by Maria T.
It was a hot summer day. The heat radiated from the dusty road. Cruz sat in the window of the saloon looking out to the road. For twelve years he had been working in this town. The town of William had been good to him. He made his money well. As a young attorney he came here with his young bride to start his career and begin a family. The first years were tough. As the town grew so did his practice. In time, he was able to buy a nice two-story home for his wife.
It was in this home that he imagined all his dreams coming true. His wife, Cynthia was the perfect hostess to his dinner parties. She was the example of fashion to the local ladies. Having been raised in New York City, Cynthia knew how to act like a lady. She would be the perfect mother. Cruz was certain of that, but that never came to be.
With a sigh and large swallow of whiskey, Cruz still could feel the pain in his heart. Life had not given Cynthia the opportunity for that. A month after she gave birth to their son, she suffered from major complications. Cruz put his head down and remembered how tough that month had been. Cynthia was a fighter, but there was nothing that anyone could do. Cruz found himself a widower having to raise a small child all by himself.
Lucky for him, his income allowed him to hire a whole staff for his house. His son had a half a dozen women to take care of his every need. Cruz was freed up to work hard and make more money. Funds were never an issue when it came to the essential of raising Frederic. The little boy was named after Cynthia’s father, but Cruz preferred to call him Rick.
Ten years had passed and Cruz’s heart still ached for his dead wife. Ten year old Rick reminded him of her in every way. He had his mother’s big brown eyes and personality. Cruz smiled to himself as he thought of his son. For ten years, he had concentrated on raising the child as both mother and father. Hardly any time was left for himself. Cruz reminded himself that he needed to stop off at the store and pick up Rick some candy. He always brought Rick home a treat on Thursdays.
After quickly gulping down the rest of his whiskey, Cruz walked on the wooden planks designed to keep the walkway from turning to mud on a rainy day. Again, his thoughts went to Cynthia. In the ten years since her passing, Cruz had not remarried. He courted other women, but he never found the one who took his heart away. His uncle insisted that Cruz was carrying a torch for Cynthia. It was time to let it go and move on to another woman. Everyone said Rick needed a mother, but he wasn’t going to marry a woman because his son needed a mother. He had already lived through the nightmare of having a step father after his own father died when he was only one.
There was a time when Cruz knew everyone in town. Since the large amount of beef that was transported on railway, William grew ten times from its original size. Now it wasn’t uncommon to see unfamiliar faces as people were always moving to William.
Cruz was proud of his town. His practice became so large that he needed to take on a partner. His partner, Steve Shell was making his own money. The law office of Daniels and Shell became so big that now they have two junior partners. Working with three other lawyers freed Cruz up to raise his son properly. They went fishing, horseback riding, and swimming on a regular basis. Cruz was able to take time off to visit Cynthia’s parents in New York City so that Rick would always know his maternal grandparents. Like his father, Rick hated the big city and couldn’t wait to get back to William.
Cruz Daniels was satisfied that he was raising his son in the right environment. Everyone felt that he was raising Rick appropriately. Even his mother, Sandra, was proud of the job Cruz was doing with Rick. Because he was always a well-behaved child, Cruz always treated him to something special. It was obvious that Rick had not taken after his father, who was always in trouble as a youth. He was blessed with the way Rick was turning out to be.
He walked into the store and went right up to the counter to pick a few pieces of candy for his son. “Hello, Mr. Daniels…Are you here to get Rick something today?” The store owner asked.
“Of course. Mr. Weaver, you know the routine by now. Rick always gets a special treat every Thursday.” Cruz said with a smile. As Mr. Weaver reached into his display case, Cruz turned to his left and noticed a very pretty young woman. It wasn’t so much the fact that she was pretty that caught his attention. There had been many pretty girls since Cynthia that had caught his attention. There was something different about this blonde who was looking through rolls of fabric. Mrs. Weaver was helping her with her selection but she seemed to be having trouble.
The trouble wasn’t the fact that she couldn’t make up her mind, but rather something else. That was what caught his attention. The pretty blonde couldn’t see very well. Cruz picked up on it right away. He was very experienced with vision problems. Being nearsighted for most of his life, he knew when someone couldn’t see very well. This was the case with the young lady at the fabric counter. She couldn’t see the rolls of fabric behind the counter and asked for them one by one. Her frustration became evident and Cruz watched her dig into her small purse to pull out a pair of glasses. The glasses didn’t stay on her face very long. Only long enough to make a few more selections which Mrs. Weaver gladly handed over to her.
Cruz smiled to himself. Not only was this young woman stunning, but she had something in common with him. All his life Cruz had been cursed with poor eyesight. As much as he hated it, he needed to wear eyeglasses. Through the years his eyesight became worse and now he wore very strong glasses. Somehow, he completely related to young lady’s reluctance to wearing glasses.
“Here you are, Mr. Daniels.” The shop owner said as he handed Cruz the bag full of sweets for his son. Cruz quickly paid for it and continued to watch the pretty blond making her selection of fabrics. He had an incredible impulse to speak with her and get to know her. Cruz stood in front of the display cabinet just staring at her. Even Mr. Weaver noticed Cruz’s interest. Most people in town knew that Cruz had been a widower for the past 10 years.
“She just got here a week ago with her parents.” Mr. Weaver volunteered the information.
