To Dede, it was more like a pink one."He didn't press me for it," she told me. That's when the chocolate and flowers came."Mark sent a dozen and a half red roses and a box of candy to Dede's home. In his next text message to Dede, Mark said he had found most of the money to ship the box (it supposedly contained diamonds). She assumes he was stringing along multiple women, each at a different part of the seduction.She can imagine him sitting at the computer with a spreadsheet so he could keep the myriad details straight."He was so smooth," Dede said. He had to have gotten money from women before."Dede is glad he didn't get anything from her — and she even got 18 roses and a box of chocolates."He's out that money," she said with a laugh.
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"That just turns me off."Dede sent Mark a note through Match's messaging system. We got to the point where it was bantering and chattering back and forth."Dede wrote about the horse she owned and about plans for her father's birthday. He said he was in the Army and had recently accompanied the body of Maj. Mark sent photos, including some of him in uniform.
He responded, and they fell into a casual online conversation."He was very kind," Dede told me. In one, he was sliding an omelet off a pan into a plate held by a disabled soldier.
I asked Dede to send me the correspondence between Mark and herself. I did an image search on the photos and found a hit.
The man with whom Dede thought she was corresponding — he of the salt-and-pepper hair and friendly smile — was closer than she knew.
On Labor Day, Mark wrote about some of the things he enjoyed doing — swimming, golfing, camping — and lamented that he had to do them alone. He asked something else, too."You really seem like the busy type," Mark wrote. That could save us some time."And so Dede switched to text messaging, communicating back and forth via Yahoo Messenger with a man who increasingly seemed like he might be The One. No one was more excited about this than Dede, who had kept in touch with Mark, at his suggestion, via Yahoo Messenger.