HOLIDAY INTERNET ROMANCE NOVEL
Thanksgiving was a day that Sara and Oliver would always remember.
Since their trip involved going out in public, Oliver wore his glasses, but that didn’t appear to make much difference to Sara. The night before he wore his contact lenses, in a deliberate effort to look more attractive for their first meeting.
But on an outing like this, where someone might recognize him in spite of his beard, he opted for the Oliver Kelly glasses that he normally wore in Shannon, Virginia.
Wearing his brown leather jacket and best jeans, he was still an imposing figure and just the sight of him took Sara’s breath away.
The fact that his face was recently plastered in all the gossip magazines on his disastrous date with Dina Derson, also loomed large in his decision to go for the more studious look.
He had a sinking feeling that Dina, herself, leaked the story of their “romance” to the tabloids, along with the pictures, since she was the one who insisted that a photographer come along on their double date. When he saw them in the airport newstand the day before, he almost fell over from the shock.
In addition to being a cloying publicity hound, Dina was also well known for her sexual escapades in and out of Hollywood.
As usual, the published articles bore little resemblance to the actual evening in question and there was rampant speculation about whether marriage and children were in the offing, much to Oliver’s chagrin and disgust. Having no romantic life to speak of in Hollywood, he mostly just shrugged off articles about his purported love interests, at least in the past.
But now that Sara was a real part of his life, Oliver knew he would have to address the Dina issue with her at some point and that influenced his decision to keep his identity quiet for the time being.
For the moment, Dina and everything else about his lonely California existence seemed very far away and that was just fine with Oliver.
When Sara opened the door to greet him, Oliver forgot all about his life and everything in it, except the vision of Sara in her clingy light blue sweater and navy blue pants that fit her shapely body like a second skin. She wore her hair differently – in a ponytail with wisps of blonde hair framing her lovely face.
He quickly took care of carrying her bike into the garage and she thanked him sincerely for digging it out of the snow.
"I was happy to," was his shy reply.
“It looks like the weather’s going to cooperate!” Sara said cheerfully, breaking the ice as he helped her into the car.
Talking about the weather soon gave way to other conversation and they quickly relaxed and conversed as comfortably as they did the night before.
The weather was cloudy and gray, but the snow blanketing the countryside was the perfect backdrop for the three-hour train ride into Union Station in Washington, D.C., from the little train depot in Charlottesville. There weren’t many other travelers on that journey, since the day was a national holiday. So, Sara and Oliver enjoyed having a big area of the train virtually to themselves.
Sara’s worries and guilt about her online friend Ollie were put to rest with his perfunctory email of the night before. It was clear that he willingly acquiesced to her request that they remain merely friends. As a result, she was free to enjoy the company of the most attractive man she ever met.
And enjoy it, she did.
Kelly looked even more handsome in his glasses, than she’d remembered him from the previous evening. There was an awkward shyness about the man that was endearing and totally enchanting to Sara and she silently admonished herself not to imagine being in his arms every time she looked into his eyes.
Oliver was a bit surprised when Sara insisted on paying her own way, but he could see it was important to her and didn’t protest when she did it. He suspected that the added expense was something she might not be able to afford and fully planned to make it up to her later, but to argue about it on their perfect day together didn’t make sense so he let it go, admiring her independence and character.
The three hour train trip went by before either one of them knew it and they arrived in the grand old landmark, Union Station, now a shopping and dining mecca and tourist attraction in the area. The vast arched ceilings and the marble floors were more beautiful and more majestic than any building Sara ever saw and she marveled at the architectural splendor of one of the most visited landmarks in the country, now decorated for the Christmas season.
Gazing out through the grand columns on the front of the building, the U.S. Capitol was clearly visible, several blocks away.
While researching the area, Oliver learned that Union Station and its restaurants, movie theatres, and even some of its shops would be open on Thanksgiving Day. He also studied the history of the place and was more than eager to share it all with Sara.
It was, indeed, a functioning and very busy modern train station on the Eastern Seaboard and a perfect place to people-watch even on a holiday.
The B. Dalton bookstore and many of the newsstands and specialty stores were open 365 days a year, just as the train station was and they browsed to their hearts’ content in the bookstore for more than an hour. Oliver held his breath when he noticed a copy of his latest book, Deceptions, on display, but luckily Sara either didn’t see it or wasn’t interested.
His fragile ego led him to momentarily wonder if the latter might be the case, but he was also relieved because there was a large, fairly recent picture of him on the back cover of the book.
They spent some of the day happily looking at and exploring everything, including the enormous model train decorating one of the vast hallways, a gift from Norway. They learned that the same hallway was where one of the Presidential Inaugural balls was hosted every four years and many wedding receptions of the rich and famous of Washington were held.
A blushing Oliver showed her the once naked statues that were draped because turn of the twentieth century public opinion dictated modesty.
“Oh, look at this!” She exclaimed again and again, marveling at all the beauty and historical significance of the grand old place.
At that precise moment, Oliver’s mind wandered to picturing Sara as his bride, dancing in his arms at their reception in Union Station. It certainly was well within his means to afford such a lavish wedding for his beloved Sara.
But it was not lost on Oliver that he was already having the best time of his life just walking around, spending next to nothing, simply enjoying her company.
“Oh my goodness, look at this!” She continued as he turned his attention back to the day at hand.
Oliver observed Sara’s enthusiastic and genuine reaction to everything she saw and he enjoyed it all the more seeing it all with her and really through her eyes, as if for the first time. He was there before, doing research for a book, but never had anyone to share it with as he did now and that made it all the more special – sharing the experience and his extensive knowledge of the place with Sara.
Sara, quite simply, brought everything to life for Oliver.
Gone was all the sadness and loneliness he felt exploring the wonders of the station by himself, replaced by warmth and happiness of sharing it with someone he loved.
Gone, too, was all the melancholy and longing that were a part of his existence for far too long.
Her eyes sparkled with interest and delight at everything he showed her and told her about the place and his own eyes twinkled with the joy of at last finding a soul mate to share his life.
At the beginning of the day, he considered telling her the entire truth about his identity. There was so much to consider, what with the Dina situation and everything else, including the fact that he was a best selling author and a public figure.
Somehow, the day got away from him and they were having such a wonderful Thanksgiving, that he wanted to keep it that way, at least for the time being, not knowing what her reaction might be.
Their holiday feast was enjoyed in the lower level eatery with food from all over the world. They were both so excited about their day together that they barely nibbled on their meal and followed their dinner by seeing a particularly romantic movie that was playing at the Union Station Cinema.
Once again, Oliver fought the urge to put his arm around Sara and draw her to him. And Sara, in turn, battled with her own instinct to nestle her head against his broad shoulder. Neither one wanted to risk doing anything that might alienate the other, so glorious and perfect was their day together.
After the movie, Oliver reluctantly glanced at his watch and realized there still remained a half-hour before their train was to take them back to Virginia.
“We’ve got a half hour - would you like to people watch?”
He made the suggestion and she nodded her enthusiastic agreement with that idea.
And so they watched all the comings and goings at Union Station until it was time to board the train that would take them back home.
Continued in "Sara's Port, Ch. 16"