Sarah popped her head into Adrian's office. "Two more days until my birthday party! I can't wait to see what you two have planned for me." She gave Adrian a wink and continued down the hall with a spring in her stiletto-footed step Adrian hadn't noticed before. She couldn't help but smile.
During lunch Sarah barely chewed her food as she peppered Adrian and Melissa with questions. "What restaurant are we going to? How many people will be there? Will any men be there? Will there be dancing?"
Finally, Melissa held her hand up. "Whoa, Sarah, you're going to choke to death before you turn forty if you don't slow down and chew your food. We told you it's a surprise. We aren't going to tell you details. But don't get your hopes too high, we aren't planning anything extravagant, just a small dinner among friends to celebrate a momentous birthday."
Sarah was quiet for only seconds before chattering again. "I'm sorry, it's just that no one has ever thrown a party for me. I will love whatever you do, no matter how many show up. But," she eyed them both devilishly, "could there just be at least one man there?"
"You're impossible!" Adrian exclaimed in mock disgust. Then, looking more serious, she lowered her voice almost to a whisper for effect. "there is one man we're planning to introduce you to."
Sarah's thickly lined eyes widened in disbelief. "Really? This time I know it will turn out good. If you two picked him he can't be a loser. I can't wait."
Adrian and Melissa exchanged glances as they gathered up their belongings and walked back to the office. They were sure this man would be like no other man Sarah had ever met before.
At six o'clock Melissa and Adrian pulled in front of Sarah's apartment building. "Oh dear," Melissa whispered as she saw Sarah strutting like an exotic peacock down the sidewalk. Tonight she had outdone her flamboyant style. Sarah had ignored no detail, from the top of her teased bouffant to the tips of her four-inch leopard print stilettos, although she clearly should have paid a little more attention to the lack of fabric in her sequined red halter mini-dress.
"Happy Birthday to me!" Sarah sang as she angled herself into the car. "Let's get this party started." As Sara buckled her seatbelt she eyed Melissa and just stared at her, a look of confusion replacing her smile. Melissa was dressed no different than she did at work every day. She looked in the backseat and Adrian was dressed similarly.
"Why are you guys dressed like that? I thought we were partying." Sarah finally said, clearly disappointed.
The two women exchanged nervous looks. It was go time. They had been working toward this for weeks and now it might backfire. Melissa spoke up first. "Sarah, we're celebrating, not partying. There's a difference."
Sarah looked from one to the other. Tears began to form and she bit her lower lip, clearly embarrassed, but she didn't say a word.
Adrian broke into a big smile and patted Sarah on the shoulder. "Enough of the sad face, let's get on with our surprise."
Melissa started the car and pulled onto the street, glancing in the rearview mirror at Adrian who was mouthing "uh-oh". In a few minutes they arrived at Melissa's condo. They ushered Sarah to the door and made her close her eyes as they walked through the condo. When Sarah opened her eyes she saw Melissa had transformed her dining area into a room fit for royalty with a table set for four. As Sarah stood staring at the crystal and silver on the table, the two women excused themselves.
They returned a few minutes later wearing cocktail dresses and heels. "Better?" Melissa asked as Sarah turned to look at them.
"You did all this for me? It's beautiful." Sarah asked choking back tears. "Why?"
"Because we want you to know how special and loved you are." Adrian began.
Sarah looked at her quizzically. Melissa picked up the conversation. "Sarah, you are always trying to find your self-worth in a man and it never works out. Your choices always treat you terribly. Tonight, our birthday gift to you is to introduce you to the most important man you will ever meet, someone who thinks you are as special as a princess. He is the fourth person at our table tonight, Jesus Christ.
Scarlett Farr lives with her husband, daughter and dog in Lizella, Georgia.