Here’s the final episode of my short story “Only Love.” Although the ending’s fictional, under better circumstances, it could have been, should have been what happened.
Hesitantly, Vic says, “Uh…if you ever need it…,” he pats his shoulder, “…my shoulder is…well, it’s strong enough for you to lean on.”
“Thanks.” I swallow hard, long to lean, fantasize about marrying him.
He stands. “But now I’ve got to put it to the wheel, so…” He starts a slow mosey toward the door, “…catch you later.”
I think don’t go, squelch it, can’t squelch the “wait” that slips through my lips.
He turns around, raises an eyebrow, and stares at me with those deep blue eyes.
I am speechless. I look at him standing tall and strong, tanned laugh lines surrounding his bright blue eyes, and want him to stay more than I’ve ever wanted anything. Be careful, a voice inside me cautions, you’ll scare him away. A second voice counters, Quit pussyfooting around. Speak up! I tremble, sweat, vacillate, plead, God, let me be a tiger, not a kitten. I stammer, “It’s just….” I pause, “I…I…forgot to tell you…” Oh no! Do I dare tell him about Billy? Will he be angry that I held out on him?
He cocks his head. His voice low, he says slowly, “You forgot…?”
My mouth opens, closes. My heart pounds loudly. Defenseless, I stare at him, love him, feel my face burn, force myself to speak, “Please…listen…I’ve got a secret…you’re the one…I want to tell…you…”
One long stride takes him close enough to touch me but he doesn’t, he just says softly, “Tell me. I’ll listen. That’s what you want, isn’t it? Someone who listens?”
I nod. For a while, I am lost in those blue eyes. Then, “It feels so good to be heard,” flows out of me. Hello, voice of the tiger! Tears mist my eyes. “The secret is…is…Billy…and I…split up…I…tried to talk to him but…”
Vic raises an eyebrow and strokes his chin. A slow smile spreads across his face. “So…you were holding out about Billy?”
I stare at him, can’t speak, can only nod.
“If I hadn’t told you about Molly, would you have told me about…?”
“Billy? No,” I whisper.
He reaches over and touches my face, his big hand electric against my cheek. I burn like a bonfire beneath his touch, and press my small hand against his large one.
Vic’s smile widens. He cradles my face between his warm, wide hands, tilts my chin up, asks, “You free tomorrow night, around six?”
My heart threatens to bounce out of my chest. I nod, whisper, “Yes. But…but six thirty would be better.”
A smile punches dimples in his cheeks and chin. “I like a woman who speaks her mind. I’ll pick you up at 6:30 then.”
“Cool,” I croak. Can this really be happening?
“Dates are like love.” He winks. “Better the second time around.”
Did he really say that? I am floating. He adds, “I was leaving, wasn’t I?”
I think I nod. He resumes his cool dude strut to the door. “Look, I’m a styling dude!”
“Yes you are.” I am exhilarated that he performs for me. I watch and wave as he moseys through the door, out of the room, across the open bay garage to his rapid-response red pickup truck.
That night, I stare at the crescent moon above the pounding surf, drift into sleep after midnight. I dream Vic gives me back my life, carries me over the threshold, loves me more than I can imagine. I wake up remembering Aurora’s shining aquamarine eyes and feeling the warmth of her hand on mine.