Love in All the Right Places


"It is a 'yes'," she told him sweetly. He handed her his phone and asked if she'd do the honors. Seconds later he had her number then while still standing right in front of her, he texted his number to her.

"Fast mover," she quipped when she heard her phone buzz.

"Life's too short to waste a single moment." He smiled again then said, "Goodnight, Paige."

"Goodnight, Kirk. And thank you again."

After hanging up her coat, Paige sat down and looked at the swatches laying beside her on the sofa. She was staring at them yet not seeing them as she ran the events of the last couple of hours through her mind. She'd said 'yes' to one of the most successful doctors she knew; one who routinely performed organ transplants, and had had a terrible time. Then she'd spent maybe an hour with a much-younger man who'd made her feel both beautiful and special.

On the surface, it didn't make any sense. Yes, Kirk had a college education and he really was rather cute, but when it was all said and done, he was really a boy; a boy who already owned a third of a successful business and who seemed to know more about life, love, and romance than she or any of the other medical professionals she tended to date.

Maybe he had a point. Maybe she was looking for love in all the wrong places. And what if he was right about needing to 'cast a wider net'?

Her final thought was by far the most troubling. What if the eleven-year difference in their ages didn't matter?

"That's insane!" she told herself as she realized she'd been staring at the same swatch since she sat down.

Early the next morning Paige noticed she had a text from Kirk: "Good morning, Paige. I hope you slept well last night. I had a little trouble as I found myself unable to stop thinking about someone I'd just met. :-) As to our date—you did say 'yes', didn't you? I was wondering what you enjoy doing. So...I have a couple of questions for you. Which do you prefer: Watching the Seahawks or going to a concert? Which is more appealing? Going hiking or visiting an art gallery? Which interests you more? Wine tasting or going skydiving? If I haven't just scared you off, I'm very much looking forward to seeing you again. Oh, and in case you forgot. I think you're incredibly beautiful. Kirk."

She set her phone down then realized she was smiling again. "He really does grow on you, doesn't he?" she said to herself.

She thought over his questions for a while then replied: "I did sleep well last night, thank you. And I'm also...strangely...looking forward to seeing you again. Yes, I intentionally avoided using the word 'date'. :-) As to your questions I would say: Seahawks, art gallery, and...can I choose both wine tasting and skydiving? lol. Actually, I've never jumped out of an airplane and while it scares me to death, I think it might be fun. As in...scary. Oh, I think I've decided on a color so you could come by and pick up the furniture at your convenience. Paige."

She smiled again before setting the phone back down. It buzzed as she let go of it and that startled her. It was a reply from Kirk. "Is now an acceptable time to come pick up your furniture? It's not that I can't wait to see you or's just business, right?"

She hadn't even taken a shower let alone put on her makeup and a part of her wanted to tell him it was only 9am and that it was rude to even suggest coming over, but another part of her disagreed. She thought to herself, "This is a perfect opportunity to shoo this kid off. Once he sees the real me and how I look in the morning, he won't be back and then you can move on to someone more appropriate."

"Now is fine. Come on over!" she typed.

She was wearing a gray University of Washington Huskies sweatshirt and a pair of faded jeans but she did go brush her long, blonde hair and pull it into a ponytail almost immediately after telling Kirk he could come over.

As she looked in the mirror, she wasn't sure what to think. At 34, she really was still attractive or at least she thought she at least reasonably so. Her hair was a little below chin length and there were only some very fine wrinkles around her eyes. Her lips were soft and full and she'd kept up with her figure since she was in junior high school so...all in all, she didn't feel too bad about herself. Then again, he was 23 and although she hadn't told him so, he was about as handsome as anyone she'd seen in a very long time. Kirk had thick, black hair and a pair of amazingly bright, blue eyes and an equally amazing smile. Clearly, he also took very good care of himself.

Suddenly she felt very old and very unattractive. She panicked and walked quickly back to the living room and picked up her phone to ask him to wait until later in the day when she saw a large truck that had 'Leonard's Upholstery' on the side pulling into her driveway.

"Damn it all to hell!" she said. She went to the door, smoothed her hair then opened it just as Kirk reached for the doorbell.

"Oh, hello there," he said as the door opened before he could reach the button.

She peeked out from behind the door and said, "I guess I should ask you to come in, huh?"

"Only if you want me to take your furniture."

Paige opened the door and saw another man get out of the van and opened the back.

