Times dating back
heir first date was at Houston’s, a restaurant in Irvine, where he opened the door for her and put her napkin on her lap.
Candles flickered along the polished-mahogany bar; jazz drifted from speakers; conversation purred. Her cornsilk-blond hair fell in waves over her shoulders.
That he happened to worship at her church, Mariners. And he told her that she stopped his heart, she was so beautiful. Her last serious boyfriend had wounded her, in parting, when he said she wasn’t. She thought this was moving a little fast, but she decided to allow it. She brought John back to her penthouse, just up the block. She thought, “It’s just a mattress.” She became uncomfortable. He just didn’t want to leave, and she had to insist.
He looked a little weathered, and he dressed lazily — shorts and an ill-matching preppy shirt — but he might have once been an All-American quarterback on a trading card. He had thick dark hair and a warm, friendly smile that invited trust.
His eyes were hazel-green, with the quality of canceling out the whole of the world that wasn’t her, their current focus. They had found each other on an over-50 dating site, and she thought his profile — Christian, divorced, physician — seemed safe.
Terra discovered the truth the day before Thanksgiving, when she opened a closet and found a nursing certificate bearing John’s name. ” Terra left, badly shaken, with the sickening feeling that her mother was choosing John over her.
Her mom said she was getting his certificates framed, but Terra knew, and she did something uncharacteristic. He had an explanation for why he had a nursing degree but called himself a doctor. When Jacquelyn showed up, John asked for a private word with her. He acted like a kid himself, vulnerable and sweet, and single-mindedly besotted with her.
Her 24-year-old daughter, Jacquelyn, who lived there with her, made it clear she thought he looked like a loser. She said she didn’t like the way his eyes roamed around the place, among their velvet chairs and jewelry and fine art. She thought that if any of her kids would give him a chance, it was Terra, her youngest.