“What?” Cruz was surprised that the shop owner knew what he was thinking.
“She’s single…as far as I can tell.” Mr. Weaver added.
“Who is she?” Cruz whispered back.
“Doc Smith’s daughter.” Weaver explained.
Dr. Smith had just come to the area to set up his practice. For years the town of William had only one physician. With the growing population, it was necessary to recruit another physician. The mayor was able to attract a respectable physician from Virginia named, Joshua Smith.
“Thanks for that bit of information, Mr. Weaver.” Cruz saluted the old man, who had served in the Civil War.
“Anything I can do to help out one of our most outstanding citizens.” The shop keeper responded.
Cruz took his candy and ran out of the store. Getting to know Miss Smith would have to wait. He needed to get to his son.
The big white house with the wrought iron fence was only a short walk away from his office. Cruz was proud of the big house. It was one of the largest in town and only a larger ranch house could rival it. Cruz employed a staff of six people to run it. Rick had his own nanny that had raised him since he was an infant. Sarah could easily pass as his grandmother. Cruz had hired her immediately after his wife’s death and she has stayed in his employment all these years. Rick loved Sarah and was very close to her.
Aside from Sarah, Cruz allowed only one other woman to rule the house and that was his cook, Stephanie. Also another woman in her early 50’s, she ran the house like it was her own. Both Sarah and Stephanie lived in the large house. The four other servants did not. Cruz employed a driver who was responsible to take him and Rick to where ever they needed. He also employed a stable hand, who cared for the four horses housed in the stables. The two remaining employees were females who kept the house clean.
Cruz was well off financially. He had made money beyond anyone’s expectations. It was what he had promised Cynthia, but she didn’t live long enough to share it with him.
“Rick! I’m home.” Cruz yelled out from the front door. Homecoming was always the best part of the day for Cruz. Rarely did he stay late at the office and got home with enough time to play with his son. Stephanie poked her head out of the kitchen to smile at the master’s arrival. She already had something delicious cooking for dinner. His son came running from the backyard full of energy. Rick was tall for his age. He was tall and lean. His dark auburn hair was just like his father’s, unruly hair. No matter how many times it was combed it ended up a mess. Rick threw his arms around his father and gave him a big hug. This was what homecoming was all about.
Rick was a handsome lad. He took after his mother in many ways. It was Cynthia’s big brown eyes that he had. His fair complexion came from his mother. He inherited his father’s nose. That long straight nose that was a trait among the Daniels men. Not only had he inherited his father’s nose shape but the poor eyesight. At a very young age, Rick started wearing glasses as his father had. Like his father, Rick was very nearsighted.
Cruz pulled out the bag of candies from his breast pocket and handed it to his son. Rick laughed with happiness. Cruz had promised him the candy for doing well in school. His report card had been without one bad grade. “Thanks, pa!” Rick said as he immediately pulled out a long candied stick with swirls of peppermint.
After playing a bit with his son and a delicious dinner, Cruz began to work on the case he had for the next day. In his office, he shuffled through papers, but couldn’t concentrate on his work. The blonde woman from the store occupied his mind. It had been a long time since a woman had taken over his thoughts in such a way. He tried to concentrate but his mind drifted to Miss Smith. The overwhelming need to see her took over. He wondered how old she was and what her first name was.
The next day Cruz was tired and still haunted with thoughts of Miss Smith. As he walked to his office, Cruz saw the shingle hanging on the other side of the road. The sign read Joshua Smith, M. D. His first impulse was to go introduce himself to the new doctor, but he felt it would be too bold. Instead, he went to his office and worked. In the afternoon, Cruz was at the courthouse. Thoughts flooded his mind about her. At one point he became disoriented while addressing the judge. He never lost his train of thought, but it was thoughts of her that distracted him. Luckily, Cruz was able to recover well without looking bad.
That night while he wrestled with his son in the backyard, Cruz knew that he needed to pursue her. Even while playing with his son, Cruz was consumed with thoughts of her. Perhaps if he met her and got the unknowns out of his system, then she would drift out of his thoughts. Right at that moment, Rick pushed him hard and Cruz fell backwards. He braced his fall with his left hand. Pain shot up through his arm.
Sarah looked at the wrist and diagnosed it as a simple sprain. Being the left hand, Cruz was glad it wouldn’t hamper his ability to write. Rick was upset that he had hurt his father, but Cruz explained that accidents do happen.
In the morning the wrist was swollen and very hard to move without a great deal of pain. Nevertheless, Cruz had to be at court early that morning for another case he was working on. The pain consumed his thoughts and he had little time to think about the blonde woman from the store.
The judge dismissed the case around noon. Cruz was happy since his client was exonerated of everything he had been accused of. There wasn’t enough evidence to bring to trial. With that good news, Cruz set out to his office to work there the rest of the afternoon. While enjoying his lunch, the waitress noticed his swollen left wrist.
“That looks pretty nasty, Mr. Daniels.” The pretty waitress with the dark hair stated.
“Oh, it’s nothing. I just fell on it. It’s just a sprain.” He shrugged off the concern.
“I think you should have it looked at. It might be broken?” She said.
Cruz looked at his wrist with a critical eye and knew the fall would not have caused a fracture on any of the bones.
“You might want to try Dr. Smith. I’ve visited him already. Very knowledgeable physician from Virginia.” She added.
