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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Those Three Little Words by Carol Ayer

“You've never told him? Ever?” Laura dropped her pen and gaped at me. The pen rattled around on the floor and settled under her chair. She didn't even bother to pick it up. I'd never seen her so flummoxed.

“Well, of course, I've wanted to,” I stammered. “It's just, well...” I looked helplessly at my friend, unable to explain.

“You do love him, though?”

I nodded vigorously, almost giving myself whiplash in the process.

“And he's told you?” Laura asked. “I mean, he proposed a few weeks ago, so he must have, right?”

“Yes, he told me when he proposed. And he's told me before and since. Many times, in fact. And I've meant to say it back, I really have. I've tried. So hard. But I never could do it. I don't know why. What in the world is wrong with me?” I shook my head, unable to come to terms with what a loser I was.

“You're just going to have to do it, Caitlin. Stop beating around the bush. Do it tonight first thing.” Laura reached for her ringing phone. I sighed and returned to my own cubicle.

As I half-heartedly proofread my press release, I reflected on my inability to tell Chris--my fiancé, my soul mate, my one and only--that I loved him. Those three little words, seemingly so simple, were a phrase I'd never uttered. To anyone. I'd never even told my parents, whom I still missed terribly four years after their tragic car accident. We had never been an expressive family, perhaps because of our stiff-upper-lipped heritage. My parents didn't believe in showing affection, to me or to each other. And those three little words were just not a part of our vocabulary.

But I didn't want to carry on this particular family tradition. I wanted to tell Chris how I felt. I needed to. Maybe Laura was right. I would just have to do it.

I resolved to tell Chris that very afternoon. We were meeting at Kelly's Bakery at four to sample wedding cakes. I would tell him I loved him, we would taste cakes, and we would get married and live happily ever after, with all the affection and “I-love-you's” anyone could wish for.

Unfortunately, things didn't start out as smoothly as I might have liked. A client called and, for the life of me, I couldn't get her off the phone. I had no time to fix my makeup or my hair. Then, to top it off, I lost an earring, and one of my contacts tore when I was trying to adjust it. I didn't have a spare, and my glasses were in their case on my nightstand. I was particularly upset about my earring, as the pearls were the last thing my mother had ever given me. They had been handed down to her by her own mother, my grandma Nan, who had died when I was a baby.

At twenty after four, I arrived on foot to Kelly's Bakery. I was grumpy, my hair was a mess, and I couldn't see. But I was determined to tell Chris I loved him. I wasn't going to change the plan. I would tell him the second I saw him. No beating around the bush.

I stumbled across the doorway and located my fiancé sitting at a table in a badly-lit back corner.

I approached him, bent down to give him a huge hug, and said, “Don't say anything. I just have to tell you something. It's something I should have told you a long time ago. I'm really sorry I haven't been able to tell you before now. So sorry.” I realized I was babbling. I had to get to the point. “Here it is.” I drew a deep breath. “I love you, Chris. I love you so much.”

“That's very nice, Miss, and thank you for the hug, but my name isn't Chris.” This statement reached my ears at the same time that Chris' deep belly laugh reverberated across the room behind me.

I squinted at the man to whom I'd just professed my love--the only person to whom I'd ever done so--and saw that he was much older than my beloved, a little shorter, and not nearly as cute. I stuttered out an apology and turned around. Chris took me into his arms.

“That was priceless. I'm so glad I waited two years for that.” His blue eyes twinkled.

“Chris, I...I...” Great. Back to the stammering. Did I, or did I not, have a degree in English from one of the state's top universities?

“It's all right, Caitlin. I know you love me. You don't have to say it.” He paused. “Now what is this that's sticking into me?” He reached into the folds of my sweater and pulled out my missing earring. He handed it to me. “Yours, I presume.”

“My earring! I'm so glad. My mother gave these to me. Thank you! I love you!” I gulped. I had done it. I hadn't even meant to, but I'd told Chris what I'd been longing for two years to say.

He enclosed me ever more tightly in his arms, and I knew right then and there that I'd never have a problem saying those three little words again.

About the Author: Carol Ayer's short romantic fiction has appeared in The Prairie Times, Woman's World, and in previous editions of The Long and the Short of It. Her romantic novella Storybook Love is available from Wild Child Publishing. Visit Carol's website at

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