"Is that your father?" she asked pointing outside.

"In the flesh!" he told her. "So...may I come in?"

"Oh, right. Um...sure," she said letting him pass her by.

"So you said the sofa and...what else?"

"This," she said pointing out the other piece. "And in this color," she told him handing him the swatches.

"Nice choice!" he said smiling at her. "Nice sweatshirt, too."

"Oh, this. Right. I look pretty glamorous, don't I?"

"Actually, you do," he told her in a very serious tone yet with a smile.

Paige laughed that kind of laugh people do when they feel uncomfortable. "Yeah, right." She stood there feeling silly for a moment then said, "I actually thought if you saw the real me you might come to your senses and run like..."

"Good morning!" they heard Mr. Leonard say.

"Oh, hi! Please come in!" she said. When he walked up to her Paige recognized the face and said, "I love your commercials!"

"We won't be undersold!" he said pointing at the camera that wasn't there. He was also a decent-looking man for someone who appeared to be around 50 and Paige saw the resemblance immediately.

The elder Leonard smiled and said, "I'm Dirk Leonard. I know, I know. Dirk, Kirk. What can I say? It just seemed to fit."

"My dad was a huge fan of the original Star Trek. You know, Captain James T. Kirk and all that?" Kirk explained.

Dirk smiled again then said, "Kirk told me you were beautiful, and he was right."

Paige found herself feeling like a school girl when Kirk said, "What? You didn't believe me? Come on, Dad. I know beautiful women."

"Okay!" Paige said feeling both flattered and uncomfortable as she thought about Mr. Leonard thinking about a woman her age dating her son. If only she had a rock she could crawl under or some way to unsend that last text.

The two men picked up her couch and carted it out to the truck then came back and picked up the other piece. "I'll meet you outside when you're done, Kirk," his father said. "Nice meeting you!" he said to Paige.

"You too, Mr. Leonard," she said as he waved on his way out.

"It's Dirk, okay?" he said halfway down the walk not stopping to hear her reply.

"Anyway, you were saying you thought you could scare me off if I saw you in something other than a beautiful dress? I'm still here's that workin' for you?" Kirk said grinning from ear to ear.

"Strange?" she said, her voice rising as she said it.

"Oh? How so?" he asked.

"Well, I was pretty sure you'd see me then tell me something had come up and that'd you'd call me...and that would be it."

"Uh-huh. Epic fail there," he said still smiling. "Any other ideas to get rid of me?"

"I'm not sure," she told him. "I mean, if...this...didn't scare you off, I may be in real trouble here." She hated herself for smiling but she also couldn't help herself. "Damn, he's cute!" she thought silently as he stood there still smiling at her.

"I'll be by to pick you up at 2 o'clock this afternoon," he announced out of the blue. "And what you're wearing is perfect."

"Oh, no! Wait just a minute. Are you actually thinking about taking me where I think you're thinking about taking me? Please say you're not. You're not, are you?" Her heart was pounding at the thought of actually jumping out of an airplane.

"You're not actually thinking about reneging, are you? That's why I asked," he said relishing her discomfort. "It's a tandem jump. You'll be hooked up to a fully-certified jump master and you'll be perfectly safe."

"Ha! Like accidents never happen!" she said her brain now in panic mode. "I'm not so sure about this, Kirk. Wine tasting or an art gallery sound about now."

"I'll be here right at two and no need to change. You look perfect," he told her ignoring everything she just said. He smiled and started walking away.

"I may not be here!" she told him.

He turned around and smiled again then said, "Don't make me come hunt you down. I will find you, you know!"

"Uh-huh. Why do I think you really mean that? Don't answer that." She stood there staring at him with her arms folded then said, "Okay, but if you get me killed..."

"Two o'clock. Be ready!" He got to the door then stopped. He turned around around then said, "You look really great in the morning, by the way, Paige. Beautiful, in fact."

Like his father, he didn't wait for her to reply, he just closed the door and called out to his dad. "Okay, Dad! Fire it up. Let's get a move on!"

She stood by the window and watched him get in the truck. She was still feeling afraid from thinking about going skydiving, but she was also feeling something else; something that confused and frightened even more than jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.

Not long after they left Paige decided to call her best friend, Angie, and tell her what was going on. They'd been friends since grade school and could talk about anything with complete confidence the other would never tell.

