Summary: Two men, one younger and one older, find themselves sitting on a bench at the San Antonio River Walk. They spend some time talking about the one thing they both have in common at the time…they're both waiting on a woman. As the older man explains to the younger man the reason why he doesn't mind it so much, they find out they have a lot more in common than either would have imagined.
Twilight characters are the property of Stephanie Meyer. No copyright infringement intended. AU/AH.
Warnings: Explicit language.
[A/N: Thank you so much for supporting this very worthy cause. Times are tough for all of us, but some of us have it worse than others, so I appreciate it that you took the time and effort to support those who have had this horrible devastation hit their lives. It's wonderful that there are people who would step in and help out, and I appreciate you doing so.
This little one shot was inspired by a song by the same name by Brad Paisley. I heard it on the radio, and the story came to me. I hope you enjoy it.]
As I sat on the bench on the River Walk in San Antonio, I was nervous. I'd asked her for a date, and we'd set the date for Friday the 10th of November, and I was waiting. She'd been like a fantasy to me from nearly the moment I'd laid my eyes on her. We had classes together, and I'd tried to get to know her. We had common friends, but nothing ever seemed to gel with us getting together outside of a group setting.
When I finally pulled my backbone out of my pocket and asked her out, she was reluctant at first, but she finally agreed. I wanted to run through the quad of Trinity and scream at my success, but I didn't. Well, at least not while she was around. I did a little victory dance after she walked away, but that was neither here nor there.
I looked at my watch for the hundredth time as I sat there, and I saw that she was officially one minute late, so I sent a text.
I understand that you're new to Texas, but you're officially late. If you're not coming, I'd appreciate a heads up.
I sent it without a second thought and walked over to a food cart to buy a pretzel, returning to my bench and looking at the boats that cruised up and down the river. We were supposed to go to a movie and get a late dinner, but hell, if she couldn't tell time or was going to stand me up, I'd go to a bar and find another way to spend my Friday night, hopefully getting my dick wet at the end of it.
After I downed the pretzel and the lemonade, I sent another text. It was an additional fifteen minutes, after all.
Okay, I've had my appetizer, so? You comin' or what?
I paced around the walkway at the outdoor mall, and I waited. I sat…I stood…I paced. It was ridiculous, and I'd never fucking do it for any other woman I'd ever met, but she was the lab partner that I'd been enamored with since the day I sat down next to her completely convinced that she was special.
After another ten minutes, I decided that texts weren't working, so I called her cell and got her voicemail. "Hi, um I don't know where the hell you are or what you're doing, but I've got other places I could be so…um…yeah, call me?"
It was lame as shit, but what else did I have? I had to determine how long I'd wait, but at that moment, unfortunately, I'd wait until hell froze over if she was going to show. Like I said, she was special.
I went to the "Dippin Dots" stand and got a chocolate and vanilla mix…the vanilla reminded me of how she smelled because I always enjoyed her smell in class, and I made sure to carry Hershey's Kisses in my backpack once I found out she liked chocolate.
The woman was one of the most intriguing women I'd ever met, and after being her chem lab partner for three months, I was completely over the moon about her because she was nothing short of incredible. The sense of humor was something I didn't expect, and the laugh was something I'd begun to hang on. I made it my mission every Monday and Wednesday to have a joke to tell her just so I could hear the laugh.
When I asked her out on Wednesday, I didn't expect her to say yes, but she did after thinking about it for a few minutes, which felt like an eternity to me. I was happy about it and we set a time to meet at the River Walk and she wasn't showing up and she wasn't calling me back which pissed me off.
I sat on that damn bench and contemplated what to do. I wasn't happy, and I wasn't able to leave because if there was a chance she'd show up, I'd continue to pace and bitch and wait.
The only redeeming quality was that there was a nice breeze and it was actually a nice late afternoon. I walked over to the trash to throw away the rest of the Dippin' Dots and sat back down on the bench. As I restlessly crossed my legs and looked at everyone who walked or floated by, I didn't notice an older guy had sat down next to me.
"So, it's a nice afternoon," the guy offered. I nodded without looking at him. I had a mission, and small talk didn't play into it.
