Waiting on the Docks

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Photo by Michelle De Angelis

As the boat neared the docks, he looked for her and his heart leapt in his chest when he saw her.  She was leaning against the warehouse, waiting for her father.  He hoped one day that she would be waiting for him.

She turned when she heard them approaching.  Flaming curly red hair framed her beautiful face.  He knew that it was foolish for him to feel this way about a girl who was not yet twenty and still in school but he couldn’t help it.  Maggie had gotten into his system and there wasn’t anything he could do about it.  He knew because he had tried.  He had tried to get over her with other women but soon realized how pointless that was and how unfair it was to them.

Maggie’s father was the skipper and he was the engineer.  They got along very well.  The other man treated him like a son but he wasn’t sure what his reaction would be if he knew how he felt about his daughter.

172 Words

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

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Three Years

“Where are you going this time?” Tami asked Justin as he was packing his bag.  She hated when he went away.  She missed him like crazy.  They kept in touch by phone, email and text messaging but that wasn’t enough.  She missed seeing and being with him.

“Milan.”

“For how long?”

“A week.”  He stopped what he was doing to look at her.  “Are you going to miss me”

“Of course I am.  I always do.  What about you?  Are you going to miss me, especially as you will be around beautiful models.”

He went over to her and reached for her hand, lacing his fingers through hers, his eyes intent on her upturned face.  “I’ll miss you very much as I always do,” he told her.  “I wish I could take you with me but you have to be at school and your parents won’t approve.  They already don’t because of our age difference.  Before you introduced me to them, they thought you were dating a boy from school, not a twenty-seven year old international model.”

“They like you but don’t know what your intentions toward me are and they fear that I’d get hurt.  You’re my first serious boyfriend.”

“I never imagined that I would be in a relationship with a high-school senior but when I first laid eyes on you, I was hooked.  I told myself that it was crazy to have feelings for a girl so much younger than me but it was no use.  I fell for you and I fell hard.”

She reached up and brushed his hair back from his forehead.  “I fell for you the moment I first saw you but I didn’t think that you would be interested in me.  I wasn’t beautiful or glamorous like the women you’re used to being around.”

“You’re beautiful to me, Tami,” he murmured huskily.  “You take my breath away.”  He raised her hand and pressed his lips into the palm, making her tremble.

“Call me as soon as you check into the hotel,” she told him, breathlessly.

He released her hand to cup her face.  “I will,” he promised before he lowered his head and kissed her.  They exchanged passionate kisses for several minutes before he raised his head and said, “It’s getting late.  I’d better take you home now.”

Reluctantly, she removed her arms from about his waist and stepped back.  Whenever things got hot and heavy between them, he put the brakes on.  She knew he was doing it because he respected her decision to wait until she was married to have sex.  He didn’t react like other guys did.  Instead of calling her a prude, he said, “I think it’s wonderful that you want to stay pure until marriage, especially in this day and age.”

It was frustrating, though when in the heat of the moment, he pulled away like just now.  It was like a someone threw a bucket of cold water on her.  Still, she ought to be grateful that he acted responsibly.  On the drive over to her house, she had the window cracked so that the cold air would cool her down.

Twenty minutes later they stood outside her home, holding hands.  They hugged and kissed.  He waited until she let herself inside before he went to his car.  She was standing at the window looking out.  He waved before getting into his car and driving away.

All week in Milan he thought about her and on the last day before heading to the airport, he went to Tiffany & Co to buy an engagement ring.  When he returned to London, he arranged to stop by Tami’s house to see her father.  After a long, heart to heart conversation, Mr. Miller gave his consent but was adamant that the wedding not take place until after Tami graduated from university.  So, Justin agreed to a three year long engagement.

That evening, he invited Tami over to his place for a home cooked dinner.  It was when they were relaxing on the sofa, that he got down on one knee and proposed.  She gaped at him and then teared up when she saw the ring.  He took her hand.  “Tami, this afternoon, I took the liberty of asking your father’s permission to marry you.  He gave us his blessing on the condition that we wait until after you graduate from university.  Do you mind being engaged for three years?”

She shook her head.  “No.”

He smiled.  “Good.  Will you marry me?”

“Yes!”  Her response sounded like a laugh and sob at the same time.

He slipped the ring onto her finger before rising to his feet.  He reached down and pulled her up.  “I love you,” he murmured as he held her against him.

She put her arms around his neck.  “I love you too.”  As his lips descended on hers, she wished that the three years would go very quickly.

When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possibleNora Ephron

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Temp

He had gone through a bitter divorce and custody battle.  His ex-wife had their two daughters.  He saw them over the summer and Christmas holidays.  They always had fun when they were together.  He took them wherever they wanted.  The time they spent together always seemed to pass really quickly and it was hard parting from them.  They called him over the weekend and talked to him about school, their friends, etc.  Ava was eight and Olivia was six.  They meant the world to him.  It was too bad that things had ended up the way they did between their mother and him.

