Blogs by V. L. Green
Chapter Three/ When Destinies Meet of
1/5/2008 2:48:06 PM
“Allow me,” he offered, his voice perfectly modulated as he flashed her a winning smile.
Everything about him was geared to seduce her, she would later understand; his smile, his eyes, his low, melodic tones that drifted over the space separating them and danced along her spine: setting up a myriad of conflicting sensations, both thrilling and troubling in their intensity.
“Thank you,” she breathed throatily, wondering whose husky voice that was coming out of her mouth as she accepted her tickets from his outstretched hand. She sounded more like McKenna than herself.
The breathless quality of her voice she would later attribute to the force of their impact, but she could not dispense with her rapidly pounding heart or erratic pulse so easily. As a rule she despised simpering women who fell to pieces at the sight of an attractive male. And, oh boy, was he ever THAT! Her wayward thoughts felt compelled to point out. Stop it! she ordered in an attempt to silence her traitorous musings.
“I’m sorry.” Her muttered apology sounded normal enough this time, and she even managed to add a dismissive smile for good measure. Immensely pleased that her voice had returned to normal and held just the right amount of cool indifference, she prepared to move on.
“Don’t be,” he countered easily.
His equally cool rejoinder made a mockery of her paltry efforts at dismissal. The smile in his eyes never wavered. Such marvelous eyes, she thought inconsequentially, finding it almost impossible not to lose herself in their dark, penetrating depths.
“If you’ll excuse me,” she managed to squeeze past the obstruction that had lodged itself somewhere near her vocal cord and was making speech almost impossible.
Deciding that to yield to the curiosity his words had aroused would be unwise, she determined to put an end to this conversation before it ever got started, but her plans were thwarted once more.
“Aren’t you the least bit curious as to why you shouldn’t be sorry?” he quizzed in that slow, hypnotic tone of his.
Her mind wasn’t functioning properly, so she couldn’t be sure whether his mannerisms were natural or contrived. But she was certain about the affect his presence was having on her. The velvety timbre of his voice succeeded in seducing her senses and breaching her defenses, and just for a moment she yielded to the magnetic force of his personality.
“Quite often curiosity can be detrimental,” she parried with an answering smile.
In direct contrast to her hard, fast rule of steering clear of all emotional involvement, she found herself caught in an expertly laid trap. Just his nearness was having a most peculiar effect on her metabolism.
“Not in this instance I can assure you,” he declared, holding her an unwilling captive with his gaze. “You see, I’m fully prepared to satisfy your curiosity,” he related, and before she could voice any wishes one way or the other, he proceeded to do just that. “You shouldn’t be sorry because I can’t find it anywhere within my being to muster one iota of regret,” he stated smoothly--too smoothly to be believable.
Nevertheless, the sound of his voice and the words he spoke reached out to envelope her in a world of fantasy, magnifying her need for escape. By this time she strongly suspected he was being outrageously flirtatious, but more important than her suspicion of his actions was the certain knowledge that she was ENJOYING it.
“I . . .have . . . to . . . go,” she stammered haltingly, not wanting to leave but aware that to stay would be a mistake. Her unexpected reaction to him was setting off warning bells she dare not ignore.
“Why?” he queried. As if sensing her reluctance, he sought to use it to his advantage and capitalize upon her uncertainty.
Just that one word had her floundering helplessly for a credible response to his query. She most assuredly couldn’t answer truthfully. This isn’t real. It can’t be, she admonished herself. Things like this don’t happen outside some romance writer’s mind, she scoffed. Gaining strength from this sound admonishment she continued, I must be dreaming.
“That’s it!” she mumbled, latching on to the only sane explanation for what was happening. “I must be dreaming.”
That had to be it. Everything about this whole encounter felt unreal. The people rushing past them in different directions to catch their flights or greet a loved one didn’t even appear to be real. This must be some kind of hallucination brought on by her recent illness.
