By R.T. Ewell
It had been a while since a man had made Hope feel the way she did right now. In fact she wasn’t sure if she had ever felt the way Alex made her feel. Her heart had been broken long ago after a seven year marriage to the father of her two children. The abuse was too much too handle forcing her to make the hardest, yet easiest decision of her life. Even when times were good, she still didn’t feel the way she did in this moment. The past five years of her life had been devoted to two things. One was being the best mother she could to her children. The other one was to be a successful business owner.
Always an animal lover, Hope took a leap of faith to open a dog grooming business. Many people doubted her but after the first year of struggle something amazing happened. Word of mouth. She had dedicated that year to being the best damn dog groomer the town of Mangleton had ever seen. People began to realize it and wanted to take their beloved animals to the best around. So at thirty seven she began a life that finally meant something to her.
Even though she seemingly had everything there was still something missing. It’s as if her heart wasn’t complete. Her children were her world and she loved them more than anything. However, her heart beg for something more. For years she fought being set up or even recognize that another man was flirting with her. Now it seemed like she was tired of fighting it. That’s why when her friend Sally from work ask to set her up with a friend, Hope took the leap of faith.
Their first date had just ended as she shut the front door. She leaned against it with her eyes closed and face pointed towards the ceiling. Never had her heart beat so fast as it did right now. Alex was such a gentlemen through the entire date. They went to downtown to a nice but not too fancy restaurant, followed by a stroll through the local park. It was such an innocent date. They shared stories about their lives some happy, some not so much. He told her personal things about his life. Like how his parents died in a car accident when he was only two years old. His grandmother had raised him until she passed when he was a senior in high school. With the money she had left him when she died, he was able to go to college and get a degree.
He told her how he had never been married and had no children. Alex made her feel comfortable as they continued to talk allowing Hope to open up some of her trials and tribulations. The more she talked, the more worried she was that she told him too much. That she was scaring him off talking about her children or her failed marriage too much. She just felt so relaxed talking to him that she wasn’t trying so hard to keep her guard up.
Hope only had a sitter till eleven that night so he had her back at precisely 10:55 pm. With the minutes remaining they stood on the front porch. It was a little awkward because she had no idea how or what to say as they sat in his car. She didn’t want to kiss him because she wasn’t sure if that’s what he wanted. A moment of uncomfortable silence happened until he opened the car door and stepped out. Her body seemed to tense up as she remained seated. The tension broke when he opened the car door. Such a gentlemen she thought. He grabbed her hand as he led her down the sidewalk to her front porch.
“I had such a great time with you tonight,” he said never looking her directly in the eyes.
It was obvious that he was more nervous than she was so she tried to assure him she felt the same.
“It was such a wonderful evening, I really enjoyed it as well,” she said as they got to the front door.
“I would invite you in but the sitter is here and my kids..” she started to panic because she didn’t want him to think she was trying to get rid of him.
“No, no it’s okay I understand..really I do,” Alex said with disappoint in his voice.
“I would really like to go out with you again though,” Hope said with as much positiveness as she could.
“That would be nice,” he responded shyly by looking her in the eyes for the first time.
“Well then you name the time and place and I will be right there with you,” she said gaining confidence in their feelings toward each other.
Alex began shuffling his feet out of nervousness. Hope decided that she had better end this before things got even more uncomfortable than they had currently gotten. So she leaned in to give him a hug. He wrapped his arms tightly around her. Hope had been hugged many times in her life but something about the way Alex hugged her was different. She could feel true emotion in the way his arms encased her. He pressed into her body one last time as he pulled away from her.
As nervous as Alex was, what he did next surprised her. He leaned in close and kissed her lightly on the cheek. It was a simple gesture but it meant much more than even he probably realized. He pulled his head back and it was as if all the nervousness was gone from his eyes.
“Goodnight Hope. I can’t wait till we see each other again.”
A smile was on his face that seemed as though he was on top of the world.
“Me too,” she said almost taken aback by his newfound confidence.
He turned and walked down the sidewalk occasionally turning his head around with that same smile. At this point she felt so happy that she let out a little giggle. Luckily, it was soft enough for him not to hear it. Alex pulled out of the driveway as she turned around and walked into her house. As the door shut her back fell against it. She let out a breath and a feeling she had not felt in a long time took over her heart.