After the Wedding Surprise

It was the morning of his wedding day and Quinn was walking along the beach Kay and he had stumbled across quite by accident.  He decided to come here before heading over to Arthur’s home where he was to get dressed and then head over to the church.  It was a beautiful, sunny day in early April.  The temperature was mild but a light jacket was still needed.

As he walked along the water’s edge, he remembered the last time he was here.  He smiled as he recalled how he had chased Kay after she suddenly took off and caught her.  And they rolled on the sand, laughing and then, they ended up making love.  His eyes darkened at the memory. When she looked up at him with those big brown eyes of hers, it made his heart stop and he lost his head.  Today, he was going to marry her and he couldn’t wait.

Shoving his hands deep in his pockets, he turned toward the ocean.  Oh Kay, I hope that I will make you as happy as you have made me.  

This couldn’t be happening–not today of all days.  It was her wedding day and in a couple of hours she was going to be walking down the aisle.  She tried not to panic and closed her eyes as she waited for the nausea to pass.  Her mother was coming over in a little while to help her to get ready.

A couple of minutes later, she sat up first to make sure she was all right and then she climbed out of the bed.  She went into the bathroom and before she brushed her teeth, she looked at herself in the mirror. Today, you are going to marry the man you adore.  Excitement filled her and she began to hum as she brushed her teeth.  She couldn’t wait to see him and exchange vows or to fly off to Turks and Caicos for their honeymoon.

As she stepped into the shower, she hoped and prayed that nothing would ruin today.   Joanna, her soon to be sister-in-law was going to be at the wedding but she was determined that she wasn’t going to let her spoil her day. Since she found out about her relationship with Quinn, the older woman had made it no secret that she didn’t approve.  Out of courtesy, though, Kay invited her to the wedding.  Arthur, Quinn’s older brother promised to keep her in check.  Quinn’s niece, Louisa, was one of her bridesmaids.  It was going to be a glorious occasion, in spite of Joanna.

She had just finished taking her shower and put on her dressing-gown when the doorbell rang.  It was her mother.  “Hello Mom,” she said, hugging her.  “You look great.”  Her mother was wearing a salmon color skirt suit and her new haircut gave her an elegant look.

“Thanks, Honey.  What about you?  Today’s your big day.  How are you feeling?”

“Mom, I’m been feeling nauseous lately,” she said to her when they went into the living-room and sat down on the sofa.

Her mother asked, “Have you noticed anything else?”

“Yes, I’ve been going to the bathroom more often, I feel more tired than usual and bloated.  I usually feel this way when I have my period but the nausea is new.”

“Have you had your period?”

She shook her head.  “It hasn’t come at all.” And then it dawned on her.  “Oh, Mom, do you think I’m pregnant?”

“Well, there’s only one way to find out.”  She went to the phone and dialed her other daughter’s number.  “Joyce, this might sound like a strange request but could you stop by the drugstore and pick up a pregnancy test for Kay?  I’ll explain when you get here.  Thanks.”

Kay sighed.  “I’m already nervous as it is,” she said.  “What if I’m pregnant?”

“Then, you put off your honeymoon for a day or two and go and see the doctor.  In the meantime, you need to snack often and drink lots of fluids.  I will fix you something and you should take a couple of ginger sweets with you in case you feel the nausea coming on while you’re at the church or at the reception.  Kay, you should have gone to see the doctor when these symptoms began.”

“I thought it was PMS and when I didn’t see any signs of my period, I thought it was late or that the cycle was changing.  You’re right, though, I should have gone to a walk-in clinic.  There’s one close to where I work.”

“Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Joyce will bring the test and if you will soon find out whether or not you’re pregnant.  Have you had anything to eat?”

She shook her head.  “I’ve been too nervous and excited to eat anything.”

“Would you like me to scramble some eggs and–?”

She shook her head. “No, thanks, Mom.  I don’t want to eat anything heavy right now.  Maybe just two slices of toast with jam and some Ginger tea.”

“All right.  I’ll be right back.”

Kay leaned back against the cushions, smiling as she heard her mother moving about in the kitchen.  It took her back to when she was living at home and her mother was always busy in the kitchen while sat in the living-room watching TV or doing her homework.  A few minutes later, she brought out a plate with two slices of whole wheat toast, spread with jam and a steaming cup of Ginger tea.  She placed the cup on the coffee table and the plate on Kay’s lap.  Kay wasn’t hungry but she forced herself to eat, taking her time.  When she was done, she leaned over and put the plate on the coffee table and picked up the Ginger tea which she sipped.  It was still hot and it hit the right spot.

“If it turns out that you’re pregnant, you need to keep hydrated and eat small frequent meals to help with the morning sickness.”

“Did you have morning sickness?”

“I did with Joyce but not with you.”

“I wonder if the same thing will happen with me.  I have morning sickness with the first child but not with the others?”

“How many children do you and Quinn plan to have?”

“I think four is a nice even number.”

“Well, I suppose that’s all right.  My mother had six and your Aunt Lynette had eight.  I had two.  If your father hadn’t passed away, it’s possible that we might have had more children.  Anyway, when it comes to pregnancy, every woman’s experience is different.   Joyce didn’t experience morning sickness in either pregnancy.”

“Lucky girl.”

Just then, the doorbell rang and her mother got up.  “It’s Joyce.”

Kay’s heart leapt in her chest.  She drained the cup and set it down on the table.  I am about to find out if I’m pregnant or not.  She rose to her feet just as her mother and sister joined her.  Joyce went over and they hugged.  “Thanks for picking this up for me,” she said to her when she handed her the box.

“Don’t mention it.  This is the one that the pharmacist recommended.”

Kay looked at it.  Clearblue.  One line meant not pregnant and two meant pregnant.  “Well, it’s time to find out if I’m going to have a baby or not.”  She went into the bathroom, closed the door and followed the instructions on the box.  When she was finished, she put back on her dressing-gown and waited.

When the time was up, she checked the display and her heart did a somersault.  The word, pregnant seemed to jump out at her.  As she stood there staring at it, she tried to figure out when it could have happened.  Quinn and she had always be careful.  Every time they made love, he wore protection.  So when could they have had unprotected sex?  Then, she remembered the afternoon on a secluded beach…

It was late in the afternoon and they decided to go there before heading back to his flat.  They held hands as they walked along the water’s edge and then, she suddenly broke away from him and ran towards the rocks, laughing.  He ran after her and caught her by the waist.  They fell to the ground and rolled around in the sand, laughing and then he was looking down at her as she lay there with her arms pinned above her head.  The laughter died away and their expressions became serious as they stared at each other.  Then, he lowered his head and kissed her.  She eagerly responded, her hands aching to be free so that she could bury her fingers in his hair.

For several minutes they exchanged passionate kisses and then, her hands were free as he drew back to drag his tee shirt over his head.  She reached up and pulled him back down, her fingers gripping his hair as they kissed.  They ended up making love behind the rock in the shade.  Afterwards, they laid there for a while, wrapped in each other’s arms, the gentle breeze caressing them and by the time they left the beach, the sun was setting.

The knock on the door jolted her back to the present and she opened it.  Her mother and Joyce went in.  “Well?”

Without saying a word, Kay showed them the result.

“Are you going to tell Quinn in the limo on the ride over to the reception?”

Kay shook her head.  “No, Mom.  I want to see a doctor first to confirm that I am pregnant before I tell him.”

“What about your doctor?” Joyce asked.

“Unfortunately, she’s on vacation.  I’ll have to go to the walk-in clinic.”

“I can take you to Oxford Walk-in Clinic tomorrow morning,” Joyce offered.

“What do I say to Quinn?”

“Just tell him that I’m taking you shopping for clothes for your honeymoon.”

