Co-Workers Turned Couple

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He glanced up from his computer and realized that Shantel and he were the only ones in the office.  Everyone else had left.  It was Friday.  Most people left either minutes before or exactly at five.  And it was summer.  People wanted to enjoy the nice weather.

He wasn’t in any rush to get home.  All he did when he was there was watch television, play the stereo, read or spend hours on his laptop.  After living most of his life on a farm, it took a while to get used to living in the city.  In spite of the hustle and bustle and all that the city had to offer, his was a very boring life.  He didn’t have a girlfriend and he wasn’t interested in dating, at least that was before Shantel came on the scene.

Two years ago, she joined the company when Ruth who had been working there for over fifteen years, decided to move back to Toronto.  He was sorry to see her go because she was like an older sister to him.  However, when he saw her replacement, he was bowled over.  She was beautiful!  He was tongue-tied and couldn’t help staring when Ruth introduced them.

Shantel was quiet and reserved like him and they got along very well.  Some times they had lunch and took the subway together.  They learned a lot about each other.  He was relieved to find out that she was single like him.  They shared a lot in common and had similar tastes.  Sometimes, they went to the park to have lunch and after work, they went to the shopping mall or the library to browse before hopping on the train.

It wasn’t long before he started to develop feelings for her and he wanted so badly to ask her out but he was afraid of rejection and ruining their friendship.  He watched her now as she sat at her desk.  She glanced up and caught him looking at her.  She got up and went over.  She looked amazing in the purple dress which ended just above her knees.  What lovely legs she had…Realizing that he was staring, he turned away, his face red.

“Are you working late?” she asked.

He looked up.  “I wasn’t planning to,” he replied.  “What about you?”

“No.  I’m ready to leave when you are.”

“Okay.  I’ll be ready in five minutes.”

“I’ll go and get ready.”  She smiled at him before walking away.

He switched off his computer and quickly cleared his desk.  Grabbing his jacket, he went over to her desk where she was waiting for him.  They walked to the elevator.  On the ride down, she turned to him.  “Are you doing anything tomorrow evening?” she asked.

He shook his head.  “No.”

“Well, I was wondering if you would to have dinner at my place.”

His heart began to beat faster.  “I would love to, Shantel.” 

“I’ve wanted to ask you that for a long time but just couldn’t work up the courage until now.”

His eyes darkened on her face and he reached for her hand.  “And I’ve wanted to ask you out so many times but was afraid to.”

She smiled and squeezed his hand.  “I’m glad to know that we both feel the same way and that we’re finally reached this stage in our relationship.  No more hiding or pretending…”  Her voice trailed off as his lips found hers and moved ever so gently, like a caress, making her catch her breath.

When they exited the elevator, they were smiling and holding hands.  They were a couple now.

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

Carmelo Finds Love

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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;

 

KISSING My Professor

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I don’t know why I came over to your flat.  No, that isn’t true.  I came because I couldn’t wait until Monday to see you.  You’re surprised to see me which is understandable but you’re still polite and pleasant.  You invite me in.  As I follow you through the foyer, my eyes travel over you.  You look very handsome in the black shirt and trousers.  Your hair is slightly damp.  How I long to run my fingers through its thick, silky tresses.

My eyes alight on the table set for dinner.  You’re expecting company.  The two wine glasses tell me that it’s a woman.  My heart sinks.  I scold myself.  What do you expect? I demand.  A man like you wouldn’t be unattached.  There has to be a special woman in your life.

You stop and face me.  You smile at me, making my heart stop.  You’re about to say something, when I mumble, “I’m sorry, Professor Carlyle.  I can see that you’re expecting someone.  I shouldn’t have come.”

“Don’t apologize, Annette,” you reply softly.  “I told you that you could stop by any time.”

My eyes shift to the table and then back to you.  “I should leave before your date arrives.” I turn to leave when you catch me by the shoulders.  I gaze up at you, my heart pounding wildly against my ribs and my breath quickening.  What beautiful eyes you have.

“I don’t have a date,” you tell me.  “The table is set for my sister and her husband.  They needed a quiet place to celebrate their anniversary.  So, while my parents are babysitting the kids, I offered them the use of my flat.  I prepared the meal and set the table for them.  They should be here at any minute.”

