Another free story today. I blame summer for making me lazy. Enjoy this short but sweet romance.
A Market For Love
Elaine Armstrong looked at her results and smiled. The tent was up, her tables were ready and covered. She only needed to set out her jars of jams and jellies to be ready for her first Farmer's Market. She was glad she'd let her friend Paula talk her into this.
"You have to get out more," said Paula. "You've been brooding long enough." Blunt and to the point. Paula was right. She was now able to remember her late husband Dan with a smile rather than tears. At least Paula had given up trying to introduce her to available men her age. This suggestion showed progress on both their parts.
It was a small community and Elaine recognized some familiar faces and got some nods of recognition in return. She was going to have a good day no matter how much she sold. Then a quick run home to change and off to Paula's for a birthday celebration for Todd, Paula's husband.
Just as she set four jars on one of her folding tables, it tilted, a leg gave way and two jars crashed to the ground. Her reflexes were good enough to catch the other two before they broke.
She felt tears not too far away. Not an auspicious start to her great day. Oh well. She shrugged it off and knelt to pick up the glass shards.
A voice behind her said, "I think you need a screwdriver. The brace has come off that leg. Luckily I just happen to have one."
She looked up at a tall thin frame silhouetted against the morning sun. All she could make out was a large smile. He moved and she could see the rest of his face. It wasn't a handsome one exactly, but warmth and humor emanated in beams. Her heart gave an unfamiliar leap. His smile deepened as he held out the screwdriver. "May I?"
"Thanks." For a normally talkative woman, Elaine felt suddenly tongue tied. She couldn't explain her reaction. It was almost a feeling of recognition. That must be it! She'd met him before. After all it was a small community.
In a minute he had the brace reattached.
"I've seen you before," he said, "In the grocery aisles."
Of course. They'd bumped carts by the produce section last week. How could she not remember that smile? Relieved that she had an explanation for her initial reaction, she regained her voice.
"I remember. We ran into each other by the pet department."
"Nearly knocked over a shelf of cat food." That wonderful smile deepened. "My cat Charlie has gourmet tastes."
"My cat Lucy is picky too. If I try to sneak something new past her, she sulks and goes on a hunger strike."
"I'm Ted Somerville, by the way."
"Elaine Armstrong." They chatted long after the table was reset and the first customers arrived. The feeling of recognition deepened. Was this what it felt like to meet a soul mate?
Later, as Elaine was packing up, she found herself scanning the passers-by, but Ted had left, gone home to Charlie.
She reluctantly dressed for dinner. Paula and Todd were her closest friends and she wanted to help celebrate Todd's birthday, but her mind kept wandering back to that tall, slim frame with the screwdriver in hand.
She arrived at Paula's, presented her gift and wished Todd many happy returns.
"Come on through and meet our other guest," said Paula.
"Oh Paula, not again." She groaned. "I thought you'd given up."
Then, coming towards her, there was Ted. "Hello, again."
For some reason she blushed and her tongue refused to behave. "It's you! I thought Paula was trying to set me up again."
Ted laughed. "She was."
"You knew it was me at the Market!" she accused.
"Guilty," He said. "Paula and Todd were the first people I met when I arrived in town and she decided to try her hand at match-making. I told her 'No more'.
"Those aren't words Paula really hears," said Elaine.
"I know. When she invited me tonight I made her confess what she was up to. I thought I'd get a sneak preview and slipped off to the Market. Then I recognized you."
"You were checking me out!"
"Guilty again. But I knew from the moment our carts collided in the supermarket that I wanted to see more of you. I just didn't know how to go about it till Paula intervened."
"How did you manage to show up with a screwdriver just when I needed one?"
"That part was just coincidence. My cover for showing up at the Market was to help a friend set up for his woodworking stall."
Elaine tried hard to ignore the congratulatory grin on Paula's face. Oh well, it could be Paula's set-up days were over.
For more short romances, check out A Baker's Dozen Short and Sweet Romances here.