Why He Married Her

Lindsey was leaving the drugstore when she ran into Alicia, a former university classmate and Alton’s ex-girlfriend.  The stunning blonde gave her a nasty look.

“Well, if it isn’t the expectant mother.” she said.  Her eyes dropped to Lindsey’s midriff.

Lindsey didn’t answer.  Of all the people she could have run into, why did it have to be her?

Alicia’s gaze returned to Lindsey’s face.  Jealousy and resentment flashed in her green eyes.  “You know why he married you, don’t you?” she asked.  “It isn’t because he loves you.  You got pregnant and he wanted to do the honorable thing.”

“I really don’t have to stand here and listen to this,” Lindsey said and brushed past her, seething.  On the drive home, she fumed.  She turned on the radio and to a Christian station.  Gospel music filled the car.  It helped to calm her down.

When she got in, she went straight to the kitchen to fix herself something to eat.  She was hungry.  She carried the large plate of wild rice, stew Chicken, veggies and potatoes, with salad on the side into the living-room.  She settled comfortably in the sofa and ate as she watched reruns of Downton Abbey.  When she was finished eating, she got up and put the dirty dishes into the Dish washer, had a tall glass of milk and then went back to the living-room.  She relaxed on the sofa with her feet on the coffee table.

A couple of hours later, she read her Bible, made dinner and then took a nap.  When she woke up, it was six o’clock.  Alton would be home at any minute.  She got up, took a shower, fixed her hair and went downstairs.  She heated dinner and then laid it out on the table in the dining-room.  Just as she put the glasses of Cranberry Juice on the table, she heard the key turn in the lock.  She left the dining-room and went into the foyer.  The door opened and Alton went in.  He smiled when he saw her.  After he closed and locked the door, he greeted her, “Hello, Sweetheart.”  He hugged and kissed her, thankful to be home.  “How was your day?”

“The usual,” she replied, helping him to remove his jacket.  “I went to the drugstore to pick up the Materna.”

“How are you feeling?”

“I feel fine.  The morning sickness isn’t as so bad anymore.  How was your day?”

“Busy as usual.  It’s great to be home.  Something smells really good.”

She took his hand and led him to the dining-room.  “I thought we’d eat in here for a change,” she said.  Usually, they ate in the kitchen.  “I’ll be right back.”  She went and got a pair of candles and placed them on the table.  After she lit them, they sat down.  He said Grace and then they tucked into the Beef and Parmesan Pasta. 

Over dinner, they talked about his day, the plans his company had that would bring in even more revenue which meant that they would be able to buy a house outside of the city.  As she listened to him talk, her mind alighted on her run in with Alicia.  She wondered if she should mention it.  No, she decided that then wasn’t the right time.  She didn’t want to spoil their evening.  She would tell him later.  The nagging doubts rose to the surface but she pushed them away.

After he helped her to clear the table, he went to take a shower while she loaded the dishwasher.  She was in the living-room when he joined her.  He was wearing just a pajama pants.  It was during the summer.  He sat next to her and rested his arm along the back of the sofa.  They watched a couple of movies and then called it a night.

He was in and out of the bathroom quickly while she stayed a while longer.  After she wiped the top of the sink she switched off the light and went into the bedroom.  He was lying under the covers.  He rolled over unto his side when he heard her but when she stood there watching him, he asked, “Aren’t you coming to bed.”

“In a minute,” she answered.

He sat up, frowning.  “What’s the matter, Lin?”

“I ran into Alicia this morning.”

He grimaced.  “What happened?”

Lindsey told him.  “Is this why you married me?” she asked, placing her hand on her swollen abdomen.

Alton threw back the covers and climbed out of the bed.  He went over to her, towering over her as she stood there, in the black vest and silk pajama shorts.  He hooked his finger under her chin and raised her face until she was looking up at him, her eyes wide as they met his.  “You should know by now why I married you,” he said quietly.

She swallowed.  “Maybe I need for you to tell me,” she replied.

“I love you, Lin,” he confessed.  “I would have married you even if you hadn’t gotten pregnant.  Alicia’s bitter because I broke up with her long before I met you.  She wants to ruin our relationship.  Don’t let her.  She knows I married you because I love you.”

“I’m sorry,” Lindsey mumbled.  “I had my doubts and she just played on them.  I guess I never could get over the fact that a guy like you would be interested in me.”

His eyes darkened on her face.  “You’re the most beautiful and desirable woman I know.  The first time I saw you, I knew that I was in trouble.  As you recall, I didn’t waste anytime introducing myself to you and asking you out.  I fell hard for you and was planning to ask you to marry me when you told me that you were pregnant.  I was on top of the world, Lin.  Didn’t you ever wonder how was able to put a ring on your finger the same night as your announcement?”

She nodded.  And at that moment, she felt like a complete fool.  “I’m sorry,” she apologized again, lowering her eyes.

“Oh, Lindsey,” Alton muttered thickly before he lowered his head and kissed her.

She put her arms around his waist and pressed against him as she kissed him back.  As they exchanged passionate kisses, he picked her up and carried her over to the bed.

He laid her gently down and stretched out beside her.  Lying on his side, he gazed down into her face, his face flushed.  “You wanted me to say that I love you,” he murmured huskily.  “Now, I’m going to show you how much.”  He lowered his head and she reached up and clutched his head.

“I love you,” she whispered just before their lips touched.

