Fated – A Short Story on Love

by

I love writing about lovers destined to be together. Whether they have a happy ending together or not, it’s always magical to see how the universe can bring two souls together. “Fated” is a piece I wrote back in September 2003, and is one of my favorites. I hope you love it too!

string-lights

I saw him again today.

I knew she would be there today.

I was at the coffee shop, sipping my tea quietly. My book was open before me, but I wasn’t reading a word. No matter how hard I tried, the new romance novel’s first chapter just couldn’t enter my mind. I stood up, planning to get myself a muffin, hoping that chewing would re-energize my already stagnant mind.

I felt it in my gut. I also needed my daily dose of caffeine, so it was the perfect reason to pass by the coffee shop. Right, I told myself. The perfect excuse, I meant. I had finally mustered up enough courage to say hello to her, maybe I could start talking to her now.

He entered the coffee shop quietly but with a presence that made heads turn. Female heads, more precisely. Including my female head. He walked to the other counter and briskly ordered an espresso. I heard him. He had a low, husky voice. I imagined his perfume would be musky and very masculine. And I confirmed that as he stepped past me to sit on the table next to mine.

She was standing by the counter as I opened the door. I almost tripped over the umbrella rack when I noticed her familiar ponytail. The rack fell over with a clang and all eyes turned to me, including hers. Pretending nothing happened, I ordered the first thing I saw on the menu board. She looked even more beautiful today. Her ponytail bobbed up and down as she nodded to the barista’s question. Her skin was creamy against her blue shirt. I saw her backpack on the east table and so I took the one right next to it.

I paid for my muffin and sat back down in my chair. I tried not to look at him but peripheral vision failed me. He brought his cup to his lips, and then softly muttered a curse as he jumped from his seat, dripping a bit of coffee on his white shirt. I bit my lip and stifled a giggle. Unsuccessfully.

I could see her reading a book. And what were those? A pile of tissues? I smiled to myself. I may not have the guts to just walk up to her and say hello, but I can find an indirect way of doing so. I brought the cup to my lips and muttered a curse and jumped from my seat. Uh-oh, I didn’t mean to drop anything on my shirt. I heard her giggle.

I tilted my head up and saw him standing above me. He asked me something I couldn’t quite comprehend. “Napkin?” I think. I had a bunch of them on my table and so I gave him a handful, trying not to notice how his biceps flexed impressively from under his shirt sleeves.

I walked towards her and just stood frozen. Why was I here again? “Um, mind if I have one?” I pointed at the white pile. She gave me a handful, and I dabbed at the coffee drops on my shirt hurriedly.

“Clumsy aren’t we?” I asked, surprised at my own boldness. I didn’t now where that came from. Maybe there was a flirt in me after all.

She’s talking to me, I smiled to myself. “I didn’t think that espresso would be that hot,” I shook my head and laughed.

He told me he wasn’t expecting the coffee to be that hot. I laughed as he laughed at his own clumsiness.

I didn’t know whether to take the chair across her or not. What if she was waiting for someone? I felt my heart beating through my ears. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Should I tell her I’ve been wanting to talk to her ever since I found out where she hung out? Here in this coffee place? That I’ve been sort of stalking her the past weeks? I blurted out something I couldn’t even remember after I said it. I just knew she looked amazing.

“You look great,” he said, looking at me intently. I felt him pierce my heart right there and then. I was still looking up at him, why wouldn’t he sit down, I thought, and would I admit that yes I have seen him before and knew he came to this coffee shop often?

Did she do anything with her hair? She wasn’t wearing make-up. Her ruby lips glistened with the moisture of the cup that had touched her lips earlier. I wanted to kiss them. I better snap out of this, I thought.

“Oh you’re just saying that,” was all I managed to say, smiling a bit. Was that the right response? “But thanks.” I smiled, thankful that I didn’t stutter or stumble over any words.

