Moments

Chapter One

(How it all started).............................................4

(Remembering moments)...................................5&6

(The Massage)..................................................6&7

(Unimaginable) .................................................7&8

(Amazed)...............................................................9&10.

(Kiss Me).............................................................10

(God Sent)................................................................11 Chapter Two

(ATerrible Morning)......................................................12

(Fate?).....................................................................13&14

(11:11)................................................................14&15

(Mr. Stone's Secret)............................................15&16

(His Secret Revealed)..........................................16

(Forgive and Forget?)............................................17

(Finding Sam).............................................................18

(Fear Subsides)........................................................19 Chapter Three

(Celebrating Love).......................................20&21

(Missing Sam).................................................21&22

(Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!).......................22&23

(I Love His Style)...............................................24&25

(The Perfect Match)....................................25&26

(Too Late)....................................................26&27

(I Love You!)...................................................28

(Confidence).....................................................29

(Love)................................................................30 Chapter Four

(High on Life)................................................31&32

(Bridges)..................................................33&34

(How you know)....................................34,35&36

(Who are you Really?).............................36&37 (Away)....................................................................37&38

(A moment of Reflection)..............................39&40

(No Explaination)............................................40&41

(Deep Down Depressed)...................................41 Chapter Five

(Foolish heart)......................................................42

(Another Secret)....................................................43

(The good man)...............................................44&45

("Til death do us part")...............................45&46

(Holding "His" Hand)....................................46&47

(Finding what you're looking for)..................47&48

(Why we're meant to be).....................................48&49

(Moving on)..................................................49&50

(A Week on the Beach)..............................50&51 Chapter Six

(Through Teary Eyes)................................52&53

(Vanity)....................................................53&54

(A night of cold and confusion).............54,55&56

(Take a moment to stop and sit on a park bench)56/57

(Kiss and make-up)...................................57&58

(True Peace).................................................58&59

(At Night)........................................................59

(Memories of quiet talks in the dark)........................60 Chapter Seven

(I Love...)...................61

(A Day to Paint)...............................61

(Don't Let it Die)..................................62

(How Can I Get Through This?)........62-63

(As One)....................................63-64



(How it all started)

Today started out as a usual day. I got up at 7:07am turned on my music and got in the shower where I proceeded to sing along to one of my favorite songs with the door open. After feeling totally refreshed, I put on my fluffy blue bath robe and sat on the couch with my usual caramel cappuccino and bagel as I watched "Good Morning America." It was time to go to work at exactly 7:52. I put Meringue in his house with plenty of toys and things to munch on while I was gone. As I drove to work I bobbed my head to the music with my wonderfully fashionable sunglasses on, after all it was awfully sunny this Monday morning in Maine. Soon enough I was in my office with 2 minutes to spare before the phone would start ringing and clients would begin dropping in. I loved my days. They were always predictable, productive, and satisfying, so I thought. Little did I know this was the day that would change my scheduled life forever. Mandy, the only other employee besides myself at "Merry Massages" had walked in to my office a little before 11:00 am after telling a client in the waiting room "It will be just a minute." "You have to see this client Kelly!" she told me with an extreme excitement in her voice. "I don't know where he came from, but girl, I can't wait to get my hands on him!" she went on for a while and we discussed the professional relationship policy several times. then suddenly, we heard a knock at the door. He must have waited 20 minutes before he finally came and knocked out of curiosity from the giggles and muffled laughs that came from my closed office door. When we didn't answer he opened the door and in an instant our eyes met and we stood in a locked gaze for what seemed like an eternity. He had very intense eyes. they could pierce the heart of anything that crossed their path I was sure of it and in the most ironic of ways they seemed gentle and soothing too, like you could stare into them for hours and never feel tired , but satisfied. As soon as I realized how long we had been examining each other in that locked look, I turned away. "I'm sorry" he said. His voice deep, but soft like a lullaby. Both Mandy and I were too shocked to speak or maybe just mesmerized by him "I didn't mean to interrupt, but I heard you back here and I wondered what was going on. You do give massages here right? Because if I'm at the wrong place I'll go and leave you ladies to your business." He turned to leave and suddenly I had this urge from down inside me, even though I was never the spontaneous one, but for some reason I felt like if I didn't stop him I would lose him forever. "Wait" I cried after him. "You're at the right place, we just weren't expecting ... anyone right now, but we can set you up an appointment if you'd like." He turned back around slowly his eyes catching my desperate glance. "What's your name?" he asked with those piercing glacier blue eyes peering into mine. "Kelly, and you are?" "Sam, pleased to meet you Kelly. So would you be the masseuse?" "I am, along with Mandy." "Well, how about I come back in half an hour and you can get your hands on me." "Sounds like a deal Sam, I'll write your name on the list, but I'll need your last name too." But before he had uttered it, he was gone. And I watched out the window as his muscular, well structured body walked down the street to the local sandwich deli for lunch I assumed. I felt so strange. Today was a normal day when I left my house, but now I could tell it was beginning to change. I looked at the clock. It was 11:11 am, the time of day for wishful thinking and I had a good one.

Remembering Moments

I was caught up in the moment and it reminded me of times earlier in my life when I had a similar feeling. Moments I had considered to be perfect and wonderful. I know however that nothing in life is perfect and although I am a dreamer and one to hope for the fantasy life no one has ever lived, I believed perfect moments existed. More than once I had put my hope into people who didn't deserve it. My expectations of others have always been high and in my mind they met them, but in reality their personality wasn't how I saw them. so I often got let down. I never got close enough for any of them to break my heart. I was too afraid and inexperienced. Which also meant that I didn't get the chance at the side that could have been wonderful either. You have to start somewhere though right, to get experienced I had thought, but my fear kept me from it for quite a while. I was known to be a shy person to all but my closest friends, so it was hard to get to know people, well more for them to get to know me. Because they never hid who they were it was always me who didn't let my true self out. It wasn't always for fear of acceptance, but more lack of what to say or how to act. So My life went on and I began to have those "moments." They weren't all that, but to me it was at least something. I was remembering one of few I wasted my time on, but He did give me a few memorable "moments." He seemed so sweet and innocent like I meant everything to him, which still I'll never know how he really felt at the time. One night we were all together a bunch of friends singing and praying to God and he and I were both there. I had felt distant from the group that night and went out to get some fresh air trying to hold in the tears before I reached the back door. He must have seen me go out and was there with me not long after I had just enough time to think things over. He was very concerned and asked if I needed to talk about it, which I did, but he hadn't gained that trust required for such matters, so I told him I just needed some fresh air and gave him the best smile I could without tears running down my face. Then he opened out his arms for me and we stood there for I don't know how long just holding each other in the moonlight. It did make me happy that he was concerned and I actually felt better. Okay I was beaming with joy with the kind of smile that you can't make go away no matter how hard you try. It was a moment, not much, but the simple memory of a time shared with someone that you can't replace no matter how much that person has changed and even if the feelings are totally evaporated the memory of that almost perfect moment still exists. Of course I do tend to romanticize things a little since I enjoy living in the impossible. Today I had felt that sort of "Moment" come back and I didn't even get his last name. But worse he was now my client which meant it was illegal for me to get involved! I sat at the window wondering what I should do next and why was I even thinking that there could be anything to get involved with, after all it was just a look, right? Mandy couldn't stand my obscure silence anymore. "So, is Mr. Good Lookin' coming back?" she asked with a teasing curiosity. "I saw those intense stares between the two of you." "What stares? I have no idea what you're talking about! Everything was totally professional. And besides as good looking and polite as he is, he probably already has himself a girl, not that I was thinking about it or anything." "Sure, whatever you say, girl, but when that boy comes back I gunna be watching ya'll make sure you's following that a professional relationship policy we discussed in so much detail before you laid your eyes on him." "Oooh, did I catch a little jealousy in the voice? or was that you're I'm looking out for you tone?" "Well sister, I'm just saying first of all I believe I saw him before you, and second of all I mean well we don't know him. He ain't from around here. We don't usually have clients that aren't from aren't from around here. I just think you should be careful that's all he could be trying to trick us. You know, two beautiful women alone in a masseuse clinic with an equally gorgeous guy it just don't sound good. you never know what could happen." "Boy!!!! can you run on about just about anything! Calm down I can see him coming back up the street now. Besides my brother's on speed dial. He could take him."

the massage

The moment he walked in the door I was tempted to look into those gorgeous eyes again, but I resisted the yearning . His stance revealed his confidence and his broad shoulders security and strength. I had him fill out a client information sheet while I took on usual procedures in preparing the massage area. I tried my best pretending there was no attraction between us, but I could feel it in the air which denied me almost all possible rationalization I was hoping to keep. Every time he looked up from the paper work at me with that flirtish grin, I could feel my knees going tingly weak. This can't be happening to me, I thought. I'm the one who had my life figured out and I do not need a guy coming into it throwing things off balance. That was the thought that always came to mind and the main reason I had always avoided situations before; missing out in a sense on many blessings I had the chance to grasp. And now I was in the midst of opportunity and yet also in a place where things could get risky which turns me to my hiding. I had decided in my mind that to keep things right I had to follow those professional relationship rules no matter what. I wouldn't allow my integrity to be questioned if I could help it that is. Sam finished the last of the paper work and I let Mandy handle filing it as we went into one of the rooms to begin. I closed my eyes for a minute just to remember that I was a masseuse and he was just another patient like all the others. It seemed to help and before I knew it ten minutes had gone by and I was already into the massage. I turned on some peaceful music more to soothe my nerves than his, and it was relaxing. While deeply into the massage, I wondered what could possess this man to be so stressed. Those strong broad shoulders that looked so confident were also tired and worn out and I could tell he must have been through a lot of heart ache to get to where he was. I imagined he was a hard worker and that many depended him. He like many others, probably had a hard time expressing his feelings and spent most of his time letting others express theirs on him. Slowly I felt his muscles begin to relax and his comfort was becoming more obvious. Questions rose in my mind that my tongue could hardly hold back, but I dare not break the peaceful atmosphere I was sure he hadn't found in such a long time. My emotions were getting harder to keep locked up, so I closed my eyes again pretending it was someone else that didn't have such a great body. My mind couldn't help wondering what he was thinking about as he laid there so helpless in my control. My inner emotions like being needed which was exactly how I felt right then. This was one of the reasons I had wanted the kind of job I had. To relieve people of their pain and make them feel like it was gone at least for a little while. The bell rang which meant it was time for the massage to end. I opened my eyes and my hands stopped moving. Without saying a word I left the room and entered my office where Mandy was waiting with anxious ears. She looked at me with a slight hint of jealousy, but her usual curiosity shot out at me too. "What?" I asked. "You know... so does he look as good underneath?" "I'm not even going to answer that because.. just you thinking about it, I mean we are professionals and he is our client! all right, I'd give him a 9.5 if we were judging him, but that's where it ends!" We both started laughing and Mandy pulled out a chart of past people we had also judged. "When did you make that?" I asked with a surprised tone. "Oh I've been keeping track ever since that Brad Pitt look alike came in here. And it looks like no one else has even past a 7! MAN, girl! you got it bad for this one!" "I've got nothing, and just for your information... (we were interrupted) "Excuse me again Ladies, but I really need to be going, so where can I pay what's due?" Mandy quickly acted on that one because I was too lost in his eyes to move. "I'll take care of you up at the desk" she said as they left my office. My body froze and I didn't know what to do. I heard them talking, but couldn't understand a word of it; just mumbles and flirtatious laughs. The bells hanging from the door became clear in my ears and I knew then that he was gone. My senses came back to me and Mandy waltzed into my office with a smirk stretched across her face like sunshine. She was up to something as she always was. I used to think it was her hobby to meddle in my business, but I began to understand later on that it was simply her way of showing she cared. "So... what are you smiling about?" I couldn't help asking. "I gave him your number!"

Unimaginable

I didn't know whether to hug her or be upset. But then again come to think of it, if I would have listened to her earlier in life I may not have missed out on some of those opportunities I keep mentioning. So I decided to hug her and then ask the questions about why she enjoyed getting me into these highly risky situations later. She told me he was staying in a top notch hotel a few miles out of town near the water. "So did he have any particular reason for coming here to Auburn, Maine?" "Well I guess he wanted a nice place to get away and sort of take a vacation." "Well that's good" I sighed with relief. "Why?" "Well that means that he won't be a regular customer, so I wouldn't really be breaking the code of ethics in professional relationships if I decide to get involved! This is so great... I think!" "Just don't back out on this one Kel. I mean you may not even have a long relationship with him, but hunny while he's here, you may as well have a little fun!" "You're absolutely right! Do you think he'll call tonight?" "Well, it's hard to say, after all he is a man, but from the vibes I picked up, it's almost for sure sugar!" "Oh my goodness I forget to go home at lunch to check on Merangue! I better go, call me later and don't be letting in any other good looking strangers in with out me!" I ran for my car not believing I had forgotten such a simple task that was part of my routine day. When I got in the door I could hear him making his whinny duck noises. He had a very disappointed look on his face, but was still happy to see me. He waddled over as soon as I opened the gate to his area. The indoor heated pond looked like it needed a deep cleaning, but I didn't have time, I would get to that later. When 7 o'clock rolled around I turned on the TV so Meringue and I could watch our usual share of Seinfeld while eating dinner. I fixed his favorite crackers and spinach and I had grilled cheese and tomato soup. I always felt strange laughing at the television when there was no one there, but now I was used to it just like I was used to singing in the shower with the door open. I thought Sam would have called by now if he had planned on it because it was nearly 9. Merangue had fallen asleep with his head on my feet and I resisted getting up for ten more minutes until I couldn't stand it anymore I had to do something. The freezer was calling my name, well actually the mint chocolate chip ice cream inside the freezer was. Making a mountain of it in my favorite glass , I scooped and scooped until there was just enough for seconds if need be. Ice cream was good at making me feel better and maybe I used that escape too often. The perfect date had begun, me, my first love (mint chocolate chip ice cream), a sleeping duck at my feet, and about ten romantic comedies waiting to be watched. I knew he wasn't going to call. Not tonight any ways. I sat there watching the romance blossoming on the TV it made me feel lonely, so I rubbed Merague's head. My thoughts went back to the day. Such a strange day it was. Did he really find interest in me or was this just a big coincidence. It could have happened with any of my clients, of course none of them were that attractive or attracted to me. Sleep tried to take over my body as I heard the lines of the movies I had probably heard a hundred times. And then something caused me to jump out of that sleepy daze. It was the phone. I looked at the clock shining brightly in red, 11:11 p.m. So, by habit I made a wish before picking up the phone and as soon as I did the clock changed. "Hello" I heard myself say sleepily, but with tones of excitement. "Hi, it's Sam." My heart skipped a beat and then I felt it running like it was going to jump out of my chest. "Sorry it's so late, but I couldn't find my hotel and I really wanted to talk to you." My heart didn't know what to say so my head took over with out it knowing. "Don't worry about it I've been up watching movies and eating ice cream. I'd invite you over it wasn't so late." "That sounds good, but I'd probably get lost again any ways. What about tomorrow? Maybe you could show me around and we could get a bite to eat. what do ya say?" "I'd say your on! You can come by the clinic around lunch and we'll take a walk." "all right, I'll let you get back to your movies and ice cream I'm sure your missing them talking to me. Sweet dreams Kelly." "Goodnight." we hung up and my smile was bigger than ever. I couldn't believe what just happened. I guess my head made a date without letting my heart know about it which was good as long as the heart didn't get control later. I felt so good I couldn't even eat the rest of my ice cream. A sigh of happiness left my lips and I started thinking about him. Sam... Sam.. that's funny I never did get his last name. Can you really fall for some one that quick? I've got to convince myself it's not love because that's the only thing that makes sense. Logic must not be lost. I kept trying to tell myself things so I wouldn't lose my head about it, but eventually I gave up. It's too much work worrying , so I went to sleep with that ecstatic smile and a wish that came true.

Amazed

It was a beautiful day! The sun shinned brightly through my window reminding me it was time to start the new morning. I proceeded with the usual morning duties and went on my way to work with the most optimistic of attitudes. Mandy had already been there for an hour and was in the back room giving the day's first massage. I felt a little disappointed in myself for being late, but today nothing could get me down. I went into my office and on the desk laying ever so gently was a single deep crimson rose with a note attached. Strange, I thought, as my instincts knew it was from Sam, since I had only known him, well.. not even for a day, none the less I cherished it as any girl would in my situation.

The note read: I know we just met, but you seem like my kind, you're not mine yet, but I can't get you out of my mind. See you around 12. Love Sam

This man is never ceasing to surprise to me. Although a stranger to me, he seems sweet and I've got nothing to lose, so my mind continued to think about him all day and I couldn't wait for lunch to come around. Mandy told me later that he had been waiting by the door when she got to work this morning holding the rose. Being the hard core sentimental she is just like me, she let him in only for the reason that it was totally cute and she knew how happy it would make me. 12 o' clock rolled around and I was almost ready to run out the door, but I was still with my last client before the lunch break. The massage went on until about 12:15 and then I went in my office to freshen up a little. As suspected, Sam had been waiting on me all this time, but said he didn't mind he would wait all day just to get a glimpse of me. He made me smile and we started our stroll down the street laughing. He was so amazing! I found my thoughts repeatedly saying. Just everything about him made me want to hug him and never let go, but that was obviously out of the question. We talked on and on just about everything really and then it led to "us."

"Attraction can be very deceiving you know," I heard myself saying towards the middle of the conversation. "I mean we don't really know each other we just were attracted for some reason that neither of us know." Sam's reaction was different than I had expected. "That's not how I see it" he began. "because when I look into your eyes I see something more than just beauty it's deeper than just attraction. The way you have such passion for what you do and helping other people feel less stressed amazes me. Your kind and thoughtful and you just make me want to be with you. If all of that is just attraction then I'm doomed."

I didn't know what to say so I didn't say anything. I was truly amazed. He looked over at me his eyes firing with emotion I had never thought any man to have, but I could tell this one was definitely not like other men. We inched closer, his hand around my waist moving me to him. I knew what was coming and although almost everything inside of me shouted stop its too soon! I couldn't help it, I wanted him just as much as he wanted me, so I drowned out all other thoughts in my head but the one I wanted to hear. In less than a second his soft warm lips caressed mine his hands gently touched the curves of my face. It was a moment one I'll never forget. Just as quickly as we had lip locked we came apart. Guilt tried to take over my mind but I continued to block it out. If all he said was true how could this be wrong. We smiled at each other with that reassuring smile you can't really explain and continued our walk this time hand in hand.

