When the tall stranger walked into the room, Susan’s eyes were immediately drawn to his face. Partially hidden by a wide-brimmed Stetson, all she could see was a trim black mustache and a well-formed chin. It was his posture that had caught her attention, not his looks. He stood with shoulders squared and head held high, a proud stance. One that spoke of confidence and pride.
He turned the corner and stepped out of Susan’s vantage point, so she closed her laptop, picked up her things and followed him. It was with great disappointment that when she caught up with him, as he stood in front of a local coffee shop. He was surrounded by goggling women, all smiling and nodding profusely. This was someone they most likely knew, not some random stranger. Susan sighed and turned away.
She hadn’t enrolled in the conference to meet a man, even though, since she was hungry for love, she wouldn’t mind finding someone walking the halls of the center. She was a writer and wanted to be recognized for her ability to craft story. A wordsmith. A paradigm of the literary world who was waiting to be discovered. She came to share her work and listen to all the praise that she hoped she would receive. Maybe even get an agent in the process.
The morning began with a general meeting in the ball room. Susan sat at the side in order to be able to sneak out if she got bored by the speakers. As her eyes scanned the room, she spotted the man she had seen the day before, seated in the front row, directly in front of her, close enough that she could smell his aftershave. Not too heavy on the cologne, a slight hint of mint. Everything about him was captivating. Dressed smartly in a black jacket, white shirt and bolo tie, he looked like he had stepped out of the pages of a western novel. He sat with one jeans-clad knee crossed over the other, his well-polished black boots clearly visible.
Susan could not take her eyes off of him. He radiated a sense of magnetism that was irresistible to a weak woman like herself. Susan cringed at the thought of being weak. It’s not how she normally thought of herself, but here she was, like a common bimbo, staring at the man as if she had lost her mind completely. She wasn’t currently looking for a hot new romance, but wouldn’t object if one landed in her lap. What she would like is a companion. Someone to share stories with. To stroll downtown, arms linked, and stop to admire the window displays. Maybe even accompanied by a little romance. But nothing too serious.
During the course of the day, Susan caught glimpses of the man as he walked across campus. Every time she stared as if her mother had never taught her manners. She wanted to go to him and fall into his strong arms. Feel the crush of his embrace. Rub her fingers down the line of his beard. She blushed each time as if caught doing something obscene. Whenever these thoughts hit her, a blush crept up her neck and into her cheeks and she was forced to change directions. Turn away even against the emotional tug she felt in his presence.
Lunch was a catered affair. Seats were not assigned, but participants were told where to sit as they walked through the huge double doors of the ball room. As Susan neared her table, she stopped midstride. The man was at her table! This could not be. What would she say to him that didn’t sound moronic? How could she eat in front of him? She was sure she’d get lettuce stuck in her teeth and dribble soup down her chest.
She stopped in the middle of the aisle, not sure what to do. Take her seat or turn and leave.
An usher approached her. “Is there something wrong, Miss?”
“No. It’s just that…”
“Come, this is your table,” he said as he led her to the chair next to the man, pulled it out and waited for her to sit.
The man smiled. Such a beatific smile. White teeth. Wide, relaxed grin. Sparkling eyes. He held out his hand. “I’m Daniel Moore.”
“What are you working on?”
“A Young Adult novel. It’s finished. I’m hoping to find an agent.”
Daniel leaned forward and said, “Tell me about it.”
As Susan spoke, he nodded and asked occasional clarification questions. Talking to him was so easy, too easy, and so she found herself falling into a natural rhythm.
Daniel reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a business card. “Send me the first fifty pages of your manuscript. I’d like to take a look at it.”
Susan gasped as she read his card. Daniel was an agent with Goodtimes Literary Agency. He specialized in Children’s and Young Adult literature. This was too good to be true. A fantasy. A magical happening.
“Thanks,” she said. “I appreciate that. You’re too kind.”
“It’s okay,” he said. “I’m here to find new authors to represent. Your book sounds right up my alley.”
They talked about a variety of things as the meal progressed. Sports. Politics. World happenings. Travels. Susan found him enticingly easy to be with. When lunch ended, Daniel walked her out to the foyer. “I hope I’ll see you later,” he said and then turned and left.
Susan smiled the rest of the conference. She took notes, listened carefully, learned a lot. After she checked out of the hotel and headed toward home, she thought only of Daniel. Not just as a potential agent, but as someone she’d like to know better. Someone she could call friend.
It might be just a dream, but it was a good one. And it made her happy.