My Poetic Path

my journey…shared in poems, prose and photos


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A New Year’s Eve Party Story

The following is the New Year’s Eve party passage from my mid-life romance novel:

third chapter second chance cover

Third Chapter, Second Chance

A little backstory first:

-Eve and Tom are just embarking on a new romance and this party is their first real date together.

-Dolly is Eve’s feisty and beloved (by all) mom, who has done some match-making beforehand, to bring this night together.

-Samantha is one of Eve’s best friends and Tom’s former partner.

-Sharlene is Tom’s receptionist at his business. She has had a long-time, unrequited crush on Tom. Seth is her “toy boy” partner. 

HOPE YOU ENJOY IT! HAPPY HOLIDAYS 🙂

*****

Dolly stood in the front doorway, watching Tom back out into the street, waving at Eve. Closing the door, feeling the chill of the night air through her long, purple chenille robe, Dolly headed back into the cozy living room. Have a wonderful time my dear Eve, she thought to herself. You deserve lots of happiness.

It took about thirty minutes to get to the condominium where the party was being held. Driving was down to a crawl as the snow continued to fall in heavy, wet flakes.

Tom carefully navigated the roads, concentrating for the most part on driving. Christmas songs were softly playing on the car’s CD player. Eve smiled as she leaned back in her seat, briefly closing her eyes. She wanted to let Tom concentrate on the tricky driving conditions, instead of a conversation. They had the whole night ahead to talk. For now, she was happy just to be sitting so close to him, feeling warm and content.

Arriving at the large, newer building complex, Tom came around to open Eve’s car door.

“Looks like quite a crowd here already.” Tom said, scanning the visitor’s parking area, brightly lit with streetlights around the outer edges, illuminating the heavy falling snow.

“Yes, it does.” Eve replied, being careful not to slip on the ice and snow in her evening shoes.

“I guess I should have worn boots after all.” Eve said, laughing slightly.

“Just hang on tight to me; I won’t let you fall.” Tom said, smiling and holding out his hand. “It’s not too far to the main entrance.

Heading into the brightly lit building, Eve took in the tasteful appointments of the condo’s lobby as she brushed off the snow from her coat and wiped the bottoms of her shoes.

“The recreation room is here on the main floor.” Tom said motioning down the brightly lit, wide front hallway; also flicking snow from his coat collar. “I’m so glad you came with me tonight Eve. It means a lot to me.”

“My pleasure Tom.” Eve smiled broadly up at him. “I like the idea of welcoming in the new year with you. I’m happy you asked me to come.”

“Well, I wouldn’t be here if you had said no Eve. There was no one else I wanted to be with tonight.”  Tom said before lightly kissing her on the cheek. “You’ve given me a reason to get back out of my shell. I guess you know that.”

“Thanks Tom. I know you’ve had a difficult time recently.”

“Well, here’s to a new year full of lots of good things. For both of us.”

“Sounds good to me.” Eve said, taking his arm again as they headed down the richly- carpeted hallway, noting several local artists’ paintings on the walls as they passed by. The sounds of laughter and music continued to get louder as they headed towards the back of the building.

“Here it is.” Tom said, pushing open the door marked: Recreation Room.

Eve and Tom stepped into the dimly lit room. Round tables, covered by red tablecloths were placed around three of the outer walls,with a large festive green candle flickering on each of them. A bar was set up at one end and next to that, two long tables were laid out with various party foods.An instrumental version of “Jingle Bell Rock” was playing loudly through the overhead speakers and a few people were up and dancing in the center of the room. Most of the other guests were either standing around or sitting at tables, chatting and laughing. The air felt warm, permeated with the scents of various perfumes.

“Oh there you are Tom.” a buxom redhead looking to be in her early thirties, called out loudly as she headed towards them. She was dressed in a short, low-cut, silver sheath dress, with very high-heeled, matching sandals. She was heavily made-up: with black eyeliner rimming the top and bottom of her eyes, a generous slash of red lipstick and what looked like artificial eyelashes.