Again, Cruz shrugged it off. Yet as he ate his grilled chicken and vegetables, he thought about a visit to Dr. Smith’s office.
Could she be there? Would he see her? It was worth a shot and finally come to terms with his infatuation with the nearsighted blonde girl from the store. With determination, he decided that a visit to a new doctor wouldn’t hurt.
Cruz paid his bill and set off to see the good doctor. His wrist was bothering him more and more and it was a good excuse to see a physician. He walked towards the office, which had a big window next to a wooden door. The window was painted with the name of Joshua Smith, M. D. Squinting a little to see through the window, Cruz saw a large counter and a woman standing behind it. He stopped and looked in briefly before opening the door. There she was. How could he mistake that bleached blond hair and, surprisingly, she was wearing little round glasses. He smiled to himself before pushing the door open.
The minute he stepped inside the lobby, Miss Smith had removed her glasses and shoved them away in her apron pocket. Cruz saw that and struggled to muffle a laugh. This girl was going to do anything to hide the fact that she needed glasses from the world.
“Can I help you?” Came her sweet voice. Cruz walked right up to her at the counter and stood in front of her. She squinted at first, but quickly stopped it. Cruz shoved his own glasses in place to take a good look of her. Miss Smith was prettier than he imagined. Her blonde hair was pinned up, but strands of hair hung over her face. She struggled to tuck them behind her ear to keep them away from her face.
“I hurt my wrist and was wondering if I could see the doctor?” He said showing his wrist. She squinted again and Cruz wondered why she didn’t put her glasses on.
“The doctor is out making a call to the Jones Ranch. He won’t be in till late.” She said looking at him. Cruz could tell that she couldn’t quite focus her vision on him. “Can I see your wrist?” She said. Cruz wondered how she could see if she wasn’t wearing her glasses.
He held out his arm in front of her. She gently touched the wrist and pressed it. “Ouch!” Cruz said to conceal the pleasure he was getting out of her touch.
“I’m a nurse and I’ll be able to treat this. I don’t believe you have broken anything. Please follow me to the exam room.” She released his wrist and motioned for him to come through a swinging half door to the back.
Today, Miss Smith was wearing a gray work dress with a white apron. Although it was very plain, Cruz could still appreciate her well shaped body. She wasn’t a short girl. He made the determination by comparing her height to Cynthia. He judged Miss Smith reached his ear in height. That put her up to about 5’ 10” or so. Cruz measured at 6’ 4”. She was tall. As she walked, she stumbled on something in her path. Cruz noticed a crate of bandages on the floor. The girl couldn’t see very well, he knew that much. It puzzled him why she wouldn’t wear her glasses.
“Please take a seat on the exam table. I’ll gather some of the things I’ll need to wrap your wrist with.” She directed. Her voice was both confident and stern. She had been nursing for a while. Cruz couldn’t help but wonder if this is how it went for his parents. His father was the wounded Confederate officer and his mother was the nurse. Cruz smiled to himself at the thought.
Miss Smith continued to fumble with bandages and ointments. She held things too close to her face because she couldn’t see. Cruz was frightened by the thought that this girl was going to treat him in such a blind state. He cleared his throat.
“I believe the bandages you’re looking for are to your right.” Cruz volunteered. He really wanted to shake her and tell her to wear her eyeglasses.
“Thank you.” She said with little emotion. Was she a cold hearted nurse? Cruz watched as she placed her left arm under his left wrist. Gently she applied an ointment out of a small glass container. Her touch made him sizzle with heat.
“What is your name?” He finally had to speak to get his mind off what her touch was doing to his body.
“Miss Alana Smith.” She said without looking his way.
“Alana?” He asked.
“Yes?” She looked up at him and their eyes locked. Alana was only inches away from his face. A certain chemistry passed between the two.
“I’m Cruz Daniels. Attorney…my office is down a ways.” He stated without taking his eyes off hers.
“From Daniels and Shell?” She asked but resumed her deep rub of the ointment.
“Yes…you’ve seen my office?”
“No, papa talks about all the prominent citizens and meeting them. I believe he hasn’t met you, yet.”
“No, we have not had the pleasure.” Cruz expressed.
With much practice, Alana began wrapping his wrist. She didn’t feel a wedding ring on his left finger and wondered what his marital status was. She cursed her poor eyesight because she longed for a good look at his face. It was impossible for her to put on those ugly glasses. Her mother had always told her that girls don’t wear glasses. It was her father, being a physician, that demanded that she wear her glasses. The last thing he wanted was his daughter getting injured because she couldn’t see. Her father knew how bad her vision was.
At twenty years old, Alana had not had a serious suitor yet. Already her family was referring to her as a spinster. Most of her friends had long been married and already had children of their own. Because of her loneliness, Alana took up nursing. She loved nursing and felt that the profession itself could keep her gratified in all aspects of her life. That wasn’t completely true. She missed not having male attention.
“You do that very well.” Cruz said.
“Years of practice…I’ve been nursing for three years now. I’ve worked along side my father and he has taught me well.” She said.
“My ma was a nurse during the war.” Cruz said.
“Oh? My father was a young physician during the war. Straight out of medical school when the war broke out. Horrible thing that was.” She said.
“So I hear. My father lost his arm in the war.”
“I’m sorry. At least that’s all he lost. Many young men never came home.”
