By Ludima Gus Burton
Love knows no age limits
Kay Holland, a fifty year-old widow, doesn't want to be called a cougar. Although fifteen years separate them, thirty-five year old, Drew Lawrence, isn't her cub! She must, however, overcome her own doubts of the age difference, his son and her daughter's opposition and social prejudice to reach her happy ending.
Also available in RTF AND HTML FORMATS
The sun came through the green leaves of an oak tree. A gentle, warm breeze rustled the high grass on the shore of the swirling brook. A little black-haired boy leaned over the bank to drop a plastic boat into the stream. He slipped in the mud. Before he fell into the rushing water, a young woman grabbed his arm and pulled him back to safety.
"You have to be more careful," she said.
He turned to her. His dark brown eyes gazed into hers. He smiled. A deep dimple appeared in his left cheek. The smile's brilliance made her grin back. How she wanted to hug him.
"Thank you," he said, laughed and ran away.
Later the young woman asked her cousin who had come with her to the family reunion, "Who is he?"
"I don't know. I think his name is Darin, Drew or something like that. Why?"
"I wish I could take him home."
"You always were a sucker for dark eyes and a dimpled smile." She laughed, "Besides, I doubt your new husband would want the competition."
When I came home my answering machine had a message on it. I clicked it on.
Kay, this is Alan. Do me a favor. Have dinner at the Jefferson Inn at seven with my new partner, Drew Lawrence. I've reserved a table. I told him you'd wear one of your fancy pins. I'll owe you.
I switched off the machine and sighed. Trust Alan to ask me to do this. But he also knew I wouldn't disappoint him.
As I fastened the straps of my sandals, I thought about his thirty-five year old law partner I didn't care to meet. I don't relate well to younger men. Teacher that I am, I usually want to correct them. And Alan wouldn't accept the fact that I'm a contented fifty-year old widow with little desire to socialize.
I laughed and thought of the men Alan had paraded through my life. At least Drew Lawrence would know my age. Alan had promised to reveal my age, to all and sundry, so there would be no awkwardness or misunderstanding.
I took a quick look in the full-length mirror at my slim figure in a black sheath dress, sheer black hose and high-heeled sandals. Not bad for a woman my age. I pinned my late Aunt Agatha's brooch to my left shoulder area.
The weathered shingles, flower boxes and the wide porch of the Jefferson Inn always gave those who entered a country welcome. I opened the tall oak door with etched glass panels and ornate brass doorknob and stepped into the lobby with its high columns, black and white marble floor and large pots of palm plants.
I moved through the lobby and sat in a red-velvet winged chair. I dropped the lace shawl from my left shoulder to flag my blind date. The rhinestone pin caught the light from the crystal chandelier. It glittered, to send forth a signal. I couldn't help but give a low laugh. Could there be a more absurd sign?
I looked up at the man who stood before me.
He wasn't at all like I had imagined he would be. He was tall, with the broad shoulders of an athlete, black hair, square jaw and a nose with a slight bump as though he had been in a fight in the past. His dark brown eyes glowed with warmth. When he smiled at me the grooves around his full and sensuous mouth deepened. A dimple appeared in his left cheek.
That look and the charm of his smile made me unexpectedly breathless. The déjà vu feeling puzzled me.
"I'm Drew Lawrence. Alan said you'd take pity on me. I hate to eat alone."
His gaze swept over me from head to toe. My heartbeat quickened at his undisguised admiration. My breath caught in my throat. I quickly smiled at him.
Minutes later, we were seated at a table that overlooked a fountain surrounded by a riot of flowers. On this September night an unseasonable warm breeze ruffled the colored leaves of maple trees.
I looked around the restaurant. Some of my neighbors were at a nearby table. Across the room my principal and his wife watched me. I felt rather self-conscious. I pushed aside any negative thoughts, determined to enjoy the dinner.
Drew nodded to the waiter to give us a menu.
"The prime-rib is the Inn's specialty," I said.
"Shall we have it then?" Drew asked with a smile. I nodded.
He then said to the waiter, "A side order of horse radish, please."
"For me, too," I said and saw his grin. "My Dad introduced me to it when I was little and laughed hilariously at my reaction."
"But you got over it?"
"Yes," I said and felt a kinship that disturbed me. I felt more at ease when he asked, "Have you a preference in wine?"
"No, please order for me." I was pleased that he didn't order for both of us without asking.
While we waited for our dinners, I sipped the wine. "Just right," I said.
"Good," he said and raised his glass to me, his eyes full on me.
As the evening progressed, our animated conversation seldom touched on personal topics, but attraction simmered beneath our words--his eyes looked into mine, a smile passed between us… We ordered a last cup of coffee. I looked up as my principal and his wife stopped at my chair on their way out of the restaurant.
Nice to see you, Mrs. Holland," he said. "Hope your dinner pleased you."
"Thank you, and how are you, Mrs. Alberts?" She smiled and said to her husband, "We should leave."
"Yes, yes," he said with a frown. "Good night, Mrs. Holland." He looked at Drew. I knew I had to introduce him. After the exchange, Mr. Alberts left us.
Drew gave a short laugh. "Not one of your favorite people?"
"Hardly. My principal and I have our issues."
"Never mind. You can hold your own, I'm sure." Drew then said, "Because of Alan's past ties with Jefferson, we may open a branch office here. I'm glad I made this impromptu visit today to see for myself."
"A good idea," I said. "People remember his father. When my husband died ten years ago, I appreciated his compassion and help."
Having finished my coffee, I stood up. "Shall we leave?"
Drew smiled and settled the bill. We walked out of the dining room and went to the parking lot.
"My car's the white Mercury." After we reached it I said,
"I'm glad I had this chance to meet Alan's new partner. I wish you a safe trip back."
"I have a feeling this won't be my only trip here," he said. I didn't answer him or give him any encouragement.
When Drew walked me to my car, the touch of his hand on my elbow made me feel good. To have the protection of a man in a deserted parking lot made me realize how much I missed it.
After I got into the car and snapped on the seat belt, I rolled down my window.
"Thank you for a lovely dinner," I said. "Give my regards to Alan and Phyllis. Take care, and good night."
"Good night," he said with a smile that made butterflies flutter inside me. "I look forward to our next meeting."
Through the rear view mirror I saw he watched until I turned the corner.