Two Different Worlds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Let’s do lunch again soon, okay?”

“Sounds good to me.”

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

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

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

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

“It’s Popcorn chicken with basil.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thank you.”

“You’re such an amazing cook.”

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

“Why didn’t you become a chef?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh.  How are they?”

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

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

“They’re looking forward to meeting you.”

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

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

“I’m sorry about your grandmother.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two different worlds collided and became one. 

An International Disgrace

Image result for the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial

I couldn’t believe it when I heard that President Donald Trump cancelled his trip to a cemetery for “Americans killed in World War I, the White House citing bad weather that grounded his helicopter.”  He had been scheduled to lay a wreath and observe a moment of silence at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial, located adjacent to Belleau Wood and about 100 kilometres northeast of Paris.  It is a site of great importance to the US military.

The cancelled trip drew sharp criticisms from those who felt that the president should have found a way to get to Aisne-Marne, regardless of the weather.  Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national security adviser for President Barack Obama, accused Trump of “blowing off honouring American servicemen who died for us”

I agree with Mr. Rhodes.  Those soldiers braved snow, heat, rain and all sorts of conditions while they were fighting for freedom and serving their country.  Weren’t they worth the trip?

President Justin Trudeau visited the Vimy Ridge War Memorial in France and laid a wreath in honour for those who have served.  According to Global News, “Young, fresh-faced Canada sent 424,000 men overseas to fight in the First World War and nearly 61,000 of them were killed on foreign soil, far, far, far away from their homes in their 50-year-old country.  Those Canadians rest now in cemeteries all over Europe and their sacrifice helped forge a nation.”

This Remembrance Day marks the 100th anniversary of World War I and leaders like Trudeau, British Prime Minister Teresa May, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, and U.S. President Donald Trump were invited by French President Emmanuel Macron to join him and more than 70 other world leaders in Paris for a special Armistice Day service Sunday, followed by a Peace Forum, where the leaders will discuss issues of international security.

For Trump not to go to the cemetery because of the weather is not only international embarrassment but a disgrace to the men who sacrificed their lives.  They deserve better.  They deserve a leader who would not allow anything to prevent him from visiting their memorial and laying down a wreath in their honor.  This was an international disgrace that may not soon be forgotten.

Sources:   The GuardianCTV News; Global News

Giulia

stone-in-the-wood

Photo by Sue Vincent

She looked at the odd shaped structure.  It was covered in moss.  Everything else seemed to fade into the background.  It reminded her of when she visited the Accademia Gallery and she saw Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of Israel’s most beloved king, David.  Her eyes were fixated on the figure, moving towards it as if hypnotized.  The other works of art faded into insignificance.  She spent as long as she reasonably could, just admiring what for her was the masterpiece of masterpieces.  So engrossed was she in the art that she failed to notice the stranger who had been observing her.

He stood behind a tree, watching her now.   His face was pale–as if he were seeing a ghost.  He recalled the first time he saw her.  He had decided to visit Florence for the first time since he moved to Paris and was standing in the gallery, observing the other works of art while everyone gravitated to the statue of David.  He never could understand people’s fascination with it.  There were other greater sculptures and personally, he preferred Bernini’s David.  He was contemplating taking the train to Rome the following day and visiting the Galleria Borghese when she walked past him.  She didn’t notice him standing there just like now.  He felt the color drain from his face.  The resemblance was remarkable.  She looked so much like Giulia.

Giulia.  Twelve years had passed and yet, he still couldn’t come to terms with her death.  Every where he went, he imagined that he saw her.  His heart ached for her.  His life felt empty without her.  His mind and dreams were filled with her.  She haunted him.  His love for her was still strong and no passage of time seemed to quell it or diminish it.  Other women were interested in pursing a relationship with him but he put them off.  He couldn’t imagine himself being with anyone else.  Giulia was the only girl for him.  When they met, she was a slip of a girl.  Seventeen, with thick black hair that tumbled down her back ending at the small of her back.  Her eyes were tawny and framed by thick lashes.  Her lips were like pink pomegranates and just as sweet.  Everyday after school, she met him on the Ponte Vecchio.

He was much older than her but that didn’t seem to bother her.  She was as madly in love with him as he was with her.  He would have married her if–if she hadn’t fallen into the Arno River one evening.  They were supposed to meet but he was late.  When he finally showed up, the place was swarming with police and he learned that a girl had fallen into the river.  One witness said that the girl jumped into the river.  He refused to believe that it was suicide.

He later discovered that she was pregnant.  One of her friends said that she was afraid of what her parents would do if they found out.  They were strict Catholics.  That was what she was going to tell him that day when he was late.  He would have promised to marry her and take care of her and their child.  Why did she jump?  Was it out of desperation?  Did she think he wasn’t going to show up?  He never forgave himself for being late and a couple of weeks after her funeral, he packed up and left.  And now he was back.  And here he was watching a girl who bore a striking resemblance his beloved Giulia.

Suddenly she turned and she saw him.  Lips pursed, she marched over to him, her hair flapping about her shoulders.  She stopped a short distance from him.  “Why are you following me?” she demanded.

For a moment, he was at a loss for words.  “I’m not following you,” he denied.

“Then, why are you here?”

“It’s a public place,” he said.  “I was just walking through.”

“You were standing behind that tree watching me.  Why?”

“Well, you remind me of someone.”

“Do I really or is that one of your pick up lines?”

“You remind me of a girl I used to know.”

“What happened to her?”

“She died twelve years ago.  You look so much like her.”

“I’m sorry for your loss.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d better be heading home.”

“Don’t go, Giulia.”

“My name isn’t Giulia,” she informed him.

“I’m sorry.  It’s just that you remind me so much of her.  How old are you?”

“Twenty-eight.”

“She would have been twenty-nine.”

“Look, I really must be going.”

“Please, may I see you again?”

She shook her head.  “No.  And please don’t follow me any more.  I’m not Giulia.  She’s dead.  You need to move on.  Goodbye.”  She turned and walked briskly away.

He stood there watching her retreating figure.  She was right.  It was time to move on.  But how could he?  He couldn’t get over Giulia.  She was in his heart, his mind and in his blood.  He just couldn’t go on without her.  They say that time heals all wounds but that wasn’t true.  His weren’t healing.  The pain was as deep now as it was ten years ago.

Sinking to the ground, he buried his face in his hands.  “Oh, Giulia,” he whispered brokenly.   At the funeral, he had stood far from the mourners, not wanting anyone to see him, especially her parents.   After they left, he went to the grave and threw himself on it, sobbing, the pain overwhelming–like it was now.

After several minutes, he got up, dried his eyes in his sleeves and headed in the direction of the Arno River.  An hour later, they found his body.  The police said that suicide was “likely”.

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Way-stone at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Two Brothers

“Young people these days, gallivanting all over the place.  In my day, unmarried people didn’t go on holidays alone.  They got married first.”

“Oh Mother, you have such an archaic view of relationships.  Nowadays lots of unmarried couples go away together and society doesn’t see anything wrong with it.”