"What's going on, girl?" Angie said when she saw who was calling.

"Where to start?" Paige said.

"Uh-oh. This sounds bad. Talk to me."

"If it was anyone but you, there's no way on earth I'd say a word about this, but because of our unique relationship, I want to run something by you."

"I'm still listening, hon," Angie said. "You're kind of scaring me here, though."

"Well, I'm a little scared here, too. I'm going skydiving in a few hours." She paused and waited for the reaction.

"You're WHAT? Tell me you did not just say you're going to jump out of an airplane! Girl, we are way too young for a mid-life crisis so what in the world are you thinking? No...why are you not thinking?"

Before Paige could answer, Angie said, "Oh, wait a minute. There's a guy involved with this idea, isn't there? Uh-huh. You met someone and he asked you to go skydiving. Is it that cute doctor you had dinner with last night? Did you 'do him'? Please tell me you did. My marriage is SO boring so I have to live through you, Paige. Did you?"

"Are you done yet?" Paige said knowing how her friend could go on and on and on.

"Sorry. Yes, I'm done. Go ahead."

"Well, yes," Paige began before being cut off.

"You did! O...M...G! How was it? Was he good? Tell me everything and don't leave out a single detail!"

"Angie? Hello? You're doing it again." There's was a moment's silence so Paige said, "No, the date with the doctor was the date from hell so he most definitely did not 'do me', okay?"

"Damn! He seemed!"

Paige made a scoffing noise then said, "But...I did meet someone."

"In the same night? Oh, my God! I want your life SO bad! Who is he? Is he a doctor, too? Or maybe some musician who's super laid back and handsome as hell? Dish, girl!"

Paige drew a deep breath and exhaled loudly. "He's...very handsome and..."

"I knew it! You get all the hunky guys and I get...Ed. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. We've got two great kids and the sex isn't all that..."

"Angie? Yoo-hoo?" She stopped talking again and let Paige finish.

"So that's the good part. Oh, and he's a college graduate and a really nice, too. But..."

"Oh, boy. There's always a but. Let me guess. He's married, right?"

"No, he's definitely not married."

"Is he gay? Oh, God. Don't tell me you fell for another gay guy like Richard."

"I didn't fall for Richard. I just...didn't know, okay?" Another brief moment of silence.

"Okay, so here's the bad part. Are you ready for this? And don't you dare laugh."

"Not one chuckle. I swear," Angie told her knowing she couldn't keep that promise, not even with her best friend.

"He's...he's 23 years old."

"Oh, my freakin' GOD! Did you just say twenty-three as in barely old enough to drink alcohol?"

"Yes," Paige said sheepishly. "Twenty-three. Oh, and a half. So not just plain 23 but 23.5" She said the word 'point' as though she were reading a thermometer.

"Okay, so how do you go out with a and end up thinking about jumping out of a plane with some kid who's...twenty-freakin'-three???"

"It's complicated," Paige said not knowing what else to say.

There's was a lengthy silence before Angie spoke again. "So that's it. We are now officially MILFs. Jesus. I feel old."

"MILFs? What's a MILF?"

"Oh, sorry. You don't fantasize about other men because you're not tied down to just one man. A really good man, mind you," she added quickly. Paige knew it was all talk and that Angie would never cheat, but she also knew that after 14 years of marriage, her best friend did look around, at least casually.

"So what's a MILF?"

"Oh, right. It means 'mother I'd love to...fuck.'"

She heard Paige laugh then said, "Don't blame me. I didn't make it up. But it's what guys his age call women our age. We're MILFs. Well, you are anyway. I doubt any handsome guy who's 23 would want himself some of this." Angie still looked good but after two kids and 14 years of marriage, she'd gained some weight and didn't feel that good about her appearance. Paige, on the other hand, had never gotten married, never had a child, and still looked hot as hell.

Angie often told her, "I hate you. You know that, right?" when some cute guy would smile or flirt with Paige but not even look at her when they went somewhere together.

"Okay. Now I get it," Paige said. "But it's not like that. He's...different."

"Honey? ALL guys are like that. Trust me, okay? He may not be upfront about it, but a hot guy that young is probably gettin' it all the time. They also know women our age are hitting their sexual prime, so if he hasn't put the moves on you yet, it won't be long. And hey, if it was me? I'd be puttin' the moves on him! After all, he can't be more than a fling so if you want my opinion, go for it. Do him and then do him again for me. Oh, and then give me every detail!"