“If you’re right and this is a dream, please don’t wake me,” he pleaded melodramatically, his eyes dancing with merriment as he continued in the same outrageous vein. “And if I’m dead, I have no doubt. I’ve died and gone to heaven.”
So much for the dream theory, she decided, fighting a smile at his outrageous comeback. Any question as to the nature of his actions vanished with this last declaration. He was openly flirting. What should have been more disturbing than this discovery was the knowledge that she didn’t mind in the least. If any other man had dared to spout such nonsense to her, she would have dismissed it and him with open disdain, but not this one. Instead of feeling contempt for him or offering a crushing retort, she found herself returning his smile with uncharacteristic abandon as she answered him according to his folly.
“I suppose next you’ll tell me I’ve restored your faith in God,” she drawled, with an unconsciously provocative tilt to her head.
“In all honesty, that’s a claim I can’t make.” he came back then rushed to add, “However, I can safely say that you’ve reaffirmed my faith in His ability to bless me wherever I am.” If she found this admission surprising, his next would leave her dumbfounded. “I never expected to see you here.”
This unexpected admission caused her brow to pucker in uncertainty. Had they met somewhere before, she wondered? There was something vaguely familiar about him, she realized, and his choice of words gave the distinct impression that he had expected to see her somewhere.
“Have we . . . ,” she began. Putting voice to her puzzling impressions.
“Anthony Newman! How could you?” Their gazes swung simultaneously in the direction of the strident, petulant voice that interrupted her query. “We’re going to miss our flight,” she continued to whine in the same high-pitched voice. “I want to get home today,” she complained, giving the distinct impression of just barely managing to refrain from stamping her feet in a show of displeasure as she managed to spare a brief glance for his companion before adjusting the squirming infant in her arms, who seemed to be equally displeased by the state of affairs.
Pamela’s gaze came back to lock with his, and she dispassionately registered the fact that he appeared to be as surprised as she by the new arrival. With a slow, penetrating numbness replacing the sensations he had stirred, she conceded that he was good. He had breeched her defenses in no time at all.
Disgusted with her own gullibility, she allowed the smile to slowly fade from her lips, and her eyes went from warm and inviting to cold and disdainful. Without uttering a word, she attempted to step around him.
“No! Wait!” he pressed urgently as his hand shot out to detain her.
“Why?” she derided, her eyes going to the restraining hand resting lightly on her forearm. There was no need for words. He understood perfectly. Releasing his hold on her, he allowed his hand to fall to his side.
“I believe your family is waiting,” she added, with a nod of her head indicating the young woman holding the fretful infant. And this time he made no move to detain her when she went to step around him.
With a nonchalance that was in total opposition to her true feelings, she stepped around him to merge with the ongoing traffic of holiday travelers she had somehow managed to forget and was absorbed into their midst before he could collect himself sufficiently to voice any further protest. The unveiled hatred he had spied in her eyes just prior to her departure had left him shaken by its intensity.
“Tony.” The agitated young woman spoke again using the diminutive version of his name.
“Thanks a lot, Leslee,” he accused, lowering his gaze to her.
“What did I do?” she inquired innocently as she jostled the fretful infant in an attempt to calm him.
“I asked you to wait,” he reminded her, lifting the disgruntled child from her arms and giving him his full attention. “What has you so upset, fellow?” he inquired and earned himself a watery smile from the tiny bundle in his arms.
“You were taking too long. I didn’t want you to miss the flight,” she explained, eyeing her son in disbelief. “You wouldn’t want to change professions and become a nanny, would you?” she teased.
“Don’t you wish,” he retorted, his mind still preoccupied with his recent encounter.
“Tony . . . ?” she began questioningly.
“Since you were so concerned about catching that flight, I suggest we leave,” he interrupted to suggest. He didn’t need the third degree from his sister.
“Gladly,” she readily agreed, turning to retrace her steps. “Was that another adoring fan?” she had to ask, although in retrospect something about the scene she’d come upon made her regret her hasty interruption.