“Well, society definitely isn’t the way it used to be in my day.  Nowadays people are living how they please with no thought of the consequences or how it could reflect badly on them and their poor families.”

Emile sat in the armchair beside the window, catching snippets of the conversation between his mother and sister.   They didn’t draw him into it because they could see that he was preoccupied.  He was thinking about Celine.  This morning, he finally faced the truth.  He was in love with her.  It wasn’t something he wanted to happen.  After all, she was Théo’s girlfriend.

He never imagined that his life would change forever because of the afternoon he went with Théo to the restaurant where Celine worked.  He had heard so much about her that he was curious to meet her.

“I told her that we were coming,” Théo told him when they were sitting at a table.  The place was busy as usual for a Saturday.

“I hope she doesn’t mind you bringing me here to meet her.”

“Not at all.  In fact, she’s looking forward to meeting you.”

Emile looked around.  “I notice that the staff is mostly students,” he remarked.

“Yes, that’s because the university is close by which is one of the reasons why Celine is working here.”

“How does she manage working here while going to school?”

“Flexible hours.”

“This is the first time I’ve been here but I’ve heard about it.  They serve Italian food.”

“Yes.  Oh, there she is.”  He waved and a few minutes later Celine was standing at the table.   He smiled up at her before turning to Emile who stood up.  “Emile, this is Celine.  Celine, my brother, Emile.”

Emile felt his breath catch in his throat when he looked down into those big and beautiful brown eyes framed by long lashes.  She was young and beautiful.  Her skin was smooth and flawless.  He wondered if it felt as soft as it looked.  Her neck was long and slender.  And her lips, he saw them part to reveal even white teeth.  She was smiling at him and holding out her hand.  He took it, marveling at how small and slight it felt in his.  Clearing his throat, he muttered, “I’m pleased to meet you, Celine.”

“I’m pleased to meet you too, Emile,” she said.  “Théo promised me that he would bring you around today.  I’m happy he kept his promise.  I hope you will like it here and will come again.”

“I’m sure I will,” he replied.  He tried not to stare and after he released her hand, he sat down.

She turned to Théo.  “You didn’t mention that he was this handsome,” she said, teasingly.  “Is that why you didn’t bring him around to meet me before today?  Were you afraid that I might like him better than you?”

Théo grinned.  “Something like that.”

She smiled.  “It would serve you right if I did.  Anyway, what would you like to drink?”

“The usual.”

“All right.”  She looked at Emile who hadn’t been able to take his eyes off her.  “What about you, Emile?”  Just the way she said his name made his heart skip a beat.

“I’ll have a French limonade, thank you.”

“I’ll get your drinks while you take a look at the menu.”  She excused herself and went away.

As soon as she was gone, Théo remarked, “She’s a lovely girl, isn’t she?”

Emile kept his eyes on the menu.  “Yes, she is.”  He wondered if his brother had noticed the way he kept staring at her.

A few minutes later she returned with their drinks and took their orders.  Before she moved off, her eyes lingered on Emile who felt his face grow hot.  He knew then that he had to go back to the restaurant—just to see her again.  And he did the following night.  He was alone and he sat at the same table.  She looked surprised but very pleased to see him.

“Back so soon?” she said as she stood at the table.  “I guess you enjoyed your dining experience yesterday.”

He nodded.  “Yes, I did.  I enjoyed the food and really liked the service.”

She smiled.  “Thank you.”

“What do you recommend that I try this time?”

“Try the Penne with basil and Home Provencal tomato sauce.”

“Sounds good.  I’ll have that.”

“I’ll be right back.”

When she returned, he asked, “What time do you get off of work?”

“I get off at nine.”

“That’s an hour from now.  Do you have a ride home?”

“I usually take the train.”

“May I give you a ride home?”

“Sure.  Thank you.” She excused herself to go and wait on the other tables.

He watched her as he ate, thinking that she looked even more beautiful than yesterday.  He glanced at his watch.  He couldn’t wait for nine o’ clock to come so that he could be completely alone with her.  For dessert he had a fruit salad and then paid the bill.  He gave her a generous tip which she was very appreciative of.  He waited for her at the door and together they stepped out into the warm night.  They walked to where his car was parked.  He held the door for her and their eyes met briefly before she got in.  He lowered his tall frame behind the wheel and soon they were merging into traffic.

“Do you live alone?” he asked.

“No, I live with my aunt on my mother’s side.”

“Do you have other family here in Paris?”

“No.  The rest of my family is back in Guadeloupe.”

“Do you visit them?”

“Yes, but only at Christmas time.  It’s the only time I can get away.  I stay here during the summer to work full-time at the restaurant.”

“Do you have any siblings?”

“I had a younger sister but she died from pneumonia when she was eight.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.  It must have been a great tragedy for your family.”

“Yes it was a great loss for us.  I know my mother wished she had let Louise come to Paris with me.  She believes that Louise would still be alive.  About a year ago something really weird happened to me.  I was on my way to church when I saw a woman and her daughter.  The little girl was my sister’s doppelganger.  I stood there staring at her because her resemblance to Louise was uncanny.  If I believed in ghosts, I would have sworn that I was looking at my dead sister.  It still gives me the chills.”

“I have heard of such things.  They say that everyone has a twin somewhere out there.   My sister said she saw someone who looked exactly like her sister-in-law one day in the shopping mall and she called out to her but the woman didn’t look around.  When she spoke to Marie the next day, she learned that she was in London at the time.  I hope I don’t have a double.”

She laughed.  “What about Théo?  Can you imagine two of him?”

“It would be double trouble, for sure.”

“Growing up with him must have been fun, though.”

“Yes, it was.   He mentioned that you are in your second year of university.  What are you studying?”

“Hospitality and Leisure Management.  There are two areas which I’m interested in–hotels and restaurants.”

“Is that why you’re working at the restaurant?”

“Yes.  Next year, I’ll work at a hotel.”

“I have no doubt that you would be exceptional in both of these areas.”

She smiled.  “Thank you, Emile.”

She was such a refreshing change from the women he used to date, most of whom were all airs and graces.  He liked that she was down to earth and modest.  She was easy-going, charming and self-assured.  Théo was a very lucky man.  “So, what do you do when you’re not studying or working?”

“I read, go for walks, shop and watch television.”

“And spend time with Théo.”

“Yes.  What about you?  What do you like to do in your spare time?”

“I like to read, hike, play tennis, swimming, cycling, going to motor and art shows and eating out.”

“Sounds like you have a very active life of leisure.  Do you have a girlfriend?”

Her question caught him by surprise and it took a few moments for him to answer.  “No, I don’t have a girlfriend.”  And I wish you didn’t have a boyfriend.

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to be so nosy.”

“It’s all right,” he said quietly.

“Here we are,” she said, pointing to the apartment building on the right.  He slowed down and pulled up alongside the curb.  She turned to him.  “Thanks for the lift, Emile.”

He looked at her, his expression tense.  “When can I see you again?”

“I’m not busy tomorrow,” she informed him.  Tomorrow was Saturday.