 

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Meant to Be

Ashton Emsworth was waiting for his girlfriend, Jessica, when he spotted Trisha Adams, his former professor from university.  Immediately, his heart began to beat fast.  She was wearing a dark jacket over a white blouse and jeans.   She looked terrific–as usual.  The last time he saw her was three years ago at his graduation.  He wondered if she even remembered him.  He thought about her every single day, wondering if he would ever see her again.  And there she was.

She glanced up and saw him.  Her face broke into a big smile and then she was coming over to him.  He ran his hands nervously over the seat of his jeans, his breath coming a little faster now.  When she reached him, he tried not to stare but he couldn’t help himself.  She was still so beautiful.  “Hello, Ashton,” she said and hugged him warmly.

He closed his eyes as he breathed in her fragrance.  She felt small and soft in his arms.  Heat coursed through his body.  When she pulled back to look up at him, his expression was tense.  He felt so awkward and nervous.  “Hello, Miss Adams,” he managed to say.

“Please call me Trisha.  How have you been?”

“I–I’ve been well, thanks.  W-what about you?”  He wondered if she had any clue that he was extremely attracted to her.   He had been since the first time he walked into the classroom and saw her.

“I’m well, thank you.  How’s your family?”

“They’re good.  They’re vacationing in the Bahamas.”

“Lucky them.  How come you didn’t go with them?”

“I didn’t feel up to it.”

“Well, it’s good that you didn’t go or we wouldn’t have run into each other.  How do you find life after university?”

“It was tough at first because I had spent four years studying and not having to worry about anything but after graduating, I had to figure out what to do next.  I thought of taking a graduate job then I considered pursuing post graduate study.  I ended up taking a gap year.  Are you still teaching at the University of London?”

She shook her head.  “No, I left the year you graduated.  I’m now teaching at King’s College.  Are you waiting for someone?”

“Yes.”  He didn’t mention whom.  For some reason he found himself hoping that Jessica wouldn’t show up just then.

“I won’t keep you then.  Ashton, I was wondering…Are you busy tomorrow evening?”

He thought about it for a moment.  Tomorrow was Saturday.  Jessica was working tomorrow evening.  She worked part-time at a café close to the university.  “No, I’m not busy tomorrow evening,” he said.

Trisha looked relieved.  “Great.  I’d like to take you out to dinner at this great restaurant.  We have a lot of catching up to do.”

She’s asking me out to dinner.  He couldn’t believe it.  Excitement and nervousness filled him.  “I’d like that very much,” he said.

“I’ll pick you up at seven.”

He balked.  “Shouldn’t I be picking you up?” he asked.

“I’m taking you out to dinner so I should pick you up,” she said, her eyes twinkling.  “We’re living in the 21st century, Ashton.  A woman can take a man out of dinner and she can pick him up at his flat too.  Now, what’s your address?”

He told her and she made a mental note.

“Well, I had better be going,” she said.  “I’ll see you tomorrow evening at seven.  Enjoy the rest of the afternoon, Ashton.”

He was sorry that she had to go.  If he weren’t waiting for Jessica, he would have asked her to have a cappuccino with him.  Still, he ought to be grateful that he was going to see her tomorrow.  “Thanks.  You too.”

She touched his arm, making his heart leap in his chest and then turned and walked away.  He watched her go, his skin tingling where her fingers had been.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” Jessica said, suddenly appearing beside him.  “The lineup in the music store was horrendous but it was worth it.  I finally got the CD after hunting for it all over London for it.  I’m famished.  Let’s go and grab something to eat.  I saw this little bistro just down the street.”  She grabbed his hand and started walking.  All the way to the bistro she talked non-stop about how tempted she had been to buy other CDs and the DVD set of Jane Austen movies.  She congratulated herself on not giving into the temptation.  Ashton didn’t say anything.  His mind was elsewhere.  He was thinking about tomorrow evening and was anxious for it to come.

It came after what seemed like a very long time to him.  As he waited for her in the courtyard outside of his building, he felt tingly all over.  He was thrilled and terrified at the same time.  He hoped and prayed that he wouldn’t make a fool of himself.  His cell phone was turned off.  He didn’t want Jessica calling him while he was having dinner.  He tried not to think about how she would feel if she knew that he was going out on a date with the professor he was besotted with.

A silver grey Mercedes Benz pulled up and the window rolled down.  Trisha stuck her head out.  “I hope you weren’t waiting long,” she called.  “I tried to get here as fast as I could.  The traffic is very heavy.”

He shook his head.  “No, I wasn’t waiting long,” he said as he walked over and got into the car.  Compared to waiting for over two years to see you again, what are a few minutes?  As he fastened his seat-belt, he glanced at her.  She looked amazing in the red jersey dress.  Its rich deep color flattered her.  Her hair was in an updo with strands falling across her forehead and against her cheeks.  She turned her head and caught him staring.  Color suffused his cheeks and he looked away.

“I’ve been looking forward to seeing you all day,” she told him as they drove off.

He looked at her, surprised.  “You have?”

“Yes.  I’ve been thinking about you all day.  By the way, you look very handsome in your suit.”

He blushed, feeling a little self-conscious.  “Thank you.”  A pause and then, he said, rather shyly, “And you look very beautiful.”

She smiled.  “Thank you.”  There was a brief silence for a moment.  Only the sounds of soft music filled the air and then, she asked, “How old are you?”

“Twenty-three.”

“I’m twelve years older than you.  Does that brother you?”

“No, it doesn’t.”

