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Her Admirer

Part One

On any day it means nothing to me. For 365 days out of the year I am unfazed. For the past three years I have been single, without the slightest urge to change that. Today is none of those days. Valentine’s Day; the one day I’m forcefully reminded of my string of failed relationships.

Those failed relationships are the reason I’m even single in the first place. Far from having a lack of options. There are no self doubts over here, I’m a gorgeous woman.

Standing at 5'9" my legs appear never-ending, and gives an amazing sight in all things short. Body slim and curvy. Natural strawberry blonde hair that I keep straight, falls to the middle of my back. Eyes reminiscent of the waves that lap upon the Florida coast.

With genetics such as these I’m guaranteed to never go too long without a prospective male suitor. Too bad I never seem to attract the good ones. Nothing but liars and cheats litter my dating resume.

Walking to and from my office today has been my least favorite activity. Every time I cross the floor I am surrounded by material tokens of someone’s love for another. Floral arrangements, teddy bears, and an assortment of expensive gifts overflow the desks and cubicles of many women on the main floor.

Luckily in thirty short minutes, I’ll take my last walk through this office and I can just be done with this day. In the meantime, some end of the week emails need my attention.

Tap, tap, tap. Before I can respond my office door is opening and in walks Tracey and Jessica. They are the only people inside this office outside of the owner or CEO that would enter my domain without a proper invitation. Both women equally stunning, Jessica a brunette with the body of a Victoria's Secret model, and a face that rivals Megan Foxx, Tracey a blonde bombshell who many, including myself, would say resembles the lovely Scarlett Johansson.

"Angeline, my love," sings Tracy as she makes her way to her favorite spot, perched near me on the edge of my desk. Jessica is also in her usual seat, the recliner by my bookshelf. Breaking gaze with my computer in one brief glance I can look at them and see that they are up to no good. Being that it's Valentine's Day I brace myself for what I know is sure to come.

"What are you getting into when you leave here for the weekend?" Jessica inquiries. Looking at the time I deem the work day over at 4:57 and power down my desktop. 

"Heading home to throw the chicken I've had marinating in my fridge since last night into the oven. And doing damage to the bottle of Riesling I put in there with it."

They glance at each other and I know the next words out of one of their mouths will be whatever they rehearsed before walking into my office. "Angeline, you're such a breathtaking woman," Jessica starts. 

"Not to mention extremely intelligent and successful," Tracy follows up. Here we go. Another round of why don't you date, staring the unwilling participant that is me.

"I... I mean we, don't understand why you would choose to be alone," Tracy continues. "You can-" I cut her off right there and I complete the statement I've heard many times over the years. 

"Have any man that I desire. I know. Any man would be lucky to have me. I know." I finish collecting my phone and keys from their place in my top desk drawer.

Tossing my things into my purse I then check the time on my watch. "As I've told the both of you every time you have ever asked, I have no interest in being with any man right now." 

"We just want you to enjoy your life and be happy." Jessica sighs. 

"Jessica, honey. I know this comes from the best place in your heart," I cross the room to stand by her, "but I don't need a man to make me happy." 

"We're all only human. We all need someone to keep us company." 

"Or at least to keep our beds warm and panties wet," Tracy interjects.

"And on that note good-bye you two. Have a lovely night, my Uber awaits." I give them both quick hugs and make my way outside.

Not wanting to rush home today I book my Uber as a shared ride. First to be picked up, last to be dropped off. I love the impromptu trip around town this gives me. Leaving my office at 38th street the Uber driver informs me that we'll be headed to the upper east side to pick up the other passenger.

Windows cracked, I enjoy the circulation of air. Buildings of all types and functions pass me as I watch the street numbers steadily climb. About twenty minutes later of light traffic we arrive in front of a nail salon on 98th street.

With me sitting on the side of the street the passenger easily slides into the empty backseat. "Lauren." The Uber driver confirms before driving off. "Yes. Good evening." The name is common enough, but that voice is not one that I am likely to forget for as long as I live.

