Note: Ridley remembers his first kiss from a young girl who loved wearing strawberry flavored lip-gloss—he can't remember the girl, but when a familiar name shows up in the paper, he does some digging to find out if she might be the girl who shared a moment of love with him.
Chapter 1—Flash of Memory
Ridley Hess had been living a rather pleasant life in the suburbs with his canine companion, Wallace, who was a feisty, energetic, intelligent Scotty. He had a terrific job as an accountant and spent his spare time researching, playing video games and hanging out with his closest friends. He was a huge movie buff and was a whiz at trivia games. One of these days, he hoped to star on Jeopardy, but even if that never happened, he was happy being an ace at every game that came his way. There was no puzzle that Ridley couldn't solve, but he was always humble in his victories.
Ridley's life had its ups and downs but he didn't have anything to complain about. He had an existence only few could even dream of, even as a bachelor. But, this single lifestyle was about to come to an end when he started having dreams of the one girl he ever loved when he was young. Sure, he had love interests while growing up but his studies kept him on the move so he never had any time to date or give into a serious commitment. It wasn't that he didn't like commitment it was just the fact that he was ridiculously occupied in his life by work and being as popular as he was among his circle of friends.
Tranquil dreams usually came to Ridley when he was in delta sleep, but the dream he was having this night was different than any other he had experienced before, according to his memory, it was one of the strangest dreams he had experienced to date. Most of it was based upon actual fact. He was in grade school, and many girls were interested in him. Sure, he liked them all as friends, but there was only one girl he loved. He could never remember her name, but he remembered the taste of her lips. She wore strawberry lip gloss. It was never anything different but the sensation from the kiss was satisfying every time. She, appropriately enough, was a strawberry blonde who adored the color red and variations of the color. She didn't wear many other colors since she knew the red would bring out the peridot color of her sparkling green eyes. The boys loved her as much as the girls loved Ridley, but the two were crazy for one another.
"One of these days, Ridley, I swear it, we'll get married. We'll be amazingly happy as well, I know it !", she would always say in her peppy, idealistic way. Ridley, despite his pragmatism even at his young age, wanted to believe his closest friend in what she had said. However, after grade school, she moved away and he never saw her again.
It made absolutely no sense to Ridley why he would be dreaming of a girl he knew in grade school. He hadn't had any dreams considering romance in ages. It was even more unusual that he had remembered this particular dream since he never really recalled them when he awakened. He found it very bizarre and wondered if it could be an indicator of something. Shrugging off the idea that such a thing was possible, he dismissed it as a mere dream and nothing else.
Chapter 2—Coincidence ?
A loud thud was heard, causing Wallace to bark in alarm.
"Calm down, boy. It's probably just the morning paper.", Ridley said as he tousled the black fur on the back of his canine companion's neck. Already dressed and ready for the day with a cup of coffee by his side, he stepped outside and bent over to pick up the paper. He would have a little bit of time to read it before setting off to work. Sitting down to savor that cup of rich, dark perkiness, he read the front page and the photo of a young woman practically leapt out at him. He nearly choked on his coffee but calmed himself. Why was the woman in the photo so familiar ? She was wearing red and her eyes were the most alluring shade of green. Her hair was strawberry red and her lips looked as inviting as cherries kissed by the morning dew. He shook his head back and forth to take another look at the photograph of the young lady so vividly captured in the newspaper.
"Where do I know her from ?", he thought to himself. He couldn't think about that now, considering what time it was. Quickly, he petted Wallace on the head, saying his goodbyes and left for work in his navy blue Chrysler 300.
All day long, despite doing his best, Ridley couldn't stop thinking of the young woman named Katie Stetson. Her face still struck him in the most peculiar way. If he hadn't known any better, he could've sworn he was in love. However, he knew such a thing was illogical and folly. He couldn't love someone he only knew by mere words and one photograph. Realizing he would have to take matters into his own hands, he decided to unravel the mystery behind the blonde bombshell. Certainly there would be periodicals with her name in the local library. There was only one way to find the answers he sought.
