The Flower Bed

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I had the dream again last night.  I was lying on a bed of pink roses and other flowers, my eyes were closed as I inhaled their sweet fragrance.  I was wearing a pink tee shirt.  It actually looked good on me although pink isn’t my color. In fact, I don’t own anything pink.  I think the tee shirt blended in very nicely with the bed of flowers, though.

As I lay there, not thinking about anything in particular,  I feel your hand touch my face ever so gently.  I don’t open my eyes.  I just want enjoy the feel of your soft fingers against my skin.  They awaken feelings in me that flow from my neck down all the way to my toes.  As you caress my face, you recite a poem.  I smile when I recognize that it is one of mine.   The words flow over me like a gentle river, submerging me in its prose and imagery.

When you’re finished,  I lay there, eyes still closed, waiting to hear your lovely, melodious voice again but my eager ears are met with silence.  My face suddenly feels cold because the warmth of your hand is no longer there.  Reluctantly, I open my eyes but all I see is the ceiling of my bedroom.  And I’m lying on my bed.  And you.  You’re not there.  You exist only in my dreams and imagination.

Suddenly, I feel cold and empty.  I pulled the cover up to my chin and try to go back to sleep but it eludes me.  I throw the cover and climb out of the bed.  Moonlight streams into the room, giving it a ghostly ambience.  I go over to the desk and turn on the lamp.  I grab a sheet of paper and a pen.  The words fill the page and when I’m finished I switch off the lamp and return to bed.  As soon as my head hits the pillow I’m out like a light.  On the desk, basking in the moonlight, sits my new poem, The Flower Bed.  And it’s dedicated to you, the girl of my dreams and imagination.

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

Praise the Lord

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Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! – Psalm 150:6

 

Thank You, Lord for putting a smile on my face this morning.  It was wonderful to see those seagulls and the squirrels eating the food You provided for them

Lord, I love You because You care not only for my loved ones, friends, co-workers, neighbors, people in general and me but You care for all creatures and nature.

Praise the Lord for His goodness and mercy which endures forever.  Let everything that has breath praise Him.

Lord, even the animals, birds, fish, insects, the trees, the flowers, the sun, moon, stars and everything that Your hands have made praise You.  You and You alone are worthy to be praised, O Lord, my God and my Creator.

Dinner With Miller

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She stormed out of the office and drove to her favorite spot, an abandoned field with wild flowers and a particular tree with twisted limbs that seemed to reach for the sky and the clouds like giant floating pieces of cotton wool moved ever so slightly across its expanse. Overhead, seagulls soared, their cries piercing the air. She counted them. There were four.

Removing her jacket, she spread it on the grass and sat down.  The anger was subsiding but Gillian’s words still played in her head.  “You’re kidding yourself if you think a gorgeous man like Miller would go out with you.  You’re too dark and you’re overweight.  I’m the kind of black woman most white men prefer.”

That miserable, skinny light-skinned—

Her cell rang.  It was Miller.  “Hi.”

“Hi.  We’re still on for tonight?”

“Yes.”

“Good.  See you later.”

“See you later.”

She dialed Michelle’s number.  “Rain check?”

“Sure.  Working late again?”

“Nope.  Dinner with Miller.”

“Huh? Um, have fun.”

She ended the call.  In five minutes, Gillian will learn about her date.

175 Words

This was written as part of Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. For more information visit Here.  If you would like to read other stories, visit Here.

God, the Restorer

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He remembered the day he proposed to her as if it happened just yesterday.  She was waiting for him on the train tracks where they met one fine summer day.  As he approached, holding the wild flowers behind his back, she turned and smiled that smile that melted his heart.  She looked beautiful in the sundress and her hair fell in thick, dark tresses down her back.

Slowly, his heart racing, he walked over to her.  Still holding the flowers behind his back, he leaned down and kissed her.  Then, he held out the flowers. “Happy birthday, Emily Rose.”

Her eyes lit up and she took them.  “Thank you,” she exclaimed, reaching up to kiss him in delight.  She breathed in the sweet, fresh fragrance of the flowers.  “They are beautiful.”

“I have something else for you,” he said.  He reached into his back pants pocket and kneeling down on the dry leaves in between the tracks, he produced a red, velvet box and opened it.  He saw her eyes widen.  “Emily Rose, I have loved you since we were children but that love changed to what it is now.  You are the love of my life–my soulmate.  You are my heaven on earth.  When I look at you, I am amazed not only because you are the most beautiful girl I know but because everything I have ever wanted or dreamed is right in front of me.  When I look at you, I believe that God really loves me because He blessed me with you.  I want to spend the rest of my life loving and taking care of you.  Emily Rose Carter, will you make me the happiest man on the planet by saying that you will marry me?”

Emily was crying now.  In between sobs, she managed to gasp, “Yes, I will marry you.”

