Somebody to Love
Who was this man, and what was he doing at the radio station?
Grace paused in the act of leading the Brownie troop out of the studio. She
couldn’t help staring.
The man who stood at the end of the hall, a sheaf of papers in his hand, was
well over six feet. Broad shouldered, with light brown hair, he looked like
he was in his late twenties. He was one of the handsomest men she’d encountered
in a long time.
But that wasn’t why she was feeling such a jolt to her senses. No, it was
something else about him. An air of quiet command and capability surrounded
him, the kind of aura that made men and women sit up with respect and listen.
Grace felt her heart ping as the stranger met her gaze head-on.
He wore a navy suit and stylish glasses. As he studied her, Grace exhaled
in a long sigh and realized she’d been holding her breath.
One of the Brownies pointed at the unknown man.
Behind the stranger, Mr. Armstrong, the station’s owner and manager, rounded
“Uh, Grace...?” It was the voice of Paulette Nichols, one of the mothers
accompanying the troop on their tour of the radio station.
Grace snapped back to attention. She had to refocus on the troop, and finish
up the tour she was giving them. Later she could ponder the fact that this
man was eliciting a strong reaction within her. A reaction that made her feel
like a guitar string that was plucked and set vibrating.
Grace swallowed. “I don’t know who that is,” she answered the young girl’s
question. “But the other man behind him is Charles Armstrong, the owner and
manager of radio station WQNJ.”
Charles Armstrong stepped forward, smiling at the girls. “Hello there. Glad
you could see the station,” he greeted them. “I hope you enjoyed the tour.”
His jovial face, framed by thick white hair, beamed at the group.
He was answered by a chorus of yeses. He turned to Grace.
“Grace, you haven’t had a chance to meet our new advertising and events director.
This is Brian Talbot. Brian, Grace Norwood. Also known as Grace Harmony, our
late afternoon DJ.”
Brain Talbot took a step towards her. Grace extended her hand, feeling smaller
and fragile in comparison to his height. His hand, large and masculine, was
warm and strong as it grasped hers.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about you,” he said. His voice was deep and
the timber was friendly and pleasing.
So this was the new ad director! Grace knew he’d started this past Monday,
but he was usually out on the road by the time she arrived at the station.
She had to agree silently with Tina, the secretary, who’d called Brian “hot.”
She gave him a bright smile and stepped back, freeing her hand. The warm feeling
inside her remained
“I’ve heard good things about you too,” Grace responded, smiling. “I’m glad
to meet you. Welcome to WQNJ. You’re going to love it here.”
Where his hand held hers Grace felt as if vibrations were humming and then
traveling up her arm and through her entire being. Her heart skipped along
with the music.
Brian was giving her an appraising look, and Grace suddenly felt self-conscious.
It was a feeling she rarely experienced.
Why did the man of her dreams have to walk into her life when she looked like
Of course, she knew she couldn’t tell from his outer appearance if this man
really was the stuff that dreams are made of. But he certainly looked the part.
While she looked like a young hippie.
To go along with her radio show at the oldies station she usually dressed in
clothes that were similar to the styles of the late 60’s and early 70’s. But
Grace found herself wishing she hadn’t selected her long, tie-dyed pink and
purple T shirt to wear over a white turtleneck top with her faded pair of jeans.
For just a moment, she wished she was wearing a simple business suit. Or a
feminine dress. And that her hair wasn’t pulled back in a scrunchie.
She had to bring her scattered thoughts together. She still had the Brownie
troop to consider, and soon it would be time to go on the air..
“Grace Harmony?” He repeated Charles’ words, emphasizing the Harmony.
“It’s my middle name,” she explained hastily. She was used to people’s surprised
reactions, and had even told the troop about her family’s unique names.
“She’s named for a famous rock and roll singer.” The solemn voice came from
LaShone Nichols, Grace’s personal “little sister” from the Big Sisters program.
“She told us her mom liked the singer’s voice a lot.”
Grace caught a hint of amusement in Brian’s hazel eyes as he smiled at the
Brownies. He turned back to her. “That would be...?” he prompted.
“Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane,” Grace said. “And Harmony for--well,
because my parents love music, and thought it was a cool middle name.” She
turned too, and winked at the girls
“I think it’s a pretty name,” another girl added.
