It felt like I’ve waited forever for a girl like her. I grabbed my extra large thermos of hot water and my packets of Swiss Miss. My laundry basket and ceramic mugs were already in the car. I headed out into the cold snowy morning, pausing to stretch and yawn. It had been a long night at the police department. Fridays usually were. I was exhausted, but I had made these plans before that extra shift and I wasn’t going to miss my chance now.
I sat at the Laundromat waiting, tapping my fingers. I couldn’t wait to hear her reaction. Would she know it was me? I had never pushed her. I’d known her for years through various serving opportunities at church. I watched jealously while she was with Andy. I knew what kind of guy he was and was surprised when she had dated him. When it was over, Andy had made snide comments to the guys and I knew she had not slept with him. She was the real deal.
“Hey, Nic!” I called to her. She walked in with a scowl on her face. Something was wrong.
She gave me half a smile. Whoa. That was not the girl I usually spent my Saturday mornings with. At least it hadn’t been for a long time. “What’s the matter, Nicole?”
She grunted as she slammed her clothes in the washing machines and put in detergent and quarters.
“Did we get up on the wrong side of the bed?” I got no response but saw her swipe her eyes with her sweater sleeve.
She flopped into her chair across from me at our usual table. I slid over the full cup of hot chocolate, with the tiny marshmallows. It was her favorite.
“Thank you.” Her voice sounded flat.
I watched and waited as she looked at the chocolate. She closed her eyes and smiled as she inhaled the steam. She was beautiful. I was suddenly aware that in my haste I forgotten to shave. At least I had my hair cut for the occasion.
“I got flowers,” she sounded annoyed.
“Flowers?” I tried to act innocent.
“Well, if there’s a reason to be depressed I suppose flowers would top the list.” I rolled my eyes. She fought back a grin.
“I don’t know who they are from.” She sipped her chocolate. I started to relax but her eyes were still watery. “They are so extravagant they reminded me of God’s love and how far I’ve wandered from Him.”
I am grateful she can share that with me. I love how honest she is.
“Beauty, mystery and conviction.”
“Andy?” I sure hope she doesn’t think they are from him.
She shakes her head and her long ponytail waves back and forth. I love her gorgeous hair.
“He and Jennifer moved away. He’s in the past.”
There was no bitterness or longing in her voice. Good. She was telling the truth. “Wasn’t it about six months ago. . .”
“That he dumped me? Yeah, thanks for the reminder.”
She gave me a small smile.
“What are friend’s for? He was all you talked about for awhile. You haven’t mentioned him in months.”
“Flowers that expensive would never have come from him.”
“So who? It obviously bothers you.” Me. Guess me.
“I get the impression you don’t feel you are worth that kind of gift.”
She sighed. I suspected as much. As frustrated as I was that she can’t guess, my heart hurt for her that she couldn’t see she was worthy of my love.
She looked around as I watched and waited. I heard the swishing of laundry in the washing machines and clothing thunk around in the dryers. Not quite the most romantic environment but I would take what I could get.
I got up to transfer my laundry from the washers to the driers. I could feel her watching me. Did she like what she saw? I shut the last door and plugged my quarters. I returned to my chair and stretched out my legs and crossed my arms. It was time I told her some things she needed to hear.
“You are worth those flowers, Nic.” She stared at me. Maybe I had sprouted horns? I leaned my head back and sighed. “Why can’t you accept,” I brought my head back up to look her in the eyes as I leaned forward, “that you are a beautiful and desirable woman?”
She sounded surprised. Hadn’t I treated her like she was? “We knew each other before you dated Andy. He told me why he left you. I knew then you were a woman of godly character. You had mentioned one day that you came here so I decided I would too, so I could get to know you better.”
I reached across the table, peeled her hands off her mug and held them. They were small compared to mine.
“I’m not as godly as you think.” She focused on our hands, avoiding my eyes.
“Are any of us? Look, Nic. I know Andy hurt you. But you are worthy of more respect and love than he could ever give.”
Her mouth fell open as she looked at me with those luminescent grey eyes.
I shook my head. “Did you know that I have laundry facilities in my condo? And I often, like last night, work a double shift on Fridays?”
Her eyes grew wider and blinked rapidly. “But, really? Why?” she stuttered. It was adorable because she still didn’t get it. I waited.
“The flowers?” she whispered.
I squeezed her hands and nodded. “Today is the six-month anniversary of when I started to fall in love with you.”I smiled with all the love I had in me.
She tried to smile but began crying instead and I dried her tears and drew her into my arms where she fit perfectly. Maybe I would have that honor of doing that for a long time to come.