“With hardened hearts, they had parted ways, yet had never felt so close before…”
Jeffrey read over his novel one last time before turning in for the night. It had taken him six months and twelve days to finish it and he was quite pleased with the results, however, the road to completion wasn’t quite as satisfying.
Eleven months earlier:
It had been a goal of his since childhood to write and publish a novel, so this was going to be the greatest challenge in which Jeffrey Sallinger had ever undertaken. He had dabbled in writing over the years submitting short stories and poetry into various contests or magazines but never had he thought that he would have the drive or time to undergo what he now had his mind focused on. The inspiration for his story was taken from his relationships of the past and the rollercoaster ride that he had endured during each one. One in particular that had left a permanent impression in his heart, was a woman that he had dated by the name of Gloria; a thirty-something vivacious redhead with a passion for life. Gloria turned his world upside down in more ways than one.
Jeffrey and Gloria met through an online dating site. Neither one had ever tried meeting anyone online before, and they were both reluctant about trying, but as fate would have it, they had the will to follow it through which would prove to be appealing to both. Jeffrey used to hang out with friends at the bars and nightclubs hoping to meet someone there, but he only ever found short-term relationships following that path. Gloria, on the other hand, was more of the type who met through various social circles that she had developed through work and close friends. She too was ever dissatisfied with whom she had met.
On their first date, they had agreed to meet at a local museum. Jeffrey had always had an interest in art and Gloria happened to work at a local gallery, so they used this common interest as a means to break the ice, so-to-speak. Jeffrey arrived early at the museum and waited near the entrance for Gloria’s arrival. He decided to wear black jeans and a mauve-colored button-up shirt along with a pair of black Oxford shoes on his feet. His short brown hair was pulled back and slightly to the side, and he had a touch of Versace Dylan Blue cologne dabbed under his strong jawline. He had waited for fifteen minutes when Gloria had arrived. When she had rounded the corner, Jeffrey had almost lost his balance at the sight of her. She wore a long sleek white gown with a slit up the side that exposed her toned thighs. Wrapped around her neck was a black silk shawl that was partially covered by her cascading auburn hair. Her green eyes sparkled in the sunlight that seemed to radiate upon her alone; she was simply exquisite.
As Gloria approached and saw Jeffrey, a wide smile spread slowly across her face. She felt slightly warm and knew that her face had begun to blush, but Jeffrey either didn’t seem to notice or was a gentleman enough not to say so. Jeffrey had held out his hand to greet her, but Gloria had unexpectedly stretched out both arms and wrapped them around his strong chest. Jeffrey responded by giving her a welcoming hug in return. The embrace had only lasted a few seconds, but to the two of them, it seemed to go on forever.
As they walked through the museum, they naturally found themselves either grazing each other’s arms or flirtatiously touching one another. They spoke of the colleges that they had attended and their interests in life. It seemed as if they would never run out of things to talk about. By the end of the tour, three hours had already passed and yet the night was still young, so they chose to check out a popular hotspot for people over thirty. The music was a mix of rock and pop from the 80s to the late 90s. Gloria was a fantastic dancer and made the simplest moves seem seductive. Jeffrey was never a great dancer, though he loved the music and found himself moving along to the beat. Gloria didn’t seem to criticize his sometimes odd-looking moves, but Jeffrey still felt a little self-conscious about it.
The first date ended with a passionate kiss by the door of Gloria’s 2010 Silver Mustang Convertible. As their lips locked together for the first time, a fire began to grow inside and each longed for the next time they could get together, but neither wanted to make it look obvious, so they said goodnight and headed home.
Moments after Gloria had arrived home, a text message popped up on her phone. It was from Jeffrey and he said, “Thank you for the wonderful evening. I had an amazing time. If you are willing, I would love to take you out to dinner this coming Friday evening.”
Gloria was ecstatic at the message and quickly replied, “I had a wonderful evening as well and I would very much enjoy dinner and your company on Friday. What time would you like to pick me up?”
“Why don’t I make you dinner? Do you like Italian food? I will give you my address and you can meet me here, okay?” Jeffrey suggested.
“That sounds wonderful. I love Italian food. I can be there by 6 pm if that works.” Gloria responded and Jeffrey agreed.