Alana finished wrapping his wrist. “You might want to come back tomorrow, Mr. Daniels. My father would more than happy to take a look at it.” Her hand remained on his arm. Cruz had a strong feeling that he hadn't felt in years. The feeling was so unfamiliar that he had trouble recognizing it. All he knew was that it made him feel good. The feeling was so good that he couldn’t leave her company. He knew now that seeing her this one time was not enough.
“Alana?” Came the male voice from the lobby. At the sound of his voice, Alana dropped Cruz’s wrist and took a few steps back from her patient. A man in his fifties entered the room.
“Papa! You’re home early.” Dr. Smith took a look at the man on the exam table, noticing his bandaged wrist.
“Mrs. Jones wasn’t quite ready to deliver that baby of hers. I’ll try back first thing in the morning.” Dr. Smith walked between his daughter and the patient. He did not recognize the man that his daughter was obviously treating. Although he had seen his daughter treat many patients, it always startled him to see her alone with a male.
Noticing the questions written all over his face, Cruz felt it best to explain his presence in the doctor’s office. “Dr. Smith…my name is Cruz Daniels. I hurt my wrist and came in to have it looked at. Your daughter was kind enough to wrap it up for me.” Dr. Smith looked at his daughter, who looked down at the ground.
“My daughter is more than qualified to treat a minor injury.” He said then turning his attention to Alana.
“Alana…you know I strongly disapprove of your not wearing your glasses; especially when treating a patient.” He said making the young woman’s face turn bright red.
“I’m sorry, papa.” She said softly.
Cruz felt for her. He hated wearing glasses, but was so used to them that it rarely mattered anymore. Certainly, her father didn’t have to speak to her in such a tone. Alana followed her father’s orders and pulled a pair of glasses out of her front pocket. Cruz felt embarrassed for her and looked down at his wrist while she put her glasses on.
Cruz hopped off the exam table and stood in front of Dr. Smith. “How much do I owe you for this visit?” He asked while sneaking a glance at the thoroughly embarrassed nurse.
“Consider this a courtesy visit. I know you’re the most prominent attorney in town. I would like to get your referrals any time.” Cruz smiled at the man’s kindness.
“Miss Smith is very good at what she does. I can already feel my wrist feeling better.” Cruz said holding up his arm. He managed to sneak a peak at her, but she was looking to the ground with her hands folded in front of her.
“Thank you…Miss Smith.” Cruz said hoping to get her attention. She looked up and Cruz got a good look of her. No matter what she may think, Cruz thought she looked better with glasses on.
“You’re welcome Mr. Daniels.” She said without smiling.
Now Cruz had his first encounter with her. She was everything he imagined and more. His hope of extinguishing his lust for her was wrong. Seeing her only ignited more feelings than he dreamed of. The way she looked and the way she spoke remained on his mind all night. Alana was a beautiful flower ready to be plucked out of someone’s garden. Cruz intended on being that florist. He had carried his torch for Cynthia long enough. Even Rick had questioned why his father had never remarried.
Aside from his work and raising his son, the pursuit for Alana’s heart became the second most important part of his life. Immediately following his first visit to Dr. Smith’s office, Cruz went by the very next day to have his wrist checked. To his surprise, and wishful thinking, the doctor was off at the Jones Ranch helping their third child come into this world.
Again, Alana was at the front desk passing the time by looking at a dress catalog. Just like before, Alana immediately took her glasses off when she heard the bell ring when the door opened. She was so nearsighted that she didn’t even recognize Cruz when he walked through the door.
“Can I help you?” She asked with that blank stare, typical of someone who couldn’t see very well. Cruz took a look around and realized they were the only two in the office. His long legs took him directly in front of her in no time. She squinted at him as she tried to figure out who he was.
“I believe your pa stated that you should wear your eyeglasses, Miss Smith.” Cruz said with that sly smile of his. Alana’s jaw dropped wide open when she recognized his voice and the conversation he referenced. She immediately frowned and put her chin up in defiance.
“Mr. Daniels! How bold of you!” She said defiantly.
“I’m only thinking of your best interest. I do have experience in the subject.” He said fixing his own glasses.
Alana was angry that he was telling her what to do. Cruz could see her anger and hesitation as he rested his bandaged wrist on the counter. It had been a long time since he courted a woman, but it had always been his style to be bold and forward. Now that he was thirty-five, he felt even more bold than he had when he was only in his early twenties. “I’m back for my re check.” He wanted to explain his reason for being there.
“The doctor is not in.” She said so formally. Cruz sighed.
“I was thinking that you could examine it and tell me whether it’s healing or not?”
She stood firmly behind the counter. Cruz could feel her hostility coming at him. “Fine! Follow me.” She said full of anger. Cruz watched her put her glasses on and then open the half door leading to the exam room. He now knew the routine and sat on the exam table. She refused to look him in the face. Instead, she concentrated on the task of removing the bandage. Again, Cruz was stimulated by her touch. The room suddenly became very hot.
“I’m sorry if I offended you.” Cruz spoke first.
“Offended me? No. Acting like my father is more like it.” She said without looking at him.
“Sorry…that was not my intention. I guess it must be hard for a lady to wear glasses. Most women are so vain.” He said with a smile. Alana immediately stopped unwrapping the bandage and glared at him.
