Welcome to day 3 of my giveaway! Congratulations to today’s winner, Pam W from LaPorte IN.

Today I thought I’d share a new story with you.

Somewhere along life’s path, I decided the standard romance novel format wasn’t doing it for me. And that’s when I discovered the second chance romance concept.

You too?

The typical romance novel goes something like this.

  • Boy meets girl.
  • Boy and girl fall in love.
  • Boy and girl get married.
  • Boy and girl have a baby.
  • Boy and girl live happily ever after.

Or some order thereof.

Yeah, those were the days.

I like those kind of romance novels; don’t get me wrong. I still read them today. And they can be fun. Especially when the girl is a little older. Maybe she has a career first, and is looking for love now that she’s in her thirties. She has class. She has spunk. She has attitude. Yep, I love those.

But now that I’m in my fifties, I also want to read about love between people my age. I’ve done the falling in love, getting married, and raising a family thing. Now I’m right in the middle of midlife, and life is a whole lot different. Things like:

  • Empty nest
  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Caring for elderly parents
  • Finding careers and losing jobs
  • Throwing everything away and wanting to start over again

All of that is in my life. But no matter how old I am, I want love too. In fact, as a 53 year old, I know romance can be better than ever. The kids are gone, I have more time on hands, I’m more willing to drop everything and try new things. Why shouldn’t love be great too?!

That was originally how I came up with my very first book, Destination Barcelona.

My daughter was finishing high school, looking at colleges, and mapping out her future. We decided to take her on a summer trip to Europe, and while traveling around Spain and Italy, I started thinking about using an empty nest as the starting point for a book.

What would a single woman do when her only daughter moved more than a thousand miles from home to attend college? What would she do if she didn’t have the career of her dreams, and really didn’t have a direction for her life, now that she was on her own?

And once that book was published, it led to the entire Destination series.

That was just the start of things to come.

I start my days writing short stories. And I thought I’d share one of my recent ones with you.

When I wrote this story, I wrote it from Rea’s perspective. But as I finished it, I started wondering what Dan was thinking during this meeting. So I sat down and wrote the entire conversation, only from his perspective instead.

Today you’ll get Rea’s story. Tomorrow is Dan’s. I’d love to hear from you – what do you think? Does it have merits for a novel?