Kiss me

It was strange the way things were going so unreal like a movie almost. I liked the way my hand fit perfectly into his and he looked so good. The sun was shinning just right on his golden brown hair that was gelled up a little. He dressed nice too, well I guess it wouldn't matter what he wore I was sure he could good in anything. But today he was wearing a loose pair of khakis with a collared button down blue plaid shirt with a tight white T-shirt underneath. I could feel his pulse through his hand as we walked down town to the small cafe near the water. It was a little chili out even though it was shockingly sunny so I ordered the soup special of the day and he got a sandwich and the soup as well. The day was getting to feel more and more like a movie with each passing moment. We sat outside at one of those tables with the umbrellas and we talked about how it was that we had both ended up at the same place in this little town. I agreed with him that it was fate and destiny doing their job and I couldn't believe how perfectly he fit every standard I had ever made for a guy since I didn't believe a guy this wonderful existed, but of course I enjoyed every second of it. He told me he was suppose to meet a friend here yesterday at the hotel, but his flight got delayed and that's when he decided to get a massage and came sauntering into my very own little massage clinic. His friend was on leave from the Marines and was very anxious to catch up with him. We talked about that for a while and after lunch I wanted to take him out on the water, so we rented a canoe and paddled out into the open horizon. It was so gorgeous and so was he. We spent the next half hour out on that canoe talking as I sat with his arms wrapped around me. He started playing with my hair making every sense inside me go wild and tingly. How did he know how to do every thing that made me want him more! The wind started blowing and it was getting cooler as the sun decided to hide behind a cloud. The cool breeze made me shiver and he held me close to him for just an instant until the shivers past. I felt his heart beating in that short instant fast and steady. It seemed like it was speaking to me in that humming lub dub "Kiss me Kiss me Kiss me" and I wanted to because obviously it was my own heart sending those messages to my head. My lunch break should have been over an hour ago, but this distraction was worth it and I knew Mandy wouldn't mind, but I also knew she would pester every detail out of me later. Slowly we got out of the canoe and on to dry land again and just as we did it began to rain and before we knew it, rain was pouring down on us from the heavens. He put his arm around me trying to shelter me from the rain, although I like the rain I liked his grasp as well. Out of no where I just stared laughing and so did he. Then we were running in the rain and he caught me and literally swept me of my feet into a cradle style hold. The laughing ceased and our eyes met with intense emotions. And there we were kissing in the rain without a care in the world.

(God Sent)

Nothing had ever made me like this before. I was who I really felt like inside when I was with Sam spontaneous charismatic and everything just felt good and right. that night he walked me home and we didn't hesitate to kiss good night. The attraction between us was like two magnets that don't want to part. I didn't know what I was getting myself into and now I knew I was already too attached and setting myself up to get hurt when he would have to walk out of my life. He didn't live here and was simply on vacation. I had definitely not stayed logical. when I was with him I never had time to think and that's just what I loved about it. He made me feel like I didn't have to and nothing really mattered, but us. I could tell he had a big heart that was understanding as well as loving. He had showed his patience to me already and his concerned protective nature fit perfectly with my needing to have someone to love and protect me. We decided to meet the next day at the airport since Mandy and I were going there already to meet the plane of Marines coming home on leave on which Mandy's very own long term lover boy Brian would be flying on. They hadn't seen each other in months now and I knew there would be many Kodak moments. I had spent another day that seemed like I was in a fairy tale or maybe having a great dream. Though he didn't talk back I told Meringue all about my wonderful day with Sam because he was the best listener I knew. I thought more about the relationship I was getting myself into so quickly. They always scared me relationships I mean, and this shouldn't have been any different, but when I was with Sam all that fear and anxiety I had felt when I was with other guys that I had been attracted to wasn't as noticeable. Now it was setting though. My worries began to turn in my head as they always did when I faced a new and unpredictable situation. What do I have to offer him? What if he does this to every girl he meets? Why did he choose me? Would it last? These were all question that rose in my head as I laid in my bed that sleepless night. I should be enjoying this and not worrying so much about all this stuff that I would soon find out. Should I talk to him about my worries? I wondered. How could a guy be so wonderful? Then at that very moment when I was in the middle of all my worries and stress thinking about the why's and the what ifs, ,it came to me. After all this time of never having a successful relationship or finding a guy that actually fit more than half of my standards, God was answering my long life asking prayer. He must have been sent by God was the only conclusion I could make. It made me feel much better to think of it that way because if God had sent him I wouldn't be let down , he chose me for God's purpose and it would last. Those reassuring thoughts led me to pray and then eventually I dozed off into the most wonderful rest I had had for quite some time.

Chapter Two

A Terrible Morning

"Kelly wake up! We're going to be late to the airport!" It was Mandy. I was so lost in my wonderful dreams I didn't want to wake up. I had totally forgot we were suppose to be at the airport in fifteen minutes. I was seriously freaking out! Being late was one of my pet peeves and lately I had been doing it more. How would I have enough time to look good? That was just it I didn't. Mandy hardly let me wash my face and change my close before pulling me to the car. We sped all the way there to get there before the plane landed. I did not want to see Sam like this, but what could I do? I saw him standing with his back towards me so I slipped into the bathroom to try and make myself a little more presentable. "Who knows he might like the grunge look" Mandy told me in the car teasingly. "Well it's your own fault I told you what time I would be over, but you had to sleep in!" The mirrors in the bathroom were terrible for putting on some makeup and fixing my hair. A little girl was splashing water in the sink next to me as I attempted to apply my mascara. I was almost done when she made a great big splash getting me wet all over. She looked at me not knowing what to do and I responded with a "Oh it's okay sweet," but really I wanted scream! This morning was going so terrible. "Well there's not much I can do now" I thought "The plane is probably already here and Sam knew I was coming I couldn't avoid him just because I didn't feel I looked my best." So going against my natural will ,I went out to face him with a dazed look, messy makeup and water drops all over the place. We greeted with a tight hug and he didn't even seem to notice how terrible I looked. Although he did ask about the water, I didn't feel as awful anymore, actually I felt great. It was those positive vibes he gave off whenever I was around him. No matter what he always made me feel good. That smile, such a gorgeous smile. No one smiles like that. It's a true one that comes from within showing his inner beauty by the beams of sunshine that spread across his face. We didn't say much for a while. He held my hand as we all watched the plane come in and every once in while he'd look down at me and smile and then look up again. He was hard to read, but I knew he liked being with me. It was almost like I was part of him and when we were together we made a whole and it made him beam with satisfaction and happiness. Those eyes were so innocent today looking down at me with that sideways glance. I felt like he could hear me thinking so I tried to stop, but of course he couldn't and I couldn't stop thinking because it was about him. The plane landed and I saw Mandy star to tear up as she got closer to where she would soon see Brian. Men in uniform slowly started filtering through and we watched with anxious eyes for him and I enjoyed the eye candy as there were so many that walked by. "So what was your friends name that you are going to meet?" I asked "It's Brian, Brian Pleasants." He answered.

Fate

Before the words of surprised reality left my lips there he was with Mandy wrapped around him and the hidden mystery of our friend was revealed in that very moment. "So he's..." Sam and I both started to say at once and then realized we didn't have to. "This is so strange, but great at the same time!" He said as he went to greet his friend with that smile I adored. I guess it really was fate because if I hadn't met him that day he came into my clinic I would have met him today at the airport. The funniest thing I had just thought was that I still didn't know his last name. I decided that I'd ask today if it didn't come up before I asked. The greeting of true friends is a definite tear bringing moment. I loved to watch it all happen and try to understand just how they were feeling when their embrace closed and their eyes teared up from so much emotion. Mandy's happiness showed through the tears streaming down her face and the kisses she kept planting on Brian's face. When she first saw him coming up the ramp she yelled his name and ran to meet him. He dropped all he was holding to wrap his arms around her as she came and then with Mandy on tip toe they kissed right in the middle of a world of commotion. I though it was beautiful. One of those wonderful moments you like to relive over and over in your mind. Talking of our extreme coincidence made the four of us laugh, but it was a hands down agreement that God had placed us in the right place at the right time. After collecting the remainder of Brian's baggage, we all went out to eat in celebration of his return and also in celebration that we were all together a new bond of friendships. Brian was curious how we had met, so Sam told him the story of him coming to the clinic and being swept away by my beauty and mystery which made me a little bashful, but I liked hearing it again. Then I cut in "You know Sam, you never did tell me your last name, is it some kind of secret or something?" "Right, I guess I didn't did I?, It's Stone, Samuel Stone." "and the middle?" "Landin" "Samuel Landin Stone" I repeated "It does have a nice ring to it." I'm glad you think so ." We were at a very nice classy place just to eat, but it was for a good celebration. It was called La Mason Soliel (House of the sun) There was live music and a few people dancing. The guys thought it the perfect opportunity, so they asked us to dance. I was a little reluctant at first, but Mandy persuaded me and Sam practically pulled me out there enjoying the hold on my hips I'm sure. I got into it once we were out there and it seemed like there was no one else in the room, but me and Sam. We moved together not losing eye contact, but it was hard to understand his expression and the long intensifying stare caused me to look away. He touched my chin and brought my eyes back to match his. "I know you're scared Kelly, but it's okay. This is new and different and I'm scared too, but more scared that I'd lose you if I didn't try my best at keeping you." Wow how could he read me so well that was exactly my thoughts and fears and why I hesitated in looking so deeply into those eyes. I was afraid, but I felt just like him. And mostly it was exactly what I wanted hear right then, so I looked back into his eyes then I laid my head on his shoulder as we continued dancing. "He was so sweet and caring and understanding ... I think I'm falling in love with this man!" The commitment scared me and especially that it was coming on so fast, but he seemed to be my perfect match so I wanted to trust him so badly. It was too soon though my insides kept telling me and as I was thinking this, I broke away and left not looking back to see the confused expression on his face. He looked over at Mandy and then went after me not knowing what else to do. "What did I do wrong?" he yelled after me. I stopped to face him, we were outside and it had begun to rain again. "Nothing, that's just is Sam. You're just to good to be true and I don't think I can live up to that kind of perfection. And it's all happening so fast and I don't know what to do or what to say. Where is all this going to lead? Why me Sam.. Why me?" My sentences were mumbled because I started crying in the middle of it and I couldn't finish what I was saying or probably even find the right words. Before I knew it he was cradling me in his arms as I cried trying to explain the rest of my worries to him. He just kept on reassuring me that everything was going to be all right and gently rubbing his hands up and down my back and shoulders. I was so exhausted from it all that I fell asleep in his arms as we sat there in the rain.

11:11

When I awoke it was almost 10 am and I was in my bed at home. I wondered how I had gotten there and thought about the scene I had made outside the restaurant He must think I'm a complete weirdo, I thought, but then I heard something from in the living room. He was out there. "Sam?" I called out. "Yes, I'm here." he came into my room and sat on the end of my bed. "What happened last night?" I asked him because in reality I didn't know. "Well you were very upset and after you fell asleep, I didn't know what else to do, so I brought you here do you could rest more comfortably and I didn't want you to wake up with bad feelings about last night." I smiled sleepily at the thought that he always seemed to do the right thing. "You do know things will work now don't you?" He asked with a convincing, ,but worried expression. I shouldn't help but hug him. "yes, I think everything will be all right now, I just always have my doubts about things." I was still in my clothes from yesterday which I hadn't realized until now and I wanted to change. Sam left for a moment as I did. The morning looked wonderful, and I didn't feel strange having Sam there either. I really wanted to take a shower, but I felt I shouldn't with Sam there, not that I didn't trust him or anything I just didn't want to make him wait any longer for me after he had been so wonderful to stay in his concern. "Are you hungry?" I asked "yes, actually, starved!" "Well then let's make some breakfast." I decided on waffles since they were easy, just a pop in the toaster and the hunger in fulfilled. "So what did you do all this time while I was sleeping?" I asked because I was very curious. " Well, I talked to your duck , he makes for a very good listener and checked on you every once in a while and then we watched TV. What's it's name by the way?" "Oh the duck? his name is Meringue, you're right he is the best listener, I talk to him all the time. It sounds like a nice morning, I hope it wasn't too much trouble for you." "Of course not. I wanted to stay to make sure you were okay." "You are just too sweet Mr. Stone." He smiled and gave me a kiss that reiterated his sweetness. "I know we haven't got to talk long, but I told Brian I'd meet him around eleven so I should probably get going." I hated having him leave so quickly, but he had made a promise so I made an exception and allowed him to leave after another kiss. He was so wonderful! Why couldn't I have found him earlier in life? I wondered why it was so urgent that he had to meet Brian, but I guess just to catch up on things since they had been apart quite a while. That shower was sounding even better now, so I didn't hesitate any longer. With the door wide open I sang and as I was getting out I looked at the clock; it was wish time and Sam was on my mind.

(Mr. Stone's Secret)

"I don't know how to tell her." Sam was telling Brian in the middle of their discussion. "I know it's going to be hard, but if you love her, she deserves to know. I just thought you had already broken up with Amanda when I saw the you and Kelly at the airport." "Well, we basically are, I mean we decided together to be separated and now I know that we were never meant to be because when I'm with Kelly nothing else in the whole world matters to me I just love being with her and that's what I've always thought it was suppose to be like, ,but it had just never happened to me before." "Wow! that's some deep stuff your talking here, but you're going to have to tell her about Amanda. It may cause a temporary fight, a slap in the face and not being able to talk to her for about a week, but if you guys are really "meant to be together" then it will all work out." "You're right. When should I tell her?" "I would suggest pretty soon before things get too deep and then she'll be even more upset about it, not as much that you were with another girl or "separated", but that you didn't tell her." "How do you know all of this stuff?" "Well I've had my fair share around the ladies. you just start picking these things up especially with my girl, she likes things very specific." "I hope she'll understand. It's just that everything seemed so right it made me feel so wrong for not telling her earlier or like I shouldn't have even gotten involved until things were finalized with Amanda. She doesn't see my faults, not yet any ways, but she will. I think I'll give it some time to think things over and just how I can tell her." That sounds like a good idea. I would also suggest making the break up with Amanda final. so there won't be any confusion. when do you have to be back to New York?" "I've got another 2 days or so" "Well I'm just wondering if it's worth all this trouble when you'll be leaving soon anywise. There just isn't time to develop a strong relationship. How are you going to do it?" "I haven't got that far yet. All I know is that she's different from any other girl I've ever been with and I love her. that's all and it's enough for me." This whole conversation I knew nothing of, but I would soon find out and the walls of perfection laid out in my mind would come tumbling down. I didn't know his past and not really much of his plans for the future, all I had known was him right then and that's what I took him for. It may have been foolish, but too many times in my life I had passed up guys like this because of my skeptical reasoning and fears. You cannot experience love unless you surrender to it. That was a saying I had heard that was now stuck in my head, not really understanding the meaning of it before, but now I knew it meant making sacrifices and forgiving others of their mistakes along with not being afraid to risk it all for love. This was exactly what I had to do, but I hadn't heard his story yet and was still confused about why he walked out on me so briskly that morning. I hadn't heard from him in a whole day which was strange. He didn't stop by the clinic or leave any messages with Mandy or even on my machine at home. something was really bothering him and it was torturing me not knowing.

(His Secret Revealed)

Sam called me to make plans for the evening. He wanted me to come over to his motel to have dinner and watch a movie. I was pretty excited about it and got ready in no time making sure I looked just right. We ordered form the room service menu and started looking through the movie options. Before we had decided there was a knock at the door. Our food couldn't be ready that quick could it? I thought. I was right it couldn't. Sam opened the door and a very attractive woman was on the other side. "Sam, I've missed you! I know we had a big fight and decided to be separated and everything, but I can't spend another day without you!" before he even said anything, the sleek savvy woman placed a kiss on the lips I had kissed only hours ago. Obviously the woman hadn't noticed me yet, but Sam did pull away from her. I couldn't believe what was happening! I didn't know what to do, so I did the only thing my inner gut was telling me. After grabbing my things I walked by him giving him my most evil eyes, slapped him with all my might and walked out the door slamming as well. Before I reached my car I was in tears and didn't even see or hear Sam coming after me. I drove away into the night confused and humiliated. The nerve that man had! Coming out to be such a wonderful guy, but really all along he was just like the other guys I had wasted my time and love on. How could he do that to me? Maybe I was just one of the many and he played it like some kind of a game. I didn't want to believe it, but it was all I saw. How could I have known that once he met me all interest in Amanda had left him and he was totally committed to me? I didn't know and it would be a while before I would find out. By this time I was completely and utterly irrational. when I got home, I sat down on the couch and just started balling. I didn't know what to do at all. A good movie and finishing that ice cream I had started earlier this week, sounded like the best idea, so along with my trustworthy duck I did just that. That night I fell asleep with a wet pillow and an empty ice cream container.

(Forgive andForget?)

Work was crazy the next day. I arrived on time trying to get back into my regular schedule without dealing with the problem at hand. Mandy learned of my happenings from Brian, informed me that Sam had called seven times, and tried to comfort me, but I wouldn't let anyone in. I was truly hurt by what he had done no matter how sorry he was for not breaking things off with her before starting things with me it was just wrong and I didn't know how soon I'd be able to forgive him or let anyone else into my heart. Why had I trusted him so quickly? My hints told Mandy that I wasn't ready to talk about it and she stopped trying knowing I would come around and tell her as I always did. I always had to do things on my own time without pushing from other people. I needed encouragement, but not force. Mandy had always been there for me. Even when we were in high school she was the one who let me ball on her shoulder not even knowing why. I was glad I had her to be there for me. Boys hadn't caused me too many tears, but I did have my share. Trust was a big issue for me. It took me a long time to allow others to gain it. That's why I was so unsure about Sam in the first place, but everything seemed so wonderful when I was with him. How could I be so wrong. What if he does the same thing to me like he did to Amanda? Just drop me when he finds a better girl! My thoughts were driving me wild as I massaged the usual customers and it kind of gave an edge to my skill. I wouldn't let this happen to me over a guy! I told myself. I spent the rest of the day doing everything I could to distract myself from thoughts of him. Then I remembered he was leaving today, well good I thought then I won't have to deal with him and I can get on with my life. This was just a fake relationship that I thought was real because he seemed so perfect for me at first. At this thought my mind went to a famous saying "If it seems too good to be true it usually is." This was exactly my case, ,I just realized it to late. After work I couldn't hold it in anymore I needed Mandy's expert advice. I invited her to come over for a nice "girl talk" - sleep over. she seemed to like helping me with all my weird situations after all she had gotten me into half of them. We rented some of our favorite movies and picked up the best movie-get- over- guy- snacks. Mandy had the idea that he was the right guy he just wasn't perfect like everyone else and maybe it was the wrong timing. "Look girl, he may have problems, but who doesn't? He is everything you have always wanted in a guy he just messed up. and I understand that it may take a while to get through this, but don't give him up it'd be a mistake! The only reason I know this, is because he is best friends with my man. Trust me hun, he's a keeper." "I guess my feelings about never talking to him again were a little impulsive, but what he did was so terrible to me, and actually pretty bad to that other girl too. He has to suffer a little for how much he hurt me." "Well, that isn't the best thing, ,but it's your decision and I'll be here for you with whatever you decide to do." Her comforting words made me feel a little better and she explained a few things about Sam's situation from Brian's point of view. I had a better understanding of it then, knowing that he truly didn't want to see that Amanda, but I still wasn't near ready to let him back into my heart.