“Contrary to what you may think, Mr. Daniels. I am not vain!” She spat back at him.
“Then why do you insist on hiding the fact that you need glasses?”
“How do you know that?”
“Because I’ve seen you do it three times!” He said with satisfaction.
“Three times? We have only met twice!” “The first time I doubt you’ll even remember on the count that you obviously can’t see without your glasses. It was at the store when you were buying fabrics!” Cruz said triumphantly.
“How dare you spy on me!” She was even more furious.
“I wasn’t spying. I was merely shopping there, too. You caught my attention!”
Alana found this man too forward. Without noticing her movements, she pulled the bandage hard making him cry out in pain. “Ouch!” Serves him right, she thought. He had no right looking at her in a public place. “Take it easy, there.” He said holding his exposed wrist. She looked at him, full of anger. He looked back at her. She really noticed him for the first time.
Cruz was obviously older than she. A professional man with a career, not unlike her father. His auburn hair was neatly combed and cut short. In front of his eyes, he wore oval shaped glasses with very thick lenses. His eyesight was far worse than hers she concluded. Behind the thick lenses she could see very blue eyes. She had the incredible urge to pull the glasses off and get a good look at his eyes.
“How’s my wrist?” He asked knowing that she was temporarily distracted.
“Oh?” She snapped out of her thoughts of him and looked at his wrist.
“It seems that it’s healing very well. You should have full movement in a day or two.” She said confidently.
“That’s good news.” He said as she was still holding his arm.
“Well you should keep it unwrapped now.”
Cruz should have moved off the table but his legs felt like led. “Can I call on you Alana?” He asked.
“Yes, I suppose so.” She looked away shyly.
“Can I invite you to some tea later on?” He took his chance.
“Yes, Mr. Collins has a nice pastries at his bakery. Tea and pastries?” Cruz felt odd asking her out. He hadn’t done that in years with any woman.
“That sounds lovely, but my father must give his approval.” She looked away nervously.
“I understand…I’ve lost my manners. Can I speak to your father when he gets back?”
“He might not be back till late…Mrs. Jones is in labor.”
“I see…What if I speak with him tomorrow and set it up for later in the day?”
Unfortunately tomorrow turned out to be a horrible day for Cruz. Court ran longer than he anticipated. The judge kept everyone there well past the normal time. By the time he got back to his office. Dr. Smith’s office was dark. Cruz cursed at having been detained for so long. It would be inappropriate to show up at her house. Dr. Smith would have a fit. Instead, he sat down at his desk and composed a note of excuse. He left it there with all intentions of giving it to his assistant for deliver.
The next day, court ran over again. Cruz cursed his bad luck. The note was still sitting on his desk. Now it had been two whole days and he no showed at Dr. Smith’s office. He rewrote the note to apologize for both dates. On the third date it was delivered to Dr. Smith’s office with the explanation that he would call upon him as soon as he could during his normal business hours. The case he was representing seemed to tie him up for a whole week.
On a Saturday, a week and a half after he said he would talk with Alana’s father, Cruz was getting ready for a ball to honor the governor. The governor had come to town the day before. The ball was put together by the current mayor and invitations were made by word of mouth. Being a prominent citizen of William, Cruz automatically got invited. As usual, he showed up alone. Most of the single women in town knew that he was the widower that still carried the torch for his long dead wife. Deep inside, Cruz would have wanted to escort Miss Smith to the ball. Since things had not worked out for him, he had resolved to going alone. Sarah picked out his clothes as she had done for so many years. Then he was off.
Cruz was a handsome man who wore his clothes well. Because of his height and strong build, his suits fit him well. Now that he had been a successful attorney for many years, women not only liked his appearance but his status. Cruz was one of the most eligible bachelors in town. Yet, the many women that had thrown themselves at him found quickly that he wasn’t after a wife, but a good mother for his son. Most of the floozies in town didn’t meet that qualification and he politely brushed them aside. Nevertheless, every available woman pursued Cruz like a bee does honey. Tonight was no exception.
Miss Easely was the most persistent tonight. A woman around 30, who had never married, was the undertaker’s daughter. Everyone knew that she was after status and therefore had taken her time in marrying. Cruz knew that she would make a lousy mother to his son. He’d already seen her impatience with children.
“Cruz! I was hoping to see you here alone.” She said with joy at his alone status. Cruz looked down at her with impatience. “Nice to see you, too, Miss Easely.” He said politely. The music was playing and she wanted nothing better than to dance with him. “Wouldn’t it be nice to dance?” She asked. That was it. If he refused her, then she would pout. He certainly didn’t want a scene. “Would you like to dance, Miss Easely?” “Really Cruz, you can call me Vanessa!” She said sharply. “Vanessa?” He held out his arm, which she quickly wrapped her own around.
It wasn’t just one dance. Vanessa had him dancing for five dances in a row. The room was filled to capacity and hot and stuffy. Wearing his wool suit, Cruz felt the perspiration dripping down from his temples. Vanessa wouldn’t stop. She wanted more and more. Eight dances passed before she realized that Cruz was dripping wet. Actually it was her intention to get him hot so that she could lure him outdoors to cool off.
