“Doug, Karen, I just want to thank you so much for inviting me to your tenth wedding anniversary party. It is truly an honor to be here.”
“It is our honor to have you here Raul. We consider you to be a dear friend; I know my husband does.”
Karen patted her husband on the top of his hand as they all shared a laugh. Doug and Raul had known one another for only three months but their common interests helped them to become fast friends. Both men were big Florida State Seminole fans, employed in law enforcement and avid fishermen with their own boats. Raul admired how in love his friends still were after so many years. He wondered how they met, so he asked and was told a tale of salacious serendipity, cop love.
“So Doug, Karen how did you two meet anyway? I know there has got to be some romantic story about love at first sight or something.”
Doug and Karen laughed together then they stood up and sat on either side of their new best friend. Doug put his arm around his buddy’s neck.
“You really want to know?”
“Yes. What is it? I’ve got to know now.”
“Okay, here we go. “
They both stood up and took their seats sitting across from him again. After laughing and shaking his head one last time, Doug started the sorted tale of how he met his lovely wife of ten years. The jovial smile on his face dissipated, replace by a stern frowned brow.
“I was in a real dark place when me and Karen met. My wife was divorcing me for cheating and she was giving me a hard time about visitation of our daughter. I was all alone and lonely. Then I met this girl. She was dating a coworker of mine but he wasn’t that in to her. He told me she was crazy. I didn’t care. She was wild and exotic, British or something. Eventually after weeks of me doing chores and running errands for her; she let me have some. I knew she was hung up on him but I didn’t care. I just didn’t want to be alone.”
Doug paused and took a sip of his champagne before continuing on.
“Well, I found out that what my friend said about that chick was true, she was crazy. This broad actually drugged herself and told the cops I drugged and raped her. She had bruises because she told me she wanted it rough. The crazy woman banged herself around while we were doing it to. I got arrested and suspended from my job. She did all of this just to make him take her back. She told him that she would drop the charges if he did.”
His wife rubbed his back as he took another sip before continuing on with his painful life story.
“I was disgraced in front of my squad and family. It took a while but eventually it all blew over. My friend who I somewhat betrayed convinced her to tell the truth and drop the charges. When I finally got back on the job I felt more empty than ever. Eventually I got my gold shield and with that came more responsibilities and longer hours. I craved more work because my time off was like slow torture. I drank more. Ultimately I sought female company in lower places.”
He looked over at his wife; they shared a knowing smile. Raul tried to figure out what they had yet to tell him. Karen took over the story for her husband.
“Well during this time I was working vice. I had just made detective four months earlier and I was psyched. I was trying to pop every jon in Orange County. One night I got approached on the street by this tall handsome man. He pulled up in his sedan and asked me for a date.”
Raul thought that he finally knew their story so excitedly he blurted it out.
“You mean Doug was the jon?!”
Karen looked shocked and surprised.
“No, oh God, no.”
Raul was embarrassed.
“Oh, I am so sorry. Please forgive me, I didn’t mean to…”
Karen quickly let him off the hook by interrupting him.
“No, he wasn’t that jon. That guy had no money so I sent him packing. I ran into Doug in the hallway of the motel I was using after I kicked out my guy. Being ambitious, always looking for the next bust, I flirted with him and asked him if he was looking for some company.”
Doug tapped in to continue the story.
“I could tell by the way that she was dressed what she was but then I thought to myself, what the hell? When we got into the room she saw my gold badge. Then she kind of hushed me up and showed me her badge and wire. I whispered, this is a sting? She didn’t answer, she just started yelling at me.”
The loving couple squeezed one another hands as Karen continued on.
“I was like if you ain’t got no money why you wasting my time. Get yo broke ass outta here trick! The guys in the truck ate it up. It tickled them to hear me talk like that. They joked about it for weeks. The next day I went to his squad and gave him a piece of my mind about him disgracing the badge. His squad had a few scandals in the previous months and I didn’t want to do more to stain their department. But in scolding Doug, I learned something about him. He made a plea to me that really touched my heart.”
“I just told her, Raul, how much I was hurting and how dark of a place I was in after going through all that I had. Being a homicide detective didn’t help much either. The dead bodies weren’t a lot of comfort. She told me that she couldn’t stand cops who disrespected the badge but more than that, she hated liars. Karen thought that I did that sort of thing all the time but it wasn’t true. I looked deep into her eyes and told her as much. I guess I looked so pitiful that she somewhat believed me. But before she stormed off she warned me to keep my nose clean and keep my little buddy in my pants. Just, she didn’t say it so nice.”
The three of them laughed together. Doug put his arm around his wife and gave her a side hug as they sat. Doug shared with Raul how smitten he was by the tough vice detective.
“It was something about that tough woman that really struck me. I thought initially that it was because I was hurting so bad but it was far more than that. I tracked her down at her station and waited for her in the parking lot. She really wasn’t very receptive but she didn’t completely shut me down so I knew there was some hope. She told me that she didn’t really date cops; so to me that meant she possibly would. I had to make a way to see her again.”
“I was shocked when he pulled up on me on the stroll. At first I thought he was back at it, trying to find a date. But then, he handed me a bouquet of flowers. I quickly pushed them back in his car. I didn’t want my cover blown. He asked me out again and I reminded him that I didn’t date. So he asked me if I ate and if I did could he possibly share a meal with me sometime. He was trying to be clever but I thought it was cute. I told him that I would think about it and then I shooed him off.”
