Anna's head swirled with emotion as she drove home - happiness, abject terror, hope, excitement, dread. He was all and more she thought he would be. Almost perfect in every respect, like as if she had crafted the perfect man in her head and he suddenly appeared right in front of her. She had to talk about it. She whipped out her cell phone and dialed Ophelia's number.*
"You realize that I have to be at the bakery at 4 am, right?" Ophelia said by way of answering the call.
"I . . . Phee," Anna found herself stuttering.
"Anna, are you ok?" Ophelia said, sounding concerned.
"No, Phee, the most wonderful thing happened," Anna said, tears once again leaking from her eyes. "Phillip."
"What?!" Ophelia practically shouted into the phone. "What do you mean Phillip?"
"I went out with him!" Anna said.
"Wait, I'm so confused," Ophelia said. "How is that even possible? We're talking about Phil from California right?"
"Yes," Anna said. She told Ophelia about the last couple of days.
"Wow," Ophelia said. "Like major wow. Like trippy wow. Like, this is so amazing! I have no words, sis! Have you told mom?"
"No, I haven't. I needed to talk to you first," Anna said.
"Awww, I love you too," Ophelia said. "Ok, so are you going out again?"
"Yes, on Saturday afternoon," Anna said.
"He's not wasting any time, is he?" Ophelia said. "Not that I blame him, you are quite the little disabled snack."
"Phee, what am I doing?" Anna said. "Am I insane? Am I doing the right thing?"
"Whoa there, babe, take a big, deep breath," Ophelia said. "I'm stealing your big sister card for a second. Get out of your head and let me tell you something. You are doing exactly what you should be doing. You are chasing after happiness. Phillip is going to make you very happy."
"Really?" Anna said, trying to swallow the lump in her throat.
"Yes," Ophelia said. "All you have to do is let him."
"Why are you so sure?" Anna said. "And weren't you the one telling me after we left Sweetwater that I was doing the right thing then?"
"Yes, because back then there was little chance of you seeing him again. Was there any use in me encouraging that? But even so, I liked the guy. He was cool," she said. "And I saw the way he looked at you when you were around. If you were anywhere in his line of vision, he wasn't looking at anything else. I'm willing to bet that hasn't changed much, so why not take a chance now. Chase real happiness this time?"
Anna laugh-sobbed. "What would I do without you?"
"Probably shrivel up and die," Ophelia said. "Go, be free, be happy, don't let that hunk of a man out of your sight again, or we really will have words. Love you, I really need to go to bed."
"Love you too," Anna said. She wiped some of the tears away from her face. While she wasn't entirely sure she 'deserved' happiness, she thought she knew what Ophelia was trying to say. Phillip represented a promise of happiness. She hadn't been happy, unguardedly happy in so long she barely remembered what it felt like. It scared her to death. Being happy in this case meant that her happiness was in large part because of someone else. And the last time she had given over to happiness that completely, she had lost it. Darren took it with him. She had found contentment, acceptance, but not happiness. Her children were her saving grace during those dark months and the only thing that kept her from succumbing to depression entirely. And she put all her energy and love into them as much for her sake as for theirs. Now there was a twinkling light above the mists of contentment and it mystified and unnerved her.
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[ Complete ] Anna, a paraplegic woman with two kids, is living life as best she can after the death of her husband. But a chance encounter while on vacation with her family shows her she may have a second chance at love. But Phillip, as sweet and ki...