"I'm waiting on my wife. She's here in one of these stores with my daughter. What brings you to this bench?" he asked. I looked at him and saw that he was older than me. I didn't want to offend him by ignoring him altogether, and hell, he was a stranger so I could vent a little.
"Well, I thought I had a date with a fantastic girl, but she's not showin' up. I'd like to just leave her here, but if there's a chance she'll show up, I'd like to take her to a movie," I responded angrily.
He laughed. "So, is this girl special to you?" he asked as he crossed his legs. He appeared to be used to waiting, but I was an impatient young guy, and sitting around on a bench talking to a man my dad's age didn't seem like a fun way to spend a Friday afternoon.
"Well, she was until she left me sittin' here on this bench," I commented sarcastically. He laughed again.
"Yeah, women do that, don't they? I've been married to my wife for twenty-six years, and she still leaves me waiting. I remember our first official date after a few starts and stops. I met her in college, and I asked her to a mixer one time. I told her I'd pick her up at 7:30 PM to take her to dinner first, and I'll be damned if I didn't sit in the living room of the sorority house she lived in until 8:30 PM waiting for her.
"I was completely ticked off, but when she came into the room, she took my breath away, and I knew there was no way I was ever gonna let her get away. She was beautiful, and it was completely worth the wait," he responded.
I wasn't really interested in hearing about his life story. I was just waiting to find out if I was going to be stood up or if I was going to have a date, and maybe, just maybe, get lucky. That was all that was on my mind that afternoon.
"Hmm. That's interesting," I commented absentmindedly.
"I married her four years later…she was late for our wedding, as well. I was in the Marines by then, and I was deployed six months after we got married. When I got back home from the Middle East, she was late picking me up, if you can believe that shit. I'd been gone for a year, and she was late. She told me she just wanted to look pretty for me. When she walked into the room where I was waiting that afternoon, I have to tell you, it was worth it," he responded with a small smile on his face, looking at the water.
Yeah, yeah, I got it, but I wasn't interested in any of his story. He wasn't going away, and my date wasn't showing or getting back to me, so I was about to leave and just wish him luck. I didn't plan to be a guy who'd just sit on a damn bench and wait for a woman to show up when she pleased. We'd set a time, and she had completely disregarded it, so screw her.
Just as I was about to leave, my phone chirped in my hand. I looked at it and saw it was a text from her.
I'm so sorry. Something unexpected happened. I'll be there as soon as I can. Please don't leave. I've looked forward to this for a long time.
I couldn't help but smile at the message. "So, good news?" he asked, obviously watching me as I read the text.
"Yeah. Somethin' came up and she's gonna be here as soon as she can. She's looked forward to our date for a long time," I announced to a complete and utter stranger.
Since I had time to kill, and he wasn't going anywhere from what I could tell, I decided to take up his story and actually listen to him. He seemed to have things to say, and maybe he had some advice about women. He'd been married for a long time, so maybe he had tricks that I could use.
"So, did you two have any kids?" I asked.
"We did, but it took a while for me to get her to consider it. She's an artist. She paints pictures, and she actually sells them. I don't really get it, but I'm more practical, so it doesn't matter. She actually wanted to go to Spain and study art when we were in college. I had to contemplate the fact that the woman I loved more than anyone on the planet would go off without me. It wasn't pleasant," he responded.
That caught my attention. My lab partner had talked about wanting to go to Paris to study after she finished her culinary degree, but I couldn't imagine why. She was a great cook. She always brought food to the study group, and I'd actually been invited to her place for group dinners a time or two, but she was so smart and she had an insight into science that surprised me.
I was still undecided, vacillating between pre-med and teaching, but she seemed to know what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. She wanted to be a teacher or a chef, but in my opinion, it was a waste of a brilliant mind.
"So, what did you do? My girl is either going to study in Paris or going to become a teacher. I'm undeclared at this point, but I'm teetering between pre-med and teaching," I volunteered for reasons unknown to me.
"Yeah, you young people…I'm sorry, I'm being a snob about this. It's easier for you than it was for us, I guess. So, if she leaves to go to Paris, will that effect your decision?" he asked.
Would it? We'd just started our relationship, but I knew that I'd had feelings for her since I met her, and I wasn't really happy about the prospect of not exploring them. She was something I never expected, but when she sat down next to me in chem lab, I was a goner.
