Romance Non-Fiction posted April 28, 2021

This work has reached the exceptional level
A chance meeting leads to love.

Do you believe in fate?

by Richard Frohm

There I stood, next to a Celtic Priest, surrounded by family in the great hall of an Irish castle. Waiting for my princess bride to climb the stone steps and walk through the archway so we could be wed.

As I waited, my mind went back to the day we first met, our first date. I had been divorced for several years. Between my work and caring for my little girl, Maxine, or as I called her "Max," my yellow Labrador Retriever, plus the memories of my former marriage still burning in my head. I had no desire to date. My sons had other ideas. Apparently, they worried all I did was work and stay home. What I tried to explain to each of them was I was happy. Well, they did not see it that way and kept pushing for me to date. One night at dinner, my oldest son suggested an online dating site. His brothers joined in with him. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in front of my computer answering all kinds of personal questions.

Over the next week, I received pictures of women that matched my profile. I really did not want to be doing this. I did it only because of my sons. Honestly, I was ready to close my account when I received Denise Flynn's request to contact her. Denise had seen my profile and wanted to speak with me. When I looked at her picture, I was immediately drawn to her beautiful blue eyes. Denise was a beautiful woman. Perhaps too beautiful for a guy like me. Besides, the city she lived in was a wealthy area. I traveled a lot for work and had been to her city in the past. The women there seemed more interested in a man for his money than what type of man he was. I was far from wealthy. So, I debated whether to reply to her. I needed to think, so I took Max for a walk to our neighborhood park. I found a bench and sat down. With Max sitting in front of me, I asked her. "Max, what do you think? Should I contact Denise?" I am not sure if it was fate or perhaps a squirrel that she saw on the tree behind me, but she barked, so I took it as a yes.
We hurried home, and I sent Denise my contact information. I looked at Max lying next to me. "I hope you are right?"

The next evening, I received Denise's reply with her telephone number. I sat in my study with the paper I had written her phone number on. I kept thinking, what if Denise is like the rest of the women in that city? One look at my Jeep and see that it is not a Mercedes. She probably would not even stop. I needed a drink. So, I got up and walked over to my wine cabinet and pulled out a bottle of Merlot. I poured my glass almost to the top and sat on my couch. As I sipped the Merlot, I thought. I am a nice-looking guy, six-foot, physically in great shape for my age, and a successful arson investigator for a national insurance company.

I picked up the phone and called. It rang and rang before I heard an out of breath voice say, "Hello?" "Denise, this is Richard." Still, out of breath, she apologized. She had been in her backyard when she heard the phone ringing. We started talking, and strangely we found a lot to talk about. In fact, that conversation lasted almost an hour.

Interestingly, her daughters, like my sons suggested, Denise needed to get out and date. I asked Denise if I could call her back the following evening. Sounding happy, she said, "Yes." When I hung up, I jumped in the air, nearly knocking my glass of Merlot onto the carpet.

At work that day, my mind was on Denise. I kept going over our conversation, and I felt I may have a chance of getting a date with her. The poor Fire Department arson investigator I was working with that day constantly had to say, "Richard, are you listening?"

I could not get home fast enough that night. After dinner, I poured a glass of Merlot. I sat in my recliner sipping on my wine, waiting until I was sure Denise was not eating. Finally, I grabbed my phone and called her. She asked how my day went. I laughed, "Outside of upsetting a firefighter because all I could think of was you, not bad." Denise laughed, "I am sorry." "Don't be sorry. I loved thinking about you." From there, our conversation went as well as the last one. Denise suggested we meet that Sunday for lunch at an Irish Pub near her home. I said, "Yes, I will be there." We said good night and hung up. I looked at Max lying next to me. "Max looks like I have a first date with Denise." She looked at me with her big brown eyes and started wagging her tail, telling me she was happy.

That Sunday, on the way, I stopped and bought her flowers. I arrived before Denise. I anxiously sat in my Jeep, all the time wondering what she would think of me. Finally, a car pulled in next to mine. I looked over and recognized Denise. I watched as she got out of her car and walked to the front. She was more beautiful than I imagined. I looked at the flowers and left them. Seeing her in person, I assumed this date would end quickly, with Denise making some type of excuse to leave.

I got out of my Jeep and walked over to her. She smiled and said, "Hi, I am Denise." "I am Richard." We exchanged some awkward words in the parking lot and walked into the pub. The hostess escorted us to a booth. Denise sat on one side and me on the other. Our waitress came up and gave us the menu, straws, and glasses of water. I opened the straw, and without realizing it, I started twisting the paper wrapper. We just started talking when our waitress came back to take our orders. I don't think either of us was really hungry, but we ordered anyway. When she asked what we would like to drink. Denise pointed to a wine on the menu. "I will take a glass of this." "For you, Sir?" I will take a glass of this Merlot." She smiled. "Why you both chose the same brand of Merlot." I thought to myself. We like the same Merlot."

Denise and I talked and talked. It was as if there was no one else in the pub but the two of us. Our only interruptions were from the waitress. This was the first date either of us had been on in decades. Denise's husband of twenty years had passed away eight years earlier, leaving her to raise two teenage daughters by herself. As Denise spoke about losing her husband. I listened intently to every word. She was forced to sell their business. Then find a job. Plus raising two young girls on her own. She no longer had her husband to share life's responsibilities. She had to handle them on her own. As I listened to Denise. I realized just what an amazing, strong, independent woman she was.

What I did not realize, but Denise jokingly asked, "Are you still nervous?" "No, I am not." "Then why have you twisted the straw wrapper from the time we sat down?" I looked down at the table and could see several pieces of the tightly twisted wrapper. I had to laugh. "I did not realize I was even doing that?"

I looked at my watch and realized we had been in there for almost two hours. I told Denise we probably should leave. I could see people waiting for tables. I waved for the waitress to get the check. When she brought it over, she smiled and said, "How did your first date go?" We both looked at her. Denise asked, "How do you know this our first date?" "Simple, you both barely touched your lunch, and neither of you finished your Merlot. Those are signs of a first date." I looked at Denise and back to our waitress. "You are one hundred percent correct." "Well, based on twenty years as a waitress and watching you two, I see a very happy couple." Denise looked at me. "I agree." I paid the check, and I escorted Denise back to her car.

I knew then we both had the same feeling for the other. So, I asked Denise to wait. I went back to my Jeep, grabbed the flowers, and brought them over to her. When I told her why I had not given them to her earlier. I thought she was going to cry. She could not get over how sweet it was for me to get her flowers. "Maybe we are meant to be?" "I think so." I took her hand and looked into her deep blue eyes. "I believe it was fate that brought us together and fate that will guide us." I gave her a kiss and whispered in her ear. "Will you go out with me again?" Denise said, "Yes" Our second date would lead to another date and another."

My thoughts were interrupted when I heard my name. "Richard, Richard, your bride is coming up the steps." I turned, "Thank you, Father." Everyone's eyes were glued to the archway. Denise's daughters, leading the way, entered the hall. My eyes were straining to see my bride. As if planned by God, the sun lit up the Castles-stained glass windows just as Denise stepped into the hall. The brilliant colors that shone on her just made her look even more like a princess. Everyone in the hall began whispering how beautiful she looked.

Standing next to Father Twomey, watching her walk towards us. I reached out and took her hand. I looked at my princess and thought, how did a man like me ever be so blessed to be marrying such a loving, caring, and beautiful woman? That was over ten years ago.
We celebrate our wedding anniversary every year. Just as important to us is the anniversary of our first date. A year has not gone by without us celebrating that day, the day fate brought us together.

First date contest entry

Fate brought us together and for that we will be eternally grateful.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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