Mary’s hand slipped off the mouse and she used her towel to wipe off her hand, still a bit sweaty from her workout. She wished her Layla persona translated better to words, but having never flirted much in real life, she had trouble coming up with a suitable reply that wouldn’t sound dumb on the screen. With David safely in another state, she could dip her toes into the world of flirtation without too much embarrassment to herself.
Good thing David hadn’t expressed any interest in exchanging phone numbers. She had zero confidence in her ability to hold a man’s attention on the phone. She might be able to talk to Jared face-to-face, but he was an old friend, one she had met and known before her parents’ defection to the Amazon. That train of thought led her down a familiar track of wondering if something had been lacking in her to make her parents choose the jungle over their child. But no amount of introspection brought up any logical reason for the defection.
A soft ping from the computer yanked her thoughts back from the past. David had posted again.
David: I hope I didn’t scare you off. I’m really a harmless kitten. Meow.
Mary smiled, pushing away the thought that kittens did have claws. She knew David, so she shouldn’t hesitate to open up with him, but something held her back just a bit. She chalked up her reticence to being too timid when it came to men. Here was a man—a handsome man by his online photograph—who wanted to chat with her, Mary Divers, who had never even had a boyfriend. Her online profile photo highlighted her best features—her eyes and her hair—but she had never thought of herself as pretty. She’d better not let him get away or she would find herself as lonely as Aunt Geraldine.
Her relationship with David was safe and secure, and she knew she could keep him at a distance if she wanted. But a part of her longed to know him on a new, deeper level. She was suddenly tired of being timid. She was still young enough to crave a little adventure in her life. What do I have to lose?
She placed her fingers on the keyboard and began to type.
Mary: No. U caught me off guard. I have no experience with flirting, even online. I’m afraid I’ll do it wrong.
David: U could never do anything wrong. I like you just the way you are.
Mary put her hands to her cheeks and the heat rose from her blush. What was she supposed to say to that?
David: If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were stringing me along, with your talk of J and not coming to our chats on time.
Mary: No, never!
David: Sweet Mary, I was teasing. Forgive me? J
He had her at Sweet Mary.
Mary: Of course, I forgive you.
Her watch beeped, signaling time to prep for her radio show.
Mary: Gotta go now. I won’t be late tomorrow. Promise.
David: I’d like you to promise a whole lot more than that, but I’ll take what I can get. Bye for now, darling.
Mary sat for a moment to allow the heat to recede from her cheeks. Sometimes, David’s comments seemed too flirty for a missionary-to-be. Early in their chats, they had traded Christian testimonies but rarely explored their faith after that. That was one of the reasons his announcement about becoming a missionary surprised her. He hadn’t indicated he was even considering such a move.
She disconnected the chat and stood, walking over to the window to gaze down at the yard. The setting sun bathed the yard in crimson and orange, softening the ragged edges of the half-weeded flower beds and obscuring the disarray. Instead, the waning light gave the scene an other-worldly beauty. Mary wondered if she was seeing more beauty there because she was so happy in her relationship with David. He had slipped under her defenses and now occupied a place next to her heart.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Phantom Love is copyrighted and cannot be used in any form without permission from Sarah Hamaker.