Welcome to Day 4! Congratulations Mary R from Lakeland, FL.
I’m not sure how all romance writers write, but whenever I write a story, I almost always think about it from other sides. When two people meet, I write from one perspective. But what about the other? What’s going through their minds at the same time?
When I wrote my second chance romance short story, the moment I finished writing it from Rea’s perspective, the other side of me instantly went to Dan’s story. What was he thinking as he strode into Walgreens to pick up a few items for his mom? Did he notice Rea before he asked a question? Did he really look at her, or did that come later?
And once those questions started appearing, I knew I needed to answer them.
I had a friend divorce after twenty years of marriage. Sitting in a restaurant consoling her a few months after her divorce, she whined about a lot of things. We may have consumed a few too many glasses of wine in the process. 🙂 She had to talk about all of his faults, his bad characteristics, and his bad behavior. But the one thing I’ll never forget – a question she kept raising over and over: “Will I ever have sex again? Will I ever have the closeness that comes from being in a marriage?”
And that really is the thing with second chance romance. Right smack dab in our forties, fifties, or sixties, we’re still viable individuals. We’re not ready to give up on all of that. We still want the closeness and intimacy of personal, one on one contact. We want what has been such a familiar part of our lives for so long.
I can’t imagine ever giving that up. Maybe that’s why second chance romance intrigues me as much as it does.
You’ve read Rea’s side. Now read Dan’s.
Dan blew out his breath, and ran a hand through his hair. Could this day get any worse?
He’d agreed to care for his mom while his sister and brother-in-law took a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Two weeks in, it was shaping up to be one of the most miserable experiences of his life.
Not that he didn’t love his mom, or even do his share. But he did the more practical things. He fixed up his mom’s house. He did her taxes. He bought her a phone and showed her how to use it. Albeit a Jitterbug phone; one she could reach anyone she wanted to call with just the press of a very large button.
He did what he could. But the daily running around to make her happy? He’d never realized all his sister was doing. He had a new appreciation for her. In fact, he’d been writing things down, trying to find ways to make her job more efficient. This could drive anyone crazy, he’d decided, and his sister didn’t deserve all his mom was dishing out.
“Sign right here, please.” He took the pen from the cashier and signed the receipt, then pushed the slip back and dropped the pen in a holder conveniently located beside the register.
The clerk looked at him apologetically. “We’re a little backed up.” She nodded towards the waiting space with standing room only. “It’ll be twenty to thirty minutes.”
“That’s okay. I have a few things to pick up.”
“Great.” She seemed to perk up, knowing he wouldn’t be stuck with the others. “We’ll call your name over the speaker when we have it ready.”
He nodded, and moved out of the way, to let the next person move up in line.
He hadn’t glanced at the list his mom had shoved into his hand as he dropped her off at home after her doctor appointment. He’d simply nodded, shoved it in his pocket, and promised to be back with lunch in just a short while.
He pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to control his current desire to run screaming out of the store. Everywhere he looked, he was reminded of age. Seventy and eighty somethings thinking this was the best way to spend an afternoon. The thought of returning to his desk at work had never sounded so good.
He unfolded the paper, and started working his way through the list.
Adult diapers … what the fuck? Seriously?
His sister had never mentioned that.
He pushed his cart around towards the back, and looked up at the aisle signs for navigation. He found the aisle that looked promising, and started making his way down.
Quickly his attention shifted from the shelves to the woman taking up most of the aisle.
“Mom,” she said, oozing with frustration.
He tried to focus in on the task at hand, but he couldn’t help but watch her actions. There was something about her.
“I’ll get that for you too. I should be there in an hour or so. Would you like to go to lunch?”
The closer he got, the more he couldn’t help but stare. Her jeans fit her perfectly. The sweater she had on was classy in an understated way. Her boots only made her taller than her already tall height. He knew he could almost look her in the eye, which wasn’t something he did very often with his six foot two frame.
Her blonde hair swung over her shoulder. He watched it bounce every time she turned, which she currently was doing quite a bit, as she was clearly not happy with her Mom on the other end of the phone.
“Mom, I said I’d bring that with me. I have it in the car.”
She turned and walked right into his chest. And immediately looked up into his eyes.
He swallowed. He felt a deep pull from within. He felt … horny? And just where the hell had that come from?
He hadn’t felt that in a very long time.
