Cut from Book 1, Chapter 13:
Catching Hannah’s eye was a complete fluke, in my opinion. She was a stunner—a tall, natural blonde, with hazel eyes, long legs, and a great figure. How I ended up with her was no doubt a question on most people’s minds, and it was a legitimate question. The short of it was, it wasn’t easy.
It all began with a rather embarrassing moment. Hannah was a student in law school at the time, and I was at the academy. It was just another fall day at the little coffee shop I went to regularly in Tribeca, where I ran into her. Literally.
I picked up my coffee and bagel. I wasn’t looking and turned into her. The collision sent her coffee spilling down the front of her periwinkle dress. Mortified, I apologized profusely. She remained incredibly polite, but I could tell the incident upset her. I offered to pay the cleaning bill, but she refused and settled on letting me buy her another coffee. As embarrassing as it all was, we ended up at a table on the sidewalk patio where we spent the next half-hour talking.
I saw her again at the same coffee shop two days later. We sat and had another pleasant chat. By the end of the conversation, I was smitten. But she had already told me that she was seeing another man. She talked about him often and spoke highly of him. He sounded like a good guy, and she seemed happy. Just my luck. Even still, we became friends, and our meet-ups became a regular habit.
Then, one cold, winter day, I found her sitting at our spot in tears. Hannah told me that her boyfriend had just proposed. She confided in me and admitted she wasn’t sure she loved him enough to spend the rest of her life with him. Seeing her cry for the first time had a strange and profound impact on me. I had to finally admit to myself that I was in love with her, even though in her eyes, I was just a friend. From that moment on, though, she knew she had my shoulder to cry on, and it only drew us closer.
Hannah broke up with him a week later, swearing off men in general for the indefinite future. While the breakup didn’t come as much of a shock, her decision to remain single had me feeling distraught. It only made things harder for me.
We spent much of the following few months in one another’s company. We often explored the city, learning new things about it and about each other. She taught me about art and poetry. I showed her where to find the best hot dog cart in town. I never cared where we went, or what we did, as long as I was with her.
But I fought a seemingly endless battle. I had to bury my romantic feelings deep down. I wallowed in the nether of the proverbial friend-zone, as they used to call it. It was often excruciating at times. I came close to telling her how I felt on several occasions, but could never bring myself to do it. Then, one summer night, I didn’t have to.
It was a Friday—the weekend had finally come—and we met each other for a late-afternoon drink. We then went back to my place, where we fixed dinner and watched old movies starring actors long gone. Everything seemed perfect. But as the evening wore on, I noticed Hannah growing more and more distant. I knew something was wrong and asked her about it. She chalked it up to a long and tiring week. I believed her and let the matter go. It was shortly after midnight when she decided to head home. As usual, it was hard watching her go, but away she went.
After Hannah had left, I grew angry, cursing myself and my inability to tell her how I felt. I had no clue how I would ever go about it—no idea what I would ever say. I crawled into bed, defeated, deciding that maybe it would be best to just give up. She and I would never be together. But as I lay awake, staring at the ceiling, there was a knock at the door.
I found her crying on my doorstep.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, afraid something bad had happened on her way home.
She didn’t answer. She just looked at me through her beautiful, tear-filled eyes, her gaze never wandering. After several heartbeats, she finally took a deep breath and spoke. “I’m in love with you,” she said.
When her words finally hit me, my heart fell into my stomach. It felt like someone slugged me right in the gut. I couldn’t breathe. My eyes started to well up as I gazed back into hers. I took a shuddering breath and stepped closer to her. “It’s about damn time,” I whispered softly. I took her in my arms, and we kissed. From that moment on, we were never apart.
We got married a year and a half later.
Soon after, I graduated from the academy, and she passed the bar exam. We were both on our way to promising careers. What mattered to me most, though, was the life-long happiness ahead with the woman I loved.
Unfortunately, all fairy tales must come to an end.