“Oh hi Sharlene.” Tom smiled at her. “This is my friend Eve Vincent. Eve, this is Sharlene Roberts, my very capable receptionist over at Petchko’s.”

“I’m so pleased to meet you Eve.” Sharlene said, extending a hand in greeting. She had long red fingernails that looked artificial and wore several sparkling rings “And I’m so glad you managed to get our boss to come out for the evening. He’s been kind of a recluse lately.”

“Pleased to meet you too Sharlene.” Eve replied, briefly shaking Sharlene’s slightly sweaty hand while taking in the not so subtle way that she was looking her over. “And I’m glad Tom and I could be here tonight. I’ve heard so much about his great team at Petchko’s, over the years.”

“Here, let me take your coats.” Sharlene said, reaching for their coats, that Tom was holding.

“Oh, what a fab dress and it suits you so well.” Sharlene said, with a grin bordering on a sneer.

“Thanks. I like yours too.” Eve replied, thinking just the opposite. Sharlene Roberts looked like a glorified hooker, in her opinion.

“Let me get these coats stashed for you.” Sharlene said, once again giving Eve a quick but rather obvious, top to toe glance-over. “I’ll see you both in a bit. I’ve got to go find my Seth; he’s around here somewhere.”

“We’ll see you later Sharlene.” Tom said, while taking Eve’s hand. “And thanks again for organizing all this. Looks like you and Betts did a great job.”

“Oh, it was our pleasure Tom. See you later and have fun you two.” Sharlene took a long, lingering look at Tom and briefly smiled cryptically at Eve, before heading towards the back of the room with their coats over her arm.

“What can I get you to drink Eve?” Tom asked as they reached the bar table.

“A white wine spritzer would be lovely, thanks.” 

“Coming right up. Do you want to sit down while I line up for the drinks?”

“Yes, that would be fine. How would that table over there be? Eve motioned to one of the round tables that was unoccupied.

“Perfect, I’ll be right there. Then I’ll take you around and introduce you to our group. And show you off too.” Tom said quietly in her ear, as he drew Eve into an embrace. “You look great Eve.”

“Thanks Tom. Nice of you to say and nice of you to ask me to wear this dress. I didn’t know if it would be appropriate for tonight or not when you first mentioned this party.”

“You’re the best-looking woman here Eve. I’m a lucky guy.” Tom smiled at Eve, continuing to hold her lightly in his arms. “You’ve given me a reason to smile again Eve and it feels so good.”

“Ditto for me Tom.” Eve leaned against Tom’s shoulder briefly. She felt giddy being so close to him, desirable too.

“I’ll be right back.”

Eve sat watching Tom for a few minutes before turning her attention to the whole room; taking note of the various guests. She guessed that there were about forty people in attendance already and more continued to arrive, as she waited for Tom.

She was generally a bit nervous when it came to meeting new people, but being here with Tom, she felt more confident and at ease than was usually the case.

Glancing towards the back of the room after a few minutes had passed, Eve saw Sharlene Roberts heading towards their table.

“Oh there you are. Mind if I join you for a bit? I’ve given up looking for Seth. Probably outside, puffing away. He better show up soon.” Sharlene said, sounding annoyed; sitting down across from Eve before waiting for a reply. She was holding a half-filled drink in a short whisky glass. Her heavy perfume wafted towards Eve. “Tom getting some drinks?”

Yeah, like you don’t know that already. Eve thought to herself.

“Yes he is.” Eve replied, trying to be pleasant in spite of disliking this woman already. Her strong, unpleasant perfume was giving Eve a slight headache. “You’ve got a good turn-out.”

“I think almost everyone from work is coming tonight and so far it looks like they even managed to drag along most of the significant others, from what I can see.” Sharlene laughed loudly, taking a generous gulp from her glass. “Have you known Tom for a long time?”

“Oh, for quite a while.” Eve replied, already wary of how much this woman was planning to quiz her. “Samantha, his previous partner is a good friend of mine too. We’ve all known each other for years.”

“Oh, that’s interesting. I mean about you and Sam being friends. Are you still friends now? With Samantha, I mean? Gosh, it was such a shock to hear those two had split up.”

