David: So Jared’s living in your house?
Mary: No, he’s in the carriage house apartment, about a hundred feet behind the house. It has its own bathroom, mini-kitchen, living room-dining room combination and small bedroom. I sound like a realtor. LOL.
Mary hit send and waited for David’s response. She had spent an hour showing Jared around the apartment and reminiscing about a few childhood adventures. She was surprised at how easy she found it to talk to Jared, but before the conversation could turn to her family’s abrupt departure, his cell phone rang. She’d ended the tour and hurried home to get online with David for their daily chat. She turned her attention back to the screen. She hoped David wouldn’t bring up Peru today, as she hadn’t sorted out her feelings on the matter. On the one hand, it wasn’t as if she could go with him, but on the other hand, she enjoyed his company very much. His reply popped up.
David: Maybe he should go to Peru and I should take care of your lawn. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about another man being so close to you. But u said I didn’t need to be jealous, so I won’t be. J
Mary blushed. She looked at a copy of David’s profile photograph taped to the edge of her computer screen. She never thought a man, especially one as handsome as David, would be jealous because of another man in her life. She hadn’t been popular with the boys in high school or college, spending her time immersed in books at the library or in her attic room at Aunt Geraldine’s.
David: I do have one question.
Mary: What’s that?
David: He’s not in competition with me for your affections, is he?
No one had ever wanted her affections before now. Her fingers danced across the keyboard.
# # #
David tapped his fingers on the desk, thinking about the woman at the other end of the computer. He wondered if Mary’s sweetness was real or an online persona. He found himself looking forward to their live chats with an intensity that alarmed him. He knew better than to get too involved with these women, but there was something about Mary that touched his heart.
Mary: He’s a childhood friend, not exactly in my life. More like on the peripheral, but not directly involved.
David: Even better. I want you all to myself.
He toggled over to another open web browser and checked to see if Lonelygirl was online yet. She usually logged on way before their scheduled chat time. Sure enough, her icon flashed on the screen.
Lonelygirl: Hi. Ready to chat?
David smiled. Another fish on the hook. Although this one, didn’t require as much bait to keep her coming back for more.
David: Always ready for you, darling. How was your day?
Lonelygirl: Better now that I’m talking with you.
David: I’m glad I can make your day better.
Lonelygirl: Sometimes I can’t believe someone as handsome as you would even be interested in someone like me.
David: Believe it. I, too, count the hours until our chats.
Lonelygirl: It must have been destiny that brought us together.
David: “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.”
Mary: David? I don’t understand the Shakespeare quote.
David cursed out loud at his computer. He had accidentally sent Mary his response to Lonelygirl. No time to lose or she might start asking questions he had no intention of answering. His fingers flew over the keyboard.
David: You found me out. I’m a romantic at heart, and when I’m chatting with you, I can’t help but think about Shakespeare.
He hit send and hoped he hadn’t screwed up four months of work with one careless mistake. He replied to Lonelygirl and returned to his chat with Mary to assess the damage.
Mary: I’m blushing. Wish I could talk more now, but I gotta go. Talk to u tomorrow?
David: You betcha. Dream a little dream of me, Mary.
He closed out of the chat and sighed, leaning back in his chair. Sylvia wouldn’t have been pleased if he had botched his relationship with Mary. There was too much at stake to let this particular minnow off the line.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Phantom Love is copyrighted and cannot be used in any form without permission from Sarah Hamaker.