I have sat down and written this over 4 hours or so… first attempt at fiction in over a decade… Part 1 of 2. Definitely not polished, but I hope you like it. …and I hope that when Thomas M. Watt reads this, he will not expect where it ends up… let’s see 😉
Hannah stepped into the small church foyer, still somewhat new to town she was still trying churches out. Still trying to find a place she might fit and that would help her get settled into her new environment.
If she was honest with herself, there were very few churches in her life that she every felt fully at home in – so she didn’t expect much. Church is just what you do and would likely be the best place to meet at least a few good local people.
The pastor greeted her, surprised at how young and attractive he was, she was comforted that perhaps this church wouldn’t be too ancient in nature.
She filed past with the other congregants, congregants that were mostly older than she expected, into the sanctuary and took a seat on the simple wooden pew. She glanced around to take it all in, noting that all the ornaments in the space were simple wood. It seemed quaint and she liked that it wasn’t too showy. She was pleasantly surprised at the content of the sermon – simple, yet she felt she learned something when the pastor explained the language origins and history relevant to the time period preached about.
As Hannah walked out of the sanctuary she was thinking to herself, not sure if she’d stay for coffee or go straight out to her car. Her car, she decided… she was still a little shy in new situations and knew it would probably take her two or three visits before she stayed for coffee and attempted small talk with what were still essentially strangers.
She headed straight for the door, rummaging through her purse to find her keys. She looked up just in time to realize that the pastor and… Goddamn… the most beautiful man she had ever seen were standing in front of the doorway talking.
She noted that this man wasn’t what she’d call her usual type. Hannah tended to be attracted to the bad boy type. This man was clean cut, his square jaw clean shaven and his blond hair cut short in the military fashion. She could tell he was muscular under the rolled up sleeves of his dress shirt.
“Ah, Hannah,” said the pastor as she approached. “Have you met Neal? He’s about your age, perhaps he can help you settle into town – help you meet others your age.”
Neal smiled, flashing his perfectly straight white teeth. He held out his hand in an effort to shake Hannah’s hand in greeting.
An involuntary flutter was felt by Hannah and she tried to suppress a blush she was afraid was rising to her cheeks. She held her hand out as well and he clasped in in a warm, strong grasp.
“Coffee?” Neal asked her.
Hannah nodded as she said “Sure.”
He held his arm out to indicate that he wanted her to go first so she stepped towards the fellowship hall and he followed behind her.
Hannah found him charming enough and he was certainly more at ease making small talk with a stranger. They discussed a bit about the town and where they were both from. It turned out that he was an officer in the Army. Hannah noted to herself that that bit of information made perfect sense given his appearance.
Neal stated that he wasn’t friends with “females,” but if Hannah wanted to come along to a couple outings with his friends, then she was welcome to attend. He mentioned his girlfriend, and pointed her out across the room talking to someone else. She was gorgeous Hannah thought, but then Hannah still had a boyfriend back home she was attempting to keep a long distance relationship with – so she really had no reason to feel jealous. She felt a small twinge nonetheless and forced herself to push that feeling back down.
Neal and Hannah exchanged numbers in case she needed help finding his place the next week when he intended to have a BBQ with his friends.
When Hannah showed up to the BBQ that night she met several people, mostly Neal’s Army buddies with a few girlfriends here and there… But Neal’s girlfriend wasn’t there. He said she didn’t like coming to the larger get togethers. She didn’t mind a drink now and then, but preferred not to contribute to the party atmosphere.
As the next few months progressed, Hannah realized that Neal and his girlfriend ran the kid’s Sunday school, alternating weeks. His girlfriend though seemed more and more irritated working with him in that capacity so she eventually stepped down from that role. Shortly thereafter she broke up with him.
By this point, Hannah and Neal had become what one could consider as friends. They still held each other at arm’s length; keeping it all cordial and proper. Neal approached her and asked her to help out with the Sunday school duties. She agreed, but soon found that she didn’t ever get her weeks off because he would seek her out to ask for assistance on his weeks. He had a hard time getting the kids to focus and learn… So she would come and sit in on his request so that she could help him with the littlest ones.
She found him charming regardless. She smiled to herself watching him interact with the kids each week. This also gave them more reason to spend time together, he started to invite her for an after church beer and lunch to discuss lesson plans.
As their friendship grew he’d invite her for other reasons. Sometimes just to talk so he could vent about a rough week or commiserate that his now-ex was first dating someone and eventually engaged to someone else in the church.
He outlined his relationship troubles with her – namely that he had a hard time committing when she wanted to know that the relationship was going somewhere. By the time he decided that he might just want to be with her the rest of his life, she had grown tired of waiting.
He snorted and shook his head then lifted his beer to his mouth and took a swig. “I can’t believe I’m telling you all this. I’m not friends with females… I don’t know why, but I just feel comfortable talking to you,” he said.
Hannah nodded, though she noted the sound of disdain in his voice as he uttered ‘females,’ she answered “I know. I can’t put my finger on it, but I feel at ease with you too.”
As time went further on, they got to a point where they were calling each other their respective Best Friend. Their friends would tease them separately. His friends would refer to Hannah as his entanglement. Hannah’s friends would meet him once and then exclaim to her “He is in love with you, Hannah!” after he left.
Snorting, she’d respond “Mmm Hmmm, yeah right. We’re just friends.”
“Come off it, Hannah, you can tell by the way he looks at you… the way he talks to you.”
As more and more friends would provide the same assessment after their first meeting, she started to wonder for herself. She started to take note of his idiosyncrasies and started piecing together comments and tried to pay more attention to how he acted around her. She started to seriously wonder if maybe he did have feelings for her.
The next time they had their Sunday lunch, she decided to ask him straight out. At that point she was still trying to keep her long distance relationship together so she wasn’t even sure what she expected to or wanted to hear from him.
Looking down at her plate as she cut her food into bite size pieces, she broached the subject. She chose her words carefully, but was straightforward in her approach.
“Kensey thinks you’re in love with me.” She looked up at him as he cleared his throat.
She smiled at him as if she might be teasing him. “I mean, if you are it wouldn’t be the end of the world, of course. It’s just my boyfriend…”
“No, no…” he made a face to indicate that Kensey’s assessment was ridiculous.
“Okay, okay. It’s not a big deal either way… but I’ll believe you since you’re the only one who knows how you feel.”
“Thank you,” he said as he wiped his fingers on his napkin and then promptly changed the subject to indicate he was done with that topic.
Well, what did I expect, Hannah thought. He’s too much of a gentleman to admit it if he was. Especially since he knows about my boyfriend.
The next week he called her to tell her about a girl he had met and liked. Okay, maybe he really isn’t into me that way…