Duped by Don
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This “Worst” story comes to us from Linda H. 

It felt to be a time of redemption.

After a lengthy series of unsuccessful blind dates, I thought this particular Valentine’s Day HAD to be different. No one could continue on such a long ill-fated streak of luck and not have the tide turn at some point.

I was divorced and had been for a few years. I wasn’t searching for a new mate as much as just companionship, someone to do things with, to combat the loneliness, someone to share similar interests.
Finally, it happened. Even though I met this particular man online, we appeared to have EVERYTHING in common.

He was a writer for a newspaper in a neighboring county. He loved to write, was an avid reader, a family man, tall, and was in his early 50’s, just a few years older than myself. He sent me a copy of the column he wrote with a small fuzzy photo at the top to prove he was, indeed, who he professed to be. We talked on the phone. He had my attention.

All my apprehension evaporated. It was replaced by excitement I had not felt in a long time. We decided to meet in a restaurant halfway between our homes. We agreed on a time and he said he would be driving a silver jeep in case I arrived first.

Though my budget was tight, I went out and bought a new outfit. Nothing was left to chance. I wanted this Valentine’s Day to be memorable.

The date arrived, the hours couldn’t pass quickly enough. I drove to the meeting place and noted that a silver jeep, though quite an older model, was in the lot. I knew he was there. I took a deep breath and went inside.

It was naturally somewhat busy given the holiday. I stood in the entryway and scanned the room for a 54-year-old single man, but could not locate any. The building was filled with couples, a few families but no middle-aged man. I went back outside, even walked up to the silver vehicle and read “Jeep” on the trunk. He HAD to be inside, so back I went.

I was beginning to get a bit nervous. He didn’t appear to be anywhere. Suddenly, I saw a man making his way across the room. He stopped in front of me and said my name. “Linda?”

It was in that split second that I knew the evening was in jeopardy, serious, dire jeopardy. I suddenly knew  the feeling when you watch an accident happening with no power to avert it.

First of all, yes, Don, had been 54…twenty-five years prior! He had on a wrinkled Hawaiian shirt, blue jeans doubled up to fit his short frame. He smiled and reached to shake my hand. He had no teeth on the bottom and those that remained on the top were crooked. He was bald, but some long strands of hair were pulled into a ponytail with a rubberband.

He led me to a booth in the back of the restaurant where he had apparently been seated. As we made our way there, I prayed that no one was there who would know me.

Once I was seated, it all became a blur. I don’t remember what I ordered, I don’t remember eating it. He chatted about his work, showed me older photos of his daughters with hairstyles that dated them back to the sixties. I knew I had been duped.

After our meal, he wanted to go dancing; I wanted to go home. And I did.

So, yes, it WAS a memorable Valentine’s Day and I’m still trying to erase it from memory.


Can you top that?!

Email romanceatrandom@randomhouse.com with your story by February 13. (between 500 and 1,000 words). Winners will be announced on February 14th. Looking forward to hearing your stories :) For official contest rules, click HERE.

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