Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ROMANCE genre (04/19/07)
TITLE: LOVE COMES SLOWLY
By Dan Louise Mann
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“Jenny, I wish you wouldn’t hang around me quite so much. I’m busy and you get in the way,” he said with irritation a few weeks into our relationship. But his voice inflection gave me hope, more so than his actual words. At least he was acknowledging me. A positive step, I convinced myself.
A few weeks later he unexpectedly suggested an outing to the park. Since he rarely took me anywhere, this was a treat indeed. True, he <I>did</I> leave me alone to go talk with his buddies, but I saw him glancing my way occasionally. Was it pathetic to crave this morsel of attention? No, not when love was involved, I thought.
“Well, what have we here?” A stranger seated himself beside me. “So, who ya here with?” I looked in the direction of my love. “One of those guys, eh? Shame on him, neglecting a little beauty like you. I’d treat ya better than that, honey. Ya oughta come home with me.”
Sensing ill intent, I started to move away, but before I could, he grabbed me and covered my mouth. I struggled, but his strength overwhelmed me. <I>My love, save me!</I> I pleaded silently, as the man hustled me from the park.
Much as I hated the man, this love’s pretender, he was not cruel. He hadn’t yet told me <I>why</I> he’d abducted me, and I <I>was</I> locked in a room that offered no escape, but he did make sure I had the basic necessities. And at night when he came home he was very tender, expressing endearments as his long fingers brushed through my thick auburn hair. One night, as he held my face gently in his hands, he looked deep into my eyes. Returning his gaze, I felt a tingling sensation I’d not felt before.
“Well, my little beauty, you’re lookin’ fine,” he said softly. “Yes you are. And you’re gonna fetch me a pretty penny.” He began to laugh, a harsh barking quality. The tender moment dissolved. <I>Where are you, my love?</I> my soul cried. <I>Why haven’t you come to save me?</I>
I lost track of days, but finally one evening the pretender led me to his car. To his reassuring chatter I made no reply, my silent treatment meant to show how much I despised him. As we drove, I watched for any opportunity to escape, but I’d never been to this part of town before, and I realized I was thoroughly lost.
“Okay, we’re here. Out you come, my little beauty.” Refusing to budge, he pulled me out of the car. Entering a large building, I saw others like me huddled in a corner. They glanced at me as I was thrust into their midst. We're doomed, their eyes seemed to say.
The pretender joined the other men in the room. Eventually one man led them over to our pathetic little group. One by one we were paraded before them. When it was my turn, the pretender turned me this way and that, praising my beauty, but I didn’t feel pretty at all. I felt ugly and used. I was to be sold like so much meat!
Not wanting to make eye contact with anyone, I sat looking at the floor when I suddenly spied a familiar pair of shoes. Glancing up, I found my love staring back at me! I reflexively jerked toward him, but he silently signaled me to stay. Ah, now I understood. He was going to buy me from the pretender! <I>Oh, my love. You do care!</I>
While the men haggled, I breathed deeply, trying to curb my pounding heart. With eyes downcast so I wouldn’t give away the game, I awaited my fate. Suddenly I was jerked to my feet and led to my new owner. O joy of joy, it was my love! He fell to his knees and embraced me. Whispering in my ear, he said the words I’d longed to hear.
“Dear sweet Jenny, I love you.” I nuzzled his neck in reply. “I thought I’d lost you forever,” he sobbed. “We’re meant to be together. I know that now.” Then he tenderly held my face in his beautiful hands. “You truly <I>are</I> man’s best friend.”
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