Vanessa has been sitting there for almost three hours, listening to her sister Tamara. Three hours of non-requested advice on her love life. Yes, she was single. Yes for some time now. Four years. No, she did not miss being in a relationship. She did not miss being lied to and pretending to be okay with it. She did not miss the cheating. She did not miss the complaints and the not so subtle criticizes. And above all, she did not miss the feeling of being constantly drag through the mud only because she wanted a successful career.
Her sister was the perfect example of an accomplished woman. At 36, her life was well balanced between her family and friends and her job as a HR head. With her 5.8 ft. and lean frame, she exuded of grace like a beautiful swan. Nothing seemed to undermine her aura, not even her 4 pregnancies. Her only resemblance with Vanessa was their gorgeous dark skin and pinkish cute little mouth. She was drop dead gorgeous.
Vanessa on the other side had always been on the shorter side. Her facial features were fine and delicate. Her sister loved to say that if she was as delicate in her relationship with the opposite sex, as her appearance was, she would have been married long time ago. She didn't bother answering to that anymore. She was an ambitious young woman (29 years). She refused to feel sorry for being herself: smart, stubborn and independent.
If there was one thing she had learned throughout the years with her sister, it was to choose her battles wisely. And she knew better than to argue with her sister on the subject of having a man. So she just smiled, revealing her dimples as she took her class of wine on the table.
" Vane, you have to realize that you cannot stay alone forever! You have to move on". She said staring at her younger sister.
Vanessa clenched her free fist, repeating in her head: You'll be gone in a few. Stay calm.
Her sister made her feel judged under the scrutinity of her doe eyes. Nothing new, one would say. Yet, so annoying.
" I did move on. I have a good job and I am happy. It is what matters, isn't it!"
"You're happy?! Sorry, but I do not see it. All I see is a lonely girl, who will wake up one day and have regrets."
"Not everyone aspires to have a husband, kids and a suburban house like you Tamy. Why can't you respect my choices? This is my life. Not yours."
"Oh! So now you don't want kids? But they love you. I am even hurt to recognize that I am a little jealous of the relation you have with my children. You are so good with them. You would be a wonderful mum."
"Tamy, look. Can we not do that? Please! I'm leaving in an hour and I don't want to argue with you."
"We are not arguing. I just want what best for you. You have to let go."
"Fine! Will you let me be, if I told you that I've started going out on dates?"
"Really?" Her sister excitedly asked.
Vanessa rolled her eyes at the sudden enthusiasm.
"Oh great. You should have told me that earlier! So anyone interesting?"
Vanessa looked at Tamara. The truth was that she wasn't exactly dating any guy, she was talking to one man for almost a year now, Carl. Her friend Stacy put him in contact with her, but they haven't met yet. They both agreed on getting to know each other before anything. She thought at the time that it was a good idea: learn to appreciate someone not base on the look but the personality. And she had to admit that she was pleasantly surprised. Carl was funny, supportive, respectful, smart and genuine. She didn't know him yet, well physically, but she was slowly falling for him. He was her little piece of sunshine.
But she wasn't ready to let her sister know about him. So she lied, pretending that she had not met mister "Right" yet but was having fun. That answer seemed to put at ease Tamara, who changed the subject.
Vanessa was standing on Stacy's porch, thirty minutes late to the barbecue organized by her friend to allow her to finally meet with Carl without the awkwardness of the first date. She got back from Switzerland, where her sister and her family lived, the day before yesterday. Her hands were shaking in anticipation. She was a little stressed.
"What is Carl like? What if there is no physical attraction when we meet? Is it really a good idea? I should call sick! Yeah, definitely calling sick" She decided and was about to go back to her car when the front door opened.
"Hey Nessa, you know the doorbell doesn't bite, right?" It was Stacy in all her glory. She was wearing a figure flattering playsuit that showed her long legs and with cross back straps that tied around the waist. The green of her outfit was a good match with her fair skin and amber eyes. Stacy was an actress with a bubbly, joyful personality. She could be a lot sometime but she was just as lovely as full of energy.
Vanessa smiled at her friend. "I am not that late. Let me in" pushing her on the side and going straight to the kitchen with the pie she brought for dessert. "And Hello to you, miss superstar".
"Ha, ha ha!" How are you Nessa?"
"Good Cycy. You?"
"I'm great. But you seem tense. You sure you okay?"
"Yeah, Yeah! So... where is he? In the backyard?
"Who who? Carl of course!"
"Oh! Did you not receive his text?"
"What text? My phone is in my bag, let me see"
"He will not be there. I am sorry".
Vanessa's eyebrows furrowed in confusion. She was really surprised. Even though she was stressed out about that meeting, she was now really disappointed. He probably chicken out. What a shame and a waste of time, she thought. "Why?" She asked, trying to sound detached. But Stacy knew better. Vanessa played tough but she was a big softy on the inside. She would not admit it, not even to herself, but she wanted to believe that there was someone out there good for her. Someone she could share her joy and sorrow with.
When she initially gave her number to Carl, Vanessa was mad at her. However, the more they got to talk, the more she was opening up. Stacy had the feeling that it might be it.
"He had an emergency at work. I am really sorry."
"An emergency? What kind of emergency does a cameraman have? He broke his Camera? You know what! Never mind. Who's there?"
"My brother, his wife and kids, Marla and her kids, 2 other friends and my boo Dave."
"Cool. Let's go then"
Vanessa followed her friend. She said hi to Stacy's boyfriend, the brother, his wife and Marla. The other friends were behind the grill with beer in their hands. When they finally got to their level, Vanessa's jaw dropped. She quickly recovered as she spun to greet the first one. But for the second one, she had to take a break, staring at the broad chest in front of her as she being introduced. When she raised her head, she felt like a dwarf, even with her heels on. Stood there Jered Shepherd, in his 6.1 ft. and athletic built. At 36, he was an actor, director and producer. She took her time to admire his chiseled face. He was a work of art. She could see freckles on his face that only made him even more handsome. God, the man was perfect.
"It is good to finally be able to put a face on the name Nessa. Stacy wouldn't stop talking about you when we worked together." He started with a deep husky voice that sent shiver in all her body.
"Oh did she really?" She asked suddenly shy as she raised her eyes to meet his green sea one.
"You have no idea sweetheart! If I knew that the face was so lovely, I would have forced her to introduce us sooner."He replied, clearly flirting with her as he ran his hand in his short light brown hair.
Vanessa smiled. She normally would hate being called sweetheart by a stranger but this one was just giving her butterflies. He was flirting with her. God! Too bad she wasn't into white guys and celebrities.
"Eh! Jay, back off. Don't use you charms on my friend, okay?" said Stacy with a tap on his arm.
"I would never do that, unless she wants me too." He said playfully and winked at Vanessa. She smiled back at him. "Don't worry, I'll take good care of her Stacy, you can go back to your boyfriend".
"Yeah, Stacy, go join Dave".
Spending some time with a handsome man couldn't be bad, thought Vanessa.
Few hours later, Vanessa was happy. Her eyes were shinning with laughter as Jered was counting her one of his many stories. He hadn't leave her side the whole afternoon. He was really funny, a little goofball. She kept laughing all the time. He was a little touchy feely but she didn't mind at all. At some point between all the fun and all the flirting she forgot about Carl.