“A Common Bond”
by Kelly F. Barr
Mia prepared to release the falcon she had nursed back to health. The falcon stepped onto the arm guard. “Take care of yourself and have a good life.” She held her breath as she watched the falcon rise, then circle back and descend toward her. She stood firm, not raising her arm, until the bird was too close to stop. She raised her arm and the falcon landed.
“Now listen. You’re completely healed. You need to go and not come back. Be free.” She released the bird once more and again held her breath. This time the falcon circled but did not descend, then it flew away. Mia watched until it was out of sight, tears slipping down her cheeks.
Dusty put a hand on her shoulder. “You have such a tender heart for all God’s creatures.”
Mia swiped at her tears and grinned. “Not all God’s creatures. Animals are easy. It’s people that are a challenge.”
“Does that mean you don’t have a tender heart for me?” Dusty raised an eyebrow.
The corners of Mia’s lips twitched. “Maybe.”
Dusty ran a hand through his blond curls. “I’ve worked with you for almost two years, watching you love and nurture so many animals then release them back to their natural environments. My interest in you has grown beyond mere physical attraction. Will you let me take you to dinner?”
She’d seen Dusty run his hand through those curls often. She now recognized it as a sign of nervousness in relation to her. She liked that she made him nervous. It showed vulnerability. She liked that there was a mutual vulnerability between them. Dusty had become a valuable asset to her wildlife preserve and she liked working with him. Would it ruin their working relationship if things became personal? What if they tried dating and it didn’t work? It could very well end their working relationship. She definitely found him attractive with his dark brown eyes and those golden locks, and he was polite and intelligent.
She shrugged. “I suppose one dinner wouldn’t hurt.”
Dusty’s lower jaw hung open.
“Better be careful. Something might fly in there.” She winked at him.
He closed his mouth, then said, “Oh right. Wait, did you just agree to have dinner with me?”
She nodded as a smile slid over her lips.
“Well today’s Friday. How about tonight?”
“Tonight, yeah, that’d be great. After work, I’ll go home and come back for you around, say 6:30?” He ran a hand through those curls again, something Mia had thought about doing more than once.
“See ya then.” She smiled and started to walk away.
“Wait, you mean…” He looked at his watch, and Mia laughed out loud when he shouted, “It’s quitting time! I’ll see you in an hour and a half.”
Mia laughed again as he dashed to his pickup truck.
Dusty took her to the nicest steak house in town. They were taken to a booth in a back corner. After they placed their orders, Dusty looked at her across the table. He leaned back in his seat, his arms on the table. “Thank you for agreeing to have dinner with me. I’ve dreamt of this moment for months.”
“And what is it you want out of a relationship?”
“Wow, you don’t beat around the bush, do you?” He ran his hand through his hair. “I want to get to know you better, on a personal level. I want to see if we can become more than coworkers. What about you?”
“I think those are the right places to start. At first I wasn’t sure it was a good idea to go out with you. If things don’t work out, it could ruin our working relationship.” She studied him.
“Yeah, I know.”
Their food came. Mia bowed her head. Dusty reached over to clasp her hands. She raised her eyes to his.
“I’d like to pray, if that’s all right.”
Dusty prayed for their food, for their time together, and for wisdom and guidance from the Lord.
During dinner, they talked of their childhoods and they shared thoughts on what makes a good relationship.
After dinner, as they drove, Dusty looked over at Mia. “It’s a beautiful night. Would you like to go to the lake?”
They walked by the lake. Dusty reached to take her hand, and she liked how her hand fit into his. As they stood looking at the reflection of the moon on the water, Mia leaned into Dusty and tilted her head against his shoulder. Dusty put his arm around her shoulder. They were a perfect fit, and at that moment Mia knew she belonged in Dusty’s arms. Their mutual love of animals had already bonded them together. It could only grow stronger.