Chapter 1 The Encounter

As usual Jarod was again on his cellular phone talking about business even on his way to the lavatory. He had excused himself from his current business dinner meeting in order to make a call. He was engulfed in the conversation and not paying attention to where he was going. He crashed right into a woman as she was walking out of the ladies room. His cell phone flew out of his hand and crash-landed on the floor into many pieces. The crash was so hard it knocked the woman on her rear end and her purse's contents scattered all over the floor. There she was in her black dress that clung nicely around all her curbs flat on her ass. Jarod was about to start cursing at the woman when he noticed she was engulfed in laughter.

"I'm sorry," he said as he offered her his hand. His first thought was this woman must be mad.

"No problem," she answered between giggles, "accidents are bound to happen." She started to pick up all her things, and he was actually helping her. He didn't understand how this woman could laugh at the incident, but what was puzzling him even more was the fact that he was calm. He would have been yelling and cursing at who he would refer to as the idiot who interrupted a very important business call. They finished picking up all her things and stood face to face. She beamed at him with the most beautiful smile he had ever seen before. His heart sank as if he stopped breathing for a moment. He felt as if he were drowning.

"I'm sorry about your cell phone," she spoke, but it was as if he did not hear. He was in a trance. "I said, I'm sorry about your cell phone," she repeated in a little louder voice.

Out of his trance he replied, "Uh, oh don't worry about it. Are you okay?" he finally spat out regaining his composure. "I should be the one who should be apologizing to you."

"I'm fine. Just have a little run in my stocking, but no major damage." She joked. "Well, it was nice bumping into you. We should do it again sometimes." She continued as she was walking away. He stood there again dumbfounded as he stared at her disappearing from his sight. Then his wits finally returned and he realized he doesn't know her name or anything else about her.

You dummy, he thought. He rushed straight to the maitre d' without once thinking about his cell phone, which until that moment had been a very important part of his life. Much to his dismay, there was a shift change and the replacement did not know what he was talking about or whom he was talking about. He was so frustrated that he made a lame excuse to cancel his business meeting. He burned rubber out of the driveway after he asked all the attendants if they saw the woman with the black dress. Of course there were many women in black dresses suffice it to say he did not get the answer he was looking for.

The attendants looked at each other with a he's gone crazy look. Although he frequented that restaurant mainly for his business meetings that was the first time the attendants witnessed that type of behavior from him. He was usually a calm man who gave them big tips, but not tonight. His emotions took over him. His life had turned into complete disarray by a complete stranger with violet eyes in a black dress.

"Mom, what took you so long?" asked her ever curios daughter Andy. She was the more curios of the twins and technically the youngest of the family since she was born seconds after her brother Andy.

Following in a tradition she and her brother started, she decided to name her identical twins Andrea and Andrew with one nickname, Andy. She and her twin brother were named Samuel and Samantha, but they called each other Sam. They confused people when they called each other Sam, but they don't usually notice it. They started using it when they were younger to confuse people on purpose and had stuck; as they grew older it just became a habit.

"Well, if you must know darling, this very handsome man ran into me and knocked me down," she answered candidly. She then realized what she said. She had referred to the stranger as handsome. That was the first time in five years she ever noticed another man's looks.

"Sure mom," joked her oldest daughter Alyxandra. "You probably went number two because of all the food you ate." She started giggling, then all of them started to laugh. The whole van was shaking with laughter. At the age of fifteen, she already towers her mom's 5'9" height. Sometimes they mistook them for sisters instead of mother and daughter.

"Anyway, thanks for the celebration mom," Anthony changed the subject. "You too Uncle Sam. All your support means a lot to me. It's too bad Dad won't see me graduate," he added sadly. His father's death five years ago left him devastated. He was twelve going on thirteen when Alexander died in a car accident. It was a time when he needed a father the most, when a boy was slowly becoming a man. Sam moved in for a while to help his sister out with the kids. He became their male role model, but no one could take the place of their father.

At seventeen and about to graduate from high school Anthony still missed his dad. The twins were a little over 1 year old and Alyxandra was 10. The twins only really remember Sam and Tony as their dad, Alyxandra who was daddy's girl also missed her dad but when she turned twelve she looked more to her mom. That was the age she needed her mom, and Samantha did her best to always be there for her kids.

There were times when Samantha wanted to give up. The tragedy was a wake up call for her. She immediately changed her whole way of life. Now instead of fretting over trivial things like someone bumping into her, she just laughs it off or finds some humor in the incidents. The tone inside the van turned somber as they pulled up to their house. Everyone entered the house almost dragging his or her feet.

"Tony, can I talk to you for a while?" Samantha asked her son. They stayed outside on the porch while Sam took the other kids inside. "You know what, honey. You're father is with you all the time in your heart. He sees everything you do and I know that he is very proud of you just as I am." She paused to see if he was going to say anything. She continues, "You have come a long way and I know you can do whatever you put your mind to. But, I don't want you to forget that your family is here for you. I know there are things that you probably feel comfortable talking with another man, but you know that I am always available for you when you need to talk about anything." She smiled and lifted his head to meet hers. "You know I may not know a lot about what men go through, but I have a pretty good idea."

"Mom, you've always been there for me and you have been a great dad as well as a mom, but I just miss dad sometimes."

"I know, honey, I do too. But, you still have your brother, sisters and me right? You even have your Uncle Sam and Grandma and Grandpa. You have a lot of people who love you so don't you ever forget that."

"I know how lucky I am, and I am thankful that I still have all of you. Sometimes I am just afraid, that when I turn around, I might lose you too."

"Not a chance, sweetheart, you're going to have your mom hanging around you for quite a long time that you may just get sick of me. So, why don't we talk about your graduation, the graduation party, and college? I still can't get over it. You are going to Stanford." Tony's mood changed for the better. He's always dreamed of going to Stanford to study medicine. He wanted to be a doctor ever since he received his first doctor's toy kit. But most of all, he wanted to be a doctor just like his dad.

"Oh, yeah. Can I talk to you about college?" he sounded serious again. Samantha's heart dropped. She was thinking he might have changed his mind about going to college. "If it's okay with you, I'd like to live at home for my first year of school?" Samantha's heart started beating again.

"Of course, I just thought you might have wanted to live in the dorms and meet new friends on your first year of college."

"Nah, I want to hang out here as long as I can."

"Well, then we may have to make a few living arrangements."

"Like what?"

"Oh, maybe we'll have to give you guys your own room so that you can study better."

"Really?"

"Yeah, I guess we could turn the den into Andy's room, and you can stay in your room. Unless you want to go into the den and Andy stays into your room now."

"I think I want to move into the den, since it's downstairs and it was where dad always read his medical books to me."

"Okay, then it's settled. This summer, we will have to re-build the den into your room." She rubs his head.

"Mom," he complains, "I'm too old for that."

"You know you're never too old for anything to me. So come here and give me a hug." He hugged his mom and he felt safer and reassured once again. She could always do that for him even when he was feeling down. Mom always made everything better and he couldn't imagine ever living without her. He'd barely started to learn what it was like to be without his dad.