Karen turned and kissed her man on his round cheek.
“A couple of days after that, I was approached by a young street walker outside of the station who seemed to have just been released from jail. She said that she needed a ride but she didn’t have any money. She wanted me to take her and in return she would make me feel good. I handed her a twenty dollar bill and told her that I would have dispatch call her a cab. As I got in my car and started the engine I saw Karen pull up next to me. She looked at me kinder than she ever had before.”
He looked over to her, his smile was met by hers. Then Raul chimed in.
“Ah kiss her already.”
Again the friends laughed together. Then did Doug and Karen did as they were told. After kissing her husband lovingly Karen took over the story.
“So I told him that I was now hungry. He let me know that he knew what I did, but I had to know if he had told me the truth. Some of these guys just can’t help themselves and most of them will never change. We left that parking lot and made our way to the closest pizzeria. We shared a pie and we have been eating together every since.”
Raul just smiled a shook his head from side to side slowly, smiling with tears in his eyes.
“That might be the most beautiful love story I have ever heard. That’s just wonderful.”
“Now Raul, you are part of our story. Sharing in this day, we consider you family. Thank you for being here brother.”
Tough Raul could no longer control his emotions. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he hugged his friend. Karen joined in their embrace.
“I can’t wait to find what you two have. When I do find it; I will never let it or her go. I’ll cherish it forever.”
Karen smiled looking over Raul’s shoulder. Then Doug walked up to Raul and whispered in his ear.
“That’s what we were hoping you’d say.”
Karen called out to the person in the corridor.
“Please, come join us.”
Raul turned to see the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life but then there was something familiar about her. Little did he realize, Doug had been working on him for the past month. His friend asked him leading questions about his feelings on relationships. He answered truthfully in the dark. Doug started to ask his buddy what his type was. Raul didn’t really have a “type” so Doug nudged him along by showing him photos. He showed him a picture online of this green eyed, brown haired beauty with the prettiest of smiles.
“What about this girl here? Do you think she is woman you would like to date?”
Raul blushed a little bit.
“Well yeah but, I don’t know anything about her.”
Doug read from her profile.
“Well it says here she is a veterinarian but has no pets. Cute. She is a sports fan who loves her Florida State Seminoles above all other teams.”
“You know we love our Noles. How old is this girl anyway?”
“Um, she’s twenty-seven and she is a graduate of Florida State.”
“That’s a little young.”
“It says here that she was looking for a mature man with ambitions of finding a love for a lifetime.”
“Well that’s kinda poetic. She sounds great.”
Then reality settled in on Raul.
“But I’ll never meet anyone like that. It seems like love just isn’t in the cards for me my friend. But hey, I’m fine. I have a great life.”
Doug patted him on the shoulder.
“Yes you do my friend but, it could be just a little bit better, uh.”
The friends shared a look then chortle.
Karen didn’t have to be quite as deceptive and stealth with her friend and veterinarian Sheila Shields. The two became fast friends for Sheila was wise beyond her years. Karen loved the younger woman’s old soul and sensible ways. She thought her to have everything she needed in life, except love. Karen told Sheila all about her friend Raul and his history. She showed her photos of him and asked her what she thought. She thought Raul to be somewhat handsome but she was more concerned with the kind of man he is. After some persuading Sheila agreed to meet Raul at Karen and Doug’s ten year wedding anniversary.
For Raul, it was love at first sight. For Karen it was just a pleasure to meet a good guy that had been properly vetted by her good friend. They were introduced by Karen.
“Sheila this is our dear friend Raul, Raul, Sheila.”
They met one another in the middle of the room and Sheila extended her hand to shake Raul’s. He turned her hand palm down and kissed the top of it. She was impressed.
“It is a pleasure to meet you Shelia.”
Sheila was a sucker for a gentleman. Doug spoke up.
“Well we are going to give you two a little time to get acquainted while we check on our guests.”
Mr. and Mrs. Jenson left the room, proud of what they had put in motion. They both knew that they had done a great thing. Raul and Shelia never left one another’s company that day or evening. The day of the Jensen’s tenth wedding anniversary gathering, a love was born. A year later a wedding was held. Sheila Shields became Sheila Sanchez and Raul was just months away from becoming a father for the first time. Doug was the best man and Karen the maid of honor. What a beautiful day it was. Now another two, had become one through Doug and Karen’s initial salacious serendipity.
Five years later at a wedding anniversary of their own Raul and Sheila told the love story of Doug and Karen and how it led to their love story. Like Doug told Raul many years before, he was now part of their story. After sharing their story with their friend Jacob, Karen introduced him to his future bride. Now Raul and Sheila were adding another chapter by introducing two dear friends of their own. Jacob Russo and Jenny Plat had no idea what their buddies were up to when they brought them together. Yet love was in the air as Doug and Karen looked on, proud of what they started. Cupid wins again.
Love comes in many forms, often when we least expect it. Sometimes while engaged in a vile act, like soliciting prostitution, or at a noble occasion like celebrating a good friend’s happy marriage, love finds you. You can walk into it blindly, unassumingly or you may discover it through sweet salacious serendipity just like with Doug and Karen’s cop love.