I couldn’t hide the relief on my face.  The dinner wasn’t for you and some woman as I feared but for your sister and her husband.  “Your sister is very lucky to have a brother like you,” was all I could think to say.

You smile.  “That’s what brothers are for.  Now, since you’re here, I was wondering if you would like to have dinner with me?”

Stunned, I stare at you for several minutes and then, I manage to say, “I’d like that.”

You are staring straight into my eyes as you inform me, “This is the first time I’ve asked a student to have dinner with me.”

“Could you get into trouble with the university for this?” I ask.

“No one has to know.  It will be our secret.”

“Yes,” I reply breathlessly.  You are still holding my shoulders.  Your fingers feel strong and firm.  Our bodies are inches apart.  I can feel your warm breath on my forehead.  In the background, soft music is playing.  The air is suddenly very charged between us.  I can’t tell if it’s your heavy breathing that I’m hearing or mine.

My eyes drop to your mouth.  I watch enthralled as it parts before it starts to move closer.  My eyes fall shut when it touches mine.  I feel the heat course through my body, making my head spin.  As our lips lock, my hands grip your shirt at the waist.

This feels like a dream.  I can’t really be standing here kissing you.  If it’s a dream, I don’t want to wake up.  Your hands leave my shoulders to cup my face as the kisses become more intense.

The sudden peal of the doorbell jolt us and we reluctantly fall apart.  While you go to answer the door, I try to pull myself together.  When you return with a pretty brunette and a tall, attractive dark haired man are in tow.  You introduce me to them.

“It’s nice to meet you,” your sister says as she shakes my hand.  “Did you help him to put all of this together?” she asks, referring to the dining table.

I shake my head at once.  “No.  He did it all by himself.”

She looks at him.  “I’m impressed,” she admits before hugging you.  “Thank you.”

You smile.  “You’re welcome.  And now, Annette and I will leave you two alone to enjoy your evening together.”

Your brother-in-law claps you on the back.  “Thanks, old Chap.  It was rather sporting of you to do all of this for us.”

“It’s my pleasure.  Besides, it gives me an opportunity to take this beautiful young lady out for dinner.”

I smile shyly up at you, thrilled that you think I’m beautiful.

“Well, have fun you two,” your sister says.

“You’re welcome to stay here for as long as you want,” you tell her.  “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.  It was nice meeting you, Annette.”

“It was nice meeting you too.  Goodnight.”

You take my hand and precede me to the front door.  We enjoy our own sumptuous dinner at a lovely restaurant overlooking the Thames.   It’s the first of many dinners and dates.   

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

Lunch with Marcia

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I was so engrossed in the article I was reading on my laptop that I didn’t even notice that Marcia had walked into my office.  I looked up when she tapped on the door frame.  She was smiling broadly.  “It’s April 12 today,” she said.

I stared at her blankly.  She looked great as usual.  I wonder if she knows that I have a “thing” for her.

She came over to my desk.  “Today is my tenth anniversary with the company,” she said.  “Didn’t you read my email?”

“No, I didn’t.  Sorry,” I mumbled as I quickly pulled up my emails and sure enough, there was an unopened one from her.  It wasn’t there before or I would have definitely opened it.  I opened it and read it.  It said, Guess what, Ramesh.  Today’s my tenth anniversary with Catapult.  To celebrate I was wondering if you would like to join me for free barbecue lunch at Joe’s right down the street?

My heart was beating fast with excitement now.  She wanted to celebrate her anniversary with me.   I looked up at her.  “Sure, I’d love to join you,” I said, eagerly.

She smiled, making my heart skip a beat.  “Great.  We’ll leave at twelve-fifteen and get there for Twelve-thirty.  I’ll come and get you.”

I smiled and nodded.  After she left my office, I turned my attention back to the article I was reading but couldn’t concentrate.  I got up from my desk and walked over to the window.

As I looked down at the busy street below, I thought about the times when I wanted to ask Marcia out but was too chicken to do.  I had no idea how she felt about me.  I didn’t know if she would be interested in going out with me.  I’m floored by the fact that she asked me out.  The thought scared and excited me at the same time.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up.  Maybe this was just what it was–I was going for a free barbecue lunch with a co-worker and nothing more.  Still, the way she looked at me when she was standing in front of my desk and the fact that she came to my office when she didn’t receive a reply to her email encouraged me.

