She dreaded attending the company picnic. Erik said he would come. They had talked several times a week about business and at times about their personal lives. He was in sales and she was in support. He had never failed to make her laugh and his deep voice had given her dreams that a single Christian girl should never have.
Today she was going to meet him face to face. At least it was in a crowd of over a hundred employees and most from her department were here. Home was only an hour’s drive away so if she needed to escape it wasn’t out of the question.
She spied him. She had the advantage because being in sales, his photo was on the website. She had always envisioned him in his suit like he wore in the picture she had drooled over. Today was casual. He was wearing a dark blue t-shirt that fit him well and khaki cargo shorts and flip flops. His hair curled around his ears.
He was a hunk. She was about to leave but he turned and his eyes caught hers. She was caught. A slow smile spread across his face. He made a quick comment to the man he was with and walked towards her.
She swallowed hard. Run. You can still go! Her feet didn’t obey. She bit her lip and a breeze blew her tresses across her face.
His hand came forward and brushed the locks behind her ears. “Alycia?”
She nodded, her mouth dry. “Hi, Erik,” she squeaked out.
He reached for her and enfolded her in his arms and she could hear his heartbeat as her head nestled against his broad chest. He smelled of Irish Spring and sunshine. He released her but stood close. “I have been waiting months to have a chance to finally see you face to face. Come, let’s sit over by the lake and talk.” He grabbed her hand and pulled her along.
Remember, he’s a salesman. Alycia, don’t get sucked in by his charm and good looks, it’s what makes him successful.
They sat side by side and he put an arm around her and hugged her to himself again but did not release her this time. She tried to pull away.
“Erik, we hardly know each other.” She protested in a soft voice.
He looked down at her with a grin and twinkling blue eyes. “I know you better than I know any member of my family or even my best friend Chad. We’ve been talking for months. You’ve listened and shared with me on your lunch breaks and you’ve given me ideas that have helped me meet and exceed my quotas. You’ve made me laugh on those hard days and you’ve made me long to come and wipe your tears away when life was hard for you.”
She opened her mouth to speak but a finger came to rest upon it.
“Let me finish. Your favorite color is blue. You love brandy old-fashioned sweet but rarely drink alcohol because of your depression medication. You have a greyhound named Bingo that you rescued and who practically pushes you out of bed during the night. You love country rock – especially if it’s Christian and you’ve not yet met a man who knocks your socks off.”
Alycia giggled and let her head rest against his shoulder. “I can’t believe you even want to be seen with me.”
“Why?” he pulled away to turn to her, “what’s wrong with you that you would say that? Your hair shimmers in the sun and your eyes remind me of toffee, which is my favorite candy if you remember. You come to my shoulder and you look adorable in that outfit.” He sniffed at her neck making her giggle some more. “You smell like a pina colada. So what’s the problem? Why wouldn’t I want to be with you?”
“I’m short and rounder than I should be.” She felt the heat rise in her cheeks.
“Stand up.” He pulled her to her feet and stepped back, putting a hand on his chin as he looked her over.
“You told me you were a woman.”
She nodded, trying to avoid his eyes and resisting the urge to fold her arms over her ample chest.
“And I’m a man.”
“Did you? Good.” He pulled her back to the bench and put his arm around her again and leaned to whisper in her ear. “Did you know that men like girls with curves? I have to admit I’ve been having some not-so-nice thoughts of what I would like to do with yours.”
She pulled away, “EriK!”
“Why are you shocked? You are a gorgeous woman and I’ve come to know the girl inside before I ever managed to get Rick to snap a picture of you so I could see what you looked like on the outside.”
“Afraid I was a fifty year old frump?”
He chuckled and she could feel the rumble in his chest. “Hold on.” He moved his arm and reached around to pull out his wallet. He flipped it open as he leaned back next to her. He flipped it open to a picture – of her!
“How did you?” She had to admit was a good photo of her, candid, laughing, as she talked to someone on the phone, the headset mic almost hidden in the angle. “Rick?”
Eric nodded. “Wanna know who you were talking to at the time?”
She placed her hand on his chest. He nodded.
“Listen, I’ve been wanting to go out on a date for months and you have always resisted. Now we’re here and you are still resisting me. Why? What have I done wrong?”
Tears sprang to her eyes as she shook her head. “Nothing. You’ve done nothing wrong, Erik. It’s just you seem too good to be true.”
“Too good to be true? Didn’t I tell you about how messy my car is and how I hate folding laundry so I live out of the basket and spend a fortune in dry cleaning because I’m too lazy to iron my own shirts?”
She nodded as a tear escaped.
“Alycia, what’s the problem? I fell in love with you months ago. I want to have a relationship with you.”
She leaned her head against his chest and felt his arm come around her again, holding her close. She knew this man, how good he really was. So why did she hesitate? Erik loved God and he had tried to pursue her for months even when she put him off out of her fear that he would meet her and it would destroy what they had. Erik hadn’t rejected her. She tipped her head back and he looked down at her with those baby blues that took her breath away in the photo she had of him and even more so in person. She pulled her other hand up to caress his cheek with the light stubble growing there.
“I’ve loved you for so long, Erik, I think I’ve been afraid I would wake up and find it was all just a wonderful dream.”
He grinned, “I’ll give you something to dream about, Alycia.” His lips met hers and all her fears melted away as her arm moved to pull him closer to her. He pulled away and took a deep breath. “Maybe we should skip dating and go straight to the wedding?”
Alycia smiled. “No. We’ll date first. This has been worth the wait and all the sweeter for it.”
“If you insist.” He leaned down and they kissed again. When she pulled away she kissed his cheek.
“You were wrong about one thing.”
“What was that?”
“I have met someone who knocks my socks off—if I were wearing any!”
It took a few seconds for him to understand what she was saying and his grin widened. Alycia laid her head on his chest. No man had ever wanted her like this before.
“As much as I would love to canoodle the day away here in this fashion, I think it would be prudent to engage in some other activities here.” Erik removed his arm and stood to his feet and extended a hand to her.
“What did you have in mind?” She took his hand and looked up into his smiling face.
“How are you at volleyball?
“I love the game but play horribly.”
“Then we are a perfect match.” He pulled her to her feet and kissed the top of her head. Grasping her hand they headed off to the courts.