“I don’t want to lie to him–”

“You won’t be lying.  After we’re through with the clinic, we’ll really go to the mall and pick up some things for your trip.”

“All right.  Thanks, Joyce.  Fortunately, Quinn and I are going on our honeymoon in a couple of days.  So, I will know for sure by then and if it is confirmed that I’m pregnant, I will make sure to take whatever prenatal information I need with me.”

“Most doctors will recommend prenatal vitamins with Folic Acid which is very important because it has been shown to dramatically decrease the risk of neural tube defects like Spina Bifida.  For both of my pregnancies, I used the Spring Valley Prenatal Multivitamin/Multimineral with Folic Acic.”

“I’ll make a note of that.”

“How are you feeling?” Her mother asked.

“Much better since I had the toast with jam and Ginger tea.  I had better start getting ready.”  She went into her bedroom and soon came back out wearing her wedding dress.  It was a gorgeous off the shoulder full lace ballgown in soft apricot with ivory lace overlay, a sweetheart bust-line and long lace sleeves with a deep V back and a satin bow to finish the look.  It was beautiful in its simplicity and it flattered her figure and complexion.  Her dark curls looked stark against the veil which her mother now placed on her head and her makeup was subtle.  Neutral eye shadow,  little blush on the cheeks and peach/pink gloss lip gloss.  The tear drop earrings added a touch of elegance and went perfectly with the lace.

“You look stunning,” Joyce remarked, giving her the look over before whipping out her iPhone to take pictures.

Kay’s mother looked at her, her face beaming.  “You look picture perfect,” she said.

Kay smiled.  “Thank you, both for making me feel beautiful.”

“Well, it’s time we head over to the church,” Joyce said, putting away her phone.  “The car should be here any minute.”

Ten minutes later, they were heading down the lift to the lobby.  The car was waiting outside and they got in the back.  Kay and her mother sat next to each other while Joyce sat opposite them.  And then, they were off to the church.

“Mom, do you have any last minute advice for me before I walk down the aisle?” Kay asked, her heart pounding as they approached front of the church.

“Yes.  Take very good care of Quinn.  That man worships the ground you walk on.  Don’t let anything or anyone come between you.”

The limo stopped and the driver came around to hold the door open for them.  Kay got out first and then her mother and sister.  They went into the church and ten minutes later, Kay was walking down the aisle with her favorite uncle.

Kay’s face was radiant as she gazed up at Quinn, her heart almost bursting with the love she had for him.

Quinn looked at her, never imagining that it was possible to love her more than he already did.

They read the vows they had written for each other, bringing tears to a lot of eyes in the church.  When they were pronounced husband and wife and kissed, everyone cheered, even Joanna.  Before Kay walked down the aisle, she had gone to see her.  Understandably, Kay stiffened when she saw her.  “May I speak to you alone for a moment?” she asked and Kay nodded.

After her mother and sister left the room, Joanna cleared her throat.  “Kay, I want to apologize for the way I’ve treated you and the things I’ve said.  I guess I was being overprotective of Quinn.  He and I had always been very close and after our parents died, I took care of him.  I still think of him as my baby brother and sometimes treat him as such.  All I want is for him to be happy and I can see clearly now that you make him happy.  I guess I was jealous of you–jealous because you had done what other women failed to do–come between him and me.

“When I had expressed my disapproval of your relationship he told me that as much as he loved me he would never give you up.  He said that you were the love of his life–a part of him that he couldn’t live without.  I knew everything if I didn’t wise up and accept you, I would lose my brother.  As I watched the two of you exchange your vows, I realized that I was watching two people who truly love each other and would do anything to make the other happy.  I couldn’t ask for anything better than that for my brother.  Kay, I don’t deserve it but I hope that you will find it in your heart to forgive an ignorant woman.”

Tears sprang to Kay’s eyes.  “You have my forgiveness and my gratitude for being a part of the happiest day of our lives.”  She held out her arms and they hugged.

When Joanna drew back, there were tears in her eyes.  “Thank you,” she whispered before she turned and quickly left the room.  And now, she was throwing rice at the happy couple as they came down the stairs, laughing and holding hands before driving away in the limo to the reception.  The wedding was a festive and joyous occasion.  Everyone had a great time.  Quinn and Kay were exhausted by the time it was over.  They spent the night at her flat.  He went home the following morning to pack for the honeymoon and get other things in order.  He was going to return later to take her out for dinner and to spend the night.  Their flight was in the morning.

Joyce came by later that morning to take Kay to the walk-in clinic.  Kay tried to relax as she was examined and was thankful that she wasn’t experiencing any morning sickness.  After she had taken the necessary tests, she got dressed and waited.  Her heart skipped a beat when the doctor came into the room.  “Congratulations,” he said, smiling.  “You’re pregnant.”

After that everything was a blur.  She vaguely remember walking into the waiting room to where Joyce was.  One look at her face and Joyce was hugging her, excited.  “I’m going to be an aunt,” she exclaimed as they walked out of the clinic.  She took Kay to the mall as promised and afterwards, they had a bite to eat before they went back to Kay’s flat where they spent the rest of the afternoon.

Soon it was time to get ready for her dinner with Quinn.  Kay went and showered while Joyce checked in at home to make sure hubby and the kids were okay.  After she hung up she went into the room to check to check on Kay.  She needed help with the zipper at the back of her dress and the necklace fastened.

Kay took up the mirror and help it up as she examined the necklace.  It matched the dress perfectly and her makeup looked flawless.  She turned to Joyce.  “How do I look?”

Joyce smiled.  “Radiant.”  It was true.  She had the glow of a newlywed and expectant mother.

Kay beamed.  “Thanks to you.”  She put the mirror down.  “Quinn will be here any minute.”

Joyce hugged her.  “Enjoy your first dinner as a married couple tonight and have a wonderful time in Turks and Caicos.  I wish I could be there to see Quinn’s face when you tell him the news.”

“I can’t wait to see his face.  He’ll be such a wonderful father.  I will tell you all about it when we come back in two weeks.”  She hugged her sister again and went back inside the living-room to wait for Quinn.  After making sure she had her passport and candy just in case she felt nauseous on the flight she walked over to the window and looked out.  She had lived in this flat for over ten years now and had been relatively happy there but she was looking forward to moving in with Quinn.

She smiled as she imagined getting up every morning and making breakfast for him.  He was a great cook, much better than her but she looked forward to cooking for him.  And when the baby came, she would have another mouth to feed.  Nervousness and excitement filled her at the prospect of being a mother.  If she was anything like her own mother who raised two daughters on her own after their father died when Kay was only six, then she had nothing to worry about.  Besides, she had had lots of practice with her niece and nephew.  She smiled as she imagined Quinn changing dirty diapers.

The doorbell startled her out of her reverie and she went quickly to answer the door.  Quinn stood there, a broad smile on his face.  His eyes traveled over her and admiration shone in them.  “You look gorgeous,” he remarked before taking her in his arms and kissing her.

“You look gorgeous yourself,” she said when she drew back to gaze up at him.  He was dressed in a charcoal grey suit with a black silk shirt and matching black tie.

He smiled.  “Ready?”

“Yes.  I just have to put on my jacket.”

On the ride over to the restaurant, they talked about the wedding and how smoothly everything went.  She told him about Joanna and he was thrilled.  “It’s about time she came around,” he remarked.

When they got to the restaurant, Kay excused herself and went to the washroom.  “I didn’t remember to go before we left,” she said when she sat down.  Quinn smiled but didn’t say anything.   I wonder if I should tell him now or wait until we’re having dessert?

She decided to wait although all through the meal, she was just bursting to tell him.

His eyes widened when he saw her chowing down on the Ginger Chicken. “Wow, you must really be hungry.”