She blushed a bit after that compliment and said thank you. “Well, I better get back to—” My eyes fell on her long tan neck, her bronze color so striking against the turquoise of her shirt.

He smiled a smile that made me feel like melted butter. “Well, I better get back to…” Oh no, what was he staring at? My romance novel? Oh no. Now he’ll think that I’m a stupid romantic or worse, a loser girl who didn’t get any and lived a life of pure imagination in a made-up world of romance and Fabio-like guys. I covered the book with my elbow but it was too late.

Oh damn, I was staring. I shifted my eyes to the muffin on her table. “Muffin,” I said quickly. Geez. I sounded like Cookie Monster saying `Coooookie.’

“Blueberry muffin,” he seemed to whisper. I heaved a sigh of relief and pushed the plate towards him. “Want it?” I smiled. He smiled back and I gestured that he could sit across me. I awarded myself a medal of bravery.

She pushed the muffin plate towards me. This was a step closer to her, I thought. My eyes widened when I saw her pointing to the chair across her. I did sit and took the muffin in my hands, giving her half of it. “You must think I’m a cheapskate,” I laughed.

“You must think I’m a cheapskate,” He laughed. His low, husky laugh, just like his voice. He parted the muffin in two and gave me half. “Okay, I’ll trade you for this.” He got a pack of gum from his pocket, took half the contents out, about three individually wrapped sticks, and place them in front of me.

I traded her half of what was left from my chewing gum pack. I needed to give her something, lest she thought I was a pauper and just wanted to hit on her for a free muffin. I almost melted when she got the gum sticks and bit into the muffin.

He’s flirting with me, I grinned inwardly. “Fair enough,” I bit into my muffin.

She looked adorable taking the blueberry bits out and popping them into her mouth.

We talked about the coffee shop and how homey it was. I liked the warm brown interiors, he liked the cushiony seats.

We talked about other coffee shops down the road, the bookstore around the corner, the books we read, the movie theater across that corner, and the movies playing next weekend.

All throughout the conversation I noticed how warm he was, how his eyes twinkled as we talked about sci-fi books and Jim Carrey comedies, how his lips crinkled to one side when he smiled.

She was into Norah Jones and hard rock. Her eyes sparkled when she talked about the recent trip she had to the beach, and how she wanted to have her own dog after playing with one there.

We discovered a lot of similarities, like not minding going into a movie that has already started, amusement parks, and differences, like he liked morning hikes and I’m just not an exercise person. But the more we talked, the more I felt that he understood me. I felt like he was an old friend. An old friend that I didn’t mind wanting to get to know better. More intimately, I thought, as I watched him run his hand through his hair.

We talked a lot. I don’t remember everything, but I do remember how I felt that moment. I felt like she was opening up to me in a way she never did, and I to her. I laughed at her corny knock-knock jokes and she laughed at my stories from the golf course. I didn’t want to stop talking to her. I didn’t want to stop seeing her lips move. The more she talked, the more I wanted to kiss her lips.

We were talking animatedly about the new restaurant downtown when I noticed how dark it was outside. I checked my watch. Oh no, three hours have passed! I looked at him and pointed sheepishly at the time. I didn’t want to leave, but I knew I had to.

I could see the sky getting dark from where I sat, but I ignored it, hoping she would, too. My heart fell when I saw her glance at her watch.

“I never thought someone loved Dragonlance the way I do,” he said, watching me place my book in my backpack.

She placed her romance novel back in her bag. “I never thought you’d like Dragonlance as much as I do.”

“And I never thought guys got tips from steamy romance novels,” I teased him, laughing as I slung the bag over my shoulder.

“And I never thought guys got tips from steamy romance novels,” she grinned, a flirty, sweet smile.

He placed a finger in front of his lips. “Sssh. That’s a secret. No need to spoil my macho demeanor now,” he replied. I made a face and he laughed and shook his head. Maybe I shouldn’t have done that… I must’ve looked like a mouse with a scrunched up nose. Ew. I stood up.

