Monday morning arrived with normality. Simon went back to school. Joy went back to delegating her senior citizens and selling Avon to keep herself and her son afloat, and Gabe -- she supposed -- went back to his job in his big, high-rise office building and realized -- she hoped -- that the two of them were never meant to be.
He did not call her or contact her in any way for several days, so she assumed that he also assumed there could never be any relationship beyond the weekend they shared. But some nights, she laid in bed, staring at the ceiling and replaying those few moments spent in his childhood bedroom. It was the kiss she gave him that occupied most of her thoughts. Why would she do that, if she was still hanging onto the memory of her husband? Was that one, simple kiss a sign that she could be more open to loving another man?
Joy was thirty-three years old. In another ten years, she would be too old to start again, to have another child, and she did want more children. She did want to spend the remainder of her life with a husband and watching her children grow up and marry and have children of their own. But before Ben died, she just always figured that man would be Ben and he would be the father of her children. Life tossed her a cruel curveball when he died, and she spent most of Simon’s childhood mourning for the loss.
Now, she was thrown another ball, a smooth, straight, easy pitch with Gabriel. He wanted to be the man she loved next, and he had made it as effortless as possible for her to swing for the fence. But she hadn’t. She let that opportunity sail right past her, and she wasn’t sure if she’d get another shot at it.
But do I want to? she asked herself over and over as the days followed each other without Gabriel making another move. She asked Simon what he thought of Gabriel, and her son had nothing but good things to express. Simon adored Gabriel and his grandfather, and he hinted that he would be okay with her pursuing something more with the younger Lockwood man. He didn’t outright say it, so she was absolutely sure that’s what Simon meant, but she took his enthusiasm as a good sign.
Still, that didn’t inspire her to pick up the phone and call Gabriel. Or to ask him over to dinner. Or just to talk and hear his impeccable voice. She kept thinking that he lived too far away. He was too busy. He had moved on to prettier, younger, more convenient prospects.
Okay, well...nothing she learned about Gabe suggested that he was interested in women just for the convenience, but the thought still circled her mind a couple of times. And the fact that he seemed to have given up on her only fueled her insecurities.
But on Thursday, Joy knew for certain that she couldn’t have been more wrong about Gabriel and her musings that he’d forgotten about her. Around three o’clock that afternoon, as she waited for Simon to get off the school bus, Mrs. Plume called her and told her to switch on the television. So, she did, and there was Gabe, sitting across from Ellen Degeneres on the talk show, and talking about her.
“So, I saw the broadcast from Friday morning, from your newest Grand Opening in Tuscaloosa,” Ellen was saying to Gabriel, “and I have to say that I was shocked. I never go out on Black Friday, because of all the crowds, but when I saw that woman buying all those gifts for those children, I just wanted to reach into that television and give her a great big hug.”
Gabriel smiled at his hostess. “I know what you mean.”
“Oh, do you?” Ellen asked in that You-have-a-secret-and-I-want-to-know-it voice.
And Gabriel smiled again, shifting in his seat, yet keeping a very casual expression. Joy groaned. Please, Lord, don’t let him tell the whole world everything!
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Angels Among UsRomance
Joy Murphy struggles to make ends meet every day of her life. Raising a son by herself is difficult, and this Christmas, nothing has changed...or will it? On the very morning she meets Gabriel Lockwood, her life suddenly becomes a whirlwind of hol...