Wednesday 8 March 2023

Reunion of the Heart by Jennifer Anne F. Messing, sparkling strawberry lemonade

 Welcome to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Please keep your seat-belts on until the plane has come to a complete stop.’ Twenty-six-year- old Therese Kingsberry heard the flight attendant’s voice over the loudspeaker.

Her heart fluttered with excitement. She was thrilled that she’d come for her 8th-grade class’ 12th-year reunion party! It was the perfect diversion for her. For the last seven months she’d been getting over a difficult breakup with the man she’d dated for two years—Zachary. Marriage didn’t appear to be in his plans, so after some honest talks, they’d finally parted ways.

Now it would be wonderful to reconnect with former classmates and spend the weekend in Meadowbrook Hills, the beautiful suburb where she’d grown up.

A few minutes later, she exited the plane, carrying her new tan and navy-blue purse, and pulling its matching carry-on luggage. She walked past the restaurants and gift shops and into the public arrival area.

‘Therese!’ a familiar voice called out. She instantly spotted her brown-haired, pretty best-friend from grade school, Mary Jane Mayer.

‘Mary Jane!’ she cried. The two ladies embraced. ‘So awesome to see you again.’ Therese said. ‘You look great, just like your profile pic on SocialTime.’

Her friend laughed, in the same cute and amusing way she remembered.

‘Welcome home,’ Mary Jane said. ‘I’ve missed you.’

The two of them walked on through the sky-bridge to catch the shuttle to the parking lot. Therese looked around the airport, memories quickly bubbling up inside.

Her family had moved to Austin, Texas, shortly after her 8th-grade graduation because of her Dad’s job re-assignment. She’d been apprehensive about the move, not wanting to leave her friends and everything familiar, but her parents assured her change was a natural part of life and she’d grow to like Texas, too.

Twenty-five minutes later, they pulled into the parking lot of the upscale apartment complex where Mary Jane lived. They got out of the car and made their way to her third floor apartment.

Mary Jane opened the door and motioned her in. Therese took a quick look. ‘Gorgeous! Who decorated it?’

‘I did, of course.’ Mary Jane beamed.

‘Beautiful!’ Therese set her purse aside and sat down on the couch.

‘Coffee, juice, water?’ Mary Jane asked.

‘Coffee sounds heavenly.’ 

Minutes later, Mary Jane emerged from the kitchen carrying a delicate serving tray with freshly-brewed coffee service for two.

‘Smells delicious…mmm…’ Therese stirred, sitting upright. ‘Did I just fall asleep?’

‘A catnap.’

‘Just like when we used to have sleepovers,’ Therese grinned, mixing cream and sugar into her coffee. She was still in happy disbelief that they were reunited.

‘I was thrilled when you found me on SocialTime a few years ago,’ Therese said.

‘I always cherished the letters and emails you wrote—’ Mary Jane said.

Therese nodded. ‘It became hard to keep it up as our high school lives got busier...’ her voice trailed away. ‘But I never forgot about you.’

‘I always hoped we’d be together again,’ Mary Jane said.

‘And now we are,’ Therese smiled.

At 11:30 on Saturday morning the two were on the road, headed to Mary Jane’s parents’ home for lunch.

‘So nice of your parents to have me over,’ Therese said.

‘Mom’s excited to see you!’

Therese was enjoying the scenic drive, basking in the sunny July day. Seeing the familiar streets where she’d grown up brought on an emotion she couldn’t describe, one that surprised her.

‘Oh, my! Meadowbrook Church looks exactly the same, just like when we used to go there,’ Therese exclaimed.

‘Yes, and our family still attends there, too,’ Mary Jane replied.

They soon pulled into the driveway of the charming, light-blue, two-story home where Therese had visited Mary Jane many times. The two got out of the car. As they walked on the pathway leading to the front door, it swung open. Mrs. Mayer stood there, a big smile on her face. She opened her arms and gave Therese a tight hug.

Therese immediately felt welcomed and at home with Mary Jane’s parents, Paul and Diane. They all chatted, walking to and from the kitchen and dining room, getting the table and food all set. The delicious smell of Diane’s home-made White Cheese Chicken Lasagna and Toasted Garlic Bread greeted them. 

‘You’re looking great, Therese. Nice to see you.’ It was a deep male voice Therese recognized from long ago. She turned and faced Jordan Mayer, Mary Jane’s older brother, who looked very handsome, much more so than she remembered.

She felt a bit flustered. ‘Jordan! I didn’t know you’d be here...but I-I’m glad.’

Making eye contact with her, he smiled. ‘It’s been a long time,’ he said. ‘What do you do now?’

‘I’m a real estate agent with a national firm,’ Therese replied. ‘Been with them for four years.’

‘Nice,’ Jordan said. ‘I’m the manager of Piermont Hotel. So far it’s been very rewarding.’

Diane waved at them to have a seat. ‘Mary Jane told you she teaches English at Meadowbrook High School, right?’

 ‘Yes, how exciting!’ Therese said, looking at Mary Jane as Jordan pulled a chair for her beside him. ‘So happy for you.’

The nonstop conversation was thoroughly refreshing. It was challenging to encapsulate all that had happened in the last twelve years in two quick hours!

‘Jordan, why don’t you accompany Therese and Mary Jane to their class reunion this evening?’ Diane suggested. ‘It’s at 6:30.’

‘That would be fun, Jordan,’ Mary Jane said, looking at him.

‘Great idea,’ Therese agreed.

At 6:00 Jordan picked up Therese and Mary Jane from her apartment, and they were off to the reunion in his black sports car.

The cool air from the air conditioner felt pleasant to Therese on the balmy summer night. She’d purchased an off-shoulder, fitted purple dress for the occasion. She couldn’t help but notice how strikingly handsome Jordan looked in his navy-blue suit and yellow tie.

