"Do you believe in love, Heather?" I asked as she helped curl my hair.
"Of course I do. I don't know how someone couldn't," she beamed as she let a loose lock of hair, "why, do you?"
"I'm not sure. I believe my father loved my mother and that he loved me. However, that kind of love is different. It's certain. However, I can never see myself in love," I look at her through the mirror.
"Well, it's a wonderful journey." It looks as if I took her through memory lane.
"Have you been in love, Heather?" I turn in my chair to face her.
"He was a boy who came to the city for the summer. His father was a politician and his mother was a house wife. We met in Macy's. He was attempting to buy a Mother's Day gift and asked for my opinion on some perfume. We spent every day together, until..." She paused. "I got pregnant."
"Oh my goodness, Heather." I gripped her hand tightly.
"I was 16. I didn't know I was pregnant until 3 weeks in. We decided to tell our parents in which he did. They lashed out and sent him away to a boarding school immediately. He promised to write and so he did. 9 weeks in I lost the baby. When I wrote to him, explaining the tragedy, he never wrote back."
"I am so sorry, Heather." I held her hand tightly.
She gave me a tender smile, "It's not your fault. It's not his fault. I don't know what happened to him, but I do miss him. Every day, I miss him. I hope he is doing well though. I genuinely do." There was a moment of silence before she cheerfully changed the subject, "It's time for your date!" She stood me up and handed me my purse, walking me to the door.
"Will you be okay here, by yourself?" I suddenly feel concerned. "I can cancel and we can have a girls' night."
"No! You are not canceling! He is too cute to cancel. Go and have a good time. I will be fine." She reassures me with one of her signature smiles. I wrap my arms around her and give her a big squeeze. "I'll be fine! I promise."
"I love you, Heather." I smile.
"I love you too, Grace." She then shoos me away and I was off to my date. I took a taxi but the traffic was so bad, it would be easier to walk. I walked in my short peach dress with my loose blonde curls. It was chilly this evening and I didn't wear a jacket, something I regretted. However, this didn't prevent it from being a beautiful night. The lights showed on every street and I could see the Eiffel Tower all lit up, a priceless sight. There were people walking up and down the streets in couples going to and coming from different locations but all wrapped up in their company. I admired their respect for attention. Giving it to one another so willingly.
"Grace?" I hear from a slight distance. The voice made my heart flutter and I needed to find it's owner. Ahead the sea of people slightly parted and I saw a tall, lean, British boy standing in the middle of the sidewalk.
"Nathan?" I couldn't believe my eyes. I slowly approach him. "What are you doing here?"
"I came here for you, actually." He seemed boyish in his approach which was refreshingly raw for him.
"Listen, Nathan, I'm on my way to a date. Right now isn't the best time," I look past him, knowing I was only a few doors down from the restaurant.
"Oh," he looked at my attire and understood after a moment. "Look, I'm staying at the hotel right down this street, the one with the large sculpture out front. I'll wait there until you're willing to talk to me. I'm sorry to keep you from your date. Have a good evening." He nodded and kept walking. The kindness that appeared from him took me back a little. Shaking my head, I kept walking until I entered the beautiful restaurant. They escorted me to my date who stood when I arrived.
"Well, I'm glad to see you here," Louis greeted.
"I'm glad that I could pencil you in." I tease him.
"Such a busy woman, I love it," he sipped from his wine glass, "you have to find time for some play in all that work time."
"Not much work, actually. My friend and I are traveling around for the summer but we go to school in the fall, so it'll be short lived," I decided to glance at the menu.
"Well, what places have you visited so far?" He took interest in my adventures as I explained them, without including Nathan. We were having a lovely dinner, discussing our different travel experiences and his life growing up while I dodged questions of my childhood. The evening had to come to a close though.
"I believe I have kept you out too late," he apologizes.
"Has much time past? I haven't even noticed." I smile at him from across the table. He turns to glance around the room then raises his left hand to motion for a check from the waiter. That's when I noticed a gold piece on his finger. His left hand had been placed under the table for most of the evening, or maybe I just didn't notice before but there it was, plain as day. A wedding ring was on his finger.
"Excuse me, Louis?" I asked, suddenly uncomfortably.
"Yes, my dear?" He looked to be on cloud nine.
"What is that on your finger?"
"What is what, darling?"
"Show me your left hand." I say with more force. Suddenly it clicks as he raises his hand.
"I'm so sorry, I forgot to take it off."
"Is that a wedding ring?" I ask, mortified.
"It's not what you think," he tries to come up with excuses.
"No, it's exactly what I think." I huff out the air in my lungs that I had sucked in. "I can't believe this. I get my hopes up about some guy and it ends up being such a disappointment. I refuse to be the other woman. I absolutely refuse." I clutch my purse in my hand and walk out of the restaurant in a fury. Tears of frustration come to my eyes, I'm unable to grasp the concept that I just went on a date with a married man. Glancing around, I had no idea where I was or what to do with myself. It was late in the evening and I didn't see any taxis nearby. Folding my arms in front of my chest, I start walking.
My head is telling myself how much of an idiot I was for getting any ideas of love in my mind. Maybe, just maybe, I could actually feel something towards Louis, something magnetic, something powerful, something that couldn't be described, something like what I feel for Nathan. I suddenly realized this when standing in front of his hotel. This is his fault, this is all Nathan's fault. He is the one who prevents me from feeling things towards other guys. Then, it's like I'm not a part of some exclusive club. Everyone has known what love feels like, but me. My father, Heather, apparently Louis, and even Nathan. Why can't it be me? Is it because I'm not good enough? Is it because I haven't had a complete family? Is it because I haven't had enough boyfriends?
Pounding on his door, Nathan answers only wearing a pair of sweat pants. Almost shocked that I'm standing there, mascara running down my face, hair windblown, and crying. "Grace?"
"Why don't I deserve love?" I sniffle, holding back the tears. He steps forward and holds me tightly. I haven't felt this secure since my father was alive. I break down and begin to cry again.
"You do, Grace. You deserve the most pure love the world has to offer," Nathan whispers in my ear.
"Then why am I not worth it?" I heaved.
"You are more than worth it. Us men, we aren't worthy of you." He breathed a laugh, as he spoke on behalf of all men. After I got it out of my system, he escorted me into his room. We stood there for a silent moment as he let the door shut behind him. Just as the door clicked into place, it clicked in my head. I loved Nathan. I suddenly became puzzled as I looked at him.
"I love you..." I whisper.
"You what?" He looked at me as if I were the most precious thing in the world.
"I love you, and you have known this whole time." I gave him a particular look as I let it sink in to my own head. His face was relieved.
"I don't think I knew for sure, but it's sure nice to know." He smiled. I reached forward and kissed him lightly. I think we're both slightly in shock when it first happened. But, just to make sure, he dove in for another. It reassured our feelings for each other. I have never felt more complete than in that moment and the moments that followed.
Chasing Grace - Chapter 11Evening in Paris.
By joslyn miller