Heather gathered her yoga mat from her Ford Focus and headed down the walk toward the house. After weeks of texting about taking a home session together, she and her friend David had finally agreed on a time. The musky-sweet scent of fallen leaves wafted through the air as she rang the bell.
The door flew open, and David stood smiling on the other side. “Hiya.”
“Hey, yourself.” As she walked to the living room, Heather unzipped her hoodie then draped it over the back of a chair. She adjusted her pink crop top that she’d paired with black leggings. “Ready to work out?”
“You betcha.” David flexed his biceps. He looked toward the stairway as the sound of footsteps approached. “Have you met my roommate, Rob?”
“Not yet,” Heather stammered as the tall, lean newcomer headed straight for her. He looked smart with his short brown textured hair.
“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.” Rob sounded sincere as he shook her hand.
Oh, the pleasure is all mine. Heather savored Rob’s firm grip, his slender fingers emanating warmth. “You as well.”
“You gonna whip David into shape?” Rob asked.
“I’ll try.” Heather chuckled as she swept a tendril of hair from her face. “Will you be joining us?”
“I wish. Gotta head back to work.” Rob smiled.
“Maybe next time.” Heather noticed the Shaw logo embroidered on his collared work shirt. As she glanced upward, her heart skipped a beat. Oh God, his eyes. She marveled at how they almost matched the vibrant blue of his shirt.
“Enjoy.” Rob headed toward the door.
“Have a good one, buddy.” David rolled out his mat and began stretching.
“How long have you known Rob?” Once the front door closed, Heather tried to sound casual in her downward-facing dog pose.
“Almost ten years. We met while working at the Brick.”
“Cool.” Heather wondered where her friend had been hiding that gorgeous human.
Two nights later, Heather returned to the bachelor pad with her girlfriend Eden. David had invited them over for a game night. After they all settled around the kitchen table, he reviewed the instructions for Betrayal at the House on the Hill, a B movie board game with a horror theme.
When it came time to pick a character, Rob announced, “I choose Heather Granville.”
Heather felt butterflies in her tummy. Aww, he picked a character with the same first name as me. She was flattered by the gesture and took every opportunity to smile at him.
The next game night consisted of Ping-Pong in the basement. David and Rob obviously spent time at the net together, and competition was fierce. Eden could hold her own, and after their second triumph, David and Eden headed upstairs for a break, leaving Heather and Rob alone at the table.
“I’m sorry we lost. I’m not very good at these things,” Heather said.
“It’s all in fun.” Rob served, light and easy.
Heather swung and missed. Oh crap! Her hand-eye coordination was on par with that of a three-legged blind dog. Why do I have to suck at table tennis of all things?
“You just have to keep your eye on the ball and breathe,” Rob said, retrieving the ball and returning to his side of the table. He served another easy lob, and Heather managed to hit it. “That’s it,” he encouraged. He easily returned it to her, and she hit it again. That time, the ball landed in the net.
Rob came over to her side and reviewed her grip. He smelled so good. Heather found herself leaning toward him as he demonstrated his hold on the paddle. “Try holding it like a pen.” He swayed, pantomiming hitting the ball from different angles, and each movement sent the aroma of his cologne toward her. “Keep it loose so your wrist can move freely.”
He’s too good to be true. Heather was mesmerized. She felt a pressure on her calf and looked down to find a large cat rubbing against her. “Who’s this?” David never mentioned having a pet. She knelt and stroked the feline’s silky hair.
“That’s Peppers.” Rob beamed. “He must like you, ’cause he’s usually shy. Hangs out in my room all day.”
“He’s your cat?” Heather scratched Peppers under his chin. She was soon rewarded by the soft rumble of purring.
“Yup. Had him since he was a kitten. Actually, Peppers belonged to my friend. But since his new girlfriend didn’t like cats, Buddy decided that I should keep him.” Rob knelt and petted his cat. “We’ve been inseparable ever since.”
“Aww, he’s adorable. Too bad I’m allergic to cats.”
Once Peppers sauntered away, Heather headed to the bathroom to wash her hands. Then she and Rob went upstairs to join David and Eden.
The next afternoon, Heather and Eden met at Starbucks.
“Rob invited me over to play Fortnite after supper.”
“Get out! He’s into you,” Eden said. “Please tell me you accepted.”
“I haven’t replied yet, but I’ll probably go.” Heather showed the text to her friend.
“If you don’t date this guy already, I might have to,” Eden joked. “Seriously, what are you waiting for?”
“Yeah.” Heather blushed. Thoughts of Rob had consumed her lately–his good looks, charming manner, and stable employment. He was the total package. She sensed David was playing matchmaker, as game nights became a regular occurrence.
The following Saturday, Heather and Eden were at Hybrid Ultra Lounge with friends, hanging out and listening to music. Ping. Heather glanced at her phone. It was a text from David. We’re at Bellinins. Join us?
Heather convinced her group to go. On our way!
Red Deer was so small that it didn’t take long for them to Uber to the nightclub. Heather made her way over to a sofa and sat down.
“Lookin’ good.” Rob sat beside Heather and placed his arm around her.
“Thanks.” Heather felt giddy—a combination of alcohol and excitement whenever she was near him. “You clean up pretty nice yourself.”
“Ha,” Rob replied. “Feel like taking a stroll?”
“Sure.” Heather stood and adjusted her black minidress. She followed Rob as he walked down the corridor leading to the iconic Cambridge Hotel. Rob slowed his pace to walk next to her. She tried to look graceful in her strappy heels.
“You’ll have to come back to the house soon for another round of table tennis. You’re getting better.”
“I have a great teacher.”
“You’re a great student.”
“Sure, I’ll give you a rematch. As long as Peppers doesn’t mind.”
Rob didn’t miss a beat. “It was Peppers’s idea. He likes having female company.”
“Does he now?” Heather batted her eyelashes, and her flirty response caused Rob to erupt in laughter.
Rob took hold of Heather’s hand, helping her keep her balance. In that moment, she knew Rob’s intentions. She sighed inwardly. Chivalry is not dead.
“Heather, I stand here before you today, probably shaking and filled with anxiety, but I truly couldn’t be happier and more excited that I am about to marry such a strong, beautiful, funny, loving, and caring woman.”
Heather’s heart quickened as she looked into the eyes of her soon-to-be husband. She squeezed Rob’s hand to abate his slight tremor as he paused during his vows.
“You must allow me to tell you how ardently I love and admire you,” Rob said. “You’ve bewitched me, body and soul. You are my best friend, an amazing mother to our crazy little man, and my loving partner through this life we’ve built together.”
Heather glanced over at their eight-month-old son, Leo, as he dangled from his grandpa’s arms. The fact that they’d managed to buy their first home, have a baby, and plan a wedding during the pandemic was truly a miracle.
Rob continued, “We seem to have been designed for each other. I can’t believe the luck and timing in our lives when our paths finally crossed. The first time we met, I was blown away by your confidence, humor, and beauty. You’re clearly way out of my league. I could go on forever about the ways you continue to amaze me.”
What? It’s the other way around. Heather blushed and shook her head almost imperceptibly.
“I vow to always love and support you, through the good times and bad. I promise to keep you laughing and smiling and be there with a shoulder for you to cry on. Heather, these are things I will promise you until my last breath as long as we both shall live or until death parts us.”
After Reverend Rioux pronounced them husband and wife, Heather clung to Rob as he took her in his arms and kissed her, an act they had rehearsed a thousand times before.
As they came up for air, the look in Rob’s eyes said it all. Best. Day. Ever.
“I love you,” Heather whispered as she released her grip. Time to celebrate.