Thursday, August 15, 2013

Love Is a Circus

"Mom, is Cole kind of like a dad," my four-year-old son, Danny, asked as I reached to turn off the light on the night table next to his bed.
I'd just finished tucking him in and kissing him goodnight on the forehead.
"Sweetie, it's late. We had a big day."
"Don't you like him, Mom?"
"Well, yes, he's very nice, but..."
"Maybe if you asked him he'd be a dad."
"Um...I don't think so, sweetie. Cole is...just a person who works for us."                                               Alone in my kitchen with a cup of decaf at the table, I wondered what to make of the day's events. But before I could figure anything out, my cell phone rang. "How was your boat ride?" my best friend Rose asked.
"Marvelous," I said, which was true. Cole and taken Danny and me on an early evening dinner excursion on the Lady Belle, the last paddle wheeler to work the Mississippi River in our area. "But I can't believe I'm..."
"What? Falling in love with your landscaper?"
"It's so unreal."
"He's not just an intenerate day-laborer working for minimum wage, Cindy. He has a degree in horticulture, he owns his own business, he's single, and he's wonderfully handsome. Danny likes him, doesn't he?"
"Danny thinks Cole Spencer hung the moon."
"Well, girl! There you go."
I'd inherited a rambling Victorian home from my aunt and a modest sum of money. The home itself needed minimal repairs but the sprawling yard was a disaster, practically a jungle. Aunt Martha, a die-hard recluse, tended her home well, but not the yard.
I hired Cole Spencer to restore the yard, and I hoped by next spring to turn part of the home into a summertime bed and breakfast to help supplement my school teacher's salary.
Cole's handsome good looks and easy smile attracted me at first sight. Me. Amber Murphy. Thirty-four. Three years a widow. A scary thought leaped into my mind: Could Cole Spencer be the second soul mate of my life?
That's not happening! I told myself
Then last night our professional relationship changed in a stunning way. On my front porch, just after Danny raced into the house, Cole kissed me in the moonlight, and my blood pounded.
I can't be falling in love.
I mean, I finally had my life neatly laid out. My inheritance from Aunt Martha had left me in good financial standing. Running a bed and breakfast, if only during the summer, would take loads of time and energy. Not to mention the time and energy it takes to raise an overly active four-year-old boy. I needed no more complications in my life.
At breakfast the next morning, Danny asked, " Mom, can Cole take us to the circus?"
I smiled. "I don't think so, sweetheart. He's already done enough for us."
Which was true. Cole had rid my lawn of dandelions, crabgrass, and moles. He'd trimmed the trees and planted bushes and shrubs around the entire house. Lately, he talked of building a gazebo where my summer guests could enjoy a cup of coffee after breakfast.
"You're pretty, Mom. I'll bet if you ask him..."
I tousled my son's reddish blonde hair. "Eat your breakfast."
Later that morning, Cole showed up at my front door with two hydrangeas, one in each arm. "Thought I'd plant these on either side of the porch," he said, smiling his easy smile. "They're free. They'll bloom next spring."
As he set the plants down, I stepped out of the house onto the porch.
I heaved a big sigh. "Cole, we need to talk."
"I know," he said sheepishly, burying his hands deep in his jeans pockets. "I was way out of line last night." The sunlight slanting onto the porch gleamed off his longish brown hair. "The last thing I should be doing is kissing a client."
"Or delivering free plants to her house."
He nodded. "Very unprofessional conduct."
"Her life is mapped out," I said. "She doesn't need any complications."
"Right. No complications for either of us."
My feet shuffled. "But this...situation is partly her fault. I'm willing to admit that," I said looking at him. So handsome!
"The worst part of it is she's so very, very beautiful," he said, his gaze landing on me. "Like a spring rose."
Cole and I stood staring at each other, our eyes locked. My heart started that pounding. His Adam's apple bobbed. "There's a circus in town this weekend," he said.
"I thought you and Danny..."
Before he could finish or I could answer, he wrapped me in his arms and kissed me ever so softly and slowly on the lips, and a warm glow swept over me.
Behind the screen door, I heard Danny exclaim, "Oh wow! We get to go to the circus!"
Cole smiled. "What does your mom say?"
Complications, unprofessional conduct, life mapped out—none of it mattered. I smiled back and tried to still my pounding heart. "I love a circus," I said.

                                                     The End
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