“Yes, we’re very good friends actually.” Eve said, starting to feel defensive and wishing this woman would move on.

“She’s out in BC now, isn’t she? I guess that helps, with anything being awkward I mean.” Sharlene replied slowly, staring intently at Eve with a slight sneer on her face.

“Yes, Samantha’s moved out to the Island. But as far as anything being awkward, that’s not the case at all. It was her decision to move on.” Eve replied curtly.

“Oh right, right.” Sharlene said, nodding her head. “Sorry Eve, didn’t mean to step on anyone’s toes.”

“No problem.” Eve said tersely, moving her chair back a bit, away from Sharlene’s overpowering scent. She could already feel her headache intensifying.

“Something wrong.” Sharlene asked, noting Eve’s slight movement.

“I’m just not great with perfumes.” Eve said, smiling thinly.”

“Oh dear, I hope you’re not getting a headache because of me.” Sharlene replied, feigning concern. “Seth tells me all the time that I overdue in that department. I guess I should start listening to that toy-boy of mine. Oh speak of the devil, there he is.” Sharlene looked up and waved rapidly at a tall, thin man heading towards their table. He looked to be in his late twenties.

“There you are Seth; I’ve been looking all over for you. Where were you? Out for one last smoke before quitting next year?” Sharlene asked, reaching up to tug on his arm.

“Very funny Shar.” he replied, placing his bottle of beer on the table as he sat down slowly next to Sharlene; the smell of cigarette smoke wafting through the air.

“Seth, this is Tom’s date: Eve. Sorry, I can’t remember your last name already, aren’t I the dim one!” Sharlene said, laughing again.

“Vincent. Eve Vincent.” Eve replied, extending her hand to shake Seth’s briefly.

He was dressed in a tight-fitting black suit, with a bright white shirt open at the neck with no tie. His hair was long, pale- blond and almost touching his shoulders. Eve also noted the dark roots showing along the center part in his hair. Charming, she thought to herself. A Miss Clairol man; as she tried to stifle a laugh.  He had a very slim build except for rather well developed shoulders. He wore a bemused, half-smile on his face, as he looked at Eve.

“Nice to meet you Eve.” Seth said, shaking Eve’s hand limply just as Tom reached their table with two drinks.

“Sorry that took so long. I got stopped a couple of times on the way back.” Tom said, handing Eve her drink and sitting down next to her at the last remaining chair at the table. “Good to see you again Seth. Having a good time?”

“Yeah, pretty rad party so far Tom.” Seth replied before taking a large swig from of his beer. “Sharlene outdid herself, don’t you think?”

“Oh Seth, stop it.” Sharlene said, feigning shyness as she looked down briefly. “I didn’t do everything by myself you know; Betts helped too.”

“Well, you both did a grand job from what I can tell and I really appreciate your efforts. Everyone seems to be having a great time.”

“Thanks Tom, it was my pleasure.” Sharlene smiled broadly at Tom.

“Wanna dance Shar?” Seth asked, after finishing his beer in one long swallow.

“Not right now Seth.”

“Don’t say I didn’t ask.” Seth replied, looking bored.

“Do you want to go around and meet everyone?” Tom asked Eve as he noted her squirming slightly in her chair.

“Yes, let’s do that. I’d like to meet everyone.” Eve said, quickly standing up. It would be a relief to get away from this obnoxious woman and her cheap perfume.

“We’ll see you two later, okay?” Tom said also standing up and taking Eve’s hand. “Have fun now.”

“Oh we will Tom, we will.” Sharlene replied, again smiling broadly at Tom. “And don’t forget, you owe me a dance. You promised me one at the Christmas party then you ducked out early, remember?”

“Will do Sharlene. We’ll see you both later.”

As they walked away from the table, Elvis’ rendition of: ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ began to play.

“Speaking of dancing, how about it Eve?” Tom said close to her ear, trying to be heard above the music and noise.

“Sounds good and this is one of my favourite Christmas tunes.”

Tom led Eve out onto the dance floor and drew her close. Eve leaned against his shoulder and savoured the feeling of being wrapped in his arms.

