Lizzie stood outside of Janelle’s front door pacing the span of the three-foot top step. She could hear the squeal of her four-year old niece Tara in the back yard. As she shifted her weight from one leg to the other she thought back to the invitation that led to this battle of courage inside of her.
The phone call was nothing unusual. Janelle phoned to say hi and ask her how things were going. That was a weekly occurrence. Janelle stood in as a surrogate mother for Lizzie and her brother Jim after they lost both parents to a car accident several years earlier. Even being well over thirty both McComber’s welcomed the mothering. They all lived on the island and watched out for each other.
Lizzie found out from the phone call that Janelle’s brother was coming for a visit and she was hosting a fish fry. Instantly Lizzie felt a knot form in her stomach. Leave it to Janelle to find a way to set her up with a man. Neither Jim or Janelle understood why Lizzie wasn’t more out going when it came to the opposite sex and they quizzed her about it on a regular basis.
Lizzie told Janelle for what seemed like the thousandth time that she wasn’t comfortable around men. She didn’t know if she wanted to go to the fish fry. To that statement Janelle brought in the big guns. Jim apparently had been listening to the conversation and quickly took the phone. He pled with her mercilessly and finally Lizzie gave in.
Now as she peered in the side glass window of Janelle’s door she wondered why on earth she had accepted this invitation. The door jolted open and startled Lizzie back to reality.
“There you are,” Janelle grinned. “I was beginning to think you wouldn’t show up!”
“I am here,” Lizzie said exaggerating her words for effect.
“Come in and join the party! We have lots of food and a fire started in the back,” Janelle pointed out the patio.
“Can I help you with anything in the kitchen,” Lizzie asked as she started in that direction.
Janelle quickly caught her by the shoulders and sent her in the direction of the men before she could break away.
Lizzie strolled slowly toward her brother who looked up and smiled with a mouth full of big white teeth. That was a McComber trait that she had also inherited. Their smiles were often said to be infectious.
“Hi sis!” Jim blurted out.
Lizzie hated when he called her sis in front of strangers. He had been doing it since they were kids and he knew it embarrassed her.
Her cheeks flushed as she sarcastically replied, “Hi bro!” She rolled her eyes hoping her embarrassment wasn’t so noticable.
“This is Harry. Do you remember him? He hasn’t been to the island since he was a kid.” Jim relayed.
“Actually I think I was a teenager. I don’t think we were ever formerly introduced though. As I recall you spent most of your time on the big island while I was here.” Harry spoke with a deep intoxicating tone. Lizzie was taken aback at the affect the sound of his voice had on her. His thick, dark, wavy hair and big brown eyes didn’t hurt to look at either.
She smiled and nodded. “I do remember seeing you around.”
Janelle shouted from the back patio to come and eat and they all headed in that direction. Jim scooting ahead, so Lizzie and Harry could walk together.
No matter how hard she tried to be mad at her friend and her brother she couldn’t stop smiling. It seemed to her that the pair of them were making a pretty big effort to get her and Harry to spend time together.
Jim showed her to her seat while pulling out her chair. He of course then offered Harry the chair next to Lizzie. Janelle sat at the head of the table while Jim and his wife _______ sat opposite Harry and Lizzie. The meal was fantastic and the conversation kept leading back to Harry and his job in Minneapolis.
He worked on such fascinating projects as a builder. He was quick to point out that he didn’t want to be an architect, he always wanted to do the hands on construction of a building.
Lizzie listened to him with her full attention. At times she caught herself starring at him. Her uncomfortable realizations would send her looking around the table to see if anyone else noticed. If they did they did not let on.
After everyone helped clear the dishes Janelle scooted Harry and Lizzie back out to the patio with coffee and dessert. Lizzie smiled at Janelle with a wide-eyed look that was meant to chastise her for being so pushy, but Janelle simply shot back a wide smile and a wink.
They sat by the fire and listened to the children’s laughter fill the back yard patio. Her four-year old niece Tara and her two-year old nephew Matt were chasing each other around the furniture. It filled Lizzie’s heart with joy to watch the two frolic. The scene reminded her of when her and Jim were kids.
“So,” Harry broke the silence between them, “Tell me more about you. I selfishly talked about me all through dinner.”
Lizzie sat up and looked out at the lake. At 35 years old she was happy with her life. She was content with staying on the island. She had a successful career as a children’s book writer, but she had no idea how to begin to explain any of that to this man. So she cleared her throat and tried to organize her thoughts.
“Well I grew up here as you know. And I don’t have any desire to leave the island.” She stated rather coldly. Why did she feel defensive all of a sudden.
“Janelle told me you are a writer. You must leave sometimes, to promote your work I mean.” Harry replied not stifled by her statement or her bluntness.
Lizzie took a deep breath and tried to relax. She had such a great time listening to Harry’s stories over dinner, but now that the attention was all on her she felt trapped.
She started again, “I do leave the island. I meant I have no desire to go live in the big city.”
“I don’t remember extending an invitation to come live in the big city,” Harry said playfully.
Lizzie’s cheeks flushed again. She really needed to gain control of that horrible trait of hers.
“Of course you didn’t,” she smiled and visibly started to relax.
“I don’t do that much promoting of my books. They’re children’s books and I have a great agent who handles most of the PR for me. I just type it all up and send it off to my editor. The internet is really the greatest invention since sliced bread.” She rolled her eyes at her own cheesy comment.
“What made you get into children’s books? Why not steamy romance novels or crime stories?” He probed.
“Well I am not a hot and steamy romance kind of girl I guess. And to tell you the truth gross crime stories scare me. I do live on an island you know, haven’t you ever watched a scary movie? I would have nightmares all the time and I wouldn’t want to walk around the island after dark if I read those things.” She took a breath and slowed her speech.
“I have been working on something new lately. It’s a little out of my league, but I have been doing research for a while and I think I am on to something.” Lizzie said before she could stop herself from letting out the secret.
“Really”, he said, “I would love to read it sometime, when your ready I mean.”
She smiled at his statement. His words were so gentle and comforting, she chastised herself for being so defensive with him.
“It’s nothing special yet. Mostly just notes and scenes. I have joined this online community of Christian Writers and it’s opened up new genre’s for me to explore. I didn’t even know there were Christian romance and mystery writers out there, but there are and lots of them!” She said with enthusiasm.
She felt herself getting more excited as she talked about her storyline and what it felt like to write something for adults instead of a simple children’s story. She loved writing for kids. And she loved to watch her niece and nephew’s face light up when she read to them, but she still harbored doubts that she could evoke the same feelings in an adult.
As she paused she snuck a side glance to the kitchen and saw Jim, _____ and Janelle straighten up and look the other way. She knew this had been a set up from the beginning, but it seemed as though they were holding their breath to see where it might go next. Then she realized she had been holding her breath as well. She let out a long sigh and smiled. She could definitely see herself spending more time with Harry. They had a lot in common and they had a lot not in common, so she decided to let down her guard and have a good time and stop worrying so much!
The rest of the evening progressed lovely. The others joined them and the conversation went well into the late hours.
As Lizzie was carrying her coffee cup to the kitchen, Harry stopped her by grabbing her hand. He lifted it to his lips and lightly kissed it. “Will you come fishing with me tomorrow?”
“I..I..uhh,” she didn’t know what to say. Her heart was leaping out of her chest at that moment as she blurted, “Yes of course. I would love to.”
Who said that? She thought to herself. Was she really going to go through with it? Of course she was. She wanted to have some fun and that did sound like fun.