After he slipped the ring on her finger, he stood up and picking her up, he swung her around, making her laugh before setting her back down on her feet.  He cupped her face and kissed her for several minutes.  “Let’s celebrate over dinner,” he murmured after raising his head to gaze down into her radiant, tear streaked face.  She nodded and they walked, arms wrapped around each other to their favorite eatery.  It was a balmy afternoon.

Over dinner, they planned the wedding which they wanted to take place as soon as possible.  They didn’t want a long engagement.  They decided to have a fall wedding which was about three months away.  Arrangements were made for a vintage country wedding in a church hall.  The weeks went by quickly and the day which seemed a long way off was nigh.  Then, the unthinkable happened…

Emily and her roommate, Rita were driving home from Emily’s bridal shower when a car ran a red light and slammed into the passenger-side of the car.  Emily died at the scene but Rose was taken to the hospital in critical condition.  When he heard the news, he was devastated, inconsolable and he lashed out at God.  Emily was only twenty-five–in the prime of her life and looking forward to their future together.  How could God have allowed this tragedy to happen?

It was the first day of Fall, just a couple of days before what would have been their wedding ceremony, was Emily’s funeral instead.  He sat there, stone faced still bitter but no longer angry with God.  He had reached the place where he could seek God in prayer and ask him to help him with his anger.

After the funeral, he went home where he remained until the next day when he forced himself to get up and go to work.  He went through the day like an automaton, trying to keep it together but a couple of times, he had to go to the washroom and pull himself together as waves of emotions swept over him.  He missed her so much.  How was he going to function without her?  Her beautiful, expressive face filled his thoughts and her winsome smile tugged at his heart strings, making him ache for her.

It was during one of these meltdown moments that he decided that he had to leave New York and move to another state where he wouldn’t be reminded everyday of his loss.  It took months for him to get everything sorted out and before he left for Seattle, he visited Emily’s grave where he left fresh wild flowers.

Moving to Seattle was the best decision he made, although, it still took five years for him to recover from his grief.  Teaching at the university, going to church and making new friends helped tremendously.  His friends invited him out to different venues and he went.  It was better than being cooped up in his apartment.  However, he made it clear to them that he didn’t want to get fixed up with anyone.  The idea of dating didn’t appeal to him.  He was quite content to be single.

They say love finds you when you’re not looking.  And it did one afternoon when he was walking in the park.   It was a pleasant day.  The sun was high in the cloudless sky and there was a slight breeze.  He went to the lawn flanked by trees and sat on the bench.  There was a group of young people playing Frisbee and he watched them.  They seemed to be having a great time.

The Frisbee landed close to where he was sitting and one of the young women ran over to get it.  She looked to be about twenty or twenty-one–attractive with long chestnut hair which streamed behind her as she ran towards him.  She was dressed in a white tee shirt and denim shorts, exposing long defined legs.  It was obvious that she worked out.

She stooped down and picked up the Frisbee.  When she straightened up, she paused.  For several minutes she just stood there, staring at him, making him uncomfortable and then, she approached him, an inquiring look on her face.  When she stood in front of him, she asked, “Daniel Miller?”

He nodded.  “Yes.  Have we met before?” This close, she looked vaguely familiar now.

She nodded.  “Yes.  We met at my brother’s barbecue.”

“What’s your brother’s name?”

“Mark Brown.  I’m his sister, Cheryl.”  Just then her friends started yelling and waving.

“Oh, yes.  I remember now.  You were in charge of the bean darts.”

She laughed.  “Yes, I was.  And you got the highest score.”

“I got lots of practice from throwing darts.  Um, I think your friends are trying to get your attention.”  They were yelling and waving.

She looked over at them and then back at him.  “I’ll be right back,” she said before bounding off.

He watched as she gave the Frisbee to one of the guys, say something to the group before walking away.  It seemed that Cheryl would rather talk to him than continue playing Frisbee with her friends and for some reason which he couldn’t quite understand, that pleased him immensely.  When she sat down, he asked, “Are you attending university?”

“Yes, Seattle Pacific University.”

“How long have you been attending there?”

“This coming semester will be my second year.”

“What are you studying?”

“Applied Human Biology.  I’ve always wanted to find out how the human body works and why it works the way it does.  Plus, I’m thinking of doing a therapy doctoral degree program after I graduate.”

“It sounds like you have your future well planned.”

“Yes, as far as my academic future is concerned.  When it comes to my personal life, well, that’s a different story.   What about you?  What line of work are you in?”

“I’m a director of Communications and Marketing at Companier.”

“You’re from New York,” she remarked suddenly, startling him.  “Sorry, don’t mean to be nosy.  It’s just that I recognize the accent.”

“You’re right.  I’m from New York.  I moved here to Seattle almost six years ago.”

“How do you like it here?”

