Z: Whatcha think?
A: (She looked up from the computer) I like it but where's the naughty conclusion?
Z: I'm leaving that up to you to write for next week's column.
A: Ooooh, what fun!
Z: Going for sizzling.
A: Hmmm, gotta think about this, maybe hot and sweet, maybe hot and yummy. You have to wait and see.
THIS SIDE OF FOREVER
He watched her from the kitchen window, sitting upon that rock for what seemed like hours, almost statue like, knees draw up to her chest, chin upon those knees, just staring at the Delaware River. Calm had attached itself to the current yet winter cold remained, evident by thawing snow that rimmed the banks. Dash wanted to go to her, urge her to come back inside, but dare he?. She was a guest at his Bed and Breakfast, some would say a stranger but to Dash, Jami Anne Rinoldi was far from that.
Over the past five years, she had booked a long weekend twice a year. He knew her life through those weekends. At first she came with her elderly parents. He watched their closeness, envied it even, for he had been raised in a cold home. Every adult overture for something better had been ignored. They now retired to Arizona. He’d visit them once a year, he called every week, but it was as if he were an acquaintance rather than their only son. He knew Jami was an only child as well. He knew she doted on her parents and they on her. He watched her laugh, and felt that laugh echo inside him. If he had not been semi-serious with someone he would have tried to connect with the woman on a more intimate level.
By the following year, she had been married. He offered the customary congratulations, wished them both well, and again felt the spur of envy, but more so regret. The previous year’s relationship had ended, and he had found himself thinking of Jami at odd times. He had often thought of calling her, for he had her number in the registry, but he could never find an excuse that would merit that call. Now, she was here once more, and she had told him her husband had left her. How could anyone leave such a stunning woman of perfection?
She finally rose and returned to the Inn. He had a smile and a cup of hot cocoa waiting for her.
"Thank you, Adam." She smiled in that soft engaging way she had, the way that drew him in and made him forget a world existed outside of her. "You remembered the large marshmallow."
"Everyone prefers the mini ones, but you."
"I'm different, odd, weird some say."
"A nut shy of an squirrel's larder, eh?"
He laughed. "I'm different, odd, weird some say."
"We should organize a group DOW."
"Our logo should be a scrub brush." He looked at her puzzled expression, and lamely added. "Y'know the bathroom cleaner."
This time she laughed, musical, lasting even though what he said wasn't really humorous.
"I should go to bed," she said and held up the steaming drink. "Again, thank you."
He gave a nod. "Nite."
He reluctantly watched her go and wanted to smack himself for not being more romantic, not finding the right words, not telling her how he felt. He had been slowly falling in love with her forever, and neither of them where getting younger. He had started to gray. She had the soft etchings of laugh lines. Where the hell was his nerve? Gone, he thought, gone with every rejection, every snub, every woman who looked at him as if he were not worth noticing because he owned and ran a simple Bed and Breakfast, because he was happy doing so, and didn't yearn for much more...except a woman like Jami...except maybe a family with Jami if it wasn't too late.
It was the last night of her stay, if he didn't do something now, he'd never would. Mustering up the courage, he went to her room. Ready to knock, the door swung open.
That gorgeous smile of hers seemed to illuminate her entire body. "I was just coming to see you."
"Yes," she paused, hesitated, looked lost for a moment and then as if drawing in strength from somewhere down deep, she said, "I've been falling in love with you forever, but never had the courage to tell you."
Continue next week.
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