"I honestly couldn't tell you. She's incredible, that's for sure, but it's just so new that I don't know what I'd do," I answered.
"Women have that way, don't they? I remember when I first met my wife. I bumped into her in the cafeteria at school and dumped the leftover soup I had in my bowl on her. Man, she cussed me up one side and down the other, and then she slapped me in the face when I laughed. She was clearly mad, and I thought she was the most adorable girl I'd ever seen in my life. She had a hell of a temper, and I had no idea what to do about it. I was pursuing an engineering degree and she was an art major, and I had every intention of enlisting when I graduated, so I had no room in my life for a woman, but she caught me by surprise," he offered.
"So what'd you do?" I asked. Yeah, he had me completely spellbound. His story completely captivated me, and hell I wasn't going anywhere so I'd listen to him. She'd told me she'd be there, and I had time to kill, so why not?
"Well, at first, I avoided her like the plague after the soup and the slap, but you know how when you decide that you don't want to see something, you always see it? Well, when I walked around the damn campus, I saw her everywhere. She was in a sorority, and it seemed like everywhere I went on campus they were doing a damned fundraiser or hosting a party or something. I saw her on the quad and I saw her in the cafeteria and she was in one of my classes, so I couldn't get away from her. It was frustrating and annoying and it absolutely drove me to the end of my insanity," he replied. Well, hell, I was hooked. The guy had a hell of a story and even though I knew the end, the details of how they got together intrigued me.
"So how'd you finally get the guts to ask her out?" I asked. That was something I could relate to because it took everything in me to ask out my obsession.
"My wife is absolutely beautiful and she holds my heart in her hands, but she's the clumsiest woman I've ever met in my life. I was with the ROTC group on a run one day, and she was walking on the track as we ran by. A lot of the guys whistled at her and she actually flipped 'em off which made me laugh. Just as I ran passed her, she slipped and I caught her before her ass hit the ground. I pulled her up on her feet and I threw all caution to the wind and kissed her. She actually slapped my face again after I stopped kissing her, and I laughed again which pissed her off, yet again. I said to her, 'Sweetheart, you can slap me and you can be pissed at me, but one of these days, you're gonna be my wife. I know where you live, so I'll come to call after my ass gets chewed out by my group leader. You're the most beautiful woman I've ever met, and I think you'll have a happy life with me'. She laughed at me like I was nuts, and I went on with my run, but when I got finished with my punishment for breaking ranks, I went and looked her up and I took her out for a hamburger," he offered.
He was an interesting guy to say the least, and I sent another text to the girl I was trying to get with as discreetly as I could. Any ETA on when you'll show up? I'll wait a little while longer, but I ain't building an ark out here.
"So, she accepted and then the two of you got married and you went off into the Marines?" I asked, summarizing what he'd told me.
"Shit, I wish. We went out a couple of times, but I wasn't the only buck on the scent, and she wasn't easy to fool. None of my usual tricks worked, so we quit seein' each other for a while. I ran into her at a blood drive sponsored by her sorority, if you can believe that shit. It was a year later…our junior year in college. We chatted and that's when I think I fell in love with her. She mentioned that her sorority was having a mixer, and I asked if I could take her and she surprisingly agreed. After sitting in the living room of the house and enduring a lot of flirting from her sorority sisters, she came walking…actually stumbling a little…down the stairs and she took my breath away. From that minute on, and I knew she was gonna be my wife just like I'd told her that day when I caught her from bustin' her ass on that track," he replied.
I didn't know how anyone could make that snap decision in that short a period of time. I knew girls that caught my attention, but seriously? You see a woman walk down stairs and you know she's the one? That was just bullshit in my opinion. Maybe he wasn't exactly stable, military service aside.
"So what'd you do then?" I asked to keep him talking. He was an entertaining son-of-a-bitch at least. He kept me from dwelling on the fact that I'd been there a lot longer than I wanted to be.
"I guess I did what every guy does. I made sure I was where she was and I continued to weed out the herd of guys who were following her around. Sometimes I threatened a few, but they weren't that serious about her or they'd have never walked away. Once it was down to me and one other guy she was seeing at the same time, I began to worry because the bastard just wouldn't go away. I'd send her flowers…he'd send her flowers. I'd take her out…he'd take her out. I'd follow her around campus, and I'd be damned if he wasn't around every corner. It frustrated the hell out of me because I dated a lot in high school and I'd never had that problem before," he explained.
