Romance Fiction posted February 11, 2024

This work has reached the exceptional level
A girl believes romance will never come her way.

Never Say Never

by BethShelby

There were many lonely nights when Emily had to fight back waves of depression. She had always assumed she would one day get married and have a family, but somehow life in that department seemed to be passing her by. She didn’t understand why. She had always been told she was attractive. She had a shapely figure. She dressed nicely and wore makeup and a chic hairstyle.
From time to time, she'd had secret crushes on boys, but when they started dating other girls, she’d forced herself to stop dreaming, thinking maybe one day the right guy would come along for her. She had two younger sisters whom she adored. Although they always included her in everything they did, they had obviously inherited her mother’s exuberant personality, while her nature was more serious and reserved. Both sisters found special guys, and started dating, and in time, they were married. She had been the maid of honor for each of them.

Over the years, she’d had friends that she enjoyed doing things with. Boys seemed to accept her as a part of the group, but they eventually gravitated toward the more lively personalities. None of the guys ever asked her for a date. At twenty-five, her friends and family were becoming concerned about her. They started offering to fix her up with someone, but she made excuses, not wanting to feel like a charity case. In her mind, she could imagine being rejected and causing herself more humiliation.

As an off-campus student, she had graduated from college with a nursing degree. She found the medical field fascinating and being a caring person, she was accepted and liked by her patients. She loved her job and the pay was good, but her life felt incomplete. She was sharing an apartment with a co-worker, who was now divorced and down on men, after she learned her husband had cheated on her.
One day, Emily got a phone call from her mother, Suzanne, which caused a lot of distress.

“Emily, I know you’re going to try to get out of this, but just hear me out. I’m concerned about you. You need a guy in your life. You’re not getting any younger. You need to start going out on dates. You’re a pretty girl. I know guys would like you, if you just put yourself out there and learn how to talk to them. My friend, Vivian’s son, is single and we thought we’d fix the two of you up. He is going to call you, and I don’t want you to say no. You’ve never been on a real date. You’ve got to start somewhere.”

“Mom, I don’t know this guy. I wouldn’t know what to say. I don’t need you fixing me up. I’m okay without a guy in my life. Not everyone has to get married.”

“I’m not asking you to marry him. I’m just asking you to go out with him. Promise me you will. Be nice when he calls.”

Not wanting to disappoint her mother, Emily accepted and her date was a nightmare. The guy didn’t appeal to her in any way. The conversation was strained and boring, and he seemed to feel free to have his hands all over her. She was embarrassed and uncomfortable. When he suggested they go out again, she made an excuse, and once back home, she cried herself to sleep.
The following day, Emily decided the dating scene wasn’t for her, and love was a myth not worth pursuing. From now on, she would be bold and enjoy her freedom. She had been frugal and had saved enough money she could afford to travel during any time she had off from work. She chose to book trips alone and to make friends along the way.
The first trip, without having someone she knew along to depend on, was intimidating, but it had worked out well. She met others traveling alone and seeing the world excited her and made her want to see more. Over the following three years, with each trip she took, she found herself becoming more confident and craving more adventures. Her friends were envious, scarcely recognizing the girl so enthusiastic while showing the hundreds of photos she had captured of unusual places.

The latest trip had been a women’s walking and hiking trip to Bhutan. The trip, which flew out of Thailand, had taken her into a remote part of the Himalayas. The area was exotic and dramatic. During the tour there had been a chance to visit the Buddhists monasteries and explore, in depth, their culture. As she ended the tour, she was pumped with so much amazing new knowledge she looked forward to getting home to share her experience with her sisters. Still, she had taken the time to stop over for a day in Los Angeles to visit a friend she’d met on a previous trip. They had talked well into the night, so she looked forward to resting on the flight back to Atlanta.

She’d settled into her seat on the plane, when a man who looked to be in his early thirties placed a bag in the overhead rack, looked at his ticket stub and settled into the seat next to hers. He nodded and smiled. She acknowledged his presence and settled back onto her pillow, closing her eyes. It seemed apparent she didn’t plan on talking, so he left her alone, until the stewardess came by and roused her to see if she wanted something to drink.

Seeing his chance, the young man decided to see if he might get to know something about his lovely seatmate. "Were you visiting family in Los Angeles?

“Oh no, my family all live in the Atlanta area. I just made a stopover there to visit a friend who I met on a trip I took last year. I’d flown in from Bhutan with a stopover in Thailand.”

“Really, Wow! My name is Brian, by the way. What are you? A world traveler?"

“I’m Emily. No, not a world traveler, but I’d like to be. I’m a nurse, but I’m thinking of switching to medical research. It might work out, allowing me to do more traveling. I’ve checked out labs in some of the countries I’ve visited. There are some amazing new cures in the works.”
“Are you serious? That’s the field I’m in. I’m just getting back from a convention in Los Angeles. I was a keynote speaker.”

Emily's eyes lit up with interest. How had she not noticed before how handsome this guy was? Needing to rest was suddenly the last thing on her mind. For the remainder of the flight, the two travelers chatted like they had known each other forever.
Brian insisted on hearing all about her trip, and wanted to see all of the photos on her phone. Emily’s enthusiasm grew as she shared. When the plane taxied into the Atlanta terminal, Brian made a quick request, “Lets exchange phone numbers, and plan on getting together before the week's out. I’ll call when you get home. I swear you’re the most interesting girl, I’ve ever met. You’re doing all the things I want to do. This cannot be a coincidence. Fate had to have planned this."
As they picked up their bags and parted company, Emily had a firm date for Friday evening, and the feeling her nights might never be lonely again. Was love at first sight actually possible? She hoped to find out.

Romance Writing Contest contest entry


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