“Mom.” Rea held the phone up to her ear, patiently listening. She paced back and forth, up and down the aisles of her local Walgreens, waiting for the pharmacist to call her name. She stopped in front of a shelf and started eyeing the bottles. “I’ll get that for you too. I should be there in an hour or so. Would you like to go to lunch?” She pulled the correct brand of eyedrops off the shelf and dropped it in her cart.
She put her hand up to her eyes, rubbing the bridge of her nose. Patience. For the umpteenth time that day, she willed herself to stand strong and find just a little bit more from deep within. Her mom was just a little forgetful, and Rea felt like all she did is repeat the same conversation, over and over …
“Mom, I said I’d bring that with me. I have it in the car.”
She turned and walked right into the chest of the best looking man she’d seen in a very long time.
Not that she had much to go on. She hadn’t looked at men in a very long time. Not real men anyway.
She loved all the Chris’s currently on the big screen. The Ryan’s weren’t all that bad either. Sure, they were too young for her. Hell, every one of them was just a little older than her son. But a girl could look. Her life was filled working forty hours a week. And when that was finished, she spent another forty hours running after her mom whose health was failing a little more each day. Dating? Yeah, no. That was out of the equation.
“Mom, I really have to go. I’ll be there soon.” She clicked before her mom could get in another word.
She slipped her phone in her pocket, backed up, and focused on the man in front of her. A quick glance had told her he was about her age. His gray hair was still thick, cut just above the ear. He had on a trim, black coat that fell just above the knee. The scarf tucked in gave him just a hint of sophistication. His clothes screamed class. But his face told a different story.
Frazzled; that was the first word that popped into Rea’s mind. She knew that word well. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to run into you like that. I was a little preoccupied …”
His face relaxed. He even let the hint of a grin surface. “Let me guess; your mom sent you on a mission to pick up prescriptions here and once you left, she thought of a million other things you should get?”
Rea covered her mouth as she bit back a smile. “Talking from experience, are you?”
He ran his hand through his hair. A ringless hand, she noted.
“You have no idea.” His eye roll confirmed his exasperation.
He glanced around, as if making sure nobody was near. Then leaned in a little closer. “Do you know anything about those?” He pointed to one of the shelves.
She glanced down. She bit back another smile. “Unfortunately, I do. I was about to grab one for my mom.” She pulled a small package of Depends off the shelf and added it to her cart. “Is it for your mom?”
He nodded. “I have no idea about any of this. My sister usually does all this. But she’s away for a month, and, well …”
“You’re stuck buying adult diapers.”
He huffed his breath. “Yes.”
“So, what’s your mom’s waist size?” Rea grabbed a package and turned it to the side, showing him the chart. She looked up and found him just as perplexed as before. “You have no idea.”
He chuckled. “I really don’t.”
“So how tall is she?”
He held up his hand to the middle of his chest. “About here.”
“Okay, is she petite? If you hug her, how would you do it?”
He thought for a moment. He watched as another woman passed them by. Quietly, he pointed behind him. “She looks about like that.”
Andrea glanced behind him, nodded. Then she pulled a package off the shelf. “I would try these. You can always bring them back.”
“Thank you. You have no idea how grateful I am.”
“Not a problem. I’m just standing around waiting for my mom’s prescriptions. Enjoying the scenery.”
They both looked around at the customers milling around, the workers stocking the seasonal shelf. When they looked back at each other, they both burst into laughter.
He regained his composure first. “You know, I had no idea this place would be this busy.”
“You didn’t know this was the place to be?” She looked at him with mock horror. “It’s all the rage on a weekday afternoon.”
He chuckled. “Don’t get out much, do you?”
“You really have no idea. Between my job, my mom, yeah, life is just zooming by.”
He reached out a hand. “I’m Dan by the way. Thank you so much for helping me. I was a little nervous coming in here, especially when I saw this crowd.” He nodded towards the twenty or so people standing around waiting for the same thing.
“I’m Rea.” She looked over at the others, all in their seventies and eighties, and decided to push her luck. “Are you from around here? You said this is normally your sister’s gig.”
“Yeah, but I live in the city. LoDo, actually. I moved there last year to be closer to my work. I was tired of the big family home in the burbs. Me and thirty-five hundred square feet wasn’t cutting it anymore. I wanted something … different.”
Hmmm. He admitted to being single. This day keeps getting better. Rea had never felt so comfortable with someone in such a short timeframe. “I know what you mean. I sold everything and moved to a townhome in Stapleton a couple of years ago for much of the same reason. I love being in a walkable neighborhood. And it’s nice not having outside work anymore either.”
He groaned. “I wish I could say I got out of all of that. My sister retired last year, so she does all the shopping and doctors visits. I normally spend time on the weekends with mom, doing the household chores.”
“So you traded your housework in for your mom’s? Nice!” she teased.
“I know, insane right? I’m grateful I did, though. I can’t imagine having to double up. This is quickly becoming a lot bigger than I anticipated.”
She nodded. “It’s nice there are two of you though. It’s just me for the most part. My sister lives on the east coast. So she only gets out here once or twice a year.”
“How do you do this all the time? I’m definitely getting a new appreciation after the past couple of weeks. I’m never going to let my sister and her husband out of my sight again.”
She laughed. “Not giving up your day job?”
“Never.” He shuddered at the thought. “If I’d ever thought of retiring before, I wouldn’t now.”
“I know. Working is the one thing that still keeps me sane. I thought raising kids was bad. I’d take a dozen three year olds any day over one eighty year old. At least you can pick up a three year old and reprimand them for their tantrums.”
“I like that. I never thought of it like that. But they really are like overgrown three year olds, aren’t they?”
“The stories I could tell …” And as she said it, a bunch of them popped into her mind.
Like the time her mom called her frantically, wondering where she’d put her teapot. Rea had been nervous enough that she went over on her lunch break to assess the situation. She’d found not one, but two on the stove, Thankfully, neither burner had been turned on.
Or the time she called asking …
She realized Dan was staring at her, grinning.
“Sorry, I was just taking a trip down memory lane. The stories …” She shivered. “Did you say something?”
He laughed. A sound she really liked hearing.
“Nothing much, really. I was just commenting that it seems to be a party over there. They really appear to be enjoying themselves.”
Rea turned and watched as the entire waiting room outside the pharmacy stood laughing and talking with each other, as if it were a social gathering they’d all been invited to. “You know, I’ve never been here at this time of the day. I usually stop by on my way home from work. It is kind of strange isn’t it?”
She looked up and found Dan staring. Without missing a beat, her eyes held his.
Rarely had a man had this effect on her. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt something stir deep within.
She studied him. The lines that formed at the corners of his mouth. The deep gray eyes that held her own. The smattering of hair that was barely visible in the v-cut of his shirt.
The attraction was powerful; she could tell he felt it too.
But at Walgreens? Really? These kinds of things only happen in the movies.
“Rea Hamilton, your order is ready.”
“Um, that’s me …”
He nodded. “Thanks again.” He pointed to his cart. “I don’t know what I what I would have done without you.”
“Sure. Anytime. Good luck with your mom.”
“You too.”
Rea made her way through the crowd and picked up her prescription, then made her way up to the front to finish checking out. As she was leaving, she gave a quick glance over her shoulder. Of course, you can’t see him. He’s still waiting.
She shook her head.
This was about her mom. It wasn’t the time or the place to find anything more.
Still, if she had been looking, if she’d wanted to find something more, he’d have caught her eye.
She pushed her cart out to her car. She opened up her trunk and tucked her bag inside, right next to the collection she’d accumulated running errands this morning.
One more errand to go. Then she’d drop off her purchases at her mom’s and take her out to lunch.
“Rea, wait.”
She turned and saw Dan jogging up to meet her, with two bags in his hands.
“Dan, hi.” She felt her heart skip a beat as he came to a stop right in front of her.
He looked at her expectantly. Maybe even a little nervously. He shook his head, as if giving himself a shot of courage. “Maybe this is crazy. Hell, I don’t know what happened in there. But I didn’t want to see you leave. Tell me if you aren’t interested, or if this was completely one-sided. But would you like to have dinner with me?”
A little flutter rode its way up and made her smile.
She might have complained over and over again about all the chores she did for her mom. She might have whined about how much time she spent each week doing things for everyone but herself.
But for the first time in a very long time, she was happy to have been doing something for her mom. For the first time, it might have led her to something just for her.
A date. An opportunity. And a chance to have a little fun.
She smiled and nodded. “I’d love to.”