Thursday, March 15, 2012

Prince Charming

         "Single ladies!" Rita called from the stage, microphone in hand. "Up front. The bride is about to toss her bouquet."
"That means you, Debbie!" by best friend Kathy said, elbowing me in the ribs as we stood on the dance floor among other smiling and laughing guests at Marie and Shawn's wedding reception.
"No ring on your finger," she added with another poke in the ribs.
"No Prince Charming in my life, either," I said.
"Catch the bouquet!" This time Kathy gave me a firm shove out of the crowd to where maybe ten or fifteen ladies—in their teens and early twenties probably—certainly not my age—forty—gathered in front of the stage, eagerly awaiting Marie's flower toss.
I edged up behind the group of short-skirted ladies. I never expected Marie's throw to sail over the group and nearly over my outstretched hands. I snared the bundle of red roses, and at the same time I felt my heels slip on the polished hardwood floor. My arms flailing—I held on to the roses—I crashed back into the arms of an unknown rescuer, which was good news. But the bad news is we both tumbled backward into an inglorious heap on the Starlight Ballroom's dance floor.
People crowded around, concern written on their faces. "You guys all right?" they asked. "Anything broken?"
"I'm fine," I said.
I rolled off the person beneath me, knelt beside the form, and peered straight into the blue eyes of a man—probably my age—who had tried to save me. Smiling a killer smile, white teeth flashing, he said, "Nice catch."
"You, too," I said, my heart thumping—he was soo handsome. "You okay?"
"Never been better," he said, sitting up.
I looked at the flowers still clutched in my left hand, then back at the man. Laughter rippled forth from the people hovering over us. Phone cameras clicked. My face heated up with embarrassment. Then the man and I helped each other to our feet.
In a corner where we sat catching out breath at a table, he said, "Tyler Greene. Friend of the groom. You're—?"
"Debbie Harris. Friend of the bride. How did you know I was going to fall?"
"I didn't. I was walking by and saw the bouquet sailing toward you. I stopped to watch. You jumped—"
"I jumped? I don't remember that."
"You jumped—"
"No wonder I fell."
"—caught the flowers, and tumbled into my arms. Lucky me," he added with another killer smile.
Was it my imagination or did a strange excitement hum in the air between us? We sat and talked and talked. He owned Ty's Auto Body Shop; I was a dental technician. He was a widower. I gathered from our conversation he had never thought of looking for anyone else. I'd never married, but I didn't tell him I thought romance had long ago passed me by. I was a hopeless case.
Music started. People drifted onto the dance floor. As my heart started speeding up, Ty asked, "Would you like to dance?"
Panic nearly choked me. Part of me wanted to dance with him, my arms flung around him. Part of me wanted to run. I decided to run. "Um...I should pay the restroom a visit."
"I'll wait," he said.
Before I could reach the rest room, Kathy intercepted me and backed me outside into the warm night air, stars and moon overhead. "Oh wow!" she said. "Do you know who you flattened on the dance floor?"
"Tyler Greene. He's very nice, but..."
"He's the most handsome, eligible bachelor in town. He's your Prince Charming. Don't you just love his blue eyes? Don't let him get away."
"Nonsense. It's way too late in my life for a Prince Charming."
"It' never too late for anything. You go, girl!"
After my rest room visit, I found Ty sitting dutifully at the table, waiting for me. His blue eyes seemed to say, Glad you came back. He stood up. "Thought I'd wait—if only to protect your roses."
I peered at the roses. Still fresh and lovely. I peered at Tyler. Still handsome and smiling. I could tell him it was way past my bedtime. I should go home. But home to what? I asked myself?
My empty house?
"I'd loved to dance," I said, my heart approaching panic speed.
As Ty folded me into his arms and we drifted into a slow dance, my step seemed to match his perfectly. I gulped as he pressed me closer, as if we were one.I didn't know if possibly Prince Charming had found me or if I'd found him. But the way my heart continued to beat, I knew Kathy had been right: It wasn't too late for anything. Not even for Prince Charming.

The End
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