(Finding Sam)

It had been six months since the last time I saw him. He really hadn't crossed my mind as much as I thought he would. As the days went I on, the experiences I had had with him seemed more like a dream than anything realistic. The thought of how right for me he was did come into my mind every once in a while and when I would go out on dates with other guys I sometimes found myself thinking how much more fun I would be having if it were Sam. There was only one thing I could do if I wanted to find out if he was really all I thought he could be. It meant that I would have to tear down the barriers of fear, pride and unforgiveness that I had been keeping up so well. "Was he thinking about me too?" I wondered. He seems so far away and still like a dream in my mind that never actually happened and that's why I had to find out if this prince could be real. I called his office at work, but I was told he no longer was employed there. His home phone was disconnected and with these two instances I became very curious. Maybe he had moved or joined the marines with Brian. Who knows, he probably forgot all about me. Should I keep trying to reach him? or was fate telling me things just are not going to work out. That's what I felt slap me in the face, my hopes let down once again. After pondering my situation for quite a while I asked Mandy what I should do and she gave me Brian's cell phone number. My nerves were tensed to the core as I dialed those few numbers hoping to find out what had happened to that mysterious man whom I had known only a short while, but in the back of my conscience I had totally fallen in love with him. He was sweet, caring, thoughtful, spunky, tender, and a complete gentlemen who knew how to make me smile from the moment we met. He was the only person I had ever let myself trust before totally analyzing there detailed personality. "Ya" answered the voice on the other line. It was Brian of course. "Hello Brian, this is Kelly, How are you doing?" "Great, so what are you up to? you've never called me before." Well, Actually... I was wondering if you had any idea what happened to your friend Sam, I haven't seen him since you were here visiting Mandy." "That surprises me he talks about you all the time I would have suspected he'd have called or come to see you, well he did quit his job there at the architect firm because it was too much being in the same building as Amanda after all that happened between them." "Really!?" "Ya, he's living temporally in an apartment just outside of New York city 'til he can find another job." Well that does explain a lot, so does he have a new number that I could reach him at perhaps?" "Ya, sure..." Brian gave me the new number, but I waited a while before I decided to call. I wasn't sure what I was going to say, I mean I had been pretty mean to him that last night, not that he didn't deserve every bit of it and more, but I wasn't quite sure how to start talking to him after all that was behind us now. the thoughts plagued my mind as I tried to get to sleep that night. I was excited because at least I knew he was still thinking about me so there was a chance that we could still be meant to be, so I went to bed with a few mixed feelings and a good book.

(Fear Subsides)

When I awoke the next morning my back was tense the covers were twisted with some on the floor, and I had a terrible feeling about something. It must have been a bad dream I thought as my tummy growled reminding me that I hadn't eaten dinner last night and it was time to get something to eat. It was also time I called Sam it had been so long and I was very anxious to talk to him. I no longer cared about making mistakes or holding back on my feelings because of my fear. I felt ready to open up to him and most of all to forgive him. Surprisingly as I dialed his number, my breathing was slow and easy, my heart didn't race and my mind didn't stop to ponder the worries as was my usual procedures when I began to call someone. It was great to hear his voice again. I had imagined it so many times when I tossed and turned not being able to sleep at night. I told him I missed him and that I was sorry for everything that had happened and especially for ignoring him. We talked about how his life had changed since we met and that things would have never went anywhere with Amanda had he stayed with her. I told him exactly how I felt that it had hurt me, but since I trusted him and he was everything I had ever wanted, I was willing to forgive him and start over. Making up was almost more wonderful than starting out in the first place. Things began to build from there and our relationship grew stronger the more we opened up to each other. Laying things flat out made life so much easier for us and I knew I really was falling in Love with this man. the struggles make you stronger once you get through them. Six months later Sam had moved to Maine to be closer to me and start his own Architecture firm. We were the kind of couple who could spend an entire day just walking and talking or sitting watching the sunrise or set together, or blowing bubbles while we sat in the park. He always made me laugh whether it be something funny he said or the way he playfully tickled and knew exactly the look in my eye that meant don't stop or over to the right. He amazed me and that's why I knew our relationship would last because their was never a dull moment and no matter what we did we could be happy just being together. His respect for me was another thing I valued as high as any other of his qualities. He knew when he was in the "red zone" and if he wasn't sure he always looked at me sweetly with those wonderfully bright blue eyes and said, "Is this all right hunny?" I couldn't believe this was me living the life I had only thought possible in movies or in fairly tales, but it was and I was enjoying every simple moment of it. In the summer some nights he'd wake me up by tapping at my window and we'd walk by the beach barefoot talking for hours about everything two people can discuss and when we found the end of the beach we'd sit and cuddle watching the tide come in. He always made me feel so secure and needed like I was the best thing in the world and no one could hurt me with him by my side. By the end of the year Sam and I were like one person. We knew almost everything about each other and could finish a thought before it came out of the other person's head. He truly was my soul mate and I will thank God everyday for not letting me be late to work that day he walked into my life. He changed me like no one else would or could. He touched my life in a way that made me want to be the best person I could be with no regrets. I knew this was the real deal and for the first time in my life when faced with high, intensifying risk, I wasn't scared.

ChapterThree

(Celebrating Love)

As I waited for Sam to pick me up for our date night, the phone rang. I heard Mandy's bubbly voice on the other end. "So what ya up to?" "Just waitin' for Sam - it's our date night tonight-remember plus our one year anniversary?" "Oh that's right how could I forget, I can't believe it's been that long. Well, it just seems like you guys are together every second you don't need a date night." " Actually he's been really busy lately with the firm and we haven't got to spend as much time together so that's why we made a date night. Have you missed me?" "Well ya, it's different not seeing as much of my girl around. We used to do all kinds of stuff together, but now it's always like a package deal you and the boy I can't just have ya to myself anymore." "I'm really sorry Mandy, I didn't realize you felt neglected, tell ya what, next weekend we'll do something together whatever you want just me and you all right?" "Sounds good, I've missed it!" "Well I better go Sam's waiting outside for me now. He's said he's taking me somewhere special tonight" "all right, have fun sugar, bye." "bye." "When I got to the car he had a bouquet of seven roses for me, he was the most sentimental guy I knew and it made me love him even more. I couldn't believe how he could remember all the little things I thought he wasn't listening to. I went to put the token of his love and sentiment in a vase after kissing him and a tight hug. He made me wear a blindfold so it would be a complete surprise when we got to this special place he was taking me. Tonight marked our 1 year anniversary so he was trying his best to make it perfect I could tell. After about half an hour of driving we stopped and he led me out of the car. I could feel the warmth of the sunshine as his strong hands led me upward. He had me stand alone for a short while he got everything ready I supposed. I could hear him shuffling and getting it all in just the right spot. Finally he took off the blindfold and before my eyes was the perfect set up for a romantic picnic. We were up on a small hill over looking the water and a beautiful sunset. He had a blanket laid out and a little table set for two with sparkling cider and mangoes in the middle (he remembered they were my new favorite fruit). He had also brought music which came to my attention when we sat down as it started playing our song. We both took our shoes off and neither of us had spoken for the last ten minutes. It wasn't the awkward kind of silence though, it was an admiration sort of silence that almost feels like if it weren't there it would awkward. We were staring into each others eyes and I couldn't help but say how wonderful everything was and how simply perfect he was too and then he leaned in steal a kiss and I gave him many willfully. Our song ended and the rest of the music was an accumulation of our favorites he had put together. He always made me feel like I was the most important thing in the world to him and it didn't matter what I said or what I did he would always be there accepting me and loving me for me. We made a toast in celebration of our commitment to each other and he said a prayer that God would be with us guide us in all that we do. It meant a lot to me that he always felt he had to be right with God before we could be right with each other because our relationship was based on God which gave it the strongest foundation stronger than either of us could make it alone. The table was set aside so we could cuddle watching the sun start to fade and the stars become more clear. As he held me he said I made him feel strong and he started kissing my neck and I giggled as my body felt tingly all over. I turned towards him so I could see what he was feeling through his intense blue eyes. His look was very easy to read tonight it was pure and unchanging. He had a confident aire about him that told me how much trust he had in us and his grasp told me he never wanted to let me go. I kissed those sweet lips and he held me tight as the moon was peeking up with the stars. His heart beat became evident along with his relaxed breathing. Comfort came over me; I just felt right sitting there with him, my head against his chest. He kissed my head and told me he loved me, I squeezed his hand and told him I always would. Then it was time to give the token of trust, love and commitment that would symbolize this year and years to come; Rings of course! they weren't really a surprise kind of gift because we had talked about it and looked at some together. They were a match, silver bands with a heart, cross, and key. His was a thick band and mine was small and elegant. When put together the hearts connected, it was perfect, just like the whole evening had been. I was truly amazed, but now without a doubt I loved this man and trusted him enough to give him my heart he had tried for so long to steal.

(Missing Sam)

I had been dreading this day for weeks and now it had finally come. Sam had to go away on a business trip getting publicity for his firm. I knew it was going to be hard spending a whole month without him and for most of it we would have no contact. He was very assuring that everything would be fine and before we knew it we would be back together again. The day he left, I cried for hours making him get a late start because I had a hard time stopping. It began to rain reminding me of that day I first started falling in love with him. He said he'd call me from the first phone he could get a hold of. We kissed and he looked down at me starring into my eyes with that confident grin making me feel more reassured and then, he started singing a familiar song. . . " All my bags are packed I'm ready to go, I'm standing here outside your door, I hate to wake you up to say good-bye, the dawn is breaking it's early morn, the taxi's waiting it's blowin' it's horn, Already I'm so lonesome I could die... So kiss me and smile for me, tell me that you'll wait for me, hold me like you'll never let me go, cuz I'm leavin' on a Jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again, oh babe I hate to go..." Throughout his serenade, he was holding me close and playing with my hair as well as my hands. "I'm gonna miss ya babe, but I gotta go," he said before gently moving my lips to his in a farewell kiss, well actually a few farewell kisses. When we stopped kissing he cupped my chin with the strong palm of his hand and said, "Kel, don't worry, the month will be over soon and thinking of you will make it go by faster, just know that I love you and I always will." "I love you too, Sam" I said as my head went to his chest with muffled crying again. We parted and I blew kisses until he was out of sight. Feeling low in spirit, but full of happiness at the same time, I went inside my house and looked for something that would distract me from thinking about missing him. I just couldn't, he was so wonderful! I missed him even before he was gone because I knew how empty my life would feel without seeing him for a whole month. This feeling was more powerful than any other I had ever felt. More need to be with another person than I had ever felt before and more want to fulfill their needs as well. It was proof that I hadn't been foolish in falling in love so quickly and that is was true love deeper and more complex than either of us could understand, and a love just as dreamy as the fantasy love created in fairy tales. I knew I had found something special the moment I peered into his icy, sweet soothing eyes. He was mine and I was his and as of that moment I felt nothing could change that which gave me the most wonderful feeling I wanted to laugh and cry and give everyone a big hug. But there was no one around and my thoughts always went back to how much I wished he was there with me. Those weeks were the slowest weeks I had ever experienced in my life. Everything reminded me of him when I was trying my hardest not to think about him so I wouldn't break down. When I went to work every guy with his body structure made me go weak thinking it was him; the guy at my coffee stand had hands like his strong masculine and direct; and every time I walked down the street I saw places we had made memories together. It was just too much being away from him. I missed him so much I decided next time he went away I would have to go with him. I was that simple, I was in love.

(Girls Just Wanna Have fun)

Two weeks had gone by and I hadn't heard his voice since he called me from the rest stop the second day of his trip. I was beginning to worry as I always did, but I knew he'd be all right and only two weeks left. Mandy enjoyed the time Sam was gone because we got to spend a lot more time together and we both definitely missed it. We spent time doing all the things we used to do together it helped a lot and even kept my mind from worrying about Sam for a while. The best thing was Mandy always understood what I was feeling and knew exactly what to say to make everything right. We were definitely placed on the planet to help each other figure life out. She could read my thoughts before they left my lips and I could do the same for her. One night, while both missing our men incredibly, we decided to go for a drive by the lake. It was around 10 o'clock and almost fully dark out, but we wanted to go sit by the water any ways and talk. Then all of a sudden I came over one of my crazy ideas that seemed to come and go, but more come when I was with Mandy. She was always skeptical at first and would give me that "are you serious look," but with my excellent persuasive skills I usually ended up talking her into it. This one was one we had talked about before, but Mandy never thought of actually doing it or that I would. "Come on Mandy there's no body out here and it will be a rush!" By then it was around 11:00 since we had been driving for a while and having one of those deep conversations you really have to pick apart. "You've definitely lost it Kelly I couldn't possibly! I mean what if someone sees us and worse what if the guys find out!" "Don't be silly Mandy, and besides who's crazy enough to be out here this late?" It took only about 10 minutes to convince her that this would be the highlight of our last two weeks without the guys and something to remember about our month or girl freedom. We found the perfect spot around some trees where there was a log to set our clothes on and an old dock we could jump off of. "We were laughing the entire time as we prepared ourselves for the cold water knowing we were some of the most insane 24 year olds out there. Since it was after all my idea I went out on the open dock first with Mandy following a few feet behind me. We waited 'til we were at the end of the dock to strip the last few items of clothing before jumping in, leaving them on the dock. That water was cold and tingly on that new summer night, but so refreshing as well. It was the most wonderful freedom I had ever felt. Mandy and I spent the next half an hour swimming just as God had intended before a few humans messed things up, totally in every aspect, cloth less. The moon shone beautifully above the sparkling water and it seemed to wink at us floating along with sheer grins of surprised satisfaction and achievement. A light flashed along the water that nearly scared Mandy to death, so we decided to get out of there before her worries were proved true. when we were about to get up on the dock we saw the headlights of an old truck near where we had left most of our clothes. Things didn't look good, so we ducked under the dock after quickly grabbing the clothes we had left on top of it. we put what we had, on under water and waited 'til we thought it was safe. After about 10 minutes we couldn't hear a sound and the silence was making me shiver along with the temperature of the water still quite cold. There were no lights in view and all was still in the darkness. I motioned to Mandy that it was safe to go now and she followed my lead. We came out of the water and looking half frightened and half ecstatic we both just started laughing and proceeded to get our clothes on which were still untouched under the tree. After getting almost everything on I noticed I was missing my bra. "I couldn't have dropped it" was saying to Mandy "because I remember setting it here with everything before we jumped in." Just after I had spoken we saw that truck again driving down the road in opposition to our direction. It was obvious that there was only one person occupying it, and that it was a man. "You don't suppose, .." Mandy started and then we both went for the car a little freaked out. "I just knew this was a bad idea Kelly. I bet that weirdo guy was watching us the whole time and he probably stole your bra!" "So what, calm down a little girl! what do I care if some guy is a psycho and stays out late to watch some girls having a little fun. Okay I liked that bra, but I'll get another one." "It just makes me feel uncomfortable that's all." "I know it is a little eerie, but let's just not bring all the details up and it will be fine, besides I had a great time and maybe I'll do it again." "you really are crazy Kelly, you know that!" It was near 12:30 and Mandy and I were filled with the giggles like we were sixteen again. We drove to my place to crash and went to sleep with hazy images invading our dreams.

(I love his style!)

Sleep took us over for the next 8 hours as we slept peacefully dreading the moment such perfect sleep would be interrupted. Although dreaded, it did come and the morning had almost turned into afternoon by the time we rose from that refreshing slumber. The sun was dancing through the windows and urged me to roll out of bed and get my day started. As I walked into the kitchen I realized there were flowers put all around the room with a note attached to each bouquet. I knew then that it wouldn't be too much longer until I would see my honey. Each note told me something different to do like pull the shades, make sure no one else is home, put on something sexy, turn out the lights, and the last one said take a walk around the block towards the park. I knew Sam was up to something and I loved his style. He was just the most wonderful guy in the world. I never understood how he knew so much and always added the simple things to make our lives more interesting. He had so much passion and love for me it made me crazy! That sentimental heart made mine beat wildly. By the time I was dressed and looking my best, I could barely keep my pace of walking without skipping a little with my pure joy kept up inside that would soon be poured out on the one man I truly loved. While still nearly 30 feet away I could see him standing near the gazebo in the park. He had on a dark blue suit, a white tie and black dressy shoes. His hair glistened in the sunlight as he came towards me with one hand behind his back. I could no longer stay at a steady pace and we both started going towards each other more quickly until we were inches from touching. it seemed like it took so much longer than those few seconds to get to him and then as we inched closer it seemed like the whole world blurred together leaving just the two of us in a bond of passionate kisses. He meant everything to me and he knew that, as much as I knew I was the only one for him. After the world came back into existence he pulled a white rose from behind his back and said "I love you so much and I've missed every second with out you. Let's go celebrate!" I grabbed his hand and we went back to my place in a hurry. When we got inside in the beautiful surroundings he had provided I felt myself barely holding back from kissing him again. He pulled two white candles from his jacket pocket and lit them putting them perfectly in their place on the table. Glasses were taken from my china cabinet that Sam filled with luxurious wine. He told me that the white rose and candles represented purity to show that even though he wanted me so badly, we could still have a pure relationship. Of course I already knew I could trust him in that area although it was tempting, but his thoughtfulness was sweet and I savored every moment I spent with him, especially those ones when I knew he was trying harder to be the best he could. I trusted Sam more than I trusted myself almost and that says a lot coming from me. He always did what he said he would do and usually more having such a soft heart for other peoples concerns. I knew he was the only man for me, but I still wasn't sure if I was ready for marriage such a big step. It's the only relationship bonded so deeply you can't get out of. I loved Sam more than anything, but marriage would be a huge change in our lives and an even bigger commitment, so I put the thought to the back of my head as I always did when I didn't have the strength to think about something. Our evening ended with some of my favorite movies Sam had specifically rented because he knew I liked them. We cuddled on the couch and kissed a few times when the moment seemed right. I was so comfortable in Sam's arms like I was always meant to be there all wrapped up in him. He was keeping me warm his strong body against mine. I could feel his every move as I became aware of his muscles when he changed positions and enjoyed rubbing my shoulders and arms. A few times he embraced my neck and played with my hair. It was all just wonderful; I felt my best when I was with him, but I never understood why. I thought I was going to fall asleep in his arms because my body had become so comfortable and my eyes were beginning to flutter urging me to sleep. I continued watching the movie fighting my tiredness with Sam seeming completely part of me. When the movie was I over I turned to Sam, but he had fallen asleep and was leaning on me with his hands still locked in mine. He had the best kind of smile across his face as he slept so sweetly. I decided not to wake him as I got up to go wash my face and get ready for bed. I came back to cover him up with some blankets and he woke up for a few minutes, but was in a complete daze. I couldn't believe how incredibly cute he was! "Go back to sleep honey, I'll talk to you in the morning." I told him when he asked me where the yellow antelope were and kissed his forehead. I went to sleep with the same kind of smile on my face knowing I had found my soul mate.ise

(The Perfect Match)

Six months later I had seriously thought about the marriage thing and Sam and I discussed all of our points of view on the topic. A quote came to mind, I has so many floating around my mixed up brain, "Don't marry someone you can live with, marry someone you can't live without." I definitely couldn't live without Sam, so I guess in that sense I was prepared for getting married. We were the perfect match, like two matching puzzle pieces, like a pen and ink, like men and food, like breathe to people, like water and fish, like whip cream and pumpkin pie, like a stamp and envelope, like bread and butter, like milk and cookies, like summer and sand castles, like candle and match, like rock and sling shot, like snowflakes in winter, springtime and rain, falling leaves and autumn. In the history of time there had never been a more compatible pair than that adorable man I loved and I. I can not describe how deep our love for each other was, but as you might imagine from the examples above we were quite a couple. I also know that many people see themselves as the best couple out there, well at least I hope they do, otherwise what is there to dream about? Being the thoughtful, sentimental, creative, original man he was, Sam made his proposal more special than I could have ever hoped for. We went out to the cafe by the water that we had first went out to the day after I had met him. He had arranged everything in advance making sure it all went perfect so I'd know how much he loved me. Coffee was enough for the evening and a few of our favorite cookies before we went off on a romantic ride in a canoe, also like that day when we knew we were meant for each other. While snuggling close enjoying the peaceful night Sam pulled out a piece of paper as we got closer to the shore. The closer we got I noticed there was a few men standing there, one with violin, one had a banjo, and the other a guitar. The canoe stopped and the sweet sound of music became clear in my ears along with the deep soothing voice of the man I loved. He sang so wonderfully it always made me melt just like he did then, so crisp and sweet, yet low and lulling as well. This song he wrote specifically for me and his proposal. It talked about the different things we had done together and all the things he loved about me along with lines of how he knew we'd always be together no matter what. Before he was even done singing, my eyes were all teary and I was ready to hug, kiss and commit the rest of my life to this man. Toward the end of the song when he was singing about us blowing bubbles in the park together, he handed me a bottle of bubbles and got down on his knees still singing. I opened the bubbles and attached to the lid was the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. I screamed and the tears were now streaming down my face out of sheer happiness. Sam had finished his love song to me and asked me to be his lifelong partner, his wife. I didn't lose any time in wrapping my arms around him for a satisfying kiss to let him know my answer was obviously positive and that I was as confident in our relationship as he was. Although we had both known we wanted to get married the whole act of getting engaged was just so much more exciting than it had seemed when we talked about it. I couldn't stop smiling and hugging Sam as we walked back to my apartment. When we got to my door, he picked me up, twirled me around and planted kisses all over me until my lips found his. Our passionate kisses showed the love we had for each other, but after a few moments he let me down walking me inside the door. He said he'd stop by the clinic the next day to see me and we could go something fun in celebration of our new engagement. "I love you so much!" I said before he could leave. "I love you too, more than you could know." he said kissing me again. I smiled with glowing eyes and a lit up face, not knowing what to say. At this we parted and I couldn't wait to start the next chapter of my life with Samuel Landin Stone, the only man I would ever love.

