Then I told myself that maybe all the men here looked like him somehow to a little farm girl like me, and just as soon as I got use to it, I’ll settle down some.

But the waiter hadn’t been as handsome and I didn’t have the slightest interest in him, nor in any of the other men sitting at the tables around the room, though I did notice some of them giving me looks.


It was him; even from his seat across the table from me, it was as if he were touching me somehow. And the way he looks at me when he speaks, like he could see right through me.

I don’t recall ever being the object of such intense focus from the opposite sex before and it was only adding to the queasiness in my stomach and my new heart affliction.

I needed to be alone so I could take out these new emotions and examine them more closely, but that would mean being without him.

And why that thought should bring a heavy sadness with it was something I’ll have to think about later as well. I wasn’t here to lose my head over some man that was way out of my league, only to be cast aside when he was through having his way with me.


Momma had had this conversation with me just a few nights ago, the night before I left home to start out on my life’s adventure.

At the time I’d thought she was being fanciful, having watched too many of those old black and white films she was so fond of. But now I’m not so sure, now I’m beginning to think that momma knew only too well of what she spoke.

I bit my lip and pushed the hair back behind my ear again as I reached for my water glass for something to do.

The silence was getting to me, especially since I could feel his eyes studying me. What was it that he saw? Was I as lacking in his eyes as I was in mine? How could I be anything but?

This is New York, I’m sure he’s accustomed to beautiful sophisticated women who fall all over him, what would he want with a rhubarb like me? The thought was even more depressing the second time around.

My hands shook slightly as I reached for it, and that’s why I spilled water all over my sweater. I could swear I heard him hiss but when I looked up at him with my face fire engine red with embarrassment, he still looked like the same composed man.

“I’m so sorry.” I was probably embarrassing him and that thought had tears springing to my eyes.

“Hey, it’s okay, it’s just a little water, come here.” He took my hand and pulled me around the table to sit next to him on the booth. Now I knew I wasn’t going to be able to eat, not sitting this close to him.

***

CALLAN

“So tell me Gabriella what are your big plans now that you’re in our fair city?” I started talking fast to take her mind off of her little accident.

It was more for self-preservation than anything else though. I’d seen the big fat tears sparkle in her eyes and knew if one fell I was in deep fucking shit.

That’s right, I’m a sucker for a damsel in distress. Like I said, she was ringing all my bells. If I didn’t know any better I would swear that this was a set-up.

She’s almost like the perfect candidate, my perfect mate. Something only I know though, so it would’ve been hard for anyone else, to have pulled this off. I kept her hand in mine for no other reason than that I wanted to, no needed to touch her.

She was so soft, her little hand fit perfectly in mine, and that first touch was like opening a seal. I felt that shift grow wider and deeper, accepting; what? was left to be seen.

But I knew that something in my world had been drastically changed in the last couple of hours. For all that it seemed like the perfect set-up, the situation couldn’t be worst.

It was a fucking mess, and something I was sure was going to cause more hurt before it got better. It didn’t matter though, that overwhelming feeling that was even now riding my shoulders wouldn’t be abated unless I got what I want.

“I want to take acting classes at night, at least that’s the plan.” Her soft uncertain voice brought me back to my question.

“You like acting?” She seemed to be giving the question some thought and I admired that as well, most young women in her position would’ve just jumped right in.

Most people didn’t see past the glitz and the glamour to the hard work and heartache that came on the road to that particular success.

“The truth? I’ve done some plays and stuff and got nice reviews even in the local paper, that’s why I chose acting.

I just really didn’t want to spend the rest of my life at home. It’s a nice place don’t get me wrong, but I wanted something more.

Momma and daddy worked really hard all their lives and even though the farm’s doing well now, sometimes it was touch and go. I…I need more stability, I guess, do you understand?”

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