Now I'm regretting this stupid idea of a shared Uber. What is my problem? Saving money and pinching pennies is the last thing I need to do. Stuck in the backseat with a woman I once considered to be one of my dearest friends. To think that was just a few short years ago. I haven't seen this slut since that day.

Flashback

Walking to the car that I share with my boyfriend of five years, I feel as though my head is going to split in two. Nothing but endless bullshit at work today. Why isn't there talk about how much mid-management sucks? Slight pay raise, with a boatload of extra responsibility. My day was filled with nothing but yelling. Me yelling at employees because I keep getting barked around by the owner. Their wrongdoings and mishaps fall squarely on my shoulders. A complete shit show.

But then there's Jason. The love of my life. Soon I will be home curled up in his arms. It's just what I need. Lied to my boss about not feeling so hot just to be able to get off early and hurry to him. He is my peace. And after a day like today, I'll need a double dose.

For the first time in almost two years, I manage to make my commute a brief traffic free one. Leaving at 2 PM definitely has its advantages. Now if my luck can continue Jason will be up and I'll get some him time before he heads out to work later this evening.

My bags can wait. None of them hold a single item that supersedes this. With our car locked, our home awaits. Once my key opens the front door I know right away he's asleep. Way too quiet down here. He's a TV addict and I wouldn't allow one in our bedroom. The whole first floor is currently uninhabited.

Taking my heels off to silence my steps, I make my way upstairs to our bedroom. I'm sure if I wake him up nice he won't mind. Plush carpet assists in keeping my walk stealthy.

Hand on the doorknob, I freeze. I must be going crazy. That's the only way to explain the moans and grunts I am hearing. Those passion filled noises have me frozen. I need to be wrong, there needs to be some type of reasonable explanation for it all. But I'll never know if I don't twist that doorknob.

Too bad now that I did I wish that I just walked away. The act is not something I wanted to be burned into my mind. Lauren with her legs wrapped tightly around the waist of my boyfriend; the man I thought I'd spend the rest of my life with. Jason stroking in and out of her like his mission was planting his seed.

So caught up in their forbidden lovemaking, they don't notice that they are now being watched. I can't speak, I can't move. All I can do is stare in bewilderment. They kiss each other like longtime lovers. "I love you," I hear him whisper into her ear in what they think is their private moment.

The dam breaks and heavy tears race down my cheeks. This is the drama you sit on the couch and watch, not participate in. You yell at the screen and tell her all the things she should be doing. But she just stands as still as me.

All the things I said I'd do as I watched those scenes are out the window. I don't remember any of them. But then again does it even matter when I don't possess the basic willpower to move my feet and do anything besides silently fall apart.

He removes what I thought was only for me, then rolls over. No protection, just like neither of them have loyalty. It's then that we lock eyes. Now I'm not the only one stuck.

Jason can't take his eyes off me and Lauren with her eyes closed notice nothing. As he opens his mouth to speak I find my voice. "Save it, you bastard!" I scream not wanting to hear how he thinks he can talk his way out of this obvious infidelity.

At the sound of my voice, Lauren jumps up, face red in embarrassment. "Angeline. It's not what you think," Lauren gasps. She clutches MY 1200 thread count Egyptian cotton duvet to her nude body. Oh yes, let's choose this very moment to be modest. "If I were you, Lauren," I snapped "I'd shut my whore mouth, get dressed, and leave."

She clearly is taking my words as a gentle suggestion. No attempts of getting dressed are made. "NOW! You stupid slut!" Anger boils in my blood. Looking around I see her clothes carelessly strewn all over my fucking bedroom. Grabbing everything that I can in the span of three seconds I open the window and launch everything in my grasp straight through it.