“It used to bother me.  When I first saw you in my classroom, I was taken aback by how attracted I was to you.  I tried to fight it, of course, because you were my student and the age difference.  Many times, I wanted to ask you out but propriety prevented me.  It was against the school’s policy for a teacher to be involved with a student.”

“What about after I graduated?” he asked.  “Why couldn’t we have seen each other then?”

“We could have if it weren’t for our age difference.  I couldn’t see myself getting involved with a guy so much younger than me but I couldn’t stop thinking about you and wondering if I would ever see you again.  And then, quite by accident or perhaps, it was God’s doing, we ran into each other yesterday.”

“I think it was God.”

“I think you’re right.  Well, here we are.”  They had arrived at the restaurant. It turned out to be a really nice, cozy and friendly establishment.  The food was incredible.  They spend a very pleasant evening, talking and getting to know each other.  He was sorry when it was time to leave.

“Do you have a girlfriend?” she asked after they pulled out of the parking lot.

The question was so sudden that he blinked.  “Yes,” he said.

“You were waiting for her yesterday when I saw you.”

“Yes.  Does this mean that we can see each other again?”

“Well, that depends on you.”

“I want to see you again, Trisha.”

“What about your girlfriend?”

“I’m going to end my relationship with her.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.  I want to be with you.  All this time I’ve been with her, I’ve thought of nothing or no one else but you.  I tried to get in touch with you.  I went on the university’s website to get your email address or number but I couldn’t find anything.”

“I’m on Facebook.”

“I don’t have a Facebook account,” he said, somewhat sheepishly.

They were stopped at a traffic light.  She leaned over and kissed him.  He eagerly responded and for several minutes they exchanged passionate kisses.  Then, she pulled away just as the light changed.  “How about a nightcap at my place?”  She sounded breathless.

He nodded, trying to catch his breath. His heart was racing, his face felt hot and his body on fire.   When they got to her place, the nightcap was forgotten as they fell into each other’s arms and ended up making love in front of the hearth.   That night was the beginning of a torrid relationship and culminated in marriage.

If two people are meant to be together, it will happen no matter where, when or how it happens.

 

 

 

 

Sources:  Top Ten Reviews; Prospects

A Vision of Beauty

She was leaning against the building, a vision of beauty.  Flaming curly red hair framed a beautiful face.  She was obviously waiting for someone–a friend or a boyfriend?  He hoped that it wasn’t the latter.

As he stood there, trying to figure out whether or not he should approach her, she moved away from the wall and started walking towards him.  His heart began to pound and although on the surface he appeared calm, he was nervous.  Was she coming over to tell him that she didn’t appreciate him staring at her?  How embarrassing would that be?  Well, there was a first time for everything.

Just as she got close, she smiled and he felt relief wash over him.  As far as he knew a woman didn’t smile at you before she put you in your place.  He waited with bated breath to see what would happen next.  For the moment, he smiled back.

“David Corbyn?” she said.

He was surprised now.  She knew his name.  “Yes?”

“Don’t you recognize me?” she asked.  “I guess you wouldn’t because the last time we saw each other I was a scraggly kid in pigtails and glasses.”

He stared at her and then exclaimed, “Lexi Davies?”

She laughed, making his heart skip a beat.  “Yes!”

“Wow! You’ve changed.”  He couldn’t believe that this was the same little girl who used to hang about him.  She was his best friend, Erick’s little sister.  “Little Lexie is all grown up now.”

“You haven’t changed much,” she remarked.  “You’re as handsome as ever.  I had a big crush on you, you know.”

He felt his face go hot.  “I didn’t know that,” he confessed.  “I thought you just liked being around me because I was always bringing treats and lending you books.  You used to read a lot.”

“I still do.  As a matter of fact, I work at Daunt Books.”

“So, how are your Mom and Dad?”

“They are doing well.  They recently retired and are planning to go on a Mediterranean cruise next month.”

“What about Erick?  The last time I heard from him, he was in Jerusalem.”

“He’s busy juggling a family and his job as a photojournalist.  He couldn’t be happier.”

“Are you waiting for someone?”

“Well, I was waiting for my friend, Veronica.  We were supposed to go the The Jazz Café to see Atlantic Soul Orchestra.  I thought she’d be here by now.”

“I thought you were waiting either for a friend or a boyfriend.  I was hoping that it wasn’t the latter.”

She smiled.  “I don’t have a boyfriend.”

“I’m relieved to hear that.”

She started to say something when, her cell rang.  “Maybe this is Veronica.”  She answered the call.  It was her friend and from what he overheard, it sounded like she wasn’t going to make it.  “Something’s come up so she isn’t coming,” Lexi explained a couple of minutes later.  “Say, do you have any plans?”

He shook his head, thankful that he didn’t and even if he did, he would have cancelled them in a heartbeat.

“Would you like to go to the concert with me?” she asked, sounding hopeful.  “I know it’s short notice–

“I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend my evening,” he said, his expression serious now.

She blushed.  “Me too,” she said, sounding a little breathless.  “We’d better go now before we’re late.”  She went over to the wall and grabbed her knapsack from the sidewalk.  He joined her and they walked to his car which was parked nearby.

The concert was amazing.  It was the best band he had ever seen.  Afterwards, Lexi and he walked to a nearby restaurant where they enjoyed a tasty dinner and each other’s company.  It was the first of many dates and the beginning of a lifetime together.

