Four years after her Daddy's passing, Aenea woke from a dream of him, realizing her body was tingling all over. At first, she was scared she had acquired his affliction, but quickly realized that wasn't possible, as it only hit middle-aged men, and he never felt any pain or other sensation. Somehow, though, she knew it was connected to her beloved Daddy.
Feeling confident all was fine, she began her day, the tingling sensation reducing itself to subtle background noise. There was no discomfort, but she knew it was there; she knew he was there. Aenea needed to get going, as she had an assignment for today.
Aenea's uncanny ability to read people was well known. Though many companies sought her out after she graduated with her master's degree, Aenea passed on most of the offers. One offer did attract her interest, though. A philanthropic organization wanted someone to screen people and agencies, helping them weed out the ones who weren't truly in it to help others. It was known as "The Foundation." When Aenea started working, she knew this was the place for her. After only working there for a year, the organization was so impressed with her results, they promoted her and created her own department, including providing a full staff.
Lately, she had been researching an organization called Caring Hands. It was unique, as it never sought money, only goods to be used to help others. In her research, Aenea discovered this organization always seemed to have enough unsolicited money to run their small operation. The company flew under the radar, not being attracted to the glitz and glamour most non-profits used to entice donations. It was a simple operation, but appeared very efficient. This organization was helping victims of the recent wildfire, and she planned to show up and observe.
After arriving at the site Caring Hands took over for this operation, Aenea was determined to observe as unobtrusively as possible. Throughout the day, she wandered the warehouse, surprised by what she saw. The staff was organized and caring. Nothing was rushed, while everything was tended to. Though the warehouse was large, she continued to see a particular man, wherever she went. He was plain to look at, and didn't draw attention to himself, but he was hard to miss. She saw him take off his jacket and hand it to an elderly man who was shirtless. She observed him playing with kids, to boost their spirits. She saw him comforting and reassuring some senior citizens. She even saw him sprawled out on the floor reading kiddy books to preschoolers. She recognized this man from her research, as she had seen a picture of him. He was the 28-year old CEO of the organization, David Summers.
After watching the CEO serve lunch to the needy, she approached him. "Hi David, my name is Aenea."
"I know," he responded matter-of-factly, yet respectfully, "but just call me Dave."
"You know?" Aenea questioned.
"Being in this line of work, it's hard not to know of "The Foundation," and your reputation has preceded you."
Blushing, Aenea said, "I'm not sure what is preceding me, but I hope it's not anything bad."
"Aenea, you'll always hear complaints from the ones who didn't get what they felt entitled to, but I've heard you are very fair." He didn't bother to mention the scores of guys who were drawn to her magnetism, yet never allowed to enter beyond friendship. No one could see her simple beauty and not be drawn in. He heard she was a very caring, kind person, yet not open to relationships. He wouldn't allow the magnetism, which was also working on him, to divert his attention, leading him to another devastating experience. He learned enough from his past attempts at relationships to keep himself buried in his work and stay away from temptation, as it always led him to frustration and pain.
"Dave, I've been observing your operation and am very pleased by what I see. Tell me what your needs are."
"We're mainly short on blankets and clothing; that's our primary need."
Aenea took his hand and placed a card in it. He was surprised when he looked down and saw a debit card. "We can't use your debit card," he said.
"It's not mine. Look a little closer." In looking closer, Dave noticed the card was issued in the name of Caring Hands.
"Do you always carry around debit cards issued to the organizations you are observing?"
"Actually, I do. Sometimes the need is immediate, so we plan in advance. Rarely, do I actually give them out, and we do have the ability to limit the available funds."
"So, what's the limit on this card?" asked Dave.
"None," responded Aenea.
"You mean there is no money attached to this account?" he queried.
"No, there is no limit," she responded.
"But you don't know me. How can you trust me with unlimited funds?" Dave asked hesitantly and confusedly.
"Dave, you say my reputation has preceded me. What one word stands out when you think of my reputation?"
