For Kirsten...


A woman sits alone on a park bench. She's wearing a blue dress, not only because it's her favorite color, but also because it's his. Her hands repeatedly smooth down the cotton fabric, a nervous habit she's had since she was a child. Her eyes move between her lap and her surroundings, searching, eagerly awaiting the appearance of the man to whom she has given her heart.

A gentleman walks with purpose along a gravel path. He's on a mission—to meet his lover, his friend, his soul mate. The mere thought of her brings a smile to his lips, so he quickens his pace. The path curves and when she comes into his view, he pauses to observe her silently for a few moments. She's sitting on a weathered bench, her blue dress in vivid contrast against the yellows, reds and browns that surround her. A gust of wind blows through, picking up fallen leaves and long, dark tresses, swirling them around her like a tempest. It's a breathtaking sight and he longs for his brushes and canvas; he never tires of painting her.

The sensation of being watched washes over her. Searching the area, she finds him, leaning against the trunk of a tree, arms folded, staring at her. He grins and raises his hand in greeting and a smile breaks out across her face. As he strides toward her, her stomach flutters with the anticipation of feeling his strong arms envelope her.

She is so beautiful, he thinks to himself as he approaches her. I want to wrap myself around her body, crawl inside her and never be apart from her.

I love him so much, she thinks to herself as he draws near. I want to fall asleep in his arms, wake up to his kisses and be one with him forever.

She rises to meet him, arms outstretched. He stops when he's directly in front of her, capturing her hands in his before pulling them to his lips for a kiss. Her chilled skin warms under his touch and the heat of his gaze burns straight to her soul.

Her hands are cool, and yet still set his lips ablaze. Slowly, he pulls her closer, until their mouths are mere inches apart. She wraps her arms around his neck and he trails his fingers down her cheeks before cupping her chin and leaning in to press his lips against hers.

It's meant to be a tender, chaste kiss, but quickly turns into something quite the opposite. Lips part, pulses quicken and passions flare.

She opens her mouth to him and he feels consumed.

His tongue touches hers and she shivers with longing.

His arms encircle her waist and he checks the urge to devour her.

She moans and surrenders to him.

With great effort, the impassioned lovers break apart. There will be plenty of time later for intimate caresses and whispered desires.

Leading her back to the bench, he sits and pulls her onto his lap. She folds into him, nestling her face in his chest, inhaling his scent. Holding her securely, he rests his chin on the top of her head, gently stroking her silky hair. They sit like this for a while, peaceful…content.

As much as he would like to stay in this position for a bit longer, he remembers the reason why he's asked her to meet him here today. He suspects she might think it's because today is her birthday—which it is, but it's also so much more.

This park...this where he first laid eyes on her. It was just last year, on this very day, that he'd wandered into the park, looking for inspiration; he found it in the form of a beautiful young woman in a blue dress, sitting on a park bench, reading a book, surrounded by a blaze of autumn colors. He'd approached her and asked for her permission to be a part of his painting; she smiled and agreed, sitting patiently, reading her book while he worked. As soon as he finished, he joined her on the bench and they became acquainted, talking until the sun was low in the early October sky. They said their goodbyes, with a promise to meet again next week, and when she walked away, he felt an ache in the pit of his stomach and he knew she was the one.

She's also reminiscing about the day they met. It was her birthday, a bright and sunny October day, and she was enjoying it in what she thought was the prettiest enclosure in the entire park. Before long, she'd noticed a gentleman setting up an easel across the lawn and she was intrigued. As soon as the handsome stranger walked toward her and asked if she minded if he painted her, she'd lost interest in her book. The intense concentration on his face while he worked made it difficult for her to focus and she found herself stealing furtive glances his way. The manner in which he would study her before glancing back to his canvas caused her stomach to flutter and her face to blush and she prayed he was too engrossed in his work to notice.

He releases his hold on her, setting her down gently beside him. Falling to his knees, he grasps her hands, gazing lovingly into her eyes as he speaks.

"I love you more than words can express. You are my best friend, my biggest champion, my confidante and my lover. You are my sun and I cannot live without your light. Please continue to shine on me and consent to be my wife as well."

Tears well up in her eyes and spill onto her cheeks. His declaration has rendered her speechless, so she fervently nods her assent. He smiles and she throws herself at him, causing him to lose his balance and they fall to the ground in a tangled heap. Her voice has returned and between their laughter and their kisses, she whispers "yes" and he manages to slip a ring on her finger.

They eventually rise from the ground and brush the hair and leaves from each other's hair and clothing. Their eyes meet and he rests his forehead against hers.

"I love you," he says quietly.

"And I love you," she whispers.

"Ready?" he asks, gripping her hands tightly.

"Always," she replies, squeezing his in response.

So the woman in the blue dress and the gentleman with the purpose in his step walk down the gravel path, out of the park and into the beginning of their new life.

Happy Birthday Kirsten and thank you...