William’s meetings with the bankers had run much longer than expected. There’d been a lot of details to finalize and scheduling another meeting before the new year was out of the question.
It was raining, cold, and windy, a typical New York City December afternoon. With the sun setting and rush hour beginning, William knew getting a cab was going to be a chore.
His reward would be having a drink with Jordan down in the Village. His old friend was an invigorating breath of fresh air. While the rest of his friends had gone on to get married and divorced, Jordan remained their Peter Pan. He never seemed to grow up or even age. Sharing an apartment after college had been one of the best times of William’s life.
He stepped out from the canopied entrance of the office building so the taxis on the avenue could see his outstretched arm. As he did, he felt the presence of another person. He turned and was surprised to see a beautiful woman hailing her own cab.
Even with her hood partially covering her hair and the long coat hiding her figure, he would see her pale white skin and gorgeous face smiling through the dismal gray of sunset. William was having trouble concentrating on his mission.
As a cab pulled over, William opened the door for her. “Here, you take this one and I’ll catch the next.”
“I’m headed downtown. If you’re going that way, we can share.” She smiled.
They both sat in the back seat and politely moved their wet umbrellas away from their dry clothes. William looked at the old fashion Christmas angel hanging from the safety divider between the front and back seats. The angel was looking at the two of them. He motioned for her to tell the cabbie her destination.
“The Hammer and The Nail. Sixth Avenue and Eighth Street.”
William laughed. The world was full of small coincidences. “The same, please.”
He turned to his companion and held out his hand. “I’m meeting a friend at the Nail for drinks. I’m William.”
As she threw back the hood of her coat she revealed more of her dark wavy hair and gorgeous face. “Allison. My shift starts at six. What’s your friend’s name? If he’s a regular maybe I know him.”
“Jordan? Oh, he’s a regular. I think he has his own table there.”
Allison laughed and looked at him carefully. “I do know Jordan. He holds court there. Hmm. Are you a lover?”
“No. Just good friends. We shared an apartment after college.”
“Then you’re going out partying with Jordan tonight?”
William laughed. “So many questions. How about if I get one in?”
Allison smiled and shrugged. “Sure. It’s a long ride in this traffic.”
“How about you? Do you work at the Nail full time?”
“No. I just finished my daytime job. I’m in IT for Bank of America. That’s my building you were standing in front of earlier. You?”
“Real estate. I had to come into the city to get some documents signed. I’m a Jersey boy. Taking the train home after drinks.”
Jillian smiled at his response. “Real estate. I’m envious. I just signed up for a course to get my real estate license.” She turned her head away and looked at the ornament.
Allison turned back to him. “Helping people to find their dream home must be wonderful. Growing up I was never very good at socializing. I always felt out of place and thought I’d end up living in a cave by myself. But tending bar has changed my perspective. I’d think I’d be good at selling.”
She was one of the most attractive women he’d ever met and he instantly wanted to be her cheerleader. “You’d be terrific. Statistics show that appealing people make great salespersons. You’d certainly have the edge over a guy like me.”
“Now, William. I think you’re quite handsome.”
William took a deep breath. Wow, he thought. A bewitching woman telling him that he’s handsome. “Allison, you have made my day. I can go home now and die.” He held his hands over his heart.
Allison laughed and playfully punched him on the arm. “Oh, c’mon, William. I’ll bet the women line up to be with a guy like you.”
“How’d you know I’m not married?”
“William, I’m a bartender. I see the details. No ring, no checking in with your honey. Having drinks with Jordan instead of running home to your wifey.”
“Touché. Unfortunately, my dating history is woeful. My dream woman just doesn’t seem to be out there.”
Allison smiled. “You have a fantasy? The perfect woman?”
“I do. But, I don’t want to bore you. Tell me about your life first. How did a computer geek end up working in a bar?”
“That’s a very good question. When I came up to New York, I had the bank job offer but no friends and no place to live. Sally Dodds, a friend I know from school, was also moving up here. She’s gay and we got a place together. And she discovered The Hammer and The Nail. Since I was new to the city and friendless, I was hanging around with her a lot.
