tagNovels and NovellasOn the Other Hand Ch. 03-04

On the Other Hand Ch. 03-04

bycoaster2©

This story was edited by ErikThread and DaveT with my thanks and appreciation. It previously appeared on another site. Any errors are mine alone.

*

Chapter 3 Making a Connection

"Hi, is this HighlandLass84?" I asked the woman who appeared on my Skype screen.

"Yup, that's me. I go by Nicky if you like."

"I do like. Short for Nicole?"

"Very good and quite correct."

"You a Scot?"

"Nope, my parents. Hey listen, before we get too far, there's a couple of things about me you need to know."

"Okay, go ahead."

"Well, I live at home and I have a son."

"Really? How old?"

"Six. He's just starting grade one."

"Wow, I bet that's a big thing for him and you."

"It doesn't bother you ... I mean, my having a child?"

"Hell no. Not at all. In fact, it's a bonus."

"Oh ... how so?"

"Well, this is kind of personal, so I wouldn't normally share this with anyone ... but I'm probably unable to father a child. So if that's a killer for you, now's the time to say so."

"You said 'probably.'"

"Yeah, well, my sperm count is very low. So the odds aren't in my favor."

"Jeez, that is personal. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to get into your life that far."

"Isn't it better to know now than later?" I suggested.

"Yes ... definitely ... for sure."

"So, how do you feel about knowing that?"

"I'm okay. I have a son and I love him to death. If I was to bring someone else into my life, he'd have to feel the same about Jimmy as I do."

"Of course. Goes without saying."

We paused at that point before I felt like going on.

"So, you're a lefty, I take it?"

"Born and bred," she said with what was becoming a very nice smile.

"Tell me why that's important to you," she requested.

"Uhhm, well, don't laugh, but I'm hoping you'll understand my thinking."

"Go ahead," she said. I could see her head cocked to one side with a wrinkled brow. She was paying attention.

"So ... my thinking is that we of the sinister persuasion have some obstacles to overcome beginning at birth. In this right-handed world we are the outcasts, hardly ever thought of when the design of new things comes along. We have to adapt to the ninety percent who rule the world."

I could see a smile, almost developing into a laugh forming on her face.

"Go on," she said, having difficulty containing herself.

"Well, I know that even if two left-handed people marry and create a child, the odds are still ten-to-one that it will be right handed. It isn't a genetic issue. But two left-handed people living together are bound to be more ... sympatico. We learn to adapt and live in this cruel right-handed world, never seeking credit or acclaim for our special skills."

She was laughing now, but not in derision.

"I like that," she said, still chuckling. "Are you really that put-upon?"

"Naw. Not really. It's just my thing. I will say I am far more ... in tune ... with left-handed people. I think there is some connection we all have, but I don't know what it is."

"That could be so. I've never really thought about it and I guess I don't know many people left-handed like me. In fact, I can't think of anyone right off the top of my head."

"Well, don't go losing any sleep over it. It's a personal theory that hasn't caught on in the scientific world."

"I'm not so sure about that," she said. "Someone gave me a calendar that had all kinds of stuff about lefthanders. You know, one of those day-at-a-time desk calendars. Apparently there's all kinds of research about us."

"Yeah. Seen that, but none of it is coordinated as far as I can tell. Lots of books on the subject, but nothing that really deals with how we live each day."

"Well, moving on," she said, "I do play bridge. Played it a lot when I was in college."

"Good for you. That's a plus. Do you have a degree?"

"Yes, in accounting with a minor in environmental sciences."

"Wow. That's an unusual combination. Are you a spokesperson for an environmental movement?"

"No. Not at all. I work for a foundation. We have a bunch of money left to us by this really rich old guy. It's our job to find worthy projects that we can assist with funds."

"That wouldn't be the Hepplinger Foundation would it?" I asked.

"Uhhm ... yes, it is. Do you know about it?"

"I did a feature piece on it last year. I spent some time in your offices. You might even have seen me there. I did a lot of interviews."

"Wait a minute," she said as her head disappeared from the screen, returning a few seconds later.

She looked up directly at the camera.

"You're Will Travers, aren't you?"

"Yes. Guilty."

"Oh wow. I've got your article right here," she said, holding it up for me to see.

"Yeah ... that's it all right. At least you didn't burn it in effigy."