“Sssh. That’s a secret. No need to spoil my macho demeanor now,” I answered. Uh-oh. Was that too machismo? Oh well. I guess it didn’t offend her. Or maybe she did. She made this adorable face that just made me smile some more.

“It was great seeing you here,” I smiled, biting my lip nervously. What do I do now? Shake his hand? I wanted to hug him but that may have seemed to forward for that occasion. I’ve never done this thing before… talk to what seemed like a stranger with a conversation that lasted longer than a mere asking for directions.

“It was great seeing you here,” she said. She was standing up now so I stood up. I wanted to tell her I’ve been planning this for the longest time, but I kept silent. I walked her to the door.

He stood up and walked me to the door. This was the first time we stood together, and I noticed he was keeping his pace with me. “There’s a book fair this coming week –”

I had to say something. I didn’t want her going out that door and me wondering when I could see her again. “There’s a book fair this coming week –“

“Oh yes, I’ve heard about that!” Oops, I interruped him. I must’ve sounded too eager. Book fairs always do that to me. Sheesh. I looked up at him but his smile seemed to be beaming. “Um, it’s at the park, right?”

Her eyes lit up like a child’s and my heart smiled. She knew about it, and was it at the park? She asked. Oh no. Was it at the park? What did the flyer say again? “Yes it is. It runs for two weeks but I catch the first weekend so I get dibs on the good books, so you know, I don’t get left with the ones that are all dog-eared and dewy.”

He opened the door for me, I stepped out. “Yes it is. It runs for two weeks but I usually catch the first weekend so I get dibs on the good books…” I felt my heart jump. I did that too. I looked out onto the street. Sigh. It was already dark and the streetlights were already gleaming brightly.

I pushed the door open for her. Good thing the streetlights were on. I didn’t want her walking alone in a dark street. Was I feeling protective of her all of a sudden? She said goodbye and started walking away.

“I have to go,” I said hastily. “I’ll see you around, then.” A nervous rush swept through my veins so I turned my back to him and started walking away slowly.

“Maybe we can go together?” I blurted out. I am not passing up this chance.

“Maybe we can go together?” He asked. I stopped walking. What do I do? I wanted to scream with delight and jump up and down on the streets but I knew I wouldn’t and I couldn’t. I looked at him over my shoulder.

I braced myself as she stopped in her steps. I walked closer to her and told her about a friend I had at the fair and that it opened at 10. I wished so hard that she would say yes. Her profile looked Patrician in the glow of the streetlight. Her stature was just as I had imagined her — sophisticated but with the sweetness of a little girl’s.

Was I really going to do this? He took a step closer to me and took a deep breath, “It opens on Saturday at 10 am. I know one of the organizers so they can get us in for free.” The glow of the streetlight bounced on his features, making him look more like a Greek god than ever. But beneath those chiseled looks I had been eyeing for the past few months, I already knew he was much more than that. He had the soul of an artist, the laughter of a little boy and a heart I wanted to be a part of.

She looked up at the sky then at her sneakers then at me. It seemed like an eternity.

“I’ll meet you by the ticket booth then,” I answered, the words coming out of my mouth without going through my brain. I gripped my bag tightly.

I saw her break into a smile. “I’ll see you at the ticket booth.” I could almost click my heels right there. “Coffee afterwards?” I asked, pushing my luck.

He smiled that boyish smile again and nodded his head. “Great. And maybe coffee afterwards?”

She laughed. Oh no, maybe that was too forward.

“We’ll see,” I laughed, still feeling awkward at being asked out. I waved goodbye, so did he, and I walked across the road, still feeling his eyes on me.

She told me she’d think about it, then walked away. I watch her figure get smaller as she crossed the road. I wanted to see she was safe. I shoved my hands in my pockets as I watched her move farther and farther away.