Now, that shit, I could relate to because I dated a lot in high school and even in college before she came along. After I sat down in that damn chem lab and she sat next to me, I had a hard time checking out other girls, but I determined that if I went out with her and did the deed with her, I'd get over her and get back into my usual groove. I just needed the woman to show up.
"Yeah, I know that type of situation. I've dated girls and been threatened by guys who were interested in them, but I got in, got out, and didn't look back," I admitted. He was easy to talk to and hell, he didn't know me from anyone so if we were talking about shit, I could share. It seemed easy enough.
"I've done that too, but when the one hits your radar, you'll change your mind, son, trust me," he replied as he rose from the bench and walked over to the lemonade stand. He brought two back and offered one to me which I gladly accepted.
She was officially an hour late, and I was going to give the man about fifteen more minutes because his story intrigued me and hell, he'd bought me lemonade, so I'd listen to the rest of it.
"So, you took her to a mixer and?" I asked reminding him of where we left off. He looked to be in his fifties, but he still took care of himself, and I was actually interested in seeing the wife, so even if my girl didn't show, I'd probably hang around until the lady showed because it was a Friday, and I didn't have anything else going on that couldn't wait.
"After the mixer, we dated exclusively. Well, I made sure to hammer that out pretty quick, and once we were ready to graduate, I asked her to marry me. She said yes, even though she knew I was already committed to the Marines, and I moved her all over the fucking country for a very long time. Oh, sorry about that. My wife gives me hell about my mouth, but that's exactly what I did. She followed me everywhere I had to go and she never complained for a minute. She got pregnant pretty quick after we got married, but we lost the baby. We had a hard time for a while after that, but we made it through to the other side. We held off doing anything about starting a family for a while after that because I got deployed in Desert Storm, but when I got home, we tried again, and we struck gold," he continued looking out at the river with a smile on his face. I didn't know if he even remembered I was there, but he sure looked happy.
My phone buzzed in my pocket and I saw it was from her.
I'm so beyond sorry. My mom is impossible with this shit, but it's their anniversary, and I'm trying to help her find a dress. I promise you, I'll make it worth your while, hotstuff. Pleeease don't leave.
Well, how do you actually respond to that? I sent back a text that told her I was fine and I'd wait. Hell, at that point, I was pretty sure I'd wait forever because the longer I heard him talk, the more I thought about the girl I was waiting for and how much I could relate to his story.
I'd effectively chased off every guy who'd shown up around her when I could, and I'd shown up at her place with Chinese food under the guise of studying together or getting help from her with organic chem which she'd already taken. It struck me as odd until she told me that she'd gone into pre-med initially because her grandfather was a doctor but she'd changed her focus. I took advantage of that shit as often as I could, but we were settling into being friends and that wasn't what I wanted. I wanted a lot more with her, but I was struggling within myself because, seriously, I was twenty-one years old and who finds their soul mate at twenty-one? Nobody I knew, anyway.
"So what do you do now?" I asked.
"I consult for the Navy. My wife paints her pictures and we spend a lot of time in Sedona, but our daughter lives down here. She's a gift, I'll tell ya. If you ever find the right girl and get married, kids are truly a gift," he told me with a smile as he reached for his wallet. I guessed he was going to show me a picture, and I was kind of anxious to see it.
Just then I heard her voice. I looked down the walkway and saw her walking toward me with a beautiful woman next to her. "There she is," we both commented at the same time.
I looked at him and he looked at me. When the two women walked up to us, Alice hugged me tightly and I saw the other woman hug the guy I'd been talking with.
When Alice pulled away, she smiled at me and turned to the man. "Daddy, this is Jasper Whitlock, the guy I've told you about. Jasper, this is my dad, Edward, and this is my mom, Bella. I'm sorry I'm so late, but it's their anniversary weekend and they surprised me with a visit. So, you guys go have a good time and I'll call you tomorrow," Alice told them as she tried to make good our escape.