Chapter 3—Research Bound
Ridley's closest friends, Luke and Marcos were concerned with him since he seemed too busy to bowl with them. He had become so wrapped up in looking for information on Ms. Stetson that he nearly forgot that he usually bowled with them over the weekend. Thankfully, he saw a text message from Luke on his cell phone and answered it. He had found some information on Katie, but the remainder of the research would have to be done later. Right now, it was more practical to be enjoying himself and knocking out his frustration at the alley.
"Man, Ridley, your game is really off tonight. What's up with that, huh ?", Luke asked, curiously. Ridley usually bowled perfect games but his focus had drifted considerably.
"You're not yourself. You've gotta open up to us, dude.", Marcos added, patting his friend on the back with his monstrous, yet gentle hand.
"It's about a lost love…I had a dream about her last night. And strangely, there's a woman in today's newspaper article reminded me of her.", Ridley confessed. Luke nudged his friend in the side playfully.
"Sounds like Mr. Hess has a crush on Ms. Mystery Woman. How thrilling.", he said, chuckling lightheartedly. Ridley blushed terribly, lowering his gaze.
"Hey, it's your turn again, Hess.", Marcos noted. Rolling his shoulders back and focusing on the middle pin in the row, Ridley set his sights on a strike. With a flawless roll, the ball easily knocked all the pins back and Ridley did a victory dance.
"Aw, yeah ! Rock on !", he exclaimed, still dancing.
"Thanks for evening out the game.", Marcos said, giving him a high-five. Even though the game had ended favorably, the friends had become rather intrigued about the enigmatic strawberry blonde that had caught the attention of their young friend. Seeing as they wanted him to find that which gave him true happiness, the two joined him in his quest to continue researching the lady and hopefully reunite to possible long-lost loves.
Chapter 4—Strawberry Blonde Meets Raven Haired Boy
At long last, the three friends were able to find Katie Stetson's phone number.
"Whatever happens, man, we wish you all the best of luck. Besides, you deserve it. It's not often that people get a second chance at first love.", Marcos said. Luke smiled and patted his friend on the back again.
"It's all up to you now, dude.", he said, before the two left to ride their bicycles around the neighborhood to leave Ridley alone to continue his quest to contact his potential lost love. As he was leaving the library, a young woman dressed in red started walking up the stairs to the entrance.
"Katie ?", he questioned, nervously, his hands shaking a bit from seeing her so close that he could almost reach out and embrace her.
"Yes ? Do I know you ?", she asked, raising a quizzical eyebrow and removing her purple-tinted sunglasses. In a flash of memory, he saw the little girl he once knew during grade school, giggling and grinning at him as she usually had. Her demeanor was still very genteel, even though she had been quite the tomboy.
"I think you just might. I'm Ridley Hess.", Ridley said, reaching out his hand.
"Oh my GOSH ! I thought it was you !", the strawberry blonde said, suddenly reaching out to hug him. Ridley's expression went from shock into divine bliss. He hoped that this moment never ended. She even smelled the same as she had then, like freshly cut roses with a hint of plum.
She took his hand as they walked into the library to chat quietly. They began to reconnect and it seemed that Katie too, had a very charmed life. She had her circle of friends, was quite the social butterfly and had a Scottie dog of her own. Her dog was named Marian, like Maid Marian from Robin Hood lore. The coincidences and likenesses were a bit scary at times, but Ridley knew a greater power was at work.
"Do you suppose it would be improper for me to ask you if we could start where we left off ?", Ridley questioned, his heart palpitating wildly, his palms sweating and his face hot from embarrassment. He could barely look the young woman in the eyes after such a bold request.
