The Jackson home in their cul-de-sac had been sold soon after Amber went to boarding college. Tad Jackson on his release from the army was recruited as a consultant to one of the government departments so was now located in the capital where his current work was. It was natural then that through his influence Amber was offered a government job in social services which happened to be the career of her choice. So, Amber stayed with her father in the initial years following graduation before being persuaded by friends she’d made to join them in sharing an apartment of their own. Tad Jackson travelled a lot in his work so Amber found it lonely coming home from work in the evenings to an empty home with no one to talk to. Having joined her friends in sharing the new apartment evenings were now a round of activities shared with them either at the apartment or clubbing. Marcus and she had been in regular correspondence during her college years but with graduation and the full-on programs each of the two had now in their respective jobs that correspondence began to taper off.
Meanwhile the Huber’s had drifted into a lonely sense of isolation. Their relatives were all in Germany now that Europe had become a powerhouse of innovation and manufacturing. Those who’d migrated with the Huber’s had returned to enjoy this re-emerging of Europe post war where they were most at home, but the Huber’s had chosen to remain having become accustomed to the lifestyle of this country. They had pleasant interactions with the community and were involved in various community projects but the closest they’d come to a family relationship in this country was with Brenda Jackson and her daughter who were around no more. They looked with envy as those they knew in the community had family get togethers at times of celebration each year. They missed the vacation visits by Amber when she was in college and eagerly devoured an occasional letter she wrote.
It was time for annual vacation and all Amber’s friends would be away with their families over the break. Tad Jackson would be travelling overseas for the government and invited Amber to join him but when Amber looked at this planned program, she could see there was only brief times during that trip where father and daughter could bond together as he’d be in meetings. So, she declined to join Tad and he could understand why. Two of her friends had invited her to join their families in celebration but she felt she’d be the odd person with unfamiliar families in an unfamiliar place. She felt miserable and after some thought picked up her cell phone and punched in a number. A familiar voice on the other end of the line answered.
“Hi, your have reached the phone of Marcus Huber. I’m not available now but if you leave a message, I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”
Amber put the cell phone back on the table and burst into tears. It was that time of month. Five minutes later the phone rang, and she picked it up.
That same voice spoke. “Sorry I was not able to get to the phone on time. Who am I speaking to?”
There was a pause as Amber processed his words. How come he didn’t know who was phoning him? Then she remembered she’d forgotten to inform everyone of her latest change of phone numbers. Her phone had been hacked recently and the telecom company had replaced the number.
“Sorry Marcus I forgot to notify everyone of the new number after my phone was hacked. This is Amber.” She burst into tears again.
Marcus was alarmed. “Amber what’s going on?” Amber poured out her loneliness and frustration while Marcus listened. Finally, when she’d run out of tears, he spoke.
“Amber I’m coming to collect you and bring you home.”
Now it was Amber’s turn to be alarmed. She’d only wanted to have someone listen to her in her loneliness, but she should have understood that doing this with a man was not like doing it with a woman. Women will listen while another woman calms down after debriefing. Guys are wired to be fixit men and want to intervene and come up with a solution instantly. Marcus lived almost a thousand kilometers from where she was now located. What kind of impractical solution was he offering here? She calmed down quickly.
“Marcus that is really kind of you but quite impractical. You live so far away from me now how were you intending to bring me home?”
She laughed softly but wished it could be true. Suddenly, she wanted to be with Alishia who she now considered her substitute mother and the warmth of the Huber family during this celebration. They were her real family. Her father who she loved had spent little time with her in her life and that and the sudden death of the mother she adored had left its mark on her. So many young men had tried their luck to get her attention, but she was not willing to risk a relationship that could be taken from her in an instant like her mother’s departure, or to be married to a man who spent most of their marriage away from home. Better she be friendly but not involved. The Huber’s were different, and she wondered if she could take a flight to be with them this celebration.
Marcus spoke. “Amber, I want to spend the vacation with you, and you don’t seem to have any place to go judging from your conversation. I’ve really missed you but thought you’d have other interests now and I’d be too dull for your chosen lifestyle there. Your father is an important official and way above our class. I have felt lost all these years we’ve been separated but understood you would be looking for friends of your social class. If you want to join us for vacation, I will come and collect you personally.”
“Dear Marcus, there is no social class consideration between you and me. Of course, I’d want to join the Huber’s for vacation but don’t want to intrude if you are in a relationship with someone else and I’d be an intrusion on your special time with her.”
Marcus laughed. “Amber only you could put up with me. I have no one special in my life expect you.”