 

 

 

Sources:  Careers Portal; Wikipedia;

Venice

Friends since they were children, Monica and Russell were inseparable.  They went to the same schools and university and moved from Manchester to London after they graduated from university.  Whenever people saw them together, they always assumed that they were a couple and they would quickly inform them, “We’re just friends.”

They dated other people but the relationships never worked out and their respective exes always blamed their friendship.  Once, Monica’s ex-boyfriend accused her of sabotaging their relationship because she was secretly in love with Russell.  She had a run in once with Samantha, a model he was dating who informed her that she didn’t believe that they were just friends.  “A person would have to be blind not to see that there is something going on between you two,” she said.  “And which woman in her right mind could be just friends with a guy like Russell?”

Russell and Monica laughed about it but as time passed, they realized that there was some truth to what others were saying.  They stopped dating other people because they didn’t feel any connection with them and it was beginning to affect their friendship.  Russell found himself getting jealous of the men Monica dated and she hated seeing him with other women.  So, to safeguard their friendship, they remained unattached.   Instead of going to dinner with other people they went each other.  They went to the theatre, concerts and now, here they were in Italy for a three week vacation.

Monica stood now on the Spanish Steps as Russell snapped photos of her.  He looked so handsome in the white shirt and light blue jeans.  She noticed women walking by and casting admiring glances his way.  Jealousy gnawed at her although he seemed oblivious to them.  She knew she was being ridiculous but she couldn’t help it.  She always worried that one day he would meet someone else and fall in love with her.  Not wanting to spoil the moment, she smiled and posed for the photos.

The day went pleasantly as they visited the Pantheon and had lunch at a trattoria near the Piazza Navona.  After sharing a pizza, she went to the washroom.  On her way back to the table, a local looked up at her and said, “Ciao Bella ragazza.”  She glanced at him and then continued to where Russell was.

He stood up when she reached him.  “What did that man say to you?” he asked.  His expression was guarded.

“It sounded like, ‘Ciao bella ragazza,’” she told him.

Russell didn’t answer.  Instead, he put on his sunglasses and preceded her out of the trattoria.  They went for a walk along Castel Sant’Angelo before they went back to the hotel.  They went to their respective rooms until it was time for dinner.  The following day, they left Rome and went to Florence where they spent their second week.  The following day, they took a trip to Milan and after visiting the Santa Maria delle Grazie where Da Vinci’s Last Supper hung, they stopped by the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Russell took a photo of Monica outside of Prada.  From Florence, they went on a day tour to Pisa, Siena and San Gimignano.  They had dinner in Siena in a trattoria in Piazza del Campo.

The week went by very quickly and Monica was sorry when they left Florence but looked forward to seeing Venice.  They took the train early in the morning and while Russell read a magazine, she took a nap.  When they arrived in Venice, they found out that they had to share a room because the hotel was fully booked.  That made Monica very nervous but she was relieved when she saw that there were two separate beds.

They spent their first day in Venice at Piazza San Marco, reputed to be one of the most beautiful squares in the world.   They visited the Basilica of San Marco.  Monica was enthralled by the dome and could have stood there all day just staring up at it.  When they came out of the basilica, Russell pointed to the one of the arches above the entrance where there was a marble statue of an old man biting his hand.  “The legend says that he was relieved of his duties when he said that he would be able to build it even more beautiful.”

They had lunch at a restaurant in the square, enjoying the sunshine and watching other tourists.  They finished their sightseeing for the day climbing the Campanile for the breathtaking view of the city and the lagoon.   They stayed there for a while.

It was late afternoon when they returned to the hotel.  They relaxed on the terrace and then it was time to get ready for dinner.  It felt strange getting dressed in the bathroom while Russell got dressed in the bedroom.  She had to make sure it was safe to come out once she was finished.  He looked handsome as usual.  And she saw his gaze travel over her.  “You look great,” he remarked before turning away.  “I was thinking that after dinner, we can go to a church concert.”

She smiled.  “That sounds great.”  Venice was beautiful at night so it was nice walking to the square.  How she longed to hold Russell’s hand, especially when they passed other couples who were holding hands.  They had dinner at an elegant restaurant.  Afterwards, they walked to the church where they spent the next hour or so listening to uplifting music in a lovely atmosphere.

It was late when they got back to the hotel and she was tired.  On the way up to their room, she kept yawning and as soon as they got in she took out a nightgown from her suitcase and headed straight for the bathroom.  She quickly changed out of her dress and into her nightgown and brushed her teeth.

She walked into the room and stopped short when she saw Russell standing there half-naked, holding his pajama shirt.  She turned away, flustered but not before her gaze swept irresistibly over the broad shoulders and wide chest.  He watched her, his expression tense and a muscle throbbed alongside his jaw line.  It took every ounce of willpower on his part not to go over there and take her in his arms.  Instead, he went into the bathroom and closed the door quietly behind him.

As soon as he was gone, Monica hurried over to her bed and climbed in, pulling the cover up to her throat.

A few moments later, the door to the bathroom opened and Russell stepped into the room.  She watched as he walked past her bed to his.

“Goodnight, Russell,” she said, looking over at him as he pulled back the cover and got in.  His back was turned to her.

“Goodnight.”  He closed his eyes as his body reacted to the memory of her in the champagne colored silk nightgown.  He didn’t know how much longer he could continue being just friends with her when he wanted her.

She lay there on her back, staring up at the ceiling, unable to fall asleep.  She couldn’t get the image of him out of her mind.  When she saw his bare torso, her mouth went dry and what felt like a bolt of electricity surged through her.  She had turned away because she was afraid that her feelings would betray her.  She wished she had the courage to tell him how she really felt about him but she didn’t want to jeopardize their friendship.

