General Fiction posted January 8, 2023

This work has reached the exceptional level
Ric learns of Lori's impending wedding.

Lingering Devotion Part-3

by Ric Myworld

Part-1) Ric faked a heart attack to meet Lori and tried to set up a meeting that never happened, until they ran into each other somewhere else.

Part-2) Hope of a possible night together—didn’t work out. But when a family emergency cut time together short, plans were made to stay in touch until they could meet again.

As things worked out, Ric hadn’t returned to Florida the next week as planned or in time for Christmas break. Lori's semester ended the last of May, and he got back to Florida on June 3rd. They had left each other dozens of messages but kept getting their wires crossed, so for six months they hadn’t spoken but twice on the run.

Second day back at the beach, Garland, Lori’s good friend, gave Ric the big news. Lori’s wedding was set for the following Saturday.

I sat Indian style on the corner of Garland’s towel and stared out into the Gulf Coast’s sparkling emerald waters. Silhouettes of mullet skipped across the rolling waves, and a pelican crash-landed headfirst with the force of a dive-bomber to catch a snack. A plane flew over with a streaming seafood-buffet banner fluttering in tow, and Sea Doo rentals revved and raced.

All I could think about was Lori. What to say or do? Crying, the least feasible alternative.

“Are you okay, Ric?” Garland asked.

“Not really, but I guess I’d better snap out of it.”

“Luckily, you all hadn’t known each other long.”

“No, we hadn’t.  But I sure thought the connection was special.”

“Oh yeah, I figured.” Garland watched closely, knowing me well, and when I didn’t speak, she asked, “I guess you’re aware she and Brian have been boyfriend and girlfriend since elementary school?”

“No, I didn’t know he existed until today.”

“Yes, they grew up on the same street and started first grade together. Their parents were best friends all through the years. Brian and Lori were inseparable.”

“Huh, well, guess I never had a shot anyway. But Lori didn’t seem the type to lead me on or play games.”

“I never knew the situation. Just that Brian and Lori split up last summer. Brian started seeing someone else. Far as I knew, Lori didn’t date . . . besides, meeting you.

“Back at school, Brian must have realized his terrible mistake and chased Lori like a madman, wouldn’t leave her alone.

“At first, she refused him, but after Christmas break, they spent more time together. It didn’t seem serious until they announced the engagement late in April.”

“So, she never mentioned me?” How stupid to set myself up for a kick in the stomach.

“Oh yes, of course, you were all she talked about back at school. On Valentine’s Day, she wondered aloud where you were and what you might be doing.

“But once she learned about your friendship with her father, I think, his comments doomed you. He had said you were a good guy, but a player. Then, a group of girls told Lori they had all slept with you.”

“What? That’s ridiculous. In all the years I’ve come here I’ve only had three intimate encounters. And how could I know her father?” I stood and started pacing, slinging sand, and spitting between my teeth.

“Isn’t Pandora’s Steak House your favorite place to eat?”

“Yes, but what’s that got to do with me and her dad?”

“Well, her dad, Sam, owns the restaurant.”

“Oh, gosh . . . I never knew Lori was Sam’s daughter, I mean, I’ve never seen her there or at any of the events or her dad’s golf scrambles.”

“Lori said Sam really spoke highly of you. About what a fun, intelligent, and upstanding guy you are. But he told her he didn’t see you as the husbandly type to ever get too serious about anyone.”

“Well, I understand his thoughts.  I guess my playful flirtiness makes me come across more elusive than I am? But Lori touched a deep, soft spot.”

“Oh, Ric, I’m so sorry, I had no idea you all had grown so close. I mean, I sensed a lot had happened in a few short days with her so excited. But she still didn’t offer details.”

“Hey, it’s all good. Isn’t your fault. Things just happen.” About to puke, I had to get away. “Garland, it’s always good to see you. Take care and I’ll catch you later.”

“Call me if you need someone to talk to, Ric.”

“I will, thanks . . . see you around.”

I wandered off, and about a half-mile down the beach I climbed the Clarion Hotel’s terrace steps for a patio breakfast to ease my nauseousness.

Seated, and having ordered, I glanced over to the ongoing construction of a giant arch of white lattice, ribbons billowing in the breeze behind the microphoned pulpit at the adjacent Island’s Resort Hotel. Lori walked out talking to the builders and a friend. Then, it hit me. Lori and Brian’s wedding venue. I turned sharply, hoping not to be seen.

I nibbled at my breakfast but couldn’t fuel a fervor for food. So, I paid the check and stood to leave.

As I turned back toward the beach to make my exit, a voice said, “Excuse me.”

The woman who had been outside with Lori next door, said, “I think we need to talk?”

“We do? And why would that be . . . do I know you?”

“My name is Allison and I’m one of Lori’s best friends.”

“Well, good for you . . . I wish I could say the same.”

“I just saw you snooping around watching her as we were outside making arrangements for her wedding.”

“I beg your pardon. I wasn’t snooping anywhere. I stopped in here to have breakfast, without the slightest idea of Lori, you, or the wedding being next door.”

“Well, you just need to know she and Brian are happy and very much in love. So, you need to move on and not cause any problems.”

“I can assure you I have no ill will or negative intentions, but I don’t need some nosey interloper to convince me.” I turned to the steps before she had a chance to reply.

Then, I heard a familiar voice. “Allison, why did you run off over here?”

There stood Lori. And the instant our eyes met, our knees' went weak and almost wilted.