“I’m eating for two,” she blurted out.  Darn.  So much for waiting until dessert.

He stared at her as if he wasn’t sure he had heard her correctly.  “I beg your pardon?”

She reached over and covered the hand closer to her.  “I wanted to wait until we were having dessert before telling you that we’re going to have a baby.”  A smile tugged at her lips when she saw the expression on his face.

“A baby?” he sounded and looked dazed.  “You’re pregnant?”

“Yes.  Five weeks to be exact.”

His eyes were moist now.  “Are you all right?”

She nodded, misting up herself.  “I’m all right.  I hope it’s a boy and that he’ll be just like you.”

His eyes darkened.  “And I hope it’s a girl who will be beautiful just like her mother.”  He squeezed her hand gently.  “I love you.”

“And I love you.  And now, I’m going to have some more of this delicious chicken and another helping of bread and of course, dessert.”

Quinn swallowed the lump in his throat and picked up his fork.  He was going to be a father.

 

Sources:  Wiki How; Parents; The Bump; House of Mooshki;

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Love and Friendship

Russell Wong and Vonetta Willimans attended the same high school and the same university.  And now they were working at the same company.  Her friends teased her, “It seems like the two of you are destined to be together.  Why don’t you go out with him?”

“He hasn’t asked me,” Vonetta informed them curtly.  Was it that obvious that she had a thing for Russell.

“We’re living in the twenty-first century, gurl.  Why don’t you ask him out?”

Vonetta’s heart skipped a beat at the thought.  “I-I can’t,” she stammered.

“Why not?” Gwen asked, rolling her eyes.  “It’s obvious to me that he likes you.  I’ve seen the way he looks at you.   Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed.”

“If that’s true, why hasn’t he asked me out?”

“Maybe he’s shy,” Sharon suggested.

“Or maybe he’s not sure that you would want to go out with him.”

“Why, because he’s Asian?”

“Maybe.”

“Have you and he ever spoken to each other?”

“Yes.  We’ve talked to each other many times.  You can say we’re friends.  He’s from Hong Kong.  He moved here with his family when he was three.  He has three sisters and one brother.”

“He’s very good-looking.”

“Yes, he is,” Vonetta agreed.  “And very reserved.”

“If that’s the case, how on earth did you two get to talking?”

“Well, we had a friend in common–Michelle Forbes and she introduced us.  I think she liked him but it never got further than friendship.  The three of us hung out for a bit and then it was just him and me.  We sat next to each other in class and had lunch together.”

“And was it the same in university?”

“Yes.”

“And neither of you dated other people?”

“No.”

“Then, why on earth didn’t you two go out with each other since then?” Gwen sounded exasperated.

“What about now?” Sharon asked.  “Does your workplace have a policy against co-workers dating?”

Vonetta shook her head.

“And even if they did, what they do outside of the office is their business,” Gwen said.

“Gwen’s right,” Sharon told Vonetta.  “I think you should ask him out.”

Vonetta swallowed hard.  “I’ve never asked a guy out before,” she protested.

“Well, there’s a first time for everything,” Gwen quipped.  “Do it over the phone if it’s too much trouble for you to do it face to face or better yet, text him.”

“Yes, text him.”

“Do it now,” Gwen urged.  “You might not have the courage to do it when you’re alone.”

“Yes, do it now.”  Sharon was beginning to sound like a parrot.

“All right,” Vonetta acquiesced.  Heart pounding, she took out her cell and flipped it open.  Taking a deep breath, she texted a short message.  “Hi Russell, it’s Vonetta.  Are you interested in going out with me?” She quickly pressed the button to send it before she chickened out.

“And now we wait for his reply.”

“What if he doesn’t reply right away?” Vonetta asked.

“Don’t start panicking if you don’t hear from him.  Maybe he’s busy or he doesn’t have his phone with him.  If you don’t hear from him today, text him again tomorrow.”

Vonetta’s brow creased and she sighed.  “I probably shouldn’t have texted him,” she said.  Just then her phone rang.  She looked at the display.  Her heart skipped a beat.  “It’s him,” she announced.

“Wow, he didn’t waste any time,” Gwen remarked, impressed.

Vonetta answered the call.  “Hi, Russell.”

“Hi, Vonetta.  I got your text.  I would love to go out with you.  I wanted to ask you out for a very long time but wasn’t sure that you would be interested.”

“I’m so relieved to hear that,” she admitted.  “I was thinking that we could go to this tapas restaurant that recently opened and has gotten very good reviews.”

“Sure.  When would you like to go?”

“Is tomorrow evening at seven good for you?”

“Yes, it is.  Vonetta, are you free later?”

“Yes, I am.”

“How would you like to go to the Starlight and watch the latest Mission Impossible movie?”

“That sounds great.”

“We’ll grab some take-out before we go the the drive-in.”

“All right.”

“I’ll see you at six.”

“See you at six.”  She rang off.  “We’re going to the drive-in later and to dinner tomorrow,” she announced excitedly.

“Wow, two dates in a row.”  Gwen was thrilled.  “Well, have fun and give us all the juicy details the next time we get together.”

Vonetta laughed.  “I will,” she promised.

That evening when Russell went to pick her up, she was waiting on the steps in front of the entrance to her flat.  Her heart leapt when he stepped out of the car, looking really good in a black tee shirt and a pair of faded jeans.  He smiled and held the door open for her, his gaze traveling over her small frame clad in a red tee shirt and denim capris.  “Are you in the mood for Thai?” he asked as they drove off.

She smiled.  “It’s funny you should mention Thai.  I’ve had a craving for Mango Chicken all week.”

He picked up a Mango Chicken for her and a Ginger Chicken for himself.  The food smelled so good in the backseat that her mouth was watering.  As soon as they were inside the drive-in, he reached for the bag and they took out their containers.  After saying Grace, they dug into the food.  It was every bit as delicious as she remembered.  Afterwards they had Lychee Cheesecake.

“That was really good,” she remarked leaning back in the seat.  The trailers were showing now.  It had been ages since she came to the drive-in.  The last time was with her family and when she was in primary school.  They were chewing gum to get rid of the taste of the rich food.

He turned to her.  “Yes, it was.  That’s the great thing about a drive-in.  You can bring your own food.”

“I used to come to the drive-in with my family when I was a child.  It was a treat for my sister and me.  My favorite snacks were Chocolate Chip-Pretzel Bars, Pimento cheese sandwiches and Sweet Potato Hummus.   What about you?  Did you and your family come to the drive-in?”

“They came only when there was a Jackie Chan movie.”

She laughed.  “I’m a big fan of his too and Jet Li’s.  Actually, I think Jet Li is kind of cute.”

Russell stared at her, his expression serious now.  “And what do you think of me?” he asked quietly.

Vonetta’s heart skipped a beat when she saw the expression on his face.  “I think you’re gorgeous,” she said, sounding a tad breathless now.

“And I think you’re beautiful,” he muttered before leaning over and kissing her, his going about her waist.

Vonetta closed her eyes and wrapped her arms tightly around his neck. 

The way you feel when you kiss him for the first time. Like fire within … Like every part of you that came from a dead star is alive again – Nikita Gill

The kiss lasted for several minutes but when the movie started, they forced themselves to stop and watched it.  But, their minds were on other things and she felt her body react when he held her hand, rubbing his thumb against the back, making her skin tingle.   She could hardly concentrate on the movie.  When, it was over and they were on their way to her flat, she turned to him. “Thanks for an incredible first date,” she said.

“You’re welcome,” he replied.

“Would you like to come up for a while?” she asked.

He looked at her.  “Yes,” he said simply.

