My sheets had been cold for so long, since Ted left me, yet here I was trying to find someone for Anita. But she was my best friend. And she was blind.
“Now quit arguing.” I laughed as she entered her answers into the computer. “A guy I work with, Phil, was terribly shy. He went through this service and guess what?”
“Let me guess. He met a wealthy supermodel.” She frowned.
“Stop it. He met this wonderful woman, got married, and now has a beautiful baby! If Phil can do it, believe me…”
“But…I’m blind! Is Phil blind?”
“No, but he’s short.”
Anita had only been blind for four years and her world had grown smaller and smaller. Her dream had always been to marry and have kids. She had been my best friend since third grade and I just wanted her to be happy.
She sighed and pushed the “send” button on the survey.
“Now we wait.”
Eventually she got emails from two men.
“I have to tell them…it’s only fair….”
She sent them a carefully worded message. One never answered. The other one, Steve, seemed curious.
“He wrote in his email that his uncle was blind and had a support dog named Boomer. ”
“Boomer! What a great name. Steve sounds interesting.”
“He told me that he was uncomfortable filling out his survey just like I was but now he’s glad he did. But he keeps mentioning a guy named ‘Murphy.’”
“Who is Murphy?”
“A friend, I guess.”
“Steve lives near here?”
“Just twenty miles away.”
“Not bad, better than across the country.”
“Steve said there are things about himself that I may not like,” she said one night.
“What do you think that’s about?”
“Not sure. But he talks about Murphy a lot—Murphy brings him his groceries, Murphy got him a new winter coat…”
“Odd. You need to ask him why he won’t trust you about this.”
The next day she called me.
“He invited us to dinner! He said he’ll explain it all to me then. He said we have to meet at his house.”
This all sounded too strange. But we made plans to go visit him the next Saturday night.
The drive was perfect, the leaves starting to turn, the air crisp and fresh. Steve’s directions were easy to follow and we parked in front of a stunning, modern house, full of jutting angles and massive windows.
“What if he doesn’t like me?”
“What if you don’t like him?”
“Maybe we should just go home.”
“Alright Eeyore, get out of the car. The house is modernistic, very modern, big bucks, big windows…”
“Great, I love a room with a view.”
She giggled. I laughed.
She held my elbow and I guided her in.
A handsome, tall man with dark hair and glasses came out of the house.
“Hello!” he said. “I’m Murphy. You must be Grace and Anita. Steve’s inside.”
Then the door opened. A slight man with red hair stood in the doorway smiling.
Murphy had a shocked expression on his face.
“I wanted to come out and see Anita. I couldn’t wait.” he said and then began to hyperventilate. “I’ve been practicing this in my mind all day. I can do this.”
He took one guarded step out, then another and then another.
“Anita! I’m so glad to finally meet you. This is the first time in a very long time since I’ve made it out of this house. I have agoraphobia. I didn’t want to tell you until I met you in person. I wasn’t sure what you would think.”
Anita walked up the steps using her cane and gave Steve a big hug.
“I am so very happy to meet you—that’s what I think,” she said.
“Now, if you don’t mind I’d really like to go inside,” Steve laughed.
Anita and Steve talked and joked all through dinner. Murphy winked at me.
“Grace, why don’t we take our coffee and sit on the veranda? The sunset is incredible out there.”
We sat on the high deck, thick with container gardens.
“How did you and Steve meet?”
“We’ve been best friends since college—roommates. Steve and I are business partners. We create computer games. He’s the creative guy, I handle the business side.
“Nine years ago his parents were killed in an automobile accident. He was left completely alone, no family. After a while he became frozen…just laid on the couch all day. I moved in with him and stayed with him for six months until he could make it on his own. Today was a major milestone. He’s worked so hard to get this far. Anita is all he’s been talking about.” He paused. “I had no idea she had such a beautiful friend.”
I just smiled and looked away. I’d felt it from the first moment we met. Heat.
“Steve is all Anita has been talking about. The computer seems to have really matched them. You know she only became blind four years ago. No family either, just like Steve. I think it’s great what you’ve done for him. Must be hard on your marriage.”
I couldn’t hold back a grin.
He leaned forward. “Not married,” he whispered. “Your boyfriend must be curious about tonight.”
I grinned. “Don’t have one.”
“Imagine.” My fingers and toes were tingling.
The sun was setting, large white puffs of clouds glistened with the sun’s sinking fire.
“Beautiful sky,” we both said in unison and laughed, then settled into a comfortable, knowing silence.
Anita and I came back the next day for lunch. I was impressed that Steve came out on the porch again.
We talked about our jobs and where we were from. I could tell Steve wanted to be alone with Anita so I cleared the table and went into the kitchen. I had dishes in my hands when I felt arms wrapping around me from behind. I ducked away, loading the dishwasher.
“You know I don’t stay with Steve twenty-four seven. I was thinking that next weekend you and I could drive up the coast, have a nice, romantic dinner, maybe go see a play.”
“I did buy a new dress,” I said, “and I haven’t had anywhere to wear it.”
“That’s a tragedy. We should remedy that.” He stared at me, then caressed my cheek.
“You are so beautiful,” he whispered and kissed me. I put my arms around his shoulders and kissed him back.
He held me. “Isn’t it interesting where life leads you…I wanted to help Steve and look what I found. Wow.”
“Wow,” I smiled and kissed him again.
Saturday finally came and I was so excited. I put on my new dress, a black silk halter dress with a red wrap belt. I touched my chest, my hips and closed my eyes, imagining Murphy in my arms again.
The doorbell rang. He was wearing a black sports coat, charcoal colored shirt, and light gray tie. He was absolutely edible.
“Grace, you look amazing.”
We drove to the coast. He told me about his marriage and divorce, I told him about my five year relationship with Ted.
“What’s your favorite movie?” I asked. Typical first date question.
“Probably the Lord of the Rings series.”
“I loved it. Except the spider part. And I loved Viggo Mortensen. He was so…”
He grinned. “Talented.”
“Yeah, that’s it.”
An hour later we arrived at a fantastic resort and restaurant. We laughed and flirted and he held my hand.
“Dance with me,” he whispered.
“Ah, haven’t you seen Footloose? You know what dancing leads to.”
He grinned. “One can only hope.”
Rod Stewart’s Have I Told You Lately That I Love You came on. He held me tight, singing to me, kissing my neck.
I looked into his soft, sweet eyes. He kissed me again. Seemed I had always known those kisses.
“I am so falling in love with you,” he said.
“You scare me,” I whispered.
“You’re safe with me, babe, forever.”
I touched his lips, aching for him.
“Let’s stay tonight,” he said.
“I don’t know you…”
“Yes you do, I’m that guy who’s crazy about you, the guy you’re going to make love to, the guy you’re going to marry.”
“I’m afraid of loving you, I loved before…got so hurt.”
“Me, too. Never felt this way, though.”
“Don’t want to let you go. Stay.”
He kissed my fingers. “With all my heart.”
And the night…was sublime.
Learn more about Patricia Gilbers at her SHOWCASE PAGE.