“You look like you need some air?” She said with a smile. Cruz was desperately trying to wipe the sweat off his brow. Not giving him an opportunity to answer, she pulled him towards the doors by the hand. As he was being dragged outside, Cruz saw her. Against the wall was the blonde girl. She was wearing a dark blue dress and matching hat. Cruz chuckled to himself because Alana looked rather lost. He wanted to rescue her, but Vanessa was too busy wanting to pull him away.
Once outside, Cruz enjoyed the cool breeze hitting his wet face. Vanessa pulled out a handkerchief out of her drawstring purse and handed it to him. “Thank you.” He said, cursing himself for getting so hot. If only he could pull away from Vanessa and find Alana. The light was dim outside, but Vanessa had positioned them in a somewhat secluded area of the mayor’s porch. The only light that illuminated them was that from the windows. Cruz pulled off his jacket and laid it on the porch railing. Vanessa admired the white shirt he wore and how his suspenders held his pants up over his thin waist. She had been admiring this man for many years now. Seeing him with his jacket off seemed to spur stronger feelings within her.
Vanessa was not an ugly girl. She had beautiful black hair and big brown eyes. Initially he had been attracted to her due to the resemblance to Cynthia. Beyond their appearance, Cynthia and Vanessa had nothing in common. Vanessa was aggressive and bold. She whined about everything and her conversations lacked substance. Cruz could hardly carry an intelligent conversation with her. He could only imagine what it would be like if they were married. He shuddered at the thought.
Before he could say a word, Vanessa had him by the hand and was pulling him further away from the house and the party inside. Cruz found himself smashed against an old oak tree with Vanessa directly in front of him. “Miss Easely! This is hardly appropriate behavior!” He said with some anger that he was being held at the waist by her.
“I don’t think so, Cruz. I’m just getting my point across.” She moved her body so that now it was touching his body. He wanted to push her away, but any rough treatment would surely back fire on him. She held his arms and used her body to pin him against the tree.
“Your father would kill me if he knew you were out here alone with me!” Cruz tried to reason with her.
“No, my father likes you and wonders why you haven’t asked to marry me, yet?” Cruz grunted.
“You must have been filling his head with notions that I would. You can tell him that I’m not in any hurry to marry you or anyone for that matter.”
Those words seemed to make her more aggressive. She pressed all her weight against him. Cruz knew this girl wasn’t going to give up. She raised her arms and wrapped them around his neck. He tried to pry them away, but she just laughed. Instead, she reached up and grabbed his glasses. He tried to stop her, but it was too late. Vanessa had his glasses and he couldn’t see a thing. He hated when girls did that to him. Vanessa ran further away from the house and into the darkness.
Cruz was very blind without his glasses. The possibility of finding her was very slim. He thought of going back home, but the opportunity to see Alana would be lost.
“Damn it, girl!” He hissed in the darkness.
“So you won’t marry me!” She cried out from the darkness.
“I going to wring your neck for doing this to me!” He warned as he tried to walk to the sound of her voice.
“Then my father will kill you for sure.” She said giggling.
Cruz walked slowly, feeling with his right foot in front of him. His right arm was outstretched to make sure he wouldn’t run into a tree. Vanessa wondered why such a handsome man had to have such poor eyesight. If Cruz had a weakness, in her mind, it was the fact that he had weak eyes. The heavy glasses she held in her hand would back that up.
“You’re very handsome without those ugly glasses you wear!” Vanessa added.
“I don’t care what you think!” Cruz was now angry.
“Not as cruel as you!” He said referring to the fact that she took his glasses.
Vanessa allowed him to reach her. Cruz grabbed her arm and ripped his glasses out of her tight grip. “I don’t appreciate being treated this way!” He said full of anger while putting his glasses back on.
“I should paddle your behind for doing this!” He added.
“I hardly think that is appropriate!”
“Oh yea! Just push me!” He said with a growl. “Grow up Vanessa! I’m not interested in you. I never have and never will be!”
“Well! I don’t care for you either. You’re stuffy and old. All wrapped up in your practice and with your son!”
“Shut up!” Cruz said boldly.
“I’ll tell my father!”
“If you do then I’ll tell him how you lured me out here!”
“I’ll call you a liar.”
“No, Miss Easely, you’re the damn liar!”
Cruz stormed away and got his jacket before entering the mayor’s house again. He didn’t care that he had left Vanessa alone outside. After taking a deep breath, Cruz began his search for Alana. He was surprised to find her in the same spot. She stood against the wall with her arms crossed in front of her chest. Alana had this blank stare. Cruz knew that she couldn’t see a thing without her glasses on. He sighed at her insistence to go without her eyeglasses on. He moved directly in front of her. Alana stiffened, but failed to recognize him.
A smile came across her face as she was sure a young man stood in front of her. Her arms moved down as she clasped her hands together. “Can I have this dance?” He asked. She had no idea who he was, only that he was tall. He could have been ugly, but she had no way of knowing. Alana decided to take her chances.
“Yes.” She responded and held out her hand so that he could lead her to the dance floor.
It wasn’t until he stopped in the middle of the dance floor and turned to face her, that she realized who he was. It was him. The lawyer who had promised to take her to tea and pastries, but had never made it. She frowned at the same time Cruz put his arm around her waist and began a waltz. “It’s you!” Alana said trying to pull away from her, but his hold was too strong.
“You didn’t know?” He asked with that sly smile.
“You tricked me!”
“I tricked you? You could have said no when I asked you!” He pointed out.
“I didn’t recognize you…” Her voice trailed off.