Sometime later, she heard him stir and then get up.  In the faint light, she watched him tiptoe over to the chair where his shirt and pants were draped.   As he started to get dressed, she sat up, alarmed.  “Where’re you going?” she asked, turning on the lamp beside her.

He didn’t turn around.  “I thought you were asleep.  I can’t sleep so, I’m going out for a bit.”  After he pulled on his shirt and tucked it in his pants, he turned to face her, his eyes wary.  “I’ll try not to disturb you when I come back.”

“How long will you be gone?”

“I don’t know,” he replied shortly.

“Where will you go?”

“I don’t know.  Maybe I’ll go to Piazzale Roma or the Rialto or San Marco.”  He was about to walk past her when she quickly climbed out of the bed and stood in front of him.

“What’s wrong, Russell?” she asked.  “You seem upset.”

He kept his eyes on her face, not daring to let them go lower.  “I’m not upset.”

“I think you are, “she insisted.   “Please tell me what’s wrong.  We’re supposed to be friends—”

His expression darkened.   “I know we’re supposed to be friends,” he snapped.  “But right now, I don’t feel like a friend.”

She looked nonplussed.  “What do you mean?”

This is what I mean,” he muttered before he grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her roughly against him, making her gasp.  His head swooped down and his mouth closed hungrily over hers.

Monica clung to him, kissing him back eagerly, feverishly.  As they exchanged kisses, he picked her up and carried her over to her bed.  He put her gently down on it and then drew back to remove his shirt.  She reached for him, pulling him down to her, her fingers digging into his back as he pressed his lips hotly against her neck.

They made mad, passionate love and the next morning when she woke up, she was alone in the bed.  She lay there for a moment thinking it had all been a dream.  Then she sat up and realized that she wasn’t wearing anything under the cover.  She looked over and saw Russell standing by the window.  He was wearing a robe.   He turned when he heard her.

He left the window and came and sat down on the bed beside her.  His expression was serious when he met her gaze.  “Do you regret what happened between us?” he asked.

She shook her head.  “No,” she murmured huskily, reaching out and brushing the hair back from his forehead.

He leaned over and kissed her on the shoulder, making her shiver.  “Me neither,” he said.  “I’ve wanted to make love to you for a very, very long time but you insisted on us being just friends—”

“I thought that was what you wanted,” she said.  “You never came out and said otherwise.”

“Do you have any idea how hard it is to be a friend to you when I want to be more?  That’s why I couldn’t sleep last night.  When I saw you in that nightgown, I wanted you so much.  I had to get out of here before I lost my mind.”

“I couldn’t sleep either because I couldn’t stop thinking about how you looked shirtless…”

His eyes darkened and cupping her face between his hands he lowered his head and kissed her.  “I love you, Monica,” he whispered, raising his head to look into her face.  “I wanted to tell you that so many times but my courage failed me.”

“I love you too.”

“I just wish we hadn’t wasted so much time dating other people when we should have been dating each other.”

“Let’s not waste any more time having regrets.  Things are different between us now.”

“Yes, they are.”

“You know, if anyone were to ask me what the most memorable part of my vacation is, I would tell them that it was Venice.”

“Why Venice?” he asked.

“It’s where we finally declared our true feelings for each other.”

His eyes darkened.  “Let’s have a late breakfast,” he suggested as he removed his robe.

“Or we can order room service,” she said, settling back against the pillows.

“Room service, then,” he agreed before his mouth found hers.

A year later, they returned to Venice for their honeymoon.

 

Sources:  Cabragadin Hotel; Ciao Florence; Italy Guides; Veneto Inside; Bistrot de Venise; Classic Tic; Rick Steves

 

Buenos Aires

Ayana sat there staring at the computer screen, still reeling from her run in with Inga, Rolf’s girlfriend a few hours ago in the parking lot.  The unpleasant incident happened when she was on her way to meet a friend for lunch.  She was about to open the car door when she heard someone yell her name and turned to see Inga marching toward her.  Startled, she stood there, wondering what the blonde wanted with her and why she looked so livid.

When she reached her, she said rather nastily, “Is it because you don’t have a man of your own that you’re trying to move in on mine?”

It took a few minutes for Ayana to recover from her surprise.  Why would she make such an assumption?  “I’m not trying to move in on Rolf,” she said finally.  “He and I work together, that’s all—”

“Since when does work include the two of you flying off to Argentina?”

“Our trip to Buenos Aires is purely business, Inga.  I’m Rolf’s secretary so I have to go with him.”

“You expect me to believe that you and he are going to work all the time you’re there?  What about at nights when you don’t have any meetings?  What will you do then?”

Ayana shrugged her shoulders.  “I don’t know,” she said.  “I haven’t thought that far ahead.”

“I can’t imagine that you would be eating alone.  Knowing Rolf, he will invite you to join him for dinner.  My concern is what will happen after dinner.”

“Inga, you don’t have anything to worry about.  Rolf and I have been working together for about four years now and nothing has ever happened between us.  Besides, you’re mistaken about me not having a man of my own.”

“You have a boyfriend?”

“Yes.”

“But, Rolf said that you didn’t—”

“Well, I just started dating him.  Rolf doesn’t know about him.”

“And it sounds like you don’t want him to.”

“I don’t see why it should be any concern of his.  We just work together.”

