FEATURE: Nicole R. Locker

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Nicole R. Locker is a resident of Lubbock, Texas. She has a Master of Science in Psychology and a love for pit bulls, pilates, and romance novels. Nicole dreamed of becoming a writer since grade school after writing her first poem in 4th grade at the age of nine. A Social Worker since 2008, she has published life-coaching books on self-esteem and personal relationships, and has now added Fiction Romance to her repertoire.

Excerpt from First Impressions

As I was standing there alone waiting, I suddenly felt a rush of electricity run down my spine, and I turned to see Dylan maybe ten feet away, walking over to me.

“Hey!  Great game tonight.  You were awesome,” I smiled as he approached.

“I thought that was you I saw in the stands.  I’m glad you enjoyed the game,” he said, looking down at his feet.  Was he being shy all of a sudden?  That was so unlike him.

“Yeah… I hope things aren’t weird between us.  I know I acted like a pretty big fool the last time we saw each other, and I wanted to say how sorry I was for that.”  Now I was the shy one looking at my feet.  I was probably blushing, as I could feel the blood rush to my face, but I hoped that the cold night air had already made my cheeks a little pink and maybe it would go unnoticed.

“I don’t know what got into me.  I can only blame the copious amounts of alcohol… and… well, the whole thing with Cason.  I guess you could say that shook me up a little bit,” I continued.

“No need to apologize, Zia.  I was just trying to look out for you…” he paused.  “Actually, speaking of that.  Zia, I saw the guy you were here with tonight.  I know it’s none of my business, but I know Becker, and he’s not…” he didn’t finish.

“Not what?” I prodded.

“I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to tell you how to live your life, or like I don’t want you to be happy with someone else, but…” he trailed off again.

“But what, Dylan?  Just say what you want to say,” I urged as I reached out and touched his arm at the crook of his elbow.

“I just don’t want to see you get hurt.  Just be careful, okay?” he finally said.  Even now, his eyes sparkled in the dim lighting.  Would they always affect me like this?

Just then, Becker walked up behind me, and he and Dylan nodded at each other in true form of one alpha male to another.  Suddenly, it felt really awkward standing in the middle, and I wondered if I had made a mistake coming here with Becker.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” I told Dylan, and then turned to look up at Becker as he grabbed me around the waist.  Yep, this was humiliating.

“Good game, man,” Becker said to Dylan as he pulled me in closer.  Suddenly, I felt like I was in the middle of a one-sided, territorial pissing contest.

“Thanks, man,” Dylan replied, then looked back to me.  “See you around, Zia.  Take care.”  Even now he looked sincere as he looked into my eyes.

There was no anger, just concern in his face, and… regret?  I was so confused.  This obviously had not gone the way I had planned by way of outcome.

Dylan turned and walked away, but before he could get too far, I told Becker to hold on a minute, that I had forgotten to tell Dylan something.  I jogged over in Dylan’s direction.

“Dylan, wait!”  I called out to him.

He stopped and turned to me, his eyes expectant, waiting to hear what I had to say.

“I owe you one more session, if you want.  I mean, I know that the last one kind of really got messed up and didn’t end up how it should have, obviously.  But I don’t like to start things without finishing them, so if you still want your last session, just let me know.”  I put it out there, and now would leave it up to him as to whether he’d take it or not.

Dylan nodded, and I could tell he was thinking about it.  “I’ll think about it and get back to you,” he finally said.

“Okay, sounds good.  I’ll see you,” I said, and walked back to where Becker was waiting for me.

Clara met back up with us, explaining that she had gotten side-tracked talking with some friends she had also run into on her way back over to us.

We all left the stadium and parted ways before heading home.  Becker kissed me after helping me into the back of a cab, another short and sweet little kiss, but somehow the magic was no longer there this time around.

As soon as the door closed and the driver took off towards our apartment, Clara finally broke the silence.

“Did I see you talking to Dylan before we left?” she asked.

“Yep, that was him,” I confirmed, still looking straight ahead but not focusing on anything in particular.

“How did that go?” she said as she shifted in her seat, angling to face me.

“Awkward.  Humiliating.  What was I thinking, Clara?  I saw this whole thing going differently in my mind.”  I shook my head in disbelief, now looking back at her, and wondered how many soap opera stories cab drivers got to witness first-hand on a daily basis like the one happening now.

“What did he say?”  Clara asked, defensively.

“He told me to watch out for Becker, basically.  That he knows Becker, and that he doesn’t want to see me get hurt,” I explained.

“That’s it?” Clara asked.

“That’s it.  After that, Becker came up and put his arms around me like he was trying to make a point or something.  At that point it was just so awkward that I wanted to crawl in a hole and disappear.”

“But didn’t you want Dylan to see you moving on?  Wasn’t that the point?” Clara made a valid argument.

“You’re right.  That was the point.  I guess it just didn’t feel as fulfilling and relieving as I’d hoped it would,” I admitted.  “Instead, it felt like I was trying too hard to prove a lie.”

Clara just nodded her head and then moved closer to hug me from the side.  She knew when to just be quiet and leave me to my thoughts, and I had to admit, I loved that about her.

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