“Thanks for coming to my party!” her friend blurted out before she could even say hello. “Not! You’d better have a good excuse! My friend, Dennis, was very disappointed that he didn’t get to meet you. So spill! Where were you? What did you do? With whom?”
“I’m sorry,” she began almost inaudibly, clearing her throat. “Excuse me . . . I’m sorry. I came down with the flu and decided to stay in. I just didn’t feel well enough to go out. I should have called you, but I took some over-the-counter medicine and fell sound asleep.”
“Oh, poor baby,” her friend replied. “I’m sorry I gave you grief about not showing up. You do sound terrible. Are you in bed?”
“Ah, yes,” she fibbed. “Yes, I am. I’ve been here since early last evening.”
“Do you want me to bring you some chicken soup?” her friend teased. “I have no idea how to make it, but I’m sure there’s a deli open today. I could bring some over to you.”
“No, no,” she responded emphatically. “I don’t think I could keep anything down. Besides, I don’t want you to catch this virus. It’s a nasty one.”
“O.K., if you’re sure,” her friend replied warily. “Dennis still wants to meet you. He asked if we could go out on a double date sometime soon.”
“I’d like that,” she lied. “If he’s as great as you’ve been saying, I’m sure that I’d like him, too. Why don’t we talk about it when I feel better?”
“All right, but you call me if you need anything. Promise!” her friend urged. “I’m just going to be hanging out at home, cleaning up and resting. I didn’t get much sleep, but I’ll tell you all about that later.”
She hung up the phone and stood in the kitchen for a very long time, looking at his picture and the inscription on the back, wondering when — or if — she would hear from him.
Destiny. She had been so sure last night that her destiny was finally clear. At long last, she had been able to express the love she had felt for him for so many years and she was certain that her instincts had been right all along . . . her destiny lay with him.
Now, she found herself again feeling lost, confused, abandoned, and unsure about everything. What she couldn’t understand was why.
She liked Dennis immediately. He was tall, muscular, and his dark brown hair and mustache offset his twinkly green eyes. His smile was warm and his demeanor easy-going. She quickly discovered that his sense of humor was droll and quirky.
She was instantly aware of how relaxed and comfortable she felt with him — and refreshed by her ability to simply be herself with no self-consciousness.
“He is so into you already,” her friend gushed as they chatted the morning after the double-date. “He called Bryan last night after he got home and again this morning, just to talk about you,” she giggled. “He’s going to be calling you to see if you will go out with him again tonight. So what do you think?”
“I think that I really enjoyed myself last night,” she responded. “I like him. He seems easy-going and very sincere.”
“Sincere?” her friend chided. “Are you kidding me? I think he’s hot.”
“He’s handsome,” she replied. “The waitress thought so, too. She flirted with him right in front of me!”
“And I love the way he handled that,” her friend continued. “Very classy.”
“Yes,” she agreed. “It was.” She recalled the way he subtly slid closer to her in the booth as the waitress focused her attention solely on him. The movement was ever so slight, but effective. He was a complete gentleman both in his dealings with the food server and her. She was thoroughly impressed by the way he communicated in a nonconfrontational and, in fact, kind manner that he was not interested in the other woman. Dennis was obviously used to being the object of women’s attention.
She also remembered the smell of his cologne, the soft but confident tenor of his voice, and the way he looked at her. She admitted to herself that, for the first time in her life, she had spend the evening with a man who seemed unable to take his eyes off her — and genuinely interested in everything about her. She relished the feeling.
“So are you going to go out with him again tonight?” her friend prodded.
“If he asks me,” she replied. “Definitely. I would like to get to know him better. Thanks for introducing us!”
“I want a full report!” her friend said cheerily before hanging up the telephone.
Two weeks had elapsed with no word from the man she had loved for so long. With each passing minute, she became more and more convinced that New Year’s Eve might prove to be the only night she would ever have with him, but was determined not to call or contact him. Her first evening with Dennis strengthened her resolve and enhanced her self-confidence.
Perhaps her destiny included the experience of loving and being loved, after all, she thought. “Maybe there’s hope for you yet,” she told her reflection later in the day, as she dressed for her first evening alone with Dennis.
Click here to read Chapter Sixteen