Captivate

Originally written in July of 2011…

Mere moments after meeting Emily, he knew that she would have the uncanny ability to captivate him completely.

Kent Fisher never believed in love at first sight. In fact, by the time he had finished college, he had decided that love itself was something that simply didn’t exist. But here he was, falling for a woman he knew virtually nothing about.

It wasn’t because she was beautiful. She absolutely was, but that wasn’t what did it. For Kent, it was the way Emily carried herself. She had a certain strength and independence about her, but she balanced it with a sort of gracefulness that he had a difficult time describing.

They met seemingly by chance. For Kent, it couldn’t have been more than a coincidence that they were in the same place at the same time. If he couldn’t grasp the idea of love, he certainly wouldn’t give credit to something as ridiculous as fate or destiny. But what were the odds that this woman named Emily would just happen to be in this particular restaurant at the same time as Kent, who had never had any desire to eat here?

He was roped into the evening by an old friend who was in town on business. This friend had suggested meeting for dinner at the Corner Bar because he had heard good things about it. Kent had never heard any of these good things, but he didn’t put up a fight.

Just as Kent arrived at the restaurant, he got a text message from Jeff telling him that he would be late. Typical, Kent thought. He bypassed the hostess and made his way to the bar to wait for his friend. He asked the bartender for a scotch and soda and began sipping slowly. Boredom was beginning to set in as he waited with his drink. And then Emily walked into the room.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw her and his breath caught in his chest. He only glanced at her for a second, but in that time he had taken a mental picture. It was an image he would never forget. She was scanning the room, looking for someone who apparently was not there. Her blond hair fell just below her shoulders, her bright green eyes seemed to sparkle in the dim light of the restaurant. She was wearing a modest light blue sundress that made Kent glad it was summer time. He stared intently at his glass when he noticed the woman walking in his direction.

She sat on the stool next to him and asked the bartender for a glass of ice water. In his periphery, Kent saw her take a sip of the water before she turned to face him. “You look like you’re waiting for someone,” she said.

Yeah, you, he thought. “Uh, yeah, actually. How could you tell?”

“You have that look about you. Like you don’t really want to be here but you aren’t sure you had a choice in the matter,” she smiled at Kent and took another sip from her glass. “So, who is she?”

Kent finally turned toward Emily and was taken aback when he got a real look at the beauty sitting beside him. He was afraid to speak. He was afraid that the fact that she had captivated him would cause him to stammer when his words came out.

“Oh, no, there’s no she,” he finally said. “I’m here to meet an old friend from school.”

She smiled again. “I actually knew there was no she. Your body language would have been completely different. There would have been a certain nervousness. And you probably would have been turning to look at the entrance every time the door opened.”

“How do you do that? Are you a profiler for the FBI or something?” Kent asked, mildly impressed.

“No,” she said as she laughed. “I’m a psychologist.”

“I should probably stop taking right now then,” he said, causing her to laugh again. He turned completely toward her and introduced himself. “I’m Kent,” he said, extending his hand to her.

“Emily.” She took his hand and suddenly Kent didn’t want to let go. Her hand was so soft and warm and Kent wanted to hold onto it forever.

He picked up his drink again and took another swallow. “So, ice water, rough day?”

“Oh, I’m just not much of a drinker,” Emily said. She pointed to his scotch, “What about you?”

“Not a bad day,” he said, “I just…”

“Don’t want to be here?” she finished for him.

“Something like that.” Kent finished his drink, but when the bartender returned he didn’t ask for a refill. Instead, he asked for his own ice water.

“It can’t be that bad, can it?”

“No, I’m sure it’s not that bad. I just never know with this guy.”

Emily nodded, “I know what you mean. I’m supposed to meet my brother here tonight. Of course, he’s late. But the thing is, even if he was on time, I’d never know about his true intentions for getting together. There’s always some kind of ulterior motive. You can’t just come into town and have dinner with your little sister?”

Kent laughed. “How about this: if my friend and your brother don’t show up in the next half hour, why don’t we just have dinner together? My treat.”

“You don’t have to do that.”

“I insist. Besides, you’re much better company than he would be.”

Emily smiled and said, “You don’t know that. I could be a horrible dinner date. You don’t know what kind of company I could turn out to be.”

“Emily, I may not be as vocal as you are, but I’m pretty good at reading people too.”

This got another small laugh. “Okay, deal.”

The two of them lost track of time. They sat at the bar for an hour talking about careers and movies and books and the things they each did in their spare time. They didn’t notice that their half hour had come and gone. And they didn’t notice when Jeff walked in.

“Good, you’ve met!” Jeff said clapping Kent on the back. Emily jumped up and hugged Jeff. Kent nearly choked on his last sip of water as he realized that his friend and Emily’s brother were the same person. This meeting wasn’t coincidence. It was a set up.

Kent looked over at Emily and asked, “Did you know we were waiting for the same person?”

“No, I swear I had no idea,” she said with deep sincerity.

Kent wanted to be angry with Jeff. He hated being set up. But he couldn’t be angry. In the time he had just spent with Emily, he had fallen hard. He knew it was ridiculous, but he was incredibly drawn to her. The three of them made their way to a table and Kent couldn’t help but smile at the fact that he was about to have dinner with this beautiful woman, even though his friend and her brother had shown up to take them away from each other.

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