He knew that he had a deeply emotional and physical attachment to this woman in his dreams. She was not a fantasy. She was real, and he loved her completely. Who was she? Where was she?
He really appreciated all that she had done for him from the moment when she had helped him after he had wandered to that cafe covered in dust and cuts and bruises. He was suffering from amnesia and still could not remember his name or his past life.
All that he could remember was the beautiful blond woman and now memories of three children whom he knew were his. He had become suspicious that Aria did not want him to regain his memory. He knew that his heart was already taken, and that he needed to find his own place. He instinctively searched for and rented an apartment without her knowledge. Then he told her.
“Aria thank you for everything that you’ve done for me, but I’ve found my own place. I’m sorry, but although I care for you a great deal, I can’t give you what you want from me! I don’t love you the way that you love me. You are a lovely, warm woman, and I know you’ll find someone who loves you the way you deserve! I’ve found an apartment and I’m moving out!”
Months later, he decided to stop and have a drink after work. He was feeling tired and completely hopeless. Seeing the woman in his dreams would never be enough. He wanted to hold her in his arms again and feel her next to him.
He wanted to see her smile and hear her voice. Smell the scent of her hair. He wanted to love her and make love to her. He wanted to feel her love for him. He wanted to see his children grow and mature. He wanted to teach them and nurture them. Why couldn’t he remember? How did this happen?
He took a swallow of his beer and then glanced at the television. His eyes widened in shock. There she was on the television screen! The bartender was trying out a new satellite system and was about to change the channel when he jumped up from his seat.
“Wait! Don’t change it, please! ” He rushed closer and listened. She was a news anchor for a station in the United States. Now he knew her name and where she worked. Without any second thoughts he knew that he was going to Virginia and find her!
He went back to his apartment and called his supervisor to quit his job. Then he packed a suitcase and caught the next plane out.
Alissa was working as an anchor for a television station in Virginia. She had developed a good reputation in the industry and was well liked and popular with viewers. She knew that she should be happy and grateful for her life.
Although, she loved Alex and her children, she felt like there was an empty hole in her heart that nothing would fill. She’d felt this way ever since Dale’s death. She kept it hidden and only exposed it when alone. Sometimes the pain was so overwhelming that she had to have the release of crying.
She’d started going to the park on her lunch breaks. She’d find a lonely bench and sit, thinking or crying in privacy. That particular day was of no exception.
He checked into a hotel and then found the television station. As he asked for her at the receptionist’s desk, he saw her heading out the doors. He rushed to keep her in sight and followed her to a park.
“Why are you crying?’
She finally turned and looked at him. She was shocked when she first saw his face.
“Dale! Is it really you?”
“Dale?” He repeated.
Then he smiled, realizing that the name was his. Yes, Dale was his name.
“Yes, it’s really me!”
She climbed into his lap and held his face in her hands gazing deeply into his eyes, joyfully. As he returned her gaze, he began to feel at peace. For the first time in nearly two years, he knew that he was truly home. Alissa was his home!
Then Dale pulled her closer and kissed her lips. It was sheer bliss feeling the soft pressure of her lips against his own. At first his kisses were full of tenderness and questioning, then changed to hungry and urgent. They could not get enough of touching each other.
“Where have you been, Dale?”
“At first, no one spoke to me. Then a young woman who I later learned was Aria Massri came to help me. She took me to the hospital. I had suffered a blow to my head, and I had numerous cuts and bruises.”
“Yes. Aria brought me back to her apartment. She offered to let me stay at her place until I could get a place of my own. Since I didn’t know anyone else and couldn’t even remember my own name, of course I accepted her offer.”
He looked away from Alissa. Then he started back talking.
“Aria helped me to get a job at a marketing firm. It wasn’t long before our relationship became an intimate one, and she asked me to stay with her.”
“I thought I did, but I realize now that it was more gratitude than real love. I didn’t love her as much as she loved me. The main reason was because I was in love with a memory. Almost from the very beginning, I had what I thought were fantasies of a beautiful, voluptuous blond woman. Then I began to recognize that I had feelings for this woman. I started having the dreams while I was awake. Sometimes they became erotic. I felt feelings and emotions that I knew were unique between me and this woman. I never felt that way toward Aria.”
