"To Fall in Love Again"-Part 3
by Sandy Kay Slawson
The next week, Chad walked into the office determined to ask Tina on a date. He didn't want to spend another Friday night alone. At thirty, the single life had lost its appeal. Whether or not Tina was the one he couldn't know, but he wanted to find out. In the waiting area sat Mrs. Wilcox from his church. A sweet widow who loved to brag on her children and their families. Each. Individual. One. His conversation with Tina would have to wait.
On his lunch break, a call from his father stopped him on his way to find Tina.
"Hey, Son. Golf this Saturday?"
Chad's dad never wasted words.
"Sure, what time?"
"Come eat breakfast with me and your mom at seven and then we'll shoot for a tee time at eight."
"Sounds great! Just you and me?"
"I may see if your brother can come, too," said Mr. Fayard.
"Hope so. See you at seven this Saturday then."
"Yes, sir, Lord willing. Bye, Dad."
As soon as the line went dead, Chad left his office in search of Tina. She'd already left for lunch. Disappointed he trudged to the fridge in the break room and took out his lunch, sank into a hard backed chair, said a quick prayer, and ate without tasting a thing. So far, this day had not gone as he'd envisioned.
Something about Tina had changed since he'd embarrassed her last Friday. Her interactions with him were less...guarded, her smiles more frequent. Whatever happened, he just hoped it wasn't a new boyfriend in the picture.
Chad scrunched up his wax paper and tossed it toward the waste basket near the fridge. "He shoots! Yes! He scores! The crowd goes wild!" The sound of clapping drew his attention to the doorway. Tina watched him with constrained amusement. He grabbed his soda and apple and stood. "Hey...you caught me. That was ninety-eight out of ninety eight."
"Wow. All today?"
"No, just when I eat lunch here by myself. I didn't hear you return," said Chad with a sheepish shrug.
"I'm sure you didn't. The roar of the crowd probably drowned out the door chime."
Tina's grin and wink did funny things in his gut. Maybe he should ask now while they were alone?
"Anyway, I came to find you because your one o'clock is early. Do you want me to put them off or...?"
Chad grimaced. Twenty minutes early. Twenty minutes he might've had a private conversation with Tina. He blew out a frustrated sigh.
"Alright, please tell them I'll see them in five-minutes."
Chad winced as she turned to go. He hoped her view of him as her boss wouldn't scare her away from accepting his invitation.
Chad's last appointment ended a few minutes before five. He followed his client out of his office and locked the entrance door behind them. As he did, Tina's phone conversation broke through his internal musings.
“Look, Jaz, Sheila shouldn’t have given you my work number.”
He wished he could hear the other end of that discussion.
“I’m done with all that, Jaz! Ummm, I mean…I’m done with that life. I'm sorry, but no. It's not you it's-”
Chad stood in his doorway, jealous this Jazz dude had gotten his chance. At least it appeared she didn't carry any torch for him. His eyes collided with Tina’s as she swiveled in her chair and noticed him there.
“I have to go. Please, don’t call me at work anymore.” Tina hung up the phone with more force than usual then faced him fully. “Sorry, sir. I realize personal calls are discouraged during business hours-”
"Forget it. It's obvious you aren't the one who made the call." Chad pushed off his door frame, grabbed a chair, and settled beside Tina’s desk. When he dropped into the chair, Tina watched him with wide-eyes. “No worries. Umm...not to be nosy, but it didn’t sound as if you were too glad to speak with that Jazz fellow. I assume Jazz is a guy...”
“Yes, sir, he is, and no, I didn't appreciate him calling me here.”
Tina didn’t elaborate, so he changed the subject.
“I’ve told you before, you don’t need to address me as ‘Sir’, it makes me feel old. A plain Chad is fine.”
“Yes, s…Chad," said Tina with a slight tinge of nervousness in her voice.
"I've been hoping for a chance to speak with you. Do you have a little time?"
A door opened down the hall and Livvy came into the waiting area.
"Hey, boss. I finished checking those numbers for you," said Livvy as she threw her backpack over her shoulder. "I'll see you tomorrow afternoon."
"Great, bye," said Chad.
"Bye, Livvy," said Tina.
Chad waited until the door clicked shut behind Livvy then faced Tina once more.
“I had a reason for coming out here to speak with you.” A worried frown creased her brow. He hurried on. “Nothing’s wrong, I…I…Are you dating anyone?” Tina’s eyebrows shot up. “You don’t have to tell me, of course. Being your employer makes this awkward, but whatever your answer, this has nothing to do with your job here.” Wow. No lead in. No small talk, just blurt it out. Lame, Chad.
“No…no one. Why do you ask?”
“Are you busy tonight?” There. He'd said it, and it couldn't be undone. Not that he wanted to undo it, but whatever her answer, she now knew of his interest in her. If she said no, he'd deal with it. He'd have to deal with it.
Tina had not expected this. She'd been all prepared to go home and fold laundry while she watched a show. Her mind flew back to Jaz's call. He'd asked her out, too, but she had no intention of falling back into the pretense of biker chic. Though her version had been mild and rather harmless, it didn't reflect who she really wanted to be. Better to make a clean cut and move on.
Chad waited for her answer with quiet patience, and she appreciated the time to think. She had no doubt what she wanted her answer to be, but she also didn't want to ruin a good thing. What if she didn't meet his expectations? What if her past made him lose respect for her? What if it changed everything for the worse? But...what if it changed everything for the better?
"If you're not busy, how about we go grab a bite to eat. Do you like Italian?"
He made it seem so uncomplicated. Maybe his invitation didn't involve any romantic feelings. Maybe he just didn't want to eat alone.
"No. I mean I don't have any plans. Yes, I like Italian."
"Would you join me for supper at Luigi's then?"
Tina fought her inner battle between hope and doubt. Help me, Jesus. Please don't let me make another relationship mistake. Tina's bout of anxiety eased and she breathed in a breath of courage.
"I'd like that."
To be continued...
Tina is finally ready to be who God created her to be, to live the life He designed for her. How many of us waste years not truly knowing ourselves? Years never asking our Creator why we are here? I know I did. But since I've begun to learn who I am and what I am here for, it has made such a difference in my perspective. I'm finally beginning to feel comfortable in my own skin. I'm finally learning to appreciate why I am the way I am.
Your support is truly appreciated! I am thankful for y'all! I hope you'll come again and again. Have a very Happy Monday and Happy week! May the Lord God bless each of you and your families with faith, hope and love. In Jesus' Name.
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