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She's No Angel
By JANINE A. MORRIS
DAFINA BOOKSCopyright © 2007 Janine A. Morris
All right reserved.
Chapter OneCharlene Tanner began to tense up at the sight of him kneeling down. Her eyes instinctively followed him as her lips curled up in a smile. Her heart was beating a million beats per minute, or at least it felt that way. Although he hadn't said a word Charlene seemed to know exactly what Isaac was about to do.
A cool wind blew through the trees, but Charlene was heating up inside. Her palms were sweaty and she was hoping it wasn't grossing him out. On the inside, she wanted to burst out and cry, but she also felt faint, like she was going to pass out. Charlene's mind was racing with a million thoughts, whereas Isaac Milton seemed to be focused on one thing. In her mind she wished that she could pause time, even if just for a moment, just enough time to gather her thoughts and actually enjoy the moment. Like most women, Charlene had imagined this moment in her life way too many times, but now that it was here she had no idea how to act or what to say.
She began to calm down some and focus on Isaac. As she looked into his eyes, she could tell that he wasn't down there just making noise, he was really pouring his soul into it. After she realized how sweet and romantic his speech was, she started to wonder how to react. She didn't know if she shouldjust shout out, "Yes, yes ... yes," like in the movies, or say "Of course" with a lot of excitement to switch it up. Or even better, say something really sweet, like "Gladly I will," in a soft tone. She tried to figure it out before he finished his speech, which all seemed like a blur because she was so anxious. Hearing his speech kind of tickled her, though. It wasn't humorous, it was just that she had always hoped that when she was proposed to, he (whoever he was) would find some unique way to tell her he loved her and that he wanted to marry her. Not that she'd thought about it often.
Despite her attempts to concentrate, all that had registered thus far was when he said, "I know you are the one for me ... I look forward to raising kids with you and spending every night with you and waking up every morning with you." There was a lot more said, but for the most part it was all stuff she had heard before in some movie somewhere, or seen on a greeting card. Still, it sounded great just the same; especially with him on his knees and the shiny 2.5 karat diamond rock in his hand. She hadn't heard similar words from Isaac before, and that gave them even more meaning, hearing them from him for the first time. Isaac wasn't the emotional, sappy kind of guy. Even though their relationship had been going pretty well, she wouldn't have thought that he wanted her to be his wife.
Charlene felt like she was in the middle of a fairy tale, as if she was Cinderella putting on the shoe for the prince. Her heart was filled with joy and love for the man that was now half her height as she looked down at him. From the look in his eyes she felt like he meant every word. She wasn't sure if he noticed from the look in her eyes or not, but she was touched by everything he had to say. She hoped that he didn't change his mind.
Finally he was done. He could have only been speaking for a few minutes, but it felt like forever. Charlene almost wished it didn't have to end; she wished she could have held on to the moment forever. Unfortunately, it did and it couldn't. It was showtime again. She was back on, back to reality. The last sentence out of his mouth was, "I couldn't live without you, and I would love if you can spend forever with me. Will you marry me?"
"Of course I will ... of course," she replied in a soft tone. Isaac removed the ring from the black velvet box and slowly placed it on her left ring finger. The ring was absolutely beautiful. He had made a great choice. How could she say no to such a piece of art even if she hadn't wanted Isaac? The center was a blinging flower-shaped diamond, and the sides were like petals, made of platinum gold with diamond-encrusted dewdrops. The band was simple and plain with an engraved stem going around it. Charlene loved flowers, so his personalization of the ring made it that much more special to her. Her eyes had welled up as soon as she spoke her response, and as he put the ring on her finger a tear rolled down her cheek. It was a joyful tear. She was happy, and still in shock that this was happening. She knew she would start crying, she was actually surprised she hadn't started sooner. As soon as he'd placed the ring on her finger, he looked up and noticed the tear. He stood up and he hugged her, and she felt an overwhelming rush of emotion. He held her tight and she held him just as tight in return.
Isaac and Charlene were engaged. She couldn't believe it. She still felt like there was so much that she wanted to say to him before accepting the proposal. She wanted to ask him if he was sure he wanted to be her husband; she wanted to ask him if he would feel the same love for her no matter what. It was too late, though, and besides, it wasn't the right time. She would just have to find out the answers to her questions over time. So she just enjoyed the moment as they stood there hugging one another. Tears continued to run down her face as he held her tight in his arms. She almost didn't want him to let her go, mainly because it felt so good but more because she didn't want the moment to end.
