“Men are pigs.”
Samantha Lang punctuated the declaration by dropping her backpack on the coffee table. She kicked off her shoes and sank onto the sofa behind her.
“Sam? Is that you?” Her roommate emerged from the bathroom where she was primping for a late date.
“Yeah,” Samantha mumbled and picked up the remote to surf through an endless series of “tell-all” shows.
Samantha rolled her eyes. “Jessica, it was beyond bad. It was approaching nuclear disaster. Why can’t I just meet a nice guy with table manners who can talk about something besides himself?” She flopped back on the sofa. “Is that too much to ask?”
“I don’t think so. Maybe if you’d just—"
“Just what?” Samantha gave her roommate a look that would have blistered paint. “Lower my standards? Recognize spitting as an acceptable method of social interaction between males? Enjoy wrestling matches?”
“Did Brad Hudson take you to a wrestling match?” Jessica’s mouth gaped in shock.
Samantha pointed to the television. “Yes. And I think those two sat in front of us,” she said, indicating a group of women engaged in a catfight. “Look! There’s our waitress from the Pancake Shack. I recognize her tattoo.”
“Seriously, Sam. You don’t have to lower your standards. Maybe you just need to look in different places.”
“The lobby of the veterinary school building? It takes brains to be a vet.”
Samantha shook her head. “That’s where I met Buck Nelson. He took me to watch bulls being castrated.”
“Eeeuuuwww.” Jessica shuddered. “Then how about the music building? Some of those guys are cute.”
“Two words. Gregorian chants.”
“Fraternity row? Theater department?” Jessica ticked off the suggestions on her fingers.
“Have you ever been to a burping contest? Or a Pee Wee Herman film festival? Jess, you’re incorrigible.”
Jessica screamed. “Incorrigible’s the secret word!”
A sofa cushion sailed across the coffee table and bounced off Jessica’s head. “One more idea. Hear me out,” she pleaded.
“Like I have a choice.”
“Ryan and I are going to the Enviro-Fest tomorrow afternoon. Why don’t you come with us?”
“Ooooh! A third-wheel pity date.”
“You know that Ryan and I never think of you that way. Come on. It’ll be fun.”
“Right.” Samantha’s sarcasm was obvious. “I can just imagine who I’d meet there. Those guys are into composting and recycling and look like Albert Einstein reincarnated.”
Samantha stood and headed for her bedroom. “Thanks anyway.”
Jessica played her trump card. “We have an extra ticket to the concert. It’s yours if you want it.”
Samantha sat on a blanket under a tall oak and enjoyed the festival atmosphere. She’d tried to fill her day with chores and failed, and after glancing at the concert ticket numerous times, she finally capitulated.
As the band began its warm-up, she stretched out and gazed at the cotton-candy clouds. Suddenly a head blocked her view. The sun made it impossible to distinguish if the head belonged to a man or woman.
“Is this spot taken?”
Definitely a man. One with a baritone voice that made Samantha’s insides melt. When she tried to answer, she realized her voice had melted too, and she just shook her head.
He spread his blanket beside her and plopped onto the center.
“I’m Connor Barton.”
Yes you are, Samantha thought. A lock of dark hair drooped over his forehead and his espresso-colored eyes stared right through to her soul.
“And you are?”
“Samantha,” she stammered.
“Nice to meet you, Samantha. Are you enjoying the festival?”
“It’s been… interesting.” She didn’t want to appear negative. “Uhm…have you done any composting lately?”
“Nope. Never tried it.”
“I have one of those blue bins if that’s what you mean.”
Samantha studied him closely. He certainly didn’t look like Einstein and he had just admitted that composting wasn’t on his “to do” list.
“I just came for the concert,” he confessed. “I graduated last year and I’m back on campus to recruit for my employer. I thought this would be a nice change from my hotel room.”
“Me too,” Samantha admitted. “A change, that is. Not a recruiting trip. Where’s home?”
Just her luck. She’d met Mr. Right and instead he was Mr. Thousand-Miles-Away. Before she could comment, the music began and they found themselves absorbed in the melodies, sharing a blanket, and making plans to go for coffee after the concert.
A year later, the third annual Enviro-Fest had been a smashing success and Samantha enjoyed every minute she’d spent working at the Feral Felines booth. As dusk approached, she hurried to the concert area and spread her blanket. Reclining, she watched the clouds morph in and out of familiar shapes, dreaming about a certain man blocking her view.
She and Connor had shared precious moments after meeting last year. Then reality had stepped in and he’d returned to Dallas. They had kept in touch with e-mails and phone calls. But a long-distance relationship was difficult to maintain and Samantha had felt for some time that it was probably over. It was time to move on and look for another Mr. Right though she doubted that Eddie “Cat Man” Richardson from Feral Friends was the one.
A slight breeze ruffled the grass as the band began its first number and Samantha pulled the blanket around her shoulders.
“Is this spot taken?”
Connor? One look answered the unspoken question.
“Jess told me I’d find you here. May I?” He indicated the spot next to her.
His spicy aftershave teased her nose and she remembered the week they’d spent together a year ago. She tried to blink back tears but was unsuccessful.
“I brought you something,” he said and thrust a magazine in her direction.
She glanced at the cover. “Mining in South Africa?”
His voice was husky with emotion as he pulled a small box from his pocket and opened it to reveal a sparkling diamond ring. “They mine these,” he explained. “Will you be mine?”
About the Author: Marilyn Puett lives in north Alabama and is a member of Heart of Dixie RWA. A founding member of The Writing Playground (www.writingplayground.com and www.writingplayground.blogspot.com ) she keeps order on the swingset when she’s not writing for the confessions and romance magazines or plotting her next novel.