fingered the twenty-year-old photograph as she waited impatiently at
the small café table. The picture showed a young boy and girl
playing happily in the dirt of a newly tilled, and yet unplanted,
vegetable garden. She was the girl, and the boy in that photo, Lyle
Brock, should be here any time. Too bad she didn't know what he
morning, Mom had called and said the Brock family was in town for a
vacation. She’d promised that Savannah would be thrilled to show
Lyle around town. After all, hadn’t they been inseparable as
reminding her mother that preschool was twenty years ago, and under
great duress, she’d caved in and agreed to meet him at the corner
coffee shop that night. She’d be the one in the blood red shirt and
long face. Savannah leaned back and sipped at her mocha latte,
remembering her childhood friend.
fourteen-months-old, she'd been part of a play group at his house.
Over the next few years, children had come and gone but she and Lyle
always had remained constant companions. The corner of her mouth
lifted in a smile as her memory played a slide show.
hands with Lyle at the local petting zoo. Their first ride on the
kiddie coaster at the carnival. Lyle pushing her on the swing,
somehow knowing just how high to push without frightening her. The
time he broke his arm falling down the basement stairs and she’d
scribbled her five-year-old signature on his cast, surrounding it
with a big heart. The desolation when he and his family moved two
thousand miles away just before her seventh birthday.
several years, their mother’s had helped them keep in touch with
short, hand-written notes and photographs. He sent a picture of his
first place science experiment in third grade—something involving
chickens. She sent a picture of her first ballet recital.
He shared a
picture and story of riding a sheep at the rodeo. She spent that
summer at a girl’s camp at the cape, learning which fork to use. She
liked ballet, Lyle preferred line dancing. She looked down at the
second photo she carried, one of him at eleven-years-old, proudly
holding the enormous silver belt buckle he'd earned calf-roping at
the local rodeo.
at the tip of one newly manicured fingernail and wondered what they
could possibly have in common. How would she find a way to kill the
two or three hours they’d be together? What could they possibly have
to talk about? She knew nothing about the grown up Lyle.
her head to the table for a moment, forgetting all decorum. One good
thump of her forehead against the marble table top and her memory of
proper behavior returned. She sat up straight and looked around
guiltily. She'd been raised better than that.
at her watch and noted that it was five past the arranged meeting
time. She took a lazy look around the room, wondering if he was
already here somewhere.
Was he that
guy? The one leaning over the coffee bar and ordering from the cute
college girl with the pink hair? Oh. Ick. She hoped not, considering
he just reached over and tweaked the girls lip piercing. She moved
guy in the low slung jeans? His tee shirt snug around his muscular
chest and only tucked in part way. One hip jutted out as he shifted
his weight and looked impatiently around the room with a sneer,
clearly searching for someone. Was he Lyle? Savannah slouched down
in her chair, hiding her shirt as much as possible. There was no way
she was spending an evening with a guy that arrogant.
he be the guy sitting at a chair in the corner? He’d been there
longer than Savannah, sipping and reading a newspaper. She’d watched
him jump up to open the front door for a woman with a stroller.
She’d seem him smile and press a tip into his server’s hand. Dressed
in Dockers and a dress shirt with sleeves rolled up to his elbows,
his green eyes caught her gaze over the top of the paper.
away quickly, then looked back. The paper was lowered now and he
grinned. She cocked her head to one side and couldn’t stop the smile
she shared before staring back down at her coffee cup.
luck to see Prince Charming on the same night she was supposed to
hookup with Cowboy Joe. Taking a deep breath, she chose to do her
duty as always. She sauntered to Mr. Sneer and stuck out a hand.
“Are you Lyle?”
looked at her face and then at her outstretched hand. “No. I’m Tad
and I’m not interested.” He turned away.
sigh of relief blew her bangs out of her eyes. “Thank heavens.” She
looked at her watch. Ten minutes after the hour. She could leave now
and not feel too guilty.
over her shoulder one last time as she stepped out of the shop,
dismayed to find Prince Charming gone. Cursing her bad luck, she
swung around quickly, lifting a hand for a cab. Before it made it
all the way up, it hit human flesh. With a gasp, she turned and
discovered she'd backhanded Prince Charming right smack across the
face. He grabbed his nose and stumbled back a step.
she cried out. "I am so sorry.” She moved toward him, not sure what
to do, but knowing she had to do something.
eyes crinkled at the edges. Savannah hoped that meant he was smiling
under his cupped hands. “Nothing’s broken,” he said, his reply
muffled. “Are you Savannah?”
It couldn’t be. “Lyle?”
his hands. “I’ve been watching and hoped it was you. I knew I had to
meet you after you pounded your head on the table, even if you
that?” She pressed her cool hands against suddenly hot cheeks.
glad you did it. When my folks put me up to this, I didn’t want to
come. I was sure you’d be stuffy.”
“I was afraid you’d be a hick.”
surprised?” He poked his elbow out at her.
“I am.” She
linked her arm through his. “My name is Savannah, and I'll be your
tour guide this evening. Do you have anything in particular you'd
like to see or do?”
“How about a
walk and some conversation? We have a lot of catching up to do.”
years worth,” Savannah agreed as they started down the street. She
smiled and sent positive thoughts to her parent’s house.