Inga studied her for a few minutes.  “Well, I’m glad to hear that it’s strictly business between the two of you.  And I won’t say anything to him about your boyfriend.  And you won’t say anything to him about our little conversation.”

“He won’t hear about this from me,” Ayana promised.  She just wanted to get out of there.  She had never been accosted by a jealous woman before and it was very unsettling.

“Good.”  Inga looked her over, her expression one of disdain before she turned and walked away.

Ayana quickly opened her door and got into the car.  She started the engine and drove off.  Her head and heart were pounding.  She hated confrontations.  Fortunately, no one had observed them.  Why did Inga think that she had designs on Rolf?  Did she sense that she had feelings for Rolf?  How could she not?  Rolf was an extremely attractive man.  No woman could resist him. Just thinking about him now made her pulse race.  There were times when they were alone in his office, working and she could hardly concentrate because she was painfully aware of him.

While he was poring over some papers, she would sneak a peek at him, noting the way, he furrowed his brow when he was concentrating.  His hair would fall rakishly across his forehead making her ache to brush the strands back.  He would remove his jacket and tie and loosen the top buttons of his shirt.  Underneath the shirt sleeves she could see the chiseled muscles of his arms.  She wanted to reach out and touch them.  The smell of his aftershave tantalized her senses and his eyes when he looked at her made her heart flutter.  And when he absentmindedly stroked his jaw as he focused, she found herself imagining what it would be like to have those long fingers caressing her face.

Sighing now as she sat in her cubicle, Ayana had to admit that Inga had every reason to distrust her.  She had lied to her about having a boyfriend.  She wasn’t dating anyone.  None of the men out there or in the office interested her.  She was stuck on Rolf, which was unfortunate for her.  How was she going to manage being in Buenos Aires with him for twelve days?  They were to leave tomorrow night and arrive in Buenos Aires the following morning.  The flight was over ten hours long.  What were they going to talk about?  Should she take a novel?  How could she read, though with him there?  Her head was beginning to hurt from all of these questions and she rubbed her temple.

Just then her phone rang, startling her.  She glanced at the display.  It was Rolf.  She quickly picked up the receiver.  “Yes, Rolf.”

“Do you have a minute?”

“Yes.  I’m on my way.”  She hung up and got up from her desk.

He was putting on his jacket when she went into his office.  “I’m heading out now,” he informed her.  “I have errands to run.  Are you all set for tomorrow?”

She nodded.  “I have the plane tickets, the files we will need and the itinerary for each day.  Was there anything else you needed me to take care of?”

He glanced around before shaking his head.  “No, I think we’re good.  I will pick you up at seven.”

“I’ll be waiting in the lobby.”

“See you tomorrow evening.”  He grabbed his briefcase and preceded her out of the office.

She went back to her cubicle to finish up some work.  The next few hours went by quickly and soon it was time to go home.  After showering and having dinner, she made sure she had packed everything she needed, including the new outfits she had bought earlier in the week.   When she was finished, she watched the News and then went to bed.

The following day went quickly and soon it was time to go to the airport.  She quickly showered, got dressed in a pair of dressy jeans, a red blouse and a denim jacket.  She was ready and waiting outside on the steps leading to the front entrance of her building when the company car pulled up and the chauffeur went round to the trunk to open it.  She wheeled her luggage over and he hoisted it into the back along with her carry-on.  She thanked him as he held the passenger door open for her to climb in beside Rolf who looked very attractive in the black shirt and grey slacks.

She saw his eyes flicker over her before he smiled.  “Excited about going to Buenos Aires?” he asked as the car drove off.

“It’s the first place I’ve been to outside of the United States,” she told him.  “I’m a little nervous, I guess.”

He reached out and gently squeezed her hand, making her heart skip a beat.  “There’s nothing to be nervous about,” he assured her.  “I’m sure you’ll like it.”

“Have you ever been there before?”

“No, but I’ve heard great things about it.  A female friend of mine who has been there said that it’s a city that is alive and sexy and gets under your skin.”

“Sounds exciting,” she remarked.  Her heart was racing now because he was still holding her hand.

“It does,” he agreed, withdrawing his hand.  “I hope you brought a camera because we will have time for some sightseeing.”

“I did,” she said.  And she brought a book to read as well.  It turned out that she didn’t need it.  They talked and then she watched a movie while he looked over some papers.  It was just after mid-night when she went to sleep.

Buenos Aires was beautiful.  She loved the colorful buildings mixed in with the faded European grandeur.  She stared out of the window of the taxi, her eyes drinking in the sights.  Their hotel was located in the most stylish neighborhood of La Recoleta and surrounded by the best city´s restaurants and shops.  After they checked in, they went up to their rooms.  “We have time to unwind, shower and go over some notes before the meeting,” Rolf told her as they rode the elevator.  “I’ll meet you by the front desk.”

“All right.”  She couldn’t wait to shower and change.  It was going to be a long day.    Her room was bright and spacious.  The bed looked so good that she wanted to throw herself on it.  Instead, she took out what she was going to wear, stood for a moment, looking out the sliding doors at the buildings opposite before going into the bathroom to undress and take a long, hot shower.  Rolf wasn’t by the front desk when she went down but a very handsome young man was there.  He smiled when he saw her.  “Buenos dias,” he said.

“Buenos dias,” she replied.  “I’m afraid I don’t speak much Spanish.”

“That’s okay.  Most people who come here don’t.  My name is Ramon.”