Amber was smiling now. “Marcus its impractical for you to drive here as by the time you got here half the vacation would be over. Then you must make the journey back and do it all over again afterward in reverse. I’ll hang up and book a flight online then phone you back to give you the details so you can pick me up at the airport. I’m looking forward to being with you this vacation.” She cut the line and then made the booking online sending a copy of the details through message to Marcus phone. Then she redialed his number to check the message had got through and they talked for two hours after that.
The Huber’s met Amber at the airport and as she approached the arrivals carousel to collect her luggage, she spied Marcus standing by the carousel watching intently as the priority luggage arrived. Alishia saw Amber first and ran to embrace her kissing her multiple times on both cheeks. Andreas was not far behind and behind him came Marcus grinning widely as he pulled a heavy suitcase behind him.
“Is it OK for me to give you a kiss too?”
Amber snapped to attention playfully and saluted. “Greeting’s Roman god Marcus, I’d be delighted to have this god kiss me too.”
Marcus and Alishia who remembered the experience long ago laughed loudly while Andreas looked on in puzzlement not knowing the joke.
“The family is together again.” Said Andreas happily.
The vacation was a very happy time, but this time Alishia didn’t snoop around the corridors when her two children went and sat on the floor together in Marcus room or went off by themselves. She hoped against hope the two would see they were meant to be together for life and watched eagerly as her two children bonded all over again.
The two disappeared one day without explanation and returned in the evening looking happy. Amber went up to Alishia who welcomed her at the door on their arrival. “I’ve got a surprise to show you both where’s Father Andreas?”
Alishia led them to the family room where Andreas sat reading his evening paper.
“Father our two children have a surprise for us.” Andreas looked up in surprise and put down the paper.
Marcus spoke. “I asked Amber to marry me, and she said yes. We have been out and spent the afternoon searching for engagement and wedding rings.”
Andreas leaped out of his chair and just made it to Amber before his wife hugging her and kissing her on both cheeks while Marcus looked on approvingly.
Amber eagerly reached into the shopping bag and withdrew the rings jumping up and down in excitement as she did. The two women went off into a huddle with arms around each other.
Amber spoke. “Now I have another reason to call you Mom she said to her future mother-in-law.
“I wish I didn’t have to go back to the capital now but do have to give three months’ notice in my present job according to contract. Then I’m coming home, and we can plan the wedding together. Marcus and I want the wedding as soon as possible and then we’ll go for our honeymoon and when that’s over I will look for a job here in social work as that’s my training and experience. Now I need to go to my room and contact Dad if he’s available to take the call overseas. If he’s not, then I’ll have to message him and ask for a time when I can phone him.”
Each of them had an unsettled night as they talked until the wee hours about the wedding and Amber tried multiple times to contact her father. Eventually she was successful and received her father’s blessing. Next day the weary four had a more subdued breakfast together as they nursed their hangovers from lack of sleep. But there was an atmosphere of happiness that made the headaches bearable, and Amber had some glad news to share. Her dad had pledged a substantial deposit on a home of their choice as a wedding gift and promised to rearrange his appointment schedules so he could attend the wedding.
Marcus and Amber decided on a home wedding with just a few family members in attendance. Andreas insisted that there be a reception with invitations for that reception to those who they’d worked with in the community over the years and any friends Amber and Marcus may wish to invite from their high school days. It ended us being a large reception which Andreas was happy to pay for and included some of Ambers friends from the capital city where she’d worked. With so much interest expressed in the wedding it was decided the wedding should take place in a wedding function complex where those who wished could attend both ceremonies.
It was a stressful time working out all the details in the limited time given by Amber and Marcus and the wedding day did have its challenges but as Marcus contemplated his new bride in the motel room before taking off to vacation in Hawaii next day, he sat on the side of the bed looking at Amber now his wife.
“Amber I just can’t fathom how you came to say yes to me when I asked you to marry me. I was overcome by your beauty and the feeling of peace I have whenever I’m with you at that lunch time at the restaurant I just couldn’t resist trying my luck. I always hoped we could spend our life together and this is a dream come true.”
“I was hoping you’d ask me when my college work was completed Marcus but when you didn’t, and my work took me so far away from here I must confess to giving up hope. While there were many young men who pursued me somehow, they didn’t match up to you in my mind. Losing my mom and having dad always on the road made me fearful of being left alone in a marriage but I knew your family and you were a stable bet if you’d only ask me. I’m so glad you did, and your chosen profession doesn’t have you travelling away from me. Promise me you’ll never take on such a job because I need to have you with me to make up for my dysfunctional upbringing and feelings of insecurity.”
“You have my word, Amber. You will be first in my life, our families next and of course work which is necessary as we get established though important will be third place.”
Amber sighed contentedly and reached over to seal their love with a kiss.
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