He gathered his thoughts. Then he said, “At first, I told Aria about the dreams. Then I realized that she was trying to convince me that they were dreams and not memories. I quit telling her about them. I never did tell her about the erotic ones because they were private. Eventually, she wanted a commitment from me. She was talking about marriage. I knew that I couldn’t give her what she wanted. She deserved someone who loved her as much as she loved them. I cared about her, but I wasn’t in love with her.”
Alissa had asked no questions. She was just listening quietly.
“Of course, she was a lovely girl, but she just wasn’t for me. My heart was already taken by a woman I might never see again! Anything else would be second best. A few months ago, I told her how I felt.”
“How did she take it?” Alissa asked.
“Not very well. I expected her to feel hurt, but her anger and her venom really shocked me. It brought out a side of her that I never suspected! She called me a stupid ingrate! She said that she had taken me in and taken care of me when no one else would! She said that she was the descendant of a princess, and I should be kissing the ground she walked on! She said that I was a bigger fool than she realized because I was lusting after some fantasy woman!”
Dale paused again. “I cut her off. Then I told her that I deeply appreciated everything that she had done for me, but it was over between us. Gratitude isn’t enough for the type of relationship that she wanted and that I wasn’t the right man for her. Then I packed my things and left. She still tried to contact me. She showed up at my job, and I tried to talk with her; but she was completely unreasonable. She made a huge scene and was barred from the premises. After that, I quit taking her calls and cut off my contact with her. A few days ago, I went to a bar after work. I was feeling hopeless because not only did I have memories of you, but I also had them of three beautiful children that I assume are ours.”
“Yes. They are ours!” Alissa answered.
“I didn’t know where to search for you! I felt so empty without you, Alissa. I didn’t see any reason to keep going day after day. I knew that I didn’t belong in Africa, but I didn’t know where I did belong.”
She squeezed his hand. She started to speak, but Dale continued.
I was watching the screen, when to my great joy I saw a news program from America. One of the anchors was a beautiful blond woman. My fantasy woman! She had the voice of an angel and as I listened it was as familiar as the sound of my own breathing. I stopped the bartender from changing the channel and rushed closer. When the program ended, you said your name and location. I am Alissa Stallworth, wishing you a goodnight from Andora, VA. So I had your name and location.
I quit my job, packed a suitcase with the few things that I wanted to keep and flew here. I checked into a hotel and headed to the station. I asked for you at the receptionist desk, and then was surprised to see you heading out of the building. I followed you here. You never answered my question. You were crying as though your heart were broken. Why were you crying, Alissa?”
“Dale, I…I got married again.”
“I thought that you were dead.” She told him what had happened in Al Simhara after the cave-in. “They said that there were no survivors. I don’t know how you managed to end up so far away in Aswan. I married your brother, Alex. We’ve been married for six months now!”
“I don’t want to hurt you, Dale; but yes, I do love him. I wouldn’t have married him if I didn’t love him, but the problem for me is that he’s not you, Dale!”
Dale felt a resurgence of hope. “That matters?”
“Oh, yes, it matters. I’ve tried not to let it matter, but it does. I could not get over losing you. The pain has been almost unbearable at times. It hasn’t gotten any easier. I tried grief counseling, but I could see that they didn’t understand. When you died a huge chunk of my heart went with you. I mean, when I thought that you were dead.”
“Since I am not dead, then technically you are still married to me! Come back to my hotel room with me before I have you right here in the park!”
She longed to be with him again, pushing aside any guilt she would feel later, “Alright, I’ll go with you, Dale.” She called her office and told them that she would not be in the rest of that day.
When they got to the hotel, after they entered the elevator, they couldn’t keep their hands off of one another. Their kisses were full of desire, rekindling the love they had always felt. Their hands roamed each others’ bodies, intensifying the heat between them. They were so absorbed in each other that they didn’t care nor notice that others were on the elevator with them. One of those in the elevator was a friend of Alex’s.
He recognized Alissa right away. He was there visiting friends and instead of getting off on his floor, he followed Alissa and Dale to see which room they went into. Once their door clicked shut, he immediately called Alex.
Thanks Kate, for making those wonderful poses for me!