She tried to make sure there was nothing more she should say or do. She was thinking it over in her mind, to make sure that she had done everything as she should have. She didn't want to walk away and then later realize that there was something she had missed. She thought about stories she'd heard and movies she had watched, and nothing came to mind. She didn't want to come off as rude or unappreciative, so she was hoping that by saying "of course," hugging him and crying it was more than enough for Isaac. When she thought about it, she realized it didn't really matter, anyway. She couldn't make sure she put on a perfect performance, because it was his show. Regardless of how many times she played it over in her mind and tried to get it just right, Isaac was the director, actor, screenplay writer and producer of this show. Hell, he was even the casting director. She was just the actress he cast to play the role. She realized there was no perfect script for this, she was just happy that she had gotten the part. She was madly in love with Isaac. She had no doubts in her heart when she told him yes, and that was as perfect as it could get for her. He held her for a few seconds longer as he rubbed her back some and she squeezed her arms around his.
No one was around but Charlene and Isaac. They were standing by a pond, their pond, actually. The pond that they had come to on quite a few dates, and whenever they were in a rough patch they would go sit by it. Over time their essence filled the air there. As soon as they stepped out of the car, inhaling the moist air always refreshed them and rejuvenated their relationship with one breath. Charlene knew that he couldn't have chosen a better location.
He had let go and looked her in her eyes and glanced over her face. It was still soaked from her tears. Her eyes were still watery and her breathing was still a tad jittery. He began wiping her tears and drying her face with his bare hands. It helped some, and some it just smeared over her face. They both giggled at the mess they were making.
"Let's get out of here, so you can go tell everybody ... I know you're dying to," he said playfully.
She giggled a bit. Although she wanted the moment to last some more, he was right. She couldn't wait to tell her mom. Besides, she knew if they stood there any longer, she wouldn't be able to look him in his eyes much more. She would be too afraid that he would be able to see through her. That he would see the guilt-the guilt from knowing that there was a discussion she had never had with him, although she had meant to. She had always hoped to have the discussion before this time came. However, for now she didn't want to think about that. She wanted to enjoy this moment as if she had.
Chapter Two"Oh, my goodness!" Jasmine screamed into the phone as Charlene told her the news.
Jasmine was sitting on her couch curled up in her lavender cotton pajamas watching The Office when her phone rang. Two towns over, Charlene was still fully dressed sitting on Isaac's loveseat with her cell phone, smiling from ear to ear as she shared her breaking news story. Charlene would have died if she hadn't gotten Jasmine on the phone right away to tell her.
Jasmine was one of Charlene's closest friends, they'd known eath other since A. B. Gail Junior High School. They had been through a lot together, and they had celebrated and suffered a lot together. Jasmine was twenty-eight years old and she had been married for only a year to her high school sweetheart. Jasmine was one of Charlene's few childhood friends who had graduated from high school. Since high school Jasmine had been working at clerical jobs to make ends meet, and raising her baby girl, Serenity. Jasmine was also one of the few friends from Charlene's youth that she still kept in touch with. Jasmine, like Charlene, tried her best to live a better life than they had once had and to become a mature adult woman. They wanted to live a life for the future, and not remain stuck in their past. So, although they were at somewhat different stages in their lives, they always had that understanding and bond with one another. It was the bond of reform; they both knew where they had been and where they were trying to go-or, rather, what they were trying to leave behind.
Charlene and Jasmine had often discussed marriage in their friendship, but it was usually about Jasmine's, and about Charlene's belief that hers would never exist. So, without hesitation, Charlene had to call Jasmine to tell her that she was finally one step closer.
"I know, I know ... It still feels like I'm dreaming," Charlene said back.
"How is the ring?" Jasmine asked.
"It's beautiful ... looks like it's about two or three karats," Charlene said, holding out her hand to look at the rock Isaac had bestowed upon her.
"Uh-oh ... Souky, souky now ..." Jasmine said.
"Be quiet," Charlene replied, blushing. "The ring is designed like a flower with petals, it is the most gorgeous ring I have ever seen," Charlene said while still staring at her ring.
"Aww, that's nice. Especially since you love flowers," Jasmine added.
"Yeah, I know. I'm still kind of in shock."
"Charlene's getting married ... go 'head, go 'head ..." Jasmine started to sing some silly song.
They both laughed. Charlene would have loved to sit and talk about every detail of the night, but she had to rush Jasmine off the phone so she could tell her family and call one other friend to brag. It wasn't actually bragging, most of Charlene's friends were either married or engaged, but she had to let people know she was "validated" as well. Some of it was because at Charlene's age, when everyone is getting married and engaged, it messes with your self-esteem when your ring finger is still bare. However, some of it was from Charlene's own low self-esteem. She hadn't completely become comfortable and stable as the woman of worth she was trying to be. So Isaac hadn't only made her romantic dreams come true tonight, he helped make her whole. And Charlene was eager to spread the news. As soon as there was a moment of silence she told Jasmine she would call her back because she had to call her mother.
