This is a romance short story for A Writing Muscle Stretch contest.
| There was a sweetness of spring in the air. Buds burst forth from the trees bringing colours back into what had been a dreary winter that had felt too long and hard. Bird song filled the air enlivening the world bringing a smile Sara's face. She had waited a long time for things to change and today felt like the day it would.
The sun pressed warmly down, easing the tensions that had built up from long months of shivering. Now everything seemed to open up. Sara could feel herself responding and shedding off the darkness that had held her back over the past winter months.
She slipped her jacket off and tied it loosely at her waist. Her pale arms seemed to brighten with the sun's warmth. Her feet nearly skipped along the pavement as she turned into the park. As she gazed at the park before her, she was tempted to slip off her shoes and socks and traipse barefoot among the new shoots of grass.
She was so enthralled by the sights of the day that she did not see the huge golden retriever come barrelling down the path towards her. His leash bounced along behind him.
By the time she turned to see what the noise was that was rumbling up to her, it was too late. The dog zoomed by her, grazing her and setting her off balance. The leash caught the edge of her lifted foot and flipped her. She landed flat on her back in a sea of green and muck.
The dog, alerted by her squeal, stopped short and turned back to investigate. His cold nose snizzled along her ribs where her shirt had flipped up in the tussle.
"Well, aren't you in a mighty fine hurry." She said to the dog, who seemed to pant a smile at her before sitting down to stare down at her. "Oh, so now you're ready for a rest, I see." She reached over and stroked his glossy coat. He lifted his paw and she shook it smiling at the ridiculousness of it.
It was then that she heard footsteps running and a deep male voice calling out a name.
She looked up at the dog. "Is that you by any chance?"
The dog continued to pant down at her, though he seemed to smile.
"Darwin." She repeated the name and the dog gave a whoop of a bark.
"Oh there you are, you rascal." The deep voice groaned. The footsteps came around the shrub that was hiding her, then she heard a quick intake of breath. "Oh, my...Are you hurt?"
Sara looked up into the bluest eyes she had ever seen. The worry and concern she saw in them caught her funny and she began to laugh.
With her laugh, he seemed to relax and dropped down beside her. He laughed as well.
"Are you sure you're okay?" He asked again after she wiped the tears of merriment out of her eyes.
"Let me help you up." He told her shifting to stand.
She moved to sit up then reached up to take his hand. At the touch sparks sizzled up her arm. Her eyes flew to his to see if he, too, had felt that. When he pulled her, she toppled a bit and stumbled forward only to be caught by strong arms. For a moment she felt the brush of his chest against hers. Then she pulled back, but continued to hold on to his arms. She could feel corded muscle through his shirt.
"Oh, sorry." She mumbled feeling the rush of blush sweep up her neck and across her cheeks.
"Not a problem, but I think it should be me apologizing to you."
She shook her head, then gazed up into his eyes. His beautiful eyes. She could not look away. He held her gaze and smiled.
Darwin took that moment to wind himself around their legs. In his excitement, he jumped up. His paws caught them off guard and they teetered. The leash pulled tight around their legs binding them together. Then they went down.
This time, he took the brunt of the fall twisting himself to land on his back with Sara above him. They peered at each other nose to nose. Then the vibration of laughter shook them, rippling out from them in waves.
When they were able to catch their breath, he smiled down at her. Neither seemed in a hurry to get up. "Well, if we're going to be this close we should introduce ourselves. I'm Todd."
"Sara. Nice to meet you."
"Well, Sara. Seeing as how Darwin has gotten us together, would you be interested in a coffee and a walk in the park?"
Sara felt a smile fill her from her toes to her nose. "I would love that."
As Todd helped her up from the ground, Sara could not help thinking, she had waited a long time for things to change and today felt like the day it would. Todd reached out his hand and gazing up at him, she took it.