I glanced at my watch.  Two hours to go.  I hope they go by quickly.  I was anxious to leave my office and step out into the bright sunshine.  It was a beautiful day, not your typical spring day, mind you, it was mild.  The weather was in double digits.

I returned to my desk and tried to get some work done.  I will finish reading the article another time.

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I was ready when she popped by my office and as I followed her to the elevators, I felt like I was on my first date with a pretty girl whom I had a major crush on.  I was nervous and prayed that I wouldn’t make a fool of myself.  I tried not to stare at her when we were in the elevator but it was hard not to.  She looked amazing in the sleeveless dress which was knee length, revealing very long and shapely calves.  Her thick curly hair fell in unruly waves about her shoulders.  I was tempted to touch them but I kept my hands to myself.

I felt a little hot in my jacket but I wanted to look presentable.  It was a pleasant walk to the restaurant which was filled but we were able to get a table by the window.  Over mouthwatering beef and lamb ribs we talked animatedly about a lot of things.  We had such fun getting to know each other better and sharing funny stories about family and friends.  I was sorry when it was time to head back to the office.

We were alone in the elevator this time.  I turned to her.  This was my chance.  “Marcia, thank you for inviting me to lunch.  I had a great time.  If you’re not busy tomorrow evening, I was hoping that you would have dinner with me.”

She smiled.  “I thought you’d never ask,” she teased.  “Of course, I’d love to.”

My chest swelled and as we exited the elevator and I walked to my office, there was a little spring in my step.  I couldn’t wait for tomorrow evening to come.

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

Anna/Rift #writephoto

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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.

Two Different Worlds

T10626_Jacob_001“I’m thinking of breaking up with Josiah,” Phyllis said to her friend, Veronica when they were having lunch at a cafe close to Veronica’s workplace.

Veronica looked surprised.  “Why?” she asked.  “I thought you were really into him.”

“I am but, I’m not sure where this relationship is going.  We’ve been seeing each other for three and a half years now and I still haven’t met his family.  The last two years when he flew to Seoul for the Christmas holidays, he doesn’t ask me to go with him.  I don’t even know if he’s told them about me.  He met my family in our second year of dating.”

“Yes, he did on Thanksgiving but as I recall, some of your relatives didn’t exactly welcome him with open arms.  Maybe he’s trying to spare you from the same kind of treatment from his family.”

“You really like him, don’t you?” Phyllis asked.

“Yes.  He’s the best thing that has ever happened to you.  Don’t blow it.  Hang unto him.  He’s a keeper.”

Phyllis sighed.  “All right.  I’ll take it one day at a time.  Thanks for being such a terrific friend.”

Veronica smiled.  “You’re welcome.”  She glanced at her watch.  “It’s time for me to head back to the office.”

“Let’s do lunch again soon, okay?”

“Sounds good to me.”

They split the cheque and parted company.  Phyllis walked back to her office.  She was busy for the rest of the afternoon and was thankful when it was time to go home.

5404faab75c57b2d48d4ae4fbee86294--black-girls-black-womenShe grabbed a hot chocolate on her way to the subway.  On the train ride home she thought about what Veronica said.  Josiah was a really special guy who treated her like a queen.  He liked to buy her gifts, take her places and cook dinner for her.  Tonight, she was going over to his place for another romantic, home cooked dinner.  She was really looking forward to the dinner and spending the weekend with him.  She couldn’t wait to see the expression on his face when she wore her new negligee.  I probably wouldn’t be wearing it for long, she mused.  Yes, I would be a fool to break up with him.  When the time is right, I will meet his family.

When she got home, she checked her messages and then took a long, hot shower before she got dressed, grabbed her overnight bag, handbag and left.

“Something smells really, really good,” she remarked as soon as she entered the apartment.”

“It’s Popcorn chicken with basil.”

“Hmmm.  My mouth’s watering just thinking about it.”

He smiled as he helped her to remove her coat.  After he put it away in the closet, he took her in his arms and kissed her.  “I’ve been looking forward to doing that all day,” he said when he raised his head several minutes later.

Phyllis could hardly breathe.  “You have?” she gasped.

“Yes and I want to kiss you again but if I do, it will lead to other things and the dinner will get cold.”  Reluctantly, he released her and stepped back.

“Why-why don’t I go and freshen up in the meantime?”

“Good idea.  Dinner will be ready in a few minutes.”

She took up her overnight bag and headed for the bedroom.

