He was everything she thought she’d ever wanted. Attentive, affectionate, athletic, and thoughtful; qualities she never expected to find in a man. Everyday, he would come down to her office and leave love poems on her desk. Sometimes he even added flowers or her favorite chocolates and snacks. She would reward his efforts with a sweet smile of appreciation, although she wasn’t interested in seeing anyone. As days became weeks and months, she was first to notice that his persistence was eroding her resolve. Little by little her heart was awakening as she began to look forward to what he would leave on her desk. What was her problem? He was handsome, successful, and single! Why was she being so cautious? After all, her friends liked him. The moment that tipped the scale had to be when he strode over and placed two tickets on her desk with a note that said, “Girl’s night out is on me.” Her best friend screamed with excitement as she scooped up the Kem concert tickets and rejoiced throughout the work area.
She crumbled. He’d won her heart.
Paul was the new Executive Vice-President at her IT Solutions firm. When he arrived for work his first day, he couldn’t help but notice the subtle flirtations from many of his female coworkers. Thank God he had chosen his outfit well for today. Last night, he had lain out his chocolate pinstriped suit with cuffed pants, crisp cream shirt, diamond cuff links, and pink/chocolate tie. He combed his hair asymmetrically so that he resembled one of the GQ models. The extra time spent examining his appearance before he stepped out the door was worth the desired effects. It was several weeks before he noticed the brilliant, quiet, beauty on the elevator next to him. He’d seen one of her presentations and was impressed with her intelligence and attention to detail. She replied politely to his small talk but didn’t seem interested in getting to know him. With his good looks and chiseled body, Paul was used to having women fawn all over him. This young woman was not giving him the time of day. He was determined to know why.
At least twice a week, Paul made a point of walking through her floor on frivolous business before taking the elevator two floors up to his office. Although the other women seemed to be pleased at seeing him smile at them, she often never looked up from her work. Later, he began to try to make small talk with her at her desk, the break-room or, sometimes, the elevator. She was always cordial, but she was not interested in letting him get to know her. Paul soon realized she would be a good catch, and he was an expert hunter! The next few months were a blur of flowers, cards, candy, stolen glances, and intentional meetings.
About six months after she agreed to go out with him, his new expressions of love became less acceptable. For instance, if she went inside the store while he sat in the car, he would remark that men were looking at her when she walked. Sometimes he would even question her clothing decisions! Love really is blind. She never realized the warning signs before, she only saw love. The change was so gradual that before she knew it, the poems stopped coming and the flowers could no longer find her desk.
One day, as they were out on a movie date, he suddenly grabbed her by the throat and told her to stop making those other men look at her. She was stunned! What did he mean? What had she done wrong? Had she even noticed the other men in the parking lot? Did she smile at them? She was sure she’d subconsciously kept her head down. She didn’t want to upset him. After all, she was wearing the new outfit he had picked out for her. He quickly apologized and bought her a beautiful necklace after the movie. He was perfect and she was ruining it. Get it together girl, or you will lose him!
The flashes of anger in his eyes that night never left her memory. Throughout it all, he’d be genuinely sorry, bring her gifts of reconciliation, and hold her while they cried together. Her life became a roller coaster of highs and lows. He’d get angry, push, pull, or hit her to make her “understand how much he loved her,” and apologize by buying her “gifts” of flowers and candy to express his love for her. Her friends at work would be green with envy as each new bouquet of flowers or candy arrived on her desk. They never realized the price associated with these “spoils of war.”
These temporary concealers of her emotional state did little to mask the physical bruises on her face, neck, and arms. What happened to her dream guy? And who was this dolt that had taken his place? She prayed to God to fix him. She should have been praying to have God fix her.
Oh, how many times had she prayed for God to change him? She knew he was a good man. Her friends and coworkers even envied their relationship. He only needed to be given more credit at his job for the quality of his work, more opportunity to get ahead in life, more appreciation for all of the things he tries to do for her. How can she make things easier for him so that he doesn’t have to feel frustrated after a long, hard day at work? Their lives would be like a fairy tale if only she could help him bring his anger and jealously under control. After all, how would she feel if women kept looking at him or he kept doing things to make her angry?
Today would be a great day! All of her projects had been completed on time. The presentation had been so well-received; it had generated three proposals for the company. She was so happy, she felt light-headed. Had she forgotten to eat lunch today? Time to raid the snack drawer! Just then, her assistant announced her latest delivery a bouquet of roses accompanied by a box of chocolates! Had God heard her prayers? Thank you God! She couldn’t wait to tell him about this awesome day at work. She hurriedly packed her things while leaving the flowers on her desk because there were plenty at home.