“Remind me not to accept an offer of help from you again,” he requested with brotherly sarcasm and neatly sidestepped giving her an answer. That hint of sarcasm was impossible to miss, and she readily took up the challenge hidden in his words.
“Only if you’ll remind me never to offer it again,” she retorted flippantly, coming to a full stop and turning to face him. “If it weren’t for me, Big Brother, you would be married by now and to a conniving little . . .”
“Be careful, Les,” he admonished sharply before continuing. “I’ll marry when I’m good and ready and not one second before.”
Her casual reference to marriage had called to mind the woman with the haunted, brown eyes, and his gaze swung in the direction her hasty flight had taken her.
“Who was she?” his companion asked, following the direction of his gaze.
“Who was whom?” he asked in a useless attempt at feigning ignorance.
“You know very well. Don’t be evasive,” she cautioned, shaking her forefinger comically. “You know how I am once I sense a mystery. That’s it! Nothing else matters. I become relentless. I’m like a bulldog,” she warned. “Don’t forget. I’m my mother’s daughter.”
Her disparaging reference to their mother was a thinly veiled threat that went awry.
“So you are,” he conceded with a chuckle, urging her forward with a gentle nudge, only to find she wouldn’t budge.
“Tony, was . . . that . . . ?” she began haltingly, incredulous at the possibility of what she was about to ask. “No. Of course not. It couldn’t be! Could it?” she ended on a puzzled note.
“Forget it, Sis. I’ll see her again.” The certainty of his assertion didn’t surprise her. He was peculiar that way. Sometimes he could be down right scary.
Before she could quiz him further, his firm hand in the small of her back ushered her in the direction of their waiting flight. After only a few paces, though, his steps slowed, and he cast a quick eye over the crowd thronging the airport in the hope of getting a final glimpse of her. But his efforts were wasted.
She shrank back into the shadows to avoid detection. She knew she shouldn’t have stayed around to witness their exchange but had been powerless to resist the urge to do so. She hadn’t been able to hear the words they’d spoken, and to her it appeared as though he sought to explain away his actions.
“He’s nothing to you,” she admonished.
The sound of her voice asserting his insignificant role in her life brought a small measure of comfort, and she began to relax only to find it vanishing as she recalled his eyes. The fire lurking in their depths had imparted to them the brilliance and clarity of fine gems. His dark, wavy hair had begged to be caressed, and his voice had tripped merrily along her spine. The end result of their encounter had been the awakening of emotions too troubling to examine closely or put a label to. “Men!” she hissed in disgust, hoping to further restore her composure and distance herself from the churning emotions he had awakened.
“I certainly hope that doesn’t include me.”
“Paul!” she cried in delight, pivoting at the sound of his voice and throwing herself into his arms with uncharacteristic abandon. “I didn’t expect to see you, but am I ever glad you’re here!” she declared with heart-felt sincerity, grateful for his distracting presence.
“We aim to please,” he said, returning her embrace. “Especially after that call from Joan ordering me to meet your flight,” he ended laughingly.
“Note to self,” she quipped with a self-conscious laugh at her unusual show of affection. “Give Joan a raise,” she ended with an attempt at levity.
“And not a moment too soon, if you ask me. Now, come on. Give. What has you so angry with the entire male population, Good-looking?”
“Flattery will get you nowhere,” she countered evasively, having no intention of sharing details of her encounter with the disturbing stranger.
“What flattery? You must be the prettiest girl in the entire city of Vicks . . . no . . . strike that thought . . . in the entire state of Mississippi,” he gushed jokingly, allowing his question to go unanswered. Time had taught him that she was not about to be forced into confidences against her will.
“Why not Georgia too?” she inquired in the same playful vein in an attempt to further distract him, but he wasn’t fooled by her weak attempt at humor.
“Georgia?” he queried, appearing to flounder. “You don’t live in Georgia,” he finally declared as though gaining sudden inspiration.
