Heather stood at six feet tall. Her firm, silky legs accented the expensive black ball gown that hung over her perfectly proportioned body. Heather’s Nordic blond hair fell over her shoulders in large, natural curls. Her steel-blue eyes were both beautiful and piercing. Anyone who dared to look her way struggled to maintain eye contact. Heather was a runway model whether she was working or not.
Larry stood next to her. At five feet seven inches, he was noticeably shorter. Larry had thinning black hair and his tuxedo appeared a bit shabby, despite his best efforts to maintain some demeanor. The couple juxtaposed one another, and yet they held each other tightly as the camera flashes danced in front of their eyes. They released each other, the flashes ceased, and Heather gently smoothed out his coat as Larry tugged at the fabric that had bunched up between them. Afterward, they once more pulled each other tightly and smiled for more photographs.
Heather had come across many suitors in her life. The career of a supermodel always put beautiful women in front of rich and powerful men. In the beginning, she found it exciting. Heather would occasionally join a sponsor on his yacht for a cocktail party, or if she was seriously considering dating someone, she might join him for dinner. Over time, Heather found all the men to be of the same mindset. They were only interested in their conquest. She was just another trophy for the men to display. The rich and powerful wanted beautiful women to conquer, not to love.
Before long, the yachts, parties, and Michelin Star restaurants grew stale. Heather needed a vacation, and so she went home to see her parents and the friends that knew her when she was gangly and wore braces. Heather’s parents had invited Larry over one evening as a thank you for his hard work in their local hardware store. Nobody ever thought the couple would be attracted to each other. After all, Heather was a rarefied beauty. Even her dad would joke about the possible origins of her surprising genetics. Larry was, well, Larry.
The two had grown up together. Heather had been what people used to call a “Tom Boy.” She loved baseball, football, hunting, and fishing. She would tag along with Larry and a couple of the other boys in the neighborhood. Heather was just one of the guys, until the age where boys and girls begin to notice differences. Sure, she still was part of the “gang,” but over the years the boys became shyer as she developed.
In the end, only Larry would bother to invite her fishing. She loved their time sitting by the pond. They would talk about their dreams. Heather wanted to see the world. Larry did as well, but he was raised by a single mother who had health issues. Even back in high school, Larry knew he would never see much beyond the small town of his youth. Heather’s parents gave him a job at their hardware store after high school. Larry took college courses online when he was not helping take care of his mother or working at the store.
That fateful dinner Larry and Heather took up right where they had left off. It was as if she had never left. She shared with Larry and her parents some of the exotic places she had traveled to do fashion shows and even some photo shoots. Larry discussed working at the hardware store, his mother’s death, and where he hoped to visit one day. After the meal, the two walked a mile down the old dirt trail they used to hike as kids. They stopped at the edge of their favorite pond. Heather was so happy to be back in blue jeans, a t-shirt and tennis shoes. She could tell Larry liked the way she looked, but he never leered at her as most men would.
They reached the pond’s edge, and Heather asked, “Why haven’t you found yourself a girlfriend?”
Larry shrugged, looked her in the eye, and suddenly blushed and looked away. “I’ve never met any other girls like you. I mean, none of the other women like to fish, hunt, or get dirt under their nails. I reckon if I could find somebody like that I’d marry her in a minute.”
Heather gently lifted his eyes up to face her, and said, “Do you mean fishing, hunting, and playing in the dirt are what you find attractive about me?”
Larry shrugged and blushed again, but he did not turn away. “I mean, you’re pretty and all that, but you know, we all get old. Heck, my hair’s starting to fall out. None of us are immune to our body’s aging. I like a beautiful woman as much as the next guy, but there’s got to be more there. Somewhere down the road, we’ll get old and not look so good. ”
“If you liked what we used to do so much, why didn’t you ever ask me out?”
Larry gently removed his chin from her hand and bent over to pick up a pebble. He skipped it across the calm emerald pond and then answered. “To be honest, I always assumed you were out of my league. You’re a beautiful woman, smart, and great at fishing to boot. I’m just me.”
“So if I weren’t beautiful you would have asked me out?”
Larry looked into her eyes, and she noticed tears attempting to form around the edges of his brown eyes. “I know, it’s stupid.”
Heather pulled him close and hugged him tightly, “No, it’s beautiful.” She pushed him back, pulled him back in and surprised Larry with a kiss. She let go of his lips and said, “Come with me.”
“To my next fashion show. It’s in France. I’ll pay for everything. We’ll get a two bedroom suite.”
“I don’t know. I’m not used to that kind of life.”
“That’s why I want you there. Besides, you taught me how to fish. Now it’s my turn. I want to show you the parts of the world we dreamed about as kids.”
Larry sighed and then held Heather tightly in his arms.
Heather and Larry stood there before the flashes until she feared they might go blind. Heather held up her left hand and showed off the engagement ring that Larry’s grandmother once wore. An entertainment journalist stuck a microphone in front of Heather’s face. “Tell us, why Larry? ”
Heather smiled, looked into the camera and said, “Because he loves me.”