(Too Late)

Where was he? I thought. Being late was a huge pet peeve of mine, but when someone else was late it was even worse. I had been waiting 45 minutes past the time Sam said he would be there to pick me up for lunch, and in 15 my lunch break would end allowing more clients to shuffle in. I sat there on the comfortable couch in the waiting room watching impatiently out the window for that muscular well-toned body to come sweeping through the door, but he never came. It was very disappointing almost to the point of making me cry only because it was an extremely crucial time in our relationship making me more emotional than usual. "We are engaged now you'd think he would be on time knowing how much I hate it when people are late," I was complaining to Mandy, although I had an audience of clients listening in the lobby. It was a small town and everybody loved learning of everybody else's business. I heard the small group of people begin to whisper catching short phrases like "I can't believe he didn't show up on time, he seemed like such a nice man, and oh that body." Then I heard a smack. It was Miss Roberta Longsly slapping her young, but very blunt niece for that last remark. Roberta was a tad old fashioned and liked everything to be proper including the description of very attractive men. She came in about once a week and brought her niece with her ever so often to keep her company while she sat in the waiting room. Vivian was 17 and just graduated from high school. She like many in Auburn, didn't have high ambition for leaving the area, so she settled for working at BK&Y's photo developing center. It was a fair job for her since her personality came across sweet cheerful and very honest. I looked out the window for the last time before my lunch break and saw Sam's truck driving quickly in the direction of the clinic. He was too late! I had at least 5 clients expecting their massage in the next few slots so I couldn't just leave. The room full of anxious people urged me to go talk to him. they seemed more curious than I was as to why he was late, so I proceeded to go out and see if he had a good excuse because if he didn't, I was ready to walk back into my obligations of massaging. He knew I would be angry, so I tried not to emphasize that fact when I went to greet him. My teasing hints were enough to let him know it really did bother me and he felt worse than ever to make me disappointed. It was terrible how he could be so irritating and so lovable at the same time. I could never stay mad at him. He told me on his way over he had met up with an old friend and lost track of time in the process. The excuse was understandable, but still not good enough. "Well, Sam, I have to get back to work. I'm sorry we couldn't have lunch." I said with an irritable voice as I walked back towards my homey little business. He started to go after me, but then realized it was useless at the moment and ended his stuttering mumbles with " I'll call you tonight hun." It wasn't really the fact that he was late that bothered me the most. It was the feeling that he made something else more important than the promise he had already made with me. I never wanted to talk about my problems, well at least not right away. I had to cool off a little and think things through to decide how I really felt about everything. This was such bad timing since I had to go back to my appointments Sam and I couldn't even talk about it at all until that night. I knew he would be thinking about it all day and I would too. He always thought of others before himself and that was one of the qualities I loved about him, but he also had a problem managing his time since he tried pleasing so many people. I understood that he did run into a friend and of course with his friendly nature it would be natural to spend time catching up, but I still wished we could have had lunch. Even in his faults I could find so much love it amazed me. I couldn't wait to talk to him about everything when I got home.

(I Love You!)

I can't stand to see her look at me that way it just tears me up inside," Sam was saying on the phone to Brian. " I mean she is just so adorable and sweet and innocent, when she looks at me with that kind of disappointment I just don't know what to do." "Look, Sam I know it's tough, but she probably wants to talk about it, girls always do, so call her up or go over to her place and work things out. I'm sure she'll understand and she probably isn't really that mad at you any ways. who could be for more than a day." "Thanks Brian, you always know what to do, I guess I should try calling her now huh?" "If you don't think it's too late I would go right over. They like to see ya face to face when they talk so you can see how they feel," Brian was saying with a little laughter in his voice. "So go get her boy, and let me know how it goes, listen Brian knows best." "all right talk to ya later Brian." Brian was the genius for advice when it came to knowing about women. I was so glad he was there to council Sam getting us through even the simplest of problems. He came knocking at my door close to 11 o'clock, I was ready to forgive him and talk about everything, but I also wanted to let him say all he wanted to before I acted the way I felt. We didn't hug or kiss when he came in, instead we went directly to the sitting room and he began with, "look baby, I know I was late and it meant a lot to you for me to be there today to celebrate our engagement," he paused several times and I knew it was all coming from his heart and he really showed sincerity. " I just hate to see you disappointed.. or sad at all, it makes me sad too.. and that's why I couldn't wait any longer before coming over and talking to you. I want everything to be all right because I love you and I never want to hurt you in any way." tears swelled up in my eyes, ,but I held to the logical "Sam, things can't be perfect all the time you know, and sometimes you are going to hurt me and I'm sure that sometimes I'll hurt you too, but what matters is that we recognize it when we mess up and do just what you're doing right now." My voice had drifted off as I was finishing my thoughts into words. I started to cry and because my heart filled with all kinds of emotions I could not control. He knew just how to get to the heart of me in every way possible. "Sam, ... I love you." I said in a sniffled whisper now against his chest. "I love you too Kelly, I love you too. " he said as he wiped my tears and continually ran his fingers through my hair. Love is such a risky thing and people are always bound to get hurt even if things do work out in the end. Sam was the only man I was willing to take this risk on and probably the only one I ever had the courage to do so. He made everything right, with him my life became complete. These thoughts were going through my head as I sat there next to him feeling that I never wanted to let him go. So I said "Sam, lets get married." "hun, we are going to get married." He replied with a confused look on his face. "I mean soon, I just love you too much to wait any longer." He chuckled a little with his adorable grin looking down at me and our lips met for a few short moments of nonverbal communication. "I should probably go back home now, it's getting late he said," as he got up to leave. "I'm really glad we talked about things babe, call ya tomorrow." "I love you! I love you! I love you!" I said, still hold on to him and then tiptoed for a kiss goodnight. "You too, and always," he said, squeezing me around the waist before he went out the door. Ahhhh... it was a great feeling that can hardly be described the way I felt that night. So many things had happened to me Within the last two years it was hard to believe. I knew it was all part of God's plan for me, so I went to bed and talked things over with him before falling asleep.

(Confidence)

Confidence, or should I say lack of confidence, was a major stumbling block in my path of life. Sam didn't figure this out quickly, no one really did until they got to know me better. I tried to look confident on the outside, but on the inside I always found myself thinking, "I'm just not good enough" in one way or another. Which in a sense is true because no one can ever be "good enough" when compared to perfection. After Sam came into my life things changed for me dramatically. Slow at first, and gradually I learned to have more self esteem with Sam feeding encouragement to me often. Low self-esteem is really a selfish investment as any sin is because it causes you to think about yourself before anything else and dwell on the negative aspects of any possible thing. This pessimistic attitude was a part of my life and every once in a while it does show up again, but God sent me Sam at just the right moment to help me mold my character in to one that could glorify him in a more satisfying way also improving the quality of my very being. I never thought I was the kind of person that needed attention, but everybody does, just in different ways and capacities. I hadn't realized how selfish I had been in allowing myself to be shy and reserved because of my lack of confidence. It took me up until I was a Junior in high school to understand that this is one of the worst ways to spend your time. Life has so much to offer and I only wish I could have found out sooner what I was missing out on, but fear got in my way and in those times courage was not in my possession. I gained more confidence as life threw new obstacles at me. In every situation there is a choice to do it the hard way and get the opportunity to grow from the stretching of strength and ability and there is the easy way which most of us choose because it is comfortable and even though we won't grow from doing it the way we've always done it, we continue to do this because we are all afraid of something. Like most people I will admit the easy way is most familiar to me when it comes to making choices, but I can also say that those few times I have stepped out longing to grasp the unknown treasure of a new experience, I have been blessed and truly grown as a person. The risk is always there and always will be, because if there was no risk what would be the point? Its like when you're playing baseball. You can't steal second base without taking your foot off of first. Sometimes I don't understand what to do in life and do again start doubting in myself, but the clouds clear away and God reminds me that he made me just the way I am and with him I will not fail.

(Love)

Love can cause a person to do things they wouldn't normally do, say things they wouldn't normally say, and well because of love a person could totally change their life around. For a long time I was very confused about love and I know I will never be able to grasp the concept of pure unconditional love completely. Being careful about who I chose to love and even reluctantly using those words to them or about them I think was a great help to me in my life. I simply feel that you shouldn't say things you don't truly mean. Love is such a deep and complicated word that many people use without even thinking, which can be understood, but when you say something you don't mean it goes deeper than what one may think. It is a false representation of your personal feelings for another person that can create a number of problems. A good friend of mine always said "Going fast you're bound to miss a few steps, but if you take your time you'll not only experience each step to it's full capacity, but also have time to enjoy the scenery." It makes sense for almost any situation including love that taking your time with it can only serve to benefit. The best way I have ever heard love explained is from the Bible which does not at all surprise me since God created love he should know how to best describe it. He breaks it down in to many parts showing its depth and many responsibilities that go along with loving someone. Love is patient love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, ,it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight it evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preservers. Love never fails. That was from I Corinthians 13: 4-8. I had read this verse from the time I was 6 years old, but until you really dig into it and understand all those things you can't see just how complicated love is. When I was younger it was more a jingle or just something I knew, but now I know all the different parts that make up love and why it is so important that all of them are met. Loving someone means you'll be willing to wait and give them all the time they need for any given task that comes along in your relationship. To love someone means treating them with true kindness as a servant would. When you love someone you don't wish you had something that belongs to them because you are content with all that you already possess in mind and spirit and what they share with you from theirs. In a loving relationship neither people brag or place judgment on one another in pride fulness because you are equal and have no problem rejoicing when the other succeeds and sharing in a time of sorrow. When something goes wrong it will be taken with ease and the feelings will not come out in rage because true love is slow to become angry. Instead of being selfish and thinking of your needs first, with love the other person is always the first concern in your mind. Grudges will not be a problem, forgiveness will come without question because love has a way of making the wrong be wiped away in no time. No evil will be thought of in this perfect love, but only truth, honesty, and righteousness. It will keep bad from happening if possible and this kind of love never gives up so naturally it will never fail. I thought I loved Sam and I did, just not with a love this perfect because human love can never be perfect. I can't always trust him or always persevere and maybe I won't always be patient with him, but I know that I can try and that is why I think I love him. Because I want to do all of those things for him and I know he wants the same.

Chapter Four (High on Life)

When I first met Sam I will admit it was his good looks that attracted me too him, but there was something else in the wits about him that made my curiosity keep stirring. Just the fact that he was interested in me too I guess made me think he was great, but of course after all that we have been through I have learned his ways and all his simple details that make me adore him even more. I couldn't believe it was me, I mean all my dreams were being lived out for me right before my eyes and I barely had time to realize it. I felt the most wonderful kind of contentment and awe in my life just thinking of all the ways God has blessed me and helped me through all my pathetic problems. I couldn't ask for a better man to marry or family or friends I even loved working at the clinic with all my neighborhood customers. I just felt great! There is no other way to put it. While high on life, as I was, I felt like doing something to celebrate it in a memorable way. Whenever I got this way I had to call one of my good friends and partners in crime. It had been so long since I had been in contact with one of my best friends back home so I decided to call her and get together. She could make me laugh until my sides hurt and I had tears running down my face. This always came in handy for working off all the junk we would make each other eat. It was pretty late her time when I had the urge to call, but I knew she wouldn't mind, so I went ahead and dialed anxiously awaiting to hear her voice on the other end. "Hello?" was my greeting sounding sleepy and confused. "Hey sorry to wake you, it's me Kelly." Her voice started to get more energy in it once she knew it was me. "Oh my goodness Kelly! You mean Kelly, Big Red Kelly? I wanta jump in a tub of Jell-O Kelly? My hot, hot, hot dancing partner Kelly? "Yep, that would be me!" " Wow It's so great to hear your voice! So what's up?" "I know it's been a long time since we've gotten together and even talked, but I really have missed you and I want to go out and do something fun and spontaneous with you because you remember how we always have such a great time together." "Well sure I'd love to, but maybe not at this very moment since it is 3 in the morning my time." "Sorry Abby I just had to call, because I am so high on life it's crazy and I have so much to tell you." "That's great hun, but how about we meet at the bridge tomorrow around 11 and we can talk or do whatever you want, but I'd really like to get some sleep right now." "Okay, sorry again, I'm so excited now!" "See you tomorrow then." "all right, luv ya, bye." Abby had been one of my most trusted friends and a total blast to hang with when we were younger. She still seemed to have the same zest in her, but now we lived in different states and of course as we grew into young adults our craziness fell under a shade. We chose to hide it from most people because it was much more fun to see their surprised look when we acted out of the ordinary cathcing them off guard. This was a fact not an option really. Well most of the time any ways we tried to act our position in the world and what people expected out of us. But every once in a while, actually pretty much every time we got together we did something totally outrageous and very memorable. This was why I wanted to call up Abby. She brought sunshine into everyone's day because she always had that gorgeous smile and sparkling blue eyes accompanied by long flirtatious eyelashes. She brought out the best in me, my fun side where I took life with leisure not calculating the consequences of every little thing. Being around her was good for me and I had missed it. Some of the things we had done in the past I could barely believe, but without her I wouldn't have done them and without me she wouldn't have either. I couldn't wait to tell her all about Sam and I getting married and how much my life had changed since the last time we talked. At this point I saw myself on the up hill of life's roller coaster. I had seen some low points as most people do, but I think the reason I have never plunged myself into deep depression is because God gives me a reason to be happy and see the best in most situations. Looking at life from an optimistic point of view makes it so much more enjoyable and of course opens up much more opportunity to do things the pessimist would never dream of. I know because I was there once in the shoes of the pessimist and it still lingers on in some cases. In the past I always wanted to stay where I was comfortable and knew exactly how things would turn out. Sam had changed my life upside down in a way that no one else could. God sent him to me because he knew no one else would be able to reach this part of me I kept so close to my heart. My comfort zone and doing things the way I have always done them. In many ways God has been working on me all along by sending different people throughout my life for me to learn and grow from, but I think Sam has become my ultimate angel. He always sees the good in things before even realizing the bad. Ever since I started falling in love with I had a change in heart. With him it didn't matter if I messed up or looked stupid doing something I had never done before because he loved me, not the person I wished I was. Nearly everyone I knew could see the change in me. My whole personality shifted and I began to forget about the little things I would normally spend endless minutes dwelling on. There just seemed to be a different person in me that had never been there before. My inner self stepped out from behind the shadows I had kept it in for so long embracing the joy life held for me and the simple pleasures of taking life at ease. Of course it was more than just Sam coming in to my life that had changed me. God simply used him as a tool to open my eyes and see the blessings he had waiting for me if I was willing to take a risk at His opportunities. I knew I had found something good not only in Sam, but also a renewing of my relationship with God that I had never experienced before. He was always with me and when he seemed far away I only had to look at others to see him shining in them. Still, I sat wondering what did I ever do to deserve all of this? And of course I had done nothing. God just has a way of knowing exactly what we need and when the right time is to bless us with it.

(Bridges)

I could barely sleep that night thinking about all the things Abby and I would talk about and do together the following day. I got up around 8 so I would have enough time to make it to the bridge by 11. I called Mandy and told her I wouldn't be coming in to the clinic and if she wanted she could take a day off as well. Bridges were a special place for Abby and I. Ever since we had been friends we loved bridges. I never could figure out exactly what inspired me so much when I stood on a bridge over looking water, traffic, hills, plains, or whatever it may be, but something always made me say wow as I tried to take it all in. My favorite time to be on a bridge was at sunset because the sky of course in all it's beauty seemed to light up the world and made me feel a sense of freedom and somehow closer to God. This certain bridge I would soon arrive at Abby and I had used a meeting place several times throughout the years since I moved away. On one side of it was a magnificent river with mountains in the distance and the other side had ongoing traffic day and night. We used to spend nights sitting on the edge of it talking, laughing and throwing things of it to see who had the better aim. Sometimes we'd even spit trying to hit the cars below us. I was more than ready to see her with many built up stories on the tip of my tongue. Up ahead I could see the bridge in the distance, but also there was a pile up of cars unusual for this time of day. I wondered what it could be and not thinking I began to grow impatient waiting for the traffic to clear. As I got closer I saw there had been a collision, police were directing the flow of traffic around it, but now I was very curious so I pulled over and waited a few moments. Three vehicles were involved the one in the middle looked the worst; crushed between both cars. I asked the nearest police officer what had happened and while he began telling me, what should have been obvious to me I suddenly realized. Without even stopping him from continuing, I ran towards the beat up cars and small crowd of people. why didn't I realize it sooner? It was Abby's car that had been in the middle. I pushed and shoved to get myself through the group of people surrounding her. She wasn't moving and she must have hit her head in the crash because it was al banged up. I couldn't hold it in any longer. I started balling and laid my head on her saying things like "Abby can you hear me? I know It's all my fault. Please wake up... your going to be all right." The paramedics pulled me off of her as they proceeded to put her in the ambulance. I went with her sobbing the whole way knowing if I would have never called last night this wouldn't have happened. She remained unconscious for quite some time and I heard the story of how it happened. Abby had been listening to her music in the car and eating an apple. The apple fell out of her hand and rolled under the seat. Well Abby wanted to get it so she looked down for only a few seconds trying to find it. While looking for her apple she didn't realize that the traffic had slowed down near the bridge and she rammed right into the car in front of her going 60 m.p.h. which caused the car behind her to run into her. I couldn't believe it, and all I could do was cry. I stayed with Abby in the hospital although she still hadn't come to consciousness. Thinking about it all just made it worse so I decided to pray. I took her hand and just began to talk to God out loud hoping he would hear my plea. It did feel much better and then I began to sing softly almost to myself and as I looked over I saw that Abby had opened her eyes. "Thank you God" I said before going to hug her. "I am so sorry Abby! I know this would have never happened if.." she put her hand over my mouth and said "There's no sense in dwelling on regrets Kel, if nothing else you should have learned that from al that we've done together." She smiled and squeezed my hand and I knew at that moment that every thing would be all right. It was amazing how Abby could do that to me even when everything seemed to be wrong she showed me the good and helped me keep my mind off the bad. This definitely wasn't what I had expected, but it would be a memorable day. I told Abby she should rest and as I sat there watching her I had lots of time to think and do some self -reflection. It was much needed because after all I was getting married sooner than seemed possible. I started thinking about bridges again, but in a different way completely. Bridges exist in every kind of relationship- friends, family, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, staff members, and with anyone you meet. They are what connect people to each other whether it be a similar interest in the lifestyle of Dolphins, or the belief that Christ died for our sins. Some bridges connect us to the heart of another person whereas others lead to their thoughts and mind. I thought about Sam and all the bridges we had built together in our relationship. He had found the bridge to my heart, but was I really ready for him to own it? He knew me better than anyone and I had always felt you should marry your best friend. Maybe I think too much and too deeply into things that might just be simple, but my life was about to change dramatically, so I thought it a good time to think things over. I wished so badly that Abby hadn't been eating an apple that morning! Well she was right I shouldn't dwell on regrets. Looking at my life from a different point of view than just yesterday I felt myself going down from that place I call a high on life. I still felt very blessed but there was just something that didn't feel right.