I got to know the owners of the Nail. They helped me out a lot by offering me a job and sort of a second home.”
“So does that mean that you’re gay too?”
Allison frowned and shook her head slowly. “No. I’m not. Life would be so much simpler if I was. But, I’m the oddball that still has no social life and doesn’t date.”
“You don’t date? Why’s that?”
“I’m afraid anyone who dates me would be filled with disappointment. I’m just not your everyday run of the mill kind of girl. It’s a lot simpler to just have friends.”
“Sounds pretty boring.”
She agreed and nodded. “My life is very routine. I work all day keeping computers running for a big bank. And I work in a gay bar a few nights a week. That’s pretty much it. Someday if things pick up I might get a cat.”
“Oh. No cat, dog, please. I’m allergic to cats.”
“I’ll make a note of that. But a dog is impossible to have in the city. How about fish?”
“Fish are fine. You’re saving your money?”
“A girl can have her dreams too. Now tell me about your vision.”
William thought for a minute and found himself staring at the angel again. “Do you believe in love at first sight?”
Allison smiled. “I’ve had some mad crushes but never just jumped in over my head. I’m real careful. I’ve been rejected and hurt.”
“Well, I can’t believe that anyone would hurt or rebuff you. You seem too sweet. But, for me, I believe I’ll know the woman who’s meant for me the instant I see her. And it will be kismet, mutual love that burns forever. It will be someone I want to give my heart to and spend my life making her happy.”
“Oh wow. That’s crazy. You’re a real romantic.”
William agreed. “I know. I’ve been teased about it by everyone I’ve told this to.”
Allison hugged his forearm. “Oh, I wouldn’t tease you. I think that it’s a beautiful notion. I think your woman is going to be the luckiest person in the world. Adoration and love showered on you for all eternity are beautiful.”
William was looking straight into her eyes. He was mesmerized by her creamy skin, deep blue eyes, and crimson lips. She was possibly the most alluring woman he had ever seen. “Seriously? Thank you. My friends accuse me of being old fashion and living in the past. I really do believe that two strong independent people can find mutual love. I really think that fidelity is the kind of thing you work at every day and give one hundred percent.”
Allison squeezed his arm. “You’re one in a million, William.” She took a deep breath and released his arm.
They rode together in silence. William found himself looking at the angel ornament again. Out of the corner of his eye, he realized that Allison was looking at the ornament too.
She spoke still staring at the angel. “It’s a reproduction of an Italian sculpture. Back in the seventeenth-century artists working in factories made the ornaments out of porcelain, cloth, and gold leaf.” Still staring at the angel, Allison spoke. “What’s New Jersey like, William?”
He thought for a minute. “I like it. I’m in Jersey City about thirty minutes from New York. It’s a busy town with back roads leading out into the country. It can be really very charming.”
She caught his eye and smiled. “Sounds wonderful.”
Their taxi pulled over and came to a stop. “Look at that. Here we are and the rain’s ended. Well, enjoy your evening with Jordan. He’s quite entertaining.”
“Thank you, Allison. It’s been my pleasure riding with you. And now that I know where you work, maybe we could go out sometime.”
Allison sighed. “That’s a very sweet offer, but I just don’t date. Over the years I’ve found that friendships are much better for me than relationships.”
William found himself staring at the angel ornament as he paid the driver. He turned and looked at Allison. “You know, I think a friendship with you would be a wonderful thing.”
Allison smiled. “Thank you, William. I hope you and Jordan have a fun evening.” She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
As they exited the cab, he watched her walk into the bar, across to the back, and through a door. She smiled and greeted everyone with a touch or a kiss. Obviously, she was in her element.
William saw Jordan standing at the bar next to another very handsome man. Upon seeing William, he turned away from him with a touch on his arm and a whisper in his ear. Looking straight at Jordan with arms outstretched and a smile on his face, he said “Hey, buddy. Merry Christmas.”
And with that, their evening started.