“I like its natural beauty, mild winters and the people.  I have more friends here than I know what to do with.”

She smiled.  “All very good reasons,” she said.  “And I heard that it’s cheaper living here than in New York and other cities.”

He smiled.  “That’s true.”

“Are you doing anything later?” she asked.

He shook his head.

“My friends and I are going to the Amusement Center to play their Ultimate Real Life Escape Games.   This is my first time.  It’s supposed to be a lot of fun.  You get to solve real puzzles.  Afterwards, we’ll grab a bite to eat.  Why don’t you come with us?”

The idea of hanging out with a group of university students, most of them probably ten years his junior, didn’t appeal to him but he wanted to see her again.  He enjoyed talking with her.  She was so easygoing and he felt completely relaxed with her.   “All right,” he said.

She looked pleased.  “Great.  We’ll be there for seven.  I’ll wait outside for you.”

“I’ll be there.”

They talked for a while longer and then she returned to her friends.  Shortly afterwards, they left the park.  As he watched them go, he felt a flutter of excitement in his stomach when he thought about seeing her again that evening.

True to her word she was waiting for him and he couldn’t prevent the smile from spreading across his face as he quickly closed the distance between them.  She looked great in a floral top and jeans complete with low heel sandals.  Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, making her look even younger.  Her face lit up when she saw him and grabbing his hand, she took him inside to meet her friends.  They turned out to be a rather nice bunch and he enjoyed interacting with them.

There were two games and they chose the Bourne Mission.  The object of the game was to recover the documents and get out of the abandoned bunker undetected. No one should know you were ever here and if you got caught, there was no rescue mission.  They had a blast even though they fell short of completing the mission.  They made plans to try the Bio-Hazard Room the next time.  They went to a family run Greek restaurant nearby where they enjoyed generous portions of delicious food.  Lively conversation and laughter flowed late into the night.

Daniel offered to take Cheryl home and she readily accepted.  On the way over to her apartment building, they talked animatedly about different things and by the time he walked her to her door, they had arranged to see each other the following day.  It was a beautiful sunny day so they decided to go to Woodland Park Zoo where they spent the entire day.  They bought food from the food truck and then went for a walk in the Rose Garden.  They lingered at the Reflecting Pool and Sculptural Fountain.  It was sunset by the time they left.

As they stood outside of her apartment, he knew that he was ready to be in a relationship again.  “Have dinner with me tomorrow,” he said and she nodded.  He gently brushed her cheek with his knuckles before he walked away.  They began dating.

One evening, they took the ferry to Whidbey Island where they planned to have dinner.  As they stood on the Deception Pass Bridge as it ran suspended over the swirling water, Daniel turned to Cheryl.  He cupped her face between his hands and gazed down into her face.  “Before meeting you, I never thought that I could ever fall in love again,” he said huskily.  “We may not be each other’s first love but I want to be your last and forever love.”

Tears sprang to her eyes.  “You are my first love,” she told him.  “And my last and forever.”

“I love you, Cheryl,” he whispered.

“I love you too, Daniel.”

He smiled slightly before he lowered his head and kissed her. When their lips touched, he felt a fire stir deep inside him.  He felt alive again.  He had heard about people feeling fireworks when they kissed that special someone but when he kissed Cheryl, her lips set his whole heart on fire.

That night over dinner, he asked her to marry him.  Five months later, they got married in the Woodland Rose Garden witnessed by family and friends.  As he gazed into her shining eyes as they danced their first dance, thinking how true the words, God wants to restore everything that’s been stolen from your life. He wants to heal every hurt and every pain.  It took five years but God had restored his life and now he was experiencing love and inexpressible joy once again.  Very few people could say that they were twice blessed but he was–first with Emily Rose and now with Cheryl.

 

Image by © Jamie Grill/Corbis

 

Sources:  Seattle Pacific University; The University of Western Australia; Lake Union Movers; City-Data; Livestrong; NameLix; Trip Advisor; Flee Escape; Woodland Rose Park; The Culture Trip; CBS Seattle; Feels Like Home

First and Only Love

Colleen lay down in the grass, savoring the smell of the flowers and loving the warmth of the sun on her face.  It was in this very spot, fifteen years ago and on the day she turned eighteen where Jarrett and she made love, something she had dreamed of but never imagined would ever happen.

Since they were children, Colleen had a crush on Jarrett but he didn’t pay her any attention because she was a tomboy, always playing rough and tumble games with his brother, Arthur. She used to climb trees, run wild about the place and wrestle with the other boys.  Jarrett had never seen her wear a dress and most of the time her clothes were skewed.  Her hair fell in unruly curls about her face and she liked to be bare feet.  She was not like the other girls at all.

