Clemency

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Photo Credit: Fandango

I stood there, gazing at the city across the bay.  Somewhere in that concrete jungle was the prison where I spent fifteen years before I was granted clemency and released on parole.  It felt good to be standing there in the open, the sun hitting my face and listening to the lapping water.   It felt good not being behind bars.

When I turned sixteen, I never thought I’d wind up in prison.  My life changed when I killed Mick, the man who forced me to prostitute myself.  I was a victim of sex trafficking but I was treated like a criminal and sentenced to life, a sentence which the governor now considers to be too harsh.  Thanks to the celebrities who came to my defense, I’m standing here now.

I didn’t want to kill Mick but I feared for my life.  He would have killed me that night if I hadn’t defended myself.  I don’t hate him.  It wouldn’t do me any good.  I want to focus on rebuilding my life.  While in prison, I earned my Associate’s Degree.  I know that opportunity came from God.  I thought my life was over but, it’s not.

195 Words

This story was inspired by the true story of Cyntoia Brown who was arrested and charged with homicide of Johnny Allen who offered to have paid sex with her.  She was accused of murder and robbery and sentenced to life.  

This was written for Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here.  To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

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Kadisha Gets Noticed

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“Take a look at that gorgeous guy who just walked in,” Rita said to her friend, Kadisha as they sat  at a corner table having dinner.  It was a Friday night and they had decided that they would treat themselves to a nice dinner before heading home.  They were at a Middle Eastern restaurant which a co-worker had recommended.

Kadisha followed her gaze and her heart leapt and started pounding wildly when she recognized the tall, athletic figure following the waitress who led him and his date to their table.  It was Fadi.  He looked gorgeous in the burgundy sports jacket, black shirt and black pants.  Her eyes shifted to his date.  She was tall and beautiful with thick, shoulder length black hair.  The black cocktail dress she wore flattered her figure and gave her a look of elegance.  Was she his girlfriend?  Kadisha wondered and sighed.  “That’s Fadi, the guy I’ve been telling you about,” she told her friend.  “Remember I told you that we work on the same floor but in different departments?”

That’s him?” Rita exclaimed, staring at her.  “None of the men I work with look anything like that.  Who’s that with him?”

“I don’t know.”

“You’re still interested in him, right?”

“Yes, but as you can see, he’s with someone.”

“Is he married?”

“No.”

“That’s good.  Most of the men in my department are married and the single ones stay clear from single women like me.  I think I scare them because I am a single mother.  Most men or at least the ones I’ve met don’t want to date single mothers.  They avoid us like we’re a plague.”

Kadisha looked at her friend.  “I’m sorry that things didn’t work out between Jim and you,” she said.

Jim was the man whom Rita had been in a relationship with and the father of her now teenage son.  It turned out that Jim was married but separated from his wife.  He met Rita at a resort and they became involved.  They dated for a while and then the relationship ended when Jim reconciled with his wife.  It took Rita a long time to get over the hurt but Kadisha had been there for her, helping her to pick up the pieces and encouraging her to concentrate on raising her son.  Rita found it difficult to get back into the dating game.  The men she met lost interest soon after they learned that she had a son.  She never heard from any of them again, not even the ones who were fathers themselves.  They were running away from blended families.

Rita shrugged, “I guess he wasn’t the one for me, after all,” she said.  “We wouldn’t have been happy.  His wife would have always been between us.  If there’s a man out there for me, I will find him someday. Until then, I can live vicariously through my friends.  So, what are you going to do about Fadi?”

Kadisha picked at the Eggplant dish with almond yoghurt and pickled chilli which smelled and looked appetizing. “Nothing,” she said.  “He’s never really shown any interest in me.  We say hello to each other and exchange pleasantries.”

“Do you know anything about him?”

“A co-worker told me that his parents are expatriates from Lebanon.  They came to America when he was a baby.  He has two older brothers.”

“I wonder if his brothers are as handsome as he.”

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t look now but I think he just noticed you.  Ahh.  He’s getting up and—he’s coming over.”

tusharBy now, Kadisha was in quite a state.  Her heart was beating at an alarming rate and her hands began to tremble.  I must keep calm, she told herself.  She looked up the same time he arrived at their table and smiled.  He was looking at her.  “Hello, Kadisha,” he said, smiling which made her heart melt.

“Hello, Fadi,” she said, barely audibly.  She turned to Rita, “This—this is my friend, Rita.”

Rita beamed up at him, holding out her hand which he clasped in a firm handshake.  “It’s nice to meet you,” she said.

“Likewise,” he replied.  He turned his attention back to Kadisha.  “I didn’t notice that you were here until just now.  If I had seen you earlier, I would have come over earlier to say hello.  Is this your first time here?”

Kadisha nodded.  “Yes, it is.”

“I’ve been here before.  How do you like it?”

“I like the place, the food and the people.”

“Well, I hope you both enjoy your dinner,” he said, although his eyes were still trained on Kadisha.  Then, he excused himself and returned to his table.

As soon as he left, Rita looked at her.  “I thought you said he has never shown any interest in you,” she scolded her.  “The man couldn’t take his eyes off you.”