When they got to her place, he parked his car underground in her space–she didn’t have a car and they held hands as they walked to the elevators.  Her heart was racing as she unlocked the door and as soon as they were inside and the door was locked, they reached eagerly for each other, aching to continue what they started at the drive-in.

Russell ended up spending the night.  The next morning they had breakfast on the terrace before he went home.  Dinner at the Tapas restaurant was romantic and they went dancing afterwards.   They became a couple and they met each other’s families, a nerve racking experience for both of them initially but in time both families accepted the relationship.   The following year they got married in a lavish ceremony thanks to their parents’ extravagance.

And now they were on their honeymoon in Algave, Portugal.  As they stood on the balcony of their room overlooking the beach and the royal blue waters, Russell put his arms around her waist and drew her against him.  “This is paradise,” he murmured.

“Yes,” she agreed and she owed it all to Gwen and Sharon, her bridesmaids and the best friends a girl could ever have.  Thanks to their persistence and encouragement, she was here in “paradise” with the guy she had been madly in love with since high-school.  She raised her glass.  “To Gwen and Sharon, the best friends a girl could ever ask for.”

Good Friends don’t come easy…Friends come and go..but Good Friends are Treasures you find..Treasures you keep! – Midge Gonzaga

 

Sources:  Wikihow; The Knot

Shades of Love

For the first time in his life, Maxwell was in love. The problem was–his family wouldn’t approve.  Why?  The object of his affection was a very dark skinned Nigerian woman.  He was a light skinned black man with blue eyes whose parents were light skinned blacks from Barbados.  He always had a weakness for dark women although to please his parents, he dated the light skinned ones.  This woman was absolutely stunning but he knew that his family wouldn’t see past her color.  Even his friends when they saw him checking her out at the party where they met, they told him, “Man, she’s way too dark.  There are so many gorgeous black women here to choose from and you had to pick out the darkest one.”

Of course, he ignored them and walked up to her, his heart racing with nervousness and excitement.  She turned and it seemed like his heart stopped.  This close she was even more breathtaking.  Her beautiful eyes mesmerized him and her skin looked smooth and flawless.  The black cocktail dress hugged her perfect body and the strappy black sandals she wore accentuated her long and shapely legs.  She wore a jeweled choker around her slender neck.

“Maxwell,” he said, holding out his hand.

She put her hand in his.  “Adaolisa.”  They shook hands.

“That’s a pretty name.  What does it mean?”

“God’s daughter.”

“Adaolisa, you’re a very beautiful woman.”  I think you’re the most beautiful woman here.

She smiled.  “Thank you.  And you’re a very handsome man with the most amazing eyes I’ve ever seen.”

He blushed.  “Thank you.  I detect an accent.  Where are you from?”

“Nigeria. I moved from Lagos to London when I was seventeen to attend university.  I stayed with my aunt until I graduated and found a job.”

“You speak English very well.”

“Actually, English is my first language and the official language of Nigeria.”

“Have you been back since you left?”

“Yes.  I visit my family every Christmas.”

“Are you here alone?”

She nodded.  “Yes.  You came with your friends.”

So, she had noticed him long before he approached her.  That pleased him.  “Why don’t we get something to eat and then find somewhere to sit?” he suggested.

“All right.” They went over to the elaborate buffet table and helped themselves to the spread.  They went out on the terrace, found a corner where there were a couple of chairs and sat down.

“Which university did you go to?”

“Cambridge.”

“Now I wish that I went there instead of Oxford and then we would have met sooner. Why did you study at Cambridge?”

“Education.”

“How you like living in England?”

“I don’t mind it because I love my job and I have a lot of friends.  What really bothers me, though, is the prejudice that exists among blacks.  The lighter skinned women, especially, turn up their noses at me and they get upset when their men look at me.  I think too, that they don’t like me because I’m African.”

Maxwell shook his head.  “It’s a shameful thing when prejudice exists within the black community,” he said.  “Growing up in Barbados, I was exposed to bigotry.  My sister was bullied because she wasn’t dark enough and I watched light skinned children ridicule the dark skinned ones.  Many times I got into fights standing up for myself, my sister and my friends.  There was a girl who lived next door to my grandparents whom I liked and I used to hang around her.  My grandfather who was much lighter than me didn’t approve and used to say to me, ‘She’s too dark.’  He told me that all the men in our family married light skinned women so that the next generation would be lighter.  I loved my grandfather but I was ashamed of his ways.  Unfortunately, my parents are the same way.  When I was a teenager I used to date light skinned girls to please them but that changed when I went to university.”

“So, your parents wouldn’t be pleased to see you talking to me,” she commented.

“No, they wouldn’t be.  But it doesn’t matter.  I’m a grown man.  I like you Adaolisa and I want to get to know you better.”

“It’s sad to see blacks discriminate against each other.  It only polarizes the communities.”

“It does.  And it polarizes families too.  My younger brother married a German woman whom our parents welcomed with open arms and they dote on their Caucasian looking grandchildren.   My sister, however, is somewhat of a disappointment to them because she fell in love with and got engaged to Omar, a Senegalese man.  It doesn’t matter that he’s a great guy, loves her and treats her like a queen, all my parents see are his color and his nationality.”

“There are many shades of love.  Your brother chose one shade and your sister another.  All that matters is that they’re happy with their choices.”

He stared at her, admiration glinting in his eyes.  Not only was she beautiful but she was wise.  He knew he had found a treasure tonight.

They changed the topic and talked about other things until it was time to leave.  “May I give you a lift home?” he asked, hopefully.

She nodded.  “Yes, thank you.  I’ll be right back.”

After she left, he rejoined his friends.  “Where have you been, Man,” Trevor asked.

“He’s been with the Nubian,” Colin chimed in.

“So, are we still heading over to the Road House to catch the game?” Nigel asked.

“I’ll pass,” Maxwell told them.  “I’ll see you guys at the game on Friday.”

“He’s brushing us off because of black beauty.”

“Her name is Adaolisa.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I don’t like to keep a lady waiting.”  He turned and walked away, his heart and steps quickening when he saw her standing there, waiting for him.

That was two years ago and now, here they were on their way to see his parents before they went to their favorite restaurant where he was going to propose to her.  It didn’t matter to him what his parents thought.  He was madly in love with this woman and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.  She looked exquisite in the dark red dress with the spaghetti straps.  Unable to resist, he reached over and caressed her shoulder with his knuckles.  “Are you nervous?” he asked when she looked at him.

“A little,” she admitted.

“Don’t worry, I will be there.   As soon as I see that things are getting uncomfortable for you, we will leave, okay?”

“Okay.”  She seemed to relax and a slight smile tugged at her mouth.  She turned to look out of the window.

Five minutes later, they were pulling up in front of a very charming cottage nestled among climbing rose bushes.  He held her hand as they walked up the driveway.  When they were standing on the step in front of the door, he turned to her and asked, “Ready?”

She nodded.  Her grip on his hand tightened imperceptibly.

He rang the doorbell and waited.  It opened and his father stood there.  “Hello, Son,” he said, shaking Maxwell’s hand.  Then, his eyes shifted to Adaolisa.  “Good evening,” he said, extending his hand.

Adaolisa shook his hand.  “Good evening.”

“Please come in,” he said, stepping aside.  His manner toward her was polite but there was no warmth.  “Your mother is in the living-room.”

After they removed their shoes, they went to the living-room.  His mother was sitting by the fireplace.  She stood and went over to hug him.  “It’s good to see you, Maxwell,” she said.  “It has been a while.” When they drew apart, she looked at Adaolisa.  “How do you do?” she sounded a bit stiff although she shook her hand.

“I’m fine, thank you,” Adaolisa replied.  “What a lovely home you have.”

“Thank you.  Won’t you sit down?”

