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I posted an ad in the newspaper last week. It was a Help Wanted article. You see, I'm tired of being the person who always initiates relationships. I'm talkative, but lonely. All of my other attempts at relationships have ended disastrously, with my heart getting torn to pieces, and then smaller pieces. So I decided to put an advertisement in the paper, looking for a trustworthy man who is willing to love me for me, not who they wish I was.
For the contact information in my ad, I’d said that any takers should meet me at the little café just down the street, the one on the corner of where Maple Street and Birch Road intersect. I’d said that I’d be there from noon until four everyday of the week except for Sunday. All I want is for one man to prove to me that they’re not all the same.
So I sit here, in my usual seat outside the café, sipping coffee at the table. One of my friends owns the place, so I get free coffee whenever I’m there. I’ve not had many takers for my ad, and the ones that have come were all losers, just trying to get an easy date. When I explained to them that I was serious, and was truly looking for a long-term relationship, they’d all left, suddenly uninterested, leaving me how I’d started. Alone.
Tracking a rather good-looking man with dirty blonde hair with my eyes, I let myself wonder if he’s going to come and take the seat across from me. But he walks on by, not giving me another look. Am I not worth anyone’s attention or time? Why am I not good enough? I may not be the prettiest girl in the world, but I’m certainly not ugly…Am I? What do men see in others that they don’t see in me? Am I too talkative, too loud? That’s just my nature, I can’t help it…Can I?
The sound of a scraping chair brings me abruptly from my melancholy thoughts. “Oh!” I sit up, now alert.
The person that had sat down across from me has a familiar face, familiar eyes, and a familiar smile. “Hey Liza.”
“Hi Gabriel! What are you doing here?” I don’t try to hide my confusion, Gabriel has always been my best friend.
That attractive smile flickers across his face, “I saw an ad in the paper, thought I should come check it out…”
He’s always been funny, and I laugh, “Gabriel! I told you I was putting one in the paper! You should’ve remembered that it was mine.”
“I did.” he says quietly, strands of his raven hair falling into his serious dark eyes. “That’s why I came.”
“You’re confusing me…” I’m mystified, unsure as to what he’s hinting at.
“Pretend for a minute that you haven’t known me forever.” he tells me.
I protest, “That’s no simple thing to do!”
“Just try.” Gabriel insists.
I feel my mouth frown, “Okay…I’ll try.”
“Now look at me without biased eyes, pretend like this is the first time we’ve ever met.” he instructs me.
Banishing all memories of growing up with him, I look away, and take a breath, “Here it goes.”
Looking back at him, I let my eyes rove over his face. Gabriel is good looking, but I’d always known that…There’s this killer sparkle in his eyes, sometimes they’re so serious, but right now he looks terribly attractive. Gabriel, I realize, is every bit ‘tall, dark and handsome’.
“Gabriel, what do you want from me? What do you want me to say?” I sigh, not sure where he’s going with this.
“I want you to realize that just because I’m your childhood friend, and you know me so well, not to rule me out as a boyfriend, husband, whatever…I know you want mystery, but why not stick with someone you know you get along with? Someone you know loves you for you…”
Surprise makes my mouth fall open a little, “Oh…” My face heats, and I have to look away.
I feel his strong hand slip around mine, “You know me. You know everything about me. What makes me so undesirable to you? A new guy won’t solve your problems, Liza, but maybe one you’ve known forever will…Give me a chance.”
Tears slip unbidden down my face. “Why did you never speak up before?”
“I knew the thought of me had never crossed through your mind. You had your heart set on someone new, a mystery…I can be mysterious, I bet. Give me a chance.” He repeats that phrase again. Reaching up, his hand is warm and gentle against my face as he gingerly wipes away my tears.
Gabriel’s dark eyes draw mine into their depths, they burn like coals. Love is there, strong love, gentle love…How had I never seen this before? Was I really so blind?!
“Okay.” I hear myself whisper.
Gabriel stands, pulls me away from the table, and then away from the café.
“Where are we going?”
“On a date.” he smiles at me, his strong arm wrapped around me, holding me tightly. Standing against Gabriel makes me feel small…Protected…Loved.
Loved at last.