He could sense the churning emotions just beneath the thin veneer of composure she carefully maintained. It was always there, but today there was a difference. Something had definitely set her at odds with the harmony of the season, he concluded. In the two years since she had wandered into his swank, underground restaurant, he had never pried into the reason behind the force driving her so relentlessly, and he wasn’t about to start now.
“Sure, you’re right,” she jeered laughingly. “I wonder if you would be so free with your compliments if Valerie were present,” she speculated with a playful tilt to her head.
“You wound me, Ms. Charles, with your unfounded suspicions.” The laughter visible in his eyes belied his assertion of injured feelings.
“No doubt,” she mocked. “How have you been?” She inquired belatedly.
“Great!” he answered before peering closely at her and adding in tones as dry as the Arizona desert. “Too bad I can’t say the same for you.”
“But . . . b-but . . . but . . . ,” she pretended to flounder. “You just said I was the prettiest girl on the entire East Coast,” she embellished with an all-encompassing wave of her hand, determined not to be drawn into a discussion of her health. “Men!” she declared once again, but this time the word was decidedly lacking its former venom.
“Can’t live with us, and you can’t live without us.” At his light-hearted declaration all traces of playful bantering vanished from her features.
“Who says we can’t?” she fired back with barely suppressed hostility.
“Is this it?” he queried, indicating the carry-on he had taken from her unresisting fingers and slung carelessly across his shoulder. Some remarks were best left unanswered, he decided.
“Not on your life.” Her reply effectively destroyed any secret hopes he may have nurtured that she was traveling light. “If my luggage gets lost, it’s going to be on the same plane as I am. I had a skycap,” she remembered belatedly, glancing around in vain. She didn’t expect to see him, and she wasn’t disappointed. Obviously he had gone on to greener pickings. “Oh well,” she shrugged philosophically. She couldn’t really blame him. If she hadn’t stood around all gaga-eyed . . . “No!” she hissed angrily, momentarily forgetting her companion.
“No, what?” he rushed to inquire, his concern apparent. “Is something wrong? Are you OK?” he wanted to know, remembering her recent illness.
“No. Yes. I . . . ,” she faltered, searching her mind frantically for an explanation. “I’m fine. Nothing’s wrong. And this isn’t all my luggage,” she finally managed to explain. She knew he wasn’t fooled by her pitiful explanation. It was lacking in validity even to her own ears. But she valiantly milked it for all it was worth.
In route to claim her bags, she recounted Jon’s assessment of her suitcases in a vain attempt to lend weight to her earlier explanation. Paul’s grimace of dismay at her words was anticipated, and her lips tilted dutifully upward as he had intended. However, just as most of her smiles these days, it failed to reach her eyes.
“You’re wonderful,” she gushed once they had located another skycap, retrieved her bags and loaded them onto a trolley only to have her efforts soundly rebuffed by her companion.
“Don’t try to con me,” he chided with easy familiarity. “I’m not about to fall for your flattery.”
“Right,” she agreed dryly as they maneuvered their way through the crowd thronging the airport closely followed by the skycap.
At their approach the automatic doors glided open, and they stepped out into the weak, December sunshine.
“Don’t you just love it here?” she asked in another attempt at conversation.
“It’s OK,” he returned with an indifferent shrug.
“OK?! How can you be so blasé? Atlanta is the heartbeat of the Southeast!” she exclaimed.
“Other Southern cities might take exception to your assessment of this city’s greatness.”
“Ooh . . . That’s the trouble with men. They have no vision or insight,” she accused, increasing her pace to keep up with him.
“You know . . . ,” he began, noticing her labored breathing and slowing his stride in deference to her recent illness, “. . . I’m beginning to take offense at the way you say the word men. You make it sound the same as vultures or vipers or swine . . . .”
“Point taken. I’m sorry,” she offered with apparent sincerity.
“Apology accepted,” he told her coming to a stop. “Wait here. I’ll be back with the car.”