"Intuition," Dave responded, but he wasn't quite sure where she was going with this train of thought.
"Then trust my intuition as I've learned to trust it. Now, how about dinner?" Aenea asked.
"Aenea, we appreciate your generosity, but we have more than enough food.
"That's not exactly what I was offering. I was thinking just you and me."
"You want me to join you for dinner?" he asked with a quizzical look on his face. Somehow, this didn't mesh with anything he had heard about Aenea, and he wasn't sure exactly what it meant or what to do. When she nodded in the affirmative, he quickly added, "As you can see, we are very busy today, so, though I appreciate the offer, I can't take you up on it."
"I'm sure things will be very calm by Saturday, so how would it be if I promise to spend today helping you, as long as you promise to join me for dinner on Saturday? Just realize, promises are never to be broken."
Not knowing how to delicately reject her offer, he agreed.
"Now, where can you use assistance?" asked Aenea.
"Most everything is already covered, but we could use someone to coordinate activities to keep the kids' focus off the disaster. Are you OK with kids?"
"Love them," Aenea responded with a smile, as she skipped off in the direction of the play area.
The rest of that day, Dave found himself constantly wandering by the play area. He heard Aenea's laughter and saw her smiling face. She was amazing with the kids. People kept coming up to him and telling him, "Hold onto this one; she's a keeper." He knew they meant she was a great addition to their staff, but something else was rumbling inside of him. He kept telling himself to protect himself, stay away and not get involved; yet he kept finding himself drawn back toward the play area. He fully understood the feelings of her past suitors, yet couldn't pull himself away. Something more powerful than him was preventing him from doing what he knew he had to do ... keep his distance.
At 8pm, Aenea bounced up to Dave and said, "I haven't enjoyed myself so much, in ages. Thank you for letting me help. I'd stay longer, but I have a lot of work facing me at my office, tomorrow, so I'd better head home and get some sleep. Just don't think allowing me to have so much fun has gotten you off the hook for Saturday. I'll expect you to show up at 5 o'clock sharp," handing him her card, with the name, address and phone number of a beachfront restaurant handwritten on the back. "Thanks again," she said with a smile, as she hurried out. Not till after she left did he realize she was the one saying thanks, yet his organization was the recipient of a very generous donation from her foundation. He felt disappointed in himself.
Unable to come up with a legitimate excuse to cancel the date, Dave showed up sharply at 5pm. Standing in front of the restaurant was Aenea. She smiled broadly when she saw him. There seemed to be a glow to her.
Once they sat down at their table, Aenea said, "OK, Dave, tell me the truth. What do people say about me?"
Unable to stop himself, the truth came out. "You've been accurately described as fair, kind and caring ... yet a heartbreaker."
"A heartbreaker?" she perplexingly questioned.
"For someone as intuitive as you, how could you not know?"
"But I never led anyone on or promised more than I was willing to follow through on," Aenea responded.
"Maybe you are very intuitive of others, but that doesn't mean you clearly see yourself. You have a magnetic quality guys would have difficulty denying, or even protecting themselves from."
"Dave, I've never wanted to hurt anyone. I've always known when the right guy came along I'd just know it, and no one in my past has triggered that feeling in me."
"I hear you've left a lot of disappointed guys in your wake, even if it was unintentional on your part. I know what devastation feels like, and I've had to protect myself from experiencing it, again. I believe the pain these guys felt was not a product of your doing, but it was very real, nonetheless."
"Dave, I don't know what to do. As you say, this wasn't due to something I have done, so how do I prevent it from continuing?"
"Aenea, that's like asking how you can prevent a puppy from being cute. Unfortunately, the only solution that pops into my head is it will stop when you are no longer available, and I don't see you getting attached to someone just to make yourself unavailable. Hopefully, you're not limited to either seeing others in pain or putting that pain on yourself. That cute puppy will just have to somehow learn to accept its cuteness."
.... There is more of this story ...