William’s first day of class was a welcomed change. Running his own business exhausted him. Teaching helped him forget the mundane routines that buried him under piles of minutiae.
At 6:30 pm, he flipped on the lights in his Manhattan Community College classroom. He opened the official folder and pulled his class list out. He read through the names and wondered who he’d be teaching.
He heard himself saying welcome to Real Estate Licensing class. Over the next four weeks, you’ll come to understand all the legal ramifications and necessities to earn your license. What he would never say is that you’ll go on to live in a dead end job that pays little and drives you eventually to too much drink and a meager amount job of satisfaction and then one day you’ll turn around and see that you’re thirty-seven and have nothing to show for your life except a few extra pounds, high blood pressure, and a constant state of worry.
Long ago, he learned the hard cold reality that he wasn’t in business for himself. He was at the beck and call of anyone who thought they wanted to pursue their dream house. Most of these people needed a marriage counselor or a psychiatrist before they searched for the perfect open concept, modern, mid-century, new, historic, ranch, two-story colonial, large yard, condominium, castle of their dreams.
He speculated that the reason he hadn’t gotten married was the clients he met in his daily routine were all crazy. His parents were the perfect example. His dad was on his third wife twenty years his junior and his mom lived in Florida, roasting in the sun, collecting alimony, and screwing her tennis instructor.
William sat across in the lounge to watch for his new students. He held his class list, took a deep breath, and tried to relax.
The usual people were filing into his classroom. The ones hoping for something better in life. The ones who thought that selling real estate was as romantic as the TV shows where the flippers, renovators, and buyers looked at three houses wrapping it all up in thirty minutes serenaded by happy music in the background.
Good luck with that. William thought of the Bradley family who was still dragging him around wanting his opinion on the fiftieth house they’d looked at.
The school had decorated the lounge for Christmas. They’d installed a tree and hung ornaments. They’d strung lights and put greens around the fireplace. It looked quite nice. As he stared at the tree and the ornaments, he fixated on the angel at the top of the tree. It almost looked like she was smiling down on him.
Another person exiting the elevator brought him back to reality. He’d realized he been hypnotized staring at that old fashion angel perched on the tree top.
In that moment William’s day took an upswing. He watched her walk up to his classroom door. She checked her paper and found the room number on the door. Oh my gosh, he thought. Please, please, please go in and be in my class. Make my December class the best ever. Please be my student because you are the woman of my dreams.
And then the tall brunette with the high ponytail, the skinny jeans, and blazer did choose his room. William felt like he’d won the lottery. This was the story he’d retell for years to come. He’d say it was love at first sight and she was his vision of ethereal beauty. He checked the last name. He’d been smitten just seeing Allison again. She was the beautiful woman from his taxi ride.
He adjusted his pants and tucked away his growing excitement as he rose. He opened a fresh stick of gum. He sucked up his gut and swore that he’d start doing push-ups and sit-ups tomorrow morning.
Hope springs eternal he thought as he used chalk to write William Bennett-Real Estate Licensing. He wrote the website to locate all the references necessary for the class. He smiled and scanned the crowd counting the eleven bodies that had chosen seats around the room.
“Good evening. Happy Thanksgiving, and Season’s Greetings. I’m Will Bennett and your instructor. I’ll here to help you pass the tri-state real estate licensing tests. The class starts at seven and ends at nine every Tuesday night.” He pointed to the web address on the board.
“The site contains the syllabus, the readings, and some sample tests that the states have used in the past. The class is not graded. I’ll be here each week talking about different aspects of real estate and the tests. The topics are in the syllabus.”
“Let’s start by getting to know one another.” He nodded to the gentleman who had chosen the far left seat. “Please tell us something about yourself, Mr. James and include what you want to do with your license in the new year.”
William had purposely started as far away from Allison Cook as possible. He wanted to savor the anticipation.
He tried to pay attention to each person as they talked about bettering their lives, having more job autonomy, more pay, or the freedom of working for themselves. He didn’t want to disillusion them by saying that selling was work and you needed about three years of failures before you found your rhythm and success.
