Portrait by Tao Nguyen

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


That’s what I had to determine when I wrote her into my manuscript. Here's Michael’s first glimpse of her:

Seated a couple of chairs to his right was an attractive woman in her late twenties or early thirties, clear blue eyes and golden brown hair pulled back into a ponytail. She was dressed casually in jeans and a tight-fitting sweater. Perched across her finely shaped nose was an attractive pair of reading glasses through which she scrutinized him with a look of concerned amusement. Her smile was warm and appealing.

I wanted Jennie to be a positive influence on Michael, part of his transition from shallow egotistical bachelor with his “love ‘em and leave ‘em” attitude to a man with heart, yet afraid to commit to marriage because of deep unresolved emotional problems he still has to work out. After their initial meeting inside The Words of Wisdom metaphysical bookstore, he watches her walk away.

…Michael found himself admiring Jennie's feminine shape in her tightly fitted jeans and wondered what she would look like without her clothes on.

Typical. He’s just had an interesting conversation with her about dreams and symbols and how they translate inside the unconscious mind, but all he can think of is her nude body. Before watching her leave, Michael asked Jennie to join him later for coffee after she’s finished teaching dance class. They meet at the Second Cup and Jennie finds herself drawn to him. She shares private information she’s kept secret.

“While I was still in school, an artist friend gave me a beautiful gift. She made an oil painting depicting a ballerina after she danced her final performance.” Her hands moved expressively as she spoke. “She's seated backstage with her torso bent over and her head resting on folded arms across her knees. Flowing down her back, her long black hair makes a graceful veil.”
Jennie fell silent, picked up her spoon and stirred her coffee again with unnatural concentration.
Sensing she was about to share something of a personal nature, Michael wondered what he ought to say to put her at ease. Without knowing her very well, he decided to be cautious. “It sounds beautiful. How did the painting impact your decision to teach?”
Jennie stopped stirring her coffee and met his gaze with complete honesty.
“When I hung it on the wall, I only saw the dancer's sadness. My friend viewed it strictly from an artist's perspective. Her eye appreciated the shape and form of the dancer's body draped in the chair and she painted what she saw, but I felt as if I were seeing into a mirror reflecting what could be my future. Not everyone is good enough to become a professional ballerina, and even those who are eventually become too old. The painting showed me the depth of the dancer's sadness after her final performance, and every time I looked at her I felt her pain, too. I knew I didn't want to end up like her.
“Then one day, I found myself looking at the painting in a different way. I realized I was also an artist, and I had the power to paint my future. My life was a canvas and the future my work of art. Once I came to that realization, I was able to take the steps to protect myself from such a heartbreaking fate. That changed everything. Now, whenever I look at the sad ballerina, all I see is a beautiful painting.”
As he listened to her, Michael was reminded of Susan's words: “Anyone can receive significant life-changing messages from unexpected sources, but they can only influence us if we are open to them.”
“I can't believe what I just told you,” Jennie said with embarrassment. “I've never shared that story with anyone, but for some reason I trusted you with it. Can I trust you?”
He met her eyes. “Of course you can.”

Michael responds to her candor.

“Hearing you talk about yourself makes me realize how wrong I was to cut myself off from my friends by not returning phone calls. I thought no one else could possibly understand what I was going through. I was an ass.”
Jennie regarded him with sympathy. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Life is difficult enough without making it harder. We all react to situations differently. Your friends will understand.”
He sipped his coffee and settled back against the booth. “You’re right, they’ve forgiven me. It’s not that I’m against change, but for years my life was routine, a little boring perhaps, but safe. Now, I feel things are out of control and—well—I feel lost.”
“I get it.”
“There's more to it than that. My whole perspective of what's real and what isn't has come into question.”
“Did you stop to consider that could be a good thing?” When he didn’t answer, she continued. “I'll bet when you were working so hard you used to wish you had more free time to relax and do things you like.”

After they leave he sits in his car, turns on the engine and muses:

Will we remain only friends, or will our friendship evolve into something more intimate? I like her. She seems special, genuine, and different from the other women I’ve known who were power-driven to climb the corporate ladder and break through the glass ceiling.
He considered her attributes. She obviously isn’t after my money, and she’s very attractive—sweet yet sexy—creative, a good talker and listener, honest, intelligent, and blessed with a good sense of humor. What more could I ask for?
The following morning…Michael phoned Eric at his office and told him about…meeting Jennie.
“You met her at a bookstore? Dude, I don’t know how you do it.” Eric tossed his drafting pencil and the lead broke.
“I know you and Susan are going to like her. In fact, she reminds me a little of Susan.”
“What else? Gimme the juicy details.”
“She's pretty and sexy, creative and intelligent, which makes me wonder how I ever managed to meet someone like her who wasn't already involved.”
“What's her body like?”
“A perfect ten.”

This is a brief introduction to Jennie Greene. She emerges as a strong willed, self confident stubborn woman who stands up to Michael, refusing to become just another of his meaningless conquests. She knows what she wants out of life and is willing to walk away from their relationship to get it. What happens?

Read GOOD FORTUNE to find out.

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