“How would you like to visit the Chateau de Saint-Germain-en-Laye?

“I would like that very much.  I’ve always wanted to visit the musée d’Archéologie nationale. ”

“I will pick you up at nine.”  He turned away to open the door and get out.  He walked around to open hers.  After she stepped out he said,  “Goodnight, Celine.”

“Goodnight, Emile.” She smiled up at him before she walked away. He watched her until she went inside and then he got back in the car and drove off. As he headed back to his apartment, he tried convince himself that there was no harm in going on an excursion to Saint-Germain-en-Laye.  It was all perfectly innocent.  She always wanted to visit the museum and he merely giving her what she wanted.  Surely Théo wouldn’t have a problem with that. Besides, he wasn’t interested in this sort of thing.

They ended up spending the entire day in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.  They visited the chateau and the museum before having lunch at a nearby restaurant.  After lunch, they stopped by composer Debussy’s childhood home and museum where many of his personal possessions were kept.  They visited the Eglise Saint Germain and the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, one of the oldest churches in Paris.

Before heading back to the car, they strolled through Place des Marchés, having ice-cream, soaking up the atmosphere.  On the drive home, they talked about all they had seen and how much they enjoyed the excursion.  Outside of her flat, they faced each other.  He wanted so badly to lean over and kiss her but it wouldn’t be right.  Instead he reached for her hand and raised it to his lips.

“Thank you for a lovely day,” she said, her eyes wide as they met his.  She sounded a little breathless.

“It was my pleasure,” was his quiet reply.  He was still holding her hand which he was reluctant to let go of.  “Is it serious between Théo and you?”  He had to ask.

The expression on her face could only be described as baffled but why should she be?  It took a moment for her to say something.  “Why do you ask?”

He released her hand then.  “You’re right.  I shouldn’t have asked the question.  Goodnight, Celine.”

“Goodnight, Emile.”

He turned and walked away.  In the lift, he leaned against the wall as he dragged his fingers through his hair.  He promised himself that he would stay away from Celine.  He had to.

Several weeks passed and he kept busy so that he wouldn’t think about her and miss her but at nights it was torture.  He had sleepless nights.  When he saw Théo, he resisted the temptation to ask about her but one afternoon while they were having lunch at a bistro close to where he worked, his brother said to him, “Celine has been acting very strange lately.  She isn’t her usual upbeat self.  Something’s troubling her but she won’t tell me what it is.”

Emile tried to appear calm but his heart was racing at the mere mention of her name.  Perhaps she was feeling guilty about going to Saint-Germain-en-Laye with him.  “Maybe she has a lot on her mind.”

“Well, I’m taking her dancing at Le Bal Swing tonight.  Hopefully that will cheer her up.”

Emile didn’t answer and he hid his face behind the menu so that Théo couldn’t see the downcast expression on his face.  That night he stayed home, wondering if Celine was having a good time dancing the night away with his brother.  The following day, he drove over to the family chateau to visit his mother.  His sister, Ines was there and now they were having a very heated debate over something or the other.

“What’s the matter?” he asked.  Their raised voices had intruded upon his thoughts.

His mother looked at him, exasperated.  “Well, it’s nice of you to finally join us,” she said crossly.  “Perhaps you can talk your brother out of flying off to St. Barts.”

A surprised expression crossed Emile’s face.  “Théo is going to St. Barts?” He wondered why he hadn’t mentioned that to him.

“Yes, he decided this morning that he was going to take a trip.”

“What’s wrong with him going to St. Barts?”

“Exactly!” Ines chimed in.

Her mother humphed at her before saying to Emile, “I wouldn’t object if he were going alone or with his friends but he’s going with some girl–”

Emile stiffened at once.  “Do you know who she is?”

“Her name begins with a C.”

“Celine?” he asked tightly, his expression taut as he met his mother’s gaze.

“Yes, that’s it.  I told him that I didn’t approve of him going on vacation with a girl he wasn’t married to and–”  She broke off when Emile got abruptly to his feet and stared up at him in surprise.  “What’s the matter?” she asked.

“I have to leave, Mother.”

“Where are you going?” she demanded.  “We haven’t even had dinner as yet.”

“I’m sorry but I can’t stay.  Goodnight.”

“Are you all right?” Ines asked as he walked past her.

Without turning around, he bid her a terse “Goodnight.”

She stared after him, bewildered.  “What do you suppose is the matter with him?”

Her mother shrugged her shoulders.  “He seemed fine until I mentioned the girl.”

Ines looked at her.  “Mother, you got her name wrong.  It’s Celeste, not Celine.”

“Well, the names are so similar, it’s easy to get them confused.  I wish Emile hadn’t run off like that.  What could be more important than having dinner with us?”

Emile hurried to his car and got in.  For a few minutes, he sat there, trying to process what he had just learned.  Théo and Celine were flying off to St. Barts together.  It seemed as if his brother had succeeded in cheering her up last night.  His fingers gripped the steering wheel as jealousy ripped through him.  He had no right to be feeling like this but he couldn’t help it.  He was in love with her and the thought of her with his brother on a beautiful island was unbearable but what could he do about it?  The best thing for him to do was to get over her.  Perhaps, I should fly off somewhere too just to get her out of my system.

He gunned the engine and raced away.  Instead of heading home, he found himself going in the direction of Théo’s flat.  What was he going to say to him when he got there?  He had no clue.  All he knew was that he had to see him.  When he got there and stood outside of the door, he hesitated.  This was not a good idea.  He should turn around and go home.  Just as he made up his mind to do just that, the door opened and Théo stood there.  He was surprised to see him.  “I was just on my way out,” he said.  “Celine is here, though.  I’m sure she would be happy to see you.”

Hearing that Celine was there got his heart racing.  “Where are you going?  Will you be gone long?” he asked his brother.  He was afraid of being alone with her.  There was no telling what he might be tempted to do.

“I have to run an errand.  I should be back in about forty-five minutes or so.  Oh, did I tell you that about the trip to St. Barts?”

Emile shook his head.  “No, you didn’t.”

“I meant to when we had lunch yesterday but it slipped my mind.  The flight is tomorrow night.  Anyway, go on in and make yourself at home.”  He held the door open for Emile to step in and then he closed and locked it behind him.

Emile stood in the foyer for a few minutes before he removed his shoes and went into the living-room where Celine was.  She turned when she heard him.  He closed the distance between and they stood there staring at each other.  The air was palpable between them.  She was wearing a black top and a denim skirt which revealed shapely legs.  His felt his body respond and he released a shaky breath.

“I didn’t expect to see you,” she said.

“I didn’t expect to see you either,” he replied.  “I thought you might be home packing for your trip.”

She stared at him.  “Trip?” she repeated.  “What trip?”

“The one to St. Barts with Théo.

“I’m not going to St. Barts with Théo.”

He looked at her, confused now.  “But Théo said…”

“Théo couldn’t have said that I was going with him. He’s going with Celeste.”

“Celeste?”

“Yes!  She’s the girl he’s been dating for some time now.”

“But you and he went dancing last night.”

