Coral woke early, despite the fact that Gage had stayed into the wee hours. He'd been happy to discuss his work, but reticent about his girlfriend. Perhaps the perfect 10 was displeased about them spending these three evenings together. Coral would be happy to reassure her that she had no designs on him. A stuffed shirt like him did not enter her sights. Of course not.
She recalled her decision to consider dating again. Sid was dead, but she was alive. And he'd never want her to live sad and lonely. He had been a kind, considerate guy, finding joy in so many small things. Nothing had taken that from him, even toward the end, when he became a frail shell of his former, robust self. Shame filled her. She'd promised to move on, sworn it as she sat by his deathbed. And she'd broken that vow, or at least neglected it, for three years.
Well, no more. She would begin dating immediately. She'd find someone…somewhere. There sure as heck was nobody in her life now. Filled with purpose, she eschewed surfing for the day and prepared for a small ritual. Time to close one door, so another could be opened. The Goddess could not give her anyone new as long as she clung to the past. And three years was long enough to grieve for someone who had not even been a lover. He'd wanted that, but she hadn't been sure, and by the time she realized how much he meant to her, his health was so poor she'd only been able to give him her time and care, nothing more.
She closed the curtains, swept the living room, and feather-dusted, wanting a clear space. Then she showered and patted herself dry, leaving her hair hanging down her back, and returned to the living room. Lighting a single, white taper, she sat cross-legged on the floor. White for the Goddess, white for purity. Staring at it, she stood and lit a green one, for change. Once upon a time she would have done more preparation, but truly what occurred was inside herself, and the rest was trappings for onlookers.
The Goddess would understand. Staring at the twin flames, Coral went deep inside and made a wish and a promise. This time, a gift would not be rejected. "Whoever you bring me, Lady, I will not waste the time. I know now how precious and rare true love is."
When the candles burned down and winked out, she was filled with peace. Perhaps it would be a surfer, or maybe one who practiced The Craft…or maybe an accountant. But she trusted that it would be the right one for her, if indeed such a person existed. A flicker of doubt passed through her. If she hadn't missed her chance.
And looking for the right man would distract her from the wrong one she would be spending the evening with. Gage Middleton, handsome and charming…and even gallant, but he was not for her. The attraction was merely bad timing, or maybe it served to wake her up to her need to move forward.
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