I saw the look on her father's face, and it wasn't one of happiness at all. "Colonel Cullen, I promise you, sir, I had no idea you were Alice's dad. I have the utmost respect for your daughter, and I won't do anything that would…" I began sputtering. Alice had mentioned that her dad was a Colonel in the military, but she didn't explain anything more about it. I was scared shitless at that point after some of the shit I'd said to the man.
"Jasper, stop. Edward, knock it off. Alice, thank you for helping me, and I'm sorry I was so contrary about it all. We'll call you tomorrow, honey. I promise, your dad won't be concerned about what you have going on tonight. Love you, baby," Alice's mom told her. I saw her father smirk and then he gave me the evil eye. I didn't waste a lot of time getting Alice away from them after they both hugged and kissed her.
I led her down the street toward a restaurant with my arm around her waist and it felt so completely right that I was ready to jump out of my own skin at the realization.
"How'd you end up sitting down on a bench with my dad?" she asked. I could only laugh, thinking how utterly ridiculous the entire situation was in hindsight.
"You got my texts and voicemails, I guess. I was about to leave when he sat down next to me and started talking, and I guess he told me the story of how he met your mom. I had absolutely no idea that they were your parents, but it was pretty incredible," I told her as I pulled her closer to me, kissing the top of her head. She was a tiny powerhouse, and I was pretty sure we looked somewhat comical walking down the street arm in arm. I was over six feet, and Alice was probably not more than five-feet, two inches, so I towered over her, but her personality more than made up for her lack of height.
That night, I took Alice Cullen on our first official date. We went to dinner. We went to a movie. I fell in love. I was over my head, and I wasn't looking for a life preserver. It was amazing.
Unfortunately, two years later found her was in culinary school in Chicago and me pre-med in Texas. We tried to keep in touch, but it was really fucking hard. Eventually, it became too hard, and we both threw in the towel.
One day, I was standing outside the hospital where I worked part-time, and it dawned on me how damn stupid I really was. I saw an elderly man pulling his car up to the curb as a nurse wheeled a wheelchair out to the curb. There were flowers and balloons in the back of the car, but when the man, who I'd have guessed was about seventy, climbed out of the car and walked around to help his wife into the car, he had a smile on his face as big as a Texas moon. From the look of the woman, she wasn't going to be around much longer. She was wearing a scarf on her head and she seemed very frail, in my opinion, which led me to believe she was gravely ill.
I quickly followed the nurse inside and stopped her. "That lady who just left? What was wrong with her?" I asked. I knew it was against HIPPA Laws to divulge information, but I was curious.
"They're a cute couple aren't they? Unfortunately, he's going to be alone sooner than later," she answered without really answering me. I felt a tug on my heart and a huge realization settle on me like a fucking concrete block.
Alice Cullen was the best thing that had ever happened to me, and I didn't really want to be a doctor. I could figure out something else for my career, but I knew I needed to be with her, so I took a chance, which was completely uncharacteristic of me. I quit my job that night, and went home to plan.
I flew to Chicago, got a cab to her apartment that she shared with someone named Rosalie, and I knocked on the door. I had no dreams for my life beyond being with Alice, so I'd follow her anywhere. Her father had talked about the fact that her mother had followed him everywhere, and why couldn't I do the same for Alice…if she'd have me.
I knocked on the door and a tall blonde answered. "Yeah?" she asked with less than enthusiasm in her voice.
"I'm Jasper Whitlock. Is Alice here?" I asked.
"She should be home soon," the woman answered as she allowed me inside. Apparently, she'd heard of me, and she wasn't afraid of me, so when she showed me to the couch, I sat down and waited, yet again for Alice Cullen. I sat there for an hour and nursed a beer that her roommate had offered. I could have used a few more with what I was going to ask her, but I only got one and a lot of silence to get really fucking nervous.
When she finally came home that evening, I stood and looked at her as she entered the room, having missed her so much that I couldn't catch my breath when I saw her. "Jasper? What are you doing here?" she asked as she dropped her bag and kicked off a pair of what appeared to be some type of plastic shoes.
"I'm waiting for you…um… to come home so I could ask you to marry me," I answered, pulling the small diamond ring from my pocket and offering it to her. She jumped me and after the kissing and the hugging stopped, I looked into her eyes searching for the truth.