Finally, Allison Cook spoke. Her voice was melodious and cultured. He had a chance to really study her now. She looked more dazzling sitting there than she had in the taxi. Her smile sparkled. He was totally mesmerized by everything she said and did. If she had walked up to William and simply said, ‘c’mon big boy, let’s go back to your place and make love’, William would have turned out the lights as he walked out the door following Miss Allison Cook.
She had four years of college. She worked as an IT at Bank of America. She tended bar at night. After four years of tending bar, she realized that she had a knack for selling and a desire to work with people all the time.
William had no doubt that she would be a top-notch saleswoman. Who wouldn’t be hypnotized by her appealing mouth, enticing smile, dark wavy hair, and deep blue eyes?
William began his usual first evening’s talk. He gave a quick summary of his topics and why he was teaching them. Then he talked about what they could expect to find on the Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey licensing exams.
He ended a few minutes early by thanking everyone for coming. William said he’d look forward to seeing the brave souls who returned next Tuesday.
The whole time he was talking he was trying to figure out how to invite Miss Allison Cook out for coffee. He was trying to work out how to approach her and what he’d say. As he was gathering up his papers William looked up.
She was standing there right in front of him. He was speechless.
She smiled a silly grin. “Hi. Remember me from our taxi ride to the Nail? I just wanted to know if you wanted to go out and get a cup of coffee.”
William was bowled over. “Well, sure. I’d love to.” William was glowing inside. This forward sort of behavior warmed his heart. He adored women who liked to take charge. Over the years, he’d gotten more respectful of women who were confident and a bit sassy.
“Where would you like to go for coffee?”
Allison named a little cafe that was within walking distance. She smiled. As they began walking down the stairs together Allison Cook reached up into the crook of his arm and gripped him firmly. William found himself chattering on all about his life and his business. He was nervous in Allison Cook’s presence.
He couldn’t help but notice that Allison was tall, almost as tall as he was. Of course, she was wearing high heels.
As if she were reading his mind, she turned and said, “Five foot nine inches and with these heels, I’m almost six feet. I’m guessing you’re six foot two?”
William nodded. “Can you read tell what I’m thinking now?”
Allison frowned. “Uh huh. And the answer is no. I wouldn’t want to lead you on. I’m just an old fashion kind of girl.”
William shook his head. “An old fashion girl? Is this an across the board rule or is it just me?”
“Of course it’s my rule and it’s for all.”
“And what kind of pushback do you get from that?”
“Lots of guys want to be the exception to my rule. But it’s for everyone’s good. Anything to do with me other than friendship would lead to disappointment. It’s too complicated and I’m just not worth all the effort.”
“Really. For some reason, I’m feeling very special tonight and I think it’s because I’m in your presence. Are you an angel?”
Allison Cook laughed and squeezed his arm. “That’s wonderful. I’ve never been asked that question. Growing up, my parents tried to understand me and eventually gave up. I think their minister told them I was cursed by the devil. I guess I was too much for them to accept.”
“What a strange story. I can’t believe anyone could reject a beautiful child like you.”
“I didn’t fit in. I was way too girly girl and would get laughed at all the time. I think they saw me as ugly and well, mentally disturbed.”
“Seriously? What a terrible thing to do to a child. Your parents sound cruel.”
“Unfortunately for them, it made me stronger and more determined to be myself. I was pretty stubborn.”
When they arrived at the cafe, William was pleased that they were given a table in the back near the fireplace. The room looked beautiful with all the holiday decorations. He stared at the tree and the angel perched on the top. He gazed at it, lost in thought. “It’s funny. I think I’ve seen this same angel before, once in the taxi and tonight in the lounge outside my classroom.”
Allison looked over to see what he was gazing at. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it. The original angel was made in Italy in the seventeenth century by Sammartino. The real one is at the Metropolitan Museum and their Christmas tree display.”
A waiter came over and took their order. Allison ordered tea and William had decaffeinated coffee. They agreed to split a lemon tart.
