Moving forward….

 

Julie couldn’t help but notice that Sarah was watching her intently while she poured her morning coffee. She wondered how Sarah managed to get any in her cup, since her focus was clearly not on the coffee she was pouring. She knew this was coming and that she’d have to divulge her secret sooner or later, but she wasn’t ready to share it. She wasn’t ready to voice out loud the feelings she was starting to have for, basically, a complete stranger. The past four weeks she had been texting non-stop with “Lucky” and she’d never felt more alive. She knew that once her secret was out, Sarah would force her to make a decision she wasn’t ready to make. She enjoyed the friendly back and forth banter she was having with her secret friend. She enjoyed the mystery of not actually knowing his real name…and she really enjoyed the fact that he made her feel like a giddy school girl again. For the first time in a very long time she liked the way she was feeling and she wasn’t ready to share those feelings with the world.

Her phone buzzed in her pocket and the ridiculous grin she’d been sporting for four weeks slowly crept across her face. She knew it was his good morning text without even looking. She quickly pulled out her phone, typed a response, and then shoved it back in her jacket pocket and then braced herself for the shit storm she knew Sarah was about to rain down on her.

“Four weeks. I’ve sat by for four weeks waiting for you to tell me what’s up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m over-the-moon thrilled that something is obviously making you happier than I’ve seen you in three years, but do you think that maybe you could tell your best friend what or who that is?”

“I don’t know if I’m ready to tell you yet,” Julie said as she reached for the pot of coffee. Sarah quickly pulled it out of her reach, and with a smirk on her face said, “Well, then I don’t think I’m ready to share my coffee with you this morning.”

Julie laughed. “Okay, well, there’s always Starbucks.”

“Ha. Don’t make me laugh. Starbucks is great but you know it doesn’t even come close to my special blend.”

Julie laughed again at her friend’s attempt at blackmail. “Speaking of that, when are you going to divulge the recipe to your secret blend? Now that you’ve got me totally addicted.”

Sarah smiled deviously, “Never. Now spill and then maybe I will let you have a cup.”

Julie shrugged her shoulders in defeat and handed Sarah her coffee mug, which she only started filling up once she finally gave voice to the secret she’d been harboring. Just as she knew it would, speaking the words out loud made her realize that she’d been living in a fantasy world. The glass bubble she’d been existing in had shattered and now she had to pick up the pieces. Just as she knew she would, Sarah was all too eager to point out that she couldn’t continue this “weird relationship.” Sarah made a point of saying that, “If he makes you this happy over a few text messages, imagine how happy he’d make you in person.” She just didn’t understand Julie’s hesitation to meet this guy. But Julie did. She was afraid. Afraid that this perfect man she’d built up in her mind wouldn’t compare to the one she was talking to in real life. What scared her even more was that the man she’d built up in her mind looked an awful lot like Wes…the Wes she had wanted so desperately to come back to her. She feared that no matter how deeply Lucky’s words had touched her, or how much she thought she was falling for him, that when she finally saw him face to face she’d be disappointed. That was something she just wasn’t willing to do to him.

“So you’re not even going to entertain the thought of meeting him?” Sarah asked, clearly annoyed with her friend.

“No, I’m not. I can’t. Please don’t push me on this.”

“Okay, but only on one condition.”

“And what is that?”

“That you look me in the eye and swear that this has nothing to do with Wes.”

Julie knew that the only way to get Sarah off her back would be to square her shoulders, look her in the eyes…and lie. She tried to muster up the courage to do just that, but at the last minute she chickened out and just stared at the floor instead.

“I knew it! Why did you file for divorce if you’re still in love with him?”

“Because I tried everything else to get through to him and nothing worked. So I thought that maybe if I did something that he never thought I’d do, that it would wake him up. That it would give him a push in the right direction. Apparently, the only thing I did was push him straight into the arms of another woman.”

“Then why, if you’ve potentially found someone who can make you happy, why wouldn’t you go for it? Wes had his chance and he blew it…don’t blow yours. This “Lucky” guy isn’t going to want to wait around forever, you know.”

“I know. You’re right. I will think about it, but I’ve got to get to work. I really can’t be late today.”

“That’s right! I almost forgot today’s the big day. I’m not going to say good luck, because you’ve got this promotion in the bag. They’d seriously be crazy not to give it to you.”

“From your lips to God’s ears. With this promotion I can finally quit my second job.”

*****

Julie gave herself one last glance in the rearview mirror as she touched up her lipstick. There was so much riding on this day that she could barely contain the butterflies that were flitting around her stomach. She had thought a lot about what Sarah had said on her drive into work, and she decided that if she got the promotion then she was going to take it as a sign that her life was moving forward, and thus so should she. If she got this promotion, she was going to take the next step with Lucky.