Looking into her eyes I see a lot of pain; enough for you to think she is the woman in this horrendous place. With tears in her eyes, Lauren picks up whatever it is I forgot, and shuffles past me with her head down. "I know you'll never believe me but I truly am sorry, Angeline." I never turn to face her and shortly after I hear her retreat.

That was three years ago. Just as I did not want to see her then I do not want to see her now. Today is the day for lady luck. I need her to be one of those passengers that don't even notice my presence because she's so into her phone.

Choosing to ignore her is the best bet. My ride will be as I planned. Gazing out the window, I take in the sights of the city I love. Our driver heads downtown. He hopes on 59th street and begins our journey into Queens. But of course good fortune would only carry me but so far.

"Angeline? Is that you?" She has the nerve to question as though she really doesn’t recognize me. 

"Of course it is. I'm the only one with this face." I respond curtly. Hopefully she'll take my smart remark as the conversation ender that it is. 

"How have you been hun?" 

"Great!" 

"I'm glad to hear it. I've missed you." 

"Well that makes one of us." 

"Look. I understand our history isn't the best, but I'm just making conversation. What's the harm in that?"

"There is no harm but I have not one piece of me that cares about a single word out of your mouth." Before she can so much as think of a response the Uber driver announces that we have arrived at her destination. Instead of saying what is on her mind she grabs her purse and exits. "Enjoy your evening Angeline," Lauren mumbles. 

"Enjoy your life," I exclaim as she closes the door.

Before I even finish taking off all my outerwear I make a beeline to my refrigerator. The Riesling is calling. In less than a minute I down two glasses. Definitely needed that.

With the chicken and veggies already prepped I put them in a small Pyrex baking dish, cover it with foil, then place it into the oven. On the stove, I begin to boil the water for the white rice I'll be having. Love a meal that basically cooks itself.

Flipping through the channels on my living room television I search for something suitable to match my anti-Valentines day mood. Enjoying my third glass my search is so far unsuccessful. Maybe I'll just forgo TV for the rest of the night. Not in the mood for all the lovey-dovey crap clogging the airways.

Switching to Spotify, I pick a station that will provide me with some smooth R&B while I eat and work on this bottle. I plate my food fresh and give it a little time to cool off. Maybe the internet can keep me busy tonight. On my dining room table near my meal where I decide to leave my MacBook.

Social media and YouTube kept me busy for quite some time. Poking around on people's profiles and pictures. I get bored, maybe a little curious too and decide to look up Lauren. Scrolling through a handful of Lauren Michel's' I soon see her profile picture. It's a beautifully taken picture of her at a beach posing in the shallow part of the ocean shore.

The nosey little girl in me cannot seem to contain herself. I am snooping all over the page. The very first post I see is from today. Her page is public. "Ran into an old friend today. It's sad how fast you can go from meaning the world to each other to never speaking again." I roll my eyes so hard I am relieved that they did not get stuck.

Skimming through her page I see many uneventful and boring things. But one thing catches my attention. A picture dated 8 months ago, Lauren and Jason in each other's arms. Her laughing and him smiling down at her. I always wondered if what I heard him whisper to her was true. Everything about that picture tells me all that I need to know.

Closing my laptop I decide that that's also enough internet for the night. Time for me to just enjoy my single night. What other way for a woman to show love for herself than a nice relaxing bubble bath? Pouring myself another glass I make my way to the back of my apartment to begin the process.

Candles lit, peppermint bath salts in the tub I prepare myself for pampering. But first, more wine. Barely fill my glass and the bottle is done. Not quite drunk, but I passed tipsy a glass and a half ago. Guess I've had enough.

Eyes closed I soak my tired muscles and rest my busy mind. This bathtub is amazing. Was worth every penny; I spent close to $2,000 on this freestanding eighty-two inch stone resin tub. I'd do it again twelve times over. Every time I sink into it, it works it's money off.