As they shared the tart, William asked Allison to tell him about her life.
“Not much to tell. I’m originally from Baltimore. I went to college in D.C. and moved up here for work. I’m at the bank and you know I tend bar.”
William smiled. “How long have you been at The Hammer and The Nail?”
Allison thought for a minute. “About the same time that I went to work for the bank. How well do you know the Nail?”
William smiled. “It’s one of my friend Jordan’s favorite places. But, not being forward, does that mean you’re gay?”
Allison laughed. “No, I’m not. My life would be a lot simpler if I was. But, I have no interest in dating women. My dream would be to have a successful relationship with a special guy. How do you feel about LGBTQ?”
William smiled. “I’m fine with it. I mean, Jordan is my best friend and well, LGBTQ is part of our world and society. You could say I embrace it.”
“You know, when I first started working at the Nail, I thought Jordan was a manager or an owner. He’s always been sweet to me.”
“I’m sure. He’s a gentleman. My turn for a question. Why would you want to hang around with an old guy like me?”
Allison smiled. “You aren’t old and I like grown-up men. I wouldn’t waste my time with a twenty-something who’s clueless. But my interest is complicated. First, you seem like a sweet, intelligent guy that I’d like to be friends with and second, I’d bet you’d help me network into a good job in the real estate world.”
“Miss Cook. I would like to be your friend and I know you’ll find success in real estate.”
“Thanks, William. Working in the bar has opened my eyes to a lot of things and I can pretty much tell when someone is shoveling bull at me. I think you’re more of a straight shooter.”
“Funny, you should use the term straight shooter when you’ve worked at the Nail for four years. I’d think you’d make more money at the Brass Rail or Connaught’s.”
“Maybe. But, maybe not. I have a sense of loyalty to the Nail. The owners really have been good to me. When I first came to New York they took me under their wings. They’ve helped me a lot.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Would you still work there if real estate became your career?”
Allison shrugged. “I would gladly give up IT if I could find a well-paying job. But, I’m saving up my money.”
“I guess it’s good to have goals.”
“Oh, I do. I have a vision in my mind of what I want to be and well, it’s going to take money.”
They made small talk while they finished up and walked back to the school. William was pleased that Allison put her arm through his again as they strolled the sidewalk together.
When they reached the college, she directed him over to the subway entrance. ”
“This has been fun, Miss Cook. Thank you for your company.”
It’s been my pleasure, Will. I hope we can do more together. I’ll see you next Tuesday.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing you.”
“She kissed him on the cheek and turned to walk down the steps. “Thank you for the tea and pastry.” She waved and started down. When she got to the bottom she turned, looked back, and smiled.
William hadn’t felt this good in a long time. He knew he had Miss Allison Cook to thank.
William sat in the lobby of the soon to be finished high rise and tried to think positive. It was hard to do when the building was a cool sixty-two degrees and he was surrounded by unfinished poured concrete walls. But this was his baby. His company was representing the sale of all the units and had to make a good appearance.
So two weeks before Christmas when everyone was busy getting ready for the holidays and no one was looking at condos here he was. The owners of this project wanted to show the unfinished spaces now. William sat cold and uncomfortable waiting for the nonexistent customers on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
The sun had set and the street lights were on. As he watched the pedestrians walk by, he made a list of Christmas gifts for his office staff. William noticed he’d lost the feeling in his toes and fingertips.
He checked his watch and sighed. His workday had ended. William could finally close up and go catch a drink somewhere. As he was shutting down his laptop, the front doors open. He could hear a familiar voce as he saw a woman and two men. As they got closer, he recognized his old friend Jordan, an older man, and possibly the most fascinating woman he had ever seen, Allison Cook. He beamed.
Jordan called out as they got closer. “Hello, Will. I was hoping you’d still be here. I wanted to show Sam one of your apartments. And I heard you’ve met Allison.”
William stood up and shook Sam’s hand and then leaned over to shake Allison’s hand. She looked amused as his universe stopped. He was mesmerized by her deep blue eyes.