The nervous meddler jabbered to explain, but Lori shut her off. “Allison, excuse us please . . . I’ll meet you back at the Island’s; Ric and I need to talk.”

Furious, Allison stomped out, and Lori walked over; her smile blurred behind nervous twitching lips.  

“Hey, I hear congratulations are in order.” I smiled wide as I could muster. “I wish you both all the happiness in the world.”

“Ric, I’m so sorry you had to find out this way.”

“Me too . . . I must say, I’ve never been more shocked.”

“I’m sure you are, and I never intended this to happen. After six long months with little to no communication, I wasn’t sure I’d ever hear from you again.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it . . . just live a long, happy, fairytale life.”

“This has been the hardest decision of my life, Ric.”

“I don’t know why that would be, a lifetime boyfriend wouldn’t give anyone else much chance; especially, someone you hardly know.”

“That’s exactly what has made it so hard. But nearly everyone has a reason why you can’t be the one. Twelve different girls have claimed to have been with you. And my father practically warned me off; although, he thinks you’re a great guy.”

“I’m not going to try and defend myself. I’m just sorry things couldn’t have played-out before you planned to marry. Of the twelve girls you speak of: 9 are liars. The other three came long before we met, which I can’t change. Do I like pretty girls hanging on my arm? Yes, I sure do. But mostly to impress my friends, rather than sexual relations with strangers.”

“I’m so sorry, Ric. I wish things had worked out differently.”

“Me too, Lori. No hard feelings and best of luck.” I threw up my hand and walked off. A quick glimpse from the corner of my eye saw limp shoulders and tears cascading down her face.

My own emotions frazzled, the stairs blurred and disappeared in a monsoon, beneath a cloudless sky. I lost my balance, missed a step, and flip-flopped for what felt like a week. Lucky for me, Lori had walked off in the opposite direction and hadn’t seen my awkward-gymnast’s dismount.

I dusted off what sand I could and stumbled down the beach to Pandora’s. Sam was seldom in during the day, so I headed upstairs to the bar and ordered a frosty-mug of beer and three double-shots of single-barrel Four Roses. I needed to clear my mind or numb it.

Surprisingly, Sam came up, took the stool beside me, and said, “Hey bud, hitting the sauce hard for so early in the day . . . you, okay?”

“I don’t know. I’m sort of in uncharted waters. I’ve never felt this hopeless.”

“Those bloodshot, watery eyes won’t hide much. Anything I can do to help?”

“I don’t know what it would be, Sam, besides shoot me and put me out of my misery.”

“Ah-h-h, bud, it can’t be that bad . . . talk to me.”

The frog in my throat felt like chopped glass, words garbled, and a deluge of tears overflowed. My normal tough guy bravado a mere squeak.

Sam rubbed my back and said, “Man, you’re all-to-pieces.” Then, he squeezed my shoulder. “Pull it together big boy. I never thought anything could shake you up like this.”

“Me neither . . . nothing ever has before.”

“So, tell me what’s going on, Ric.”

“I don’t know where to start.”

“At the beginning.” Sam smacked me on the chest and smiled.

I’d never seen such pity on Sam’s face, as I spoke. He ordered a few more shots, and I spilled my guts, what little there really was to tell.

Unexpectedly, Sam said, “Ric, I would never want you to hurt or take advantage of Lori, but if she means that much to you . . . go for it. I’d rather see her with you than anyone I know. Especially, Brian, who is a spoiled-brat prick.”

“Thanks for saying, Sam. I’m crazy about her, but if it didn’t work out, I’d always be worried how you’d feel.”

“Don’t be silly, man. There are no guarantees in love or war, I just expect your best effort.”

“With her set to marry Brian, I guess it’s too late to worry about it now.”

“Yes, if you sit, pout, and cloud your brain with booze. So, get up, find her, and tell her what you’ve just told me. Leave the choice up to her.”

I jumped up, hugged Sam, and waved for my tab.

“You don’t have a tab, get the hell out of here and quit wasting time.”


Lori sat on the terrace crying when Brian walked up and said, “What’s up with you?”

“We need to talk, Brian.”

In a puzzled expression, Brian asked, “About what?”

“About us and this marriage.” Lori was obviously exasperated.  

“Well, let’s talk.” Brian jumped to the defensive and puffed out his cocky chest.

Lori wiped her eyes, blew her nose, and didn’t waste time getting to the point. “Brian, you broke my heart last summer when you needed time to be sure of what you wanted and started seeing someone else.”

“Yes, well—”

Lori yelled “Stop!” and held her hand up to cut him off. “Now, you listen . . . it’s my turn to talk. I need time. I’ve met someone I can’t get out of my mind, and it isn’t fair to you, me, or him if I don’t figure things out first.”

“Oh, so you expect me to just step back while you take up with a summer lover and put me on hold?”

“You mean, like you did to me last summer? I’ve never been with this person. We met and kissed once. That’s it.”

“You do what you have to do, Lori, but I won’t be here waiting when you come crawling back.”

Brian had made the breakup easier and more permanent than Lori had ever dreamed possible, as she rushed off to find Ric.


Unsure what Lori’s reaction might be or if she’d even listen or be interested in what he had to say, Ric decided to leave town and accept his loss.

David drove him to the airport, where Ric caught the next flight-out to Los Angeles. Ric having run off and ruined their vacation, David seethed in disappointment as he sped to meet friends in Birmingham, AL. 

Spoken words, create friction

Silence builds, unyielding walls

March of time, waits for no one

Reckless choices, waste our lives



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