(How you know)

I knew it would go away soon; this bad feeling I was having because it was probably all in my head and just something small that I shouldn't worry about. I went back home and told Sam all about what happened with Abby, he decided to come with me to see her in the hospital. This was the first time they had met and afterwards Abby told me how lucky she thought I was and asked if he had a brother. She seemed to be doing a whole lot better and even though she was bed ridden, she still managed to make me laugh like everything was okay. I went to the hospital several times to see her and one of those times I surprisingly found myself laying my head on her shoulder and crying. It was everything just little things mostly, winding down into a huge mass of worries. It had been such a long time since I had let it all out and told anyone what I was really feeling. This happened a lot throughout my life because for some reason I liked to keep closed up instead of bothering someone else with my petty mistakes and problems. In the past Abby had been more of a friend to laugh with, but now I found her as a great friend to cry with. It started with my worries about Sam, if he was the "one" and if I had moved in too fast because our pace started out much quicker than what I had been used to. Could I trust that everything just felt right or was that something to distract me from seeing how things really were. I didn't want to make the wrong decision for such a big portion of my life. There were of course many reasons I knew why I loved this man and why I should marry him, but something was holding me back and I had to find the answer. Why wasn't I talking to him about all of this I asked myself. Well I knew the answer to that question. It was the same reason I didn't talk to certain people about any of my problems or wondering thoughts. But I also knew that I would have to talk to him about everything in order for us to keep our relationship honest and strong. Many other little things came up in my discussion with Abby and she was a very helpful advisor. Before I left we prayed together and I already started feeling better about everything. There was just something about letting it all out and praying with someone that makes you feel good and refreshed. I keep things locked up so long that a lot of little things build up to big things and it all has to come out sometime. It's a great feeling knowing that someone is there to listen to you know matter what you have to say and even though I knew it was like this for Sam and I, it was still difficult for me to go to him especially when he was the one on my mind. Sam was one of the most understanding people I knew and always listened to anyone. It had been two weeks since the accident and Abby would be leaving the hospital to go home. We still hadn't done anything outrageous, but I guess we didn't need to because all the time we spent together just talking meant a whole lot more than any of the silly things we would have done. On my way home I called Sam from my cell phone and told him I wanted to go out for coffee. We hadn't set a date yet for the wedding and not even everyone knew about it either, but that wasn't all I wanted to talk about. I wanted to make sure Sam knew what he was getting himself into marrying a girl like me. There will always be so much more to learn no matter how old we get and how well we think we know each other, but as of now I had to make sure he knew the real me and that he was in love with me as much as I was in love with him. It does sound a little silly, but think of how much more silly it would be to marry the wrong person because you thought you were in love with them. A single individual is a never ending compilation of little facts and details that can never be fully learned by anyone. This is what makes life and relationships so interesting because there is always more to learn. So we went out for coffee and I asked him seemingly out of the blue, "Are you truly in love with me?" He look surprised and very confused and then answered with the kind of answer you would expect from the look he was giving me. "Kel, what do you mean, of course you know I am in love you and I have been for a very long time. Is everything okay? you look like you have a lot on your mind." "I don't know Sam. It's just that we fell into it all so quick and in my heart I do believe that I'm in love with you because I could never live without you. But marriage is so huge and I have to be confident that we are making the right choice. I guess I'm just scared." He just stared into my eyes for a few moments and then took my face in his hands and said, " Look, I know I have brought a lot of change to your life and you have to mine too, and soon there is going to be even more change that we aren't used to and it will be hard. But we can get through it together and there is no one else in the world I would rather spend the rest of my life trying to. I know it's hard Kel, but you have to be confident in us for this to work and it's okay to have doubts because I know at some point I will too, but just know that I am in love you and I never plan to change that." Tears were running down my face as he spoke. Now I knew for sure that he was the "one." The one I never thought I'd find, the one God had specifically picked out just for me, and the one I would spend the rest of my life with, in harmony to God's plan. I was smiling , but the tears continued to roll from the corner of my eye down off my cheeks. Sam stroked my face wiping some of them away and then we got up from the small cafe table and I couldn't help leaning my head on his chest. It was amazing how I fit just perfectly there like it was mean to be. I could hear his heart beating. He moved his hand down around my waist and we started walking slowly down the sidewalk. We stopped under a tree and sat in the grass. He looked at me for a long time and then said "May seventh... ... ... " I gazed up at him with a questioning look. "Let's get married on May seventh." I smiled and kissed him affirming that was the perfect day. Then he picked me up and twirled me around planting lots of kisses all over me. May was closer than I thought, only 3 months away I had a lot of planning to do and a lot of people to tell.

(Who are you really?)

Now that I was confident in Sam the rest of my life seemed to go on more smoothly. Somehow I just knew I was doing the right thing even though nothing scared me more. This was the ultimate commitment, well one of the few, something in which you cannot back down or get out of, but why would I want to? I guess just the thought of never being able to be out of that commitment scares most people. This was what I truly wanted though, and with Sam beside me I could spend the rest of my life doing what God had planned for me to do and be an encouragement for him as well. We had only known each other for a little more than 2 years, but he wasn't like any other guy I had ever met or any person at all for that matter. He knew me better than most people because it was easy to open up to him with his listening ear and understanding advice. The rest of the world had only seen glimpses of me, but really that is all anyone is willing to show... a glimpse of their true personality. People are afraid of rejection just like I am and for a long time I thought I was alone in this fear, but in reality every single person on the planet has fallen into the trap of hiding their true identity. Sometimes we even start to believe the reputation people label us as for who we are because out of habit the comments of criticism or a simple complement from the world around us becomes fact in our mind. Without even realizing it, we identify ourselves as the person other people believe we are instead of finding out the truth that lays inside us. Others opinions should not be so important to us and for me I know this has definitely been a struggle. We could all lead such simple lives if we didn't spend half our time complicating them. Little things are taken too seriously to most of us and that is usually what gets us into trouble when it could have been avoided all together. Lack of confidence is a major part in believing others opinion instead of your own even about yourself, but as confidence grows the inner self starts to come out more and more. For most of my life, as I have said before, my confidence has been quite low, but gradually it has grown. By the time I met Sam I was a completely different person than I had been in previous years. Living out on my own helped a lot. Finally I got to do things without someone telling me it was wrong or that I didn't know what I was doing. which a lot of times I didn't know what I was doing, but that is besides the point. I became very independent and I was loving it. There were of course times when I would get lonely and wish I someone else were there, but it did help build my confidence and help me realize who I really was inside. God brought me to a whole new level and showed me things I never thought I could accomplish, but He does have a way of using me to do what I thought to be the impossible. I stand amazed at him every day and I know I will never understand his glory and creations, but that is what makes me ponder of all the greatness he has brought into my life and those around me. I asked God a lot about Sam and now I am positive that God brought us together, he's my piece of the pie. This thought that nobody really "knows" anybody got me thinking which obviously is my soul purpose for writing to get all my thoughts out. Any ways, it makes sense but at the same time is very confusing. In your heart everyone has those special people they feel really know them and their is the other side of that, the people who see us as what they want to see and not who we really are. Don't get me wrong though, we are not the only ones being wrongly judged, we do it ourselves and after someone has been labeled it is extremely difficult to see past that predetermined judgment. For some it takes months or even years and once you are past the label you may feel very stupid for wrongly accusing someone of being something that they are not, well if you don't you should. And on the other end if you believe what you have been wrongly accused it also could take a long time to get rid of that emotional baggage. It's not fair to yourself to let others control your emotions which is exactly what you do when you believe comments made about your personal character, but this also deals with giving your heart away. My heart is split in many directions, some portions larger than others. Those that I love, those I am friends with, those I have trusted, those I have confessed to, and those I have shared my thoughts and dreams with. There are so many things that make up a person's character and for some the path to finding it out can be quite an adventure. I have loved learning and knowing Sam, and loved sharing part of my heart with him. I know I am totally in love with him and at 25 I am ready to start the next chapter of my life with a person who is just as in love with me.

(Away)

It was 3 weeks until the wedding and although everything was ready except some minor finishing touches, I felt that I needed some time to be away from Sam. I decided to take a short trip for a week just to calm my nerves about everything and be without him for probably the last time I ever would be. I wasn't quite sure where to go, but I wanted it to be someplace I had never been before with lots of fun things to do. although I enjoy being alone sometimes this was definitely a trip I could not travel single style. Abby would be the perfect person to bring along, so I called her up and we got on a plane to the country of relaxation and pleasure. A few hours later we arrived in Villa San Giovanni, a small city of nearly 10,000 people, towards the tip of Italy's boot. We had both always dreamed of going to Italy, not only because it was the country of pleasure where we could relax and get away, but it was also a place of romance and authenticity like no where else. This trip was meant to get away from Sam and not think about him, but that was getting difficult because he always plagued my mind no matter what I did. Just like I had always dreamed, the hotel we stayed at looked almost like an old castle with stone colored bricks curling around into four grand towers. Although it was authoritative and slightly intimidating, it also appeared majestic and enchanting as if we were back in time. Abby and I were both huge fans of taking pictures so we had a few passer byers snap some of us by this glorious historic building. The first thing we wanted to do was get something to eat, so we decided to take a walk and see if anything caught our eye. As we strolled down the street, enjoying the cobblestone roads and the fact that we didn't have to put up with rude people in a hurry, we passed numerous sculptures and gorgeous water fountains. I had to stop at a few and get pictures and the sound of the fountains was so beautiful it made me want to sit there forever. The walk was very refreshing and all the sites there were to see even in that short distance. We came upon an outdoor restaurant that seemed to be exactly what we were looking for so we sat down and had a delightful authentic Italian lunch. A nap was sounding good after the long plane ride and eating so much at lunch, but instead of going back to the castle looking hotel, we walked to a nearby park and laid in the grass. I kept thinking this would be such a romantic place to come with Sam and wondering why I hadn't, but then the thought struck me that we were getting married in 3 weeks. Married... wow I did need this vacation, in just a short time I would no longer be Kelly L. Karmichael, but soon I would be Kelly L. Stone. The sun felt so wonderful warming me from head to toe and so did the subtle breeze dancing in my long auburn hair. I liked the thought that Sam was mine and only mine so I smiled and let myself enjoy every aspect of the present instead of worrying about the future. Abby was quietly humming to herself letting the tune wave in wind for anything to catch it. I found it soothing and before I knew I it I had fallen asleep in that fresh clean grass in Italy. The day had finally come and it almost seemed a surprise to me. I was walking down the Isle and when I got to the alter Sam was no where to be seen. I looked all over for him and when I knew I would never find him I began to cry, but there was no one to comfort me or help me. I waited and soon all the people that had come to see us joined in holy matrimony were gone, I was deserted, completely alone. Sitting in a gorgeous gown of white I sobbed knowing I had lost the only man I ever loved and I would spend the rest of my life desiring only him. Dreams of the wedding haunted my sleep and I woke with the worst kind of feeling. Abby knew this look. It wasn't rare that I had disturbing dreams, and I always believed they reflected my deepest worries and subconscious thoughts. I looked at Abby and even though I knew it was a dream I balled in her lap any way while telling her what I could remember of it. I hated being alone ... maybe that's the wrong word, really I just hated feeling alone. There is a big difference; sometimes I am alone and I still don't feel lonely. And other times I am in a crowd of people and I feel totally deserted. Worries of the wedding and Sam always came out in my dreams and some of them I never really understood. I guess maybe I was feeling a little lonely like Sam and I had been distant lately, so I decided to cut our trip short and go home to Sam. He would make everything all right like he always did. Abby and I still had a few days to spend soaking up the Italian coast so we didn't waste it. I had always wanted to get a bikini, but I was never brave enough to actually wear one, so Abby and I bought a few and spent much of the remainder of our time showing them off. This was the perfect vacation even though I hated being away from Sam I knew it was what I really needed and soon I would be with him for a lifetime

(A moment of Reflection)

So much hustle and bustle was going on I barely had time for myself and to even think. While sitting in what seemed like a bunch of people in mass confusion and chaos I found peace drifting away into my deepest daydreams. I thought of the person I had become and all the building blocks that had taken me there. I couldn't dare name one thing that made me the person I call myself, for so many things in life compile to make someone who they are. My family probably made the most influence on me by what they taught me, the experiences we shared together and of course I look up to them all so whatever they do I see as an example whether it be one to learn from or one to learn to become. Some things about family you just can't explain because there is something so unique about each and every one. With family no matter what happens you know you can always come back to them and they will take you in. My family has been very close all through growing up and even now. With out them I would definitely be a different person. When I think back to when I was younger and how much I have changed I think about the regrets I have about who I used to be. Mostly I wish I wouldn't have been so afraid to say the things I meant to say when I meant to say them to the people that needed to hear them. So many times I have held back for whatever reasons, I didn't want to hurt the persons feelings, look stupid, not be accepted, or be looked down upon in any way. Of course there were the times when I really didn't know what to say, but I knew something needed to be said or done. Not only did I not say things I meant to say but also I restricted myself from doing things I should have done that I just didn't have the guts to do. I think what set me on the road to change was when I started acquiring new friends and people in my life that made me do things and put me in places I wouldn't normally be. I needed that extra push to help get out there on that edge and see what life was really all about. Mandy was one of those people. She opened me up to new experiences and people I would never have dreamed of talking to before. Still at times I find myself holding back and in fear. I was always amazed at those who could just go out and do whatever it was they felt like doing and I used to say to myself, someday I'm going to be like that, live each day doing whatever I feel like doing no matter what it may be. I hadn't lived many days like that really if you look at it concerning all aspects that is. I did start becoming more spontaneous when I met Mandy and my group of friends became bigger and with more variety than before. Sam topped it all though. He was the one who actually took me through that final step of letting go and being who I had always wanted to be, myself. With Sam I had no regrets. If there was something I wanted out of him I told him or if there was something I wanted us to do we did it and the same with him. Sometimes I'd get mad at him, but it was okay because I would tell him exactly what it was that was bothering me. He wouldn't get mad or lose his temper and I never even thought twice about losing or violating the trust in our relationship. If it was something little I wanted him to know even the small things that drove me crazy. Sam and I tried never to hold back because that is the core of regrets which everyone hates no matter how big or how small. Most things come down to control and from control, motivation. In that I mean control and motivation are basic reasons why we do or don't reach our goals in life, if we have made any. It was so hard for me at first to let go and share the control with Sam in our relationship. He is a wonderful person and totally trustworthy, but although I had a hard time admitting it, I like to be in control and when I'm not I feel vulnerable and scared which to me is what most relationships start out like. Because neither of you are really sure of yourselves and both are used to having control of their own life. For Sam and I in the beginning I was scared for more reasons than just losing control and my heart. It just frightened me that he could adore me so quickly and be so fully in love with me that nothing else even phased him or so it seemed. If he wasn't so good to me, that alone probably would have made me drop him like a ton of bricks because that just doesn't happen in real life right? Well somehow I wished on a God kissed star and got sent a close to perfect prince that God knew would make me happy for the rest of my life with not too many regrets.

(No Explanation)

I woke up feeling the worst I have ever felt for a long time. I must have had a bad dream and I hadn't heard from Sam all week. My mind was going crazy! what could he be doing and why hadn't he contacted me? It was 4 days before the wedding and I was a mess. I felt like calling it off and crying until my eyes popped out. I had already eaten way too much and crying really wasn't helping. I called his home number several times as well as his office number but the secretary kept telling me he hasn't been in all week. After long pensing thoughts of udder confusion and exhaustion I decided to drive to my parents house some how I had a feeling they would know what to do and if they didn't I knew my mom's lap would be much more comforting to cry on than on my pillow home alone. The drive seemed to take forever even though it was just as long as it always had been an hour and a half of beautiful scenery. When I got there my mom could read the expression on my face and knew exactly why I had come. There was no reasonable explanation except maybe he wasn't ready to get married and afraid to tell me. He had never been afraid to tell me anything, so I knew it must have been deeper than that. I thought we had always been totally honest with each other, but maybe I was wrong. It had been a very rainy week and this after noon was no different. My face matched the windows although I had not been outside long it was my continuous tear drops that flooded my red cheeks. I couldn't understand it but there was no way to block Sam's disappearance from my thoughts. Two days passed and no one had heard any news from Sam not even his best friend and soon to be best man had an idea of what happened. I called off the wedding not knowing what else to do. My dreams were worse than they had ever been because he was all I thought about and of course my mind came up with terrible things that could have happened to him. With no news about Sam I wondered if things would ever be the same again and If I would ever see him. It definitely wasn't like him so I knew it had to be bad.

(Deep Down Depressed)

This was all too much for me and feeling quite overwhelmed I made myself sick and all became very blurry to me after that. I remember being our guest room surrounded by flowers and then I was floating far away from everything. I could hear voices, but they were distant and not clear to my ears. My days collided with my dreams and most of the time I couldn't tell the difference. I thought I saw Sam walking in the door and reaching his arms out to me, but it must have been a dream because the closer he seemed to get the harder it was to reach him. My head was heavy and I couldn't lift it higher than 4 inches. Friends from home came to visit me and many of the people I had invited to the wedding. Seeing the people I had wanted there to see me marry was hard for me because it made me think more about Sam and what he had to me. Finally I asked my mom not to let any more visitors come. I stayed in bed for what seemed like months, but it had only been about two weeks. I was beginning to get my strength back, but I had lost about 10 pounds. More than anything I was depressed, not wanting to go on or face tomorrow. I did say before that I hadn't really plunged myself into deep depression, well this was pretty close. When you are that far it is very difficult to see the positive side of things which I didn't for a long time. What was I to think about Sam maybe he wasn't "the one" after all, or maybe God would send him back to me with a heck of a good explanation. There was no doubt about it I still loved him, but I just couldn't understand what was going on. Would I be able to forgive him if he comes back to me? I couldn't imagine him doing anything deliberately to hurt me so all I could do was wait. It was time for me to go home and try to put my life back together working around where Sam and I had left off. Those around me could tell that I wasn't myself. I still tried to show a happy face, but inside I was heart broken and gloomy. Nights I had spent in that guest room at home balling and questioning all the possibilities, I cried and I cried 'til my pillow was soaked with tears. Never in my life had I been so hurt by a guy or any one. Why would he just disappear less than a week before our wedding without even a break up if that's what he wanted? The questions turned in my head searching for an answer that could never be found. Life went on without him, but it would never be the same.