Colleen remembered how jealous she was of a particular girl whom Jarrett liked and who was always hanging around him.  Brittany was a pretty girl with long, red curly hair and light green eyes and freckles.  One day Colleen saw her kiss Jarrett on the cheek and she lost it.  In a flash, she was pulling Brittany’s hair and the girl was struggling, screaming.  Jarrett and Arthur had to pull Colleen off her.  While Arthur took Colleen away, Jarrett comforted the shaken Brittany.

When she went home, she got a spanking she would never forget and was grounded on top of that.  She was not allowed to go over to the manor for a month.  A whole month of not seeing Jarrett was worse than the spanking she got or even worse than having to apologize to Brittany.  During that time, she moped about the house, thinking about him, missing him like crazy and wondering if he missed her too.  Probably not, she decided, her heart sinking at the thought.  He was probably too busy with Brittany.  Renewed dislike and jealousy rose to the surface and she ran up to her room, slamming the door shut.

Finally, the day came when she was allowed to go and play with Arthur.  When she got to the manor, she came across Jarrett in the garden.  He was sitting on a bench, reading a novel.  She went over to him.  “Hello Jarrett,” she said, thinking how handsome he looked in the white polo shirt and brown pants, his hair neat as usual.  She wanted to bend down and kiss him on the cheek but thought better of it.

He glanced up from the book.  His eyes ran over her in the blue tee shirt and jeans.  “Hello,” he replied politely.  He was never rude to her, just indifferent.

“Did you miss me?” she asked.  She had to know although she suspected that he didn’t.

“Well, it was a lot quieter when you weren’t here,” he replied and she stared at him, crestfallen.

Just then Arthur joined them and he at least, was delighted to see her and hugged her before taking her hand and pulling her toward the moors where they spent all afternoon.  The sun was setting when they returned to the manor.  Mrs. Baldwin invited her to stay for dinner and then gave her a ride home.

At dinner, she noticed at the corner of her eye that Jarrett was watching her but every time she looked directly at him, he turned away.  That continued even after they became teenagers.   The furtive glances and him avoiding being alone with her went on until she had had enough.  On the afternoon of her birthday after they finished having a celebratory lunch, she slipped out when she saw Jarrett heading in the direction of the moors.  Arthur was preoccupied with her friend, Lucy and everyone else was mingling and having a great time.  They didn’t notice when she left.

It was a beautiful, sunny summer day.  She took off her sandals and ran through the field.  Jarrett stood gazing out at the moors with his back to her when she caught up to him.  He started when she moved around so that she was standing in front of him.  A guarded expression came over his face.

“What are you doing out here?” he asked.  “Why aren’t you up at the house, celebrating with the others?”

“I wanted to be alone with you.”

“Why?” he asked, looking wary.

“You haven’t kissed me yet for my birthday,” she told him.  “Now is a good time.  We’re all alone.  No one can see us.”

Jarrett stiffened when she moved closer to him.  “This isn’t a good idea,” he muttered.

“Why not?” she asked, her eyes meeting his in a steady gaze.  Her heart was pounding and her breath had quickened.  She could hear his heavy breathing and saw the expression on his face.  He wanted her.  “What are you afraid of, Jarrett?”

“I’m not afraid of anything,” he denied.  A muscle was throbbing along his jaw line and he was breathing heavily.  As if to prove her wrong, he bent his head and brushed his lips against her cheek, making her tremble.  When he raised his head, his eyes were dark and smoldering.

It took a few minutes for her to catch her breath and then, she murmured, “That’s not the kiss I had in mind,” before she reached up and pulled his head down to hers and fastened her lips to his.  She felt his response and her fingers gripped his hair as they exchanged wild kisses.  His arms went around her waist, holding her tightly against him.

Then, he drew back to remove his polo shirt, groaning when she buried her face in his chest.  Grasping her hair at the nape of her neck, he pulled her head back, making her gasp and his mouth closed hungrily on hers, plundering it.  Her knees buckled and she suddenly found herself lying in the grass with him over her.  He dragged off her clothes and soon, they were making love in the field with the sun above them and the breeze caressing them.

Afterwards, they lay there for a long while.  Then, he raised his head and looked down at her.  “Happy birthday, Colleen,” he said with a smile.

“It is now,” she said, touching his face.  “I love you, Jarrett.”

“I love you too,” he confessed.  “I’ve loved you for a very long time but was too scared to tell you.  If you hadn’t made a move on me a few moments ago, I would still be avoiding you and my feelings.”

“Well, I’m glad that I took the bull by the horns and here we are.”

“I have a confession to make.  Remember the time when you asked me if I missed you?”

She nodded.  “Yes and you said, ‘Well, it was a lot quieter when you weren’t here’.  I was hurt to the core.”

“Well, I what I really wanted to say was that I missed you very much and the place was quiet and boring with you not around.  I was happy to see you although I didn’t show it.”