Ding dong. Startled awake I feel as though I nearly drown at the sound of my doorbell. Looking at the clock on the wall I see that it is nearly ten at night. Very strange, I rarely ever have visitors, especially not the late night type. Ding dong. A persistent visitor at that.

Grabbing my long wool robe I fasten it tightly then with haste make my way to my impatient, uninvited guest. Courier at the door. 

"Good evening sir," I greet politely with a smile in place. 

"Miss Angeline?" he questions. "Yes. That would be me." Out of a large side pocket he removes a DIAD and hands it to me for me to sign. After doing such I retrieve my package and wish him a good night.

Going through my most recent online purchases in my mind I can’t seem to recall missing anything. I’m definitely at a loss, but who doesn’t love a package. Like a child on Christmas morning waiting is the last thing I’m thinking about. I don’t even care to get dressed first. Straight to the kitchen I go.

I place the package on my kitchen island and retrieve a nice sized knife from my butcher’s block. Once the box is opened I am engulfed in the smell of roses. Looking in the box all I can see is rose petals. Red, pink and white, in what I am assuming is a celebrating of Valentine’s Day. Quite the gesture for little ‘ol single me. Reaching into the softness I feel a smaller box. Silk and not so small that I can lift with one hand.

Rose petals cascade out of the large box onto my island and floor. The only thing keeping me from its contents are two thin strings tied into a delicate bow. Another box opened leaves me with another box opened. This time I am greeted by a note. Folded landscape style the parchment paper has my name engraved on the front in eloquent, silver cursive.

My interest and curiosity has peaked. On the inside is a small handwritten passage. Words written neatly by a masculine hand. Roses are red, Violets are blue, this gesture may be the wrong thing to do, excuse me for my impromptu way of getting noticed by you. Not the best at poetry but I admit someone being willing to go through all of this for me has me blushing hard.

Once I open the box I am floored. Nestled neatly into its velvet case is a stunning Chopard piece. Something resembling the piece Rihanna wore to the Diamond all in 2014. A simply gorgeous diamond choker with a pink heart shaped ruby in the center.

This is easily the best Valentine’s Day gift I have ever received and I’m not even in a relationship. From a secret admirer at that. I’d definitely put my name on this gift before I sent it. Can’t wait to talk to my girls. That’ll have to wait, I’m the only one spending the night alone.

First thing Saturday morning I Skype Tracy and Jessica. No way I can keep this to myself another second. 

“Well what are you waiting for? Show us!” Tray squeals. 

“One second,” I say getting up from my bed to retrieve the choker from my vanity table. They both gasp. “Oh my God Ang, it’s beautiful,” Tracy gushes. “yes it is. Quite the gift to send anonymously don’t you think?” Jessica says mirroring the thoughts I’ve had since receiving gift. 

“Oh hush.” Tracy interrupts. “Does it make a difference how he sent it? Someone is finally showing that they know her worth.” 

“Really? By sending expensive jewelry? So that’s what she’s worth?” “That is not what I meant and you know it. That gesture in itself, not how much anything cost. The rose petals, the note. Whoever he is put time and effort into this.”

“Ladies it doesn’t even matter. The choker is gorgeous and I can’t wait to wear it to my next event, he has chosen to be unknown. So until that changes not much that I can do or say."

Monday morning none of my words mean a thing. I wasn’t even in my office for ten minutes before these two bombarded in. Ready to pick up the interrogations in person. 

“Maybe it’s Daniel,” Jessica volunteers. 

“The head of HR?” Tracy questions. 

“Yea.” 

“No fuckin way.” 

“Have you seen the way he looks at her?”

They speak as though I’m not even in the room. So I sit silently and just observe as they deduce the situation. 

“Who hasn’t?” Tracy responds exacerbated. 

“But it is a Chopard piece for fuck's sake, Jess. No way his salary got him that.” 

“Maybe he saved.” 

“Doubt it. I smell wealthy. The expensive gesture full of thought, the gift itself. Definitely a rich man’s move.”