“Mom, we could only stay for a little while,” Maxwell told her as he sat down on the sofa next to Adaolisa.  “We’re going out for dinner.”

“Maxwell mentioned that you’re from Nigeria.”

“Yes, I’m from Lagos.”

“Do you have any family here?”

“Yes, an aunt.  The rest of my family is in Lagos.”

So, far so good, Maxwell thought, beginning to relax when his mother said abruptly, “Maxwell, may I have a word with you?  Excuse us,” she said to Adaolisa before standing up and leaving the room.

Maxwell looked at Adaolisa.  “I’ll be right back,” he promised.  He got up and left.

His mother was standing in the hallway.  “Let’s go into the kitchen,” she suggested and led the way.

When they were alone in the kitchen, she asked, “Are you serious about this girl?”

“First of all, she’s a woman not a girl and yes, I’m very serious about her.  I’m head over heels in love with her.”

“But what do you really know about her?”

“I know enough about her to want to marry her—”

His mother looked aghast.  “Marry her?”

“Yes.  I’m going to propose to her tonight over dinner.”

“But, she’s African.”

“So?”

“Why couldn’t you find yourself a nice Bajan woman or even an English woman?”

“So you object to Adaolisa because she’s African?”

“Yes and she’s too dark.”

Maxwell tried to remain calm.  “Do you have any idea how damaging it is to a child when they are treated differently because they are dark?  I knew someone at university who told me that when she was a child, the teacher gave her a black crayon instead of a brown one to color a drawing of herself.  She transferred to a different school because of the bullying but she still had to deal with verbal abuse from other black students.  How could you stand there and look down at Adaolisa because she’s not your idea of what is beautiful?  It’s not the color of her skin that makes a woman beautiful, it’s her character.  I brought her here to meet you because I hoped that once you got to know her, you would set your prejudices aside but clearly I was wrong.  I’m going to marry her regardless of what you say or think.  You’re welcome to come to the wedding if you like.  Now, it’s time for us to go.  Goodbye, Mother.”  He turned and walked away from her.

He was quiet on the ride over to the restaurant.   Then, turning to her, he said regretfully, “I’m sorry about the way things turned out.  I foolishly hoped that my parents would come around and accept you.  I know my mother is set in her ways but I thought that my father would be more forthcoming but aside from greeting you at the door, he said nothing to you all the time we were there.  And when I came into the living-room after talking to my mother, he wasn’t there.  You were sitting there all by yourself.  I was so upset that I had to get out of there”

She reached out and placed her hand on his thigh.  “Let’s not dwell on what happened.  We have the rest of the evening ahead of us.  Let’s enjoy it.”

“All right,” he said.  “Let’s enjoy the rest of our evening together.”

They ended up enjoying dinner.  The conversation flowed and there was a lot of laughter.  Just before they ordered dessert, he reached out and covered her hand, his eyes intent on her face.  Swallowing hard, he began the speech he had rehearsed over and over since the moment he knew that he was going to marry her.   “Adaolisa, words alone can’t express how I feel about you.  From the moment I first saw you, I knew that you were the one for me.  You took my heart and my breath away.  When I look at you, I see the woman I love, the woman I need and the woman I’m meant to be with.”  He reached into his breast pocket and took out a box.  Releasing her hand, he opened it and removed the ring.  It was an exquisite Rose Gold Leaf diamond engagement ring.

She stared at it in wonder and when her eyes lifted to his face, they were moist.  “It’s beautiful,” she murmured.

“It will look even more beautiful on your hand,” he replied huskily.  “Will you marry me, Adaolisa?”

She nodded.  “Yes, Maxwell.” The tears were rolling down her cheeks now as she watched him slide it onto her finger before he raised her hand to his lips and kissed it.

“I love you, Adaolisa.”

“I love you too, Maxwell.”

They raised their glasses in a toast and over dessert, they made wedding plans.  In May of the following year, they got married in an elegant but simple ceremony.  Her family was there.  His brother and his family were in attendance as well as his sister and her husband, Omar.  Noticeably absent were his parents.  Fortunately, that didn’t put a damper on the nuptials.

After a two week honeymoon in the Maldives, they moved into their new home, a half-hour drive outside of London.  Nine months later, they welcomed their first child—a girl with beautiful olive skin and her father’s eyes.  As Maxwell held her in his arms, he remarked, “She’s beautiful like her mother.”

“She’s another shade of love—our love for each other.”

 

Source:  Dazed Digital; Felix Online; Nation News; Barbados Free Press; Fluid London; University of Cambridge; Global News; Pinterest; Ben Garelick; Harper’s Bazaar

From Abuse to Abundance

She sat on the porch, an open book

in her lap but she wasn’t reading it.

Her eyes were on the street.  She was

waiting for her daughter to come home

from school.  Somewhere in the back-

yard, she heard the piercing trill of a bird.

 

It was a beautiful spring afternoon.  Quite

peaceful as there was hardly any traffic or people

in the street.  This was the kind of life she

had always wanted and she thought she

would have had it with Joe…Joe.  She

hadn’t thought about him for years.

 

It seemed like a lifetime ago when she met

and fell in love with the handsome and

charming construction worker.  It was a

whirlwind romance.  Within a few weeks

of meeting they got married.  There were

no red flags–at least she didn’t see them.

Everything seemed to be going so well…

And then, the honeymoon was over.

 

First the insults came and they stung

but she put on a brave face and kept

on loving him, thinking things would

get better.  Then came the blows.

At first they were followed by tearful

apologies and gifts.  And she held him

in her bruised arms and rocked him

like a baby, believing his promises that

he would never hit her again.

 

The blows continued and more frequently.

No more tears.  No more “I’m sorry, Honey.”

Instead, she was blamed for what was

happening to her.  After a while she began to

believe that it was her fault.  Something about

her brought out the worst in him.  When they

first met and even after they got married, he

was so charming and loving.  She didn’t think

he could harm a fly.  But, underneath that boy

next door veneer, lurked an abusive and unstable

monster.

 

After years of being battered and verbally and

mentally abused, she got the courage to leave.

She went to a women’s shelter where she felt safe and

cared for.   She received the counseling and

support she so desperately needed.  No more

of looking out the window for Joe and wondering

what kind of mood he would be in.  Three months

after leaving the shelter, she learned that Joe had

died from a fall at a construction site.  The news

devastated her.  In spite of everything, she still

loved him.

 

She visited his grave and stood there, tears falling

down her cheeks, wishing with all her heart that

their life together had been different.  She never

knew why he became abusive toward her.  All

she had ever done was love him and try to be a

good wife to him.  And all she got for her trouble

were blows, bruises and belittling remarks.

 

Thirteen years have gone by since she left Joe and now

she was married again.  Bill was a terrific husband

and father to their ten year old daughter.  They

met when she started attending church.  It wasn’t a

whirlwind romance this time.  It took a while for her

to open herself and her heart to someone else.  The

physical scars had healed but the emotional scars were

still there.  She marveled at Bill’s patience.  Other men

would have given up.  When she broached this with

him, he said simply, “Love is patient.  I’m not going

anywhere.”

 

It was one rainy afternoon when she was walking home

from the subway and saw him coming toward her with

an umbrella that she realized that she was in love with

him.  She married him a week later in a simple ceremony.

And now, she sat in the shade on the porch of their home,

looking out for their daughter, Annie.

 

Being married to Bill made her face up to the glaring truth

that Joe didn’t really love her.  If he had, he wouldn’t have

hurt her.  Love doesn’t batter, belittle or blame.  She had

forgiven Joe and wanted to believe that if he were still alive,

he would have sought help.