As they danced, Eve had the feeling of someone staring at them. When she looked across the room, Sharlene Roberts was gazing intently at her and Tom. She was not smiling. Her boyfriend Seth was still sitting next to her but she seemed oblivious to his presence. At the same time, Seth was grinning broadly, but not at Sharlene. He was deep in conversation with a young woman who had sat down at the table next to them. He seemed to be ignoring Sharlene from what Eve could see. As for Sharlene, her eyes and attention were totally riveted on Tom and Eve.

Well, enjoy the view, Eve thought to herself. That was one woman she didn’t want to have anything more to do with tonight or ever if she could help it. Eve was surprised that a person like that worked for Tom but maybe her office skills made up for her other questionable attributes. Eve certainly wasn’t going to let the likes of Sharlene Roberts ruin her evening.

Looking up at Tom, Eve smiled contentedly. It was nice to have something to really smile about now. Or rather, someone to smile about. She loved looking at his handsome face and expressive, kind eyes. It was a face she couldn’t imagine getting tired of looking at. And how wonderful it was to see Tom looking so happy tonight too.

“Having a good time?” Tom asked, as he expertly led her around the dance floor.

“I am now.” Eve replied, before resting her head against his shoulder again; feeling transported by the romantic song and having Tom so near. Nothing and no one was going to rain on her parade tonight.

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Dream Sequence from Third Chapter, Second Chance

third chapter second chance cover

As I’m assuming is usually the case for most writers (for at least one of their novels or other works) several events and characters in: Third Chapter, Second Chance are based on my own personal experiences.

When I was 17 and getting ready to head to “the big city” (Toronto) for university, I did spend that summer away from home. And I did meet a man in his mid-20’s who was from the US, that I fell hard for.

The following is a dream sequence from: Third Chapter, Second Chance that I hope you’ll enjoy.

For those of you who haven’t read the book, Samantha is the main character and as she relives this night spent with her first love: Matt Jansen, she is now 45.

Here’s to romance, summer and first love.

And most of all, here’s to second chances! :<) 

♥♥♥♥

In her dream, Samantha had relived their last night together in St. Denis.

Matt had invited her out for a farewell dinner. She knew that her aunt was at least partially aware and wary of her feelings for Matt, which had only gotten stronger as the weeks of summer had gone by. How her aunt knew, Samantha could only guess. She had never discussed Matt much with her aunt, except in a casual and cautious way. Samantha had always tried to leave the impression that she and Matt were just “buddies” who shared many common interests and nothing more. But it was obvious she hadn’t fooled her clever Aunt Jean, about her true feelings for Matt.

In spite of that and considering it was the last night Samantha would be in St. Denis for the foreseeable future, her aunt had agreed to this “date”. Again reminding Matt that evening, of their age difference. A quiet reminder that Samantha had overheard when she was coming down the stairs to greet Matt.

Jean was not one to mince words. Although she liked Matt, she was more than aware of their feelings for each other and didn’t want anything to happen that would be inappropriate or something Samantha’s parents would not be happy about. She could still remember what it felt like to be young and in love, for the first time. It was their age difference that worried her most of all. Samantha was still a teenager and Matt, already a grown man.

Samantha tried to understand and accept her aunt’s concerns although she was fed up with the tight rein her parents and aunt continued to have on her.

It was going to be so hard to leave Matt tomorrow. At the same time, she was also looking forward to living on her own in the big city to attend university. Maybe Matt could come down to visit her in Toronto? To be able to spend time together on their own was a wonderful thought to consider.

Sighing loudly to let them know she was now in the room; Matt turned to her and smiled.

“Wow, you look great Samantha and what an amazing dress.” Matt said as Samantha twirled around, showing off her new green sundress, one that she had made especially for this evening.

The dress was a retro-design Samantha had created herself. Working with two vintage dress patterns she had found in Aunt Jean’s sewing supplies, Samantha had combined details she liked from each of them. It had a tight- fitting bodice with thin spaghetti straps and full skirt that stopped above the knee, that accentuated Samantha’s slim but curvaceous figure perfectly. The fabric, a soft shimmery cotton, patterned throughout with various shades of green, embossed leaves. She had wrapped a delicate, white cotton, crochet shawl lightly around her shoulders. The effect was stunning against her golden skin and sun-streaked hair.

