First

A BIG Thank You! To everyone who entered my Valentine’s Giveaway. There’s just something about this time of the year, right? I guess deep down, I’ve had a romantic heart. So this just seemed like the best way to celebrate … with you!

I have four prizes to giveaway – autographed books – by me – and a few extra prizes tucked in. The lucky winners are:

Lynn S from Mohnton PA
Lisa B from Wallingford CT
Barbara L from Arvada CO
Mary S from Hartline WA

Congrats to everyone! Watch your mailbox, your packages will arrive soon.

Second

I’m off to my writing retreat! I’ve been working at double speed to get everything done. But it will be sooo worth it when I can spend four solid days dreaming of new stories and planning my future writing endeavors.

My next book has officially been sent to my editor. Watch for it in the next couple of months. I’ll be having a teaser soon.

Third

Last but not least, I have another story for you .. as promised.

It’s been over 36 years since I’ve gone on a first date. I was a mere child back then. And while I have no desire ever to repeat that process – I’m very happy, thank you very much – today’s dating process intrigues me. It’s difficult enough as a young woman, how the hell do you survive it for the second time around?

So that’s where I went with today’s short story, with only the prompt of “online dating” to set it up.

Hope you enjoy!

Margo and Dan

Margo was nervous. Hell, she was petrified.
How did she keep getting into these situations?
She loved her best friend, Karin. They’d known each other for years.
Karin had been there for her through everything. The good times and the bad.
And when Margo’s husband Peter had been diagnosed with cancer, it had gone from bad to worse.
Margo and Pete had done everything with Karin and her husband, Mike. They’d been making travel plans to start celebrating their empty nest years, when the doctors found the mass.
And no matter what they did or what treatment they’d tried, he’d never fully recovered from that fateful day in the doctor’s office when their world had changed.
Karin had been her rock. She’d organized dinner nights so Margo never had to cook. She’d stayed with her all hours of the night, just to talk.
And after … well, she’d been there for all of that too.
Karin never pushed her harder than she needed. Margo had been the first to bring up dating again. And she’d done so only after she’d joined a couple of dating sites and had a little experience behind her.
Not like she ever found anyone remotely interesting in the online world. But she’d had a few coffees, met a few men for lunch.
And only then had she mentioned her latest activity to her best friend.
Margo had almost given up on dating when Karin had said: I have a friend. It was someone she’d known from work. Someone who’d been divorced for a few months and who was also getting back in the game.
He hadn’t been awful; he just wasn’t her type. They knew that after a few minutes of conversation.
So she’d gone back to her tap-click-swipe routine. Until Karin had called her up again and said: I know someone else.
The second guy was good looking, but he knew it too. Who the hell starts talking about sex before the entree arrives?
She’d shaken his hand as they parted ways, making it clear there was no connection.
Then last week, Karin had called with number three.
Just meet him for a drink, she said. He’s different, she said.
Her best friend was nothing but annoying. Okay, maybe in a good way.
But the more Karin had talked, the more Margo listened. He did sound different. And so she gave it a try. Here she was a third time, walking into her favorite restaurant, to meet a guy.
He’d sounded nice enough on the phone. She could tell he was nervous.
So they made a plan. And from her own experience, she created an escape.
She always brought her own car. She could claim a headache if it were bad. And she’d seen the worst; she’d been getting good at walking away.
Why was dating so difficult? Why had it changed so much in all the years?
Margo had asked herself that again and again.
It wasn’t as if she were desperate. She was fine being on her own.
But after twenty-eight years of marriage, there were things she missed. Little things.
Like coming home and knowing someone was there.
Like sharing the chores and getting things done in half the time.
Like sharing a good bottle of wine as they talked about their days.
Like falling into bed together. She ached for a man’s touch.
She was fifty-five years old. She was healthy and full of life.
She wanted a relationship again. She wanted the interaction.
So she’d decided several months before that this was going to be her new priority.
But that didn’t make it any easier.
So she was here again, on her friend’s recommendation, ready to give another guy a chance.
He’s different. It kept swirling around in her mind.
That’s what Margo was banking on. That at some point in this process, she’d find someone different. Just different enough to match her own temperament and moods.
She glanced around as she stood in the entryway. Two couples and two single women. She didn’t see anyone matching his description.
She checked in with the host, found a little table, and sat back trying to relax.
She ordered a Reisling. She sipped and watched, growing more nervous by the minute.
She kept her eyes peeled on the front door. And as people came in, she made up stories.
The group of ladies who were there to celebrate. She imagined they were there for a birthday.
Or the group of men wearing ties. They had clearly come from a business meeting. Maybe they were here from another city, trying to land a big deal.
Or the eighty-something couple who came in holding hands. How sweet! That’s what she wanted. They were her motivation.
She was lost in her thoughts about a marriage lasting so long. It’s what she and Pete had planned, before things went tragically wrong.
But even as they knew their time together was short, he’d taken her hand and with a serious look told her she needed to go on.
He’d given her permission.
And though she’d begged off and forgotten it for months. Eventually, that moment came back to her. That’s when she knew she was ready to move on.
She watched the eighty-something couple settle into a booth beside her.
And just like that, she knew her date had arrived.
She was too old to believe in love at first sight. But she knew in a heartbeat that he was unique.
His hair, perfect. It suited him well. And he wore a close beard, the latest in fashion.
He carried himself well. He held the door open for a couple. Then stood in line patiently, taking in the ambiance around him.
She watched as he spoke with the host, laughed at something she’d said.
And even from as far back as she was, she could feel the shivers run down her spine.
The host led the way, then pointed as she stopped halfway through the room. He covered the difference between them with a big smile on his face.
“Hi, Margo, I’m Dan.”
She stood and leaned, giving him a quick hug. It felt like they were friends. And in some ways, Margo supposed they were. They’d chatted a few minutes on the phone. They had Karin and Mike in common. Friends of friends; it was all they needed to be right here.
He chuckled as he dropped into his seat. “Wow. Okay. I feel like I can breathe again.”
She laughed. “So I’m not the only one who has an excruciatingly difficult time with this?”
“You have no idea. I haven’t been dating long. But several of my dates this past month – let’s just say they didn’t go very well.”
“Wow, that good?”
“Yep.”
Their eyes held for a moment, searching.
Margo let go of her breath, quietly sighed and sat back.
She knew this was going to be different. She knew this was going to be good.
Time was short. Who knew what the future had in store?
So she gave him her undivided attention. And enjoyed a life-changing meal.

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