“You get no argument from me,” she quipped gratefully. “And just as an expression of gratitude for your thoughtfulness, in the future I shall endeavor to remember to say ‘present company excepted,’” she informed him tongue in cheek.
“Women!” he laughed throwing up his hands in mock despair.
“Can’t live with us, and you can’t live without us,” she called after his retreating form. Her quick-witted reply reminded him of his earlier assertion and increased his chuckle to a hearty roar, and with that light-hearted exchange the normal tenor of their relationship was once again restored.
Soon after that the luggage was stored in his SUV, and in no time she was deposited at her hotel without any further troubling incidents. Assuring himself that all was well at the hotel and with a promise to return for her at six, he was on his way after encouraging her to get some rest--an admonition she did not need.
Before he had completed the journey to the lobby, she had haphazardly discarded her clothing and climbed into bed. A quick conversation with the front desk for a wake-up call, and her head sank blissfully into the soft pillows. She spared a brief thought for her physician and conceded that quite possibly she had been correct after all. This rest may not be such a bad idea. She had been going full tilt for the last six years. Her eyelids grew heavy and began their slow descent.
A dreamy expression settled over her features as she recalled a pair of ebony eyes set in a face of rich, brown mahogany. With that vision every fascinating detail of their encounter came vividly back to mind. She remembered his neatly trimmed goatee and mustache, and the set of perfectly even, white teeth revealed by his ready smile. She remembered his muscular physique and her reaction to it. She recalled that velvety smooth voice of his as he had woven a spell of make believe around them.
A smile of pure enchantment had her lips tilting slowly upward as she recalled and savored every wonderful detail of their encounter. Inevitably, however, she was bound to recollect the woman who had intruded upon the fantasy world he had so skillfully created. “Ooooh!” she hissed angrily into her pillow, turning restlessly.
Several times over the remainder of the morning and into the afternoon, her fist jabbed angrily into her pillow, and she assured herself that there was positively no correlation between her actions and the mental image of his smiling face which refused to be banished.
By the close of the evening she had most of the distributors convinced she was doing their businesses a favor by allowing them to carry her line of fragrances. Even stodgy, old Mrs. Reynalls, who was rarely pleased by anything, was captivated by this aggressive young lady and her astute business acumen.
Paul had held reservations about including her this evening. She was too opinionated and Pamela was too forthright. At best, the two of them would be a volatile mixture. But Valerie had been adamant, and to his utter amazement, Mrs. Reynalls had found her new acquaintance and business colleague to be “delightfully refreshing”--so much so that she had prevailed upon Pamela to come by one of her boutiques on the following morning prior to catching her flight.
As always, Valerie had set an elegant table with snowy white linen, fine china with delicate filigree of gold trim, sparkling crystal, and highly polished, gold-trimmed flatware that complimented the china perfectly. The centerpiece alone was an object d’art. Clearly she had spent hours creating the cheery, holiday display that adorned the center of the table.
Whereas, the beauty of the table had made a definite visual impact, the cuisine was a different matter altogether. Pamela was not big on eating these days, and tonight was no exception. She had spent the greater portion of the evening shifting the food on her plate from one place to another to give the appearance of eating. Afterwards she could not recall one single course. But by all accounts of the others present, the meal was an unqualified success. It was somewhere between the main course and dessert that Mrs. Reynalls’s invitation had come, and finding no way to graciously decline, she had reluctantly accepted.
The arrangement of her guests was important to Valerie. Seating alone could make or break a dinner party. She had pondered long and hard about where to seat Mrs. Reynalls. In the end she had settled on placing her across the table from Pamela. It was inevitable that the two of them should strike up a conversation.
Mrs. Reynalls, with her short, naturally curly, gray hair, large gold hoops, and numerous gold chains around her neck, was an imposing figure. Not in size. She only stood about five feet and was quite petite in build, but her diminutive stature masked a bulging intuitiveness that most acquaintances found intimidating, and her willingness to voice this insight made her appear even more formidable.
