Morgan’s mobile rang. She walked away from the group of men to take the call.
“Morgan, how are you lovely? Did you have a good flight?” The familiar voice on the other side of the line was Ann Surrey, a very distinguished fiction writer, and Morgan’s oldest friend. Ann had invited Morgan to join her at her holiday home in Woodstock—a haven for artists, musicians, and writers. Morgan would be visiting after she finished with her commitments in New York.
“It was alright. I’m just completely travelled out right now.”
“I can imagine. How long have you been on the road with this speaking tour?”
“Over six months. I really need to go back to London and take a few months off. But first I want to see you. I can’t believe we’ll be together again in just a few days. How's Don Quixote?”
“Sitting on my lap, purring like a diva, demanding to be petted. He’s becoming a fat, lazy bum. So, what’s new?”
“All is well; the Foundation is finally getting the attention and support it deserves. I’m hopeful we’ll start making a larger impact in the coming years.”
“I have no doubt, superwoman. You always achieve anything you set your mind on. I don’t know anyone more tenacious and persistent than you. But, how is the love life going.”
“You know I gave up on that a long, long time ago. My high expectations don’t match my plain looks.” Morgan laughed.
“Nonsense. Put yourself out there beautiful. At some point, you need to get off your pedestal and make yourself available. Take some risks. I’m getting tired of seeing you drive the good ones away to avoid getting hurt.”
“I wish I knew how, my friend. Are you enjoying—”
“Is there anyone that is sparking your interest?”
“No one. Well... apart from the broody Greek God that I met yesterday."
“How exciting. What does he do?"
“He’s way out of my league. Successful, cultured, seems kind and the most good-looking man I've ever seen.”
“He does sound a bit intimidating. Single?”
“I don’t know. I feel such a strong connection to him, it’s ridiculous; we barely spoke.”
“Perhaps you could use him to practice getting out there. What could possibly go wrong? A bit of heartache never killed anyone.”
“I suspect falling for this guy would be the death of me.”
“But you just told me he’s perfect.”
“I don’t know what he is exactly. Probably rich, privileged and spoiled. Looks like that. I bet he's used to having the world at his feet. They have it so easy, these types, you know—the tall, Caucasian, wealthy, handsome men. Doors open, opportunities come knocking. Makes me so mad.”
“Promise me that you won’t close like a clam. Give yourself a chance darling. You can’t walk around teaching girls to practice self-esteem when you have none. Remember to practice what you preach.”
“I wasn't talking about self-esteem. And, there are many ways to give and receive love without embarking on romantic relationships.”
“Those words may be empowering to others, but you don't fool me. Don’t hide under that veil of preachy superiority. It’s in our nature to fall madly in love and to have mind-blowing sex.” Ann laughed.
“That stung a bit, you bully. I don’t need it. I have plenty of meaning in my life.”
“It stung because you know I’m right. Give your brain a day off. Can’t you fight stereotypes without rejecting your female sensibilities and sexuality?”
“I don’t know, and I don't want to talk about it right now. See you on Saturday my dear.”
“Do you need me to pick you up?”
“No thanks, it’s all arranged. I’ll give you a call when I’m on my way.”
Morgan lifted her head to look at Gabriel, who stood on the other side of the fountain, observing her attentively. She couldn’t help herself; the discomfort in her own skin magnified every time he looked at her. She felt ashamed, unworthy and angry with herself. She was a fraud to her community of girls and young women. She raised her head and walked toward him with a smile.Perhaps you are indeed perfect. She thought, absorbing his heavenly glow. Can I trust you with my flaws? A shiver went down her spine when she heard his voice inside her head. Yes, you can.