“Ayana.”

“Is this your first time to Buenos Aires?”

“Yes.  On my way over here, I saw a little of the city and it’s beautiful.”

“Yes, it is a very beautiful city.”

Just then the elevator doors opened and Rolf stepped out.  She turned to Ramon, “Excuse me, Ramon.”

“It was nice meeting you, Ayana.”

“It was nice meeting you too, Ramon.”

She walked away and joined Rolf.  They had breakfast and then they went through the papers until it was time for the meetings.  The day went quickly.  The attendees were from Europe, America and Asia.  They were about two women in attendance.  During the breaks, she spoke with them.  Annette, the one from Cleveland nudged her saying, “You have a very attractive boss.  Is he married?”  She herself was married and had three children.

Ayana shook her head.  “No.  He has a girlfriend, though.”

“Too bad.  I think you and he would have made a very nice couple.”

Ayana didn’t answer.  She just smiled.  Over the next couple of days, when they had spare time, Rolf and she went sightseeing.  She loved Buenos Aires and hoped that she would visit it again someday.   The days went by very quickly and it was their last evening before they flew back to New York in the morning.  Tonight, Rolf was taking her for dinner at a popular restaurant where they would be treated to a Tango show.

After she finished getting ready, she went downstairs to the lobby to wait for Rolf.  Ramon was on duty and he smiled broadly when she walked over to the reception desk to give him her key.  “Buenos noches, Ayana.” he greeted her, his dark brown eyes traveling appreciatively over her figure in the black cocktail dress.

“Buenos noches, Ramon.”

“The man you’re with, is his your boyfriend?”

She shook her head.  “No, he’s my boss.  We’re here on business.”

Ramon smiled.  “Bueno.  Then, he won’t mind if I took you dancing later.  I can teach you the tango, if you like.”

He was very nice man but she wasn’t interested in him.  Smiling apologetically, she said, “I’m sorry, Ramon but I can’t go dancing with you tonight.  I already have plans.”

“What about tomorrow night?”

She opened her mouth to tell him that she was leaving in the morning when Rolf joined them.  He looked at her and then at Ramon who said to him, “Your taxi is waiting outside, Senor.”

“Thank you.”  Rolf handed him his key and then turned to Ayana.  “Are you ready?” he asked abruptly.

“Yes.  Goodnight, Ramon.”

“Goodnight, Ayana.”

She didn’t notice Rolf grimace but when he started to walk away, she followed him.

He held the door open for her and when she climbed into the back, she caught a whiff of his cologne.  After he got in and told the driver where they were going, he leaned back in the seat.  For several minutes neither of them said anything.  They were both looking out of the window.  Then, she heard him say, “You and the guy at reception seem to be on very friendly terms.”

She looked at him but his head was still turned toward the window. “Ramon is a really nice guy.  Very friendly.”

“A little too friendly,” he replied.  “Tonight wasn’t the first time I’ve seen him flirting with you.”

“He wasn’t flirting with me.  He was just being friendly.”

“I saw the way he was looking at you, Ayana.  He wants to be more than friends.”

“Well, he invited me to go dancing with him tonight but I told him that I already had plans.”

Rolf looked at her then.  “If you and I weren’t going to dinner and a show, would you have gone dancing with him?”

She shook her head at once.  “No, I wouldn’t have.  I like Ramon but I’m not interested in him.”

“Is there someone you’re interested in, Ayana?” he asked quietly.

“Yes, but you’re already in a relationship.”

He reached for her hand, making her heart leap in her chest.  “I ended my relationship with Inga last year.”

Ayana stared at him.  “Last year?”

“Yes.  I thought you knew.”

“No, I didn’t.  When I saw her in the parking lot on the day before we flew out, she made it sound like you were still seeing each other.”

“You saw her in the parking lot?”

Ayana told him what happened.  “To diffuse the situation, I told her that I had a boyfriend,” she concluded.

“I’m sorry that you had such a nasty run in with her.”

“She heard about our trip to Buenos Aires and jumped to conclusions.”

“I wonder how she found out about it.  I will have a word with her when we return.  I don’t want her accosting you anymore.”

“I have to admit that it was very unnerving.”

“Let’s not think about the incident any more.  It’s our last evening in Buenos Aires. Let’s enjoy every moment.”

She nodded.  “Yes, let’s enjoy every moment.”

He raised her hand to his lips.  “And I hope that tonight will be the first of many enjoyable nights you and I will spend together.”

The brush of his lips against her hand made her pulse race and her stomach flip flop. Yes, the evening was off to a very exciting start.

 

Sources:  Smart Meetings; Prokerala; Four Seasons; CTrip

 

Cat

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Sheila stood at the window gazing at the city skyline illuminated in the setting sun.  Below the streets pulsated with life.  Behind her, she could hear Adam in the kitchen.

She smiled.  He’d finally invited her for dinner.  They’d been partners for a year now.  When she first joined the force, she was determined not get involved with a fellow officer but that was before she met Adam.  Who could resist those smoky brown eyes and the incredible smile which made her heart flutter?

She turned from the window.  Her eyes fell on the porcelain dog, Cat’s gift to Adam.  They met at Tim Horton’s where Cat worked.  One afternoon as she handed him the donuts, he asked her out and she readily said yes.   They dated and in the summer, he proposed.  Then, she and her dog were struck by a van at an intersection.  As she picked up the porcelain, she saw the connection.  The dog and the donuts, the girl and the cop.  How does one compete with a memory?  Sheila sighed.

