HOLIDAY INTERNET ROMANCE NOVEL
While Oliver searched in vain for Sara’s name in the online list, Sara Riley was on the other side of the country tossing and turning, trying to get some sleep. There was so much to think about between her journalism classes at the University of Virginia at night and her full time administrative job in the Registrar’s office, she barely found time to turn around.
Almost every spare moment was spent writing on the internet – writing and re-writing. Creative writing was Sara’s passion. Behind that came watching movies, riding her bike, and reading everything she could get her hands on at the local library.
Sara relocated to the little town just south of Charlottesville in early August to finally pursue her dream. At twenty-seven, she realized she was starting a bit later than most, but that couldn’t be helped.
"Better late than never," she murmured quietly as she fluffed up her pillow for the umpteenth time, trying her best to relax and get some sleep.
Although Sara saw herself as average in every way, no one else would have said that about the beautiful co-ed. True, at 5’5”, she was average height, but Sara’s honey-blonde just below shoulder-length hair, creamy skin and big blue eyes set her apart from the crowd. Her voluptuous, yet slender body never failed to turn male heads everywhere she went, but Sara stayed oblivious to the attention.
She was a late bloomer, to be sure, but like most women who blossom later in life, Sara was as beautiful inside as she appeared to the world. Having spent the first twenty-six years of her life looking after her family, she was ready to take on the world, or so she believed when she headed for Virginia in August.
She cared for her grandparents and ailing parents until she lost them one by one to various heart ailments and forms of cancer. Growing up in a small Kentucky town didn't present much opportunity for dating or socializing after high school.
Most of her classmates either married or left town right after graduation for college. Unlike most of her contemporaries, Sara was always more focused on the needs of others rather than her own ambitions and desires.
At the age of twenty-six, alone for the first time and at lose ends, she began taking classes at a nearby community college, while continuing to work as a clerk at the small local post office. During this time she struck up a friendship with one of her instructors, John Miller, a well-respected and very much married English Professor.
When John accepted a position at illustrious UVA, he magnanimously insisted that Sara come too. She was flattered and thrilled to think that he believed in her talent and ability enough to mentor and shepherd her to such a prestigious university. So, Professor Miller arranged for a full time job and scholarship for the first year as a part time student, with the promise that he would secure full time tuition assistance for Sara after he was settled in his own job.
Sara naively accepted Professor Miller’s interest at face value, but once they were settled it became painfully obvious that he envisioned much more for his lovely young protige than simply acting as her mentor. Once she refused his advances, he made it clear that after the first year, she was on her own as far as tuition and anything else was concerned, unless she changed her mind about sleeping with him.
To make a difficult situation worse, his office was in the same building with the Registrar's office, and Sara saw him almost every day. And every day, John Miller went out of his way to be unpleasant and hostile.
In spite of that, she made a favorable impression in the Registrar’s Office and it looked like she might be able to arrange some tuition assistance on her own to continue her part time studies. She quickly located a nice clean room to rent from an elderly couple, The Corbins. Since Sara spent most of her life caring for older people, she had no trouble getting along with her landlords, who were well into their seventies. She was a considerate, quiet young woman with virtually no social life – in other words, the perfect tenant.
Sara always dreamed of one day meeting a true love – someone who she could share all her interests with – her love of writing, movies and reading, but so far it didn't happen in Kentucky or Virginia.
Not willing to settle for just anyone, she knew too many childhood friends who resigned themselves to unhappy matches and miserable lives.
“Life’s too short,” Sara sighed with determination. “I’d rather be alone than settle.”
She reiterated her position more than once to her co-worker Cindy, who continued to try her best to talk Sara into double dating.
"Come on, Sara. What have you got to lose?" Cindy insisted.
"I'm just not ready to do that," was Sara's standard response to which Cindy repeatedly rolled her eyes in frustration.
"How are you going to meet Mr. Right if you never go out?"
"Right now I need to focus on my writing and my job. It'll happen when it's meant to happen," Sara said with a sigh.
Her belief in her abilities was shaken when Professor Miller made his intentions known – it became clear that all he ever really wanted was a grateful female, willing to do anything to repay him. His admiration for her writing talent was merely a pretext to coax her into his bed. Besides a shock, it was a blow to her fragile self-confidence, from which she was still recovering.
Sara shuddered, just thinking about the man. 'Talk about Jekyll and Hyde', she thought disgustedly, glancing at the clock on her bedside table.
It was well after 3:00 AM when she threw the covers off and padded over to her computer – the one luxury she allowed herself.
Eagerly Sara turned on the monitor and logged on to Writing.Com, intending to start a journal about her experiences. Sara already felt at home on the internet website and it offered a secure place, well removed from her real-life worries.
“After all, no one knows me here,” she reasoned out loud.
It was true that her portfolio lacked views. So far, Sara felt that she was writing mostly for herself and that was just fine with her.
As she logged in, she blinked several times, thinking she must be dreaming.
There were more than thirty emails in her inbox, along with gift points – more than she received altogether in her few weeks of being a Registered Author on Writing.Com. Indeed, in all that time her most regular correspondent was The StoryMaster with his Announcement emails that always reassuringly started with the cheerful word, "Greetings."
Clicking on her mailbox, she was even more surprised to realize all the new e-mails were reviews from the same author – someone called “Ollie.”
Continued in "Sara's Port, Ch. 3"