“I thought you didn’t miss me and I thought that it was because of Brittany.”

“Brittany?  I was never interested in her.  I liked her but just as a friend.  After that incident with you, she never came back to the house.  I didn’t miss her at all but I missed you.”

“I missed you so much, Jarrett and when I saw you I wanted to kiss you on the cheek.”

“Oh, yes?  Well, how about giving me that kiss now?”  He raised his head to gaze down at her.

She reached up and pulled his head down to hers but when she made to kiss him on the cheek, he turned his head so that their lips met.

The sense that someone or something was blocking out the sunlight jolted Colleen back to the present and her eyes flew open.  She smiled when she found herself looking up into Jarrett’s face.  “Aren’t you hot in that sweater?” she asked.  “It’s gotten so warm that I had to take off my jacket.”

He knelt down on the grass beside her.  “What were you daydreaming about?” he asked, his eyes twinkling as they met hers.  “You had a big smile on your face.”

She sat up.  “I was thinking about the first time you and I made love right here in this spot.  It made my birthday a very special and memorable one.”

He pulled his sweater up over his head and laid it on the grass beside him.  After smoothing his hair down, he pulled her against him and buried his face in her hair.  “When I first saw you, a high-spirited tomboy with curly hair, big, expressive eyes and a wild streak, I never once imagined that I would end up falling madly in love with you but here we are, fifteen years later, happily married with two rambunctious boys.”

Colleen smiled.  “Yes, it’s funny how life turns out.  Everyone expected you to marry a more refined woman but instead of me, an upstart and a thorn in your mother’s side.”

“You’re no thorn in my mother’s side,” he said.  “She adores you and she knew long before I did that you were the girl for me.”

“Yes.  Your mother is a very wise woman.”

He gently turned her so that she was looking up at him, her eyes wide as they met his.  “She was right.  You’re the perfect woman for me, Colleen,” he murmured before lowering his head.

As they kissed, she couldn’t help thinking how blessed she was to spend the rest of her life with Jarrett whom she had loved all her life.  While most people know that their first love will not be their only love, I know that for me, he is both.

 

 

Sources:  Her Way; Quote Fancy; Board of Wisdom

The Daydream

It was a glorious day.  The sun was bright, illuminating the field dotted with wild flowers and a soft, gentle breeze wafted caressed the leaves on the trees.  Intermittently, the trill cries of birds broke the silence.  From where she was, she could see the cavity in the tree above her and an adult bird peeking out.  It was the Nuttall Woodpecker.  She stood very still because she didn’t want to disturb it.  What a beautiful bird with its colorful plumage.  She wished she had brought her camera.

She stood there watching it for a while and then, she decided to sit on the grass and lean against the tree.  It was so relaxing out here.  Her eyes began to feel heavy.  She stifled a yawn.  I’d better go before I fall asleep, she thought.  But it was so nice being in the countryside, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  Five more minutes and then, she would leave.

She must have dozed off because the next thing she knew, Julien was standing over her, blocking the sunlight.  Startled, she scrambled to her feet.  “What—what are you doing here?” To her own ears, she sounded breathless and her heart was pounding.  He was dressed casually in a light blue shirt and khaki slacks.  His hair was slightly tousled from the breeze.  And his eyes…she couldn’t get over their unusual color.  They were the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen.  She felt as if she would drown in them.

“I live over there, remember?” he replied, indicating the palatial estate on her right.

She had been when he invited the staff during the summer and Christmas holidays.  It was a magnificent Victorian mansion surrounded by immaculate grounds.  He lived there on his own with a fully functional staff.  His parents died in a boating accident when he was in his twenties and he had no siblings.

She heard co-workers say that the lucky woman whom he married would be the mistress of the estate and living comfortably for the rest of her life.  I wonder who she will be?  There was some speculation that it would be the beautiful Catherine Taylor whom she had seen him with on several occasions.  She had to admit that the thought of him with Catherine or any other woman bothered her tremendously which was very foolish of her because she didn’t stand a chance with him.  The difference in age and background made her an unlikely candidate.

“What are you thinking about?” he asked, startling her.

“How long have you been standing here watching me sleep?” she asked evasively.  You can’t know what I’ve been thinking.

“About five minutes.  I was returning from a walk when I saw you.  I didn’t want to disturb you.”

She felt so embarrassed that her boss had caught her sleeping under a tree not far from where he lived.  “I didn’t mean to fall asleep.  I should be going now.”

He caught her by the arm.  “No, please don’t go,” he said quietly.  “Stay a little while longer.  It’s a beautiful day to be outdoors.”

“Yes, it is.”  She couldn’t think straight with his fingers on her arm.  They felt warm and they were stirring all sorts of feelings in her and when their eyes met, she was mesmerized.

His gaze was riveted to her face and his eyes darkened as he muttered, “Tue es adorable quand tu dors.”