"Why would I do that? It was outstanding. We posted it on our website and we send it to all sorts of people who are curious about our foundation. Even the government offices requested copies of it. You're a hero around here," she said enthusiastically.

"I had no idea. I'm pleased it struck a responsive chord."

"Oh, it did more than that. You couldn't have done a better job in explaining what we do and how we do it. In fact, I think our director is going to contact your editor to see if we can get permission to use some of the article in our promotion pieces."

"So I guess I don't have to kid you about who I am any more, huh?" I grinned.

"No ... and for the record, I'm Nicole Carlisle. Pleased to meet you, Will Travers."

"And I'm very pleased to meet you, Nicole Carlisle."

"So ... where were we?" she asked.

"Well, let's see. I know you're left-handed, have a six-year-old son, Jimmy, can play bridge, have a college degree, work for an important foundation, and since you answered my goofy ad, you are interested in finding a compatible male. That about cover it?"

"I guess so. So, can I ask you some questions?"

"Sure. I want you to."

"How come you aren't married? Is it because of that sperm thing?"

"Yes and no. I was married for eight years. We found out about my not being likely to father a child after two years of trying. My wife said it wasn't the end of the world and we could cope. She stuck it out for six years before she admitted that she wanted more out of the marriage. We divorced a few months ago and that's what got me looking on the Internet for a future wife."

"Oh ... I'm sorry. She kept it to herself, huh?"

"Yes. I never knew until the day she said she was leaving. I should have, I guess. She wanted children when we married. I should have realized that maternal instinct wouldn't just disappear."

"No ... until you have a child you don't realize just how important it is to some women. It was to me."

"Where is the father?" I asked.

"Long gone. Before Jimmy was born. I thought he was the one for me, but he bolted as soon as he found out I was pregnant."

"Son of a bitch."

"Just as well, Will. Better to know right off the bat what kind of man he was."

"All the same, that's a crappy thing for him to do. No child support I suppose?"

"Nope. But I'm getting by. I've got a good job and my mother has been a huge help with Jimmy while I'm working. I don't know what I would have done if she wasn't around."

"I'll bet he's close to his grandparents," I suggested.

"Oh yeah. Grandad is the man of the house and Nana is the boss."

"Is he involved with Little League or anything?"

"Not yet. I want to see how he does in school before he gets into sports. He plays with his friends and that's enough for him now."

"Sounds like you're doing a great job raising him."

"Thanks."

"So, I guess we got off topic again," I noted. "What else would you like to know about me?"

"I don't know. You've told me a lot and now that I know more about who you are, I feel a lot less suspicious about you. Why don't we get together for a meeting in person?"

"I was just going to suggest that. Where and when?"

"Uhhm ... how about tomorrow evening, say eight o'clock at The Blue Heron. It shouldn't be too noisy."

"That sounds fine. I won't have any trouble recognizing you thanks to the webcam. See you at eight tomorrow then."

"Bye, Will."

I clicked the hang-up icon and sat back in my chair. This sounded like it had very good possibilities. She fit all the criteria. From what I could see on the webcam, she was attractive and she certainly had the education credentials. She wouldn't have the job she had without being smart, and she did have a sense of humor. I had learned a lot about her in a very short period of time. I liked what I saw and what I heard. I just hoped she would turn out to be the one.

Chapter 4 Off to a Rocky Start

She didn't show. I waited until nine, wondering if I had made a mistake with the time, but she didn't show. I was really deflated. I had been anticipating this meeting since I'd signed off with her last night. It was almost the only thing I thought about today, with the predictable result that my work suffered. And now this. She didn't show up for our date.

I drove home and took off my tie and flopped down in my big chair in the living room. What a let down. Was this what I could look forward to? Being jerked around in the attempt to find a woman who would be compatible? I let out a sigh and wondered why she didn't at least let me know that she wasn't going to meet with me.

Of course, when the brain goes to sleep, it misses things. Things like, she didn't have my phone number. Like most media people, we have unlisted numbers for a variety of reasons. She didn't have my phone or cell number so she couldn't call. What could she have done?

I pushed myself out of the chair and walked quickly to my office. I booted up the computer and clicked on Skype. And there it was. She had tried to call me at seven-thirty and of course, I wasn't online then.