“Yes.  Celeste was there too.”

He ran his fingers through his hair, trying to make sense of this.  “When my mother mentioned that Théo was going to St. Barts with someone, I–”

“You made the assumption that it was me.  Why?”

“I thought you were his girlfriend, Celine.”

“No, Théo and I are just good friends.  Is that why you haven’t been in touch with me?  After we spent such a lovely day at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, I thought that we would see more of each other.  I thought you liked me, Emile.”

He stared down into her face, incredulous.  “Like you?” he exclaimed.  “Celine, I’m in love with you.  I wanted to see you again but I couldn’t because of your relationship with Théo.  I truly believed that you and he were romantically involved.”

“All this time you thought I was in love with your brother when it was you all along.  I fell in love with you when he showed me your photo.  I wanted to ask him if I could keep it but I decided that would seem a bit weird.  I kept hounding him to introduce us and he finally did.  When I saw you in person, I fell harder for you.  Your photo didn’t do you justice.   You were reserved but very charming.  I couldn’t keep my eyes off you that night and I was so happy when you came by the following night.  And when you offered to give me a ride home, I was ecstatic.  I got a chance to know you better and I was on cloud nine when you asked me to go to Saint-Germain-en-Laye with you.”

He took her hands in his and drew her towards him, his eyes darkening on her upturned face.  “I’m thankful that I came over here tonight because we cleared up some misunderstandings.  I would have continued to believe that you were Théo’s girlfriend and that you went away with him to St. Barts.”

“Yes.  I would have continued feeling miserable because I thought you were no longer interested in me.   Théo suspected that my troubles had to do with a man but I didn’t tell him who it was.   He tried to cheer me up by taking me dancing but I couldn’t stop thinking about you and missing you.  I left him and Celeste there and took a taxi home.”

He released her hands and cupped her face between his, his eyes searching hers.  “I feel as if I have been waiting for you all of my life.” he murmured huskily.  “I want to court you for a while and then I want to marry you.”

She smiled up at him as she put her arms around his waist.  “When I asked God to give me someone that I could love with all my heart and who would love me in return, someone I can grow old with, to spend the rest of my imperfect life with,  He gave me you.  I will be eternally grateful to Him.”

“Yes, I too am eternally grateful to Him because He blessed me with you.”  He lowered his head and kissed her then.  As their lips locked, he knew that if he were to ever lose his memory, he would never forget their first kiss.

 

Sources:  My University Money; Bistrot 77; École normale supérieure; Top Universities; Solo Sophie; Hostel Geeks; Wikipedia; Culture Trip; Poem Hunter; Simply Love Quotes

The Right Moment

Zahara sat in the library with text books and papers spread out on the table in front of her but she couldn’t concentrate.  She was thinking about Kyle and what happened last night.  After making love, and as they lay there, spent, she said, “I love you.”  The silence which followed that declaration made her wonder if it had been premature and she wished she could take the words back.

They lay there for a while, neither saying anything until he suggested, “Let’s take a nice hot shower together and then watch a movie.”  Before he rolled on to his side to climb out of the bed, he lowered his head and kissed her on the forehead.  Bummer, she thought, turning her head away so that he wouldn’t see the disappointment on her face.   She lay there for a few minutes longer before dragging herself out of the bed and joining him in the shower.  As they stood underneath the water, he bent his head and kissed her by the eye which felt very strange.

After they finished showering, he gave her one of his robes to wear and they relaxed on the sofa, sipping hot chocolate as they watched a movie.  It was some time later when they got dressed and he took her home.   She went straight to bed but lay there for a long time, staring up at the ceiling and wondering why he hadn’t told her that he loved her too.  Was it because he didn’t?  Did her profession of love put him in a spot?  She could still recall the silence which followed and how she wished the ground would open up and swallow her.  They had been dating for almost a year so she thought that it was time for them to drop the L-word.  Clearly, she was wrong.

Tears pricked her eyes and rolled on to her stomach so that she could bury her face in the pillow.  What was she going to do if it turned out that Kyle didn’t love her?  It was not until after one in the morning that she finally fell asleep and it was fitful.  When she got up later to get ready for college, she was very tired.  On the train ride she leaned her head against the window and closed her eyes all the way to her stop.  Before she walked to the campus, she grabbed herself a coffee.

As she sat there now in the library, she asked herself the same question.  What if he never said, “I love you” to her?  What then?  Should she end the relationship?  She couldn’t bear the thought of not being with him so she dismissed the idea of breaking up with him.  So what if he didn’t say the words she wanted so much to hear?  What about his actions?  Didn’t they speak louder than words?  She had read some where that you could tell when a guy was really into you.  She could still remember the five signs and Kyle had shown all of them.

She was a priority in his life.  He was always taking time to catch up with her and spend time together, sometimes, he even blew off friends and family just to be with her.  He was always talking about the future, using the words, “we” and “us”.  He had no problem showing public display of affection like holding her hand and placing his hand at the lower part of her back.  He actually listened to her talk about her day and whenever she had a crappy one, he always found some way to help her to feel better.  And so far she had met most of his relatives.  Just recently, they went to his cousin’s wedding.

If he loved her why couldn’t he just say so?  Frustrated, she gathered her books and papers and stuffed them in her bag.  She walked out of the library and out of the building.   She sat on the concrete slab attached to the statue of Ezra Cornell and reaching into her bag, she took out her cell phone.  She dialed Farrah’s number.  Farrah was the friend who had introduced her to Kyle.

When her friend answered, Zahara told her everything.  “I’m so confused,” she concluded.  “I want to believe that he loves me but after what happened last night, I’m not sure.”

“Anyone can see that Kyle is crazy about you, Zee.  Don’t jump to conclusions because he hasn’t told you that he loves you.  Maybe he’s better at expressing his feelings through actions rather than words.  Instead of telling you that he loves you, he’s showing you.  Sometimes love expressed is better than love professed.  Don’t get so hung up on this that you end up ruining a good thing.  Be thankful that you have a man who loves in action.   I know women who would love to trade places with you.  Kyle is a terrific guy.  Don’t throw away what you have with him over something as trivial as this.  Remember men and women are different.  We can’t expect them to do things the same way we do.”

Zahara sighed.  “Thanks, Farrah.  I’m glad I called you.  You’ve given me a lot to think about.  I love Kyle and I don’t want to lose him.  I will stop stressing out over this and just concentrate on loving him.”

“The love is there but he’s not ready to say it as yet.  And there was nothing wrong with you saying ‘I love you’ to him.  You couldn’t contain your feelings and wanted to express them in words.  So, don’t beat yourself up for doing that because he didn’t respond the same way.  Your timing is not his.  Be patient.  Be willing to wait until he he is ready to say that he loves you.”

“I will,” she promised.  And she did.  She didn’t obsess any more over Kyle not saying “I love you.”  She just focused on being with him and doing fun things with him.  And on the day of her graduation she walked proudly up on the stadium to get her diploma, grinning from ear to ear as she saw him taking pictures.  Afterwards, they went to his place to celebrate.  It was while they were curled up on the sofa, that he told her that he was taking her to Paris for two weeks. “It’s my graduation present to you,” he murmured huskily.