He was late. Did he remember they had dinner plans? After all, she’d left work a little early to stop by the supermarket. She had planned a romantic dinner complete with mood music and candle lights. Had she forgotten to tell him to come over for six?
At seven-thirty, her doorbell rang. Her heart sank before she open the door and saw his face. He’d had a lousy day at work today. The boss blamed him for a late shipment that cost the company hundreds of dollars. He stopped by the bar when he left work because was sick of being the scapegoat when things went wrong. She offered him a glass of wine as she began to sit down to dinner. He wasn’t hungry. Reluctant to mention the work she’d put in to make this night memorable, she ate in silence while he rambled on about being blamed for everything at work. When she rose to begin clearing the table, he asked about her day and the flowers he’d sent. She noticed the start of a small fire in his eyes when he asked why she didn’t bring them home. She stammered out an explanation about wanting to leave them at work because she had fresh flowers at home. Turning toward the kitchen, she stumbled and used the chair to steady herself. He closed the distance between them before she had the chance to get a firm grip on her dinner plate. It came crashing to the floor and shattered around her feet. He grabbed tightly onto her wrist and told her she never appreciates anything he does. He called her clumsy and assured her that no one else would do the things he does for her. She held her breath as she waited for the assault of his words to suffocate her heart. After what seemed like an eternity. He released her and strode out the door. Why couldn’t she just offer him comfort? That’s all he needed right now.
She looked around the room at the emptiness and the unspent wine bottle. She never heard the flickering lights of the still-lit candles warning her of impending troubles. After clearing the table and cleaning the kitchen, she took a long bath and went to bed. Somehow, her stomach couldn’t unravel the knots he so tightly tied in her gut. She rose and wretched until well after midnight.
She knew what she had to do. After all, she loved this man and was determined not to let him get away. If only she could figure out how to avoid the things that set him off. If he’d had a bad day at work, she would make sure he was pampered when he came to see her. But first, she had to figure out why she was feeling so tired and run down! She rose earlier than usual, had her morning cup of coffee, one last check in the mirror, and she was out the door. When she arrived, she immediately found her assistant and had her make an appointment with her physician the following day. She knew he had a week-long business trip and would not be in his office. She didn’t have to worry about awkwardly running into him at work. She doggedly worked on her proposal for most of the day. A cool cup of iced coffee and her presentation was spot on! Her bosses beamed with approval as she basked in the afterglow of a job well done. Before she could get back to her desk, there was a congratulatory delivery of the most beautiful bouquet of spring blossoms she’d ever seen. Wow! Good news travels fast! She sat back to soak in her latest achievement and was startled by the sound of her assistant announcing a phone call. Her doctor had a cancellation and could see her late that same afternoon. With a perfunctory good bye, she hurried out the door.
The familiar smell of sterility and alcohol assaulted her nostrils as soon as she stepped into the clinic. She signed in and prayed for a short wait. Deep in thought, she almost didn’t hear the nurse call her to the examination room. Though she kept herself in shape, she dreaded the routine weigh-in and blood pressure check. When Dr. Russell came into the room, he greeted her with the same sweet, genuine smile that she remembered from early adolescence. They engaged in small talk while she described her symptoms. Blood tests revealed she was severely anemic. More tests were ordered to determine the root cause of such low levels. In the interim, she was placed on iron supplements and given a return appointment one week later.
When he called later that evening, she showered him with gratitude for the beautiful arrangement and for his thoughtfulness. Mentioning the doctor’s prognosis in passing, she assured him that everything was fine. He asked her to meet him at the Top of the Tower for dinner upon his return. This sounded like the man she’d fallen in love with.
Dinner was divine. He’d gone shopping and bought her perfume and a beautiful heart-shaped diamond necklace. Wow! How did he find time to do this what with all of his meetings? She was walking on air by the time they left the restaurant. He followed her home in his car, got out, told her goodnight, and kissed her forehead. She dreamed happy dreams that night.
The next day, as she was working on a new project, she got a call from Dr. Russell. He was very concerned about her test results and needed to schedule additional tests, possibly even a transfusion! She cleared her schedule and prepared for her treatment. She had no idea needing the transfusion would only be the tip of the iceberg.