The drive to Richmond was pleasant enough. If you like driving, which I don’t particularly. But I had lots of good music with me and the day was nice and sunny, the sky pale summer blue. I would get there in time to check into my hotel and meet my best friend Carrie for dinner. Carrie had offered to let me stay with her, but the hotel was far more convenient to the office. Carrie lived in the Fan section of Richmond. The business park was out in Goochland County. The commute would not have been fun. Nor was I completely comfortable crashing Carrie’s new domestic situation. She and her fiancé had moved in together in the spring. Their wedding is scheduled for October. Of course, I am to be a bridesmaid and fortunately for me, Carrie’s taste had led to a dress that I wouldn’t have to wear with my head hung low.
I like her fiancé. Reid grew up in the Richmond area. They met cycling. He is smart and funny and cute. The three basic requirements for the initiation of a relationship, in my book, anyway. He also adores Carrie. That is the basic requirement for continuing the relationship.
I pulled into the Marriott parking lot a little after 5:00. Richmond was a long drive from Charlotte, but if the drive meant I got to keep my own car and avoid the airport, that was fine with me.
I checked in, put my suitcase on the luggage rack and called Carrie to let her know I was on my way. We were meeting at her apartment then going to Bacchus, a great little restaurant near Carytown.
I hadn’t seen her place since Reid moved in. I was curious about what cohabitation looked like. I had come close to getting married right out of college. We both realized it was a mistake before we got too far down the engagement path. It had still taken me a long time to get over him. We had been together throughout most of college and I had felt like there was a huge hole in my life when he wasn’t there any longer. That was almost five years ago and while I do date, I haven’t found anyone I wanted to get that close to again. Which made my fascination with Kellan really strange. Still, it was there. And tomorrow morning, I would get to see if my guesses were anywhere close to real.
It seems like every time I am with Carrie again, I am reminded of just how much fun it is to be with her and I miss her that much more. Cohabitation didn’t look too different than Carrie living by herself. The biggest difference was how filled with cycling gear the apartment was with both Carrie’s and Reid’s bikes and shoes and helmets and etc. We don’t stay at the apartment long. Carrie is ready to go, so we get in her car and drive to the restaurant. Carrie is happier than I have seen her.
“I know why I am grinning.” She says to me as we turn onto Cary Street. “Why are you? Who is he?”
I laugh. “There is no he.”
Carrie rolls her eyes. “Weak. Of course there is a ‘he.’ You only wear that smile for a ‘he.”
“You will laugh.” I turn red and look out the window.
“Probably, but tell me anyway.”
“I have a huge crush on the project manager I am working with and I have never met him. I meet him tomorrow. I don’t even know if he’s single. I have fallen for him over the telephone.” The words tumbled out in a jumble.
Carrie raised an eyebrow now, wanting to look at me, but choosing to focus on the road. “People fall in love over the Internet. I guess over the phone isn’t too weird. So what is he like? What is his name?”
“I don’t know what he is like.” I lamented. “Just what he sounds like. He is smart and quiet and confident and funny. His name is Kellan.”
Carrie shot me a look. “I know a Kellan. There can’t be too many of those. What is his last name?”
“Tierney?” She repeated shaking her head.
“You know him?” I almost squealed.
She nodded, looking a little concerned. “I do. And you are in for a surprise.”
“Is he cute?”
“Very. But that isn’t what I meant.”
“He is married, isn’t he?” I was ready to pout.
“No. He isn’t married.”
It wasn’t like Carrie to hedge.
“I don’t think so.”
“Then what?” I wanted to shake her. “And how do you know him? IT geeks aren’t your usual social circle.”
“I know him from cycling. Kellan and his brother Kyle ride with Reid’s road team.”
“It is a small world.” I commented. “Now why will I be surprised? Because he is smart and an athlete? You always wanted to get me hooked up with one of your cycling pals.”
She didn’t return my smile. “I don’t know how to say this. Kellan is very cute; he is smart, what I know of him I like.” She paused, gripping the steering wheel.
“I am not hearing the bad, here, Carrie.” I was losing patience. “Spit it out.”
“Kellan is in a wheelchair, Heather. He got hurt several years ago at a race. He is paralyzed.”
I felt numb. Kellan was disabled? That had never entered my mind. “But you just said he was on Reid’s road team? How can he ride if he can’t walk?”
“Handcycle. He has a special bike he cranks with his hands. It is a pretty slick piece of equipment…”
She was about to veer off into cycling world. “Carrie…” I called her back. I wanted to know more about Kellan. “What does he look like?”
“Thin, great upper body, dark hair, dark blue eyes. Like I said, he is very cute, from the waist up anyway. His legs are a little scary.”
“Really skinny and really still.”
I tried to picture him using the new information. I couldn’t get a clear image in my head.
“I have pictures from the last race on the computer at home. I am pretty sure Kellan is in some of them. I know I got Kyle.” She grinned. “Kyle is a hottie. Anyway, I can show you when we get back from dinner.”
I nodded, trying to digest what I had just learned. Did it matter? I don’t think it really did. My infatuation had started sight unseen. I loved his voice, his mind, his personality. None of that had changed. All that had changed was that I now knew he needed a wheelchair to get around. Sounded like it hadn’t slowed him down much. I still was very excited to meet him, so I pushed the doubts out of my head and decided to enjoy my time with Carrie.
We were still early enough that the restaurant wasn’t hopelessly packed. The food was excellent, the conversation lively, and Carrie had me laughing so hard I was in tears. Maybe I could find some reason to come to Richmond to be a part of Carrie’s world again. Maybe my instincts about Kellan would prove correct. Maybe he would be my reason.
To be continued...