Their second date was as enjoyable as the first, if not more. The several dates to follow were even better and became more passionate as the weeks passed. It became clear that their hearts were now bound to one another and that they needed to take things a step further. Jeffrey’s apartment was too small for two people to live in comfortably, so Gloria had agreed that he could move in with her into the 3-bedroom loft that she shared with her roommate, Stephanie. Jeffrey packed up all of his belongings, which wasn’t much, into the back of his 2018 Toyota Highlander Sport Utility Vehicle, and drove to the other side of town where Gloria lived. It was a middle-class neighborhood with a mix of bungalows and 2-story homes on quiet streets. Nothing like the busy downtown area where Jeffrey had just moved from. Gloria’s apartment was part of a tri-plex and she was located in apartment “C”. With the help of Gloria and Stephanie, Jeffrey was moved in within thirty minutes. His first impression of Stephanie was that she was a spoiled rich kid with a bad attitude, but as he got to know her more, he realized that she wasn’t living off of daddy’s money at all; she had done quite well for herself as a fashion designer. Stephanie had developed and produced her exclusive clothing label by the time she was 25-years-old, and now that she is 30-years-old, she had expanded her line to suit the body styles of women over thirty as well.
The first month or so living together, Jeffrey and Gloria acted like newlyweds and spent most of the time that they were at home, in the bedroom. Stephanie began to get annoyed after a while from the noise that kept her awake at night and eventually started sleeping with earplugs in her ears to deaden the sounds.
After around the third month, something happened that changed the course of the relationship forever. Jeffrey had just returned home from a long run and found a note sitting on the kitchen table from Gloria. She had to run into work to take over the shift of one of the other girls who had called in sick, so Jeffrey decided to go get into the shower then maybe do some writing while she was gone. While in the shower, and with shampoo running down across his face, Jeffrey heard the shower door slide open. He thought that Gloria had managed to get the day off after all. She wrapped her arms around his naked body and he began to get aroused. She began to explore his body with her hands in ways that she had never done before. Jeffrey turned around to kiss her and make love to her, only to find Stephanie standing before him. She had a guilty look on her face like a schoolgirl who had just gotten scolded for the first time. Her big blue eyes looked into Jeffrey’s eyes and a flirtatious grin appeared on her face. At first, Jefferey was shocked and told her that she had to go, but then she pulled her wet body closer to him and his anger gave into desire. The scene turned hot and passionate until both were exhausted and the hot water had begun to turn cold. After they dried off, Jeffrey told Stephanie that this could never happen again and that he truly loves Gloria. She agreed, but it did happen again, and more than once, until one day, Gloria walked in on the two of them. That was the last straw and Gloria decided that she would be the one to leave, so she packed up her clothes and told Jeffrey that she would send someone to pick up the rest of her belongings once she gets settled.
Jeffrey was disappointed, but not surprised by Gloria’s decision. He felt guilty over the affair with Stephanie and knew that it wasn’t going to continue any longer. His mistake cost Jeffrey the best thing that had ever happened to him. Gloria may never forgive him, but he didn’t want to hurt her any more than what she already was, so he packed up his things and moved out as well, leaving Stephanie a note telling her that it was over.
A few months had passed, and Jeffrey had begun to write again. He wrote a beautiful poem about Gloria and sent it to her. When she read it, she began to cry; not just because she thought it was a beautiful poem, but also because she still loved him but didn’t want to risk the same thing happening again, so she wrote him back and said, “Dearest Jeffrey, I trust that you found a new place to live. Stephanie told me that you moved out right after I did. I wish things could have been different and I truly do wish you the best, but I can’t trust my heart to you again. I forgive you, but I can’t forget what you have done. I was willing to commit my life to you and I thought that you felt the same, but I suppose I was wrong. Good luck with your future endeavors. Perhaps we will cross paths again someday if fate allows it. Gloria.”
When Jeffrey received the letter, his heart felt like it had shattered into a million fragile pieces. He contemplated doing something stupid like overdosing on pills, but instead, he turned his pain towards a more positive route and began to write a novel. He poured his heart and soul into that book and expressed his triumphs and his mistakes to turn it into an award-winning novel. Perhaps now, he can finally have some closure on his relationship with Gloria.
Gloria was walking past the bookstore one day and saw Jeffrey’s novel on display in the window. It was titled “The Ending Was Just the Beginning”, so she purchased the book and read all 385 pages in one day. She just couldn’t put it down until it was done. When she finally reached the last line, her eyes filled up with tears and she began to cry uncontrollably. Her heart radiated so much pain and she wasn’t completely sure what was causing it. It wasn’t until the realization that her love for Jeffrey still existed, that pain in her heart began to subside. She cleaned herself up and decided to give Jeffrey a call. When he saw her name appear on the call display, he answered it immediately, for Jeffrey’s heart still beat vigorously for Gloria as well. She asked if he would be willing to get together and talk, and Jeffrey agreed. “Why don’t I make dinner for you this time?” she asked him. They met later that evening at Gloria’s new apartment. After a wonderful meal and some lengthy discussion about what had happened, they expressed how they still felt for one another and decided to start over. They began dating once again and acted as if it was a brand new relationship full of wonderful surprises and adventures. They fell in love all over again, but this time, their relationship turned into a lasting marriage that would continue until their dying days.