Chapter Five

(foolish heart)

The night was cold, but refreshing. The perfect temperature with a cool spring breeze for a nice walk. I felt like I had wasted my time with Sam, now that he was gone. There had been so many good moments to remember too though, but I had no idea what to make of them. I guess the past three years were a learning experience, but I couldn't settle for that after I had been hurt so badly and so deeply with out even a caution to let me know what was coming. Maybe this whole time I hadn't really been true to myself. I thought this is exactly what I wanted. This is the guy I have been waiting for my entire life, he's wonderful and I'm in love with him. Why wouldn't I be? It was very possible that I was truly in love Samuel Stone, but also just as possible that he made it seem that way. I haven't talked much about the side of him I don't exactly appreciate. He's very persuasive, which in some cases can be extremely helpful, but when it really comes down to it he's persuaded me in more ways than one. He definitely fell for me first which naturally made it hard for me not to show the same feelings back towards him even if they weren't fully there. He always told me everything was all right or that it would be, but I guess he was wrong. What I'm really trying to get at here is that I think he may have persuaded me into thinking differently than I really thought. Because he just did everything right and how I had always thought things "should be." , so it didn't take me by surprise that I started to love him and even fall in love with him. The problem is maybe he wasn't really being himself and in that the whole relationship was fake because he presented himself only as I wanted to see him, most of the time and in that persuaded me to love him and want to be with him forever. Now all of this is just a conclusion and I may never know the real answer. He may really be the wonderful guy I know and love and want to spend the rest of my life with, and he may also be laying on the side of the road dead somewhere. I tried to keep my mind away from thoughts like that, but if he really was who I thought he was what other explanation could I draw? I had a feeling it was wrong falling for him so quickly to begin with. Love is a precious and complicated thing not to be given so easily. I did regret giving so much of my heart away to him so quickly, but I thought it would be okay since we were going to be together forever. Now all my hopes are crushed and I don't know how my heart will ever recover from such a loss my foolish mind fell into. Sam made it hard for me to think when I was around him and I often made foolish decisions ... falling in love with him was the first.

(Another Secret)

Mr. S. L. Stone had many secrets I was unaware of. For the past month he had been sitting in the Vermont state penitentiary. At least he wasn't worrying about why he had spent the last three years with me as I was, but he spent his days feeling like the worst guy on earth for standing me up on our wedding day because he used to be a jerk and finally got punished for it. About 7 years ago he had committed a crime in that particular city. Back then he was rather un-wealthy and didn't quite have his morals straight. He was visiting a friend in Vermont, but only had a one way ticket on the bus that got him there so he needed a way to get back, but was totally out of cash. He had been eyeing the car around the block from his friend's house during the entire visit, and on figuring out how to get back home he decided he would steal it and find a way to do it with out his friend knowing. Everything went well until the next month when the police had been looking for Sam and put a warrant out for his arrest. Sam was pretty good at hiding and now the crime was totally out of his head until the police came knocking at his door. He could no longer run. After 7 years Samuel Landin Stone was being arrested for Grand Auto Theft. His sentence was 2 months and an added month for running from authorities. When I received all this information in the mail I didn't want to believe it, and the only reason I did was because the mail stamp said Vermont on it clearly next to the date in red letters. All I could think was that at least my worst worries weren't true and Sam still loved me and he really was the man I thought he was, well for the most part. I guess certain things nobody wants to tell about themselves, and Sam knew how to hide things. I found that out the day Amanda came to his door that night. Hope was still in my mind that he would no longer keep secrets from me, because every time he has, it has hurt me and almost destroyed us. I wrote him back the very next day and promised to come see him and bail him out if I could, so we could finally get married. For a while I thought I would never see him again and I almost didn't want to if my worst thoughts were which now I knew they weren't. He knew how bad it hurt me and promised to make it all up to me on our honey moon. This all was hard to accept, but I knew Sam had changed from his ways of bad morals and carelessness. Even in the past three years he had changed right before my eyes and I can't wait to see more of it. I felt pretty silly for everything that had happened while he was gone; especially my depression episode of a few weeks. I had so much to tell him when he got back and I began to get excited again and feel more like myself.

(The good man)

Like it's been said many times before, no one can tell you your in love and it never has a specific schedule to follow- One day out of the blue you just know. And it's not that pondering "well I guess so" kind of thing, you feel it in you bones and with every breath that you take. Sometimes people can be mistaken when they think they are in love but really aren't. Sam is definitely the first guy I've been in love with, although I have loved others, "in love" is a much more complex concept. Before Sam I had only had 3 serious boyfriends. Even though they obviously weren't right for me, I'm glad that I dated all of them. As the saying goes - a woman has to love at least one bad man in her life to appreciate the good one. Sam is my good one and now I know that. With one of the three whom I chose to date in high school, I mostly dated because at the time I didn't have a wide range of options. This wasn't the best idea, but we did have some good times together. His name was Dorrian Hunter. A year older than me, about a foot taller, and had the charm of a cobra. Surprisingly enough he wasn't all that attractive, it was that charm that had girls flocking to him. He just knew how to talk and so naturally he seemed like the perfect guy as all do in the beginning. (Dorrian was the one who came out and made me feel better that night I had been crying at youth group). We went out a few times before deciding to be an "item" and he treated me better than most guys. The best thing about being with Dorrian is that I always felt good about myself since he had those wits about him knowing exactly what I wanted to hear. A relationship like that couldn't last because of course he wasn't always honest and he was very materialistic. We dated for 6 months after which I broke up with him. It did help me gain more self confidence and so I moved on to Tony Randalls. He didn't have quite the charm of Dorrian, but was much more sincere. Sophomore year is where it began with Tony, 2 months after I had dumped Dorrian. His Hershey kiss chocolate eyes and well built body drew me to him at first. I sat infront of him in one of my classes and he was always playing with my hair. I thought it was just a thing guys liked to do, but then one day he followed me down the hall and asked me to lunch. Hearing those words come out of his mouth was like a sensationally good dream that you don't want to wake from, but I didn't have to. After that we were always together and he seemed to get a little obsessive. I liked it at first because I received so much extra attention from him, but then he wanted to get more physical than I was ready for after we'd been dating for close to 4 months. I didn't brake up with him then because I thought things would change and he was just so adorable and sweet I couldn't. Another month went by and I was getting so sick of how clingy and touchy he liked to be. Now I don't remember who really broke up with who because we both claimed we did. He got mad at me one night when he was over at my house and I wouldn't barely let him touch me. I told him how it bothered me so much and then it just blew up into a huge fight and we both said we'd find someone better. So yes, Tony sounds like a huge mistake, but I learned a lot from that relationship and not just how to kiss like a mad woman on death row, since that was what we did most. The last guy I dated before Sam I thought would be the guy I'd spend forever with. Actually now that I think about it, he and Sam do have a lot in common. Sean Bordeaux was his name and he seemed to have every quality I had been looking for in a guy. It was my senior year and I met him at a church barbecue hosted my Aunt Lola. I noticed him because obviously he was a knew face, but not only that, he was a hit with everyone. I mean he walked around and talked to pretty much every person there, even me. Usually it's a person's eyes that capture me, but I couldn't see his at first because he was wearing shades. He stood about six foot I thought and had the most charming smile I had ever seen. I was surprised at how friendly he was to me since we didn't really know each other but before the night was over we had already made plans to meet again. His personality was so true and so genuine, but we did eventually brake up. It wasn't that he had any huge character flaw because I still admire him today, but Sean and I were just two very different people with very different styles of thinking. We wanted opposite things out of life and had a hard time understanding each other. Most of this didn't surface the relationship until we had been dating for a few years. At first Sean and I did seem to want the same things out of life and worked rather well together, but there was always that sense that he had no idea what I was talking about. The look on his face when I would try to explain myself will never leave me, It was so sweet and innocent sometimes I gave up trying. That was the problem, I was always afraid to hurt him and most of the time I held back on being honest, thinking I was helping the relationship when in actuality I was digging a deeper hole to its end. As suspected he had no idea that I held things back from him and shortly after our third year anniversary I exploded on him. We decided it would be best not to see each other any more and after that he moved away to make it easier on us both. Sean was the best of the three and the hardest to get over losing. I loved all three or at least I thought I did, and maybe too easily because when it all started I didn't know how precious the gift of love could be. Although I thought I guarded my heart quite carefully, I just wasn't careful enough because I can never take back what I have given to them. For a long time it seemed like all of them still kept that part of my heart I so graciously offered without request I wanted it back so badly. I couldn't renew the innocence I once had or the newness of pure wholehearted love until I let go of all of them and the regrets that went with them. When Sam came along I was on my way to that place of renewal which he helped me to find. And now I really can appreciate the good man.

("'Til death do us part")

Two months had passed since I had last seen my fiancÚ before I could gather enough money to make bail for him. Of course I was excited to see Sam, but I wondered why he had never told me about this petty crime of his. I guess he liked to keep secretive, but this would not do in a marriage. On the way back home I wanted Sam to tell me everything he could think of that he had never told me or had kept from me. We had a long drive and this would be a good way to learn new things about my husband to be. Two years after he had stolen the car he became a Christian and I guess he was just too afraid to go to the police about what he had done, but he knew he had to turn his life around. One of the first things he worked on was his language after becoming a Christian. His tongue wasn't all that tame and after reading about taming the tongue in the book of James he made it a first priority. Now he was so gentle and rarely spoke a harsh word to anyone. I could hardly believe he was talking about himself when explained all the bad habits he used to have because they were more than nonexistent the way I saw it. All the things he said he had a problem with I saw just the opposite in him now. His family hadn't been too supportive of in him in any way really, so as soon as he could he moved out and lived with Brian for a while. They both had planned on joining the Marines, but Sam changed his mind after talking with his old high school drafting teacher. He told Sam if he got things together he could get a great scholarship for college and become a wonderful architect. Sam had always trusted Mr. Lawrence and received a great amount of assurance and confidence from his advice. A month later Sam was on his way to becoming his dream and what no one else ever believed he could be. He worked hard, long hours all week, but his grades made a good show for it. Straight A's all through college proved Mr. Lawrence's point and made Sam the new architect of New York's finest association in design and building. Sam moved up the latter of success quickly here. There were so many clients adoring his designs he thought about opening his own branch, but the thought stayed in his mind until he was confident he could do it. In his past Sam went through many struggles, but with an amazing amount of strength, given to him by the only one who has that ability, he conquered them and turned them into success. I've always said God has a way of doing things at exactly the right moment to change you life. Moments add up to become great things. Sam's story had me in tears because I had no idea where he had come from. I had always seen him as he was and not known how he had gotten there. It made me admire him even more than I did before because now I knew what he had been through and how much courage it took to get there. I felt so lucky that he would be the man to take care of me "'til death do us part."

(Holding "His" Hand)

It's hard to understand why things occur sometimes in life. Mostly we question the bad, but sometimes I do find myself questioning the good. We wonder why this has happened and where it will lead the rest of our life and usually there is no logical answer. Many nights I've lied awake starring into God's wonderful, massive sky and begged him to give me an answer. When we are weak thoughts aren't clear and the impossible seems even more impossible. Accepting that God will take care of whatever happens and that he indeed has a predetermined plan is the only conclusion that can be found true or at least that is all we can find hope in. I worry and I wonder and my curiosity drives me wild as I ponder life's little details where I can find no rhyme or reason, no subtle purpose for what may come to mind. Worrying is a waste of time, I know, but though I am aware of the fact and also that God hates it when I worry because it means I am not trusting him, I continue my pointless habit. Time and again He has told me Do Not Worry, I will take care of you and tomorrow has enough worries of it's own. It only makes sense that worrying about tomorrow will do no good because it is in the future we can't get there any faster just by wishing it. God wants us to live for today ... live for the moment. Take in all that you can because there won't ever be the same chance that you had at that very moment of opportunity, for love, for friendship, for trust, for experience, for glorification in God's name. So, Don't sit back and let the moment pass you by because a life full of regrets is no life at all. He is working on me every day, more some than others depending on how much I let him. Without my full trust and selflessness God will not use me and I know that. Everyday I remember that it is new and I can start all over again. I say, "I'll try to be better today God, but I need your help. I don't know what's around the corner, would you peek for me and make sure it's all right? Hold my hand and remind me that you are there for support in case I fall or make the wrong turn somewhere. I need your strength because I don't want to just get through the day,... I want to make the day full of joy because you are in it. I want other people to see you too God because of me, but I guess sometimes I really just don't know how. Sometimes I doubt and that's when I really need that extra nudge to let me know that I cannot fail when you are with me. And if I need to cry because I just can't hold it in anymore I like to know that I can find comfort in you even if it's about something silly. So please guide me today to be the girl you want me to be and if I fail you Lord I know you'll let me start all over tomorrow, for tomorrow is a brand new day." What could there possibly be in a day that you and God can't handle together? Absolutely nothing and there never will be as long as you keep holding his hand all day long.

(Finding what you're looking for)

Why is it that when we're looking for something we can never find it and then the moment we stop looking there it is staring us in the face. The problem is when that time comes we no longer need whatever it was we were looking for because that space has been filled with something else. It could be a job, that certain taste that makes your tongue go wild, or just that perfect pair of jeans that make your butt look wonderful. It may be that when you stop looking it all falls in to place, well for some people this is the case, others aren't so lucky. After college I was searching for a guy to fill the void in my life because I felt lonely and most of the friends I made in college had gotten married after graduation. This wasn't the right approach or reason to be "guy scoping." I dated pretty frequently, but it seemed like there was no one out there who could match up to the idealistic guy in my head. Well that is until I met Sam. By then I had stopped looking and really even caring about dating all together. I was hopeless feeling that I could never find my perfect match. My focal point turned to other things like pursuing my career as a masseuse and I spent most of my time doing things with friends instead of worrying about the good lookin' guy in the shiny sparkling camero. All right, I may have checked him out, but there was definitely no worrying going on. Any ways, I decided my life needed a change and less stress and that is where I began. When Sam came along I never suspected it would be anything long term. He just seemed like one of the many who liked to come in and out of my life, which I was prepared for, but surprised when he didn't give up. In the past, I tested most guys patience, not because I had an aggressive nature (I am quite the opposite) it was more that they were ready to do things I wasn't, so there were always two choices: wait, or give up. A light dawned on me when Sam turned out to be patient. I just knew he wasn't going to be like the rest and let me down. I had prayed so many times for God to send me the right guy and just when I stopped worrying about it telling God "Whoever and whenever" he sent me Sam. Simply sweet, sensational Sam. He's my pair of perfect jeans; that flavor that makes my mouth go wild and long for more. He's what I've always been looking for and failed to find on my own. I needed help and when I was finally done asking for it, God gave it to me any ways. Its like that saying, "I chased after love for what seemed like forever, but it was when I stopped to take a rest that it found me." I was the girl who feared change and loved my scheduled life knowing exactly what could happen every moment. I still liked being prepared for things, but Sam was one of those people who after knowing him, you would never be the same again no matter who you were. Like I said before love has an incredible power attached to it and with that power your whole world can be changed around even your frame of reference in the way you think and the things that you except. With a guy like Sam coming into my life you'd think he'd throw it of balance, which I so willfully protected, but instead he completed my universe and now knowing that, it would definitely be incomplete without him.

(Why we're meant to be)

It was obvious that we couldn't have the perfect wedding that May since Sam had been in jail, so we decided the best alternative would be to wait until the following May and try it again. He promised this time he would not be unavoidably detained. Nine months would lead us to our wedding day we so anxiously awaited, because it was now August and the weather starting to change. Sometimes I questioned why and how Sam could be in love with me. I guess it just seemed to good to be true, but I knew we had our rough times to make up for the fairy tale treasures. Sam was so reassuring and so full of perseverance, I knew that was really what kept our relationship working. He never left me hanging or took my concerns too lightly. If he sensed a problem or just that I had a bad day he was always there to comfort me, to let me talk it all out, or cry against his broad chest. Sometimes it was the other way around and those days were nice too. When he was upset or full of emotions about something we did the same thing only I go to be the one comforting and stroking his head on my shoulder. We made me feel wonderful that we had that kind of trust in each other and almost that we needed each other to make it through whatever the situation was at the time. I found strength in Sam's perseverance and love; he found strength in my compassion and trust. All it took was for him to look into my eyes and I would trust whatever it was he needed me to. I knew from the moment I met him that he was trustworthy and it all started with those glacier blue intensifying eyes. It was almost curse as much as it was a blessing to me because although they were beautiful and I could read his emotions through them, he could get me to do almost anything with only that simple look. He always said my eyes did the same to him, and maybe they did. I guess there is just something about eyes that makes me crazy. I have always believed you can tell a person by their eyes "Eyes are the secret tongues of love" as I have heard. They tell you what a person is thinking without speaking any words at all. Only those who truly know you can read those messages we so carefully try to hide from a certain look or expression mostly given by the eyes. Mine have gotten me in to trouble too many times and that is why sometimes I avoid eye contact with people when I know my eyes will give me away of what I am truly feeling inside. It's almost a contradiction (like I said I continually contradict myself- not because I mean to, it's just that either I can't make up my mind, or I definitely see both points of view) because I feel in a conversation you should have eye contact with a person. It shows you respect them and that you are interested in what they are saying. I guess in certain circumstances it's just awkward to have eye contact or like I said before when I know I'll give myself away I'll avoid it at all cost. Just simple nonsense like this confuses most people about me (guys in particular), and I guess I have been one to think things over much too deeply, but Sam doesn't seem to mind when I ramble on about no certain thing, actually he almost finds it amusing. I love Sam for the man he is, the man he's working on becoming and the person he inspires me to be.