‘Where to, Sis?’ Jordan asked.

‘To Meadowbrook Middle School, ha-ha! We rented the gym.’

When the three of them walked into the brightly-decorated, dimly-lit gym playing loud pop music a short while later, Therese was overcome with nostalgia.

Their classmates descended upon the trio, giving greetings and hugs, and led them to a table where they sat and enjoyed various finger foods and beverages. Many of them remembered Jordan. He’d also graduated from Meadowbrook Middle School, just two years ahead of them.

‘Nice to see you, Therese,’ said Ava Ferguson. ‘Are you moving back here?’

Therese briefly caught Jordan looking at her. Her heart nearly skipped a beat. ‘I hope she does.’ Jordan replied.

Mary Jane was asked to dance by Carlo Cortez. The party was in full swing. Ava asked Jordan to dance.

Then Therese was whisked off to the dance floor by Blake Marshall. At one time in eighth grade Therese had had a crush on him. But unfortunately, as they conversed, she found no chemistry between them. It was okay, though; dancing as friends was fun in its own way!

A while later the upbeat dance music came to a pause, and one of Therese’s favorite love-songs came on.

‘May I have this dance, Therese?’ Jordan’s deep-set, steel-gray eyes gazed into hers. Her heart pounded uncontrollably. She nervously wondered if now might be the right time to consider opening her heart to love once again.

She stood up and offered him her hand. ‘Yes, I’d like that.’

He led her to the dance floor and gently placed his arms around her waist. She placed her arms on his shoulders and looked into his handsome face.

‘You were always pretty, Therese,’ he said softly. ‘And I hope you don’t mind my saying this, but now you’re absolutely ravishing.’

He tenderly brushed a long strand of her light-brown hair behind her shoulder. ‘I’m glad we’ve reconnected today. I was looking forward to sharing a dance…and more with you.’

Is this really happening? Therese wondered. Why did she feel like she was on the brink of something very exciting? She’d somehow known in her heart that someday she’d return to Meadowbrook Hills…

‘Oh, Jordan—’ she whispered.

‘I feel like I know you well, from the past.’ He chuckled softly. ‘I still remember all those hours you and Mary Jane spent choreographing dances in the family room…and the world’s best cookies you’d bake together—’

Therese laughed, reminiscing. ‘I remember several of your baseball games Mary Jane and I watched. So fun!’

‘We were blessed with happy growing up years,’ he said, then gazed into her eyes, more intently. ‘Much has happened since we last saw each other—but now I’d like to—’ he paused, and cleared his throat, ‘rather, I’m dying to get to know the grown-up Therese.’

Her heartbeat quickened again, she couldn’t deny she felt the same.

‘Well, some things haven’t changed,’ she smiled. ‘I own several dance and exercise DVDs and work out along with them at home, three to four times a week to stay fit. It helps me relax after a stressful day at work.’


 ‘And I still enjoy baking—the latest recipe I’ve learned is a Caramel Apple Cheesecake.

‘Sounds delicious,’ he said. ‘I’d love to have a slice of that with one of my favorites, a Café Americano.’

‘Then we’ll have to make that a reality, okay?’ She looked into his eyes, a teasing question in them. He nodded, his lips curving into a smile.

Moments later the romantic tune came to an end. It was followed by another sentimental love-song from their era. Jordan didn’t appear to want to end their cozy tryst, and neither did she.

How heavenly it felt to be on the dance floor, in the arms of the cute boy from her past now a hunky, eligible bachelor! ‘So, what do you do on weekends?’ she asked.

‘I enjoy biking and taking walks, and completing Do-It-Yourself home improvement projects,’ he said. ‘A couple of years ago, I bought a two-bedroom bungalow in a nice neighborhood about 20 minutes away from Meadowbrook Hills.’

‘That’s wonderful!’ Therese smiled. ‘You know, I also enjoy taking walks, and interior design and home improvement are some of my passions, too.’

His eyes twinkled. ‘Tell me something that’s on your bucket list—’

Without hesitation, she spoke. ‘Travel to London and other parts of England, maybe visit a couple of other European countries—’ she paused, then smiled shyly. ‘Maybe it’s all the captivating novels I read, and dreamy movies I watch showcasing beautiful England that have attracted me.’

‘Me, too,’ he said. ‘I’ve always wanted to see London, England, and other parts of Europe.’

Therese couldn’t believe they had quite a lot in common, and how comfortable she felt talking to him, as if twelve years had never passed by! Together they savored the next few moments as their bodies swayed in-step to the romantic ballad.

‘Therese—’ he said, his voice deep, ‘something about your sweet presence makes me feel alive and invigorated, but also like I’ve come home. I’m taking a risk to say this, but I believe you’re the woman I’ve been waiting for.’ He paused, thoughtful for a moment, then said, ‘Now that I’ve found you again, I don’t want to let you go. I really want to stay in touch. I’m hoping you feel the same way—’

She leaned in closer to him, and his arms tightened around her. It felt heavenly to be enveloped in his warm embrace.  

‘I do,’ she said softly.  

He lowered his face and, for a few blissful moments, put his soft lips on hers. It was the most wonderful kiss Therese had felt in a very long time—but it was worth the wait! Somehow she knew he was the man she’d been praying for. She sensed that theirs was a reunion of hearts, from the past to the present, and what she anticipated would be an amazing future.


About the author

JENNIFER ANNE F. MESSING of Oregon is an award-winning author of four books including “Love’s Faithful Promise.” She has over 250 articles, short stories, and poems published in 60 magazines. Philippine-born, she’s a wife and mother of three children. She earned a B.A. in Journalism. 

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