Pamela was now the unwilling recipient of her careful scrutiny. Several times during the course of the meal, she had found the older woman studying her with open curiosity. Such intense scrutiny had been disquieting, and because of it, she had no wish to spend more time than necessary in the other woman’s unsettling presence. Something about that probing gaze of the older woman unsettled the younger one. At one point during the meal, as though sensing her reluctance, Mrs. Reynalls had found it necessary to explain why she had taken an instant liking to the younger woman.
“I think, Pamela . . . ,” she had begun to confide to the table at large, only to pause and with a youthfully beguiling smile proceeded to inquire. “You don’t mind if I call you Pamela, do you?”
“Not at all, Mrs. Reynalls,” she had replied as expected, too tired to care what anyone called her.
At that particular moment in time, she would have settled for being addressed as the despised Pammy if the person doing so were providing a bed to crawl into. Sheer force of will was the only thing standing between her present upright position and the horizontal one her aching body longed for.
“Thank you. Now, where was I?” The matronly lady paused to inquire of no one in particular. “Oh, yes,” she remembered. “I think we’ll have a long and prosperous relationship. I certainly appreciate your honest and forthright manner. No kowtowing. I like that in a person,” she declared forcefully. “Too often people spend their time telling me what they think I want to hear and not what they really believe or feel.”
At this unsolicited revelation, Pamela had mumbled an embarrassed, “Thank you,” and once again conversation had become general, allowing no further opportunity for personal observations until much later in the evening.
Just prior to her departure, Mrs. Reynalls had sought her out, desiring to have a private word with her. The possible nature of their tête-à-tête never crossed Pamela’s mind. How could it? Tonight was the first time she’d laid eyes on the woman! How could she have suspected that Mrs. Reynalls was about to negotiate terrain her family was afraid to tread?
“Have you always created fragrances?” Mrs. Reynalls began without preamble once they had moved out of earshot of the other diners.
Pamela wasn’t sure what she had expected, but it certainly wasn’t this. To say that these unexpected and prying words annoyed her would be a gross misrepresentation of her feelings. They placed her in a blistering rage. She barely knew this woman whose question evoked too many unpleasant memories. Memories she had no wish to recall. Memories she had buried deep in the hidden recesses of her mind. The fact that this total stranger had no right to pry into her private affairs only added salt to the wound.
When she’d spied Mrs. Reynalls openly studying her throughout the evening, she had chalked it up to eccentricity. But now she wasn’t so sure. It would appear she had underestimated the older woman’s powers of perception. It had been a mistake on her part to discard the unease Mrs. Reynalls’s earlier scrutiny had generated. The effrontery of the woman! she charged inwardly as she desperately racked her brain for a reply that would answer her question but reveal nothing.
“I beg your pardon,” she stalled, barely managing to conceal her displeasure.
“Have you always . . . ?” Mrs. Reynalls began to repeat her question, apparently undaunted by Pamela’s unresponsiveness.
“I know what you asked,” she interrupted sharply before pausing to take a much-needed calming breath. “But I’m not sure I understand why you asked it,” she finished in calmer tones.
“When I look at you, the phrase ‘a fish out of water’ comes to mind,” she offered in an attempt to explain her interest. “Please forgive my use of the cliché,” she hurried to request. “But I have no other way of describing the way I feel.” She paused to study the troubled young woman standing before her and could not resist the driving force compelling her to voice her question again. “Is creating perfumes the only thing you’ve ever done?” She persisted in spite of her young companion’s growing annoyance.
“This is what I’ve done since college,” she hedged, ignoring the pestering voice that mocked her reply. By this time her distress was obvious and could no longer be ignored.
Placing a consoling hand on her arm, Mrs. Reynalls offered an apology.
