Ann Lee Miller – Real Life Romance – Part 1 of 1

Shannon here: Ann Lee Miller shares how she met her husband and a chance for 3 winners to nab e-book copies of her latest Contemporary Romance, The Art of My Life. Comment or answer the question at the end of the post to enter the drawing. Deadline: March 5th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Ann:

Ann Lee Miller family

Ann Lee MillerAnn Lee Miller cover

When I met the man who would own my heart forever, I thought something in me would stand up and cheer. But it didn’t happen that way.

In the fall of 1978 I transferred from Florida Southern College in my home state to Ashland University in Ohio. The speaker at the first Christian gathering, a seminary student named Jim with a warm smile and a self-deprecating sense of humor, asked for volunteers to lead dorm Bible studies.

The meeting burst into a cacophony of conversations and I excuse-me-ed toward the kitchen where Jim talked to a kid in the glare of an ugly light fixture.

The guy moved away and Jim and turned to me with a smile.

I met his blue gaze. In a romance novel—I know because I write them—my heart and respiration would have sped, my palms would sweat, mini chemical explosions would detonate in my brain. But in real life, I told him I wanted to lead a Bible study and he handed me a yellow pad and asked me to write down my name and info.

A comfortable friendship formed as I reported to him about the progress of the Bible study and saw him at Christian functions. He was older and wiser spiritually, somebody I could trust, but as a romantic interest—not at all.

Nor was Jim hoping to make out with me.

One night a mutual friend, Jon Barber told Jim he was going to ask me out.

Jim thought, good luck, buddy. She’s so far out of my league, I wouldn’t even try. He shrugged. Jon was good looking, maybe he had a shot.

I didn’t date Jon and in November my subconscious jarred awake when a speaker visited from Jim’s alma mater. Jim introduced the man, then took a seat next to a pretty, short-haired brunette.

I whispered to Lynda Woodburn. “Who’s that girl Jim Miller sat next to?”

Lynda whispered back. “His girlfriend.”

 The cosmos shook me by the shoulders, or maybe it was God. I’d been so far from considering Jim romantically that I’d even sought his advice about my love life—and proclaimed loudly that I’d never marry a doctor or a minister. I wanted to see my husband once in a while.

I looked at the girl. She was, no doubt, deep, intelligent, and reared Protestant, the perfect pedigree for a pastor’s wife. She had to be for Jim to… love her?

I dodged my friends and tromped across campus alone. I couldn’t say what it was about this new intel that rubbed me the wrong way.

So Jim was datable.

And taken.

Something changed between us. Jim says I started flirting with him. Possibility bloomed in his mind. I say it wasn’t a conscious decision. It must have been my subconscious confronting the wrongness of Jim having a girlfriend—that wasn’t me.

When college resumed at the end of January, my Catholic-trained guilt meter went off like the fire alarm near my room on ninth floor Amstutz. Suddenly I saw that I’d been flirting with Jim—though we’d never discussed the topic. Flirting with someone who had a girlfriend was plain wrong. And flirting in general felt dis-ingenuous. I phoned him and said I was sorry.

“I don’t think you have anything to apologize for. But if you feel like you need to, okay.”

I hung up. The fire alarm quieted and I blew out a breath of relief. I’d made things right and pleased God.

Flummoxed, Jim drove around town all afternoon trying to figure out what our conversation meant. He’d ended a relationship over the holidays that had been headed toward engagement to ask me out. Now, he didn’t know what to do. Finally, he quizzed his co-worker Judy Gifford. “Is Ann saying she’s not interested?”

Judy, who would later earn a PhD in counseling and psychology, chuckled and said, “The only way you’re going to know is if you ask her out.” The same conclusion Jim had come to on his own.

That evening, Jim and I lagged behind my dorm-mates on the way back to Amstutz.

Jim said, “Good-bye Girl is playing on campus Friday night. Would you like to go?”

“Sure. Love to.” It didn’t seem like a big deal. It could only be a friends-hanging-out kind of thing since he had a girlfriend.

On Friday night Jim and I talked all the way across campus and laughed when Emery Hurd spun around in his seat to see if we were holding hands—we weren’t. We watched the movie and chatted our way back to my dorm.

I called our first date “eh” in my journal. I was looking forward to going out with another boy the next night—the first and last time I ever went out with two different guys in one weekend. Actually, the last time I went out with anybody but Jim.

About Ann: Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland University and is working on a MFA in creative writing at Wilkes University. She guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges and teaches writing at libraries, recreation centers, and in retirement communities. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis-real or imagined-you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her pastor husband, Jim, or meddling in her kids’ lives. Over 100,000 copies of her five Christian romance novels, have been downloaded from Amazon. She blogs memoir on Fridays at AnnLeeMiller.com.

About the book – The Art of My Life: Cal walked out of jail and into a second chance at winning Aly with his grandma’s beater sailboat and a reclaimed dream of sailing charters. Aly has the business smarts, strings to a startup loan, and heart he never should have broken. He’s got squat. Unless you count enough original art for a monster rummage sale and an affection for weed. But he’d only ever loved Aly. That had to count for something. Aly needed a guy who owned yard tools, tires worth rotating, and a voter’s registration card. He’d be that guy or die trying. For anyone who’s ever struggled to measure up. And failed. The Art of My Life won Honorable Mention in the 2015 Wilkes University Writers Conference.

Question for Readers: Have you ever dated two people in the same week or weekend?

Come back Feb 29th for Sherry Kyle!

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