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Love Comes To Charlie Wilson
How had it happened? He was the guy in his fifties who had sworn off romance. After ten years of marriage his wife left him for another man. If that wouldn't turn any faithful husband off he didn't know what would.
Strange how it came about. He owned Charlie's restaurant and one night his manager, Lance, asked him to sit in on a date he had with this gal and her mother.
“Why me?” he'd asked. Seems Lance wanted time with this Nancy. He hoped Charlie would keep the mother occupied. Charlie accepted with reservations. What if the mother was old, unattractive? Heck, it was only one night, so why not?
When Nancy and Ellen Blair walked into the restaurant that night, Charlie's eyes widened. This was the mother? Tall, lean, with brown hair and azure eyes that sparkled. Not bad at all.
“So, Ellen,” he asked when they were seated in the booth. Tell me something about yourself.”
Ellen shrugged. “Not much to tell. Married twelve years, went through a nasty divorce, now I'm just content to wing it on my own. One man in my life was enough to turn me off men forever.”
Charlie's eyes narrowed. A looker like her, didn't want another man in her life? Until now he'd felt the same. This one was different. She had a vulnerability and past sadness he wanted to explore.
When they left, Charlie got her phone number and address from Lance. Something screamed at him. He had to follow up. The next morning he dialed Ellen's number, then drummed his fingers on the table waiting for someone to answer. Why was it taking so long? His heart beat somewhere in his throat. Suppose she refused?
“Hello? Ellen here.”
He almost hung up in panic. A pause, then “Uh, good morning, Ellen, it's Charlie. It's a beautiful day. I wondered if you'd like to take a walk in the park and maybe stop for coffee somewhere?” He felt like a jackass. Why would she want to see him again?
“That would be nice, Charlie,” she said quietly. The softness of her voice mesmerized him.
He almost choked at his end. He'd pick her up in an hour. He checked through his closet. Gotta look spiffy for a lady like that. He finally settled on a dark blue suit - sort of emphasized his gray hair - and a pale blue golf shirt. Yeah, that ought to do.
He rocked back and forth waiting for Ellen to open the door.
“Hello, Charlie, it's good to see you again.”
Right then and there he knew he was a goner – this woman just dazzled him.
Walking side by side with Ellen under the emerald trees in the park, Charlie wanted to take her hand. Nope, don't rush it. Did she realize how beautiful she looked in a lavender outfit and brushed back hair?
They found a small bistro by the side of the park. They sat under an outside umbrella and ordered black coffee. It surprised Charlie that she didn't order one of those fancy drinks. Down to earth woman. He liked that.
“So, Ellen,” Charlie said, adding three packets of sugar to his coffee, “ I was wondering about what you said last night. What happened to turn you off men?” His heart beat wildly in his throat. He wanted to know, so maybe he could change her mind. He already knew this was the woman he finally wanted to open his heart to. Could he open hers, too?
“Charlie, It's not a pleasant story,” Ellen said, slowly sipping her coffee. “ Why don't we talk about something else?”
Charlie took her hand. “Last night you opened my heart to the possibility of finding someone to love again. You need to do that, too.” A flush crept over his cheeks. Would she realize he meant her?
Her eyes softened as she squeezed his hand. “ It's so ludicrous, I've never wanted to bring it out in the open.”
“Tell me, Ellen. It can't be that bad.”
She wiped a tear from her eye. “ I guess it's time to let go of the past.”
Her lips trembled as she told him about the afternoon she came home early and found her husband in bed with another man. He had tried to explain his new love, she couldn't listen.
“I was totally disgusted,” she continued. “After so many years, he left me for a man. I'd have known how to fight another woman to win him back. But a man? I felt helpless and ravaged at the same time. I had become the other woman.”
Stunned, Charlie could only imagine what that had been like. He reached over and kissed her.
“Ellen, I was hurt, too. Not as bad as you, but we have something in common. I want to build on that. I want to hold you and love you forever.” He kissed her again and felt her respond. There was hope for them. Her kiss, shy as it was, told him they did have a future. He'd never let her hurt again.
Ellen reached over and cradled his face in her hands. “I guess we could try, Charlie. I guess we could try.”