 

She saw a familiar figure coming up the street and

she stood up, smiling.  God had brought her from

a dark and painful past to this moment.  During one

of those moments when she wondered if she ever feel

safe or happy again that He assured her, “There is hope

in your future.”  Yes, from where she stood, that hope

was the life she was now enjoying.  God had brought

her from abuse to abundance.

 

 

Sources: YMCA; Domestic Shelter

The Plane Ride

He sat there on the plane, the open magazine on his lap, his head resting against the back of the seat and his face turned towards the window, watching the clouds and knowing that the distance between Natalie and him was getting wider.  He closed his eyes in despair.  Walking away from her was the most painful and hardest thing he had ever done in his life but things couldn’t continue as they were.  He had to end their relationship.

After a night of torrid lovemaking, he woke up very early the next day and quickly got dressed while she was still sleeping.  He wrote a note for her and left it propped up against the lamp on the bedside table next to her.  He stood for several minutes staring down at her, longing to bend down and kiss her bare shoulder but was afraid that he would wake her.

He tiptoed to the door and slowly opened it.  He stepped into the hall and closed the door behind him.  The place was silent except for the clock ticking and the sound of his heavy breathing as he fought the temptation to turn around and climb back into bed with her.  Once he was outside of the flat, he released a shaky breath and hastily headed for the lift.  In his car, he told himself that he was doing the right thing even though his heart felt heavy.  He went home, packed his bags and booked the next available flight out of Detroit and heading to London.  It was an impromptu vacation.  He couldn’t be in Detroit right then or his resolve would crumble.  He hoped that the distance would somehow ease the pain and that being with his family would help as well.

So, here he was on the plane heading for London.  He wondered if she had read the note and how she was taking the news.  He remembered every word he had written.

Dear Natalie,

I never imagined that I would fall in love again but I have.  I knew that I loved you the first time we met.  I tried to fight it not because I found out that you’re Darnell’s sister.  I forgave Darnell for being responsible for Jody’s death.  It wasn’t easy because it was his reckless driving which resulted in her death but God helped me to get over the bitterness I was feeling toward your brother and to come to the place where I could not only find it in my heart to forgive him but to share His love with him.  

My healing came from talking to Darnell about God and sharing the Bible with him and as I watched him accept God’s love and forgiveness, it brought a peace to my heart which I hadn’t felt in a long time.  Visiting Darnell was a much of a blessing for me as it was for him.  Then, I met you. 

When you walked into the room, my heart stopped.  I couldn’t believe that another woman could have such an effect on me.  I felt as if I was being unfaithful to Jody’s memory.  Jody was my best friend before she became my wife.  We had known each other since college but didn’t start dating until years later when we were in our thirties.  Two years after we started dating, we got married.  We were married for two and a half years when she died.   I had lost my wife and my best friend.  We had planned to have children but that dream died with Jody.

Falling in love again was not something I imagined would happen and when it did, I tried to fight it.  You stirred in me feelings and passions that I have never experienced in my life–not even with Jody and that scared me.  I wanted you so much that it was all I could think about.  And when I realized that you were attracted to me too, it was only a matter of time before we became lovers.  

Loving you has consumed me to the point where I have turned my back on what I know to be right and acceptable in God’s sight.  As a man of faith, I can’t continue to be in a relationship with a woman I am not married to.  It goes against what I believe.  I have to choose between my love for you and my faith.  It pains me to do this but I must choose my faith.  By the time you read this letter, I will be out of the country.  

We cannot attempt to see each other anymore.  Please believe me when I say that I love you and will always love you.   Sometimes doing the right thing hurts but in the end, we have to be able to live with ourselves.

Andrew

“Oh, Natalie,” he moaned under his breath, aching for her.   Life without her was going to be unbearable.

Natalie read the note again, the tears streaming down her face.   She hadn’t seen this coming.  She thought they were happy but when she read the note, she realized that how hard it was for him to go against his religious convictions.  She herself came from a Christian family and had been taught that sex outside of marriage was wrong.  She had drifted from her faith, not going to church as often as she should.  Her makeup and choice in clothes were evidence that she was not as devout when it came to religion as the rest of her family but after meeting Andrew, those things had changed.  She had stopped wearing the makeup and had opted for the more natural look and her wardrobe had changed too.  And she had begun to read her Bible more lately.  She even began going back to church and then this morning she found this note.

Thankfully, it was a Sunday morning and she didn’t have to worry about going to work.  There was no way that she would have been able to function.  Heartbroken and depressed she didn’t even feel like getting out of bed.

When Andrew got to Heathrow, his brother was waiting for him.  He went up to him and after hugging him, said to him, “I know that this is going to sound crazy, but I must return to Detroit.  There’s a woman there whom I am going to ask to marry me.”

Stuart stared at him.  “Are you serious?  You just got here and now you’re going to leave?”

“Yes!  I’m been an utter fool.  I can’t believe that I didn’t think of this before.  I walked out of her life when I could have asked her to marry me.”

“Does she love you?”

“Yes and I love her.”

“Then, go to her.  I’ll explain everything to the folks.  I’m happy that you have found someone after losing Jody.  I wish you all the best, Andy.”

“Thanks, Stuart.”  They hugged again and then Stuart left.

Andrew found his way to the departure terminal where he booked the next available flight to Detroit.

The following evening, Natalie was sitting on the sofa, despondent when the doorbell rang.  She was not in the mood for seeing anyone but she got and went to answer the door.  Her eyes widened when she saw Andrew standing there.  Opening the door at once, she exclaimed, “What are you doing here?”

“Where’s the note I wrote you?” he asked as he stepped inside the foyer.

She closed and locked the door behind him before she reached into the pocket of her dressing-gown and handed the note to him.  He tore it up.  “Why did you do that?” she asked, bewildered.

“It doesn’t matter anymore,” he told her.  “I was a fool to write it in the first place and I was a bigger fool for walking out of your life.  I love you, Natalie and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.  Marry me.”

She gaped at him.  “Marry you?” she repeated, her heart thudding.  He looked dead serious.

“Yes.  Let’s get married on Saturday.  We’ll go and get the ring today.”

Her mind was spinning at this turn of events.  Just a few moments ago, she felt as if her world had been pulled out from under her and here, she was on the verge of being blissfully happy.  “Are you sure?” she asked.

“Yes, I’ve never been surer of anything in my life.  Today we get engaged and on Saturday we get married.  In between that time, you and I have to abstain.  We will not make love until we are on our honeymoon.”

Her heart bursting, she put her arms around his neck.  “I love you, Andrew Clarke and I will marry you.”

His arms slipped around her waist and he held her tightly against him, his eyes darkening on her upturned face.  “I’m sorry it had to take a plane ride to London to make me realize that marrying you is the right and best thing to do.”

She smiled.  “And this is a decision that we can both live with.”

 

 

Bundles of Joy

For with God nothing will be impossible – Luke 1:37

As she sat by the window, looking out, she recalled those turbulent years when Mark and she were trying in vain to have children.  They have been married for twelve years.  They met through a mutual friend and it was love at first sight.  They dated for a year and the following year they got engaged.  It was a small Spring wedding and after returning from their honeymoon in Montego Bay, they decided that they would buy a town house at Bayview Village.

After settling into their new home and adjusting to married life, they decided that it was time to try having a child.  She was late twenties when they got married and was hoping to have at least two children before she turned thirty.  A teacher at a Christian daycare, she loved children and longed for the day when she would have her own.  She knew that Mark would be a wonderful father.  She had seen him with his nieces and nephews.  They adored him.  Her friends were having children so she attended many baby showers.  As she had shopped for onesies and other gifts for their babies, she dreamed of one day buying for her own children.

Her heart yearned to hold her own baby when she held her friends’ babies.  At first, she was excited as she and Mark tried to conceive but as time went by and she wasn’t able to get pregnant, hope turned to despair.  Her faith began to waver and she questioned why God would deny Mark and her children.  Mark was her rock during those tough times, encouraging her not to give up and that God had a plan.

