Sylvia stretched and blinked. Her vision cleared. She yawned. The rain tapped gently on the window and she could hear the leaves rustling across the deck. Fall had once been her favorite time of year. This year it didn’t have quite the allure it did in the past. There were leaves to rake, pumpkins to carve, and pies to bake…but there would be no laughter. She was officially an "empty nester". She tugged the duvet, tucked it under her chin, and closed her eyes. She wasn’t eager to start her day. If she weren’t self-employed, Sylvia would call in sick today.
“Almost Paradise” blaring from her alarm finally roused her. Sylvia figured she had better get out of bed, or she might be considered lazy. Not that anyone would know, but she still heard the judgmental words of her mother… “Only lazy and dying people sleep past eight in the morning young lady.” She rolled over, turned off the alarm and grabbed her phone. 7:55am – time to hit the pavement. She threw on her favorite purple track suit and her queued up her favorite playlist on her ipod knowing Stevie Nicks would come on first. She laced up her running shoes. The rain didn’t stop her, she wanted to run far and fast to find something she couldn’t quite describe or define.
Her first client was due to arrive at eleven. She would have plenty of time to run a little further. She hit the shuffle button on her iPod and let her mind wander as Stevie sang about landslides and David Gray drew the line. She hadn’t been paying attention to time or place until she looked up and saw a home she had never noticed before. It wasn’t large, it wasn’t spectacular, but it caught Sylvia’s attention so much that she tripped on the uneven pavement. She lost her balance and tumbled onto the tall wet grass and collapsed in a heap of purple. The blood was tricking from her knee, and her elbow hurt, but otherwise nothing but her pride had been injured. She was grateful for the cool weather as it kept any onlookers safe in their warm homes. She picked herself up, still mesmerized by the lovely robin’s egg blue home with the big porch and unique pillars.
“Are you okay Miss?” said a booming voice. Once again Sylvia was thrown off guard. Where did this man come from? She saw his shoes first, and her eyes scanned upward to take in his large frame. He was in no way chubby, she would describe him as athletic in the way a football player is athletic. She was speechless as she took him in. He asked again “are you okay?”
“Um…yes…I suppose so. Thank you.”
“Here, let me help” he said as he gently wiped something off her forehead “looks like you’ve got some mud here.”
“Thank you. I’m fine though sir.”
“Please Miss, call me Gabe.”
“Thank you Gabe, I really should be going. I’m sorry to bother you.”
“It was no bother. May I ask your name?”
“Sorry for being rude. I’m Sylvia. Sylvia Slattery from Slattery Publishing, just down the road.”
“Sylvia, what a pretty name. Just down the road, huh?” he said laughing.
She was put off by his apparent mocking of her. “What is so funny Gabe?”
“Nothing is funny, but do you realize you are more than ten miles from home Miss Slattery?”
She hadn’t realized she had run so far, but she wouldn’t let on. “I may be an author and publisher by trade Gabe, but I am not daft when it comes to directions. Thank you for the geography lesson.” She shot him a cold glare as she turned to leave.
He was mumbling some sort of apology. She turned up her Ipod and just kept going. How could such a snarky man live in such a lovely home? Even more perplexing was the question of how such a snarky man could be so attractive. As she ran home, she couldn’t help but think about who Gabe was. Of course she wasn’t interested in him but she couldn’t shake him from her mind. This wasn’t exactly how she thought the day was going to go. Her mind wandered, and a few blocks from home she realized the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and Jackson Browne was singing “In The Shape of a Heart”. She smiled despite herself.