For that I’d have to agree with Tracy. He has to be wealthy. Not for the jewelry, but for the confidence, not to mention being able to find my address. That speaks power, which comes from money in this world.

Despite my girlish thoughts I am a business woman first. So no guy I don’t even know will stop the flow of my meeting. After all questions are answered I wrap up dismissing my co-workers.

None of my thoughts prepared me for what greeted me at my desk. A huge, beautiful floral arrangement. More roses. So fresh my office smells as if it’s in the middle of a rose bush. Being so focused on the fragrance I almost didn’t notice the card in the side of the arrangement. “I hope my gestures have flattered you and bought a lovely flush across your beautiful face. Allow me to speak my thoughts in person, over dinner. Friday night? Your assistant knows how to contact me. Inform her of your decision.”

“Are you going to go?” Tracy questions, eyes sparkling. 

“I don’t know,” I reply plopping down on the creme colored sofa in my office. "I mean all of this seems great, but I don’t even know the guy. He could be crazy.” 

“Or hideous,” Jessica adds. 

“Well that’s why I think you should go,” Tracy says. “At least see who it is. Get to know the guy over dinner. He could be a great catch. We all know that you are, so he at least has great taste. He can’t be all that bad.”

Those are the words that play through my mind as I tell my assistant yes Friday afternoon. Can’t let the fear of the unknown keep me from at least meeting the man. He deserves that much for having the courage to do what most men haven’t.

Before I left my office I was given a note by my assistant. On it was a time and location. At that moment the whole thing became very real. I’m really doing this. Going out on a date with a complete stranger. God have I became that desperate? No, not desperate.

Bold; taking a chance. I owe it to myself to at least try to find someone to love me.

My wardrobe is far from lacking but it’s been so long since I’ve been on a date that nothing seems right. Most likely the need to look perfect negatively affecting my judgment. What can be better than a second and third opinion? Going to my laptop I fire up Skype to conference call my girls. After a few rings, they pick up.

“What’s up hot stuff?” Tracy greets. 

“Hey girls,” I answer. “

You ready for your mystery date?” asks Jessica. 

“Just about. But I can’t find anything to wear.” 

“Step back. What are you wearing now?” Tracy questions. 

Stepping back until my full body is in screen I do a turn. 

“You look hot. What’s wrong with that?” “I don’t know. Are you sure it’s ok for a first date? What does a person even wear for this type of first date?” 

“My God Angeline. Breath for Christ’s sake.” Jessica interrupts. “Whoever he is he clearly likes what he sees. Stop worrying about impressing him. It’s already been done.”

“You’re right Jess. Guess I’m just nervous cause it’s been so long since I’ve been out with anyone besides you two.” 

“And what about me?” Tracy pouts. 

I chuckle. “You’re right Trac, I am hot.” I wink. 

“That’s more like it. Now go meet your new man.” 

"Let’s get past date one first.” After exchanging goodbyes we disconnect. With one last look in my full-length bathroom mirror I head out before I’m late.

Just when I thought getting myself out of the door was hard, getting out of my car proved to be next to impossible. The same doubts return and cloud my mind. Worry about my appearance bubbling to the surface. Adjusting my cleavage and messing with the hemline of my dress that is currently mid-thigh. I knew that this was too short. Now when I step in there I’ll look like I’m throwing myself at a complete stranger.

Angelique, it's now or never. No need to keep dragging it out. I really do not need to be known as the woman that can't arrive on time. One Jimmy Choo at a time coming into contact with the asphalt as I exit my vehicle. The walk to the restaurant is long and dreadful. The hostess greets me with a perky smile. “Hello, welcome to Nouvel Amour. Do you have a reservation this evening?” 

“Yes, I do. It should be under Angelique Cordova.” 

Quickly the hostess skims through the list in front of her in the podium. "Right, this way. Your party has already been seated." 

Together we walk towards the back of the restaurant to see a stranger. 

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