She swallowed hard.  “What-what did you say?”

“I said that you are lovely when you are asleep.” Now he was holding her by the shoulders and drawing her toward him.

By now her heart was pounding wildly as she saw his gaze lower to her mouth before she saw his getting closer and closer…And then, they were kissing wildly, passionately, unleashing feelings which had been pent up for such a long time.  He pulled her down on to the grass which tickled her calves.  She was wearing capris.  They rolled over and over in the grass like tumbleweed, still exchanging kisses.  Her fingers were buried in his hair which was so soft and silky.  She wanted him to take her right there in the field among the flowers with their heady scent pervading her senses.

The sound of ringing jolted her and her eyes flew open.  She started when she realized that she was sitting at her desk with her head propped up.  She had been daydreaming again but this time it seemed so real and the kisses…she touched her lips.  Answer the phone.  She grabbed it.  “Hello?”

“Where are the reports?  The meeting starts in seven minutes.”  It was Julien.  He was calling her from the boardroom.  His French accent was more pronounced when he was annoyed.

“I’m—I’m on my way,” she stammered, flustered.  She wondered what he would say if he knew that she had been daydreaming about him.  Shaking her head, she grabbed the reports which were sitting on her desk and rushed to the boardroom.

He was there with nine other men sitting around the table and she felt self-conscious as she walked into the room, carrying the reports.  She avoided looking at him as she handed them out and then she walked out of the room.

After she was gone, one of the men, Russell Benson, commented, “You have a young and very pretty secretary.”

Julien’s expression darkened.  “She’s my assistant.  Now, let us get down to business.”  He was irked because he noticed the way Imani avoided looking at him and it didn’t help that she smiled with Russell before she left the room.

The meeting lasted for an hour and fifteen minutes and while the other men stayed behind to talk to Julien, Russell excused himself and left the room.  He went straight to Imani’s desk and holding out his hand, he introduced himself.  “Russell Benson.”

“Imani Johnson.”

“Tell me, Imani, how long have you been working with Julien?”

“Four years.”

“Do you like working with him?”

“Yes, I do.”  Russell seemed like a nice guy but she wasn’t interested in him.  All she could think about was Julien and how much she wanted to be with him.

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

She stared at him for a moment.  “No, I don’t.”

“How about having dinner with me, say tomorrow night?”

She shook her head.  “I’m sorry, Russell, but I’m going to have to say no.”

He arched his eyebrows.  “Wow.  Not to sound conceited or anything but this is the first time a woman has turned me down.”

“You seem like a really nice guy but—”

“…but you’re just not interested.”

“Sorry.”

“There’s no need to apologize.   I don’t think Julien would have approved anyway.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Well, when I mentioned that you were very pretty, he didn’t seem at all pleased.”

“Really?”

“And speaking of the devil…” he said looking past her and getting up from her desk on which he had been sitting.

Imani’s heart was racing but she didn’t turn around.  She didn’t have to.  Julien went and stood right beside her desk.  She looked up and their eyes met briefly before he turned to Russell.  “What are you still doing here?” he asked.  “I would have thought that you would be heading home after your long flight.”

“I arrived from New York this morning,” Russell explained to Imani.  “I remember why I hate flying.  I had to wait a long time for my bag because there was a problem with the conveyor belt.  By the time it was sorted out, I had to come straight here.”

Julien turned to Imani, “I need to see you in my office.”

She nodded and quickly looked away.

Julien held out his hand.  “Goodbye, Russell.”

Russell smiled and shook his hand.  “Goodbye, Julien.”

Julien turned and walked away.  When he was out of earshot, Russell leaned over and whispered almost conspiratorially, “I believe that if a certain Frenchman had asked you out for dinner you would have said yes in a heartbeat.”

She gaped at him.  “How did you–?”

“…figure that out?  Well, I noticed the way you acted around him just now.  It’s obvious to me, maybe not so much to him, that you are in love.”

“I don’t know what to do.  He hasn’t shown any sign that he’s interested?”

Russell stared at her in amazement.  “Are you serious?” he exclaimed.  “Didn’t you see the way he acted just now?  He obviously had a problem with me hanging around you.  I’d better leave before he has me escorted out.  It was really nice meeting you, Imani.  Julien is a very lucky man.”  He held out his hand.

“It was nice meeting you too, Russell,” she said, taking his hand.  “And thank you for being such a good sport.”

He clasped her hand in a warm handshake before he turned and walked away, whistling when Zara, an attractive blonde passed by him.  Imani chuckled, shaking her head.

She got up from her desk and went to Julien’s office.  He was sitting at his desk but got up when she went in.  “Close the door,” he called.

She closed it quietly behind her and walked over to him, her heart thudding.  “You needed to see me,” she sounded a tad breathless.  She was standing in front of the desk now directly opposite him.

