Here’s the final episode of my short story, “Only Love.” My tête-à-tête with Vic doesn’t match what we actually said as told in my true crime romance memoir, “Murder in Hawai’i, A True Story.” Instead, it’s what we would have said if my fondest dreams had come true.
Hesitantly, Vic adds, “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, 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! What can I say I forgot?
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 and he does, his big hand electric against my hot cheek. “Tell me,” he says softly. “I’ll listen. That’s what you want, isn’t it? Someone who listens?”
I nod, touch his large hand with my small one. “I love that you hear me” flows out of me. Hello, voice of the tiger! Tears mist my eyes. “It feels so good to be heard.”
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 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 afternoon, I tell Billy I need some time away. That night, I sleep over at a girlfriend’s house, 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.