A few minutes later, they were sitting at the candlelit table, having dinner.  In the background, classical music was playing.  “This is so good,” she exclaimed after she finished her first mouthful of the food.

“Thank you.”

“You’re such an amazing cook.”

“Cooking is something I really enjoy doing.  Before I became a Marketing and Sales Manager, I wanted to be a chef.  After I left university, I went to a culinary school in Paris.  It was a fantastic experience.”

“Why didn’t you become a chef?”

“As much as I loved it, I realized after a while that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working in a kitchen.  So, I decided that I would open my own restaurant and hire a guy who went to the same culinary school as the chef.”

“I’m glad you did.  We met at your restaurant.  One of my girlfriends was celebrating her fortieth birthday and we wanted to take her to the best restaurant in Soho.”

“Yes, I remember that night as if it happened today.  When I came out to greet and chat with the diners, I saw the staff gathered around your table singing happy birthday.  I came over and my eyes fell on you.  I barely acknowledged who else was at the table.”

“I couldn’t believe that you were the owner.  You looked so young.”

“Is that why you didn’t want to go out with me at first?”

“Well, I’ve never dated a younger man before and…”

“and one who’s from a different culture.”

“Yes, but then, I was so attracted to you that after a while, I had to stop making stupid excuses not to go out with you.”

“And here we are three and a half years later.”

She smiled.  “Yes.”  If she had followed her mind instead of her heart, she wouldn’t be here now enjoying a romantic dinner with him.

“I spoke to my parents this morning,” he said as they cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher.

“Oh.  How are they?”

“They’re doing well.  I’m planning to visit them in July.”

“Oh.  I’m sure they’ll be happy to see you.”

“They’re looking forward to meeting you.”

She almost dropped a glass.  “They know about me?” she exclaimed.

“Yes, they do.  I wanted to take you to Seoul to meet them but my grandmother was living with them and she wouldn’t have approved of us.  I wanted to spare you that.  While I was there and when she wasn’t around, I told my parents about you and even showed them pictures.  I hated spending Christmas without you and I promised myself that I would never do it again.  My grandmother died a couple of days after I left.  I couldn’t go to the funeral because of the short notice and I had already been away from the restaurant for a while.  My parents understood.”

“I’m sorry about your grandmother.”

“Me too.  I wish she could have known you and accepted you.”

“I’ve met people like your grandmother.  They don’t see past color or culture.”

“My mother had to deal with the same thing because she’s British.  My grandmother wanted my father to marry a Korean girl and was furious when he didn’t.  She refused to attend the wedding and stopped talking to my grandfather for months because he did.  I’m surprised that she didn’t shun me because I was Eurasian but she said that I looked more Korean because my Korean blood was stronger than my English blood.”

Phyllis shook her head.  “It’s sad that this sort of thing still happens in families.”

“Yes it is,” he agreed. “But let’s not talk about it anymore.  The important thing is that we are together.”

“Yes.  And we have our parents’ approval.”

“And even if we didn’t, it wouldn’t matter.”

They left the kitchen and the dishwasher going and went into living-room where they spent the evening talking and planning their trip to Seoul.  It was close to mid-night when they decided to turn in.  While he undressed in the room, she was putting on her negligee in the bathroom, her heart pounding with excitement and anticipation.  When she finally emerged, he was standing beside the window, wearing only his pajama pants.  He turned when he heard her and his eyes traveled over her.  She knew that the negligee looked great on her.  Its muted red shade flattered her coloring and the fine silk hugged her body in all the right places.

In a matter of seconds, she was in his arms and he was kissing her ravenously.  She clung to him as she returned his kisses.  They stood there kissing wildly and then he drew back, his chest heaving and pulled the negligee over her head.  She was naked.  Then, his hands and lips were all over her, making her head swim as ripples of indescribable pleasure spread through her body.  Then, he was backing her over to the bed until she was lying on top.  His heated gaze ran over her as he ripped off his pajama pants.  She reached eagerly for him and their lips met as their bodies merged.

In between kisses, he murmured, “I love you.”

When he buried his face in her neck, she whispered, “I love you.”

Before they went to Seoul in July, they got engaged and in the spring of following year they got married when his parents visited New York for the first time.  In June, at the age of 40, Phyllis gave birth to their first child, a healthy boy whom they named after her father who passed away just a couple of weeks before.  The second boy was named after Josiah’s father.

