PART 1 | PART 2
Later that night, Meredith sipped on her strawberry margarita while listening to Devin give instructions to her dog sitter since she’s going out of town tomorrow. As she sat there, Meredith thought about telling Devin about Bernard. It’s been almost four months since she started talking to him, and Meredith hadn’t said a word.
She knew Devin would have issues with Bernard, not because he’s not handsome, intelligent, or that he lived in Charlotte, but because he’s a truck driver. Bernard being a truck driver didn’t bother Meredith; what bothered her was the way he made her feel. She’d smile whenever he sent her a message. She’d blush simply hearing his voice; knowing she’s not a little girl, but Bernard made her feel as if she were.
“Sorry about that,” Devin said getting off her phone. “But you know I have to make sure my baby is going to be taken care of.”
“I understand, but this isn’t the first time you’ve gone away and left Chewy?”
“No, no, he’s a pro; new sitter, new company.”
“So, ladies, have we decided what we’d like to order?” Our server Linda asked. Meredith nodded and ordered the Chicken Crispers no corn and Devin had the Bacon Cheeseburger with extra fries. “Sounds great, any appetizers?”
“Texas Cheese fries, no jalapenos,” they both said at the same time and giggled. “Oh, and can you have them put no seasoning on my fries with the Crispers, please?” Meredith said to Linda.
“Of course, I’ll get this ordered for you. Would you like another margarita?” Linda asked Devin.
“No, just a strawberry lemonade, please,” Devin said looking at me.
“I’d like water no lemon, please,” I said not giving Linda a minute to ask what I’d like since my margarita is three-fourths gone. “So, Devin, I’ve been meaning to tell you something.”
“Is it juicy?”
“Now you know it’s not that juicy, but, yeah I guess it is!”
“What’s his name?”
“Why does it have to be a he?”
“Because when you asked why your eyes danced, and I know it’s not that margarita! Now spill it!!” Devin said cheerfully. Meredith told her about Bernard and how they meet, and her fears about falling in love. “It’s ok to be in love, but take your time and trust your instincts.” Meredith sat there looking at Devin as if she didn’t know her. She was usually very critical about the guys Meredith dated, not that there were that many, but still she didn’t say… “Oh, and have you done a background check?” There she is, Meredith knew Devin would come back; she wondered when the Devin she knew would roar her head.
“You know his info? Where he lives, does for a living?” Meredith nods. “Is he divorced? Has kids?”
“Yes, and he has a son that’s fourteen who lives with the ex-wife, but he has him when he’s home.”
“When he’s home?”
“Yeah, he’s a trainer for a trucking company.”
“Oh, ok, so he has a stable job, great, and I’m sure he pays his child support,” the look Meredith gave her made even Devin feel the fear of the impending death. “Sorry, sorry, of course he does. Ok, that should do it, now his name is?”
“Please don’t say King!”
“No silly, he’s Donaldson, not King,” Meredith says, and they laugh as Linda puts their food in front of them.
“Ok, got it, and he lives in?”
“Charlotte,” Meredith says and smile.
“Yeah, I know why you’re smiling. We had a blast in the Queen City, that Cam Newton, lawdamercy!” Meredith nods knowing what Devin meant about their football weekend – when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played the Carolina Panthers and from their vantage point, they saw Cam up close and that boy fine! “So, he’s how old?”
“Forty, divorced for the six years. He’s a Sagittarius, November 24, 1970. Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, wrestled in high school and he’s left handed. He’s a high yellow cutie pie, and I really like him. Anything else you need to know, ma’am?”
“Hell, yeah, I always need to know,” Devin says picking up her phone and her credit card. “This one is one me,” she says and speaks into her phone. “Yeah, as soon as you can; I understand, I’ve got a new card let me give you the information,” she says and hangs up and began eating as if she were eating alone.
“So what?” Devin says just looking at Meredith. “Oh, sorry, I ordered your background check and just in case he has LifeLock, it’s coming from me and not you so it doesn’t look that bad.” Meredith nods understanding that and knowing Bernard Meredith is sure he does have LifeLock.
They eat and laugh as Devin’s phone chimes with the report on Bernard. Devin quickly sobers up and says, “Well, I be damn,” Meredith quizzically look at her. “You said he was a cutie, you failed to say he’s fine as hell – looking like I could devour him! And by the way, if you don’t want him, I’ll gladly take him. Everything you know about him up until now is the truth. Did you know he moved to Charlotte after the ex-wife moved South?” Meredith nods. “Oh, ok; well, that’s someone to love. So unless he’s a closet serial killer or likes to dress up in women’s clothes, you might have a winning ticket.
