gives me a chance to relax after a busy day.”

“I can understand that.”

“So, will you have dinner with me tomorrow?”

“Yes.”  She wrote down her address and number on a sheet of paper and gave it to him.

“I’ll pick you up at seven.”

The library was filling up now and a couple of people sat down at the table with them.  He leaned over and asked in a low voice, “Let’s go somewhere else where we can talk and enjoy the fresh air at the same time.”

“That’s a good idea.”  She got up and put the book back on the shelf.  She grabbed her handbag and they left the library.

It was a beautiful evening.  The sun was still high in the sky and there was a gentle breeze.  He turned to her, “Let’s grab something to eat and find a spot nearby. They stopped in a nearby fast food restaurant and got a couple of burgers and milkshakes. They retraced their steps back to the library and sat down at one of the tables outside to eat.

They spent the next few hours talking and getting to know each other.  The time went quickly and when it started to get dark, that was when they decided that it was time to go.  “May I give you a ride home?” he asked.

She nodded.  “Yes, thank you.”

“Thank you for a lovely evening,  Jessica,” he said.  “I had a good time.”

“Me too.”

“I am looking forward to our date tomorrow night.”

“Me too.”  She smiled as she fell into step beside him.   Yes, she was looking forward to their dinner date tomorrow.  What a glorious day this turned out to be.

 

 

Source:  British Library

A Model Moment

She stood there watching as the evening unfurled, a solitary figure in a room filled with people from the fashion and business world.  She was there by invitation from her friend, a fashion photographer.  She felt so out of place.  She wasn’t used to be around such glamorous people.  Several people thought she was a model.  A few photographers snapped her photo, much to her chagrin.  It reminded her of the time when she had to recite a poem in front of her classmates.  She managed to get through it but it was nerve-racking.

She wasn’t one for socializing and at the first opportunity, she slipped out and escaped to the brightly lit garden.  It was a beautiful evening.  A slight breeze blew, gently rustling the trees.  It was early summer when the weather was comfortable.

She had no idea of how long she would stay outside but for now it was where she felt most comfortable.  She slowly walked along the path, her gaze sweeping over the sprawling grounds and in the background, she could hear peals of laughter and the clinking of glasses. She paused at the rose bush.  Unable to resist, she leaned over and breathed in the sweet fragrance.

“Good evening.”

The voice startled her and she swung round.  A tall figure approached her.  As he drew nearer, she recognized him from the photos her friend had taken and which were featured in the Spring issue of GQ.  Her heart began to beat fast and she wondered what she could say to him.  “Good evening,” she replied.

He smiled as he held out his hand.  “Adrian Barlow.”

She shook his hand.  “Simone Jackson.”

“I see you had the same idea,” he remarked.  “Getting away from the crowd, I mean.”

“Yes,” she looked away, feeling self-conscious because of his penetrating stare.

“I hope you don’t mind me joining you, Simone.”

She shook her head.  “No, I don’t mind.”

“Shall we take a walk?”

She nodded.  And they walked along the path.

“Are you a model?” he asked.

She shook her head.  “No.  I’m the Assistant Art Director of a children’s publisher.”

“Do you like what you do?”

“Yes.  I like my job very much.  As a child, I loved to read.  I still do.  I know that you are a model.  I have seen your photos in GQ.  Do you like modelling?”

He shrugged.  “It’s something I do when I am not too busy.  I don’t see myself doing it for much longer.  I have my own business which I enjoy running.”

“You know my friend, Erin.  She’s the reason why I am here tonight.”

“I saw when you arrived and watched you all evening, waiting for an opportunity to speak to you.  I saw you slip out and followed.  You really are quite beautiful, you know.”

She didn’t know what to say.  It wasn’t often that she had a gorgeous man tell her that she was beautiful.  They had come upon a fountain.  There was a bench nearby and she went toward it.  She sat down and he sat beside her, turning so that he was facing her.

“I didn’t mean to embarrass you just now,” he said.   “Surely I’m not the first man to pay you such a compliment.”

“No, you aren’t the first but you have been around so many beautiful women.”

“Yes, I have,” he acknowledged.  “But none of them hold a candle to you.  Have dinner with me tomorrow evening, Simone.”

She stared at him and saw that he was very serious.  His amazing eyes were unwavering as they met her startled ones.  “Dinner with you,” she repeated, somewhat dazed.  This moment was almost surreal.

“Yes, unless you have other plans.”

“No, no.  I don’t have any other plans.”

“Then, you will have dinner with me?”

“Yes.”

She gave him her address which he scribbled on the back of a business card and placed in his breast pocket.

They sat there a while longer, talking.  She found herself becoming very relaxed with him and opening up.  Then they heard the sound of cars leaving and realized that it was time to go.  Reluctantly, she got up from the bench.  “Do you have a ride home?” he asked.

“Yes, I will get a ride with Erin.”

They headed back to the mansion and stopped at the foot of the steps where they were to part company.  “I’ll pick you up at seven tomorrow,” he told her before he took her hand and raised it to his lips.  His eyes held hers as he kissed it.  Her heart was pounding and her skin tingled. “Good night, Simone,” he said softly when he raised his head.

“Good night, Adrian.”

He released her hand and walked away.  Just then Erin joined her.  “I was wondering where you had gone off to,” she said, watching Adrian go.  “I see that you were in good company.”

Simone smiled.  “Thanks for inviting me tonight, Erin.  I had a wonderful time.”

“I can see that,” her friend teased before she took her arm and they headed to her car.

Source:  The Guardian Jobs

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