A Mo­ment for You

She’s known him for­ever . . . but fi­nally meet­ing him is bet­ter than she ever dreamed!

Woman's World - - Start Your Week With A Smile - — Dani Collins

It’s me,” Carla sang out as she en­tered Bells & Bows, the shop owned by her best friend, Veron­ica. “Want me to grab us cof­fee from across the street?”

The party-sup­ply store was full of fes­tive dec­o­ra­tions for the hol­i­days, but Carla was here to dis­cuss tak­ing pho­tos at Veron­ica’s par­ents’ an­niver­sary party to­mor­row.

“V?” Carla called, mov­ing to­ward the back room that Veron­ica used for stor­age.

A man came through. He was nice look­ing with brown hair and a sur­pris­ingly rich tan for late au­tumn. He wiped his hands on a cloth as he of­fered an en­gag­ing smile.

“Veron­ica ran to the bank. I’m her—”

His gaze made a bub­ble of hap­pi­ness rise in her

“Bobby!” Carla blurted as she rec­og­nized him.

“I go by Rob these days.” He gazed at her be­fore dawn­ing recog­ni­tion warmed his eyes. “Carla?”

She touched her hot cheeks, not able to con­tain her huge smile.

“I can’t be­lieve I’m fi­nally meet­ing you.” She’d had a crush on him in her pre­teens with­out ever meet­ing him. Ev­ery sum­mer, Veron­ica had gone to her grand­par­ents’ farm, re­turn­ing in Septem­ber with sto­ries of her cousin Bobby. He al­ways sounded funny and kind, and he lived in the most ex­cit­ing places.

“V al­ways talks about you. How’s Gary?” he asked as they shook hands.

“Still alive!” She chuck­led at his know­ing the name of their ad­ven­tur­ous fam­ily pet. “Goats aren’t sup­posed to live this long, but he’s go­ing strong.”

“At one point, I thought he was your boyfriend.”

“Gary?” Carla laughed. “No, but there might have been times I thought he was my best bet.”

He re­leased her hand, but the glim­mer in his eye made her think of love at first sight.

“Did I get you dirty? I’m work­ing on the com­pres­sor.”

He was a me­chanic in the army, she re­called. “I’m fine,” she said. “You’re in town for the party? On leave?”

“For the week­end, yes. I’ve al­ways wanted to see Cranston. I’m glad they’re hold­ing it here.”

“Re­ally?” Her dis­ap­point­ment that he wouldn’t be here long was over­shad­owed by as­ton­ish­ment. Cranston was a small, pretty town, but tourists rarely made a point of stop­ping here.

“You al­ways post such nice pic­tures,” he said. “Is it weird that I fol­low you on­line? V likes them, and they show up in my feed.”

“It’s to­tally fine.” She’d seen him like her posts but never got the nerve to reach out to him even though her youth­ful cu­rios­ity had never abated. “You must see far more ex­otic places. I envy your travel. It’s a huge dream of mine.” “Oh? What’s stop­ping you?” “I could make the jump to full-time free­lance and should do it while I’m un­at­tached, but I also want to share the ex­pe­ri­ence. I’m wait­ing for the guy who wants to go with me be­fore we set­tle down.” She cov­ered her mouth, em­bar­rassed at over­shar­ing, but he was so easy to talk to. “I haven’t said that aloud to any­one. Not even to Veron­ica.”

“Your se­cret’s safe with me.” The way he held her gaze made a bub­ble of hap­pi­ness rise in her. “But it’s ironic. I’ve al­ways en­vied you and V for grow­ing up in one spot. I’m an army brat. My only con­stant was my sum­mers at our grand­par­ents’ farm.”

Did that mean he was look­ing for a woman who wanted to stay in one place?

“I guess we al­ways want what we don’t have,” she said.

“Or maybe we know what we want when we find it.” He was look­ing at her in a way that made her pulse race. “How about I text V to meet us at the cof­fee shop? I’ll buy. We can get to know each other prop­erly.”

“I al­ready feel as if we’ve known each other for­ever,” she mur­mured.

He paused as he held the door, crooked smile pulling into a wider grin. “So do I.”

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