She halted in the doorway and stared. He was a man.
Not a man in the obvious sense, but a man. Christie Sanders was in law school at the University of Florida in 2008, starting a second career. Even though she was only in her thirties, she felt surrounded by guys who could still pass for boys. Christie was 5 feet 2, but muscular and assertive with a rip-roaring backstory. She could have clocked any of them with a pinky.
David Vetter stood at the front of the class in a suit and a tie. He was general counsel at Tech Data, a guest speaker for the day. Christie sat in her assigned seat, on display in an empty row. David lectured about corporate mergers, takeovers and acquisitions, but Christie didn't process any of it. He was so cute. His voice was so warm.
After class, everyone took David to lunch at a Gainesville Moe's. Christie sat next to David and left a gap between their chairs to be polite. It would have worked fine had a classmate not shoved himself into it. Everyone wanted a job from David. They were gunners on a mission, asking heady questions about corporate law, careers, the company where he worked.
Now two seats away, Christie asked David about his favorite football team, where he was born, his hobbies. She twirled her blond hair in her fingers like a schoolgirl. She never acted this way, but she felt powerless to stop.
David is special, she thought. This doesn't come around often.
Christie didn't have any business cards, so she said goodbye. David was parked in a different lot, ready to head home to St. Petersburg. Christie drove away, a sick premonition churning in her gut that she'd just made a huge mistake. She called a friend.
"I just met the coolest guy," she said. "You can just tell he's a good person. A really good person."
Christie thought hard.
"I think I have a business card in my trunk," she said.
"Go," her friend said. "Find him."
Here is what you need to know about Christie's previous career:
She was a stuntwoman. She'd dressed as a princess at Universal Studio's Wild Wild Wild West Stunt Show and hurled herself off buildings. She'd subbed for Monica Keena on Dawson's Creek, flailing into 40-degree waters and lingering beneath the surface to get the shot. She'd doubled Jessica Simpson in Private Valentine, hauling military gear in 101-degree heat, flying 50 feet into the air fastened by a tiny cable connected to a belt.
It was small time compared to this.
She screeched the wheels in the middle of the road and whipped her car in a clean circle. She floored it faster than she had on any film set, fueled by adrenaline and fear. What if she missed him? She would have to call TechData and ask for their general counsel. She would sound like a crazy stalker. She would never get through.
There! At the edge of the hill, talking to her professor!
She flung her car into a parking space and popped her trunk. She ran down the hill and thrust out her card.
"My parents live in Tampa," she said. "I'm there all the time."
David paused. He smiled. He rifled through his pockets, found a card and handed it to the woman he would marry Oct. 8 at the Carlouel Yacht Club on Clearwater Beach.
"Okay," she said, beaming. "It was good to meet you."
Stephanie Hayes can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8857.