As she looked back on it now ... she believed it was love at first sight for both of them. She knew she was somewhat mesmerized by his wonderful, fun, gentle approach to life and his beautiful eyes. There was an understanding and kindness there that she hadn't experienced in such a long time ... if ever. He had an internal knowledge that sensed her pain and a genuine desire to help heal it in any way he could. She felt such a great sense of love and acceptance from him and a true appreciation of the natural person she was ... of just her. Fate brought them together ... and, they took it from there.

     Oh yes, she fell in love with him immediately ... head over heels ... but, it seemed terribly complicated since they were both married to someone else and had only a couple weeks, if that, together. Her first experience with him was a feeling of pride in herself that she hadn't felt in a long, long time. Her 21-year marriage had been deteriorating forever it seemed and her self worth was running extremely low.

     They were in Uzbekistan assisting in the presentation of an American program encouraging personal and professional effectiveness in all relationships ... an excellent course, which probably helped her maintain her sanity around her marriage problems. She had always loved traveling and experiencing the world through her own, as well as others eyes. So there he was, in front of her ... "That's your assisting partner from California," someone said. "You'll be working together."

     The weeks went by quickly ... they spent time together laughing, talking, listening, understanding ... working in small groups sharing precious moments that flew by much too quickly. Before they knew it, their seminar had finished and they were on their way back to Moscow with just a few days left before they headed back to the states.

     As she boarded the plane, for the first time since she had arrived, she felt that emptiness again. There was a vacant window seat that seemed as good as any and as she slid into it, she realized she was looking for him and wondered if he had boarded ahead of her. It felt like some unknown part of her was missing and her eyes turned to the darkness outside the window as tears started to well up, again. The pain had been there a lot, especially the last couple years ... the emptiness, the tears ... now replaced for such a short time by tenderness and joyful warmth. But the darkness seemed to be surrounding her again with the memories of what she had left behind only a few weeks before, and she closed her eyes hoping to keep away the tears and encourage sleep for her weariness. 

     "May I sit here?" Turning her head toward the sound of the voice, she opened her eyes and felt a warmth, once again, deep inside as he smiled and took the seat beside her.

     She couldn't remember all the things they chatted about ... small talk concerning their experiences, making new friends, the success of the program, the anticipation of visiting Moscow, excitement about sharing stories with family and friends back in the states ... oh yes ... back in the states ...

     Her weariness came back and she found her eyes closing and her head getting heavier. The plane hit a few rough spots and her anxiety level increased. Oh God, how she wanted to just gently hold his hand ... to feel that kindness, that tender sense of caring that showed in his eyes ...

     Another bump ... does she dare? What will he think ... how will he react? Something inside told her to TRUST what she felt ... to TRUST this man and his gentleness ... most of all to TRUST herself and her intuition ...

     Oh sure ... her intuition ... The darkness came back ... She had been lied to for so long ... and yet her intuition had told her ... God ... can she ever trust again ... can she live through the pain of another possible rejection? Her heart ached and her head was pounding ... and again ... tears ... Damn, always the tears ...

     She took a deep breath and thoughtfully looked at him setting beside her ... his eyes now closed, and a peacefulness came over her as she carefully laid her head on his shoulder. He moved, tenderly putting his arm around her and without even realizing it, her hand slowly moved to his leg and he gently covered it with his other hand. There were no words ... there was no need for words ... And so they slept gently and peacefully beside each other, for those few short hours on an Aeroflot plane ... somewhere over Russia.

     The traffic was loud in the streets outside the window of the moderately priced hotel. She woke up early, but her female roommate was still sleeping soundly in the bed beside her. The time change and mental exhaustion of the program they had just completed was catching up with all of them. But, she couldn't sleep ... Had last night really happened? What was it all about? What did it mean ... to her ... to him? Had she actually allowed herself, her feelings, her intuition enough freedom to slowly open a door that she thought she had safely closed some time ago?

     Had she really experienced those beautiful few hours on a plane sharing the warmth of a caring relationship with a man she had only known a week, although it felt as if she had known him most of her life?

     Most of her life ... the words felt heavy ... her mind drifted to her family, home, friends back in the states and to her husband, the man she had known and loved deeply for over two-thirds of her life. He was supposed to be with her, but once again backed out at the last minute. Business he said again, but something for a long time had told her differently. As she turned over, she felt the wetness rolling off her cheeks unto the pillow and she closed her eyes hoping for more sleep.

     "Answer that, will you?" For a moment, she couldn't tell what was ringing ... the alarm or the phone ... but, whatever it was, her roommate was not taking care of it. As she became more aware of her surroundings, she realized she had fallen asleep for a couple more hours.

     "Good Morning! How did you sleep? There's a group of us touring the city after breakfast. Want to come along?"

     It took a moment for her mind to clear. She realized, once again that she was in Moscow, Russia, and she noticed the sun was shining brightly outside the hotel window. It really looked inviting and he sounded encouraging and happy.

     "Sure, I'd like that! I'll see you at breakfast. Thanks for asking." She looked at the pictures of her family sitting on the table beside her bed ... sent them her love in a short prayer, and jumped into the shower.

     The next two days were spent like typical tourist days filled with sightseeing and shopping. Their group celebrated the last night in the hotel with dancing, drinking shots of vodka and lots of laughter and fun stories. The room was hot and smoky.

     "A few of us are going for a walk", he said."Care to join me?" The response came quickly. "Sure, I'd love to."

     The night was cool, although she had not anticipated it before she got outside. "Cold? Here take my coat," he offered with the same caring and gentleness that she had experienced on the plane. She felt overwhelming warmth from the jacket as well as from the hand that had found its way into hers.

     With the crispness of the evening air the group moved more quickly back toward the hotel. Somehow it didn't seem nearly as cold and they lingered and stopped for a short moment on a bridge crossing the Moscow River. And there, under a starlit sky she was kissed in the most beautiful way she had ever experienced and something inside told her it was OK ... and to just let it happen ...