“Wow! I’m relieved although I knew my Spidey Sense wasn’t failing me.”
“I’m glad too!”
After dinner and a long hot bath, Meredith called Bernard and left him a message. About a half hour later, he called her back. “Good evening, Mr. Donaldson.”
“Good evening, Ms. Carter, how are you tonight?”
“I’m doing wonderful!”
“Do tell,” he says as Meredith smiled really hard. “Hold on a sec, baby,” he says, and Meredith feel the need to get her Skype going. Meredith and Bernard has video chatted many times before, but tonight it felt different; she really wanted to see Bernard’s face. She remembered telling Bernard how much better she slept when she sees his face before bed. Bernard had said the same thing to her, but she, honestly, thought he was just saying it to say it – until she saw the grin on his face; she then knew that Bernard was not pulling her leg. “Sorry about that, I’m just trying to get through my emails.”
“You have a lot, huh?”
“Yes, mainly about the move the company is making and the positions they’re offering me.”
“Oh, honey,” oh, damn Meredith thought; she called him honey, she’s not given him a term of endearment up until now.
“So, I’m honey now,” Meredith didn’t know what to say. “Meredith, sweetheart; it’s ok, I like it. I think I’ve been holding my breath waiting on something like that from you.”
“Oh, I don’t know why all of a sudden it just came out.” He giggled. “So can I ask you something,” he made a noise like go ahead. Anytime, Meredith asked Bernard any questions he’s answered everyone of them with no hesitation. “I’m not sure if you’re in a position to video chat, but…”
“Are you kidding, it’s been a whole week since I’ve seen your beautiful face. Let me sign on.” She smiled at the phone getting really excited. “Are you ready?”
“Ready,” she answered quickly and for about an hour they talked about his son, Rodrick, and his talent on the baseball field. “Does he play any other sports?” Meredith asked feeling loved.
“He wanted to wrestle like I did, but he didn’t have the skills. You know wrestling is a different kind of skill set than baseball, and I think he thought that because he is talented as an athlete he could just do any sport and be good at it; well as you know, it’s far from that.” Meredith nodded loving listening to Bernard. “So, he’s going to try football this year since he’s grown a whole foot, but I think at the end of the day, he’ll stick with baseball.”
“Bernard, you know I think it’s very cool that you support Rodrick as you do, but what if decides to go back and try wrestling again?”
“Well, he can, but…I, umm, I don’t really think,” Bernard says and gets quiet.
“Honey, what’s the matter with Rodrick wrestling, I mean are you, umm…”
“I want to be able to teach him how to be a wrestler,” he says cutting Meredith off. She nodded understanding what he meant. “But because of my crazy schedule, I feel as though I’ll fail him.”
“Oh, I see that, but you realize that you haven’t failed him?”
“Then help me understand the guilt you’re carrying.” Bernard stared at the screen as though he didn’t understand what Meredith was saying. “I get this, your guilt. My daddy was gone a lot for his work. I think I told you,” Bernard nods, “But the truth is I was, am, very proud of my dad because he made a choice; he didn’t hesitate because he knew he was doing his best for me, my brothers and my mother. So, I think you should let him find who he is and do your best cheerleading from afar.”
“I know you’re right, but I wanted that father-son time; that’s why I moved where they were.”
“I get that, I really do, but he’ll understand,” Meredith said and Bernard seemed to go dark. “Bernard?”
“Ah, I need to get going, we’ve got a long day ahead tomorrow…I, ah…” Meredith was in complete shock; she’d never seen Bernard this way, flustered, sweaty, and afraid. “Meredith, I apologize; it’s just my son is extremely important to me, and I really want the best things for him. I didn’t think you’d say cheer from afar that’s the part about you that I don’t like.”
“Bernard, what are you saying?”
“Although you’re an educator, it is still unclear to me if you’re ready for this.”
“Meredith…” he said my name and the screen goes black. Meredith wanted to cry, she wanted to scream, but her only reaction was throwing her laptop across the room smashing it into pieces. She picked up her phone and deleted everything she had on Bernard.
She sent Devin a text, down a tall glass of Pinot Noir, took a long hot bath, and cried like a newborn baby. Never did she think a comment about not feeling guilty would turn to this.
to be continued….
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