He stood, watching her, feeling every ounce of her pain, her anguish. He was probably the only one who understood what it was like to lose the person you loved, the person who was everything in the world to you.
If only he could just touch her, reach out to her, make her feel happy again. But that was just selfish on his part, wasn’t it? It wouldn’t be fair to Melody. Anybody could see that even three years later, she was still struggling. Hadn’t he always told her that if something happened to him, he would want her to fall in love again? It saddened him to think that if she continued down this cold and lonely path, she would be alone forever.
Melody had wanted it all, a home filled with children, a loving marriage. Thinking back to how happy they had once been, it broke his heart to see her this way, and it was always saddest to see her like this around the holidays, which were quickly approaching.
Jack’s mind was whirling with ideas, if only...He wished that he could talk to her just one more time, but alas, that was against the rules. If only there was some way, if only he could help her see the light. The corners of Jack’s mouth crept up as his mind took hold of an impossible thought. Would he be able to pull this off? If he did, could he ever be the same again? …
The electricity was undeniable. It was something that he should have considered, knowing how powerful their attraction and love had been in life. The look on Melody’s face was shock, confusion and curiosity all rolled into one. He would have to remember not to touch her again, it was simply too much of a risk to take. He knew that if his cover was revealed, the rules stated that he could never make contact with her again.
“What was...did you feel?” Poor Melody peered at him with those gorgeous light brown eyes of hers. There was something different about her eyes now; once they had been filled with spark and mischief, but now they were sadder, as if the light had somehow gone out. The same eyes that had looked at him with varying degrees of emotions for all those precious years they had shared together. The same eyes that held him spellbound right now. Jack didn’t know what to expect; he had no way of knowing how hard it would be to not reach out and touch this woman who was his wife, the love of his life. She evoked so much emotion in him that he had to turn his head before she saw the tears that sprang from his eyes. He had known this would be hard, but Melody took his breath away. Melody was always beautiful, but now she also appeared slightly sad and fragile. Looking down at her so many times before, he knew of her sadness, of course, but standing right here beside her, Jack could practically feel her strong emotions within his own heart.
Since he had gone to great lengths to disguise his true identity, Jack would have to do better than this. There was no way that she could recognize him by his appearance. He was once tall,
standing six foot three inches tall, maintaining a trim physique with messy light brown hair. He now stood barely five foot seven with wavy dark hair and a stocky build. The only thing about his appearance that Jack wasn’t able to change was his eyes. Nobody could change their eyes, because it was a fact that eyes were the windows to the soul.
Melody stood before him, her mouth gaping open as if she were caught in a spell. Think of something, quick, he told himself.
“Melody. I heard great things about your store. You see, I’m new to this area and I was just walking around and I figured I’d come check out your store.”
Melody appeared as if she had composed herself slightly. Clearing her throat, she finally spoke. “Where are you from, if you don’t mind me asking.”
He really should have been more prepared, how could he have forgotten how inquisitive Melody was?
“Um, I’m from down south, Florida.”
“Whereabouts? I have a friend from the Orlando area.” He should have also remembered her old college roommate from Orlando. Was Miami far enough away to field off further questions?
“Miami? What brings you all the way up north to the New York area?”
Wow, she should have been a lawyer instead of owning a business. “My job. I work in the city now and live here in the suburbs.”
“What do you do for work?”
Thinking quickly on his feet, Jack steered away from his real occupation in life, working for an insurance company.
“I work for a pharmaceutical company. I’m in sales.” That ought to do it. He was reminded of a time when Melody had quizzed him nonstop when they had first met, he had felt like he
was interviewing for a job. They had laughed many times together over that memory.
“Oh. Well, who is it that recommended you to my store?” Her eyes peered cautiously through her striking auburn hair. The long hair that was always slightly out of place, always in her eyes. Wishing that he could reach out and touch her beautiful hair just once more, he reeled himself back in.
“Just some guy at a diner recently. He raved about the selection of books and the coffee. Hmm, if I recall, he also said that you have the best cheesecake in town.” That should do it. Melody loved to bake and could go on and on about her desserts.
And that she did, thank goodness for the distraction of a good cheesecake. When Melody had stopped gushing about how she prepared her cheesecake, she caught herself and chuckled.
“You must think I’m something, rambling on like this. I’m sorry, I just realized that I didn’t catch your name.”
My name, my name. Something unusual perhaps, but fitting for a friend. “Oliver.” Where did that come from?
“Oliver. Well, Oliver, I don’t usually do this because we are closed, but would you like to try some of the cheesecake? We happen to have some left over.”
“Oliver” could tell that he had gotten on Melody’s good side. She wasn’t a particularly outgoing person. As a matter of fact, she was usually pretty shy, but he was delighted to see that he had made an impression on her. Or perhaps it was just good business sense. Either way, Oliver had succeeded in completing the first step of his mission: meeting Melody.
Melody couldn’t recall the last time that she had felt so comfortable with a total stranger. It wasn’t like she was even physically attracted to him, Oliver wasn’t her type at all. He was
the complete opposite of Jack in every way. Well, in every way except for those captivating blue eyes. It was uncanny how much Oliver’s eyes reminded Melody of Jack’s eyes. It wasn’t just the color or the shape, but it was the intensity of his gaze. That was probably why Melody had felt so comfortable with him from the start.
“I know that you’re going to think this is forward, but would you mind showing me around town sometime?”
Melody sucked in a breath and inwardly panicked.
“My girlfriend is coming up in a few weeks and I wanted to show her around a bit.” He finished.
Melody’s shoulders visibly dropped as she let out a sigh. “Sure, yes, Oliver, I think that would be fine.”Two finished slices of chocolate cheesecake and decaf coffees later, Melody realized this was the best evening she’d had in, well, just about three years.