175 Words

This was written as part of Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by Priceless Joy. For more information visit Here.  To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

The Dinner

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It was Monday morning and Lillian was still feeling tired from a very busy weekend.  Before going to the office, she stopped at Tim Horton’s for a coffee.  She grabbed one for Kabir as well.  He was on a conference call so she quietly popped into his office, set the coffee down on his desk and left.

As usual, he looked really good in his suit.  Easy girl.  He’s your boss, remember?  That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate what a fine looking man he is.

She sat down at her desk, switched on her laptop and took a couple of sips of the hot coffee.  It hit the right spot.  She logged on to and began to check her emails.  Just then her cell rang.  She quickly answered it.  It was Neil.

“So you make it into work okay.”

“Yes.  I was dozing on the train, though and almost missed my stop.  How about you?”

“I’m off this week.”

“Lucky you.”

“Say, if you’re not doing anything later, maybe we can hook up and take in a movie or something.”

“Sorry, Neil but I’m not in the mood to go anywhere.  It’s going to be an early night for me.”

“Some other time then.”

I doubt it.  You’re a nice guy but I’m just not into you.  “Gotta go, Neil.  Have  good day.”

“Thanks.  You too, Lil.”

She ended the call just as Kabir stepped out of his office.  He stood by her desk, coffee in hand, watching her.  “Sorry, I’ll turn it off,”  she said.

He waved her apology aside.  “Don’t worry about it,” he said.  “Thanks for the coffee.”

She smiled.  “You’re welcome.”

“Did you have a good weekend?”

She nodded.  “I did but it was a crazy busy one.  I had to drag myself out of bed this morning.  This coffee is a lifesaver.  How about you?”

“Well, my weekend wasn’t as exciting as yours.  My parents are visiting from Florida.  They’re staying with my sister and her family.”

“Oh yes, you mentioned on Friday that they were coming.  When did they arrive?”

“On Friday evening.”

“How long are they going to be here for?”

“Two weeks.”

“Is this their first visit to Toronto?”

“No, they’ve been here before.  Although they like Toronto, they prefer Miami where it’s always warm.”

“I know the winters here could be brutal sometimes.”

“Are you busy tomorrow evening?” he asked suddenly, startling her.

She shook her head.  “No.”  Did he want her to work late?

“I’m taking my parents out for dinner and was wondering if you would like to join us?”

It took a moment before she said, “Sure.”

He smiled.  “Good.  Well, I’d better get back to work.  Thanks again for the coffee.”

After he walked away, she sat there, daydreaming.  He had asked her to have dinner with him–well, with his parents and him but that was still something, wasn’t it?

Dinner turned out to be a very enjoyable affair.  She liked his parents, especially his father who made her laugh so much that tears were coming out of her eyes.  His mother was more serious and very direct.  Several times Lillian caught her looking at her as if trying to size her up.  It was clear that Kabir was the apple of her eye and like most mothers with their sons, she was protective.  Any woman who wanted to be with him had to win her approval.  Was it obvious to her that Lillian was in love with her son?  It seemed like women picked up on these things easily.

“So, Kabir mentioned that you’ve been working with him for five years.  Is he a good boss?”

Lillian nodded.  “Yes, he is.”

“He isn’t working you too hard, is he?”

Lillian shook her head.  “No.  He’s a very fair boss.  I enjoy working with him.”

“Good.  And what about your family?  Are they here in Toronto?”

“My parents live in Kingston, Jamaica while my brother lives in Vancouver with his family.”

“Are you close to your family?”

“Yes, we’re very close.  We keep in touch every day and see each other in the summer and for Christmas.”

“Good.  Family is very important.  We’re a close family too.”

Just then Kabir’s Dad needed to go to the washroom and Kabir went with him.  Alone with his mother, Lillian felt a bit nervous, wondering what else she was going to ask her.  “Kabir mentioned that you’ve been to Toronto once before.”

“Yes.  We visited six years ago.  It’s a very nice city but the winters are too cold.  That’s why everyone comes to Miami for Christmas.  The cold is bad for the husband’s knees, you know.”

“It’s the same with my mother.  That’s why she doesn’t want to live here.”

“Kabir has told us so much about you.”

Lillian looked at her in surprise.  “He has?”

“Yes.  Every time we talk to him, he mentions you.  He wanted us to meet you the next time we came to Toronto.

Do you have a boyfriend?”

“No.”

“Good, because Kabir doesn’t have a girlfriend.  He probably won’t appreciate me telling you this but he likes you.  What about you, do you like him?”

“Yes, I like him too.”

“Then, I think it’s time that the two of you started dating.”

Before Lillian could answer, the men were back.  Kabir looked at his mother first and then at her.  And the way he looked at her made her pulse quicken.  For the remainder of the evening they stole glances at each other and after he dropped his parents off, he asked her as they were driving to her place, “Did my mother say something to you?”

“Well, she said that you like me.”

“She’s right, Lillian.  I do.  I like you very much.”

“And I–I like you very much too.”

He looked at her as they waited at a traffic light.  “So, you wouldn’t have a problem going out with me, then?”

She shook her head.  “No.”

He smiled.  “Good.”

For their first date, they did something unconventional but fun–they played board games at board games at Snakes and Lattes.  For the second date they enjoyed a twilight picnic at Casa Loma.  The next time Lillian saw Kabir’s parents it was in December when they flew to Miami for the Christmas holidays.  They were engaged.