Sometimes, couples will have known one another for a while before taking it to a different level. For whatever reason, they don’t see that they’re in love. Several of my couples are good friends, often involved with other people. However, the bond between them is strong. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, completely by surprise, they realize that they’ve been in love for ages, and didn’t see it. I’ve decided to call these Epiphanies and I’ll be sharing them in and among the First Meetings.
Amber Marley is an accomplished woman, with a high powered job. She’s known Patch Warren since they both started at Crossfire, years ago. Today, she’s seen her estranged father for the first time in 15 years, and found out that her brothers have been in touch with him since he left. Unsure how she feels about that secret betrayal, she starts crying in her car.
Closing her eyes, Amber held the phone to her cheek. Quiet tears ran down her face. Everything Ronald had said was true. She would have exploded if she’d known her brothers were still friendly with their father. After the boys left, it had always been her and their mom—two against the world. She’d finished high school with a deep, abiding pain inside her. A truth she’d always held, was that her father was a lying, cheating bastard, and she was better off not knowing him. Any happy memories she’d had, got pushed aside. Head dropping to the steering wheel, she sobbed like her heart was breaking all over again.
A gentle tap on her window, startled her, making her yelp. She looked up into the handsome face of Patch. Bending over, he gazed in her window. She scrolled it down so he could speak.
“You okay, Amber?” Deep lines of worry etched his face.
Walking around to the passenger side, he waited until she unlocked the door. Sliding in, he tried to get comfortable in the snug confines of the compact car.
“Talk.” He settled back, crossing his big arms across his massive chest.
The conversation with her brother tumbled out. Patch listened quietly, waiting for her to finish.
“So, which are you more pissed off at? Your dad, or your brother?”
An unexpected laugh exploded from her. “Right now? Ronald, for sure.”
“He lied for years!”
“So did your mom. And your dad. And your other brothers. Anyone who knew the situation, and didn’t tell you. They’re all liars. You gonna get pissed off at them, too? You could get mad as hell at me, for not telling you it was your dad.”
“Why would I do that?”
“I lied to you.”
“Now, I feel stupid. I shouldn’t be mad at Ronald over this.” Exhaling sharply, she socked his arm. He didn’t even flinch. “Dammit, Patch! I was feeling entitled to a good cry and a snit fit!”
“Sorry to interrupt the pity party, Amber. But do you really want to sit here in the parking lot, crying in your car, or do you want to have dinner with me?”
A smile lit her face. “I can’t tonight. Dad just called and asked me. But I’d like a rain check. I can’t think of a thing I’d like more, than to have dinner with you.”
He smirked. “I can think of a thing or two, but you’d hit me again.”
“That was nothing. You didn’t even feel it.”
“I’m a Marine, Miss Marley. Even if you’d crushed my nuts, I’d sit here and pretend it didn’t hurt. It stung some. I can tell you have brothers.”
“My dad taught me. He said his daughter wouldn’t ever be a victim. He taught me how to defend myself.”
“He made a strong woman of you. You remember the good things, and let the happiness fill those dark corners. And don’t hate on your brothers. They did what they thought was best.”
“You’re right. God, I’m a mess. Hand me my bag, would you? It’s behind my seat.”
He reached it easily, handing it to her. She took out a makeup removal wipe.
“You can watch while my face disappears.”
“I think your face is gorgeous without the makeup.”
“When have you seen me without it?”
“Workout Weekend last year.”
“Orrrg that! I hated Carlos for a month after that!”
“Why? Little bitty girl like you, took on an entire defensive line, and made a touchdown.”
“They didn’t tackle me, because I’m a girl. How is that a victory?” She balled up the used wipe and stuck it in the empty ashtray.
“They didn’t tackle you, because you looked like a wildcat freight train on crack! Scared those boys shitless. Here’s Miss Marley, their boss, a delicate woman—hauling ass through them like a hot knife through butter. You about scared me white, and I was on your side!”
“Oh, my God, really?”
“You were red in the face, sweating and grimacing. You looked like you’d kill anyone who got in your way, with your bare hands. You were fierce, like Boudica, the warrior queen.” His voice took on a dreamy quality.
A small sob caught in her throat. “No one ever compared me to Boudica. Or pronounced it right, either.”
Patch touched her cheek, brushing a snarl of hair aside. “I’m full of surprises, Amber.” Unable to stop himself, he leaned over, hungry for a kiss.
Gazing into his blue eyes, Amber realized she wanted him to kiss her. Crossing the narrow gap between them, she closed her eyes, parting her lips. Patch saw a smile tug at her lips as their mouths met. Rather than devour her as he wanted, he gave her a gentle kiss. It lasted mere moments, but it meant the world to him. Her contented sigh told him she felt the same.
© 2020 Dellani Oakes