(Moving on)

Somehow in the midst of these blessings and wonderful occurrences in my life, the bad seems to jump out at me and tear me down. It's not anything big really, just all the little things that add up to a huge explosion. Mostly I think about things I find wrong with myself because almost everything else in my life appears perfect except for me and that is why I always wonder why I am the one who is granted the pleasure of living it. My feet are too big and not quite smooth and silky. The shape of my legs is very disappointing and a key reason as to why I spend summer after summer dreading those days when shorts are the only option. Some people say love handles are great, they give ya something to hang onto, but to me they are another part I try my best too avoid showing. From my point of view my tummy could never be as tight as desired or my arms as slender as wished. My short auburn locks never please me until I've wasted way too much time on them. That little black dress now accentuates my larger than desired backside instead of giving the intended sexy impression. When it comes to looks there are few things I'm proud of. From head to toe there may be just three, but those are my secrets and if I were to tell, who knows what you'd think of me then. I'm way too laid back and never take the chance that comes. My regrets haunt me long after my opportunities pass. I wish I were someone else sometimes; someone who had a little attitude and aggression to get what they want and do what needs done. I lose control, but there is a question as to whether I ever had it in the first place. To me it's more comforting when others know what they're doing and let me tag along for the ride. I know what I want but, it's easier settling for less. I've been lazy, stupid, and shy. A simple task can make me crazy if I don't know the specifics of what I'm doing and that's when I give up and it all comes crashing down. Giving up is probably my worst and most guilty crime of all. "It's too tough for me" I'd say, or, "Somebody else could do it better, I'll just let them." It angers me inside that I could be the kind of person that I am and yet no one else seems to notice. I wondered maybe it's all in my head and I really am the person they all think I am. I guess it's just when I'm tired, lonely, or stressed that I start to tear myself apart. It really makes everything worse because as it starts with my physical appearance, well we all know what someone like me would do when they feel sad or bad about themselves... eat a whole lot or nothing at all. Kodak moment: sitting infront of the TV biting my nails with a half gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream, extra fudge brownies, and crunchy caramel corn crying to "AWalk in the Clouds" and other chick flicks. Breaking down appearance turns into breaking down personality and relationships. Sometimes this can be a good time, but usually it's just wallowing in self pity. Pathetic, I know, like I've said before these kind of scenarios are totally self centered and that is why I have so many inner conflicts because I am aware of what I'm doing. Most of those self pity kind of things I have long gotten over because when you are genuinely happy almost nothing can bring you down. There is always room for a few blue days, I mean everybody has a right to those. I guess my perspectives on life keep changing as I suppose it makes sense as I learn and experience more and more. I believe that if you truly want to have a good day and make up your mind that you will, nothing can really hold you back, no matter if it's the day you have a huge exam, a public speech, or the day you're stuck in the mud going to your best friends birthday party. In your heart if you know that God is with you and there is nothing you can't handle together then in any situation on any day of the week he will bless and make your day wonderful. It's really all about the attitude. God already knows what is going to happen to you each and every day. He knows you're going to be late for that staff meeting because you spilled coffee all down your pants on the way to work and he knows you're going to trip and make a fool of yourself infront of a group of important executives. The trick is doing the unexpected and being the person who smiles in all kinds of weather, rain or storm. When you say it's going to be all right and just take things one day at a time, one moment at a time, you'll realize what life is all about. Life isn't about impressing people or getting everything done "just right," it's about showing people love, perseverance, and sheer happiness because Christ is in your life.... and how can you do that when you're feeling sorry for yourself because nobody liked your presentation at work? Nobody likes a mope who can't move on and handle the cards of life they get dealt.

(A week on the beach)

The next nine months were some of the best times of my life. Sam and I spent hours doing the insane, or sometimes we did absolutely nothing. We knew we would be married in not too long so we spent all of our time trying to find things out about the other person that we didn't already know. I had nothing to hide and nothing to fear, so for the next few months before we got married Sam and I made several memories on which neither of us will ever forget. We took a week off and rented a condo on the coast. Of course we took Mandy and Brian along to enjoy the adventure. It was wonderful. One morning Sam came over to our side of the condo and woke me up just before the sun rise. It was breezy, but the sound of the ocean was so beautiful and peaceful along with the occasional chipper chirp of the birds, it made me want to stay there forever. He took my hand and we ran down the beach barefoot feeling the smooth, silky sand between our toes. I got a chill from the cool morning wind and we stopped running. Sam put his sweatshirt on me and then swept me off my feet, twirled me around and kissed me. We continued walking down the beach and then we found the perfect place to sit and watch the sun rise. While keeping me toasty Sam planted sweet kisses all over me. He started with my hand and then worked his way up to my face. It wasn't rushed, but perfect and sensational. When he finally reached my face I was ready for those luscious lips. We kissed for a while and then spent the rest of the morning cuddling while the sun peaked over horizon. It was a beautiful moment. The quiet, calm, majestic ocean gently whirring as the subtle waves moved across the shore. Sam's hard body holding mine as together we watched God make a morning with his glorious works. Slowly we walked back to the condo to find Brian and Mandy curled up on the couch watching a movie. They didn't have to ask where we were or what we were doing because they knew, and if we hadn't have been out there they probably would have taken the opportunity on such a beautiful day. I admired Mandy and Brian's relationship. They had been together an awfully long time and never run into major conflict or broken up numerous times as many people do that take on a long term relationship. I decided it was because Brian had a knack for knowing exactly what a girl wanted and when she wanted it, particularly Mandy. They were a perfect fit right from the start. Brian was good at reading girls, not because he had dated a lot, but because he spent so much time watching and listening, two things the average guy doesn't have time for. He also had the advantage of living with 3 sisters so he an inside view of "the girl world." Sam on the other hand was pretty good all around guy, but at times he seemed to have his head screwed on wrong. He had a younger brother and that was it. No insight to the girl world except through his lovely mother and long list of past girlfriends. Attractive people seem to have the upper hand when it comes to getting a "significant other" as I like to call it. Naturally Sam had went through a number of girlfriends because he was obviously attractive and seemed like a nice guy. Well, now of course he's wonderful, but he didn't always used to be. He never treated girls badly on purpose, it just sort of happened because he had no idea what he was doing. After a few quite harsh break ups he figured out he must be doing something wrong and went to the help of his good buddy Brian who took him in and tried to teach him all he knew. Sam tried to stay out of the dating game for a while, but girls kept coming to him and he couldn't help being his natural flirty self and after all he was a guy. How could he turn down beautiful women lining up for him. After a while he began to stay with his girlfriends longer and longer without breaking up. Although he was seeing a lot of girls and actually starting to understand them, he suddenly realized there just weren't any he really liked. Brian has been a huge help to Sam in learning all the little quirks women hide so carefully, but I know he's got to have some weaknesses somewhere in his knowledge of relationships. That week we spent at the coast was one of the happiest and most carefree weeks I have ever spent somewhere. The night before we left Mandy and Brian had been gone a long time and when they came back they had the biggest smiles on their faces and I could tell Mandy had been crying. He proposed! She showed off the ring and couldn't stop hugging and kissing him. I knew they'd be happy together forever just like Sam would be. They wanted to get married the next summer, which wouldn't be too long after Sam and I were married. What a coincidence best friends marrying best friends. Well since there are no coincidences... I know God had it planned from the start so we'd have the strong to lean on when we are weak.

Chapter Six

(Through Teary Eyes)

It's easy to figure out that you are the only one who controls what kind of day you have, but most people try to blame it on someone else. I guess I have been lucky enough to see mostly all positive sides of life. In the past, and even more so today, I've tried to appreciate each day for what it is and all the people who make it so wonderful. Sometimes I find myself standing amazed at the smallest things that make up all there is in this world. Eating an orange is just fascinating, or even more so a pomegranate. God's creativity is so detailed and perfect I can't wait to see what he will bless me with next. Never really seeing myself as an optimist or a pessimist, but somewhere in between, I think I have a way of seeing both sides to things. I do understand that people just have a bad days sometimes because I have had my share as well, but more importantly I realize that it was their choice to call judgment on that day-deciding whether it was bad or good. It's nice to be up in the clouds seeing the potential each day holds to be wonderful, but when that storm hits and all seems to be bad and wrong, that is when it is truly hard to see what good could come from all that mess. When the darkness clears away and we realize how silly we have been for hiding behind the clouds waiting for the storm be over we want to laugh at ourselves for being so afraid. I know I have hidden behind those clouds as many chances I felt I needed to, because life gets tough and scary sometimes and naturally we don't know what else to do. God's been working me one patch at a time. My mind and heart are beginning to see what he wants me to do and mostly it's just becoming more open, honest and patient. I feel He puts certain people in our lives to help us become better people. They leave impressions on our hearts that make us want to try harder and be the best that we can be. With out them we would not have gained that extra energy to go one more step or try one more time.

I sat there in a room full of familiar faces I hadn't seen in years. We were all there for the same reason; all brought together simply because one special person had touched our lives. The memories, the moments of sharing and confessing, loving and hoping, giving and receiving became clear in my mind and in the minds and thoughts of those around me too. So many emotions were swelling up inside of me. I wanted to scream and do something that would relieve this great urge I had inside me. My skin was crawling and somehow I felt I had been turned inside out, because clearly it could be read across my face what I was feeling. The love I felt sitting there listening to those I had grown to admire brought tears to my eyes. It made me yearn for understanding, strive to appreciate those who love me and those that I love, and most of all it gave me hope. As I watched a man express the deep almost indescribable love he had for his wife I knew then, that what he was talking about, is exactly the kind of love I dreamed of having someday. I never realized how much impact one person could have on the lives of so many people until that day. My life had been touched long before that day, but it was then that I understood the capacity it held. My hopes were to find that love that would impact me the way I saw it impact that man and to possibly touch half as many people as I saw a single person do. For one of the first times in my life I think I really saw what love is and what kind of power love has. Ten years later some of those hopes came true. I found that person who impacted me in a way no one else ever could and we shared that kind of love I once admired in a man through teary eyes.

(Vanity) [Sept. 30 (dec.1)]

Appearances used to be a big part of life. I wanted to be the person everyone noticed when I walked into a room- original, trendy, and yes as most girls dream what I most wanted was for people to think I was gorgeous. I'm writing this now because I feel I am on the rode to recovery from this vanity and selfish ambition. I always thought that since I was a quiet person I needed to speak louder with my looks or no one would notice me. This is all together bad logic as I realize now, but it seemed to make sense then. My whole mind set was around the way I looked and how I felt other people saw me. Of course, every girl wants to be pretty and that in itself is no sin. It's when you are so focused on the way you look and you neglect other more important parts of your life that it begins to be a problem. I knew that God loved me no matter how I looked (after all he made me) and that my true friends could care less if I was in a hot red dress or a big baggy sweatshirt, but for some reason it just didn't click. My jeans were tight accentuating my once cute butt, and my shirts revealing as much as I could get away with. Somewhere there was a definite turning point in which I chose to change my thinking in this area. I can't remember exactly when, but it was sometime towards the end of high school. I was dating Sean at the time and from the start he hadn't really cared what I looked like. Well that is what I did with what I looked like. Of course at first I tried impressing him with my choice clothing and accentuating facial features with make-up. But either way, although he complimented my efforts, he loved me just the same. This made an incredible impact on my self esteem as well as my decision to change the way I presented myself. He made me realize that it didn't matter what was on the outside, even though it may be pretty, but a person's heart really is what makes them beautiful. Sean and I had several bible studies together and one of them we looked into Romans where it particularly talks about not conforming to the world and their point of view on things, but striving to be like God. It made me think a lot about how much influence the world had on my life and I wanted to make a change, so the next week I got together all my clothes that I felt had to go and took them to an exchange store. Sean was so proud of me, so we went out for ice cream that night. As I look around today, I see the same problems of worldly immodesty and materialism that I had. My heart goes out to the people for I know what they are going through and I want to help them as I was helped. It is such a mixed up world out there that few people truly understand any more the meaning of life and the simpleness of right and wrong. Sometimes I lose hope for the rest of mankind because they are all so ignorant, but I know that if everyone felt this way they would stay ignorant. Of course there are many a times when I slip up and am ashamed of myself. The devil knows my weaknesses well and when on the road to recovery is when he likes to strike the hardest that we may fall back into it.

(A Cold Night of Confusion) [Oct. 13]

A day of utter confusion seemed to be bordering. I felt like I was losing my mind. My heart kept screaming the right things and my head was lost in all other thoughts. Everything seemed misty and unsure. Somehow there was no distinction between fact and fiction, right and wrong, or truth and lies. Every gesture every move I made showed outwardly that I was beaming with joy, satisfied with life, and eternally ready, but inside I was feeling the opposite. I wanted to curl up on the lap of someone who loved me and cry because I was confused and there were just too many emotions to explain in words. The only way to possibly get them out would be through passionate flowing tears with the comfort of a friend to tell me that it would all turn out. I walked outside into the cold. The evening had a brutal crisp to it, turning all of me to shivers and I continued on the long road in the night's whispering wind. Loneliness took over me with the iciness of the night adding to my discomfort. I felt I had no one to turn to and no one to hear my cries, but that cold night that brought frost to the grass below my feet. It seemed to take forever to get to where I was going. The night had brought more than frost and chills to me that evening, it also brought upon sheer darkness and I wasn't really sure where I was going. Could it be to that blurred light in the distance? All I could think is that I must keep walking towards something because I knew that if I didn't, I would be a captive of the night and all it's discomforts and never find the right path that lay somewhere near. It couldn't be far I thought. Not long ago I had walked along that road in the sunlight with friends and laughter to keep me company. Now there were no friends and definitely no laughter. For just a moment I stopped. Where did I go wrong? my mind tried to understand. Did I get too caught up in life that I stumbled and fell off the road leading to where I should be going? Or maybe I just wasn't moving fast enough that I got pushed to the side and now I can't find my way. My pace never has been real steady, but I've always kept moving... even if was it was a crawl. I looked down and my feet were not visible to the human eyes I possessed. So, I closed them and took several deep breaths trying to listen for a sign or anything that could help me find what I so desperately searched for in the midst of that darkness. My limbs began to grow numb as I stood so quietly with the humming sound of wind at my back. It was almost as if I wasn't there and I had been dreaming. My body was sending signals to give up and just fall over right there, but something deep down inside me almost shouted "keep going, you must keep going, walk faster now." With out knowing where I was going or what I was really searching for, I went. The voice was right. I no longer felt the frosty grass beneath my feet, it was now a smooth textured path that could only have come from something good. The day had been so strange. Everything I thought to be true had failed me and I didn't know what else to do, but try and face it for myself. I searched for warmth, a warmth that could soothe me within and make me understand why my world had suddenly turned around. The light was getting brighter now. Could it be I was coming near to my destination? My only hope stood in that light, if that too was wrong ,as were all my other feelings about life, I would be doomed and set to live my life forever in that despicable darkness. Fuzzy voices brought attention to my ears. For a moment I thought they were singing, but then all grew quiet again and I began to feel dizzy. A great gust of wind came in from behind me and I fell. I went down with a scream because it frightened me. When I awoke the voices were there again, this time they seemed much clearer and I could tell they were joyful and focused. I yearned for that feeling of joyfulness again and I new I had to get up. Strength I didn't think I had left pulled me up. Again I heard that something from inside me it said, "Go to the sweet sounding voices. They know you are coming and they will give you warmth and a loving lap that you seek." I could barely move because my bones ached with the darkness and cold I had been in for so long. This was the only way, so I took all the strength I had and charged toward the light and the songs of praise I heard coming from the hillside. I could see infront of me now and the hillside appeared to be covered in wildflowers starlight. it looked so good and comforting I could hardly wait until my arrival. My throat had been dry and the cold was choking me. My lungs wanted to give out because they ached so badly. When I reached the foot of the hill, the whole atmosphere seemed to brighten. I could almost feel a smile and warm sunshine shooting out from the tips of this wonderful place. Suddenly I fell to my knees and cried out "Who am I to come to such a wonderful place? I don't deserve it. But I'm so lonely and cold inside and out. will someone help me! please help me!" At this point things began to blur again because I had doubted and tears continuously rolled from my cheeks to soft fluffy ground beneath me. "I can't go on" I sighed through my tears. This time there was no voice to guide me or give me strength, but I felt so unworthy to be loved. A tingly sensation moved throughout my entire body and I wondered what was going on. I wasn't so cold any more and I could hear powerful, convicted voices all around me, but still I could not understand what they were saying. I felt beneath me and this time it very different. amongst a group of indescribably beautiful beings I was laying. My head was in the lap of some one I had never met before, but it seemed as if I had known them all my life because whoever it was they gave off a loving vibe that warmed me all over. Puddles of tears had wet the lap I so graciously laid my head on, and then I wondered how I had gotten there when I had felt so alone and the darkness had almost captured me forever. I looked up and around. All those who where in this perfect place had the same hope the same joy and the same love. I didn't quite understand it. Why had they taken me in? and how could they be so loving? Even though the words they sang were still fumbled in my head, the feelings and emotions in which they sang told me so much more than words ever could. The first thing I looked for when I gained my full sight back was the light that led me out of that terrible darkness. There wasn't a light to be seen anywhere and yet the room was as bright as the warmest summer day. How could this be? Each being that surrounded me had such a joy and extreme true gladness in their heart that it shined with radiance and brightness like nothing I had ever seen. I was so glad to be out of the darkness and cold that brought such chills and discouragement that night. Confusion had steered me off coarse and now the light has brought me back. I had found warmth and love and in this perfect place on a hillside of wildflowers and starlight I also found peace away from utter confusion and the misty, unsure life I thought I was living. Now I know that no matter what I must always keep moving because the moment I stop my world is blurred and my focus on the light wavers. There will always be a right path to stay on and someone at the end of it waiting to let you cry on their lap.

(Take a moment to sit on a park bench)

Life is too short not to laugh through. There have been too many times when I should have just shaken things off and laughed instead of being so serious and getting upset. There is just something about laughing with someone that makes your whole day better. I don't know exactly what triggers it, but it seems like laughter can spread as easy as butter on a warm piece of banana bread. I love to laugh. Sometimes it doesn't even have to be for a particular reason. I can just start laughing and it carries to someone else and pretty soon at least everyone is smiling. For most of my life I have been known to be a little bit peculiar. I guess I just see the world differently than everyone else and for some reason I tend to say things out of the blue. Maybe it's because God thought people need to spend more time laughing. I'm a very curious person and it's when I state my curiosities out loud that laughter rolls back at me. I can't help it that my mind wonders about the strangest things and I like to share them with everyone else to see if maybe they might have an answer. It's just another way of expressing myself and letting others know that there is brain activity going on when I'm just sitting there quietly starring into the great unknown, even though it may be off the wall. If you just sit and actually watch a day go by it can be quite humorous. I laugh to myself at every day activities just watching the way people interact with each other. So one day you may find me sitting on a park bench alone, laughing. It's not because I heard a funny joke or because anyone has spoken even a word to me, but I laugh because life holds so much joy for me and I find irony a situation that most don't even stop to notice. I hope I will always have the time to sit and enjoy life's simple pleasures. What is life all about any ways if we can't stop to enjoy a little laughter? Is there really anything that you can't laugh about? Well there may be a few, but I'm just saying life is much too short to go though without stopping to sit on a park bench.

"Life is just a bowl of cherries, so live and laugh at it all."

