by Roberta Beach Jacobson
Blake had lied to me and I had proof. My boyfriend's escapades had landed on page two of the Hinesville newspaper.
I clipped the article about the car accident and took it with me as I rushed off to work. Blake claimed to be spending the final October week touring a college campus and I'd believed him when he said he had important meetings with three different professors. It was obvious how thrilled he was when the college catalog arrived. He needed to visit the campus, he told me, have a look around.
It sounded plausible. Starting college at twenty-four is no simple decision.
According to the article, Blake and three others dressed as vampires had arrived by limousine at a fancy Halloween bash. Afterwards, they'd been in a pile-up on the slick highway. There were cuts and bumps, nothing too serious. The four were being kept overnight in the hospital for observation.
The Blake I thought I knew was a sensible guy with both feet planted firmly on the ground. We'd been a couple long enough that I just assumed we'd walk down the aisle together. There was no clue Blake might have a wild, unpredictable side.
Once seated at my reception desk at the Hinesville Vet Clinic, I unfolded the puzzling article. It identified the others as juniors from the very campus Blake hoped to attend. Was this the sort of happy-go-lucky lifestyle he planned to lead once he became a college man? It didn't take much of a sleuth to put two and two together. These upperclassmen would be Blake's campus role models. The realization brought me no comfort at all.
Though I had no idea how much a night out with a stretch limo might cost, I knew winning the lottery might help. The article mentioned no females, only the four vampires being chauffeured to and from their ghoulish fun. Were they hoping to meet up with some cute witches at the Halloween party? It seemed a likely scenario.
I only half-concentrated on my work. My mind was filled with visions of Blake dressed in Transylvanian garb.
Shortly before eleven o'clock, Parker, who ran the corner bakery, burst into our waiting room. “I brought you some treats, guaranteed baked by ghosts and goblins. Look, orange-and-black napkins to mark the special day. Happy Halloween, you two!” He saluted me as he left.
I called out my thanks, but he was long gone.
When Doc Edwards and I managed a brief coffee break to bite into our cupcakes, I showed him the newspaper article.
He scowled as he read. “I'm glad the crash wasn't serious. Lisa,” he said. “Your Blake seemed so level-headed, why would he pull off such a dumb prank?”
I fought back tears and admitted I had no explanation.
After our last appointment of the day, I stopped by the bakery to offer my thanks to Parker. I watched him in action through the front window. Grinning as ever, he was wiping counters at a frantic pace. He had the build of an athlete.
He looked up as the door jingled and called out, “Hey, Lisa, glad to see you! I'm running on empty today. Can you believe I'm covering three jobs?”
“Do you ever stop smiling?” I asked, regretting the question the moment it escaped.
“I'm smiling at you, Lisa,” was his reply. He scooted toward the kitchen, balancing an overfilled tray. Moments later, he returned with two glasses of apple cider. He looked at me through gorgeous brown eyes and suggested, “Let's toast to Halloween hilarity.”
We sat at a cafe-style table and he asked about my day. I told him about some of our four-legged patients and added my sincere thanks for the holiday sweets.
He admitted he'd decorated the cupcakes himself and mentioned his pumpkin cookies had out-sold his expectations.
Was he the only male on the planet who knew his way around a kitchen? I found it charming and told him so.
“Growing up on a farm, you gain some handy culinary skills,” he answered, his eyes twinkling. “I can cover soup to dessert,” he assured me. “All from scratch.”
After an hour of chatting, I pulled out the wrinkled article and asked him to read it and share his opinion.
He grew somber while he read. He winced and said, “I'm so sorry about this mess, Lisa, I really am. Blake lost his head. How could he leave someone as wonderful as you behind to pull off such a scatterbrained, childish stunt?”
I couldn't think of an answer. Sipping overpriced drinks with fellow monsters in a posh hotel was not the way I wanted to celebrate October 31st. Had I even celebrated the holiday? Of course! A cheerful and talented baker, wearing an unseasonal red and green apron, had seen to it I had a delicious taste of Halloween. Parker would never be so immature as to be talked into making a caped spectacle of himself in a stretch limousine.
As for Blake, he hadn't even bothered to pick up a phone to contact me. I knew deep in my heart he wasn't a suitable partner for me. Not only had I emotionally outgrown him, but I knew I could do better in the romance department. As far as I was concerned, Blake could pretend to be from Transylvania all he wanted. Without me.
Impulsively, I leaned over and kissed Parker on the cheek. It surprised him as much as me. Maybe I was under the spell of his Halloween magic, but at that moment I knew I'd found my dream guy – thanks to the best holiday of the year!
About the Author: Roberta Beach Jacobson writes for True Romance, True Love and True Confessions magazines. She's an American writer who makes her home in Greece. Visit her at her webpage.