She grabbed her briefcase, took a steadying breath, and got out of her car. She walked to the elevator in the parking garage and pressed the call button. Once inside the elevator she pressed the button for the 10th floor and felt her heart drop into her stomach as the elevator took off. Today was the culmination of years of hard work, loyalty, and dedication. As much as she was trying to look forward and forget about Wes, thoughts of him invaded her mind. Today wouldn’t have been possible without him. Once the kids had gotten past the stage where they needed her for everything, it was Wes who encouraged her to go back to college. It was Wes who worked overtime and picked up the slack around the house so she could fulfill her dreams. The ding of the elevator snapped her back to the present and alerted her to the fact that she had arrived at her destination. She shook away the intruding thoughts that had her second guessing herself and almost changing her mind about Lucky. She raised her head, straightened her jacket, and headed for the office.

Her secretary greeted her with a smile and a wink as she walked by. A promotion for Julie meant a promotion of sorts for her as well. She gratefully took the cup of coffee that Helen offered her and asked her to make sure the notes she gave her yesterday were typed and ready to go for their meeting. When she entered her office she was surprised to see that Mr. Henderson was sitting at her desk. He was her boss, mentor, and friend…and currently held the position she was up for. She was expecting the promotion to be announced at the staff meeting today, so she wasn’t sure if his being in her office was a good thing or a bad thing. Her apprehension must have been written all over her face, because he smiled warmly and said, “Julie, relax. Have a seat.” She took the seat across from him and anxiously waited for him to continue. “I was never one for beating around the bush, Julie, I know you’re probably wondering why I’m here.”

“The thought did cross my mind. Is there something wrong?” she asked hesitantly.

“Wrong? Well, if you consider being promoted to Vice President of Marketing wrong, then, yes, something is terribly wrong,” he laughed. “Congratulations, kid. You got the promotion!” he said as he got up out of her chair and walked around the desk to give her a hug.

“Thank you,” she said stunned, returning his hug.

“I thought you’d be a little happier…you almost look surprised. You worked hard for this, kid. You earned it.”

“I guess I was just expecting to hear the news with everyone else at the staff meeting.”

“It will be announced then, too, but I was just so damn proud of you that I begged the powers that be to let me be the first to tell you. We are going to make one hell of a team. Me as President, you VP…this company is going to get its socks knocked off!”

“I promise I won’t let you down.”

“I know you won’t. I’m going to go get ready for the meeting. See you there. Oh, and try to act surprised.”

“You got it, boss.”

She walked him out and then closed the door and shut the blinds after he left. She did a little happy dance as she pulled out her phone to call Sarah. “I got it!” she whispered into the phone. Sarah’s ensuing screams of joy almost deafened her. “I knew you would! I’m so proud of you. This definitely calls for a celebration. I’ll get the champagne and you get the food, deal?”

“Deal.”

She put her phone back in her pocket and left for her meeting with a smile on her face almost as big as the one Lucky’s texts usually gave her.

*****

About three glasses of champagne into their celebration, Julie told Sarah that she was going to “go for it” with Lucky. Sarah’s response was to pour glass number four and toast to her friend’s “new beginning.” With alcohol-infused courage, she pulled out her phone to text him.

How was your day?

Better now. How about you? Any good news to share, Coach?

Today was brilliant. I gained a promotion and…

….and what?

Some perspective.

Perspective? About what?

You. Me. Us.

Are you saying what I think you’re saying? Do you want this to be more than this “virtual thing” we’ve got going on?

That’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m ready to meet you. Does that offer of coffee still stand?

No, I’m afraid not.

Oh. I see. Guess, I’ll let you go then.

No! Wait! You misunderstood. That offer of coffee was a friendly invitation to get to know you better. I think we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well and I think for our first date I can do a whole lot better than coffee, don’t you think?

You know, if I was with you right now I’d smack you! You just scared me to death. I thought you were ending this before we even had a chance to get started.

I’ve been patiently waiting for you to be ready, so there’s no way I’d ever let it end before it got started. And if I were with you right now, I’d take you in my arms and kiss you like you’ve never been kissed before.

Promise?

Yes, darling. That’s a promise I fully intend to keep. Dinner. Tomorrow. Seven sharp.

Where? How will I recognize you? Should we exchange pictures?

I will text you the address tomorrow. I want to see your face for the first time in person, so no pictures. I will be the man holding the Gerber daisy, wearing my heart on my sleeve…that’s how you’ll know it’s me.

How did you know that’s my favorite flower? And why a daisy? Why not a rose?

“Lucky” guess…and roses are so cliché. Plus, I didn’t want to remind you of your “blind date from hell.”

Right. Good choice. Are you sure about the picture? I mean, what if I’m an ugly troll…this could be your last chance to back out.

Not possible. I know you and you’re beautiful. I don’t need a picture to confirm it. Are you worried that I might not be what you’re expecting?

Not at all. You’re my “Lucky” and whatever package that comes in won’t change that. I know you, too.

See you tomorrow, Coach. Sweet dreams.

Sweet dreams, Lucky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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