Taking Leave....

"He's coming???"

"Yes, KC! Stop giggling!!! I'm really nervous!"

I had 10 days to prepare myself...I was going to meet...whom? I received letters from him for 2 months. I had a few photos, but they didn't even look like they were all of the same guy!! (If you've ever seen someone in military issue glasses with a mountain hiking cap with ear flaps on...well, needless to say, the photos he sent and the photos Katie sent looked like 2 entirely different people!!! Exactly which one was going to show up mid-August? I wasn't exactly thinking it would be a for sure fall in love meeting!!!). So, I arranged to work 9 days straight so that I would have to take as little vacation time as possible. The girls in the office were great. I, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck!

The day finally arrived that he would be leaving from Virginia. He was going to go over to Lynchburg first and then head down after spending an evening with his family. He called me from the hotel they were staying at in Lynchburg.

"Yes, the whole bunch of 'em are here...Mom, Doug, Julie, Donnie, NaTausha,...you wanna talk to them? Here you go!"

So, they proceeded to pass the phone around. Now, I know they weren't total strangers...they were the in-laws of one of my best friends in the world! But they were strangers.... And then there was the hollering from Daniel..."No!!! Don't go through my duffle! I happen to like that t-shirt! Cut it out, you guys!" His Mom proceeded to tell me that the guys were going through his duffel bag to see what clothes he had to make that special first impression. The next morning, they insisted on taking him to the store to buy...ahem...suitable clothes!!! Then he was on his way! He stayed in a hotel in our home town that night so that when we met for the first time he would be showered and rested *_* His Mom thought of that one *_* (Thanks, Mom *_*).

So what was my first impression? "Shew! The one from Katie's photos is here *_*" He came up to the back porch door where I stood waiting with my "watch cat", Smokey. Smokey approved *_* I was tongue-tied...couldn't say two words. And for those of you who know me.... Well.... That says a lot *_*

"Can I fix you some breakfast?" I managed to get out. He was talking, this supposedly 'shy' guy carrying the conversation...I didn't know what he was saying or how I responded. I couldn't seem to talk at all. He had a little gift-wrapped bag in his hand, and he kept setting it down on the kitchen counter wherever I was working, but I didn't pick it up until he said,"Open it. It's for you." He had come in the back door, which had my Precious Moments' club sticker on one pane. He had then entered the kitchen, which I had decorated in sheep and irises. I realized later that one of those questions he asked me to keep the conversation going was, "So, I see you like Precious Moments."

"Well, um...yes, I joined the club this year. They're kind of expensive though, so I just have a few of the miniatures." No wonder he kept trying to get me to open the gift bag! Inside...when I finally opened it *_*...was a pair of miniature Precious Moments lambs!!! Sheep, and Precious Moments Miniatures!!! The guy was really racking up the points fast!

That day we did fun things, but he kept insisting that we weren't on our first official "Date" yet. On our way shopping, he asked me my dating standards..."Well, I really have some pretty 'Victorian' standards. I would rather not kiss any man until I know that he is The One, and he knows it, too."

We had a ball together shopping at antique stores in town, going for frozen yogurt, his meeting my sister--and since it was Wednesday--the whole church-full of people who had known me since Methuselah's day!!! We even went to my favorite hamburger place after church with some of my dearest friends Dennis and Linda and their kiddos and my sister and of course Daddy. There I found out that Daniel and Tim were "mirror twins"...Daniel was left-handed, Tim: right.

That night when we got back to the house, we said our "good nights", and each of us wrote letters to the other about the wonderful day we each had *_* We kept this up the whole week, presenting eachother with little thank you notes for yesterday's fun happenings...after all, we were used to communicating through letters *_*

"So, where should we go for our first official 'Date'?"

My wonderful sister had all kinds of great ideas...being that Daniel wasn't from around there, though he had spent some time at the Navy base in Orlando. Off we went to Church Street Station! What a special day! By the time we got there, it was time for lunch, so we ate Greek gyros...I bit my tongue badly almost the very first bite. Needless to say, it kept me from saying much the rest of the day! The Lord works in mysterious ways!! But we shopped and bought fudge and went to a petting zoo (when he found out I had never 'fuzzed' a sheep before and had to rectify that situation! *_*). And...he asked to hold my hand! I still had a very tight rein on my heart, but I started wondering if after all he did *_* On the way home we sang along to a Christian flutist named "Fletch Wiley"...when we were within minutes of the house my heart stood still when he asked, "Where have you been?" I thought I hadn't heard right and asked him to repeat himself, and he did! "Where have you been? It's as though I've known you all my life...."