She was thrilled because she had never been to Europe.  Her eyes sparkled.  “Thank you, Kyle,” she said before she kissed him.

Paris was everything she had imagined and much more.  She felt like Alice in Wonderland.  Her eyes drank in everything as they went sightseeing and the food was so good.  She loved the little cafes and the cobbled streets.  One evening after dinner, they went for a walk along the Seine river where they lingered for a while. It was a beautiful evening.  The sun was beginning to set.  He took photos of her backing the Seine river before they headed for the Eiffel Tower which loomed ahead.

Taking her hands he drew her closer to him, his eyes intent on upturned face as he said, “The first time I saw you my heart stopped, the world stopped and there were just you and me in the room.    I couldn’t take my eyes off you and when Farrah introduced us, I was tongue tied and nervous.  I wanted to so much to spend the night talking to you and getting to know you but I couldn’t ignore our age difference.  You didn’t look a day over twenty and I was thirty-six.  You were a university student and I was the Director of a company.  And I was in a relationship.  Yet, in spite of these complications, I just couldn’t get you out of my mind.  I ended my relationship and I asked Farrah for your number and here we are.”

“The first time I saw you I didn’t think that a man like you would even notice me.  I stood there, watching you, hoping and praying for the impossible.”

“How could I not notice you?  When I saw you standing there alone, watching me, I fell hard and it scared me.  I had heard about love at first sight but never thought it would happen to me.”

Zahara’s eyes widened and her heart began to race.  “Are you saying that you love me?”

“Yes, Zahara.  I love you.  I have wanted to tell you that for such a long time but the moment never seemed right.  I didn’t want to say it before we became sexually involved because I didn’t want you to think that I was saying it to get you to sleep with me.  I didn’t want to say it during our love making because I didn’t want you to think that it was in the heat of the moment.  That evening when you said you loved me, you have no idea how much I wanted to say it to you but the time didn’t feel right.”

“I was so embarrassed and confused.”

“I’m so sorry, Honey.  I didn’t mean to hurt you.  I just wanted to wait for the right moment to tell you what I’ve wanted to tell you since we met.”

She smiled up at him.  “What could be a more perfect moment than this one?  We’re standing in front of the Eiffel Tower when you finally say the three words I have been longing to hear.”

They kissed and then he gently extricated himself from her.  He reached into the pocket of his jacket and got down on one knee.  “This is also the perfect moment for me to ask you a very important question,” he said, presenting a small red box.  Her eyes brimmed with tears as she saw him take out an exquisite diamond ring which glittered in the setting sun.  “Zahara, will you marry me?”

“Yes,” she managed to say as she was choked up, the tears now streaming down her face.

Kyle stood up and cupping her face, he kissed her for several minutes before he buried his face in her neck and whispered, “I love you.”

Don’t wait for the right moment. Create it – Boldomatic

 

Sources:  EskimiHer Campus; Your Tango; Michael Hyatt

The Autograph

He was walking down a busy street in downtown Manhattan, heading back to his hotel room when he saw her.  She was coming toward him–a very pretty girl in a white jacket over a black top and blue jeans.  He wasn’t looking for anything because he was already in a relationship which he was having serious misgivings about, especially now that Claudia was pressuring him to get married.  The last thing he wanted was to be distracted by another woman.

Yet, as they approached each other, he couldn’t look away.  She was staring at him too and that thrilled him.  Since Claudia and he began dating four years ago, he had never once looked at another woman until now…His heart thudded as they got closer to each other and as they passed each other, she looked right up at him.  He was tempted to look back but continued walking.

“Excuse me,” she called and he stopped.  When he turned around, she went closer, her eyes searching his face.  “Aren’t you Bernard Forbes, the British stage and independent film actor?”

He nodded.  “Yes, I am.”

She smiled broadly, her eyes bright with excitement.  “I’m a big fan of yours,” she told him.  “I have seen all of your films.  And last month when I was in London, I went to see you in the latest stage production of Macbeth.  It was the only reason I visited England.  I wanted to go backstage and get your autograph but my aunt was in a hurry to leave.”

“I’m flattered that you went all the way to London just to see me in a play.  The least I can do is to give you my autograph for your trouble.”

“It just so happens, I have the program with me.  This is the handbag I had with me when I went to see the play.  I just never got around to taking it out and I’m happy I didn’t.”  She took it out along with a pen and handed them to him, her heart racing.  He was even more handsome in person and gracious too.  She couldn’t wait to call her aunt in London and tell her.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Kimani Jones.”

“Kimani.  What an unusual name,” he commented.  “What does it mean?”

“’Beautiful’ and ‘sweet’”, she replied.  “My mother saw it somewhere and decided that she would call me that.”

“It suits you,” he said, his eyes meeting hers in a steady gaze before he turned his attention to signing his autograph.  He wrote:  To: Kimani, my warmest regards and my very best to you always.  Bernard Forbes.  He handed the program back to her.

She read what he wrote.  “Thank you,” she gushed, beaming at him.  “I really appreciate this.

“It was my pleasure,” he said quietly.  “How come you’re not in school?”

“I’m on March break,” she said.  “And I’m in my third year at New York University.”

“Are you in a hurry to get somewhere?”

She shook her head.  “I was just window shopping.  Spring is around the corner so I was thinking of buying some new clothes.”

They were standing close to a café.  “Let’s move our conversation from the sidewalk to in there,” he suggested.  There wasn’t any harm in talking to one of his fans, was there?  She was a welcome change from the movie and theatre crowd and the people he usually associated with.  Besides, this was better than going back to his hotel room to brood over his relationship with Claudia.

She readily acquiesced and they went into the café.  He found a table at the back and by the window.  It was after ten o’clock so the place was almost empty save for a few people and aside from curious stares in his direction, no one bothered them.  After they ordered two hot chocolates, he leaned forward in his chair, arms on table and studied her.  “You mentioned that you’re in your third year in university.  What is your area of study?”

I can’t believe I’m sitting here having a conversation with Bernard Forbes.  “I’m studying Psychology.”

“Why Psychology?”

“I want to help people.”

“That’s commendable,” he said.  “I have a feeling that you will do very well in the field.”

“Thank you.”

“Have you always lived in New York?”

“Yes.  And I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

He asked her all sorts of questions about herself and in no time an hour had passed.  “Spend the rest of the day with me, Kimani,” he heard himself say.

“All right,” she said, thrilled.  And after he paid for the hot chocolates, they left the cafe and walked up the road where he hailed a cab.

They went to Central Park where they spent a fun afternoon.  They went up to the Belevdere Castle to check the temperature and to enjoy the panoramic view around them.  Afterwards, they visited the Conservatory Garden and watched people sail their boats at Conservatory Water before they grabbed lunch.  After lunch they went to see a puppet show at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre.  They ended the day at Bethesda Fountain where they each made a wish.

The sun was setting as they walked to the exit of the park.  He hailed a cab and she gave the driver her address.