“Why is that Miss Smith? Does your pa know that you’re not wearing your glasses?!” Cruz laughed. Alana began tugging away from him.
“What does that matter?” She spat back.
“It matters if you fall into a bad situation because you can’t see well enough to get yourself out of it” He said as he waltzed on the dance floor with her.
They danced well together. Alana held her head high in a show of defiance and pride. She wasn’t going to let this lawyer treat her like a child. The song ended and Cruz bowed to her, but did not let her hand go.
“Would you like something to drink?” He asked her.
“Yes, very much so.” She followed him as he led the way. She was certain not to release his hand so that she wouldn’t loose him in the dark and crowded room. He stopped at a table with a punch bowl surrounded by already filled cups. Cruz picked up a glass and handed it to her with his usual sly smile. She thanked him and took little sips of her cup.
Dr. Smith walked up to his daughter after spending a long time discussing politics with the governor. “Alana!” He called out before he got to her. Cruz saw him and was ready to apologize for the lack of formally asking him for permission to dance with his daughter. Dr. Smith took his daughter’s hand and kissed her on the cheek. He eyed Cruz with a stern look. To break the ice, Cruz extended his arm and greeted the older man.
“Hello, Dr. Smith. I just had the pleasure of dancing with your daughter for one dance. I hope that you don’t mind me being so bold.” Cruz had much practice in being diplomatic so that he could get his way.
“Actually, Mr. Daniels, I would like to spend some time speaking with you if you wouldn’t mind. My daughter has already expressed to me that you desire to see her in a social setting. I have to say that I don’t know you except for what I’ve heard from the community about you.” Dr. Smith had that strong Virginia southern drawl when he spoke. During this exchange, Cruz noticed that Alana was standing quietly, trying hard not to show any emotion about what her father was saying.
“Let’s go outside to the back porch where we can speak more easily.” Dr. Smith suggested. Cruz followed the doctor and his daughter through the house and out huge glass doors leading to a porch mildly lit up by a lantern. Dr. Smith motioned for Cruz to sit at a table and both he and Alana sat next to him.
“I just had a wonderful conversation with the governor. I truly don’t have any regrets at leaving my home and setting up a practice here. The town has grown by leaps and bounds. The governor spoke of you and his desire for you to join his staff in the capital. Have you ever considered politics, Mr. Daniels?” Dr. Smith asked.
“I have not, Dr. Smith. I’ll tell you why. I have a young son that I have been left to raise completely on my own. Ten years ago my wife passed away after childbirth. My son is first. Political aspirations will have to come second. The governor has asked me to consider a high level position with the Attorney General’s Office, but I have always declined.” Cruz explained.
“I admire your dedication to your son. He is truly a lucky child to have such a dedicated father. And, if you don’t mind me asking, why haven’t you remarried. It would have made raising a child much easier.” Dr. Smith stated.
“Dr. Smith, I have not remarried because I have not found the right woman to spend the rest of my life with.” Cruz glanced at Alana, who slightly smiled when he said that. “Therefore, I have stayed single to avoid further complicating my son’s life.”
“Well, another honest answer. I myself have recently lost my wife. It has been a big loss and with having to care for my daughter, even harder. My daughter’s happiness is the most important goal in my life, now. Alana needs to find a man who will allow her to pursue her dreams. You see, she is very bright and that intelligence should never be held down. She has been my nurse for many years before she was even old enough to go to nursing school. She has probably read all my medical books in my library, twice!” Dr. Smith chuckled.
“Oh, papa, I have not.” Alana tried to play it down.
“Well, she is very modest. Although I can tell you that she’s read so much that her eyesight has suffered for it. My poor daughter needs glasses, which has not been easy for her. In fact, she should be wearing them now.” Dr. Smith shrugged and Cruz chuckled. Trying to disprove her father’s words, Alana took her eyeglasses our of her drawstring purse and put them on confidently. Cruz smiled at her.
“Dr. Smith, I come from a family of female high achievers. My own mother became a nurse during the War Between the States. It was my mother who introduced me to books and eventually led me to the law profession. I went away from home and had to grow up very fast in a big city, but I never lost my true side. My father died when I was a small child. I hardly remember him and I was raised by my mother and a step father. My step father would have done nothing to help me. He disliked me. It was my mother who supported me during my studies and the period I had to grow up. I admire my mother very much and frankly, I prefer strong women like that in my life.” Cruz said confidently.
As the men continued to talk, Alana began to watch Cruz carefully. Now that she was wearing her glasses, she could see every little detail of him. There was no question about how handsome he was. Even with his thick glasses, he looked absolutely handsome. At one point, he caught her studying him. She became embarrassed and looked away. His voice was mesmerizing. She could imagine him in the courtroom dominating with his voice and good looks. She began daydreaming of her watching him in court. Cruz going up to the judge and then taking his glasses off to wipe them off before finishing his sentence.
“Alana? Alana?” Her father interrupted her thoughts.
“Yes, Papa?” She felt embarrassed. She saw Cruz smile with that slick look of his.
“I’m leaving for the evening, darling. I’m getting old for these occasions. Mr. Daniels has my permission to watch over you and bring you home at the end of the festivities.” Dr. Smith said. Alana looked over at Cruz, who was cleaning his glasses just like she envisioned him in her daydream. He quickly put them back on and even squinted to focus his vision on her.