“What did Russell want?” he asked abruptly.

“He-he wanted me to have dinner with him.”

His mouth tightened.  “Did you accept?”

She shook her head.  “No, I didn’t.”

“Why not?”

“I-I didn’t want to have dinner with him.”

“Ne le trouvez-vous pas attirant?”  He seemed surprised.

“What?” she asked.  He had a tendency to lapse into his native tongue.

“Don’t you find him attractive?”

“No, I don’t.”

Êtes-vous attiré par quelqu’un?  Pardon.  Are you attracted to anyone?”

“Yes, Julien.  I’m attracted to you.”  She couldn’t believe she said it.

Julien’s eyes darkened and he moved around the desk to stand right in front of her.  “I’ve never been attracted to anyone I worked with until I met you,” he admitted.  “I wanted to ask you out for such a long time but I wasn’t sure if you would want to because I’m your boss and quite a bit older than you.”

She moved closer.  “I was attracted to you the first time I saw you and wanted you to notice me but you were always so businesslike whenever we were together.  And I when I saw you with Catherine, I thought that you were serious about her.”

“Catherine and I are just friends.  I know that there have been rumors to the contrary but I assure you that my feelings for her are strictly platonic.  Imani, will you have dinner with me tonight?”

Yes!”

He reached out and took her hand.  His fingers felt warm against her skin, making her tremble.  Her pulse was racing and she seemed to have difficulty breathing as he reached for her other hand to pull her against him.  “J’ai voulu t’embrasser si longtemps”, he muttered before he bent his head and kissed her.

She put her arms around his neck and kissed him back.  This was better than any daydream.  Just in case, though, she pinched her arm and felt the pain.

The Wedding

Her heart was racing.  She hoped she looked presentable in her V-neck floral knee length summer dress and the pair of wedges which she thought looked better than the pumps she had considered wearing.  To complete the look, she wore the lovely olive leaf pendant which Paolo had given her for her birthday.

“Mama, incontrare Roxane, il mio fidanzato,” Paolo announced as he presented Roxane before his mother who was sitting on an expensive looking sofa backing an antique grandfather clock with two small tables on either side on which sat figurines and decorative vases with flowers in them and oil paintings above them.  It was a beautiful room but she didn’t have time to admire it.  She was standing in front of the woman who was soon to be her mother-in-law and a mighty sense of foreboding came over her.  It was as if her happiness depended upon this meeting.

A pair of dark brown eyes stared up at her.  There was no warmth or welcome in her expression.  She just looked Roxane over and then she turned to Paolo and said, “Voglio parlare con te solo.”

Paolo’s expression was grim when he turned to Roxane.  “Would you excuse us, darling?  My mother wishes to have a word with me.”

She nodded and after glancing at his mother whose eyes were still on Paolo, she turned and quickly left the room.  There was an accent chair where she sat down.  It faced the door of the room she had just left.

She sat there on edge, her heart racing as she heard the voices in the next room.  She knew that they were talking about her.  She was the reason why they were in Milan where his mother and sister lived.  They were there to meet them.  Paolo’s sister Annabella had driven them over to the house.  Annabella was very warm and friendly.  Roxane felt better after having met her, however, when they were alone, Annabella used that as an opportunity to warn her not to get her hopes up about her mother accepting her.

“I’m not sure if Paolo told you this but when he was in his twenties, he was engaged to a girl named Gianna.  He brought her here to meet Mama but Mama refused to approve the match and the engagement was broken off.”

Alarmed, she asked, “Why didn’t your mother approve of her?”

“She was Sicilian.  Mama thinks all Sicilians are involved with the Mafia.  I know it sounds foolish but that was her reason.”

“What if she doesn’t approve of me, will Paolo break off our engagement too?”

Annabella shook her head.  “I don’t think so.  He loves you.”

“But didn’t he love Gianna too?”

“It was more of an infatuation.  It would have fizzled out even if Mama had approved of her.”

“Annabella, I’m so nervous and afraid.”

Annabella smiled and squeezed her hand.  “No matter what happens, Paolo loves you and he will marry you.”

At the time Roxane was grateful for the warning but now she was filled with trepidation.  She loved Paolo and was afraid of losing him.  It was clear from their encounter just now that his mother didn’t approve of her.  She had looked her over and didn’t like what she saw.  There was no smile or greeting–nothing but a critical look.  This was the second time his mother disapproved of the woman he wanted to marry.  Will the outcome be the same?

“è troppo scura!” his mother sounded angry.

Paolo said something which she couldn’t make out.

“Aspettare e sposare una ragazza italiana che non è siciliana,” his mother retorted.

“Mama, Io vado a sposare Roxane perché l’amo e non importa quello che dici.”