“If he’s interested in me, why is he here with her?” Kadisha demanded.

“Have you ever given him any encouragement?  Does he have any idea that you are interested in him?”

“Well, I didn’t want to make it obvious since he never showed me any signs that he was interested.”

Rita rolled her eyes.  “At the rate the two of you are going, nothing will get resolved.  Either you or he has to make the first move.”

“It’s not going to me as long as he is dating someone else.”

“I wonder why he didn’t bring her over to meet you.”

“I expect he has his reasons.  Let’s change the subject, please.”

“All right.  This short rib in the beetroot glaze is delicious.  I love Middle Eastern food.”

They talked about other things during the rest of their dinner and Kadisha tried to avoid looking over at the table across the room.  She enjoyed her Chipotle chicken pastille with fennel and pickled blackberries while Rita delved into the Lamb rump with sorrel pesto and vanilla-braised chicory.  For dessert they both had the Roasted pineapple, macadamia, coconut ice cream.  Rita signaled for the waiter and after splitting the bill, they grabbed their handbags and left the table.

As they approached Fadi’s table, he saw them and stood up.  Rita said to Kadisha.  “It looks like we’re going to meet his companion after all.”

Kadisha had no choice but to stop at the table.  Up close his date was even more stunning.  I don’t stand a chance, she thought.

“I’d like you to meet Gaelle, my sister.  Gaelle, this is Kadisha, my co-worker and her friend, Rita.”

Kadisha stared at him.  “Your sister?”

“Yes, Gaelle is my sister.  Her fiancé was supposed to be having dinner with us but something came up and he couldn’t make it.”

“I thought you only had two brothers.”

“Yes, I have two older brothers and a younger sister.  She was born here long after we came to America.”

Relief washed over Kadisha and her face brightened.  Turning to Gaelle, she held out her hand.  “It’s really nice to meet you,” she said.

Gaelle smiled at her.  “I’ve heard so much about you,” she said, much to Kadisha’s surprise.  She turned to her brother.  “Now’s your opportunity to ask her,” she told him.

Fadi took Kadisha’s arm and drew her aside. He lowered his head so that he could speak softly in her ear.  Her skin tingled where he touched her arm and her pulse raced because of his proximity.  She could smell his cologne.  “I was wondering if you would like to have dinner with me tomorrow night.  ”

Kadisha nodded.  “I–I’d like that very much,” she said.

He seemed very pleased and relieved.  “I’ll pick you up tomorrow evening around seven.”  He gave her one of his business cards to write her address and phone number on the back.  After she jotted down the information, she returned the card to him and he placed it in the breast pocket of his jacket.  “Good night,” he said.

She said goodnight to him and to his sister and then preceded her friend out of the restaurant. As they walked to the parking lot, Rita nudged her, laughing.  “See, I was right about him liking you,” she said.  “His dinner companion turned out to be his little sister.  And while you and he were talking, I confirmed with his sister that he isn’t dating anyone.  So, there’s no reason for you not to go out with him.”

“He invited me out for dinner tomorrow night.”

“And did you accept?”

“Of course, I did.  I’d be a fool not to.”

“This is so exciting.”

They reached the car and after they were strapped in and pulling out of the parking lot, Kadisha sighed.  “Now, I just have to figure out what to wear.”

“If you like, I can come up with you when we reach your apartment and see what you have.  You want to dazzle and impress him at the same time.”

Kadisha mentally sorted through the outfits she had in her wardrobe.  “I think I have a couple of dresses that may work.  If I run into any trouble, I’ll call you later and there’s a boutique round the corner where I live just in case I need to buy something.”

“Okay, so if I don’t hear from you later, it means you found something to wear but I want you to call me on Sunday and give me the juicy details of your evening out with your handsome co-worker.”

Kadisha laughed.  “I will,” she promised.  “Have a good night, Rita.” She got out of the car and waved as her friend drove off.

As soon as she got to her flat, she went straight to her bedroom and pulled open the doors to her wardrobe.  She went through the dresses hanging there, praying that she would find something.  Her eyes fell on the burgundy halter dress with the flare skirt.  It was fairly new—in that she had only worn it once and it was simple but elegant.  She would wear her hair up.  The silver metallic strappy sandals would complete the outfit.  Satisfied and relieved, she closed the doors and went to take a quick shower.  She stayed up to watch the news and then went to bed.

The next day, she cleaned the apartment, did laundry and went grocery shopping.  The time went by very quickly and seven o’ clock soon arrived and so did Fadi.  When she opened the door and saw him standing there, her heart stopped.  He looked absolutely gorgeous in the dark blue suit, light blue shirt and no tie.  His gaze traveled over her and she could tell that he liked what he saw.  “You look very beautiful,” he commented softly.

She suddenly felt very shy.  “Thank you,” she said before she turned to close the door and lock it.  Although she was wearing high heels, he still towered over her.  They walked to the lift and rode it in silence to the lobby.

In the car, they talked about different things and then, he said to her, “Kadisha, I want to date you.”