“You have my word, Dr. Smith. I will bring her back safe and sound.” Cruz quickly added.
With that, Dr. Smith kissed his daughter on the cheek and briefly shock hands with Cruz. Alana watched her father leave the premises. Cruz turned to look at her with that same smile. She couldn’t help but smile back at him. He held out his hand to her. She placed her hand in his. “Shall we dance?” He asked.
“Yes, I’d love that.” She said and followed him back into the crowded ballroom.
Vanessa Easley just happen to be near the door they used to enter the room. She eyed the woman with Cruz with distaste. What further disturbed her, was the fact that Cruz had a big smile on his face when he began dancing with the girl. Anger began to rise in her as she saw how Cruz looked lovingly at the girl with blue dress and the eye glasses.
The night was coming to a close. Cruz sensed that Alana was getting tired. “Would you like to leave?” He proposed. “That would be fine.” She responded. Cruz had long ago said his greetings to the mayor and the governor. It was nice to talk to politicians with a woman on his arm. He knew they were very curious of the pretty blond in the blue dress.
Cruz and Alana walked outside into the night. It had become cooler outside since they last were out. Alana seemed to shiver a little. Cruz quickly took off his coat and draped it over her shoulders. They walked slowly through the quiet street holding hands. It would only be a short walk back to her house in town. Cruz had to plan accordingly. Under a street lamp, Cruz stopped and rested his back against a pillar holding the stores porch up. Alana was confused by his sudden stop and looked at him in a puzzled way.
“Is there something wrong?” She asked.
“No, just admiring the sights.” As he fixed his gaze on her and smiled. His glasses had slid and he needed to adjust them back in place. Alana watched all this and wondered why he was stalling her walk home.
“I really like you, Miss Smith. I knew it from the moment I met you. I could easily fall in love with you.” He said, finally explaining his reason for stalling her walk home.
She was surprised by his boldness. “I’m flattered, Mr. Daniels.”
“I want to see you again. I want my son to meet you. Can you handle being scrutinized by a 10 year old boy?” He laughed.
“I’ve had my share of difficult patients. I’m sure I can handle a 10 year old boy, Mr. Daniels.”
“Good, because we’re a package deal. If you don’t want to be an instant mother, then tell me now and I’ll walk out of your life as fast I walked in.”
“Mr. Daniels, I’m not like that. I understand completely. I can handle your challenge.” She smiled seductively at him.
“Did anyone tell you that you look delicious with your glasses on? When you’re around me I insist that your glasses stay on.” He said with that smile again.
“I think I can live up to that requirement, too. But I just have one question. Will you require me to keep them on when we kiss?” She asked.
Cruz chuckled softly and paused for a moment. He moved closer to Alana, who stood frozen. “Miss. Smith, I have never kissed a girl who wore glasses. The thought of it, excites me beyond words.” He moved closer to her. “My question to you is. What are your requirements of me regarding my glasses?” His face was very close to hers. She looked up at him and even allowed her glasses to slide down her nose so that she was looking at him over the rims.
“I have never seen glasses like yours. They are quite strong. You must be blind without them. I don’t expect you to take yours off. I would never require that of you. But, I am curious of what you look like with them off.” As she spoke her voice got deeper and deeper.
“I have never allowed a woman to take them off, for obvious reasons, but because it’s you, I will make an exception. Go ahead and take them off.” He told her. She hesitated in the beginning. All the time their eyes were locked on each other. No one was on the street. Very far in the distance a few voices were carried through the wind. They were probably still celebrating the governor’s ball.
Alana slowly reached up with both hands and firmly took hold of his glasses. The experience was doing strange things to her body. She felt her breath get heavier and her heart started beating hard. “Go ahead.” He said, thinking she was going to stop. She pulled them off his face and looked at him. He looked naked without his glasses. He looked like another man. A piece of his hair flopped over his forehead.
“What can you see, Mr. Daniels?” She asked, still holding his glasses in her hands.
He laughed. “Hardly anything, you’re right about being blind without them on. Do you like what you see?”
Alana got closer. Her voice became almost a whisper. “You look so vulnerable, so ready to be taken. If I were male and you female, I would ravish you, right here and now.” Cruz grunted. He reached for her and slammed her body against his. He freed a hand and grabbed her face and immediately and roughly kissed her. Alana sighed out loud.
If she were any other girl, Cruz would have taken her right there. He knew she was a well breed and therefore, probably still a virgin. This was not the place for this. The kiss was passionate and full of fire. When he finally released her from the kiss, Alana was left gasping for air. “I need my glasses back, Miss Smith.” He demanded. She quickly handed them to him and after putting them back on, he watched as she was still trying to catch her breath. Alana was somewhat embarrassed by her reaction. Cruz just smiled.
“I have now kissed a girl who wears glasses.” He said in a low voice. She looked up at him and adjusted her glasses left crooked after the long kiss.
“But I have not kissed a man who wears glasses?” She said, still trying to gain her composure.
“You will, you will, but not tonight. I have to get you home before your father comes looking for me with a bone saw in his hand.” Cruz said and took her hand in his and quickly walked the few blocks to her home. At the doorstep, she turned to him, thanked him for a lovely evening and quickly disappeared in the house. Cruz walked home thinking about his life and how Alana would fit into it.