This story is a revised version of a story previously published by Pacific Magazine for a romantic fiction column in an Australian magazine called, That’s Life. Copyright is held by the author.
DESLYN WAS getting ready for her third date with Phil. She cringed as she thought about how many third dates she’d been on recently. That number three, seemed to be her jinx! Deslyn knew that on date number one, it was mostly superficial, kind of like marketing oneself and wanting the other person to like her. The second date was more of the same, with a bit more telling, sharing, and wondering if this could be the right man for her. By the third date, she always knew whether the relationship was destined to go anywhere.
She’d been down this road before, but still she applied her makeup, paid special attention to her lipstick, and practiced her smile in the mirror. It’s like putting on war paint, she thought. But then again, she had good reason to be cautious.
First, there had been James, with a wonderful sense of humour, loved to dance, but on the third date, she discovered he had a severe allergy to cats. Deslyn’s kitty would have to go if they were to continue dating. Deslyn chose the cat. After all, he’d been a rescue from the local humane society, and would probably outlast any of her suitors.
Next had been Barry. They’d met at the gym, and both enjoyed outdoor sports. He was perfect until the third date. It was the white circle around the ring finger of his otherwise tanned left hand, that had her fuming. Deslyn had stormed out of the club, after telling him to pass on her regards to his wife.
Then there was Brian. He was witty and a great listener. Things looked promising, until that third date when Deslyn’s car wouldn’t start. They were to meet at a local pub, but he was watching a football game, wanted to see the finish, and suggested she take the bus, just to save him some time. “Take all the time you need,” she’d replied. “I’m sure that somewhere in the world, hell is freezing over.”
But, Phil seemed to be different. He was a quiet intellectual, loved music and enjoyed reading. Deslyn was so convinced that Phil was the one, she bought him the latest best-selling novel. She was part way through a glass of Chardonnay at the restaurant where they were to meet, when the waiter tapped her on the shoulder.
“Miss Deslyn,” he said. “I have a message from Philip. He says please enjoy dinner on him, but he doesn’t see this relationship going any further.”
Deslyn’s heart dropped. “Oh I understand,” she replied with a barely controlled tone of anger. “Do me a favour. See that couple over there? Tell them to order the most expensive items on the menu and put it on Phil’s bill. And sir, if you’re a reader, this book is for you.” She thrust the book into his hands and stomped towards the exit. Her high heels tapped a staccato on the terrazzo floor.
Outside, it was starting to drizzle and she found her car parked on the street. “Oh no,” she moaned. The left, front tire of her Hyundai, was as flat as her mood. Deslyn gave the wheel a kick with the point of her shoe, then winced. Crap, it hurt!
“Save yourself the pain. I can give you a hand with that.”
A deep male voice came from behind her. She stared up into azure blue eyes. Solid facial features, and a wide smile greeted her. Deslyn felt like an absolute mess, but she did have the sense to welcome this gentleman’s help. He was like a knight in shining armor.
He smiled. “Tell you what. I’ll help you, if you’ll help me. I’m just bringing my cat home from the veterinarian. So, if you keep him company while I change your tire, I’d be grateful.”
She watched as he glanced at the sky.
“Besides, it’s raining, and I don’t want you to get wet. Don’t worry. I put myself through university while working as a mechanic. It shouldn’t take long.”
Deslyn was only too happy to find the warmth and comfort inside his Jeep. She petted the cat and received purrs in response. Michael Bublé’s song, I just haven’t met you yet, was playing on the radio. A gym bag was strewn on the back seat, and ticket stubs from a recent football game rested on the dashboard. She watched through the windshield as the stranger expertly changed her tire.
Has my jinx been lifted, she wondered?
The rain stopped just as he tapped on the window. “All done,” he said.
“Great,” replied Deslyn. “I just need to know who I should be thanking, and how I can make it up to you?” She checked out his left hand as he helped her from the Jeep. It was without a ring and without a tell-tale white circle.
“My name is Ian,” he replied. “Ian Wright.”
“Well, Mr. Right,” said Deslyn. “I definitely owe you lunch!”