Sorry, Will. Jimmy is sick and I don't want to leave him. Let's talk tomorrow. We can set another time then. Nicky

I felt a flood of relief go through my body. She didn't stand me up. Jimmy got sick and like any good mother, she had to stay with him. I could live with that. We would talk tomorrow and make another date. Is that what it was, a date? Yeah, in my mind, it was a date.

I lay in bed for some time, not ready for sleep. Let's see. Tomorrow I would call her and give her my phone numbers and my e-mail address. Maybe she'd give me her numbers too. Wait a minute, I had her e-mail address. It was on her response to my ad. HighlandLass84. I had that burned into my brain already. First thing I would send her an e-mail. I could check it at the office as well as at home. I'd know as soon as she responded.

At six am Friday morning I e-mailed Nicole.

Hi Nicole: Got your message about Jimmy. I hope he's okay today. You always worry when little kids get sick because they can't always tell you what's wrong. Anyway, I thought I'd send you my phone numbers and proper e-mail address in case you need to get hold of me. I really missed getting a chance to meet you last night, so I'm hoping it won't be too long before Jimmy is well again and we can get together as planned. Cheers, Will William H. Travers Bay City Post News 888-505-0002 ext 161 cell 395-798-5491 e-mail: willt@BayCtypost.net

I was in a much better frame of mind considering I still hadn't met Nicole in person. I had given her all my personal contact information as a statement of trust. I hoped it would be returned.

I heard the ding of a new e-mail arriving just before eight o'clock that morning and checked it immediately.

Hi Will: So sorry about last night. Glad you got my message. I couldn't find a phone number for you and no one in your office would give me one. Thanks for sending me all that this morning. Now we won't be out of touch. Jimmy is home today, just making sure he's okay and he'll likely be back in school on Monday. Mom worries about him almost as much as I do. What about Sunday? Tomorrow is a busy day for me, shopping and catching up on housework and laundry. Let me know, Nicky 395-211-1766 cell 395-877-2535 e-mail highlandlass84@4square.com

I must have been chuckling as I read the e-mail because Sandy Domenicelli stopped in front of my desk and asked, "What's so funny?"

"Nothing, Sandy. I just made a date with a really interesting lady."

"Good for you," he grinned before marching off.

Yeah ... good for me.

I was watching, hardly taking my eyes off the front door of the bistro I'd chosen for our first meeting. Two o'clock we agreed, and it was now five minutes before two. I was trying not to be too anxious, but not really succeeding. I didn't really understand why this was so important to me, but my reaction told me it was.

When she pushed through the door a minute later I immediately rose so that she could see me. She did, smiled, and strode confidently toward my little table. Her hand was extended and she hadn't lost the genuine smile that enhanced her already lovely features.

As she approached I quickly surveyed Nicole Carlisle. Short, perhaps five-foot-two, slim build, brown hair with a hint of red, great smile showing perfect teeth, casually but smartly dressed. My first impression was career woman. All-in-all, impressive.

"Hi, Will. So nice to meet you," she said as I took her hand. She had a firm, confident grip as she moved to her seat.

"Hi, Nicole. It's very nice to meet you, too."

That seemed to be the end of our conversation for the moment. Neither of us had been able to start a topic and were relieved when the waitress came by and asked if we were ready to order. I chose a coffee and Nicole asked for green tea.

"We've had a lot to think about in the last couple of days," I finally began, "but I'm not sure where to start. I feel like I already know quite a bit about you, but in truth, I don't. I guess my question to you is why an attractive woman like you would need to use the Internet to meet someone? I would have thought there would be plenty of men interested in you ... and Jimmy."

She was shaking her head even before I finished my comment.

"Nope. Maybe I'm too fussy, or too nervous about strange men, or too ... something. I've been out on dates in the last five years. I've even gotten involved with a couple of guys during that time. None of them were right. But, the same question goes for you too. I'm pleasantly surprised by you, Will."

"Thank you. Well, let's see. I'm not one for the bar scene, most of my female acquaintances are married, I won't get involved with someone in my workplace, and I haven't dated in ten years since I met the woman who would become my wife."

She was nodding and smiling slightly, so she wasn't surprised at my answers.

