Jen walked out of the shop and the breeze in her face
caught her by surprise. The late-September morning
promised fall was on the horizon. The coolness came like
a welcome vacationâ€”a vacation from the Texas heat.
Jen needed the walk that morning to clear her head and
calm her nerves before her sales meeting at a large,
five-star hotel in the process of being renovated. The
meeting, if successful, would grant their store a
contract of framed art and mirrors throughout the hotel,
which meant a welcome cash flow for a store Jen hoped
would be hers in the near future.
She and Beverly Franklin, the shop owner, already tackled
questions from the hotelâ€™s assistant manager as well as
the decorator hired for the job. All that was left to
finalize the contract was a face-to-face meeting with the
hotel manager. A meeting she would face alone since Bev
decided that it was time for Jen to fly solo if she was
ever going to take over the business.
Jen arrived at the hotel several minutes early, and was
greeted by Brad Williams, the Banquet Manager. The hotel
manager was running late, and Brad offered her a seat in
the conference room with space to lay out her frame
samples. After a few minutes he came back with a glass of
water and they chatted a bit while she waited to be seen.
Jenâ€™s heart gave a little skip as his fingers accidently
brushed against her neck and shoulders as he helped her
remove her jacket. She couldnâ€™t help but notice Brad was
a handsome man with caramel brown eyes, a warm smile and
a soothing voice which helped calm her nerves. He was
tall, probably in the six-foot mark by the way he
overshadowed her as he stood next to her, but she wasnâ€™t
intimidated by his stature. On the contrary, she felt
safe and at ease. His stylish sandy-blonde hair and
impeccable designer suit only served to emphasize his
professional image, which she liked.
The hotel manager and designer walked in the conference
room after several minutes and apologized to Jen for
keeping her waiting. Brad made the introductions.
â€śIâ€™ll leave you to your meeting.â€ť Brad reached to shake
Jenâ€™s hand. â€śNice meeting you.â€ť Then he leaned in and in
a low voice said, â€śGood luck.â€ť
â€śThank you. And nice meeting you too.â€ť Brad smiled back
at her and he left.
â€śSo, Jen letâ€™s take a look at what youâ€™ve got here.â€ť The
managerâ€™s voice beckoned her back to the room.
After a two-hour meeting, Jen left the conference room
with a thorough list of requirements for the frames and
mirrors needed for the hotel renovation plans, and a new
sense of achievement. The project was practically theirs.
Jen knew she probably wasnâ€™t the only frame shop they
were looking at, but that didnâ€™t bring her off her high.
With a smile on her face, Jen replayed the meeting in her
head. Her presentation went well. She was engaging with
her questions and felt confident in answering theirs. She
took a deep breath, hoping for the best.
The next week, Jen returned to the hotel for a follow-up
meeting, at the designerâ€™s request. She wanted to review
some specific frames and art pieces with Jen.
Jen set up and displayed her samples in the same
conference room as before, this time in front of the
designer and the hotelâ€™s assistant manager. She licked
her lips several times realizing she was nervous. The
very to-the-point designer wasted no time asking Jen
product and pricing questions. She took notes in her
notebook, which put Jen on edge. The assistant manager
leaned back in his chair and said very little. He smiled
and nodded at Jen and thankfully seemed impressed with
what Jen had to show them.
They wrapped up after only twenty minutes and told her
they would be making a decision shortly. Jen shook their
hands seeing only then that her hand trembled. She
thanked them for their time and proceeded down the
corridor to the lobby. She took a deep breath and willed
her thumping heart to slow.
Jen heard her name called from behind. She turned and saw
Brad strolling toward her. Her breath caught at the sight
of his smile. He wore a dark suit both times they met.
That suit and his brilliant smile made him look
â€śHey, are you leaving? May I walk you out?â€ť
â€śSure,â€ť she smiled back at him.
â€śSo, how did it go in there?â€ť He nodded toward the
She scrunched up her nose. â€śIâ€™m not exactly sure. I think
they liked what I showed them, but I couldnâ€™t get a line
on the designer.â€ť
â€śYes.â€ť Brad bowed down closer to Jenâ€™s side and whispered
as they walked, â€śShe certainly seems like a tough nut to
Jen giggled and glanced up at him.
They arrived at the hotel lobby and continued to chat for
several minutes. Brad asked her questions about her work
and the shop. She noticed even with the activity around
them, Bradâ€™s gaze never left hers. He seemed captivated
with her every word.
â€śJen, would I be too forward to ask if I could have your
phone number?â€ť His lips curved up softly.
She smiled and replied, â€śSure.â€ť
He jotted down her number and they said goodbye as she
turned to leave. She felt lightheaded with joy and
squashed the urge to skip out the door.
The following day the hotelâ€™s manager called to inform
her the shop won the project. And to top it off, Brad
called that night asking her out on a date. She accepted,
hung up and let out a shriek of excitement that probably
scared the neighbors. She covered her mouth with her hand
and laughed at herself. Her life seemed to be on the
That weekend, Brad took Jen out for a casual dinner and
then to an outdoor jazz concert at the Arboretum. He
brought a blanket and some wine for them to enjoy during
the concert. After their date, he drove her home and said
goodbye with a gentle, warm kiss on the lips.
It was the perfect ending to a perfect date, and Jen
couldnâ€™t stop thinking about him and their evening
together the whole next day at work.
Brad took Jen out several times over the next few weeks.
They did the typical dinner and a movie date. They went
for walks in the park. Brad slipped his hand in Jenâ€™s, in
a simple yet romantic gesture, that made Jen feel warm
all over her body.
Jenâ€™s mother, Teresa, became positively ecstatic with the
news that Jen was dating a man seriously. Although to
Jen, serious was debatable Teresa wouldnâ€™t hear any
different. She was ready to send out wedding invitations.
But Jen and Brad hadnâ€™t even consummated their
After six weeks of dating, Jen invited Brad up for a
nightcap, and he accepted. She felt a kick of excitement
as the adrenaline started pumping through her veins. She
smiled to herself; thankful sheâ€™d shaven her legs.
Jen was prudent and selective when it came to sex. She
didnâ€™t sleep with every man she dated. According to the
Book of Jen, dinner and a movie did not necessarily mean
sex, which at thirty made her less experienced than most
women, but she didnâ€™t care. She knew in her heart that
once married, she and her husband would learn and
experiment about sex together, and maybe tonight was just
For now, she knew enough to know what felt good for her,
what she liked. Perhaps because Brad wasnâ€™t trying to get
her to sleep with him, she became more interested in
having sex with him. She wanted to be intimate and her
heart sped with anticipation.
Brad closed the door behind them and slung his jacket
over the back of the living room chair. He took Jenâ€™s
head with both hands and looked into her face.
â€śYou have the most beautiful eyes,â€ť he said as he closed
his lips over hers. One kiss let to the other, which
ended up in her bed.
In the end, it wasnâ€™t the most explosive, adventurous sex
in the history of the world. In fact, she might have
deemed it a little cautious. But then, Jen attributed it
to being their first time together. She hoped future
encounters between them would be moreâ€¦fulfilling.