He didn’t hear Jordan talking until he called his name. He glanced over and saw Jordan dragging his latest boyfriend over to the elevator.
“Hey, Will. What floor is my future apartment on?”
Will laughed. “The Penthouse. Fifty-five.” He watched as Jordan and Sam disappeared into the elevator. He glanced over at Allison who had her arms wrapped around her body and was shivering.
William reached out and grabbed her hand. “C’mon. I’ll buy you a hot chocolate next door at the Starbucks. It’s a lot warmer in there than this concrete mausoleum.”
Allison smiled. “Don’t you have to stay and sell condos?”
“I did, all day. I was ready to close. But, we can keep warm and watch the front door at the same time. It’s all right. I’m in charge.”
“This place is yours?”
“Hardly. But, I’m the only realtor foolish enough to try selling apartments two weeks before Christmas. How about dark hot chocolate with whipped cream and a peppermint stick?”
Allison laughed. “I’ll settle for green tea. You can save the hot chocolate for the little girls you try to woo away from the schoolyard.”
“Ouch. Tea it is.” They walked together to the front. “How have you been?”
He locked up and they both scurried next door into the quiet warmth of the coffee shop.
“I’ve been fine. I was hoping you’d come by to see me. Sam is Jordan’s latest flame. I honestly don’t know how I got roped into coming along. And I wondered about your relationship with Jordan. You lived together, right? Are you an ex?”
William laughed. “Ex-roommate. We shared a place after college?”
“Really? Because Jordan indicated there was more.”
“William blushed. “Well, I think that’s a topic for another day. And I want to talk to my lawyer first.”
Allison laughed. “I like you, William. You’re as much fun as Jordan.”
“Is that why you work at the Nail? Fun?”
It’s my piggy bank money.”
“Piggy bank money? Saving for what?”
“Oh. Saving for my hopes and dreams. I want to have enough money to complete mine. How about you? Do you have any yearnings?”
William grabbed their drinks and found them a table. It was near the Christmas corner complete with tree and lighted ornaments. He thought about desires. He didn’t want to sound morose and talk about failed dreams and loneliness. He knew it wouldn’t sound good to talk about feelings of isolation.
He made an effort to smile. “I have dreams.” He glanced up at the top of the Christmas tree and the angel caught his eye. It was almost as if she were looking down on the two of them.
Allison saw him looking up and looked at the ornament too. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it. It’s Giuseppe Sammartino’s angel. I’m going to have to show you the real one at the Met. Wonderful, isn’t it?”
William caught himself looking at Allison’s profile. “Gorgeous. Mesmerizing.”
“You should see the whole tree and all the angels. One is more beautiful than the other.” When Allison realized he was looking at her, she blushed. “You can be distracting, William. You are quite handsome. But, I want to hear about your fantasies.”
William grinned. “You’re not going to laugh are you?”
Allison smiled. “No promises. But I am kind.”
“Okay. So I believe in true love. I believe in everlasting love. I dream of giving myself to another person that I’ll be able to love forever and feel the same in return.”
“Wow, William. True love. That reminds me of the movie Princess Bride. It was my favorite movie as a kid. I loved Princess Buttercup and only wanted to be her.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
Allison laughed. “My parents weren’t ready for Princess Buttercup. I don’t think they could ever adjust to what I was. I think they were disappointed.”
“I can’t believe they were disappointed with you. I would think they would have been happy to have a beautiful daughter.”
“Well, some people can never adjust. My parents had a preconceived notion of what we all should be and I was the square peg trying to fit in the round hole. They kept trying to sand me down and make me fit and honestly I didn’t try very hard to be that round peg. In the long run, it was better we went our separate ways.”
“That’s sad. My parents are still trying to grow up. But at least we all accept each other. So do you want to show me the angel at the Metropolitan Museum tonight?”
“Sure. It can be our first date. Our first of many.”
“Down boy. No falling in love at Christmas time. My friend, well, our friend Jordan says that you don’t start dating around Christmas.”