"Alice Cullen, will you please marry me? I'll follow you anywhere you want to go. I have no plans or dreams beyond making you my wife, so I leave it to you," I told her. She nodded and cried, and I made love to her for the first time in her tiny bed in that apartment in Chicago. The wedding was six months later, and as Colonel Edward Cullen walked his only daughter down the aisle toward me, he had a stern "I'll kick your ass if you hurt my daughter" look on his face. I definitely believed it, but the smile on Alice's face solidified in me that there was no way I could ever hurt her and live with myself. She was perfect for me, and I saw a bright future ahead of us.
"So here we are again," Edward Cullen remarked as the two of us sat together on the bench where we'd met three years earlier where he'd told me the story of how he'd met my mother-in-law. Alice had finished culinary school, and we'd opened a restaurant back in San Antonio. She was the chef and it was going great guns, and her parents were in town for the first anniversary of its opening.
"Yes, sir, Colonel," I answered. I remember calling him and asking him for his daughter's hand in marriage as I sat in the airport in Chicago before I went to her apartment to propose. I listened to his rant, hearing all of the threats that went with his blessing. He loved his daughter, and he would kill any guy who hurt her, that was pretty apparent, but at the end of the day, he wished me luck.
"So, you two are happy?" he asked without looking at me. He'd bought me another glass of lemonade, and we were sitting there together again, giving me a huge serious case of deja vu. He didn't know what they were shopping for that time, but I did, and I was over the moon about it.
"Sir, your daughter is the most incredible woman I've ever met in my life, and I'm more than happy that she's my wife," I answered honestly. We had a wonderful life, even if it was hectic, and it was about to get a lot crazier, but I was excited about it, nonetheless.
"Bella tells me that you two have news for me. You might as well tell me now," he ordered. God, he was a tough son-of-a-bitch and he hated being kept in the dark about anything. I swallowed the gulp of my drink without choking and wished I'd had the Dippin' Dots instead, but apparently I was going to be the one to break the news to him that I was pretty sure would get my ass kicked right there on the bank of the San Antonio River.
"Well, sir, Alice and I are…um…I think she wanted to tell you herself, but we're going to have a baby," I confessed. Yeah, we were married and we'd done everything the right way, but he still scared the shit out of me. For a guy in his late fifties, he could still kick my twenty-six year old ass.
"So, I'm going to be a grandfather? Is that what you're telling me?" he asked as he finished his lemonade and turned that icy glare my way.
"Yes sir," I answered nervously. I hoped my unborn child would listen to the stories his mother would tell him or her about their deceased father who was killed at the hands of his or her grandfather on the San Antonio River Walk.
"It's about time, Whitlock. Oh, and drop the 'sir' bullshit, will ya? You're my son-in-law, and I guess whether I like it or not, you're gonna be around for a while. You know, I actually like you and I think you're good for her. You let her pursue her dreams and she's so happy, and I guess that's because of you. So, a baby? God, if we thought we waited for the two of them before, I'd say we were crazy. There's a bar down the street and I really don't like lemonade, after all. How about a drink? I think we're gonna need one," he responded. I laughed and sent the wife a text, and the Colonel and I proceeded to the bar down the street.
When our daughter was born, her grandpa and grandma Cullen were there, and the hard-as-nails son-of-a-bitch actually shed a few tears when he held his granddaughter. I was surprised, but then again, it was a relief when she was born because Alice had been in labor for twenty-eight hours, and we all sat there that day, waiting on another woman.
"No," Izzy snapped. We were at the same damn mall waiting for Alice and her mom. The Colonel and I were waiting for them because Alice was pregnant again, and they were looking for wallpaper or some shit for the new baby's room. The restaurant was doing well, and Izzy, named after her grandmother, was two. She was as stubborn as her mom and her grandfather, and we were sitting on that same damn bench…yeah, waiting for women.
"Oh, now sweetie, come here to Grandpa," Edward…he'd given me permission to use his given name after Izzy was born…commanded. Our daughter was just as stubborn as her mother and her grandmother and her grandfather, but I truly loved them all. Alice and I had been through a lot with the restaurant, but her parents were there in a heartbeat if we ever needed them. I was truly grateful to them for their support of us along the way. I had a great family.