"Yes, I think that would be magnificent. But, I want to take everything steadily. I hope that you're not upset by that. I wouldn't want to harm the friendship we have had, after all.", Katie said, smiling radiantly as she patted his hands. He couldn't help but blush at her touch. It was as he recalled, soft, tender
Chapter 5—One of the Guys
Katie wasn't jealous if Ridley wanted to hang out with Marcos and Luke. In fact, she welcomed it. She often asked if she could come along, since she too, enjoyed many activities that were considered "male related". She wasn't brash or rude, and maintained her ladylike qualities when she and the guys hung out with one another. Strangely, she even beat Ridley's score in bowling and could exceed his "frag count" in laser tag.
"Is there anything your girlfriend isn't an expert at ?", Luke would say after a getting hit again by Katie's sneak attack.
"Yes, knitting. No matter what I do, I can't seem to get the hang of it !", Katie said as she landed another kill on Marcos and then Ridley.
"Come on ! That's not fair, Kate !", Marcos whined, and then admitted defeat. He had been hit enough times that his life points were depleted and he was out of the game. Luke and Ridley had very few life points left, but Luke then thought of a diversionary tactic. He pretended as if he was hurt and Ridley ran around Katie to hit her from behind. However, she sensed the ruse and hit Ridley, counting him out of the game.
"Run while you can, Luke ! She's berserk !", Ridley called as Luke scrambled to get back up to his feet. Before she could do so, he was hit and Katie had won the game once more.
"Ha-ha ! Victory !", she said, flashing a exuberant "V" expressing her triumph again. She then comforted the others.
"Look, I was taking it easy on you, but you left yourselves open to my counterattacks.", she confessed, hoping her words would boost their confidence.
"Remind me never to ask her along…", Marcos panted, teasing Katie as he usually did in the past. Katie chuckled.
"You know I'm going to make it up to you…Pizza's on me.", Katie stated with a generous grin.
"Dude, you are so lucky…Does Katie have any sisters ?", Marcos whispered to his friend. Ridley, shook his head left and right and rolled his eyes. Sometimes Marcos could be so immature at times, but then again, they all were given their moments.
As the four of them sat down to enjoy a thin crust pizza with the works, they spoke of current events, politics, cars, sports, the economy and lastly, Ridley's relationship with Katie. They had only been going out for about a year now, and she was sporting a promise ring he had given her only a couple weeks ago.
"You two are definitely perfect for each other. It's like fate brought you back together.", Luke said, getting a little weepy. Luke loathed weeping in front of anyone, particularly his guy friends. The others didn't judge him for it since they knew he was a tender-hearted individual. In fact, the two had been planning to get married a couple years down the road.
"I'll never forget the time Ridley was going on and on about your engagement. He put the ring in your drink and you almost swallowed it !", Marcos said, laughing until his sides hurt. Katie couldn't help but laugh at that bizarre and beautiful memory. It was a momentous occasion, and she would never forget it. She thought it was unlikely that she would be spending time again with the only boy she had ever come to love, but it seemed that indeed, their kismet was to be together for as long as they lived.
A couple years passed and Ridley and Katie were finally united as husband and wife. It seemed like something that could only happen within the realm of a fairy tale or the fantastical, but it had occurred for the two of them. Marcos and Luke were attending as Ridley's best men as well as his other close friends. Katie's best girls attended as bridesmaids and the two had their first kiss as husband and wife.
To this day, Ridley and Katie are close and still spend a lot of time together with their friends even though married life keeps them plenty busy. Their two gorgeous children, Maxine and Terrance keep them occupied, but the two are growing up in a loving, caring and enriching environment. The little ones would be maturing as well-rounded individuals, the treasures of their parent's lives. No matter what happened, they knew they would be loved and protected by mom and dad and that mom and dad's friends, relatives, and yes, even their grandparents, would be there for them with whatever questions or problems they would have. And in essence, they were the most blessed kids in the world with all of this at grasp of a telephone, some taps on a keyboard or a click of a mouse.