His happy marriage gone bad had left a very bitter taste in his mouth and as a result he had sworn off relationships.  He buried himself in his work.  Occasionally, he would take trips, hang out with friends and attend family functions.  He worked out at the gym, played tennis, jogged, read and went for walks on the beach.  And he has his faith to sustain him.  His church family had helped him during those rough moments following the divorce.  His life was as he wanted it–simple, that is until Amelia Johnson walked into it.

Amelia was hired to fill Susanna’s position.  Susanna was on maternity leave.  Amelia came from Alpha North Group Ltd with excellent qualifications and references from previous assignments.  He remembered the first time he saw her as if it were yesterday.   When they were introduced, he tried not to stare but her fresh beauty took his breath away.  Her braids which framed her face, tumbled down past her shoulders.  The red top she wore over the black skirt accentuated her complexion.  She was petite and slender.  He towered over her.  When she looked up at him with those big brown eyes and smiled at him, he felt his heart melt.  He knew he was in trouble then.  Their handshake was brief but long after he had released her hand, he could still feel its warmth and softness.

During the 18 months she was with them he tried to keep his growing attraction hidden under the veneer of professionalism.  No one had a clue that every morning he would look out of his office window overlooking the street below to watch her walking up the sidewalk.  He was tied up in knots.  He didn’t want to become emotionally involved again because of the pain he had experienced with his ex but the more he fought against his feelings for Amelia, the stronger they seemed to grow.  It was a battle that he was losing.

He had no idea of how she felt about him.  She was as pleasant to him as she was with the rest of the staff.  There was no indication that his attraction for her was reciprocated.  And for all he knew, she might already be in a relationship.  The thought stung but he had to be prepared for that possibility.  How was he going to find out whether or not she had a boyfriend?

He sat at his desk now in deep thought, wondering what to do.  This was Amelia’s last week with the company.  Susanna was back on Monday.  He had to do something before Amelia went out of his life forever.  He’d prayed about it all of last week and had gotten his answer last night.  He reached for the phone, hesitating for a brief moment before he dialed her extension.  His heart was thudding heavily against his ribs.  When she answered, he kept it short, “I need to see you.”  He leaned back in the chair after hanging up the phone and waited.  His anxious gaze was on the door which would open any minute now and Amelia would walk in.  There was no turning back now.

After she hung up the phone, Amelia stared at it for a moment.  Mark wanted to see her.  Why?  She was nervous about being alone with him.  What if she couldn’t hide her feelings for him?  It was one thing to act professional around him when others were around but quite another when they were alone.  Slowly, she pushed her chair back and got up, her legs feeling like jelly.  She smoothed her trembling and sweaty palms over her skirt and headed for his office.

She knocked on the door and heard him say, “Come in.”  Her heart was beating so fast and she couldn’t seem to control her breathing.  I must remain calm, she told herself as she opened the door and went inside.  He was standing behind his desk.  Her eyes traveled over his tall figure as she closed the door behind her.   She walked over to him and stopped in front of the desk.   She clasped her hands tightly in front of her so that he wouldn’t notice that they were trembling.  “You needed to see me,” she said.

He cleared his throat.  “Yes.  This is your last week with us.”

She lowered her eyes so that he wouldn’t see the sadness in them.  “Yes, it is.”  She had dreaded this moment.  She liked working here and the people but most of all, she hated the thought of leaving him.  He was the reason why she enjoyed coming in to work.

“I hope you have been happy here, Amelia. We were very fortunate to have you.”

She looked up.  “Yes, I have been very happy here.  Everyone has been so great.”

“We are sorry to lose you.  You will be missed.”

“I am going to miss all of you.”

There was a pregnant pause during which they stared at each other, each not knowing what to say next or how to act.  “Do you have a boyfriend?” he asked suddenly.

She blinked in surprise.  She hadn’t expected that.  She shook her head at once.  “No.”

He looked relieved.  “Good to hear,” he said, coming around the desk to stand close to her.  “Amelia, I’m divorced and have two daughters.  I had sworn off relationships until I met you.  You walked into my life and turned it upside down.  For the longest time I have tried really hard to fight my feelings for you but it’s no use.”

Her eyes grew wide.  “Your feelings?”

“Yes.  I’m in love with you, Amelia and I wanted to tell you that before you walk out of my life for good.  Do you have any feelings for me?”  He braced himself for her answer, his face pale.

She nodded, her heart was in her eyes.  “Yes, Mark,” she cried.  “I’m in love with you too.  I tried so hard not to show it because it never dawned on me that you felt the same way.”