“Oh, you do look beautiful my dear.” Aunt Jean beamed. “And what a great job you did with that dress. Amazing how you were able to combine the two patterns like that.”

“She just finished this one last night.” Jean said to Matt, who was still smiling at Samantha, admiring how she looked.

“I certainly agree. Your artistic talents amaze me Samantha. Not everyone can make a dress like that. Or wear one like that either, I might add.”

“So true, so true.” Jean said, nodding her head and looking at Samantha wistfully. “You have so many gifts and you’re still so young Samantha. I know you’re going to do so much with all of them, in the years to come. But I better let you two get going. You’re having dinner at the Coach House aren’t you?”

“Yes we are.” Matt replied, still looking at Samantha, trying in vain not to stare. “Actually we better go; our reservation is for seven. All ready Samantha?”

“I am indeed. Lead me to your chariot Mr. Jansen.” Samantha laughed, impatient to leave. She turned to give her aunt a kiss on the cheek.

“And please Auntie Jean, don’t worry about me. We’ll behave, I promise.”

“I can’t help worrying about you my dear. No offence to you Matt. I’d worry about her whoever she was going out with. She’s the closest thing to a daughter I’ve got and I love her like she was my own daughter. Now go and have a lovely evening but don’t be too late, okay?”

“I will have her safely back here by midnight Jean.” Matt said, smiling. “And I completely understand your concern for Samantha.”

“It’s almost seven, we better go.” Samantha said, glancing at her watch and then checking her appearance in the full-length hall mirror once again.

“Bye Aunt Jean.”

“Have a wonderful time.” Jean called out, watching from the front door as they walked to Matt’s car.

“I thought we’d never get out of there.” Samantha whispered to Matt as he opened the car door for her. “I love my Aunt Jean but I am getting so tired of everyone still thinking of me as a kid. I’m not and I’m not stupid either.”

“We all know that Samantha. You are a beautiful young woman and far from stupid. But I also understand and respect your aunt’s concerns. Let’s just concentrate on having a great time tonight. I’ve been looking forward to it for days.”

“Sorry, I shouldn’t be ranting at you Matt, it’s not your fault. And you’re right.” Samantha sighed, as Matt backed the car into the street and headed towards the restaurant. “Let’s focus on tonight. You look great too, by the way.”

“Thought I should make an extra effort. Even bought a new sport coat for the occasion.” Matt smiled over at her. “Not over the top, do you think?” Matt asked, gesturing to the soft cream linen jacket that he was wearing over a crisp white shirt and freshly pressed black dress jeans. “The sales clerk talked me into this one. I wasn’t sure.”

“You look wonderful. And I love the jacket, it’s perfect.”  Samantha smiled at him before turning to look out the open passenger door window. She felt the emotions welling up inside; remembering once again that this would be their last night together, maybe forever. It was too much for her to take in or accept.

She was in love with Matt and had been for weeks. Something she had kept to herself, not wanting to put Matt in an awkward position. She knew he cared about her too. But in a romantic way, that she wasn’t sure of. He always kept himself just a bit removed from her. Hadn’t made anything even close to a pass at her. Samantha didn’t know if it was because of her age, her aunt and her parents or just that Matt didn’t share her feelings of wanting more. Maybe she’d never know. If only she was a bit older, she thought to herself and not being watched and still treated all too often like a child.

Returning to the present, Samantha glanced over at Matt, admiring his handsome profile as he hummed along softly with the radio.

“Penny for your thoughts.” Samantha asked, as they turned into the restaurant’s parking lot. “You’re looking so happy tonight Matt.”

“I’m out for the evening with a gorgeous, young woman, what’s there not to smile about?” Matt laughed softly, taking her hand as they headed into the restaurant’s large wooden front doors.