“I want that too.”

He smiled.  “Good.” Then, he reached out and taking the hand resting on the seat beside her, he raised it to his lips.  She trembled when she felt them brush against her skin in a gentle caress.  Their eyes met for an instant and locked in a steady gaze.  Then, he released her hand turned his attention back to the road ahead of him.  She sat there, her mind whirling and her heart pounding.  Tonight’s dinner was just the beginning of what promised to be a very exciting relationship.

 

 

Sources:  Expat.com; Trip Advisor

No Longer a Man’s Game

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My husband, Don and his friend, Juan went clay shooting.  I wasn’t invited.  Don didn’t think I’d be interested.  What he doesn’t know is that I recently joined the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club after a friend introduced me to shooting.

I never thought I’d enjoy firing a gun.  But I love that feeling you get when you shoot a moving target in the sky.  And I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to challenge the misconception that shooting is a man’s game.  The number of female shooters is rising.

I’m heading out now to the Club to join my friends for an afternoon of shooting.  Afterwards we’ll have tea and cake.  This is how I spend my weekends.  During the week, I’m an Ad Exec juggling different accounts but on the weekends, I’m the Annie Oakley of clay shooting.

One of these days, I’ll tell Don about the Club.  He’ll get a kick out of it.  Maybe, we’ll compete against each other.  I bet I’d win.

166 Words

This story was inspired by the BBC report about women who wanted to showcase how social and how much fun shooting is and that it’s not just for men.

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

Source:  BBC;

Sue’s Customers

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To passersby, it appeared to be a regular shop but its innocuous façade concealed something far more disreputable. Men lingered at the display of slippers at the front until the owner went out, talked to them and then invited them inside. Once inside, these “customers” were shown into another room where Sue was. Like an automaton, she got undressed and lay down.

Orphaned at twelve, she was taken in by her uncle who was kind to her, unlike her aunt. When he died five years later, her aunt kicked her out of the house, telling her to stop freeloading and find work. Sue found odd jobs here and there but the money wasn’t enough. Then, she came to this shop and begged for a job. She got one all right but it wasn’t selling slippers.

The owner was arguing with one of the “customers”. This was her opportunity. Slowly she backed away and then bolted. She ran to a nearby shelter. Shortly after, the shop went out of business and the owner was arrested.

174 Words

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

Sought After Again

She was once a famous actress.

Sought by everyone.  Accolades

of awards adorned her lavish

home.  Photos of her with other

A list stars lined the walls.   She

was voted People’s Most Beautiful

and graced the covers of TIME

Magazine as person of the year.

 

And it seemed almost overnight…

the roles became few and far in

between and smaller.  She had

heard of Hollywood’s problem

with women over 40 but she

never imagined it would happen to

her.  She believed that they would

always want someone with her talent

and looks.  Writers and producers no

longer saw her as appealing because

she was pushing fifty.

 

Ageism had become her enemy.

The roles she wanted were going

to younger actresses and there

was nothing she could do about

it, except speak about it every

opportunity she got.  Acting was

in her blood.  She loved it and

the thought of retiring terrified

her.  She found herself settling

for roles she would never have

considered in the past.  But,

desperate times called for

desperate measures.

 

Yet, there was a glimmer of hope.

She saw it when she saw Octavia

Spencer catapult to fame at the age

of 41 in The Help and 50 year old

Melissa Leo win an Oscar.  Perhaps

one day, she would again become a

sought after star.  Perhaps she would

have her Hollywood ending.

 

Source:  Huff Post

 

 

Sing to the Lord

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises – Psalm 98:4

Praising God is something that should be as natural as breathing.  It’s hard to do so, however, when facing trials, problems or challenges, but that is the time when we really need to do it.  I have had an experience when I was feeling down about something and it came to me, no doubt it was the Holy Spirit’s prompting, that instead of focusing on what I was going through, to focus on God instead.  So, I began to praise Him.  I began to sing songs of praise to Him and after a while, I felt so light and upbeat.  The problem which had seemed like a mountain became minuscule until with God’s help, I was able to resolve it.

The apostle Paul is a good example of someone who praised God regardless of what the circumstances were.  Who could forget when Silas and he were in jail and instead of suffering in silence, they began to sing?  Acts 16:25 says But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.  God used that moment as an opportunity to reveal Himself.

Suddenly, there was an earthquake, shaking the foundations of the prison and the doors to the jail cells were opened and the chains broken, the prisoners could have escaped but no one moved.  The jailer thought that they had broken out and was about to take his life out of fear of reprisal but Paul assured him that all of the prisoners were there.  And that led the jailer to ask the question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Verse 30).  God used Paul’s and Silas’ attitude toward their circumstances to bring about the salvation of the jailer and his family.  And who knows if any of the other prisoners didn’t change too as a result of what they heard and witnessed.

How we deal with adversity will not only affect us but those around us.  Instead of looking down or around, we look up and whatever song the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, puts in our hearts, we lift our voices and sing to our God, Who is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).  It will lift our burdens up to Him and bring His comfort down to us.

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