Not since his wife had died over two years before.
Not since his job had become a bigger part of his life, mostly because he couldn’t bare going home.
Not since he’d spent most of his free time helping out his sister, and his mother.
But this woman in front of him; she was truly beautiful. And he couldn’t help but notice.
“Mom, I really have to go. I’ll be there soon.” She hung up and slipped her phone in her pocket.
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to run into you like that. I was a little preoccupied …” She blew out her breath, which sent the hair that had fallen in front of her eyes flying.
Think, Dan. Say something cool. “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?”
That’s the best you could do?
But he was happy to see her cover her mouth, biting back a smile. “Talking from experience, are you?”
He ran his hand through his hair. “You have no idea.”
She was beautiful. He’d guess somewhere near his age. But she wore it well.
She also seemed to be in the same predicament as he.
He glanced around, noting they were the only two under the age of seventy. Talk about depressing. But he had a timeline. And he didn’t want his mom calling him, asking about lunch. He still had a lot to do once he returned to her home.
He had no idea what to do about the next item on her list. So he decided to ask for help. Maybe not the coolest thing to talk about, but they did seem to have aging mothers in common.
He leaned in a little closer. “Do you know anything about those?” He pointed to the fourth thing on his list.
“Unfortunately, I do. I was about to grab one for my mom.” She pulled a small package 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?” He stood there, baffled. Waist size? He didn’t know he needed a waist size.
“You have no idea.”
He chuckled. “I really don’t.”
He was grateful when she pulled a package off the shelf, turned it, and printed to the sizing guidelines. No ring on her finger. And why the hell did I notice that?
He moved in closer. A quick glance told him he still had no idea. She seemed to notice by his look.
“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?”
It was his mom. How did you describe your mom?
He thought for a moment. A woman passed by who appeared to be about the same. “She looks about like that.”
He watched as she 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, then burst into laughter.
She was doing something to him. And he wasn’t ready for this conversation to be over. In fact, he suddenly had a feeling he’d like it to go on all day. He wanted to keep her talking. And see her smile again. “You know, I had no idea this place would be this busy.”
“You didn’t know this was the place to be?” She made a face that left him giddy inside. “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.” Even now, looking at the twenty or so elders milling about, he shook his head wondering how life had turned to this. He had to think about that more when he had the time.
“I’m Rea.” She followed his line of vision. “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.”
“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 …”
He watched as her eyes clouded over, more than likely seeing something horrifying her mom had done.
Oh, could he share a few stories of his own. Like the time his own mother had called wondering if it was normal for a microwave to smoke without turning it on.
A roar of laughter echoed from the waiting area. “They seem so innocent over there. It makes you wonder what stories their kids could tell.”
He turned back and smiled as he found her still deep in thought.
“Sorry, I was just taking a trip down memory lane. The stories …” She shivered. “Did you say something?”
He laughed. “Nothing much, really. I was just commenting that it seems to be a party over there. They really appear to be enjoying themselves.”
She turned and watched. “You know, I’ve never been here at this time of the day before. I usually stop by on my way home from work. It is kind of strange isn’t it?”
He thought back to the feeling he’d had when he first met his wife, back in college. He’d seen her across a crowded room at a birthday party for a mutual friend, and he’d known immediately they were destined to be together.
He’d been so lonely since she’d died. He hadn’t thought much about dating. His life was more than busy. But suddenly, looking at this woman in front of him, he could see himself with someone by his side. He was only fifty-five.
She turned back and her eyes met his. She didn’t blink or falter. He liked that.
“Rea Hamilton, your order is ready.”
“Um, that’s me …”
He nodded. He couldn’t think. What could he say to keep her talking? They were in the middle of a store. “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.”
He watched as she made her way back up the aisle.
When the sales associate called his name a few seconds later, he made up his mind to see if he could still find her. He checked out quickly and raced up the aisle. As he sped through the door, he stopped and looked around.
“Rea, wait.” He jogged over to her car.
Her eyes questioned why he was here. But he also saw something more. A tiny hint that said she felt it too. It was all he needed to take the next step.
“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?”
He felt his phone buzz, and knew it was his mother. But for right now, she’d have to wait.
He had a chance to start living too. He needed just a second to find out if he’d have something to look forward to, beyond all his mother was dishing out.
He felt his grin start to surface as he saw her answer in her eyes.
“I’d love to.”