Charlene had kicked off her shoes and buried her feet into the couch in Isaac's living room. She looked over at the pewter picture frame that held an 8 x 10 picture of the two of them at Great Adventure. She looked over and smiled as she dialed her parents' house number. Most people would be surprised to find out that Charlene had any esteem issues. She was all of twenty-six years old, and full of youth and energy. She had the body of a runway model: tall and slender with long legs. She was light-skinned with a beautiful face that most people would say was made for television. High cheekbones with naturally rosy cheeks. She was gorgeous and she knew it, her looks got her by a lot in life. Yet with all her beauty, what made her feel like a true woman was sitting there on her hand, her left ring finger, to be exact. So, as she waited for one of her parents to answer, she sat there in Isaac's living room still glowing with joy.
Isaac was in the bathroom by then, but prior to that he was walking around the apartment doing his own thing. She had noticed him on the phone at one point, probably with his boy Surge, who he called Ser-Hey, telling him that he'd gone ahead and done it. But Charlene was too distracted to be nosy enough to overhear the conversation they were having. Usually Charlene played close attention to those kinds of things; she was always concerned with what his friends and other people said about her. She knew it was a level of paranoia, always being the subject of a rumor. She was always wondering if and what Isaac would find out.
Charlene's mom, Ann Tanner, answered on like the third ring, and Charlene could tell from her mother's voice that she already knew why she was calling. Initially Mrs. Tanner tried to sound normal just in case it hadn't happened yet. Then Charlene took her out of her misery, and told her that, yes, she was officially engaged. Between a mixture of tears and pure joy, she congratulated Charlene and told her how excited she was. Charlene also found out how and when Isaac had asked her parents for her hand in marriage. Charlene was happy that her mother was still alive to share this moment with her. It made her think about how happy Isaac's father would be to still be here to share it, too.
After she spoke with her mom, dad and sister she called her friend Tiffany, one of her cousins and another girlfriend. Charlene didn't have a lot of friends, most of them she had lost touch with over the last few years, but there were still a few people she was dying to tell. They all started asking her questions as if she had the wedding all planned out. Charlene had to explain this wasn't a save-the-date call, the proposal had only happened a couple hours ago. She realized then that most ladies don't brag so much and call everyone they know only moments after, so she decided to stop making calls.
As for the wedding, of course, like most women there were some decisions she'd already made. For instance, summer or fall wedding, short or long engagement, big or small wedding. These are things most girls think about and figure out when they play with their Barbie dolls as a little girl. Usually the color scheme is figured out as well, and some other basics, but not every detail of the wedding. Charlene answered the questions with a basic "I will let you know" response, along with whether she would be subjecting them to an ugly bridesmaid's dress.
Isaac had gone upstairs to watch television, Charlene assumed. As she held the phone in her hand she sat for a moment to reflect, digging her toes into his plush black and light gray carpet. She thought about the entire night as well as all the nights to come. She tried to imagine married life with Isaac and leaving the single life for good. She thought about moving out of her not-so-great place, and living in the beautiful and lavish condo that she was sitting in. She tried to think about it all, all the bright sides of the new life she would live. Soon her daydreaming brought her back to the present. She let out a little giggle when she thought about a question that Tiffany had just asked her: "So, are you going to invite Lacy?"
"I don't know, but I doubt it," Charlene replied.
"That's going to be an interesting situation ... You may have to just suck it up."
"Yeah, I know, but we will have to figure it out. I just don't want any issues that day."
"Well, it all depends who is paying for it," Tiffany said, laughing.
"That's the truth," Charlene replied.
A few moments later, Charlene was hanging up the phone and laughing out loud. That girl Tiffany, she ain't never lied, Charlene thought to herself with a smile. Lacy was a friend of Isaac's that Charlene didn't approve of. She had no justification for her feelings other than her own jealousy, so she was kind of stuck dealing with their friendship. Although Charlene was sure it wasn't only in her head that Lacy wanted Isaac, she knew that there wasn't much to say without evidence. So for years she sat back and played a little game with Lacy, the one that females play when they communicate in a way that no one else is supposed to see. Tiffany's point made her think even more about all the drama that was bound to surface about the guest list, exes and friends that each of them would object to. Charlene wished she could expect otherwise, but she knew that jealousy and pettiness would definitely surface when it was time to work on the list. Charlene was hoping there wouldn't be too many skeletons surfacing along with it.
Excerpted from She's No Angel by JANINE A. MORRIS Copyright © 2007 by Janine A. Morris. Excerpted by permission.
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