At night when he was asleep, she would lie awake and think about other women who had trouble conceiving.  She thought of Sarah, Hannah and Elizabeth who were barren but were blessed with sons.  Was it possible for the same thing to happen to her?  As she lay there one night, she was impressed to pray as Hannah did.  Sliding quietly out of the bed so as not to disturb Mark, she knelt at the side of the bed and prayed.

Like Hannah, she poured her heart out.  She ended the prayer by saying, “Lord, I know that nothing is impossible for you.  Thank you for hearing my prayer and for answering it.”  A peace that she had never felt before came over her and she climbed back into bed, believing that God had finally come through for her.

She was in very high spirits after that and waited patiently for God to do His part.  When she missed her period, she went to the drugstore and bought a home pregnancy test.  While Mark waited anxiously in the living-room, she went into the bathroom and took it.  Minutes, later, she emerged.  She showed him the results and he hugged her.   She made an appointment with their doctor who was happy to give her tests just to make sure.  And when the results confirmed that she was pregnant, she couldn’t prevent the tears of joy from falling.  She raised her eyes heavenward and gave thanks to God.

That night, Mark and she hugged and held each other for a while.  They were finally going to be parents.  Family, friends and church members were delighted for them and the next baby shower she attended was her own.  At the age of forty, exactly ten years after she had planned to have children, she gave birth to twins–a boy and a girl.  They named the boy, Jaden (Jehovah has heard) and the girl, Eliana (My God has answered).

And as she held the girl and Mark held the boy, she mouthed the words, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” he said, before he leaned over and kissed her.

 

The Fashion Show

Martin glanced at his friend, Albert and was amused when he saw him staring at Brenda who was strutting down the runway, hands on hips and big smile on her face as she modeled the black and white 50’s looking dress.  The fashion show was actually a charitable event and sponsored by Martin’s company.  After much cajoling, he managed got his friend to come.  Until now, Albert had seemed unimpressed and rather bored with the fashion show.  None of the beautiful women who walked past him got his notice.  And then, Brenda walked out.  Albert glanced up with the same bored expression on his face which immediately changed when he saw her.  His eyes followed her up and down the runway.

Martin leaned over and said in a low voice.  “She’s a stunner, isn’t she?”

Albert didn’t answer.  He watched as she paused at the end of the runway before heading back in his direction.  As she drew nearer, he sat forward, anxious to see her.  She stopped right in front of him.  After acknowledging Martin, she shifted her attention to Albert.  Their eyes met and he felt his heart stop when she smiled at him.   Then, she was gone.

“Would you like to meet her?” Martin asked him.

Albert watched her retreating figure until she disappeared from view before he turned to his friend.  “Yes.”

Martin grinned.  “Good,” he said.  “You’ll meet her after the show.”

“Is she going to come out again?”

“I don’t believe so.”

Albert looked disappointed.  He sat back in his seat, anxious for the show to be over so that he could meet the model who had captivated him.

She was standing on the terrace, looking down at the gardens when they joined her half hour later.  She was wearing a simple orange pant suit which complimented her complexion and flattered her figure.  As she watched them approach, her gaze went to the tall and attractive man with the thick dark brown hair, dressed in the dark grey sweater over a white shirt and dark grey trousers.  The glasses he wore suited him.  She didn’t usually go for the preppy, nerdy type but something about his guy made her pulse race and heart do somersaults.  He looked shy.  She liked that. He would be a welcome change to the obnoxious and overbearing men who usually hit on her.

“Brenda, thank you for being a part of a very worthy cause,” Martin said when they joined her.  “You looked really great out there.  Have you ever considered modelling for a new career?”

She laughed.  “No, the thought never occurred to me.  Besides, I’m too short.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity.  I had fun.” Unable to resist, her gaze shifted to his friend who was watching her.  Behind the eyeglasses, she could see that he had beautiful, expressive eyes.

Martin observed them, smiling.  “Brenda, this is my good friend, Albert.”

Albert was nervous.  He tried not to stare but he couldn’t help himself.  His gaze was riveted to her face.  “Hello,” he said when what he really wanted to say was, I’m so very pleased to meet you.  He took the hand she offered and clasped it in a firm handshake.  Her fingers felt small and delicate in his, yet they had the power to stir feelings in him which he never experienced before.  His heart was pounding and he began to worry that he might make an utter fool of himself.  In all of his forty years, not once had he had ever been tongue-tied or nervous around a woman.

She smiled at him.  “I’m very pleased to meet you, Albert,” she told him.  “Did you enjoy the fashion show?”

He realized that he was still holding her hand and he released it.  He put his hands behind his back in an attempt to appear relaxed.  “The last bit of it,” he said.  He didn’t want to admit that until she walked out, he was bored out of his mind.

“I’m not into fashion shows but I don’t mind doing them if it’s for charity.”

Martin chimed in.  “If you two will excuse me, I have to go and find Margot.” He left them and headed off to find the fashion photographer whom he was currently dating.  Margot used to be a model until she decided that she liked being behind the lens better.

Alone together, Albert and Brenda became intensely aware of each other.  They couldn’t hide their attraction for each other even if they tried.  “You really are very beautiful,” Albert said to her, his expression tense.

She had been paid many compliments before but she was never affected by them as she was by his.  Albert made her feel beautiful just by the way he said it and the way he looked at her as he said it.  “Thank you,” she replied.

“I’m not usually this bold,” he sounded apologetic, “but I was wondering if perhaps, we can go for a walk in the gardens?”

“Yes, I’d like that.”

“What do you do when you’re not modeling for charity?” he asked as they strolled across the well manicured lawn.

“I work at a law firm.  When I’m not working, I like to curl up with a good book.  What about you?”

“I’m a Financial Director at Shadoworks Company.  I like to write essays in my spare time.  Just recently, I wrote how the words of Christ, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, would be the panacea for the social ills plaguing our society such as abuse, bullying, racism, violence, oppression, sexual harassment.”

“And gender inequality, rape and human trafficking.  This world would be such a different place if we all were to follow the teachings of Christ.  I’d like to read your essay.”

He smiled, flattered that she wanted to read something he had written.  “It’s in the Opinion section of the April 4 issue of the Daily Observer.

“I like the Daily Observer.  It has great articles and it’s not afraid to address sensitive issues.  Yesterday I read a very frank and informative article on sexual harassment in the workplace.  At my firm, we deal with hundreds of cases of sexual discrimination and harassment and bullying in the workplace.”

“I would imagine that it becomes overwhelming sometimes, having to deal with such cases.”

“It does.  I still remember the case of a lawyer whose was being sexually harassed by one of the partners at the law firm where she used to work.  She sued him and the firm and won.  Now she has her own practice helping women who are victims of sexual harassment, discrimination in the workplace, including law firms.”

“It’s unfortunate but sometimes people have to go through terrible experiences so that they could turn around and help others.  But, you like what you do.”

“Yes.  I like being a part of the solution.  Although I have been working there for four years, compared to the others, I am still the neophyte of the firm but every day I am learning and growing.”

They found somewhere to sit and talked for a long while about different things, learning more about each other and finding that they have a lot in common.  Then, he glanced at his watch and an expression of deep regret came over his face as he looked at her.  “I’m afraid that I must go,” he said apologetically.  “I have a pressing engagement.  It’s my niece’s piano recital,” he added quickly when he saw the look on her face.

She smiled, relieved and stood up.  “How old is your niece?” she asked as they started back to the building where the crowd was starting to disperse.

“She’s fourteen.”

“What is she playing?”

“I believe it’s a piece by Mozart.”