“I’ve offended you, my dear, and I’m sorry. That was never my intention,” she assured her young acquaintance. “My forthrightness is sometimes off-putting, but the truth is, you remind me so much of my husband Marcus. He’s an artist . . . of sorts,” she amended with a fond smile. “He designs and creates music boxes. I’m not sure you’re familiar with his work, but each one is individually designed and handcrafted. No two are exactly alike.” The pride in Mrs. Reynalls’s voice as she spoke of her spouse could not be missed.
“Marcus Reynalls is your husband?” she queried in surprise, causing the smile on Mrs. Reynalls’s face to broaden. Who didn’t know his work? His music boxes had become collector’s items.
“He dislikes leaving the creative side to deal with the mundane issues of day-to-day business. That’s why he’s not here tonight. Sometimes he comes, but tonight he’s working,” she explained. “He’s an artist and detests anything which takes him away from that pursuit. Or he’s unfulfilled, if you prefer. You remind me of him. I sense your soul is that of an artist and not of a business woman.” Realizing Pamela was about to hotly protest her analysis, she hurried to clarify her observation. “Don’t misunderstand me! You’re excellent at it. So is Marcus. But just as Marcus, you’re unfulfilled doing it,” she accurately assessed.
With those words dangling between the two of them, she paused for Pamela’s reply. When she remained stubbornly silent, refusing to affirm or deny the other woman’s observations, Mrs. Reynalls resumed speaking.
Her next words stirred emotions Pamela had determinedly refused to deal with over the past few years. Instead she had hidden them away behind the celebrated closed door. This morning her mother had forced that door ajar, and before she’d been granted sufficient time to secure it once more a pair of penetrating, black eyes had sought to peer inside. Unlike the others before her, however, Mrs. Reynalls took no notice of her affronted air. She barged right in, flipped the switch and illuminated the room, forcing Pamela to come face to face with the ghosts hiding there. Mrs. Reynalls’s softly spoken words seemed to reverberate around the room, but in fact they were only for her hearing.
“I don’t know who hurt you or why,” she startled her young companion by observing. “But I do know that God has always been there. Through all the hurt and pain. He has neither deserted you nor forgotten you.” Mrs. Reynalls paused to see what effect her words were having on her young companion only to find that Pamela gave every appearance of being totally unmoved by her show of compassion. But Mrs. Reynalls wasn’t finished--not by a long shot.
“He has someone very special just for you, my dear. Someone who is just like you,” she stated enigmatically.
Those surprising words of comfort were almost her undoing. They called to mind a pair of obsidian eyes with the spark and fire of diamonds. His image was quickly joined by that of a striking young woman and fretful infant. The injustice of this mental picture caused tears to pool in her eyes. “O God, no!” Her heart cried as she batted her lashes furiously to stem the flow of tears. She couldn’t succumb to them now. She hadn’t cried then. Not even when she had learned that another woman was carrying her fiancé’s child. But it hadn’t been just any woman, her wayward heart mocked . . . No! she strongly admonished the memories encroaching upon her, and struggled in vain to consign them back to the confines of that closet.
Mrs. Reynalls observed the internal struggle being waged by the young woman standing before her and could not withhold the words which came unbidden to her lips.
“There is a very deep hurt inside you that God wants to heal. But the healing can’t begin until you allow those tears to flow--bitter, heart-wrenching, agonizingly angry tears. That hurt clouds your every decision. Only when you surrender it, will your life be able to move forward.”
None of the other occupants of the room could overhear these words nor see the unshed tears in Pamela’s eyes, but they were all witnesses to Mrs. Reynalls’s uncharacteristic show of affection as she embraced her. “You will be in my prayers,” she promised kindly before excusing herself and proceeding to bid the other dinner guests good evening for all the world as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
Pamela eyed the other woman’s retreating form in vexation. She could not help but wonder if she would ever be able to repair the damage done to the life she had so carefully constructed.
Today had begun as every other day, but it certainly wasn’t ending that way. The defensive barriers she had so painstakingly erected around herself had taken years to perfect, and in the span of hours they had been totally demolished. And in less than the span of a day, her life had been drastically altered by two completely different strangers.
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