LISTEN TO YOUR HEART by Carla Kempert
Becca didn’t doubt him for a moment. The soft, gentle way he spoke to her–only her– reached something deep inside and made her feel so special, so intimate, and so adored. She wished yet again that the station’s website had posted his picture. All it showed was a gray box with his name beside it, along with a bio that simply read, “32, male”. Of course, it added to the mystery, but it also made him amorphous in her mind. Her mental image changed with the weather; he could be blond with deep brown eyes one day, or have blue eyes and wavy brown hair the next. Alas, it just made her imagination try that much harder to keep her from ending up with a visual image of Danny DeVito.
Becca pulled the sheets tightly around her, shifting her body to wrap her arms around the pillow, waiting for C.J.’s voice to talk to her again through the radio.
“You know how much I’m going to miss you while I’m gone, so for now, since I can’t be there with you, please, do something for me. Close your eyes, and put your hand over your heart and imagine that it’s me there touching you, feeling your heartbeat against my palm, looking into your eyes as we get closer. Mmm. I know it’s only been a few days since the last time we were together, but I forgot how sweet your lips taste. It only makes me need more.” She heard the way the smile in his voice turned deeper, hotter, and she shivered again. “Your heart. It’s racing. My lady love, I’m so sorry but it’s time for me to go. It’s Thursday night, so you know we won’t be together again for two more long, long nights, but I’m afraid there’s more bad news. I’ll be on vacation for the next two weeks. The good news is that I’ve already recorded the show for you, so we can still be together, and you can still come to WLVR every night and listen to me while I’m gone. Believe me, I’ll be thinking of you while I’m away, and I’ll be dreaming of new ways for us to be together. In the meantime, keep my place warm beside you. This is C.J. Gray, and know that in two short weeks from Monday, I’ll be seeing you.”
Hours later, Becca lay in bed, eyes shut, not quite asleep but almost dreaming as C.J.’s voice filled her head. Their time together never lasted long enough. It crossed her mind that this was not a good sign; other than the first few weeks when the love hormones–liars that they were–took over her brain. With C.J., she felt it every night as if every night were the first.
After five years doing late night, romance-oriented talk radio, CASEY RYDER (C.J.) is offered his dream job: a morning drive-time show. But there’s a catch. His program director suggests that in order to be seen as host of an edgy, contentious show, Casey needs to establish name recognition through media attention. In order to achieve that, the PD recommends Casey publicly confront his father, former baseball player JOHN RYDER, when John is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Casey hasn’t spoken to John in fourteen years, holding him responsible for his mother’s premature death.
BECCA ELLIS is in Cooperstown helping her off-beat mother LORETTA run her bakery –Sweets for the Sweet Spot. Free-spirited Loretta can’t persuade Becca that “life is a banquet, and Becca is starving to death. “Get laid; relax,” Loretta coaches her in an attempt to get her out of her romantic doldrums. But Becca has preferred curling up in bed late at night with Casey’s overnight radio show, her romantic entanglements uncomplicated and from a distance.
Then Casey arrives.