“Ted, you didn’t have to go to all of this trouble,” I said. I wanted to bring up the money thing but I didn’t dare insult Ted’s pride. But I really didn’t see how he was able to afford this. While we’d become very close, I did not know the full extent of Ted’s finances and I didn’t want to ask, just as he never asked about my money at all.
“It’s no trouble,” Ted said. “I wanted to show you a wonderful evening. You work so hard; I know that you deserve it. And I want to do what I can to make you happy all the time.”
“Nobody is happy all the time,” I said.
Ted leaned close to me. “Well, you should be.”
His voice was low, almost a whisper. It was rugged and sensual when he spoke that way.
I blushed and sipped my wine.
“What do you think you’d like to have?” Ted asked. “Anything you want.”
I was still looking over the menu and enjoying the music playing in the background. It was slow and sweet, yet it reminded me of something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but it put me in a melancholy, almost a nostalgic mood.
“What are you thinking?” Ted asked with a soft smile on his sweet looking lips. They shined perfectly under the dimly lit overhead lights.
The atmosphere was so romantic.
“How do you know I’m thinking anything in particular?” I teased.
“Because I can tell. I’m very good at reading people. Something is dancing behind those beautiful eyes of yours. I was just curious if you’d like to share with the rest of the class.”
I laughed at his joke. “Ok, I was thinking about the trips my family used to take to Hawaii when I was a kid. We went there a few times a year, so much so that it was like a second home to me. It is so beautiful and peaceful there. And there is always music from somewhere, that sweet, Hawaiian music that draws you in and gets the hips swaying back and forth. Before you realize it you are locked into a groove that won’t let go.”
“Wow, that is some imagery,” Ted said. “I think you and I should go there sometime.”
“Oh, it’s a date.”
* * *
“Wow, so how did you know I love this beach?” I asked.
He’d even picked up on my favorite spot. Wow, he was good. A man who noticed all the little things—that had always been the key to my heart for sure. And Ted seemed to just move right through and check off every single box on my internal list. It was funny, but I used to talk to Penny about the dream guy and how I had a list in mind that he would have to have. Penny told me I was thinking of Mr. Perfect, who did not exist. I disagreed with her wholeheartedly. Mr. Perfect did exist—and I’d found him.
“I’m fairly certain you told me about it at one point,” Ted said. “And it just kind of stayed with me.”
We walked along the beach for a bit just enjoying each other’s company and not really saying anything. It was nice to just be together without having to say anything. The sun had just set when we arrived there and the last remaining strands of pinkish orange hue painted the horizon. It was beautiful, but it faded quickly.
“It’s sad isn’t it?” Ted asked.
I stared at the sky a moment longer as we walked slowly along the beach, feeling the sand squishing beneath my feet, not really caring that I might have been ruining an expensive pair of shoes (but glad I’d worn flats).
“What’s sad?” I asked.
“The way the sun always leaves us in the evening. You know it’s coming back within twelve hours or less, but still it kind of takes it all away, the life.”
“What do you mean? I’ve always loved the night.”
“I do love the night, but I’ve always preferred the day. I usually wake up before dawn just so I can be there when the first few rays of sweet sunlight returns. I like to greet it and welcome it home. My grandfather used to call it his old, warm friend. I guess I got a lot of that from him.”
“Sounds like you were close with him.”
He smiled and shook his head slowly. “Yeah, I was really close with him. He was a kind man and I loved him dearly. He passed away when I was ten and it still hurts when I think of him. But I have the good memories at least to hold onto.”
“That’s what’s important,” I said. “I remember it vividly, the day my parents died. It will never leave me, but I always strive to remember the good memories first. I hang on to those because I know that is what they would want me to hold onto, to remember about them. They wouldn’t want me to focus on the fact they are not here with me any longer. I’m just grateful for the time I did get to share with them. And as long as I have that, then I know they will never really be gone.”