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The Dating Chronicles

The Strategy

 As the crowd stood waiting for the guests of honor to speak at the engagement party, Mel thought of the challenge that lay ahead.  He knew Carrie would show her usual discomfort with the display of affection always present between his friend Jack and his fiancée Renee. 

Their love was a public exhibition complete with hand-holding, multiple kisses, and starry-eyed stares, which always embarrassed Mel when he was in Carrie’s company.

He knew Carrie’s thoughts would be on him and the lack of affection in their relationship and he prepared himself for the icy stare and mumbled comments he knew would be forthcoming when Jack and Renee announced their engagement.

Mel knew what she wanted, but he was who he was and he made no apologies for it.  As he stood listening to Jack speak to the crowd, he flinched as he anticipated the feel of Carrie’s hand in his with an effort to encourage affection.  He always felt put upon by the intent of the gesture and slightly resentful of her insistence. He felt hand-holding was for teenagers and he refused to participate.

When Renee joined Jack at the podium, Mel looked around for Carrie to join him in sullen politeness.  He knew she was disturbed that Jack and Renee were getting married and they were not. They had been together four years and he was just not ready. She had left a half-hour ago to go to the bathroom and as he glanced around the crowd, he suddenly felt alone.

When he spotted her across the room talking to a muscular football type who looked to be leaning in for the kill, his stomach began to twist in knots.  He stood puzzled as he watched her engage in vivacious chatter appearing to be oblivious to the event and her surroundings.

As the crowd sounded in applause, Mel strained to keep his smile from fading.  He was starting to feel perturbed as he glanced again in Carrie’s direction. Counting to ten, he slowly made his way across the room to where she stood, grabbed her hand, and without uttering a word, gently eased her away from the tall stranger.

He continued to hold her hand as they moved back toward the center of the room.  He hoped the stranger got the message.  Carrie tried to conceal her smile, as she followed him in smug silence. Her strategy had worked. She felt triumphant as she squeezed his hand and planned her next move. She was determined to change his mindset.

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