From Chapter 1 – Snake in the Pool
the owner of the construction company where she worked, was anything
but mundane. Richard Gatorman was tall, blond, handsome, and rugged.
His skin was well-tanned from years of working outdoors, and he had
piercing green eyes that seemed to look right into her soul. Daphne
liked to fantasize that he was her knight in shining armor, but she
wasn’t about to ask him for time off. Still, he was easy on the
eyes, and she’d never had a steady boyfriend in her life. She’d
been shy as a teenager. Dating had always been Deandra’s purview.
Daphne had been
working for Richard for over six months when he finally asked her to
join him for lunch one day. She jumped at the offer. He took her to
Ping’s, a Chinese restaurant in Albany. Albany was a small town
between Corvallis and Interstate 5. In the restaurant’s entryway, a
poster displayed the Chinese astrological signs with the years ruled
by the signs.
“It says here I
was born in the year of the snake,” she commented.
he responded. “Is that like the biblical snake in the Garden of
Eden? You gonna try to seduce me?”
“You want me to?”
more of a snake charmer,” he continued without answering her
question. “You certainly are a charmer.”
Daphne blushed, and
just then, the receptionist came to show them to their booth. Once
seated, Daphne asked him, “So how do you know about this place?”
“I live just
across the highway,” he answered pointing north. When the waitress
returned to take their orders, he didn’t wait for Daphne to
respond. “We’ll have two egg drop soups and two of my favorite
special,” he told the waitress.
Daphne raised her
eyebrows. “You didn’t even ask me,” she laughed in surprise.
“I know what’s
good here,” he said, looking straight at her. “Don’t
worry—you’ll like it—it has pork, shrimp, and chicken. It’s a
“That poster back
there said snakes are clever, intelligent, and make good financial
managers and guardians of buried treasure. I guess I hired the right
person to mind my shop.”
“Glad you did,”
she smiled back. “So which year were you born in?”
“Huh? Oh, sorry,”
he answered, “I got distracted looking at those pretty eyes of
yours. I was born in the year of the horse.”
“I like horses,”
social, competitive, and opinionated,” he told her. “In other
words, I know what I like.” The waitress brought the soup.
Daphne enjoyed the
meal, the company, and Richard taking care of the check. She was
relieved that things were going so well, especially since he was her
boss. But she was also very much aware of her inexperience with
dating, so she was glad he took the lead. He left a big tip. She
took that as a sign of generosity. They began having lunch together
whenever he wasn’t tied up at a construction site or meeting with
clients or suppliers. One morning, several weeks later, he showed up
early at her apartment on a work day as she was just getting dressed.
“I thought I’d
take you to breakfast,” he offered.
She liked the
surprise. “I won’t be a minute,” she said as she grabbed her
shoes and purse. Going out with Richard made her feel special. It
made her feel feminine and appreciated.
That evening, as
she went to leave work, she realized she didn’t have her car. She
went into Richard’s office, held up her keys, and smiled as she
shook her head. He understood.
he assured her. “We’ll grab some dinner on the way home.”
She suspected then
that he was becoming as serious about her as she was about him. After
dinner she invited him in. She was hoping for romance. The first kiss
progressed quickly into discarding of clothes and making love. He was
her first. Daphne was pleased he stayed the night. She made breakfast
the next morning.
As they ate, he
said, “We’d better take separate cars today.”
she agreed. She didn’t mind. It was only practical.
When he mentioned
he had errands to run and couldn’t have lunch with her, she took
advantage of his absence, and called her sister, Deandra, when she
went out to grab a sandwich.
“Guess what!” Daphne told Deandra,
and continued without waiting for her sister to try to guess, “I’m
in love! He’s tall and handsome and owns his own successful
business, and he treats me like a princess.”
“Wait a minute,”
Deandra responded. “This isn’t your boss, is it?”
“Yes, it is,”
Daphne confirmed. “What of it?”
“That’s never a
good idea,” Deandra counseled. “What happens when you two break
going to happen,” Daphne countered. “I just know it. You’re
“How can I be
jealous? I’ve never even met him.”
“You know what I
mean,” Daphne shot back defensively. “You’re just jealous
because I’m in love and you’re not—because I finally found
someone. Anyway, I just called to share my good news. Don’t be such
a wet blanket. I have to get back to work. Bye.”
disappointed with her sister’s reaction, but took comfort in
knowing it was just jealousy. Besides, what did logic have to do with
love? She took her sandwich back to work and ate at her desk. She was
disappointed when she didn’t see Richard the rest of the afternoon.
She even stayed a little longer than usual, just in case he showed
up, but finally locked up the shop and went home.
That evening, he
showed up at her door unannounced. She was delighted when he knelt
down in front of her open door, held up a beautiful diamond ring in a
gift box, and said, “Will you marry me?”
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