tagRomanceA Journey of Passion Ch. 03

A Journey of Passion Ch. 03


Chapter 3: The Beginning

She slipped the strap of her stiletto around her ankle and sighed. Gabriela Bartolome just knew this date was a bad idea, but she'd let her daughter talk her into it. The man worked with Nicole and she'd met him while picking up her daughter for lunch one afternoon. He'd been polite even though they didn't talk much then. Apparently, he'd asked Nicole about her later. Now here she was getting ready to go to dinner with him when she would prefer to curl up on the sofa reading a book.

Her date wasn't too happy when she pleaded a headache and declined his offer of dancing. She didn't want to make things difficult for Nicole so she did as all good mothers do. Gabriela took the blame for the two of them not hitting it off. In the end, he was very understanding and the evening ended on a pleasant note.

Gabriela knew there was someone special out there for her. He just wasn't the one. Her life might not be the most exciting in the world but it was all right. She was forty-two, divorced and alone but not desperate. Nicole seemed to think her mom needed a man in her life. Thus, it wasn't uncommon for the young woman to attempt to find dates for her.

Relaxing in bed with a book, Gabriela thought about calling Nicole. A quick glance at the clock changed her mind. She decided to wait until the next day to fill her in on the date and went back to her book.

The following morning, Nicole showed up bright and early.

"Mom, check this out!"

"Well good morning to you, too." Gabriela chuckled as she greeted her daughter.

"This is perfect for you," Nicole said as she gave her mom a hug.

"What's that?"

"I picked these up at the salon yesterday when I had my hair done. One of the girls there swears by this place, Mom."

"Nicole, it might help if you tell me what it is," Gabriela said with a laugh.

"Here, look at it yourself."

Gabriela caught the brochure as Nicole tossed it her way. The caption made her gasp.

"Are you crazy? There's no way I'm using one of these."

"Oh come on, it'll be fun. I'll help you even."

"Nicole, dating services are for desperate and loose women."

Peals of laughter came from her daughter until Gabriela blushed.

"I'm not either of those."

"Mom, you haven't had a steady man in your life since you and Dad divorced. Don't you think it's time you found someone to spend the rest of your life with?"

"Dating services are so risky. I've heard all these stories ..."

"This one is pretty cool, though. You can list criteria for who gets to view your video. So someone my age won't be sending you e-mail asking for a date," Shelby explained.

The two talked more about the service as Nicole pitched the idea to her mom. Gabriela was hesitant but soon she found herself giving in to her daughter's enthusiasm. Nicole called the dating service when they opened and made an appointment for her mom for the following day. Next, they looked through her closet and chose an outfit. Gabriela let her daughter do it all since she was enjoying it so much. They spent the morning together, relaxing and just chatting, before Nicole said she needed to go.

"I'll pick you up at one tomorrow, Mom."

"Okay, I'll be ready." Gabriela chuckled when Nicole stuck her tongue out.

All evening Gabriela debated whether to cancel the appointment. She never did anything spontaneous or fun, yet this was a bit out there. Once she realized how boring her life was, she sighed. Sitting home wasn't how she envisioned spending these years. Maybe Nicole was right, she concluded as she slipped into bed. It was time she found someone.

Her resolve didn't waiver until they walked into the office and she gave her name. Gabriela frowned at her daughter, who only grinned.

"It'll be fine, Mom. Just wait, you'll get tons of handsome men asking you out."

"Just remember this was your idea that I do this," she said to Nicole as she sat in front of the camera the next afternoon. All around her bright lights glared, making her squint to see her daughter.

"Look over there and pretend the man of your dreams is watching. Tell him something special about you that he should know," Nicole said.

The bored dating service employee gave them a list of tips earlier. Gabriela studied them but felt they all were too generic and not her style. So now she struggled to think of things on her own instead.

She turned toward the camera and found the square on it to look at when being filmed.

"If you want a girl that wears lace and never gets her hands dirty, then you'll have to look elsewhere. I enjoy watching pro football on the weekends and relaxing with friends. My favorite outfit is a pair of jeans and a sweater. Pleasing my man includes ..."

Nicole jumped up and hugged her mom when she'd finished. "That was awesome!"

"Right," Gabriela said, "uh huh."

They waited to be sure the clip met their approval before heading to the exit. Gabriela hoped this was the last she heard about it. Somehow, she didn't think so, though.


"Seth, check this out, man," Erik Corlett said.

"What do you have?"

"Something that I think you'll like, Seth." Erik looked at the computer screen and grinned.

It was Saturday afternoon and both men were working at Seth's real estate company. Seth knew he didn't have anything better to do, but he wondered about Erik. Forty-five, divorced and tired of the dating scene, Seth often filled his time here even though he owned Flynch Realty and Land Development. He rolled his chair over, expecting to see a listing on the screen.

"What is that you're looking at?"

"It's a dating site and she is your match." Erik tapped the edge of his monitor and nodded.

"I'm not using a dating site, Erik. Only desperate and perverted men use those places."

"Seth, people all over the world use places like this. They have good luck with them too."

"I've heard the stories, Erik. All those creepy men that can't get dates check this kind of place out. There's not a decent woman that would use one of those."

"My sister used this place and she swears by it. I'm telling you, boss, this is the woman for you," Erik said. "Look at her eyes. She's real, not fake like so many others are."

