A Romance Writer’s Real Life ‘Love at First Sight’ Story

In New Orleans, March 2002

In December of 2001, my (now ex) husband told me he was in love with, and having an affair with, my best friend. We had celebrated our 9-year anniversary just four months before, and we had a 4-year-old daughter, Kaylee. He had a lot of substance abuse problems and other addictions, and we had the normal financial problems that come with that kind of addictive lifestyle. Consequently, life was a little hard, but I desperately tried to keep everything together and normal for Kaylee. When he told me about his affair, one of my first emotions was relief, which made the decision to end our marriage very easy.

I was tired. I’d been the primary money-maker for years. I did most of the hands-on parenting. My job was demanding. I managed our home. I got up every morning at 4AM so that I could write my books. I was active in my church. My (now ex) husband was very demanding and selfish of my time and attention. I was simply tired. I only had a desire to set up a little house for me and Kaylee and live the rest of my life alone, man-free. The concept was incredibly appealing.

Within two weeks, I was moved out and set up in my new place. For those of you who think that I moved too fast to end my marriage, I’ll add that the week before I moved out, he moved his girlfriend into our home and stayed with her in the guest room.

By that time, I’d been writing for about three years and had ten books written. I’d also been actively involved with a writing community on America Online (AOL) and a writing email group that sprang out of that community of about 20-30 people. From this community, and within this email group, I made several friends (many of whom are still my friends today). One friend, a woman we called C.D., lived within a few hours of me, in central Florida. One free weekend in January, a couple weeks after I moved into my own place, I drove down to meet her in person. We had the best weekend. C.D. had once been a stand-up comedian, and had me rolling and laughing more than I had in years. It was a wonderful visit.

April 2003

When I got home, I went to work on a book and my computer crashed. It had been a hand-me-down from my boss, so when I got it, it was already on its last legs. Computers crash all the time. That’s just a fact of life. But, this computer crashed with my 10 novels on it, and I had no backups.

I called C.D. and asked if her husband could help me. He was (and I’m sure still is) a computer technician. Unfortunately, he wasn’t available. C.D. said, “Call Gregg.”

I said, “Who’s Gregg?”

She said, “You know Gregg.” Then she gave me his AOL screenname.

I said, “I don’t know him. I can’t call him.”

She said, “Of course you know him. You email with him in the group every day. He can help. Call him.”

So, she gave me his number.  And I called him.

Gregg was wonderful on the phone. Me? Not so much. He tried talking me through getting to my books on the hard drive, but I am not technically proficient and have never pretended to be. Finally, after several (I’m sure frustrating) minutes, he said, “Listen. I am driving down to C.D.’s house this weekend and will go through Tallahassee. Let me just come by your house and I’ll look at it there.”

He lived in Alabama — about 350 miles from my house in Florida.

Disclaimer: This is not an encouragement for anyone out there to invite someone into your home whom you know only from online. Because I knew C.D., and because C.D. and Gregg were close friends for many years and had stayed in and out of each others’ homes many times, I agreed.

Wedding Reception on our 1-Year Anniversary, June 2003

While I was very clearly NOT on the “market”, not looking for a man, and not interested in a relationship, I was nowhere near what Gregg was looking for, either. As I talked about on my Hallee the Homemaker blog during the study of The Power of a Praying Wife, Gregg would pray to God, “Dear God, please let me meet a wife, but she must have never been married, have no children, be able to have children, be shorter than me, and live within fifty miles of me.” I met absolutely none of those standards. As such, when we arranged to have him come fix my computer, he was coming to fix my computer. Neither one of us had any concept of anything else.

Gregg arrived at my home on a Friday evening (Kaylee was not home that weekend). My dog, Maia, an Akita mix I’d had to once catch mid-air as she leaped to attack a friend whose keys jingled the wrong way, ran out to greet Gregg when he arrived. She’d gotten past me, and made a beeline for him. I cautioned him about her, but when I got to them, I found Maia on her back, her stomach exposed, tail thumping the ground, tongue lolling out like the happiest dog on the planet. If I’d had even the slightest bit of apprehension about letting Gregg in, it went away with Maia’s acceptance of him.

Gregg often tells this story, and he says that when I stepped out of my house and he looked at me on my little porch, he knew very quickly he was “in trouble.” His attraction for me was immediate and absolute.

We hugged hello, not something I’m personally prone to do, and it felt…right. I was comfortable talking to him and chatting with him as he came into my house. After initial polite pleasantries, he went right to the point and asked where the computer was. Within minutes, he’d restored my computer. Then he invited me to dinner.
We drove down the street and ate chicken at Boston Market. We held hands for the first time as we prayed over the meal.

We could not stop talking. I had a spare bedroom and spare bathroom. He spent the weekend and every single minute with him was perfect. Absolutely perfect. By the end of the weekend, we were hinting at talks of marriage.

I’m not kidding. I was married, recently separated, and absolutely exhausted. But talking with this beautiful, brilliant man about marriage was the most natural thing in the world. Until that moment in time, I would have said that “love at first sight” was something romance writers like me just used as a plot launch. I would never, ever have believed it to be a real “thing”. But I can tell you in all honesty right now, I fell in love with Gregg the moment we met, and that love has done nothing but multiply over the years.

That was January 12th. Four weeks after I’d left my (now ex) husband. On March 22nd, Gregg asked me to marry him, and I happily and readily agreed. On May 23rd, my divorce was final from my ex-husband. On June 28th, at the Calhoun County Courthouse in Anniston, Alabama, we said our marriage vows in front of the Honorable Arthur Murray.

Our 9-Year Anniversary, June 2011

We have had an amazing, adventerous decade of life together. We’ve grown personally, spiritually, and together. We’ve made mistakes, have hurt each other, have healed, and have grown closer together. We are partners. We are one. He is my hero and I am his bride.

I am thankful to God, every single day, that C.D.’s husband was unavailable when I called, that I had the courage to call Gregg, and that he finally got so frustrated with me on the phone that he offered to come fix my computer in person. I am so thankful for every second of my marriage to this amazing, wonderful man, and am so proud to be his wife.

Happy 10th Anniversary, my remarkable husband. I look forward to many more decades together.
Hallee Bridgeman Precious Signature

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    • Sheridan Lee on July 5, 2020 at 01:56
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    Bahahaha! I couldn’t help laugh at Gregg’s wishlist… I’m taller than my hubby too. 😉

    Loved your story, Hallee! I thought my hubby and I were eager beavers getting engaged 6 months after our first date, then marrying 5 months later, but you and Gregg have us beat!

    1. Thank you! You made me smile. 🙂

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