“Yes, it is,” Brian said, still regarding Grace with an amused smile. Why
did that smile make her feel like her insides were melting?
She had to get back to the tour and conclude with the girls before she went
on the air. And not pay attention to the devastatingly masculine man who towered
above her by a foot.
Smiling at the troop, she said, “thank you so much for coming today. Tina
has some gifts for you as you’re leaving--WQNJ Frisbees for you girls, and coffee
mugs for your moms.” She met the glance of Paulette Nichols, one of the chaperones,
whose daughter she had come to know well in the last six months.
“What do we say, girls?” Paulette asked.
A chorus of thank you’s reverberated in the corridor. As they slowly filed
out, holding the Frisbees and coffee mugs, Grace gave quick hugs to LaShone,
and Maritza, her roommate Yadira’s “little sister”. “Yadira and I will see
you guys next week!” she told the two.
Charles and Brian called goodbye to the girls as they trooped out into the
cold January afternoon.
Grace turned. Brian had moved so he stood right behind her.
She tilted her head to look up at him, inhaling the scent of a subtle but masculine
“You certainly have an unusual name,” he remarked.
“Yes, well, I like it,” she said lightly. Her heart was beating more rapidly
than usual. “And it goes well with my special show, so I use it on the radio.”
“Your special show...?”
“The Love, Peace and Happiness Hour. The show I do from five to six,” Grace
said. “That’s when I play music from the late 60’s and early 70’s. From three
to five, and then from six to seven, I play the regular oldies from the 50’s
through the eighties. But during my show, I concentrate on the music of those
She recognized the note of pride in her voice. The show had been her own idea,
and Charles Armstrong had liked it. Apparently, so did their listeners. The
response had been enthusiastic, and she now had a large audience for the show.
“You know,” she finished. “That time when the ideals of peace, love, and happiness
were so prominent.”
“In other words, the hippie era.” Brian said. Grace thought she detected
a dry note in his voice.
“Well, yes,” Grace said. “When everyone believed that love was all you need,
as the Beatles said. And world peace and happiness were possible. There was
a song with that title--I play it as the show starts--by the Chambers Brothers.”
“Love, peace and happiness.” This time there was no denying the sardonic tone
of Brian’s voice. “Yes, I’ve heard your show.”
Grace stared at him. “You sound so cynical.” She said it quietly, trying
to keep her voice from sounding as shocked as she felt. Who didn’t believe
in those ideals? Or at least yearn for them? He sounded...almost bitter, she
Brian’s handsome face had taken on a skeptical expression. “Yeah, well,” he
said, his tone dropping lower, “it’s hard to believe in those ideals when life
has taught you otherwise.”
Grace’s mouth dropped open. She shut it hastily. She’d met people who felt
the same, of course. People who looked at the negatives rather than the bright
side of things.
Somehow, it shocked her that Brian was one of those people.
And the disappointment that swept through her core at his words surprised her.
“Happiness, yes,” Brian was continuing. “That’s possible. World peace....highly
“And love?” The question was out of her mouth before she could stop it.
“Love...?” Brian’s expression darkened. “Improbable. In fact, impossible.
At least...for some people.”
Poor guy. It was the first thought that flew into Grace’s head. What had
happened to him to make him so cynical about love?
And why did it bother her so much?
“I don’t agree,” she whispered. “Everyone is capable of finding love.”
“Platitudes from the anti-war era.” Brian’s eyes met hers squarely, and she
recognized the challenge there.
Beside her, Charles coughed.
She had momentarily forgotten his presence. Glancing at the friendly face
of her employer, Grace collected herself. “I better get ready to go on the
air,” she said.
She tilted her chin up further, standing as straight as she’d learned in ballet
classes. “Why don’t you listen to my show? It might change your outlook,”
she suggested. Although her words were as challenging as his, she said them
in a kind, soft tone. She didn’t want to fight with the man. Only to convince
him he was wrong.
“I always listen to the station.” Brian’s words were unadorned but firm.
“That’s good.” She left it at that. Smiling once more, she finished, “I’m
glad to meet you. I’m sure I’ll see you soon.” She glanced at Charles, noting
his expression looked highly amused. Had he found the interchange between her
and Brian funny? she wondered. “Thanks for letting LaShone’s troop visit today.”
“I always like it when young people visit,” Charles said. “It opens up the
world of radio to them.”