Seth wanted to look away, but something about the picture on the screen captivated him. It was almost as if there was an instant tug on his heart, a connection somehow. He slid closer and read the bio provided. He tried to tell himself things like that didn't really happen. No one 'felt' something just from looking at a picture and reading about a person. He was smarter than that, he knew.

"She's beautiful." Seth's words came out quiet, almost as if he spoke to himself.

"I don't know how, but I do, Seth."

"You're crazy, Erik. There's no way I'm answering an ad from a dating service."

"Do you think she's pretty?" Erik noticed how his boss stared at the picture and knew he was right.

"Yes, she's very pretty."

"You have to reply, right now. If you don't, I'm going to for you," Erik said.

"Not if you want to keep your job you won't."

The men stared at each other, but they knew the threat wasn't serious. Seth might own the company, but they were friends, too.

"I'll think about it."

"No, Seth, you won't, because that means you'll ignore it and I'm not letting you do that. This is the woman for you. I know that in my gut."

Erik looked like a surfer with his blue eyes and blond hair. The women loved his type, but he was still unattached in his mid-twenties. Seth looked again at the picture of the woman on the computer screen and felt a slight twisting in his heart.

"All right," Seth said. "I'll do it."

He expected Erik to tease him about it. Instead, he only nodded. It took them a while to get Seth registered with the dating service so he could send an e-mail to the woman. He almost felt like a teenager again after he finally finished composing the short request.

"She'll answer, Seth, I know she will. This is meant to be."

"You know she's going to get so many replies she won't even read mine."

"Don't be so sure, Seth. There's a reason I noticed her picture out of the thousands from that site. She doesn't even live in Florida. That tells me it's fate or karma. You might not believe in that, but I do. You wait and see. She will read your e-mail and you'll hear from her."

"Well, I won't be holding my breath, Erik."

The men turned back to the screen and took in the picture once more. Seth immersed himself in thoughts and fantasies as Erik straightened up the papers on his desk. He slipped out without his boss even noticing.

Later that evening, Seth checked his e-mail to see if there happened to be an answer yet. He'd never admit that his heart sped up when he saw she'd replied.


Sifting through hundreds of lewd e-mails wasn't what Gabriela had in mind for the weekend. She never should've let Nicole talk her into signing up for that stupid dating service anyway, she thought for the thousandth time. It was time she had someone special in her life again, Nicole emphasized when she'd talked her mom into doing it.

Gabriela looked at the clock and decided she'd spend another thirty minutes looking at the replies. Perverts all seemed to be suggesting assorted sexual acts that they just knew she would love. She scanned through now for key words and phrases that she'd figured out meant the guys wanted sex. So far, she'd deleted all of them.

Only five minutes more, she reminded herself as she clicked open another e-mail reply. Gabriela went back to read it slower when she found nothing that sounded lewd or vulgar.

You have no idea how silly I feel writing this. My friend saw your ad and pointed it out to me. I know you won't believe me, but I felt something the second I looked into your eyes. Using a dating service isn't anything I ever did before and I don't even know the protocol for it.

My instincts tell me you're a special person. Boy that sounds like a line doesn't it? I'm not the kind of guy that says things I don't mean.

Gabriela felt a fluttering in her stomach that hadn't been there in years. She read on, hoping the next words didn't disappoint her.

My name is Seth and I live in Florida. Your profile mentioned you're from the mid-west. I'm hoping the distance isn't an issue. There are so many ways to communicate besides in person at first. Traveling is easy nowadays, too.

I'm in the real estate business, I love dogs, and my favorite color is blue. My ideal first date is a quiet dinner in a discreet restaurant with a jazz band playing in the background. I live in the country surrounded by nature.

You must know that you're beautiful. I would feel honored to receive a reply from you.

She looked at the words again and knew she would indeed answer him. He'd added a bit more information about himself near the end. Honesty came through in everything he said. Gabriela knew there was something about the man that was different from any other she'd met.

Fifteen minutes later, she'd composed her message and hit send. Then she waited to see if he really was the kind of person she felt he was.


Seth checked his private e-mail when he got to the office the next morning. He didn't expect to see many messages since only a few people had that address. One made him hold his breath as he clicked it open.

Hello, Seth. I assume it's all right that I call you Seth. Thank you for your kind reply. I've received so many messages it's been difficult to keep up with them all.

He felt the rejection already and wasn't sure he could read on. The need to know what she'd written won out and he continued.

Seth, you wouldn't believe some of the offers these sweet men have sent me. Did you know that it was possible to ...?

He burst out laughing at her description of kinky sex using kitchen gadgets.

I suppose I shouldn't have told you all that. You'll think I'm a bad girl and I'm not. You see, it's really my daughter's fault. She convinced me to do the ad when she knows I'm shy and polite.

Now he knew his instincts were right. She already was showing a sense of humor and he liked that in a woman.

You probably want to know a little more about me. Well, I live in the city, my favorite color is in the charcoal family, and jeans are a staple in my wardrobe. Pro basketball and football both get my vote to watch.

I should warn you I'm a bit taller than the average girl is. People say it shouldn't matter about height and I guess they're right. Of course, they aren't just under six feet tall either.

At a couple inches over six feet himself, she would be just right, he decided as he imagined them together. Everything she wrote made him want to know more.

Now that I've bored you long enough, I should get to the point of this. Distance isn't an issue to me at all. If you're interested, I'd like to learn more about you and see what happens. You know how to reach me.

Seth let out a whoop of joy and hit reply. Erik was right. She was perfect for him. He felt it. Gabriela was going to be a part of his future and he couldn't wait.

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