“Thank you for an incredible day,” he told her when they were outside of her apartment building.  “I haven’t enjoyed myself so much in a very long time.”

She smiled.  “I had a wonderful time too.  I never knew there were so many fun things to do in Central Park.”  I hope we can see each other again.

“Kimani, I want to see you again.” This was madness but he couldn’t seem to get enough of her.  He had to see her again.   “Have dinner with me tomorrow night.”

“I’d like that,” she said.

“Good.  I’ll pick you up at seven.”  He took her hand and raised it to his lips, making her tremble.   “Have a good evening.”  He reluctantly released her hand and climbed back into the back of the cab.

Her flesh tingled.  “You too,” she replied breathlessly.  She wave at him before she turned and walked to the entrance of her building on rather shaky legs, her mind spinning.  She hoped this wasn’t all a dream.

Dinner was at the Empire State Building.  As soon as they walked in they were greeted with a smile before being shown to a table with a magnificent view.  Over Burrata and Shave Kale salads, Scottish Salmon and Roasted Farm Chicken and non-alcoholic wine, they talked about many different things.  She learned that Bernard began acting on stage when he was eleven at the encouragement of his father who used to be renown theatre actor himself.  His mother was an opera singer.  Both parents were still alive and living in the South of France.  They recently celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary.  He flew out for the occasion.  He was an only child like her.

“Do you ever wish that you had brothers or sisters?” she asked.

“Sometimes.  It would have been nice to have an older brother whom I could go to for relationship advice and the one I’d call instead of one of my parents when I got into trouble.  And of course, be each other’s best man at our weddings.”

“Yes, I wish I had an older sister that I could share secrets with whose closet I could raid when I didn’t have anything to wear and someone to hang out with whenever we are forced to attend a family get together and go shopping with.”

He smiled.  “And what would happen if you both ended up liking the same guy?” he teased.

“I would like to think that if the guy liked her instead of me, I would bow out gracefully.”

His expression grew serious.  “If I were that guy you would be the sister I liked.”

She smiled shyly at him.  “And if you had a brother, I would like you instead of him.”

“Kimani, I’m here in New York for a week.  Can I see you everyday until it’s time for me to fly back to London?”

She nodded.  “Yes.  I just have to figure where we can go that you haven’t already been.  I read on line that you have been to New York many times because it’s one of your favorite cities in the world after London and Paris.”

He looked intrigued.  “What else have you read about me?”

“That you like going to museums, for long walks, traveling, cooking, volunteering, you prefer theatre acting to film acting and prefer dating actresses.”

“I’m guilty of all of those things except the bit about my preference for actresses.  You’re not an actress, are you?”

She laughed.  “I was in drama class once in high school and I managed to get through it but I knew then and there that acting was not for me.”

“I love it,” he said simply.  “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

“What about when the opposite sex throw themselves at you?”

“Yes, that ‘s the part of my career which I truly dislike,” he agreed.  “but it has brought us together.”

“I never imagined that I would bump into you in the street or that when I asked you for your autograph we would end up spending the day together or having dinner.  I still can’t believe that this is really happening.  I’m afraid that this is all a very long and wonderful dream.”

He reached over and grasped her hand.  “This is no dream, Kimani,” he assured her, gently squeezing her fingers to make his point.  “I’m real, you’re real and what is happening between us is very real.”

She blinked, finding it hard to think with him holding her hand.  Just then, a couple approached their table.  They smiled apologetically before the woman said hesitantly, “I’m so sorry to disturb your dinner but know that my husband nor I wouldn’t be able to forgive me if I passed up this opportunity to get your autograph.  We saw you in Macbeth, Hamlet, Absent Night and Secrets in the Dream, your latest independent film.  We are huge fans.  Do you mind signing the front of this photo of my husband and me?” she handed it to him with a pen.   She smiled at Kimani.  “Sorry for the interruption.”

Kimani smiled.  “Don’t worry about it,” she said.  One of the things she had to get used to when being with him was having interruptions like this.

“What are your names?” Bernard asked the woman who was pretty and looked to be in her late thirties.

“Kevin and Angela.”

He scribbled something on the photo and gave it back to her with the pen.  “Have a good evening,” he said with a smile.

“Thank you so much,” she said, looking at the signed photo in appreciation before she put it in her bag.  “Enjoy the rest of your evening.”  She turned and walked away.

“Do you ever get used to people coming up to you wherever you go for your autograph?” she asked.

“Actually, I have gotten used to it but not tired of it.  I will always be happy to sign autographs long after I’ve retired from acting which wouldn’t be for a very long while.   I hope you didn’t mind.”

She shook her head.  “I didn’t.  She’s a fan just like me.  I can relate.”

He glanced at his watch.  “The night is still young.  Would you like to go for a carriage ride in Central Park?”

Her eyes brightened.  “Yes!”

His lips twitched and he signaled to the waitress.  Ten minutes later, they were on their way to Central Park.

The carriage ride was a remarkable and romantic experience.  The Park was transformed at night, a perfect escape from the bustle and noise of the city, making it easy for them to enjoy the spectacular views of the city skyline.  It was the perfect end to a perfect evening.  He took her home and they saw each other for the rest of the week going to the museum, the theatre, the movies, a gondola ride in Central Park, Atlantic City and Coney Island.

On Sunday afternoon, she went with him to the airport, sorry to see him go.  They faced each other general area before he went to the terminal where he would catch his plane.  He took her hands in his.  “I will be back in a week,” he promised.

She nodded and then reached up and hugged him tightly.  “I’ll see you in a week.”

He bent his head and kissed her.  It lasted for a few minutes and when they broke apart, his face was flushed.  “I’ll be back before you know it,” he said before he turned and walked away.  She watched him until he was out of sight before she left the airport, her heart heavy.

The day after he returned from New York, Bernard went to see Claudia.  She was expecting him.  She opened the door, dressed in a long black negligee leaning and her mouth raised for a kiss but after a light brush of his lips against her cheek, he walked past her and into the living-room.  There was a time, not so long ago, when he would have dragged that negligee off.  It was amazing how a man could look at the same woman who used to drive him wild with desire and feel nothing.

Frowning, she closed the door.  “Is something wrong?” she asked when she joined him and noted the expression on his face.

“Please sit down,” he said.  When she did, he sat beside her.  He took a deep breath.  “Claudia, I can’t marry you.”

She stared at him, her face going pale.  “Why not?” she asked.

He hesitated for a moment and then he confessed, “I don’t love you.”

“So, for the four years we have been together you never once loved me?”

He nodded, feeling awful.  “I cared about you, but I wasn’t in love with you.”

“Is that why every time I broached the subject of marriage you shut down?”

He nodded again.  “Yes.  When it comes to marriage, a person has to be very sure before taking that step.  And since I wasn’t sure about us, I couldn’t take that risk.  I went to New York to sort things out and I realized that what was troubling me from the very beginning were my feelings for you.  You loved me but I had to admit to myself that I didn’t love you.  Claudia, you deserve to be with a man who will love you back.  I’m not that man.  I’m sorry…”

She got up from the sofa and began to pace, her arms folded tightly as the enormity of what he was saying hit her.  Tears sprang in her eyes but she blinked them back.  “You came to this conclusion when you were in New York?”