After a delicious dinner and a couple of hours of chatting at the restaurant, Samantha and Matt headed down to the lake to enjoy the beautiful, warm summer evening. The lakeshore looked inviting and romantic, lit by a continuous row of softly lit coach lamps. The lights shimmered in the now darkening water. The scent of late summer flowers filled the air. Several people were out for the evening, strolling along the waterfront and sitting on benches and at the park’s café and take-out stand that was still open.

“Would you like a coffee, before they close up for the evening?” Matt asked, gesturing towards the café.

“Yeah, that would be nice.” Samantha smiled at Matt, sitting down on one of the benches facing the lake. “Mind if I wait here though? These sandals are starting to pinch a bit.” Samantha leaned forward, sliding the white fabric, high-heeled sandals she was wearing off her feet.

“I’m not use to wearing high-heels after two months of running around barefoot so much, with the kids. Oh, that feels so much better.” Samantha sighed, resting the backs of her ankles on the path in front of the bench. She was glad that she had taken the time to give herself a pedicure; the shimmery, pale pink polish she had chosen in sharp contrast to her slim, tanned feet.

“Oh, I’m sorry about your feet Samantha. By all means, stay here; I’ll just be a minute.” Matt said, also glancing at her manicured feet.

“You know, even your feet look wonderful, even if they are a bit sore.” Matt laughed.

“Well how about a footie rub Mr. Jansen?” Samantha smiled up at him, laughing too. “Maybe a hidden talent I don’t know about? I bet you’ve got lots of those.”

“Don’t get me started on ‘hidden talents’ my dear.” Matt said with a sigh. “Come on now, behave. I have to and so do you. I can stretch to sympathy for your sore tootsies but I think I better leave any foot rubbing for another time.”

“Can’t blame a girl for asking.” Samantha laughed slightly, before turning to look out over the lake. Lost in thought, it seemed to Matt.

“I’ll be right back.” Matt said as he headed towards the café.

Matt returned a few minutes later with two coffees. They sat and chatted on the bench; enjoying the cool breeze off the lake and watching the people strolling along the shore.

By the time they finished their coffees the park was almost deserted and the café closed. Only a few people remained, sitting further up the path on benches, away from where they sat. Samantha moved closer to Matt and took one of his hand in hers, rubbing the top of it gently.

“How am I going to leave you tomorrow?” Samantha looked up into his eyes. “Do you know how much you mean to me Matt? How much I’m going to miss you?”

“Yes, I think so Samantha.” Matt squeezed her hand gently, looking into her eyes. “I’m going to miss you so much too. This summer has been wonderful but it’s also been hard. Trying to keep my emotions in check. To behave as your aunt puts it so well ‘like a gentleman’ and to remember our age difference. I’m so attracted to you Samantha; you must know that. But I know that how things are between us are how they have to be, for now at least. You’re still so young and you’re going to be starting a whole new life in the fall, in Toronto. You’ll be meeting lots of new people at university, including lots of young guys who will be crazy about you. I don’t want to complicate things for you now or put a damper on all that’s ahead for you.”

Matt put his fingers to her lips as she started to interrupt. “Let me finish Samantha. I hope we do have the chance to be together again, sometime in the future, I really do. But if that isn’t meant to be, if that doesn’t happen I want you to know that I will never forget you. Never forget this special summer, shared with you. And I will never forget how you look right now, sitting here with me looking so beautiful. You take my breath away Samantha. You did from the first day I saw you in that hardware store and you always will. I will never, ever forget you.” Matt leaned forward and kissed her gently on the lips.

Samantha sighed, slowly opening her eyes, still savouring his kiss. They had playfully hugged and kissed throughout the summer, but in a friendly, casual way. This was different. A stirring and warmth ran through her whole body.

“Oh Matt. Every time I think about leaving you tomorrow, I feel sick.” Samantha said, leaning back against his shoulder. “You mean everything to me.”

“And you mean so much to me too Samantha. I hope we see each other again, but who knows what’s ahead? Realistically, you might forget all about me when you get to Toronto. File old Matt Jansen under ‘the summer of 82’. I hope that’s not the case, I really do. But if that does happens, as I said before, it will never change how I feel about you.”