Two different worlds collided and became one. 

Heartstrings

“I love the way you play,” he said.

I smiled, flattered.  “Thank you.”

We were standing backstage at Carnegie Hall.  I had invited him to the performance and was thrilled that he actually came.

“The way you played that piece it was as if you were telling a story.  You had me hooked.”

“Joshua Bell, the celebrated violinist once said that when you play a violin piece, you are a storyteller and you’re telling a story.”

“I would like to hear your story.  How about going for a cappuccino with me?”

“Yes,” I said without any hesitation.  I wanted to be with him.  Since we started working at the same company, I have wanted to get to closer to him.  This was my opportunity.  I quickly put my violin away and followed him to the parking lot.  The café where we went was about a twenty minute drive.  It was a nice and cozy place.  I have never been there before.  We managed to get a seat beside the window.

After ordering two Lattes, he asked, “So, how old were you when you first started playing the violin?”

“I was five when I started learning how to play it.  My father loved classical music and he used to play it all of the time.  I would sit and listen it, especially the music featuring the violin.  I told him that I liked the violin and wanted to learn how to play it.  He took me seriously and got a friend to teach me.”

“Five.  Wow. That’s very young.”

I smiled.  “I’ve heard of children starting as young as three.”

“My sister started playing the piano when she was nine.”

“What about you?  Wasn’t there any musical instrument that you wanted to learn how to play?”

“I liked the saxophone but never got around to learning how to play it.”

“Most people like the saxophone because of its cool image.”

“And most women think it’s sexy.”

“That’s true.  When my sister met her husband he was playing the sax at a Jazz club.”

“So, if he hadn’t been playing the sax, she wouldn’t have been interested?”

“Well, it turned out that it was how he looked as he played was what really attracted her to him.”

He laughed, revealing even white teeth.  “Whatever works.”

“Yes.  Twenty years later and they are still happily married.”

“What about you?” he asked.

“I’m single.”

“That’s good to know.”

I was surprised to hear him say that.  Did he want to have a non-professional relationship with me?  Was I reading more into this than there was?  Did he just want to be friends?  All these and other questions swirled around my head.  I didn’t know what to say.  I just smiled.

He continued, leaning over, his hands clasped in front of him, his eyes meeting mine directly.  “I have wanted to ask you out for a long time now but wasn’t sure if you would want to date someone you worked with.”

It’s a good thing I wasn’t drinking my Latte at that moment or I would have choked on it.

“You look surprised,” he commented.

“I am,” I quickly admitted.

“Why?” he asked.

“Well, there are other women at the company, especially in our department whom I thought you would be more interested in.”

“Yes, there are but I’m not interested in any of them,” he reached over then and covered my hand.  The skin tingled and my stomach did a cartwheel.  “I’m interested in you.”

I felt warm all over.  “I don’t know what to say.”

“Say you’ll have dinner with me tomorrow night.”

I felt like a giddy schoolgirl.  “Yes.”

He smiled again and I felt my knees go weak.  We ordered sandwiches and sat there for another couple of hours, talking.  The following night he took me to an upscale restaurant in Soho where in the background Jazz music was playing.  I smiled when I heard the saxophone.  We had a very pleasant and enjoyable evening together.  I laughed a lot and felt totally relaxed with him.  After dinner, we went to Club Shelter where we had a blast.  I don’t recall ever having such a great time with anyone, not even my sister who used to be a real party animal.

It was after mid-night when he took me home.  We stood outside of my place, facing each other.  I didn’t want him to leave.  I didn’t want our time together to end.  “Would you like to come in?” I asked.  I waited, hoping that he would say yes.

Instead, he said, “If I do, I might not want to leave.”

Heart pounding wildly against my ribs, I stepped the foyer as I replied, “What if I don’t want you to leave?”

His response was to come in and close the door behind him.   The expression on his face thrilled me and I gasped when he pulled me roughly against him, his eyes smoldering as they met mine.  Then, we were kissing like two crazy people.  We barely made it to my room where we had an explosive session.  Afterwards, we fell asleep, wrapped in each other’s arms.

He left the following morning after a shower and breakfast.  We made plans to see each other that evening.  No one in our department knew about us until the day we announced our engagement.

She tugged at his heartstrings with her violin playing but by the cords of love he was drawn to her.

 

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