by Diane Craver
Elizabeth Fields loved swimming in the pool on the rooftop of her apartment building, but tonight was lonely. Where was everyone? she wondered. The elevator opened, and a silver-haired security guard stepped out. Quickly she swam the length of the pool to the end nearest the elevator.
“Hi, Mr. Payton.” She rested her arm on the edge of the pool. “Why don’t you get your trunks on and swim with me? We’ve never raced. It’ll be fun.”
He chuckled. “You must be desperate if you want me to swim against you. You need someone your age. Where’s that Charlie Brewster? You two have fun racing each other.”
She sighed. “He has a date.”
“Be careful. I’ll be back in half an hour to check on you. Have to make my rounds.”
With no one around to race or talk to, she was bored. It was her fault she was alone on a Friday night. Her old boyfriend, Bruce, had wanted to get married before he took a job in another state, but she had shocked herself and him when she refused. She didn’t even take time to consider marrying Bruce and moving. She’d told Charlie she didn’t understand how she could’ve dated Bruce for a year and not been upset when he left.
“I can,” Charlie had said. “He wasn’t right for you and deep down you knew it.”
She swam with smooth strokes and when turning to finish her lap, she didn’t hear the elevator open. She screamed when a hand touched her shoulder.
“Elizabeth, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
She climbed out of the pool and grabbed her towel. Her heart raced at the sight of Charlie. He looked handsome in his khakis and green shirt. “I thought you had a date with Savannah.”
“She stood me up.” He ran his hands through his black hair and his dark eyes were intense with anger. “She told me to go ahead and order for both of us. And there I was sitting with platters of Savannah’s favorite Italian food when she called me and told me to enjoy dinner by myself.”
“Why did she cancel?”
“Get this. An old college boyfriend’s in town and he wanted to see her tonight.”
Elizabeth shrugged her shoulders. “I told you she was spoiled.”
“I’m taking her to court to teach her a lesson.”
She sat down on a lawn chair and dug in her oversized bag for a comb. “That’ll be time-consuming. You should know that since you’re a lawyer.”
“I’m just going to take her to small claims court for the anxiety she caused me. I waited for over an hour before she called.”
While combing through her long auburn hair, she asked, “Did you bring Savannah’s dinner home with you?”
He grinned. “Yes. I figured we could eat together.”
While Charlie went to get the food, she took a quick shower. After she dressed in jean capri pants and a white T-shirt, she got restless. She walked out of her apartment and stood in the hallway, waiting for the elevator.
Her neighbor, Miss O’Leary, opened her door. “Did Charlie find you, dear?”
“I told him you were swimming.”
Elizabeth smiled at the older woman. Charlie complained that she was too nosy, but she knew Miss O’Leary was just lonely. “Thanks. We’re going to eat dinner together.”
“Wait,” Miss O’Leary said. “I’ll go get some cookies I just baked.”
A few minutes later, Charlie and Elizabeth sat at a small table, eating crispy bread topped with sesame seeds.
“Well, at least Savannah has good taste in food.” She took a bite of garlic potatoes. “The chicken in tomato sauce on top of potatoes is delicious.”
He smiled at her. “If you ever stop swimming, you’ll get fat.”
“That’s what I love about you. You’re so good with words.” She leaned over the table and wiped his chin with her napkin. “You had some sauce on you.”
“I’m glad you didn’t marry Bruce.”
“I couldn’t marry him. He doesn’t swim.”
“Should I put the move on you then? I’m your only real competition in the water.”
She rolled her blue eyes. “I don’t know. I think I might be the better swimmer.”
Charlie gave her a serious look. “Maybe we should date.”
“You said before that we should stay best friends.”
“When I moved in here, you were dating Bruce, and I was seeing Savannah. Things are different now. The whole time I was waiting for Savannah, I kept seeing your face.”
He paused for a moment. “I thought about how much fun we have together.”
“Don’t get a big head, but I missed you tonight.”
He extended his arm across the table and took her hand in his. “Let’s go to a movie tonight. It’ll be our first date.”
“Only if you promise to race me tomorrow in the pool. I can’t get fat now that we’re dating.”
They held hands during the movie, and he gave her a tender kiss before they left the theatre. When they got back to their high rise apartment building, they decided to eat Miss O’Leary’s cookies on Elizabeth’s balcony.
“I’m glad Savannah stood me up tonight.”
“Me too. I have some news. My job’s finally getting better. My boss told me today they want me to write the brochures for all the state parks.”
“Hey, that’s great. I bet you’re glad you didn’t quit now.”
She took another bite of cookie and remembered she had more news to share. “Bruce called tonight.”
“What did he want?”
“He wanted to know if I changed my mind about marrying him, and I told him it was over between us. He asked if we were dating. He accused me of leading him on when I was interested in you. He said that we did a lot together.”
“What did you tell him?”
“I said best friends enjoy doing stuff together,” she said.
“During the movie, I realized how much I love you.”
“I love you too. I can’t imagine life without you. That’s why I couldn’t marry Bruce.”
“When we make our wedding plans, I know the first person we should invite.”
It had to be the person who’d introduced them a year ago when Charlie moved in. “Miss O’Leary, the matchmaker?”
At his nod, she was glad that they thought alike, and swimming wasn’t the only thing they had in common.
About the Author: As the youngest in the family, growing up on a farm in Findlay, Ohio, Diane often acted out characters from her own stories in the backyard. In high school she was the student sitting in class with a novel hidden in front of her propped up textbook. Her passion for reading novels had to be put on hold during her college years at Ohio State University due to working part-time on campus and being a full-time student. Before embarking on her writing career, Diane was a school teacher and play director.
She enjoys her life with her husband and six children in southwestern Ohio. Her husband of thirty years is very supportive, as well as her awesome children. She writes contemporary romance, inspirational mainstream and chick-lit mystery.
Learn more about Diane Craver and her books at www.dianecraver.com or read her blog at www.dianecraver.com/blog