The Final Chapter
I’d rented the special movie I’d been dying to see. I was bathed, dressed in my favorite lounging wear, ready and expecting a night of nothing but relaxation.
The phone rang—and rang.
“Damn,” I grumbled, struggling out of my favorite recliner. “Just when I get comfortable.”
It was Barb. “Can we go out tonight,” she wailed. “Marty stood me up and I’m feeling terrible.”
“Can’t,” I said. “Already in my pajamas and ready for bed.”
“But…but,” she blubbered. “He stood me up. I can’t stand to stay home.”
“Have a beer and relax.” Please, please, God! I just want to stay home.
“You have to go out with me. I’ll go crazy just sitting here. And remember when. . . ”
Yes, I remembered. Damn and double damn! I was sooo ready to just sit home and veg.
I heaved a giant sigh. “Okay. But it’ll take me some time to get ready.”
“I’ll pick you up in a half hour,” she cried and slammed down the phone.
I stood there glaring at the receiver. Why me? I didn’t go out anymore. No reason to.
I was 38. I’d accepted the fact that I’d be single for the rest of my life. I had my sons who I dearly loved. I was saving to buy a house and by next summer, I’d have my downpayment. I didn’t need a man to make my life complete. I was accepting and content with my lot.
I threw on my makeup and rummaged through my closet for an outfit. If I was going out, might as well try to look good.
The doorbell rang. She was here.
We spent the first hours racing around to different bars, most just a step through the door, a quick look around and we’d be off. I was getting the idea.
“We aren’t out here to have fun,” I snapped. “We’re looking for your creepy boyfriend. Remember—the one who stood you up.”
“I just have to know if he’s out with another woman,” she moaned. “I can’t bear worrying about it.”
“Oh for Pete’s sake.” I threw open the door of the Bouquet. At least the music here was good. “This is the last one I’m going to. After this, I’m done. Take it or leave it.”
We found a table on the upper tier and sat down. Minutes later, Saturday Night Fever asked me to dance, followed by Country Swinger (who almost tore my arms off), and finally Humper. Small and sweaty, he trembled and jerked the whole time, I imagined in the throes of orgasm. How a guy that short and weenie looking could hold on so tight and hump all at the same time was beyond me. Finally, the torment was over. I hurried back to my seat and sat down.
“That’s it,” I growled. “I’ve had enough. I want to go home.”
“But Marty’s here,” she hissed. “He’s over by the wall. Is he with a girl?”
I checked out the direction she indicated. “It’s a guy sitting next to him—or at least from a quick inspection I think it’s a guy.”
“What should I do?” she cried. “I want to talk to him.”
“For cripe’s sake, go over there and say something. Then we’re going home. Or at least I am.”
“Want to dance?” The soft voice drew my irritated attention. I glanced up and...froze. Leaning around a post, dark chocolate eyes sparkling with a thousand mischievous lights, was a real live good-looking man. White teeth gleamed in a wide smile, round cheeks creased with deep dimples. Longish black curly hair brushed his shirt collar. Yuppy type but definitely interesting all the same.
“Uh. Okay,” I murmured.
I stood up and he moved to take my hand. He was tall and broad-shouldered, two things I loved--and those long legs. Damn! He was so cute! He looked young, probably 28 or so, too young for me. But it was only a dance after all.
He was a good dancer, nothing flashy but interesting. We danced again, and then again, and then the music changed to a slow dance. He cuddled me close and moved to the beat, sexy and compelling.
Somewhere in the middle, he kissed me. It was one of those lip fusing, heart stopping, stomach fluttering, womb clenching, knee shaking, toes tingling kind of kisses—the kind when time takes a hike. My mind whirled in flagrant disregard of the crowd milling around us. Finally, the kiss ended. Why’d he have to be so young?
Dazed, I stared at him. “What was that for?”
“You looked like you needed a kiss,” he grinned, unabashed.
We walked back to my table—or perhaps I should say I stumbled to the table on weak-kneed legs.
“When're you going out with me?” he asked.
“I don’t date younger guys,” I said. Damn my stupid rules!
“I’ll bet you ten dollars I’m older than you,” he laughed, daring me to take the bet.
“Put your money where your mouth is.”
I took out my ID and tossed it on the table. He did the same.
I picked his up and read the date. He was datable!
“You are older than me,” he chuckled. “By a year. When are you going out with me? How about tomorrow night?”
“I’d like to, but…”
“Okay,” he groaned. “Here comes the but.”
“No. No. Really. I’d like to, but I promised my boys I’d take them out to dinner and a movie.” Might as well put all my cards on the table. If he hated kids, now was the time to find out. “But you can join us if you’re interested.” I said the words pretty much expecting how he’d react.
“Okay,” he said. “Where and when?” Surprise! Surprise!
But then again, I’d heard that before. Setting a date, getting all excited and then getting stood up. I was burned and wary.
“Call me tomorrow at ten o’clock a.m. and if you’re still interested, I’ll give you my address. Dinner’s at six and the show’s at eight.”
I had nothing to write with so I had to use my lipstick and a napkin. He took it, read it through several times and then tucked it in his pocket.
The bar was closing and it was time to go home. He walked me to Barb’s car and helped me in.
He leaned against the car. “Go out to breakfast with me."
“Nope. I came with Barb and I’m going home with her.”
“It’s just breakfast.”
“I know, but I do have some rules and that’s one of them.”
He leaned in and kissed me again. My heart rate soared in my love-starved breast.
“I’ll call you tomorrow,” he promised, adding a quick peck on my lips.
Hope springs eternal.
The phone rang the next morning. I staggered out of bed.
“Hi.” He sounded as hung over as I felt. “Where and when,” he asked.
That was twenty years ago last January. Since that night, we’ve only been apart for a night here and there, but so few times, I can count them on one hand. We were married the following summer, have a son together to add to our family of boys, and I wonder how I got so lucky.
A few months ago, as we were walking away from my fortieth high school reunion, he took my hand like he always does. A voice called from behind us.
“Do you two still hold hands after all these years?”
I glanced over my shoulder and laughed. “Yes,” I said. “We still like each other.”
The road to love was a long and bumpy one, and I kissed more than my share of toads along the way. But in all fairness to the opposite sex, I will admit that I was probably a toadette on some of my male counterparts’ romantic journeys. But I did find him, my best friend, my lover and my soulmate. My forever man, Jack.