(Kiss and Make-up) [Oct. 29]

The year before Sam and I got married, I seemed to be going through this phase in and out of depression and extreme mood swings. I tried to blame it on stress and just different things, but there had to be a true cause of it all I thought. Usually whenever I had a problem with something I tried to think in my mind what could have caused it to see how I could change the circumstance. Most of my problems during this time I traced back to myself. It was all an attitude, as I found most problems are. For some reason I was always looking out for me to make sure I was pleased before other people and instead of the outcome I had expected it only made me unhappy and feel down all the time. I never knew it was so draining to be selfish. Some days I was a real moap and I could tell no one was really enjoying hanging around me, so I would leave and go off by myself searching for something to make me feel better. Thinking, mostly brought me to the conclusion that it was me causing all the difficulty and unpleasantness. I felt the worst about how I had been treating Sam. During those few months I had neglected him a lot almost taking it for granted that he loved me more than anything on this earth. It was like he was mine now and I didn't have to try to make our relationship any better because we were already linked and inseparable. After a while Sam became distant and we didn't talk as much as usual. This was a major mistake because communication is everything in a relationship. I felt empty and sad and I wanted to cry, but couldn't. There was so much to trigger it, but no one for me to lay my head on. It had been a week since Sam and I talked and I was going mad. This is suppose to be the man who wakes up every morning dying to hear what I have to say lying next to him. It was my fault for being so selfish and neglecting our relationship. The next time we talked he told me he wanted to take a little break and spend some time alone for a while. A break I thought. What does he mean? Then I started to panic and wonder what would happen. But he was probably right that we needed one and after the way I had been treating him he may deserve better. I agreed to the break and shortly afterwards went home to think and cried for hours. It was a good cry and I had been needing it. The next week I was ready to be back with my man again even if he didn't believe me. I called him and told him that we needed to talk, so we met at one of our special spots and went for a walk. He told me I had changed over the last few months and he didn't like what he was seeing in me and he got scared. It did make sense. I would have been scared too if the person I was going to marry in less than a year started acting how I had. I couldn't look him in the face for most of the time we were talking. I felt ashamed and I tried not to let him see the tears rolling down as he spoke of his disappointment. We came to a bench on our walk and he offered me a seat, so willingly I sat down still not looking at him. We sat there silent for a few moments and then I got up the courage to say something. I turned to him with tear stained eyes and said "Sam, I am so sorry for the way I have treated you lately...neglecting you and not being the kind of girl anyone wants to have around. I've just been confused and selfish and I guess I never thought there was a chance I could lose you... and that was wrong of me because you deserve better. You're the best man I've ever known and anyone would be more than well blessed to be the girl to stand by your side. I just don't know what I'm doing anymore. I'm lost and I'm regretful and I don't know what I'm doing. Sam, I love you and nothing will ever change that. I'm sorry I was such a jerk to you, but you know I would never mean to hurt you." Through this whole speech I was balling, but I did manage to look into his deep penetrating eyes through the tears. When I finally could say no more because of them, Sam looked at me with an expression I had never seen before. He didn't know what to say and I had long lost it. I looked up at him questioningly and noticed a single tear drop trickle down from the corner of his pastel blue eyes. He loves me I thought. He put his arm around me as I continued to cry. My head was slipping from his comforting broad shoulder, so I let it fall and scooted closer so my it fit right up against his chest. I loved to hear his heart beat and now it was ever so steady, like a drum. A few moments passed and I looked up at him again. His eyes were wet , so I gently wiped them and laid my head back against his firm chest. He turned me back to face him and without a word kissed me with more passion than I knew he possessed. "I guess this means you still want to marry me, huh?" I said after a few minutes had passed. He smiled and replied with I Love you, then returned to kissing me.

(True Peace) [Nov. 7/9]

There are not many times in a person's life when they feel they are at peace with everything. As people, we find it hard just to let things go. When we hold on to something for so long it grows on us and becomes a burden that we continually bare each day. once I heard a saying that said, "No matter how long you nurse a grudge it will never get better." That is so true, but a lot of people are still nursing their grudges. Jesus tells us to lay our burdens unto him and we will find peace and rest. Every time I read that verse it makes me feel relieved because I forget sometimes that He's there to carry our burdens for us. I'll take a deep breath and say "okay God, I'm giving it to you." Life in America is so busy and fast paced sometimes we forget to breath and spend time on the things that really matter. I have been guilty on this too many times to count. I know He's still working on me and with every experience I learn a little more about what he wants me to be. Times I can think of truly feeling at peace in my life is when I felt I was doing something right. The day I was saved I knew peace because it washed over me and gave me hope. When I knew I was making the right decision about marrying Sam, I felt peace in the depths of my heart and soul. Happiness comes from peace. Without peace, there is no joy. Some are deceived by a shallow joy that is only temporary and surface level. You feel happy for a moment, but it wasn't true happiness, just the illusion of what you think happiness is. To find true happiness you have to be right with all those around you. Most of all God must be in your life, and the point many seem to leave out is that have to be right with yourself. Once you have been through the storm and calmed the waters, a rainbow will come; that is when you experience God's gift of peace.

(At night)

I used to think that I was more myself at night. That could be, or I'm just emotionally being pulled in so many ways that my sub conscience feelings are exaggerated as well as my actions. I'm still not totally sure if it's the "real me" coming out, or that I'm simply so tired I'll do and say things mixed up. No doubt about it, I confess that I love the night. It inspires me and seems to be the time when I think the most. I once thought it was also the time when my mind was the clearest, but as I have mentioned I'm not so sure about that any more. It does help that I am the least distracted at night, so that may be why I think better and longer. I still haven't decided if it's a good thing for people to be around me at night or not because I do something they expect and scare them. But on the other hand what if that's the real me and it's bound to come out sooner or later any ways. One enchanted evening, Sam and I were sitting in his swing chair on his wrap around deck. It was probably getting close to one in the morning, but we were just enjoying ourselves with talks of all kinds of things and kisses in all kinds of places. Sometimes I would laugh because he was tickling me, but then I'd tickle him right back and we'd both start at each other. I was so much in love with him that I didn't want to live another day not waking up next to him. With this thought throbbing in my mind I looked him straight in the eyes and said " Sam, I love you with all of my heart and all that is within me. I'm ready to marry you. Let's just do it tomorrow!" He couldn't disagree, so I kissed him and we spent the rest of the night chatting, kissing, and holding each other as we watched the sun rise. Although I was tired beyond belief I got up that morning and called everyone I could to tell them of the changed wedding plans.

(Memories of quiet talks in the dark)

The worst feeling in the world is when you have let someone down. They had expectations of you and you failed to reach them. Slowly you grow apart because neither of you realizes what has happened, or maybe you do and just can't manage to do or say anything about it. The years go on and soon what once was something irreplaceable and like nothing else becomes but a simple memory along with all the others. It is so hard to find that balance in life where you are keeping everything in line and everyone is happy. Let me say that again, it is impossible to balance your life perfectly, and incredibly impossible to keep everyone happy. Is that really expected of us though? We definitely need balance, and that balance keeps others at balance within their own lives. It is just too much to be everyone's best man, to be there every moment they need you, to be there dancing in the rain at everyone's party... you simply can't. This was a realization I had a hard time facing up to and still do. I wanted to stretch myself in so many directions because I felt I had so many people depending on me to be there for them and to be the kind of person that would always be there for them. I tried at first to do just that, but then I grew tired of it and slowly I started losing people that I loved as a part of my life. I didn't lose them totally, but I may as well have. My motivation wasn't there anymore because I had different goals for my life and I didn't want to be everyone's best man. It hurt me that all of them became a memory almost. What I was to them was simply a friend when they needed one and a shoulder when they needed to cry. It wasn't much and I guess that's pretty much the way it is now. Every once in a while I'll get a call and we'll talk for hours catching up. But that's not the kind of relationship I was meant for. I want to be the one doing whatever it was they are telling me about and making the memories, having the adventures, but it isn't that way anymore. My closest friends have stuck by me through it all. High school came and it left. Next came college, which we went through together, and of course living together and staying out late, talking to boys and having a car break down, meeting the man of our dreams, and getting proposed to. I'd be married soon and even though I feel I have let so many people down I do have those memories and so do they. Memories of brighter days in our friendship when we'd sit and talk about dreams and fantasies for hours in the dark was all that was left, but they were good. Many on my invitation list were of those who I long lost contact with, not completely, but our conversations were few. I couldn't walk down the isle without them there because after all they helped me dream this day up in those quiet talks in the dark.

(I Love..)

"I love your smile. Or maybe I should say his lips..hmmmmm... but he does have the most wonderful smile I've ever seen. "Kelly don't get side tracked now." I love your arms. Those powerful, strong, manly arms. Do you think that's too much? Well that is what I really think, but I don't want him to think I'm trying too hard. "Honey you are but it's cute, he'll love it! Keep going." " I love your voice because it makes me melt. I love to hear your heart beat when the room is quiet and you're holding my hand. I love the way you look at me like I'm the best thing that ever happened to you. I love the way you put everyone before yourself even if you don't really want to. I love your strong hands. I love the expression on your face when you look at me for some kind of approval with those concerned deep eyes. I love the way you smell when you just get out of the shower. "aauum.. and how do you know this? May I ask?" "Oh Mandy come on, if we're going to get through this you are just going to have to accept the things I say to be truth, besides you know he's come over and taken a shower at my place before. It's not like I was in there too or anything. Any ways moving on...."Your passionate kisses make me feel I've tasted heaven. I love the way you listen even if you're not interested. I love the way you try so hard to impress me or do everything "just right." I love the way you run your fingers through my hair and down my back. I love your hugs. Nobody huugs like you do, or makes me feel the way you do when we're hugging. I love your curiosity to get inside my head. I love your openness, your friendliness, and your laughter. I love your eagerness and endurance for everything you do. I love the way you treat other people with love and kindness. I love your devotion to God and you're perseverance to do what he wants you to. It strengthens me and gives me courage to keep going too. I love the way you put your whole heart into your talents. I love your compliments and charm. I love your confidence and your strength. I love your humbleness and your patience. I love your thoughtfulness and your wisdom. I love the way you love me. You have a heart of Gold, I truly admire you and yes, I truly love you with all of my heart!" "Wow girl! That's good! He's gonna be stunned. What a lucky man getting a jewel like you. ....... I was practicing my wedding vows and although it did seem a little repititious, Mandy told me it made a nice LOVE theme and it was perfect. We decided not to read our vows at the wedding, but just personnaly to each other on our honeymoon. At the moment I could think of nothing else, but loving everything about him.

(A day to Paint)

Bright and Beautiful, the snow glittered as we walked towards the open road. I looked up into the heavens and God seemed to wink at me as if to say "You're doing fine or go get 'em." I smiled knowing he was looking out for me. It was a good reminder because I often forget when I am so entangled in what I am doing. The day was like a blank canvas waiting for us to add color and paint all over it. "The thing I love about "... I started to say. His strong arm was around my waist and his mind somewhere else. I had realized that he wasn't really listening, so I stopped and released myself from his grasp. "What's wrong." He looked at me in surprise. "Your mind just seems to be wandering that's all," I said back to him now walking completely away from his reach. I liked to tease him because he looked so adorable when he had no idea what was going on. "All right, I'm back," he said, not enjoying me absent from his side. "Well, I was just thinking," I began again, "The thing about dreams and imagination that I love so much is that you can make anything happen because you control it all. You create your own world and in your mind it can really come true." "But what if I want it to be real?" He asked pulling me to face him. "Well, there are many things you don't have to dream or imagine you just ... " and before I could finish my sentence he put his hand over my mouth and said "I don't want to have to imagine a wonderful life with you because I know that it will be one." His hand didn't stay over my mouth long and the canvas turned out very colorful. It was so peaceful out there in that "winter wonderland," There was no one in sight and there seemed to be no one else in the whole world that day, just me and my honey kissing under a tree.

(Don't Let it Die)

I closed my eyes for just a moment as I lay my head against his chest. I heard his heart beat faster and faster like a drum beating soundly to a certain rhythm. I looked up into those wonderful eyes again and started singing "You're just too good to be true, can't take my eyes off of you. You'd be like heaven to touch.... at last long love has arrived, I thank God I 'm alive ......I Love you Baby and if it's quitew alright I need you baby to warm the lonely night......" He was totally blushing and I couldn't help but love him even more. I never knew exactly what it was about him that made me crazy, but for some reason God planted something in that man that made every thing in my body go wild. I told him that people passing by would see us and remember us. They'd tell their families or friends that there was still hope for love because they saw two crazy people out in the snow obviously in love and couldn't be happier. "I am so much in love with you that I feel the whole world is spinning and it's like nothing else matters but you and I hope this feeling never goes away because it is so great and so pure that it makes me want to laugh and it makes me want to cry and hug you and kiss you and do all kinds of things that only can come from something good something irresistibly sensational. I love you with all of my heart mind body and soul and that's why I am ready to spend my life growing old with you. I want to be there when you have a nervous break down so I can comfort you. I want to fix you a glass of your favorite drink and sit on the porch laughing because at 89 years old we are still so much in love that we'll make out right in front of the neighbors. I don't want our passion to die or our zeal for life and all our plans. I trust you but I know that others doubt and I have seen others fail. But if love were a game I think we'd win first prize. You're the most amazing man there is and I know that you will never cease to amaze me because as you know there is always more to learn and more that God will bless us with. I can't believe it's really happening! You're the one." The passion was so strong, but it wasn't always like that. Even though I said I never wanted it to die out, obviously some days weren't the happiest. I remember also telling him that I didn't want to see him, touch him, talk to him, or have anything to do with him until he apologized like a gentleman. I don't even remember now what it was he did wrong, but we did have our downs along with our ups. He sure could make me smile, but sometimes he did make me cry, not on purpose, but it happens when emotions are high and timing and good word usage aren't so great. Seeing it through the tough times only made us stronger and grow to an even deeper love. Samuel Landin Stone had so many intricate pieces of marvelous that I just can't explain. It's only a feeling that I can experience, not describe. He makes me want to be a better person and at times, I felt I couldn't live up to it, but he always gave me hope and brought me along for an adventure I never expected.

(How Can I Get Throught This?)

The room was loud. I could barely hear myself think. Noise of laughter, music, and old stories being told filled the small confined place. You'd think this would be a joyful time, but I only wanted to get away from it all. It was too much and I couldn't take it. How could I enjoy a party where blissful couples surounded me and my honey was miles out of reach. Faking a smile, I turned to my group and told them I just needed to step outside a moment to get some fresh air. This was true, but only to an extent. After walking out side in the freezing January weather on snow covered streets, I realized there was nothing I could do unless I faced up to it all. I wanted comfort and everywhere I looked it screamed out at me, but something in me refused it at all suggestions even though I wished for it so badly. I didn't know why or what it was that always pretended everything was fine. I guess you could call it human nature. No body wants to open up and share their deepest fears or worries, well at least not to those who offer to listen. The noise, the confusion, and all the people were driving me mad. Temperatures rose and fell. My head felt heavy, but still... no refuge, no place to go to find that peace where everything is okay. When faced with such chaos, I fight with myself trying to find a solution. When it will come I'm not sure. I wanted to scream and cry and I almost felt I deserved to, but who was there to understand and listen to my pathetic ordeal? It's selfish I know, but I feel so trapped and what else can I do? There were only two people I could think of that could help me at this point and neither of them were able to hear my plea. Sam was miles away attending a business committee lectureship and my best friend was spending the weekend with her fiance in New York. Why was I here with out the two most important people in my life? I've been lonely too many times by my own fault. I wish so badly to be cuddling with the one I love instead of stuck here in a crowded room watching others enjoy themselves. My heart must contain itself, I thought but the waiting... such torturous waiting and thoughts that only imagine what it will be like that day when we meet again. Every day with out him I want to burst out crying and then I have to ask myself is it really worth it? I can't imagine him not being worth anything in the world, but that still doesn't stop the pain. It's not so bad when I'm alone or even with a friend or two but these crowds just make me lose it. This wouldn't be the only time I would have to spend away from my wonderful man, but is was so awfully dreadful. He was always the one telling me that God would make it work and no matter what He would always be there for us. At first I trusted that because he told me it was true and I did see God's power holding us together. As it became more evident to me that God really did take care of us all the time I begin to trust on my own and with that, God blessed me more. Sometimes I just get a little carried away because I am so in love with Sam that every moment we are apart seems like forever. Those times I like to think back to our very special memories. I day dream of times he held me in the moonlight or twirled me round planting kisses on my face. I even dream of times we sat together in the silence just thinking or praying and snuggling close. He's my one and perfect match and although I feel he completes me I know that he does not because without God we are nothing; It is only through God's Love that Sam and I experience such a deep and wonderful connection. He is our Link and always will be forever and ever binding our souls in love and unity.

(As One)

Sitting in a room with eight women who mean more to me than any other women on earth my stomach was in knots. Everything was ready and all the preparation had been finalized from the long list of invitations, the seven deep crimson gowns, to the last cadlestick. This was my day and awaiting for me was my knight in shining armor and a moment that would change the rest of my life. I couldn't wait..I was filled with excitement, but something in me felt terribly wrong. My nerves weren't as high as they could be since we had been through much more at the first attempt. Of course I would never second guess this marriage because with out any doubt I knew Samuel was "the one" for me, I just wanted everything to go perfectly. My girls were all there to support me, just as it should be. My only sister, being a role model to me practically my entire life, could be no other but the maid of honor. She was already happily married to a man she'd dated for four and half years prior to their wedding. From this wonderful couple in love came a beautiful little girl named Chererie whom I chose as my flower girl. The other six brides maids included Mandy of course along with Abby and four of my closest friends from college and high school both. They all looked beyond beauty and the contrast from their crimson to my white was gorgeous just as I had hoped. Music began and my hands were a little shaky as Chererie took her stroll down the isle gently tossing the deep colored rose petals on her way. The brides maids followed with their men and lastly my gorgeous older sister along with the best man. My dad's grip became tighter and I could tell he was fighting back the tears. It made me want to cry too, but I couldn't give in now after I had been so strong up until this point. I wondered what Sam was thinking as he stood in front of all those people awaiting the moment I would appear. The soothing piano changed it's tune and it was now my turn to walk. The white carpet was rolled out before me with Chererie's petals scattered about perfectly. The crowd standing in my honor was a total blur to me and all that was in my focus was Sam and yes, those eyes that first drew me to him. I looked away for only a moment to notice a single tear drop fall from my dad's face. This was so hard for him seeing me all grown up and having someone else be the man in my life. I was his baby girl and he never wanted to see me as the age I was but always small enough to curl up on his lap. We reached the end of the isle and as my dad traded me off to Sam I kissed his cheek and whispered, "I Love you daddy." Memories flashed through my mind not only of times I'd shared with my dad talking and listening to his words of wisdom, but other moments came to mind as well. I thought of all those nights I'd spent with my best friends staying up late talking of this day, though we never imagined it quite like this or with any certain person. I was finally doing it and just as it should be, I had no regrets. Thoughts came to mind of my mom too. Even though I wasn't looking at her I could feel her quiet presence sitting on the first row of seats watching her youngest be married off. We had shared so many memories my mind failed to capture one. There was no one like my mom. she definitely was irreplaceable to me and to most people that knew her. All through growing up I told her everything. She knew my whole world and even though I didn't like admitting it, she was usually right about all my little situations. No, things would never be the same and this was a huge step in the course of my life, but even with a little fear, I was more than ready. Everyone sat down and the ceremony proceeded with Sam and I facing each other, hands linked. A few tears trickled down my cheeks as I kept my focus on the eyes of the man I'd given my heart to. He looked continually into mine as well and my uncle, the preacher went on. He spoke about Love's meaning using many passages from the Bible and added personal touches also that made it very special. All the people around me were still burred expect for......" Samuel Landin Stone" ... I heard him repeating "take Kelly Le'Angela Karmichael to be my ...." I almost felt like I was in a dream. His hands were a little shaky but still confident as he put the ring on my finger. With my nails nicelt manicured I did the same to him. And then before I knew it my uncle said "I now pronounce you: man and wife, you may kiss the bride." Sam and I stood before God, friends, and family, and still kissed the kiss of love binding us to each other 'til death do us part. That moment was perfect and from then on he was mine and only mine just as I was his, living as husband and wife, as one.

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