"You do realize that we end up on this same damn bench a lot," I told him as I walked back with two lemonades. We both hated them, but with Izzy, we couldn't go to the bar like we had for a while, so we were back to lemonade, unfortunately.
"Yeah, it's pretty ironic isn't it? I honestly had no idea that day when I sat down here that you were waiting for my daughter. If I had, I'd probably have just pitched your ass over the damn railing," he teased as he fed my daughter Dippin Dots.
"And, I can guarantee you that if I'd have known you were Alice's dad, I'd have probably jumped before you had a chance at pitching me over the damn railing," I teased. He laughed and we talked about business. Over time, we'd learned how to get along, and I was grateful. Her parents were supportive of us, and I was a happy man.
I was sitting on a very familiar bench. Alice and Izzy were shopping and our son, Tony, was visiting his grandparents in Austin, where they'd settled after Tony was born. I was drinking lemonade and eating another goddamn pretzel. I couldn't count on my hands how many times I'd sat there, but there I was again. I pulled my phone out and sent Alice a message because it was our anniversary…twenty-three years…and I'd made reservations, so we needed to get home and change. Why Alice needed a new dress was beyond me. The woman had more damn clothes than Neiman-Marcus.
I looked around and saw a young kid pacing back and forth, looking at his phone, and looking up and down the River Walk. I couldn't help but laugh at the sight of him, remembering a very similar moment in my life. When he sat down next to me, I couldn't help but talk to him because he was so fucking distraught and he reminded me of myself the first time I sat down at that same bench.
"Nice day, isn't it?" I called out to him without looking his way. There were two little boys who were acting up at a table near the rail and one of them was holding his mother's purse over the top, threatening to drop it into the water. I was waiting to see how long before the woman got off the phone and noticed what was going on.
"Yeah, I s'pose. Do you have the time, sir? My phone died a few minutes ago, and I'm supposed to meet someone here," he asked. I looked at my watch, which seemed to be something that was lost on the younger generation, and I gave him the time. I saw him exhale nervously and put his head in his hands in complete defeat.
"Well, she's late, and I'm not sure if she's gonna show. I was so stupid to…" he announced likely to himself more than me. I knew the look all too well.
"Waiting for a girl?" I asked him as I took him in.
"Yes, sir, I am. She's always a little late, but this time, I'm not sure if she's gonna show at all," he responded looking very worried.
"First date?" I asked as I tossed my trash in the can next to the bench and looked at him carefully.
"First official date," he replied. I could only smile remembering far too well being in his shoes at a certain point in time.
"I remember sitting here on this same bench many years ago waiting for my first date with my wife. She was with her mother, and I was just as nervous as you seem to be. It all worked out for me, so maybe have a little faith in her. Let me tell you what my father-in-law taught me over the years. You'll spend a lot of time waiting for a woman. What you have to decide is if she's a woman worth waiting for. My wife was definitely a woman worth waiting for, and I still wait for her to this day, but I don't mind because at the end of the day, it's always worth it," I told the kid. He smiled at me and nodded with a sheepish grin on his face.
Little did I know that day, the young man would become my son-in-law in the not-too-distant future. His name was Jacob Black, and he and my daughter would have a happy life together just like I had with my Alice and just like Edward had with his Bella.
In everyday life, we spend a lot of time waiting, and I hated it, being the impatient guy that I was. I hated waiting at traffic lights, usually impatient to get home to my family.
I hated waiting in lines at stores to pay for gifts I'd bought for Alice or my kids or even for medicine when one of them was sick.
I definitely hated the lines when we took our kids to Disney World when they were six and eight. That shit was ridiculous.
I hated waiting the three minutes it took for the pink lines to show up on the pregnancy tests that Alice had taken the two times we would find out we were going to have our kids.
I definitely hated the six weeks we had to wait to make love again after the babies were born.
I most certainly hated waiting up at night for them when they were teenagers and were out with friends, but it was a part of life...it was my life.
The one and only thing I never hated for was waiting for my wife, because when she walked into the room, I always knew it was worth it. And, if I leave this life before her, hopefully in the distant future, I won't mind sitting on a bench somewhere…hopefully, in heaven…and waiting for her. Some of the best conversations I have ever had in my life have been with men who were just like me…waitin' on a woman.