“I wish I learned how to play the piano.  It’s my favorite musical instrument.  I am a big fan of Chopin.”

“I’m more partial to the violin and Bach.”  They were standing at the foot of the steps now.  “Do you need a lift to anywhere?” he asked.

She shook her head.  “Thank you, but my sister, June is meeting me here in about fifteen minutes.  I’m spending the rest of the day with her and her family.”

“I really enjoyed our time together,” he said quietly, his eyes serious on her face.

“Me too.”

There was a pause as he seemed to be contemplating something. “Will you have dinner with me tomorrow evening?” he asked, his expression hopeful and apprehensive at the same time.

“Yes, I will,” she said.  She opened her handbag and after tearing out a sheet of paper from the back of her address book, she wrote her address and phone number.  She folded it and gave it to him.

“I’ll pick you up at seven” he said as he took the paper and tucked it in his wallet.  “I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“See you tomorrow.”  She watched him ascend the steps and waved when he stopped to glance back at her.  When he disappeared from her sight, she stood there for a moment, thinking about him and how much she had enjoyed his company.  Then, she went to meet her sister at the front entrance of the building.  As soon as she got into the car, she said to her, “I met him today.”

June stared at her.  “Who’re you talking about?” she asked, pulling away from the curb.

“The man I’m going to marry.”

June laughed.  “Really?” she exclaimed, sounding very skeptical.  “And what made you come to that conclusion?”

“I used to think that love at first sight was a foolish romantic notion but today it happened to me.”

June glanced at her and realized, “You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am.  We spent about an hour just talking and getting to know each other.  I loved being with him. He’s so different from the men I usually go for.  We had the most stimulating conversation and I could have sat there all day just talking to him but he had to go to his niece’s recital.  He asked me to have dinner with him tomorrow evening.”

“Wow.  I wish I’d come earlier to meet him.”

“Don’t worry.  You’ll meet him.”

“Does he know that he’s going to marry you?” June teased her.

“Maybe not as yet”

She thought about him for the rest of the day, wondering how his niece’s recital went and if he was thinking about the time they spent together.  She looked forward to seeing him the following evening and was thankful when it arrived.

He showed up at promptly seven wearing a black suit over a white shirt and no tie.  His hair was slightly damp, a few tresses falling across his forehead and he was not wearing his glasses.  He looked so handsome that she couldn’t stop staring.  “I’m wearing contacts,” he said unnecessarily.  Perhaps he was as nervous as she.

Her heart was pounded wildly, especially when she saw his eyes travel over her and the expression in them when they returned to her face.  She was wearing a Burgundy Long Sleeve Shift Dress with rounded neckline and long sleeves with lightly puffed shoulders.  Long, shapely legs clad in sheer hosiery, peeped out from under the hem and black dress pumps completed the outfit.  “I didn’t think it was possible for you to be even more beautiful than you already are.”

“Thank you,” she said, sounding a little breathless.  He offered her his arm which she took and they walked to the lift.  Fortunately, for her it was a balmy evening but she had brought her shawl just in case.  On the way to the restaurant she asked him about his niece’s recital and as he talked about it, she could tell that he was very proud of her.

They went to a modern French restaurant in Covent Garden.  It was reputed to be the world’s most romantic restaurant.  They started with the Crispy Parmesan Polenta & Saint Marcellin Cheese and for the main course, she had the Oven Roasted Free Range Chicken Leg Stuffed with Duck Liver & Truffle while he had the Pan Roasted Organic Irish Sea Trout as they each enjoyed a glass of white wine.  They had a lively conversation and made plans to see each other again.  For dessert, they had both had the Greek Yogurt & Lemon Zest Mousse, Yuzu Curd & Honey Comb.

After dinner, they drove to Canary Wharf.  He parked the car and took her on a little tour of the office district, showing her the building where he worked.  The place looked beautiful at night and the tall office buildings reminded her a little of Manhattan.  “How long does it take you to drive to work?” she asked as they walked back to the car about half-hour later.

“Approximately 35 minutes, depending on the traffic.  Longer during the winter.”

“I like it here.  Very busy, upscale and lots to see.”

“I will bring you here again another time and we can spend a longer time, walking around and perhaps go to a concert, if you like that sort of thing.  We can grab dinner afterwards.”

“That sounds wonderful,” she said smiling as she got into the car.  “Thank you for dinner.”

“It was my pleasure.  Do you have any plans for tomorrow?”

“No.”

“I was thinking that we can go on the Little Venice to Camden Walk.  Someone at work mentioned it to me a while ago and I have been meaning to look into it.  Afterwards, we can visit the Waterside Café before the walk.

“I didn’t know that there was a Little Venice in London.  Sounds very interesting.  I would love to go.”

“I read online that it was named such by the poet Robert Browning who lived overlooking the canal in the 1800s. I’ve never been to Venice but hope to one of these days.”

On the drive to her flat, they talked more about their plans for the following day.  Outside of her door, he said goodnight and then leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.  They held each other’s gaze for several minutes before he turned and walked away.  She watched him go, touching the side of her face where his lips had been before she went inside her flat.

They went for the Little Venice to Camden Walk and had a wonderful time.  After that, they started seeing each other on a regular basis and by the end of the year, they were dating each other exclusively.  Spring of the following year came and it was when they were in walking in St. James’ Park that he turned to her and said, “I have been meaning to say something to you all morning.”  They were standing at the western end of the park from where they had a clear view of Buckingham Palace.

She stared up at him, wondering what was on his mind.  He looked very serious, nervous.  He took her hands in his and clasped them.

“I love you, Brenda,” he confessed.  “I fell in love with you the first time I saw you.  You came into my life and changed it completely.  The times you and I have spent together have been the happiest for me.  I can’t imagine my life without you in it.  So, if you have no objection and I hope and pray that you don’t, I am asking you to marry me.”

Tears sprang to her eyes.  She raised their entwined hands to her lips and kissed his.  Her heart was in her eyes when she raised them to his face.  “I love you too, Albert,” she admitted huskily.  “Until I met you, I didn’t believe in love at first sight.  Of course, I will marry you.  You’re the man for me.”

Albert released an unsteady breath and letting go of her hands, he hugged her around her waist and pulled her against him.  He bent his head and kissed her.  She put her arms around his neck and kissed him back.  For several minutes they stood there, kissing while the ducks waddled about the grass before some of them headed for the pond.

At length, he drew back and said, “I have something for you.”  He reached into his pants pocket and took out the box with the ring.  He opened it and her eyes widened when she saw the exquisite diamond.  He took it out and taking her hand, he gently slid it down her finger.  It was a perfect fit.  When he raised his eyes to look at her, they were filled with emotions.  “I love you.”

She swallowed.  “I love you,” she managed to say and then he kissed her again.  They left that spot a few minutes later, his arm was around her shoulder and hers was around his waist.

They had a summer wedding.  June was her matron of honor.  When they had a chance to speak, Brenda said to her with a smile and a wink, “I told you that I was going to marry him.”

June laughed.  “Yes, you did.  And after meeting him and getting to know him, I can see why he’s the one you ended up with.” She hugged her younger sister tightly.  “I wish you both the very best and God’s many blessings.”

“Thank you.”

It was a lovely reception and afterwards, they left for their honeymoon in Venice.  They did return to Canary Wharf and it was when they were sitting on a bench, having sandwiches that she told him they were going to have their first child.  She laughed when he almost choked on his.  He quickly put it back in the paper and put it down on the seat beside him before turning to hug her tightly, burying his face in her neck.  She hugged him back as she felt his tears wet her neck.  They sat like that for a long time.

Sources:  Fantasy Names Generator; Findlaw; Lulu’s Fashion; YouTube; Trip Savvy