I watched him from across the room as he stood surrounded by people, mostly women, chatting, laughing. Other women throughout the room, married ones, watched him as well. Oh, I knew he was married and so did they. I twiddled my wedding ring with my thumb.
Still, I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him. Tall, broad-shouldered, white beginning to take over the black of his hair, he took my breath away even from where I stood. Up close, one would be able to see his vivid green eyes that flashed kindness and intelligence.
“Giselle,” said a man to my left, whose name I did not know, “is your husband taking any new clients?”
“I’m not sure,” I answered politely, annoyed at discussing my husband’s business at a holiday get-together. “You’ll have to ask him.”
“I’ll do that,” he assured me, then asked, “How’s Duncan doing, by the way?”
My annoyance fled and I perked up at the mention of my nine-year-old son, the light of my life. “Wonderful, thanks. He loves Scouts. Karate’s going great and he’s been put in the gifted program.”
“Ah ha! More like his father every day, then.”
I smiled wistfully and again looked at the man across the room from me, all the women surrounding him wanting his attention the same way I did. “Yes, indeed,” I murmured, turning my attention back to the conversation.
“Good! Good! Well, I think I’ll go find your husband.”
“Good luck,” I said, intending to tell him exactly where to find my husband, but he’d left.
The man who had caught my eye turned. I could see the burn scars on the left side of his face, from the house fire that had widowed him. The scars didn’t make him less attractive. No, they made him more so, gave him character and identified him as a survivor. Coupled with his pretty smile and obvious charm, he was irresistible.
He laughed and I could hear it from where I stood alone. It was deep and rich, like liquid dark chocolate. He looked up at that moment and caught me staring. He smirked to let me know he’d caught me, and I blushed. I turned away, a little embarrassed but very pleased that of all the beautiful women vying for his attention, I had caught it from so far away.
“Magnificent, isn’t he?” came the voice of a woman I didn’t know. She watched him with the same level of fascination I had for him.
“Yes,” I agreed. “He is. He’s also married.”
“Unfortunately,” she said with some regret. “I don’t think he knows how attractive he is, with all those scars.”
I agreed again because it certainly didn’t seem as if he knew he was being flirted with, competed over.
“By the way, I’m Teri.”
“Giselle,” I said and shook hands with her.
“Have you ever met his wife?” she asked me abruptly, as if she had made up her mind about something and only needed a little more information.
“Yes,” I said.
“Is she pretty?”
“No,” I said. “I wouldn’t say that.”
“Is she here tonight?”
“Well, she must have something going for her, to keep him home and happy.”
I said nothing to that. I didn’t feel the need to encourage her in a quest I knew would be futile.
He looked up at me again, and again he smiled.
“Oh,” breathed the woman beside me. “Excuse me.” With that, she set out across the room toward him, walking gracefully and without appearing too eager. I wished I could master that, but I’m not that sophisticated and never will be.
Then he saw her and politely disentangled himself from the knot of women to turn and walk out the door behind him. Teri stopped, stared at the now-empty spot, and pressed her lips together. I didn’t know if she was angry or about to cry, but she stayed glued to the spot.
“Giselle,” said my husband from behind me. He had sneaked up on me while I watched Teri deal with her embarrassment. “Let’s go home before I get dragged into shop talk.”
“No, I’m enjoying myself,” I said without looking at him.
“I’m sure you are,” he returned with wry amusement. “But I’d rather stay home and watch TV with you.”
My husband took my hand and brought it to his lips for a soft kiss. At that moment, Teri turned and saw us together. She flushed, then strolled away with a dignity I knew I couldn’t have mustered.
I finally looked up at my husband. His vivid green eyes and scars had me as entranced as the day I’d met him twelve years ago. “I’m not very nice to women who want my husband,” I confessed.
He chuckled warmly. “I noticed. It’s cute.”