One of Paige's biggest fears had always been getting married too soon—like Angie—and feeling exactly like she was feeling a few years later. Even if one ate filet mignon for dinner, having it every night would be—BORING! Now here she was at 34 wondering if she'd ever get married or have children.

She shook her head then thought to herself, "If you want a husband and children, what in the world are you doing with this...kid?"

"Paige? You still there?" Angie said.

"Oh, sorry. Yeah, I was just thinking. That's all."

"Were you thinking about...him doin' you?" she asked.

"Ahh! Give it a rest already, would you?" Paige said pretending she was exasperated.

"Okay, okay. But back to the reason you called, are you really gonna do this? Even if you don' him? Sorry, I couldn't resist." Angie laughed and Paige had to laugh, too.

"I'm thinking I am," she said just then making up her mind. "We only live once, right?"

"Yeah, and you might stop living today if you do that." She paused then asked, "How cute did you say this guy is?"

Paige laughed again then said, "Very. And he's a real gentleman. And very intelligent. He's part owner of an upholstery business with his dad. Oh, and his sister is on the transplant list. I'm betting she's one of our patients."

"Oh, my goodness. How sad is that? Is dialysis still helping?"

"Evidently it is. I don't know his sister or at least the name doesn't ring a bell. But yeah, I think I'm gonna do this. Kirk, that's his name, said I'd be doing a tandem jump. You know, where you're kind of like attached to the instructor?"

"Oh, sure. I've seen that on TV. It actually looks like a blast. Hey, do you think he's got an older brother I could maybe do something in tandem with?"

"Angie, you are incorrigible!" Paige said trying not to laugh.

"All right. If you're gonna do it, then have fun. Just one question. What would you like me to say in your eulogy? That you died happy?"

"Agghhh! Why do I even bother?" Paige said laughing loudly.

"You have fun, girl. And if you um...have fun...I want..."

"Yes, I know, I know. You want details. Sheesh! Thanks, Angie. You're the best. You know I love you, right?"

"Yeah, yeah. You know I hate you, right? I mean if this cute 23-year old does do you? I really will hate you. Just so you know."

"Bye, Angie," she said. Just before she hung up she heard Angie tell her she loved her, too.

Paige thought about changing but after what Kirk said, the only change she made was adding a pair of tennis shoes to her elegant ensemble sometime before two o'clock.

He showed up right on time and when she let him in, Kirk asked, "Nervous?"

She put her ice-cold hand on his cheek and said, "Any other questions?"

Kirk laughed then said, "Just one. Are you ready?"

"Ha! Like I have a choice, right?" she said as she picked up her purse.

"Well, we could stay here and watch I Love Lucy reruns," he quipped.

"Hey, I love that show!" she said as the headed toward his car.

"Oh, yeah. I forgot you watched the originals when you were a little girl!" he said ducking and throwing his hands up in self defense.

"Smart ass!" she said as he opened her door.

On their ride out to the tiny airport where the skydiving school was located they made small talk about upholstery then about Paige's work, and that brought up the subject of Kirk's sister again and how she was doing.

"She's strong," he told her. "She's stronger than I am, in fact. I worry about her all the time and well, she calls me names indicating how weak I am."

Paige laughed. "Would one of them have an alternate meaning of 'cat' by any chance?"

Kirk cut his eyes toward her as he drove and said, "Uh-huh. Among other things."

Paige feigned being offended and said, "You really are terrible!"

"I thought I was a smart ass?" he said keeping the banter going mostly to keep her mind off of the upcoming jump.

"You can be both, you know," she told him very authoritatively.

"But that would make me a terrible smart ass. I kind of thought I was rather...accomplished in that area."

"Oh, you're very accomplished at being a smart ass—smart ass." The second he looked her way again, Paige burst out laughing. "I'm so sorry! But the way you just looked at me!"

"Hmmm. You didn't seem to be complaining about the way I was looking at you during dinner after your dated bombed."

"Oh, really? Just how were you looking at me, Kirk?" she said pretending to be indignant that he'd be 'looking' at all.

"Like you're a very beautiful woman," he said confidently without looking at her.

"You mean—a much-older woman, right?"

"No, I pretty much said exactly what I meant, Paige," he told her with equal confidence.

"Well, we're gonna have to get your eyes checked then," she said unwilling to give in.

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