"All good reasons for a handsome guy to be looking somewhere else. In a way, I'm like you. I avoid workplace romances, I don't frequent bars alone, and I've been burned a couple of times with guys who were married and looking for a mistress."

"Ah, that's one I have only encountered in the responses to my Internet posting. I mean ... married women coming on to me."

"Trust me, it can happen. Lot's of women are looking for a fling with a young, virile guy to make them feel better about themselves."

"What do they call them? Cougars?" I suggested.

"Or worse," she said. "MILFs comes to mind."

I was only slightly surprised she knew the meaning of the acronym.

"Well, I'm hoping that I won't be tempted then," I smiled. I had a good feeling about Nicole. She seemed very "down-to-earth" and didn't appear nervous. That was a good sign.

"Well, now that we've established that we're both interested, maybe we should have a proper date and see what develops," she suggested.

I nodded. "I agree. I would like to meet Jimmy at some point. If, by good luck, we do find we want to explore a little further, I want to see how he reacts to me and my being around you. Kids can be quite protective I'm told."

"Yes they can, and Jimmy is quite protective of me. So I agree that if we do want to take this beyond a first date that we should introduce you to him."

"So then," I said, "how do you feel about attending a live play?"

That brought about an immediate smile and a "Yes, I'd love that."

"It's the fall season now, so I marked three to choose from," I said, pulling a half page of our newspaper out of my pocket.

"Here are the choices," I said, passing the paper with the circled plays evident.

"Let's keep it light, Will. Not too heavy or dark."

"Then, this one would fit the bill," I said, pointing to Assistance. "It has a theme you'll find familiar and our resident drama critic says it's very good fun."

"Great. Let's do it. When?"

"I can get tickets for either Friday or Saturday evening. Which would be better?"

"Oh ... Saturday, I think."

"Good. By the way, has Jimmy ever been to a live theater play?"

"No, he hasn't."

"I was just thinking, they have children's plays on at the old Vogue and our critic says the kids love them. They're very reasonable and suitable for his age group. Do you think he might be interested?"

"I don't know, but I can ask. When do they put them on?"

"Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Just like the old-time matinees."

"That's sounds like a great idea too," she said. "So ... let's see how it goes next Saturday and then we can decide."

"Sure," I agreed, happy we'd found something we could do together that would include Jimmy.

We spent the next hour getting into more detail about our lives, including our jobs and the people we knew. I learned she was 25 and had become pregnant not long after her eighteenth birthday. Her parents were dismayed, but stood by her and supported her. She had learned a hard lesson when the boyfriend had taken off and not come back.

She loved her job because she believed they were doing something important for the environment. She had interned at Hepplinger while in college and then was hired on graduation day. She liked the people she worked with and socialized with them on occasion. Her parents had made sure that she got out of the house and didn't become a recluse. They were wary of her attempt to find a companion on the Internet, but didn't interfere and trusted her judgment.

I was pretty sure Nicole would enjoy the company of Rich and Fiona. They were a little older but not so much that they would feel out of place with us as a couple. If I was going to be involved with Nicole, I wanted to find things for us to do that would be unusual or unique. It would be a trial-and-error process unless she revealed her interests beforehand. To that end, I would probe to try and find out in advance.

When I looked at my watch I saw it was almost four o'clock. We had been sitting at the little table for two hours, having consumed only one refill after our initial order. Time flies when you're having fun and I was definitely having fun. The longer I spent with her, the more I was convinced that this was the girl for me. What I didn't know was if she felt anything for me. I was going to have to be patient, something which I was not particularly good at.

I walked Nicole to her car, a late-model Honda Civic, and thanked her for spending her afternoon with me. We agreed to talk during the week and set up the timing for the Saturday evening at the theatre. There was no hug or kiss as she departed, but the look she gave me was a relaxed smile and I was encouraged.

I called her Wednesday evening.

"Hi, it's Will," I said, happy to hear her voice, this time on the telephone.

"I was expecting you to call me on Skype," she replied.

"I can do that too. Should I?"

"No ... I've got you on the phone now. But it is more personal when I can see you. Are you calling about Saturday and the play?"

"Yes. Still on?"

"Of course. Wouldn't want to miss it," she said in a cheery voice.

"Excellent. Can I pick you up at seven? The play begins at eight and we can have a drink in the lobby before it starts."

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