William smiled. “Yeah, I’ve heard his chestnut for years. No dating a new love around the holidays because then you have to spend money on someone when you don’t know if it’s going to last. I think that’s a big flaw when all you worry about is yourself. Jordan is all about Jordan.”
Allison frowned. “Well, that’s what he always says. But, I like to have friends but I don’t have lovers.”
William laughed. “Do you believe in love at first sight?”
Allison shook her head. “I don’t know. I really don’t know if I could ever give my heart away and take that risk. I’m afraid it just wouldn’t end well. I can’t afford to love someone.”
William frowned. “I’ve never heard that before.
Allison continued. “In my case, I’m afraid that a guy’s expectations would lead to disappointment. I’ve wanted to let myself go but I can’t.”
“Sounds like some sort of fairy tale where you’re cursed.”
Allison smiled. “Someday, I’ll tell you all about me and my fairy tale. When we know each other better I’ll bore you with the story of Allison.”
“I don’t think you could ever bore me. I could listen to you talk forever.”
She smiled and put her hand on the top of his. “You’re sweet. But, don’t get fooled by smoke and mirrors. I’m not the droid you’re looking for.”
William laughed at the Star Wars reference. “Sadly, I too am cursed. I suffer from unrequited love.”
She shook her head. “I don’t know what you mean. Explain.”
“Unrequited love is the feeling of being completely, hopelessly, and desperately in love knowing the love is not returned or rewarded.”
“Oh wow. You are a romantic. That’s an awfully sad kind of love.”
“It is. Knowing that you’ll never kiss her lips, hold her in your arms, or wake up with her next to you. Knowing that you love her so much you can never love another.”
“Gosh. Who was this woman that broke your heart?”
“I’m sitting with her now.”
Allison’s eye’s started to well up. “But you don’t understand. I can’t be something I’m not. I can’t reach out to you if I have no arms.”
William leaned over and kissed her lips. Then he gently kissed the tears from her eyes. “I’ve never met a more perfect woman in my life.”
She tried to smile. She pressed her hands against his strong chest to push him away. Allison shook her head slowly back and forth. “No, William. I’m not your dream girl. I’m so incomplete, so flawed.”
William was very close to her face and still whispering. “I know this sounds crazy. It’s almost like there’s a voice in my head explaining it all to me.”
Allison shook her head no. “A voice? Explaining what?”
William grinned. “I don’t know how. She’s telling me you’ve always seen your life as limited and incomplete. She’s saying I should see past and around that. She says I should love what you truly are. It’s almost like an angel is talking to me.”
Allison looked him in the eyes. “You know what I am?”
William took her hand up to his lips. He looked her in the eyes and kissed her hand. “Yes. I know. I understand. I see all your pain and your doubts. I also see the most beautiful person I have ever met. I love you, Allison.”
Allison wiped her eyes and pulled him in for a long kiss. She stared at him and looked up at the top of the tree. She smiled. “You know, we should go to the Met and I can show you the tree and maybe your angel will whisper to me, too.”
From the fifty-fifth floor, Jordan looked out on New York City. “It’s pretty up here, isn’t it?”
“Almost like heaven.” Sam sighed.
“Oh, Sam. We’ll get back home. You know that. Twenty years isn’t that long.”
“Yeah. I know. But, her exchange program seems so tough right now. And everything moves so slowly down here.” Sam sounded sad.
Jordan smiled and kissed Sam on the lips. “Well, I’ve wrapped up another deed today.”
“Seriously? You mean those two? I wondered why you insisted she come along with us tonight. Is he the one you’ve been talking about for so long? And she’s the special one from work. Wow, that’s nice, really nice.”
“Yep. All it took was a handful of ornaments, a few suggestions, and voices.”
“Nice work, Jordan. God has got to admire that. I guess that’s why she started this ‘save the world one person at a time’ program.”
“Well, Sam. I think she’ll appreciate what I did today.” Jordan smiled and reached for his partner. “Now, give me a kiss.”
Sam reached over and pulled Jordan’s face up to his. He grinned. “Just between us angels, right?”
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