“Don’t talk like that Matt.” Samantha sat forward, looking into his eyes. “How could I forget you? I love you. You must know that. And as far as all those guys in Toronto, there isn’t anyone else I want to be with and in every way.” Samantha leaned forward and kissed him, pulling him close against her and deftly parting his lips with her tongue. Feeling the heat rising up inside again.

Matt pulled away reluctantly after a couple of minutes, his voice hoarse with emotion. “Oh Samantha, we better stop. This is feeling way too good already. Where did you learn to kiss like that by the way? I feel like an amateur after that.” Matt laughed, trying to lighten the mood.

“Just a natural-born kisser I guess.” Samantha laughed, looking into his eyes. “And the lesson has just started Mr. Jansen.” Pulling him close to her again in another kiss.

“Samantha, please.” Matt pulled away again; this time moving slightly away from Samantha on the bench.

“I can’t do this Samantha.  I want to, so much but it’s not the right time. And if there is ever going to be the chance for us to have a future together, we’ve got to put these feelings on hold for now. You are so desirable Samantha. I want you so much. Want to be with you, wake up with you, share the days with you and make love with you. I want it all Samantha but I know that now is not that time.”

“Oh Matt, I’m so tired of waiting. Tired of wanting you and having to be told we can’t be together, really together. I want all those things you said too. Promise me, you’ll come to see me? That you won’t forget about me. Or even worse, go and fall in love with someone else back in the good old US of A?” Samantha sat forward; taking his hand in her’s again. “Come on, promise.”

“I promise that I will never forget you Samantha.” Matt patted the back of her slim, warm hand. “How could I forget you or not want to see you again? As far as the future, let’s give it a bit of time and see where things go from here, okay?”

“Alright, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.” Samantha said, pouting her lips “And not one bit.”

“And just so you know, you are driving me absolutely crazy Samantha Berringer but I guess you already know that? Why do you have to look so incredibly sexy, especially tonight? It’s more than most men could stand!” Matt stood up, pulling Samantha gently to her feet.

“Wow, it’s twenty to twelve already.” Matt glanced briefly at his watch. “I better get you home before you turn into a sexy pumpkin.”

“Ha ha, I will never be a pumpkin, sexy or otherwise.” Samantha laughed slightly, also standing up. “Okay, okay Jansen, I get the message. Behave, I’ve got it. I guess we’d better head back.”

Matt held Samantha’s hand as they walked slowly back to the car through the now deserted park. The cool breeze felt good after the heat of the day; the air heavy with the scent of flowers and pine trees.

Driving home, they were both quiet, lost in their own thoughts. When they arrived, Samantha leaned over and gave Matt a quick hug.

“I’d ask you in for a coffee but I better just go in on my own.” Samantha said, pulling away and looking intently into Matt’s eyes. “My aunt is probably asleep by now but she just might be waiting up for me. I had a wonderful time Matt. But I am sorry if I made you uncomfortable, I didn’t mean to. Am I forgiven?”

“Oh my dear Samantha, there is nothing to forgive.” Matt replied, squeezing her hand gently.

“I mean it’s not my fault that I’m so sexy, is it?” Samantha laughed, grinning at him.

“That’s better. I love when you laugh Samantha and I love your beautiful smile. But I better let you get in now.  “About tomorrow, the bus leaves just after one, right?” Matt asked.

“Yeah, 1:15.” Samantha sighed. “Not something I want to think about right now. Thanks again for a wonderful evening and I’ll see you tomorrow. Come around noon, I’ll be ready. That way we can have some time before the bus leaves, okay?”

“I’ll be here. Say goodnight to your aunt from me, if she’s still up.”

“I will. Good night Matt. Sweet dreams.” Samantha looked at him through the open car window, smiling broadly at him and laughing lightly.

“Oh you wicked girl!” Matt laughed. “Same to you!”

Samantha headed up the stairs and turned on the top step, standing under the porch light to wave goodbye to Matt as he pulled back out on the street. She watched him drive out of sight before heading into the house.