“And gets us some more listeners,” Brian added.
“True.” Charles said. “You don’t have to be old to listen to oldies. It’s
some of the best music ever written.”
“I agree.” Grace smiled at them both. “See you later.”
She left them in the hall and walked past the reception area to the studio.
Since the speakers were always turned to their station, she could hear the song
that was playing--a favorite by The Supremes. Quietly slipping into the small
room, she greeted Will, the late-morning and early afternoon DJ. He’d stayed
later today so she could give the tour. He nodded back, and handed her the
“Here.” He also gave her a slip of paper with news about an accident on Rt.
46 tying up afternoon traffic. “Just got this.” His tone was low.
“Okay. I’ll announce it right after the news,” Grace said, sliding into her
The song ended, and the radio station’s call letters were announced, followed
by the voice of Jan from the newsroom. She’d have a few minutes of national
and local news and weather before coming on the air.
She had already chosen music for today’s show. But as she sat there, looking
at the CDs she’d lined up, Grace had a new thought. She decided to add one
song. It was a personal favorite, so she had no trouble finding it.
She listened to the news, but her mind raced all the while. She was still
tingling from the encounter with Brian, and unsure why. She’d met plenty of
handsome men before. She had even liked some of them.
Including Todd. Now that was a mistake.
But she’d never had quite so instantaneous a reaction to anyone she’d just
met as she had to Brian.
She mulled over their meeting. It was sad, she thought, that Brian seemed
so skeptical about life and love. Perhaps he’d just never met the right person.
Or he’d been hurt in a previous relationship.
Growing up, Grace had never tired of listening to the story about her parents’
meeting. Her mother loved to tell how she’d met Grace’s father, how they’d
been instantly attracted and fallen quickly in love. Grace had always wondered
if someday the same thing would happen to her. It had happened to her brother
Don, now happily engaged to his girlfriend.
She’d never expected to find herself attracted to someone who was so obviously
not interested in romance.
She suppressed a groan. Well, she thought, perhaps he just needed to find
the right person.
On that thought, the engineer in the next room signaled through the glass.
She’s be on the air in half a minute.
She straightened slowly, anticipation curling within her. She might not be
visible to the listeners, but she was on stage nonetheless. She loved this
part of her job. She smiled, knowing it would show in her voice.
Carl, the engineer, signaled again, and the theme for her show began.
“All our love, peace and happiness, we’re gonna give to you...”
She waited for the song to play for a half minute. The she leaned toward the
“Hello, and welcome to our Friday afternoon edition of the Love, Peace and
Happiness hour!” she said brightly. “Your hour to relax and unwind after a
hard day’s work. It’s Friday, and we anticipate the weekend!” She paused for
only a split second. “This is our show where you’re invited to tune into the
music from the late 60’s and early 70’s, and recall those years when everyone
believed in peace, love and happiness; and strived to attain those ideals.”
The music slowly faded.
“This is your flower child, Grace Harmony, host of the show,” Grace continued
enthusiastically. “I have some great songs lined up for your listening pleasure.
First, a traffic note: there are back-ups on Rt. 46 headed west from Netcong
to Hackettstown, all due to a fender bender at the bottom of the Hackettstown
Mountain. Expect some delays; and as our weatherman Tom said, sleet should
be arriving later so watch out for those slick spots!”
She went on. “For those of you new to the show, we showcase the music of that
era that was so full of idealism. If you have a favorite, let us know! We’ll
see if we can squeeze it in near the end of the show. Any questions? I’m this
station’s resident Flower Child. My parents met at the Woodstock festival, and
I grew up listening to this music. It’s the best.”
She grinned as she continued. “Now, those of you who’ve listened in before
know I’m named for my mom’s favorite female vocalist, Grace Slick, of the Jefferson
Airplane and Jefferson Starship. And of course I love their music! Now we’re
going to hear one of their most popular songs.” She reached for the CD. “Oddly
enough, I met someone recently who just might need what the song suggests: Somebody
to Love!” She inserted the CD in the “cart” machine and turned the dial as
she finished speaking.
As Grace Slick’s powerful voice vibrated through the air, Grace leaned back
in her seat. She wondered if she looked as mischievous as she felt. It was
always fun to spontaneously chose a song that fit the moment, and this one seemed
to suit her meeting with Brian. He definitely needed somebody to love.