We came home and watched a video...he thought when he heard what I wanted to watch that I had low standards..."An Affair to Remember" with Cary Grant? It's an "Oldie". He found a heart-shaped potato chip while we snacked and handed it to me with a grin *_*

"Happy Birthday, KC!!!"

The next day, Friday, we went to the hospital for KC's birthday party...and for all the "workies" to check Daniel out.... KC...my precious KC...was in tears. "Oh, Jennifer, the way he treats you--the way he looks at you! You can just tell...he thinks you are so special!!" She was a precious basket-case of joy!!! And I was fast becoming one, too!

Saturday we went to Dade City and did the Antique Extravaganza!!! We ate at a place called "Lunch on Limoges"...a very elegant luncheon spot where Daniel appeared to feel right at home *_* We enjoyed pecan chicken and Raspberry Iced Tea and yummy berry muffins! The only thing that worried me about our day together was that every shop we went into, he would pick up the very ugliest pottery in the place and examine it thorougly. Such a wonderful guy...such horrible taste in antiques???? But at the last shop, he said,"You're probably wondering why I keep looking at the ugly pieces. I read about antique pottery with a certain seal on the bottom being worth a lot of money, and the only thing I remember about the pottery was that it was old and really rather ugly." Whew!!!!

Then came one of the best moments in my life.... I was a little ways ahead of him (he was busy looking at ugly pottery *_*) and had entered a room with a Charlie Brown aluminum Christmas tree with some of the ugliest ornaments on it and around it I'd ever seen. He came into the doorway and announced,"There's what I've been looking for!" Aghast, I looked over my shoulder at the pathetic-looking Christmas display behind me, when suddenly I felt his hand at my elbow. "No, right here." Looking up into his big, brown eyes, I knew what he was saying...and my heart was saying it, too.

When we got back to the house, he gave me my birthday gifts. Now, I knew that Katie had said she didn't think I would like it, so I had braced myself for the worst. And that is what I saw. I pulled out of the bag the ugliest orange and yellow bird puppet that has ever been manufactured. "Oh! I've never seen a puppet like this...." He began to laugh. That wasn't my actual present...he had gotten that as a gag gift at a used toys store to see how I would react *_* He gave me a carnival glass depression-ware goblet (which I collect *_*), an adorable crystal mouse, and the gift Katie had seen...a stuffed lobster like "The Little Mermaid"'s Sebastian...for "Under da Sea" thoughts of Daniel when we were apart *_* I thought it was Adorable! We went over Sissy's that night and played a card game that she and I had to teach him, and he thoroughly Pounced us at it *_* Then we walked home and said goodnight at the porch door. "I think I'm gonna hit the sack. I've got a lot of miles to travel tomorrow."

"Oh, okay. I'm just going to stay out here and fuzz Smokey a little before I go to sleep." He came back out in about 5 minutes *_* We talked some more...nearly an hour. He said he had something he really wanted to talk to me about, but he didn't think it was appropriate timing. Then we parted...and wrote our letters *_*

The next morning was Sunday. It was also the day Daniel was to go back to Norfolk. When we met and exchanged notes that morning, I asked him if he wanted me to iron his church outfit while he took his shower. The note from him sat on the kitchen table. I finished ironing and went back down to the kitchen to fix his and Daddy's breakfast. Daniel was still in the shower, though, so I decided to go ahead and read his note.

"...I Love You...."

He said it! Well, he "wrote" it in the letter! I sat and read and re-read that letter through tears of joy, then scurried down to put the finishing touches on breakfast. Poppa was already in the kitchen when Daniel arrived, but after breakfast as Daniel was leaving the kitchen, I told Daniel, "I read the letter...." He knew from my eyes my response, but I didn't want my first proclamation to be in the kitchen! After church that morning, on the walk home from saying goodbye to Sissy and Kevin and the kiddos, I told Daniel Robert Seest that I loved him!!!!

Don't miss the continuing story...The Engagement!!!

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Background by Lady Dj *_*

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