Shortly afterwards, the door was flung open and Paolo strode out of the room, his expression thunderous.  He strode over to Roxane and muttered, “Let’s go.  Our business here is over.”

Roxane got to her feet and grabbing her hand he hurried from the room.  He looked so angry that she daren’t say anything at the moment.  Annabella was in the courtyard when they came out of the house.  From the expression on her brother’s face, she could tell that things had not gone well.  Like Roxane, she didn’t ask any questions.  Instead, she said, “I’ll drive you back to the hotel.”

Paolo got into the back of the car with Roxane and he held her hand as they sat there not saying anything.  Annabella turned on the radio breaking the silence with news and music.

When they arrived at the hotel, she got out of the car and hugged them both.  “Roxane, it was really nice meeting you.  I hope to see you again very soon.  Paolo, I’m sorry things didn’t go as you hoped but I hope that it wouldn’t spoil the rest of your trip.  Call me if you need anything.”

He nodded with a smile and then she was gone.  He put his arm around Roxane’s shoulders as they walked through the lobby and headed upstairs to their suite.  Once they were alone, he took her over the sofa and they sat down.  “You must know by now that my mother doesn’t approve of you,” he said.  “Her reason was that you are too dark.”

Roxane lowered her eyes so that he wouldn’t see the hurt in them.  All her life she had been conscious of her dark color even among her own relatives.  They were surprised that a man like Paolo would be attracted to her let alone want to marry her.  “What did you say to that?”

“I told her that when I look at you, I don’t see a woman who is too dark but a beautiful woman with lovely dark skin.  The first time I saw you I couldn’t get over how exquisite you were.”  He bent his head then and kissed her on the side of her neck.

“What else did she say?” she asked, breathless, her skin tingling from where his lips had been.  She looked at him then.

“She said that I should wait and marry an Italian girl who is not Sicilian.”

“Annabella told me about Gianna.  Did you love her?”

He shook his head.  “I was infatuated with her but no, I wasn’t in love with her.”

“So, what did you tell your mother after she told you to wait and marry someone else?”

“I told her that I am going to marry you because I love you and it doesn’t matter what she says.”

“So, you are going against her wishes?”

“Yes.  My mother’s wishes are irrelevant.  I’m a grown man, Roxane.  I know what I want and I want you.  I want to marry you.

Putting her arms around his neck, she kissed him and he responded passionately.  A moment later, he raised his head to gaze at her, his eyes dark and smoldering.  “I love you so much,” he murmured huskily.

“I love you too.”

“Let’s get married here in Milan,” he said.

She drew back slightly to look at him, her eyes wide. “Get married here in Milan?” she exclaimed.

He nodded.  “Yes.  We’ll invite just Annabella and a few friends.”

The thought of getting married here in Milan never once occurred to her but she liked it.  “Yes, let’s do it.”

“I’ll call Annabella later and ask her to make the arrangements.  I’m sure she will be thrilled.”

“Not as thrilled as I am at the moment,” she said before she kissed him.

Three days later their wedding day arrived bright and sunny and without any hitch.  They got married in the same church where Paolo was christened.  Afterwards, they were whisked off to a friend’s villa where the reception was held.  Everything was wonderful—the decorations, the food, the music.  Everyone had a great time.  Noticeably missing was Paolo’s mother but that didn’t dampen his spirits.  He didn’t expect her to come even though he had invited her at Roxane’s suggestion.  In spite of how his mother felt about her, she still felt that she should at least be invited to the wedding and it was up to her to accept or refuse the invitation.

“You look absolutely beautiful,” he told Roxane as he took in his arms for their first dance.

She was wearing an elegant off the shoulder wedding gown which she was fortunate to find and purchase at such short notice.  Annabella had gone to the bridal shop with her one morning and the moment she saw the dress, she knew it was the one.  She tried it on and it was a perfect fit.

She smiled now at Paolo who looked very handsome in his tuxedo.  “You don’t look so bad yourself,” she teased. She turned her head and looked at her hand resting on his chest so that he wouldn’t see the tears in her eyes.  She was so happy.  They had a perfect day for their wedding and tonight was simply magical.  His mother’s absence hadn’t spoiled it for her.  She wished, though, her parents could have been there.

He rested his forehead against hers.  “I’m sorry that your parents couldn’t be here,” he said as if reading her thoughts.

“Me too,” she said.  “But, I’m not sorry that we got married here instead of in London as we had planned.  I loved the church and this villa is amazing.  And we get to have our honeymoon here too.  I couldn’t be happier.”

He smiled.  “I’m relieved to hear that.  I want to make you as happy as you have made me.”

She looked at him then, her eyes shining with tears.  “You have made me extremely happy, Paolo, more than you can ever imagine.”

He lowered his head and kissed her as they swayed to the music.

 

happy new wed interracial couple in wedding mood

Sources:  Glam Radar; eBay