Yep, there it is again.
Jeff stood in the aisle of the party store, surrounded by fall and Thanksgiving decorations, and watched the women chatter and fill the shopping cart with everything they thought they’d need to welcome visitors on Thanksgiving weekend.
Ginger had just pointed to some plastic pumpkin-shaped baskets, made a comment, and Sally had nodded and laughed.
Mercy! I love her laugh.
And his heart had given a little jerk-and-turn and curled up in his chest as if it had found a warm blanket to lie in.
Jeff caught Sally watching him watching her, and he shifted his attention to the bags of candy corn.
He’d first felt that heart maneuver at the hardware store not thirty minutes ago. Sally had moved quickly through the aisles, first to the sandpaper and then to the files he needed for some metal work on the carousel mechanics. She had found the right size and grit and beamed when she had handed them to him.
His heart had done the jerk-and-turn, and as he had taken the files from her hands, he had heard a whisper inside that had sounded suspiciously like his own voice stating, “This is the girl I’m going to marry.”
The statement, so clear, had hit him like a hammer with rock-solid certainty.
It was a crazy idea, he thought as he wandered away from the two friends, walking past shelves but seeing nothing. For one thing, he had never considered settling in one place before coming to Westview, New York, population 15,000, whose only claims to fame were a restaurant-ware china manufacturer, some tourism from the nearby state parks, and an amusement park whose glory days were long past and which had miles to go before it contributed to the town’s bottom line. Mountains surrounded the town — mountains and thick stands of trees — so unlike the Kansas plains, farms, and big skies with which he had grown up. Western New York boasted overcast skies starting in October with sleet and snow a five-month fact of life.
For another thing, the girl, the one his heart had just informed him would be his wife, still acted a bit standoffish around him. He wasn’t sure if her jitters came from him specifically, men in general, or something else altogether. She was as skittish as the birds who gathered at his mom’s feeders keeping a nervous eye on Oscar, his mom’s big tabby cat. He didn’t consider himself a danger to anyone, but it seemed Sally did. So, he was going to have to move real slow and reassure her he wasn’t the dangerous type.
It bothered him when he had to work so hard to get a date. Not even a date. Burgers. A little conversation. He had asked. Twice. Banged his ego around a whole lot when she gave him her small smile that held both rejection and a bit of an apology.
What was up with the apology? What was she sorry for? That she wasn’t attracted to him?
He didn’t buy it. Even now, as she moved closer with her attention on bunches of fake leaves and turkey platters, he caught her eyes searching for him then quickly shifting away.
Oh yeah, she was attracted. And trying to figure him out.
“What will you do with the platter?” he asked when she picked up an oval plastic dish emblazoned with a fat, feathered turkey before it became dinner.
Sally dropped the platter in the cart. “Cookies.”
Move real slow. For now, that would be his plan.