“Yes.”

“Did you meet someone else while you were there, Bernard?”

He sighed, “Yes, but—”

“Is she the reason why you have now decided that you don’t want to be in a relationship with me anymore?”

“Before I met her, I was filled with so many doubts about you and me which I couldn’t shake off.  And being with her helped me to realize that it wouldn’t be fair to either you or me to continue our relationship when it would not lead to what you want—marriage.”

“So, who is she? Another actress or one of your adoring fans?”

He didn’t answer.  “Claudia, the last thing I wanted to do was hurt you but I have to be true to myself and I cannot in all honesty and good conscience, continue to be with you when I can’t give you what you want.  Marriage between us will not work.  I’m sorry.  I hope that in time you will see that I’m right.”  He got up from the sofa and would have gone over to her but the expression on her face deterred him.  “I’m sorry,” he said again.

“So, what are you going to do now that you’re no longer tied to me?” she demanded.  “Go back to New York to be with her?  Well, I hope for your sake that it works out but if it doesn’t don’t think you can come crawling back to me.  I won’t take you back even if you begged me—” her voice broke into a sob.

Contrite, he took a step toward her, “Claudia—”

She held up her hand, glaring at him.  “Bastardo.  Don’t come near me,” she cried.  “I want you to leave.”

He hesitated for a moment and then he turned and walked out of the room.  The last sound he heard was her crying before he closed the door behind him.

Kimani was relaxing on the sofa, reading a book when the doorbell rang.  Putting down her book, she quickly got up and went to answer the door.  Her heart somersaulted when she saw who it was.  Eagerly, she unlocked the door and flung it open, a big smile on her face.

“Do you have room for a weary traveler?”

“Yes, one in particular,” she said as she reached out and grasped by the hand to pull him inside before locking the door. After he set his luggage down on the floor, she hugged him tightly, closing her eyes as she felt his arms go about her waist, holding her close against him.  “I’ve missed you like crazy. One week seemed like a year.”

“I’ve missed you too,” he muttered thickly.  “I couldn’t wait to come back to you.” As soon as she drew back to look up at him, he kissed her.  They stood there for several minutes kissing passionately, happy to be together again and determined never to be apart again.  At length, he drew back to gaze down into her face.  “I have to talk to you about something,” he said quietly.

Frowning, she took his hand and led him over to the sofa.  She curled up on the cushion beside him, with one arm resting along the back of the chair and the other on his thigh.  “What’s on your mind?”

“When you and I met, I was already in a relationship.  When I came to New York, my only intention was to clear my head—figure out what I was going to do about my relationship because I was having so many doubts about it.  And then, I met you.  I tried so hard to fight my attraction for you but it was hopeless.  I had to get to know you better and that’s why I suggested we talk more in the café.  And that time we spent together wasn’t enough so I suggested that we spend the rest of the day together.  By the time we left Central Park, I knew that I was hooked.  I had to see you again.  Being with you made what could have been a complicated situation worse made it bearable.  Those hours I spent with you were the happiest and most relaxed I’ve ever had and it helped me to make up my mind about what I was going to do about my relationship.”

“I knew that you were dating someone,” she said.  “Remember, I’m a fan so I have read every article there is about you.  She’s Claudia Riaz, the beautiful Venezuelan actress who co-starred with you in The Stone of the Predator.  Everyone kept going on about what an attractive couple you made but I didn’t think so–for obvious reasons.  You dated her the longest–four years but there was no news about any engagement which I dreaded because I had developed such a crush on you.  No woman would have been suitable for you.”

“Is it still just a crush that you have on me?”

She shook her head.  “No, by the time I saw you in Macbeth, I had fallen madly in love with you.”

“I never believed in love at first sight until that morning when you stopped me on the sidewalk.”

“I’m glad I asked you for it.”

He reached out and caressed her cheek with his knuckles.  “And do you still think no woman would be suitable for me?”

She nodded.  “Yes.”

“What about you?”

“I’m the exception,” she said huskily.  “I think I’m very suitable for you.”

“Yes, you are,” he groaned and cupping her face between his hands, he kissed her.  As she kissed him back, she thought of what Walt Disney said, all our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.

 

 

Sources:  City Parks FoundationNYC Carriages; Ruggenberg; Very Well Mind

 

Getting Away

He had just walked out of the synagogue when he saw them.  Arrested, he stood there watching Brittney with her ex-boyfriend, Andre, his heart breaking.  Burning jealousy swept through him.  They were standing a few yards away but she didn’t see him.

His sister, Anna joined him, saw his face and followed his gaze to where the couple stood talking.  Then, she looked back at him, concerned.  “Who is she?” she asked.

It took a moment for him to speak because he was so upset.  “Brittney.”

“Is she a friend of yours?”

“Yes.”  He turned away, unable to watch them any longer.  He started walk away and Anna followed him.

“Are you in love with her?”

“Yes.”

“Does she know how you feel?”

“No.”

“Are you going to tell her?”

“What’s the point?” he snapped.  “She doesn’t feel the same way.”

“How do you know that?”

“We just saw her with Andre, her ex.  It’s clear that she hasn’t gotten over him and I was a fool to believe that she had.”

“Oh, Paul, I’m so sorry.  What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know.  I need time to think.”

“Why don’t you go to Paris for a few days?  You haven’t taken a vacation in ages.  You’re long overdue for one.”

He glanced down at her.  “You’re right,” he said.  “I need to get away and try to figure out what I’m going to do.  If I stay here in London, I will be tempted to go to her and I can’t bear to see her right now.  It hurts too much.”  A muscle began to throb along his jawline and he quickly turned away.

Anna reached for his hand and held it tightly.  It hurt to see her brother like this.  He was a brilliant businessman but when it came to matters of the heart, he lacked good judgment.  This wasn’t the first time a woman broke his heart but it seemed that he fell really hard for this one.  Hopefully, he would get over her as soon as possible.  He deserved better.  The trip to Paris would do him good.  She went back to his flat with him and while he changed, she got his lunch ready.  She had just put a plate of food she had prepared yesterday and brought on the table for him when the phone rang.

“Do you mind answering that for me?” he called from the bedroom.

“Hello?” she listened for a moment.  “No, you have the right number.  This is Anna speaking.  Hold one moment, please.”  She placed her hand over the mouthpiece.  “It’s Brittney,” she said when he came into the living-room.

He shook his head, indicating that he didn’t want to talk to her.

“I’m afraid he’s not available at the moment.  Perhaps he will call you back later.  Goodbye.”  She replaced the receiver into the cradle and turned to look at him.  “Are you sure you don’t want to talk to her?”

He shook his head.  “I can’t right now.  I need to clear my head first.  I’ll call her when I come back from Paris.”

“All right.  Do you need me for anything?”