I put one hand in my pocket. A single tear trickled down my cheek, but a smile crossed my face. I felt the heaviness of gold on my ring finger, but the promise of hope fluttering in heart seemed to lighten the burden of the band.

I felt the thick gold band on my finger, and my heart dipped with a sadness I never felt, but rose again with a promise of what could be. She turned around. I took my hand out and waved goodbye at her. She waved back.

I looked back. He was still there, looking at me, his hands shoved in his pockets. He caught me looking at him and waved at me again. I waved back.

There was a hint of gold glistening in the glow of the streetlight.

There was a hint of gold glistening in the glow of the streetlight.

Was that what I thought it was? I thought. I saw her hastily bring her hand back down. I ran across the street, right across the pavement and stepped right next to her.

We stood frozen, staring at each other from across the street. I took my hand out of my pocket and stared at my gold band. What am I doing? I scolded myself. I looked up at him. He was making his way across the road. I couldn’t move.

I looked at the familiarity of her beauty, took in the familiarity of her warmth. Tears stung my eyes as I tried to find words to tell her how I was feeling.

There were tears in his eyes.

She was crying.

I felt hot tears streaming down my cheeks.

I wiped her tears away, and caressed her gold ring. The identical glow of our rings gleamed in the streetlight.

He took my hand, touched the gold band and looked at me intently. He clasped my hands in his. I could see the gleam of the identical gold band on his ring finger.

She looked so helpless, and I knew I looked the same. I can do this, I thought, and told her that which I’ve been keeping inside me for the past weeks. “I haven’t signed the papers…” I whispered. She looked up at me, with a mixture of shock and surprise. “We’ll try it again okay?” I hoped against hope she would agree.

“We’ll try it again okay?” He whispered, as he wiped away my tears. “I— I haven’t signed the papers yet.” Oh god, I thought, I was hoping he hadn’t.

She stood frozen before me, her eyes welling up with more tears.

I nodded and took a deep breath. “Maybe we don’t have to go through with it,” I said softly, feeling the familiar warmth of his tender hand on my face. I remembered the months of torture without him.

“We don’t have to go through with it,” I said, trying to convince her I was right. I couldn’t bear to be separated from her again.

“I missed you,” he said, wrapping his strong arms around me, kissing my forehead with his soft lips. My heart soared. “I missed you so much.”

She closed her eyes and cried some more. I embraced her tightly and whispered how much I missed her.

“I missed you too,” I whispered back, my arms wrapped around his waist. I looked up at him and smiled. Did he really mean those words? I could see the answer in his eyes and I knew he did. We’d try it again.

I looked down at her and saw her eyes full of warmth and love. “I missed you too,” she said and my heart leaped with a joy it hadn’t felt in years. I hugged her tightly.

We walked away from the coffee shop hand in hand, our gold bands glistening in the glow of the streetlight.

We walked away from the coffee shop hand in hand, our gold bands glistening in the glow of the streetlight.

7 Comments on Fated – A Short Story on Love

  1. Ma. Teresa Grech Q. Racal
    August 19, 2015 at 10:35 pm (5 years ago)

    Aaawww… This piece… I really, really like… Haaaay… While reading it, I was smiling then felt bad then smiles again until the end. Haaaay… What a story….
    Ma. Teresa Grech Q. Racal´s last blog post ..Yes I am 41… Thank You…

    Reply
    • Toni
      August 19, 2015 at 11:18 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks for the story love. *hugggggs*

      Reply
  2. Pia
    August 20, 2015 at 6:57 am (5 years ago)

    I love all of your short stories but this one is really awesome. I never saw that twist coming. Please keep on writing Toni. I’m a huge fan. :)

    Reply
    • Toni
      August 20, 2015 at 11:20 pm (5 years ago)

      Oh thank you Pia! I appreciate the encouraging feedback. *hugs*

      Reply
    • Toni
      August 28, 2015 at 9:18 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks ceemee :)

      Reply
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