Mark pulled her into his arms and kissed her.  When he drew back, they were both breathing hard.  “I’m thankful that your assignment here is ending this week.  It was the thought of never seeing you again and encouragement from God which compelled me to tell you how I feel.”

She smiled.  “I’m very thankful that what I believed to be the saddest day of my life has turned into the happiest.”

No More

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She rubbed the condensation from the window and looked out.  It was an overcast day, perfect for what she planned to do.

Today was going to be the last day of her pathetic life.  No more bullying at school.  No more self-recrimination and self-hate.  No more pain.  No more love.  Love–it was what Josh, her half-brother called it when they were doing it in her room or his while everyone else was sleeping or out.  She called it wrong because the Bible said that it was sinful for blood relatives to have relations with each other.  Yet, even though it made her feel dirty, she continued to let Josh “love” her because it was better than feeling rejected or neglected.  For two years, she believed that love, even the wrong kind was better than none, but not today.  Today, she was going to be free of it.

They found her dead, an empty pill bottle on the bed beside her.  She was only seventeen.  A week later, nineteen year old Josh took his life.

174 Words

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

Aunt Lindsey

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Copyright Anurag Bakhshi

“Why do we always have to pass by Aunt Lindsey’s house?” Madeline asked her friend, Avril as they walked home from school.

“It’s the scarecrow.  I’ve never seen a female one before.”

“My aunt is weird.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Well, look at the way she dresses–like she’s back in the sixties or seventies.  What about that outfit she wore to my birthday party last week?  I was so embarrassed.”

Everyone thought she looked cool.  The vintage style suits her.  And she had several admirers.”

Madeline’s mouth tightened.  “Yes, including David.”

“You need to get over him.”

“Why?”

“He’s much older and he’s not interested.”

“He would have been if it hadn’t been for her.  She always ruins things for me.”  She ran up the steps to her house, slamming the door.

Before heading home, Avril stopped by Aunt Lindsey’s house.

“How’s Maddie?” she asked.

“She’s fine.”

“Still upset about David?”

“Yes.”

“She hates me.”

“No, she doesn’t.”

“She will if she ever finds out the truth.”

“What truth?”

“That I’m her mother.”

 

174 Words

This was written as part of 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.

 

The New Guy – Track #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

She had been through here hundreds of times but today, for some reason, it gave her the creeps.  Served her right for watching that British murder mystery last night.  She had sworn off watching those types of shows because they were dark and made her uneasy.  But, she didn’t want to come across as a Scaredy cat.  Plus, she wanted to impress Roland, the new guy in school.

Everyone seemed to think he liked her but she wasn’t as sure.  He looked at her a lot, though and was always singling her out when she was with her friends.  Still, she didn’t want to get her hopes up just yet.  She’d been burned before by another guy who she thought checked for her but it turned out that he was only interested in one thing and when she didn’t give it to him, he dropped her like a hot potato.  It took weeks for her to get over him although her friends kept telling her that he was a jerk, not worth pining over.  And they were right, of course.  The last she heard of him was that he had gotten a cheerleader pregnant and had to drop out of school to support her and the child.  That could have been her although, she would like to think that she was a lot smarter than that.

Roland was a lot different from all the other guys.  He was quiet but engaging once you got to know him.  He was very smart too.  They talked about all sorts of things and had similar interests.  He didn’t talk much about his family, though.  He was an only child who lived with his mother.  His father died when he was twelve under very mysterious circumstances.  Many people thought that his death was suspicious but there wasn’t any evidence to prove that.  Some even intimated that it was his wife who had done him in.

Roland’s mother was a tall, thin and pale woman who hardly smiled.  For some inexplicable reason, she got the chills whenever she saw her.  Her pale blond hair didn’t go with her dark eyes which seemed to see through a person.  She shivered now and her steps quickened.  Roland was nothing like his mother.  She felt comfortable around him.

As she watched the sunlight flitter among the trees, she realized that she didn’t start feeling uneasy coming through these woods until after Roland and his mother moved into town.  Tomorrow, she would walk the longer way.

Strange, the track seemed much longer today. Did it always take this long to get to her house? Hunching her shoulders, head down, she continued on, her heartbeat increasing with each step, trying to ignore the sensation that she was being watched. In a few minutes, she would be home, quarreling with her tiresome brother and enjoying Mom’s delicious meat loaf.

From behind the trees, a figure moved.  He watched her retreating back.  Beads of perspiration stood on his forehead and he dabbed them with his handkerchief.  When he was done, he tucked it back into his breast pocket, so that the edge with the monogrammed letter R was sticking out.  This girl was different from the other girls.  He really liked her and was thinking of going steady with her but that would only upset Mother and…he tried not to think of what would happen.  He didn’t want this girl to end up like the others…or like Father…

This was written in response to the Thursday Photo Prompt – Track 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