He smiled.  “No, Anna.  I’ll be fine.  You should go home to Peter and the kids.  I will call you tomorrow when I check into the hotel.”

She hugged him tightly.  “I love you,” she said drawing back to look up at him.

“I love you too.  And thanks for the food.”  He followed her to the door and they said goodbye.  He shut the door and leaned against it for a moment.  Why did Brittney call him? Was it to tell him that she was back with Andre.  He closed his eyes in despair.  It would kill him if she was.

Brittney stared at the phone, her mind swirling with all sorts of thoughts and questions.  A woman named Anna had answered Paul’s phone.  Who was she?  Red, hot jealousy surged through her and she was tempted to go over to his place right now and find out.  Then, she remembered that he had a sister and her name was Anna.  Relief washed over her.  Paul wasn’t seeing another woman.  But why hadn’t he come to the phone?  She looked at the clock above the mantelpiece, debating whether she should call again or wait for him to call.  It was after seven.  She decided that she would let him call her.  In the meantime, she fixed herself a light dinner and ate it in front of the television.

When ten o’clock came and she still hadn’t heard from him, she began to worry.  It wasn’t like him not to call.  It was too late for her to call him.  She would have to wait until the morning to do so.  Disappointed, she turned off the television and went to bed.

The next morning, she got up, showered, dressed and had breakfast.  After she was done, she hurried to the phone and called Paul but there was no answer.  When the machine came on, she left a message.  She went to church and as soon as she got home, she called but still no answer.  She tried his cell but it was turned off.  She tried all day calling both his home number and his cell until finally, in the evening, she decided to go over to his flat.  She rang the bell and knocked but it was clear that Paul wasn’t there.  Where could he be?  After standing there for a while, she left.  She was worried and had a restless night.

The next morning, she called him but got the same results.  She got ready for work.  On her way to the office, she called his cell but it was still turned off.  Intermittently, throughout the day, she tried to reach him but to no avail and by the time the workday was over, she was very anxious.  Why wasn’t he answering his phone and why hadn’t he called her back? When she got home, she decided that she would call his sister.  She took out the phone directory and searched for her name. She remembered that Paul said that she lived in South Kensington, twenty minutes from where he lived and that she was married to Peter Goldstein, the reporter from the Times.  She searched under Goldstein and found the number.

A woman answered and she recognized her voice.  “Hello, Anna, this is Brittney.  I spoke to you yesterday evening when I called for Paul.  Do you know where he is?  I have been trying since Saturday to reach him.  I’m out of my mind with worry.”

“Hello Brittney.  Paul is in Paris.”

“Paris?” Brittney exclaimed.  “What is he doing there?  Is he there on business?”

“No.  He needed to get away.”

“What did he need to get away from?” she asked, bewildered.  “It’s not like him to go away and not tell me.  And he didn’t return my call on Saturday.  Is-is he seeing someone?”

“No.  He went to Paris alone.  Brittney, I was with him on Saturday when he came out of the synagogue and saw you with Andre.  It upset him so much that I suggested that he should take a break and go to Paris.”

“Oh no,” Brittney groaned.  “He saw me with Andre and thought—”

“That you were back with him.  He was devastated.  I probably shouldn’t even be telling you this but Paul is in love with you.”

“And I’m in love with him.  I have been for a long time.”

“He thinks that you’re still in love with Andre.”

“I’m over Andre.  I have been for a long time now and it’s because of Paul.  Meeting Paul and his friendship has changed my life.  And seeing Andre again made me realize that the feelings I had for him are nothing compared to my feelings for Paul.  Andre wanted us to pick up where we left off but I told him that I was in love with someone else.  I wished him well and then, I walked away.  My past with Andre is over and done with.  My future is with Paul.  Anna, please tell me where he’s staying.  I want to go to him.”  Her life felt so empty without him.  She missed him so much it ached.  How she longed to be with him.

There was a brief moment of silence and then, Anna told her the name of the hotel where he was staying.  After Brittney thanked her profusely, she said, “I’m very relieved to know that you love my brother and I wish you two all the happiness in the world.”

Brittney thanked her again and rang off.  She quickly called the office and informed her assistant that she was taking the rest of the week off.  Then, she dialed the number to book the first available flight for the following day to Paris.  She packed a bag, her heart thudding with excitement.  She was going to see Paul in a matter of hours.  I can’t wait to see him.

Paul stood on the terrace looking at the city bathed in the crimson glow of the setting sun, wishing she was there with him.  “Oh, Brittney,” he whispered brokenly, dragging his fingers through his hair as he ached for her.  Paris was a city for lovers.  If only Brittney and he were lovers instead of just friends.  If only she were with him instead of Andre…

Frustrated, he went back into the room and was going over to the bed to lie down when he heard a knock on the door.  Frowning, he went to answer it.  Opening it he was startled to see Brittney standing there, luggage in tow.   He blinked, thinking he was imagining things.  She couldn’t possibly be here in Paris.  Then, she said, “Hello Paul.” She reached up and touched his face, her gaze almost a caress.

He eyes darkened and he caught her hand to draw her into the room.  “What are you doing here?” he asked when he had closed the door and was facing her.

“I had to come.  I called your sister and she told me where you were.  I had been calling for you since Saturday but when I couldn’t reach you, I got really worried.  I went by your flat but you weren’t there so when I got home.  I called your sister on Monday and we spoke for a while.  She told me that you were here in Paris and explained why.  You saw me with Andre.”

His expression became drawn at the memory.  “When I saw you with him, I felt as if someone had pushed their hand into my chest and ripped out my heart.”

She moved closer to him.  “I’m so sorry that you saw us,” said, wringing her hands.  “It wasn’t at all what you thought.  Andre wanted to resume our relationship but I told him that I was in love with someone else.”

“And what did he say?” he asked as he moved closer, his heart pounding.

“Nothing but I wished him well and walked away.”

“So, it’s over between him and you.”

“Yes and it has been over for a long time now.”

He was standing right in front of her now, their bodies inches apart.  Wordlessly, he pulled her against him and his head lowered towards hers.

She watched transfixed as his face drew closer to hers, her gaze dropped to his mouth.  Her eyes closed as waves of indescribable pleasure undulated through her body when she felt his lips brush against her.  Putting her arms around his neck, she responded passionately to his kisses.  They stood there in the room in the dappled shade of the setting sun as it streaked through the windows, exchanging feverish kisses.

“I love you,” he muttered when at length, he raised his head to gaze down into her upturned face.  “I love you so very much.”

She smiled at him.  “I love you too,” she told him.  “That’s what I came to Paris to tell you.”

“It’s funny but just a few minutes ago, I was wishing that you were here with me in the City of lovers and then you show up.”

“Yes.  You came to Paris to get away from me and here I am.”

“Yes, here you are.  I never want us to be apart again.  It was foolish of me to think that coming here would help in some way.  I missed you so much even when I thought you had gone back to him.”

“Let’s not think about when we were apart but enjoy being together now,” she suggested huskily.  “We are in the city of love so let’s do what lovers do.”

“Yes,” he whispered and picked her up in his arms.

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: