The Dinner Party
By: J.T. Evergreen
The poetry in writing is the illusion it creates.
(© 2018 by the author)
The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's
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We were celebrating our seventh anniversary of being together when he popped the question.
“Will I do what?”
He laughed. “Marry me.”
“Robert Carter Miller, what are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about making it official.”
“After seven years, it looks and feels pretty official to me.”
“Come on, Mason … I’m serious.”
“Where’s the ring?”
“The … oh, my God.”
“You don’t have a ring of engagement? For being one of the top lawyers in San Francisco, that’s pretty lame. I wonder what the boys at Ricci, Wong, and Ramano would have to say about this.” I could not keep a straight face as I wrung him through his own ringer.
“Shit. I’m sorry.”
“Robert. What’s going on?”
He shook his head.
“It’s okay, my love. I’m still here and have no intentions of going anywhere. But why now?”
He sighed, took a sip of wine, and then looked me in the eye. “I’ve been invited to … The Dinner Party.”
“Not … THEEE Dinner Party?”
“That’s bloody amazing. It’s been a long time in coming. I’m so pleased for you. Does that mean …?”
“Partnership? … Perhaps.”
“Robert, I couldn’t be more proud of you. You’ve earned it. Christ, you’ve worked hard enough.”
“Yes, but without you by my side …”
“Oh, I get it. This is your foreplay for some wild sex tonight?”
“Stop it, Mason.” He glared at me for a second or two. “I want to make it official. I want you to go with me … as my partner not as a friend or a roommate, or a trick.”
“Jesus, you are serious.” He wasn’t smiling but the look of love coming across the table just about knocked me over. “Yes, Robert … I will marry you … in a heartbeat.”
His face lit up as he raised his glass of wine, I followed suit; we clinked glasses and all I could think of was the first time I laid eyes on him – all those years ago.
I was on my way to San Francisco and decided to stop off in Santa Monica for a few days before returning home. I woke early that Sunday morning, had coffee and a croissant before leaving the Shangri-La for a few hours at the beach. I had no intentions of a hook-up; I just wanted to see what was going on and get some Sun. I crossed Ocean Avenue, the walkway over Pacific Coast Highway, and was walking along Ocean Front Walk when I spotted him, off in the sand, reading the Sunday Paper. The beach was all but deserted at that hour so, when he put his paper down and watched me walking by, I decided … why not?
I stepped off of the walkway into the sand, angling my way past him so I wouldn’t look completely stupid if I was mistaken about his interest. At worst, he could resume reading his paper, ignore me, and I could proceed to the water’s edge unabashed. But he didn’t resume reading his paper. Instead, he smiled as I drew near. “Hi.”
I stopped and smiled. “Hi, yourself.” And then, somewhat awkwardly, “Mind if I sit here?”
“Not at all. Please do.”
As I spread my towel on the sand, he stopped me.
“Come closer, I won’t bite.”
He was so friendly and unassuming, I did as he requested. I put my things down and stepped forward. “I’m Mason Kent,” and put out my hand.
“Bob Miller.” He took my hand and squeezed slightly. “You’re just in time.”
“Oh, for what?”
“I need sunscreen on my back. Do you mind?”
I laughed, “Of course not. You can return the favor once I get settled.”
When he stood up, I realized how tall he was … maybe 6-3. He handed me a tube of sunscreen and turned around. “I burn easily. So have at it with that stuff.”
I could see he wasn’t lying. His auburn hair and white skin were definitely targets for a burn. So, I slathered it on and enjoyed rubbing his well-developed back – probably more than I should have. As I finished, “I’m not going to do the back of your legs,” though I certainly wanted to.
He laughed, “Thanks, I can take care of that.”
Little did I realize my life was on the verge of a dramatic change.
“When is this Dinner Party?”
“The week after Thanksgiving. I know we’ve never discussed marriage before. Are you sure you’re okay with this?”
“Of course, I am. When and where…”
“At Mark Ricci’s home.”
“No, Robert … when and where?”
“Oh, yeah. How about right away? If it’s okay with you.”
“Sure. But I want wedding bands … none of those cigar wrappers you collect.”
He laughed, “Right. No cigar wrappers. How about tomorrow morning? We’ll go…”
“Yadav’s Jewelers … over on Brannan at Eighth. They’re very expensive.” I grinned “Think I’m worth it?”
“You know damned well you are.” He gave a sigh of relief.
And he was right. I was worth it. We had become so close over the years it scared me. “You weren’t sure I’d say yes … were you?”
“No, I wasn’t.”
“After all these years of ravaging my poor helpless body … I’m surprised.”
“Poor helpless body my foot. It’s an ongoing learning experience living with you … just in case you’re wondering.”
“I’m in for the long haul, Robert. I thought I had conveyed that to you long ago.”
“You did, but you know me … and my insecurities about us.”
“Maybe when we're alone but certainly not in the courtroom.”
He laughed as I remembered the first time I saw him in court trying a case. I never realized what an uncompromising street-fighter he was. Tough-as-nails hardly describes him in that setting. But alone, he was just the opposite … attentive, soft-spoken, gentle, and unsure of himself. I loved him for his vulnerability and his willingness to trust me with it.
“I’ll let you decide on a guest list…”
“No, not right away. Let’s get married first, and later on … maybe after the first of the year, we’ll have a more formal ceremony with family and friends.”
“Get married twice?”
“Sure, why not?”
“Hum, hadn’t thought of that. An excellent idea.”
“I’m not going to change my name.”
“No, of course, not. I love Mason Clark Kent.” He raised his glass again and we toasted our intention.
And so, within forty-eight hours we purchased the wedding bands, got a marriage license, and had the clerk perform the ceremony. Rose Martin, our cleaning lady, came along as witness. She was so happy for us, she could hardly contain herself. We went out for dinner afterward to celebrate. A truly happy day.
But I had my concerns about Robert’s law fellows and my attending this party – looming in the future. I didn’t even know their names; Ricci, Wong & Ramano was all I knew. He provided a dossier on each man plus the four other men of the firm, but the wives remained a mystery outside of their first names. That could prove to be a problem when I finally meet with them. I was used to bigotry when least expected. But at a party like this, I would be a captive audience to any onslaught. So, I made it perfectly clear to Robert that if such a thing should happen, I would give him the high sign and head for the door – with or without him. He assured me such a thing would not happen but; if it did, he would acquiesce.
Well, it turns out he was wrong … terribly wrong. It was horrible and challenged Robert’s relationship with the firm and even our relationship, I’m sorry to say.
It was Saturday, December first, a date I shall not soon forget. We live on Nob Hill behind the Fairmont Hotel, and had intended to drive to the Ricci home in Sausalito for the gathering. When Robert hailed a cab instead of heading to the garage for our car, I asked, “I thought we were going across the bridge.”
“No, Claire changed her mind. They just finished renovating their home on Sea Cliff. She said there’s more room and the city location is more convenient than in the hills.”
“Must be nice having two homes.”
“Actually, they have four.”
“Four? You’re kidding?”
“No. It’s mostly her money … inherited.”
“Oh, I guess that’s okay.”
“Mason, what’s with you?”
“Sorry. I’m just nervous about this. I’m afraid I’m not going to fit in.”
“Why not, for heaven’s sake.”
“Class, my fine feathered friend.”
“Now, who’s the insecure one?”
“It’s reality, Robert. Education, money, position make the difference, and who you know.”
“Look – if this is upsetting you, we’ll just turn around and go home. I’ll call with some excuse.”
“No, I’ll be all right – just needed to vent a little. It’s only a few hours.”
But secretly, I was scared to death. I could feel dark clouds gathering overhead. I knew Robert had class the minute I saw him on the beach – without clothes. After talking with him a few minutes I was pretty sure of it. Then, when I learned he was a lawyer, Harvard educated, and a Rhodes Scholar – there was no question about it – he outclassed me. I made some feeble excuse and began gathering my stuff to leave when he almost yelled at me, “Where are you going?”
I stood up and smiled at him ruefully. “Back to my side of the tracks.”
He stood up, “What the hell does that mean?” He knew exactly what I meant.
“The four standards required of a Rhodes Scholar.”
“So? What about them?”
“It’s the fourth one that bothers me?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“…sympathy for and protection of the weak and uneducated … that’s me.” I picked up my beach bag and walked away.
He grabbed my arm and held me back. “Wait.”
“For what? Mr. Bob Miller, I barely graduated high school. College was out of the question. I’m going before you become bored to tears.” I pulled away from his grasp and walked away. He didn’t say anything; I assumed he agreed with me, and that was that.
But, I did enjoy talking to him, and it didn’t seem important to him that I was hoi polloi. Perhaps it was our mutual loneliness that drew us together.
I felt like shit the rest of the day but it was better than being humiliated in the presence of someone who was a hell of a lot smarter than I was. I had once experienced that moment when someone realized they outclassed me and simply ignored me. I think being ignored is the worst hurt anyone can inflict upon another person.
I wasn’t enjoying myself so, I checked out of the hotel and was on my way out the door when I saw him standing there, watching me. I should have kept going but I stopped. “What?”
“Where are you going?”
“Did you follow me?”
“Yes, I did.”
“I’m going home.”
“San Francisco. Why do you care?”
“I don’t know, but I do. That seems to offend you for some reason.”
“It doesn’t offend me. I just don’t see any good coming of it.”
I’m driving up to San Francisco. Come with me.”
“No, thanks, Mr. Miller. Being a captive audience is not my idea of a good time. Thanks, but no thanks.” I turned and began to walk away and then stopped dead in my tracks when I heard him whisper the one word that grabbed my gut. I turned and stared at him for a few seconds, trying to read the expression on his beautiful face. Did he mean it? He stared back. When I saw his lips tremble into a pitiful smile, I made up my mind. “Ok, I’ll drive back with you.”
“And stop calling me Mr. Miller.”
I laughed. “Okay, Robert ... Bob.”
The cab pulled up in front of the most beautiful home I had ever seen. “Is this it?”
“I guess it is. Driver?”
“This is the address you gave me – 190 Sea Cliff Avenue.”
“We got out, paid the cabbie and stood gawking. “Must be big bucks.”
“It is. I’m told twenty million.”
“Come on.” As we approached, I could hear laughter coming from inside. Robert pressed the doorbell. Within seconds the front door swung open.
“Robert. So happy to see you.”
“Clare, please. No formality here. And you must be Mason, of course. I’m so happy to meet you. Please, come in.” She stepped aside as we entered.
Mark Ricci entered the foyer. “Robert, my boy.”
“And Mason. So happy to meet you at long last. Please, come in. The bar is over there but first, let me introduce you to everyone.
“Thank you, Mr. Ricci.”
“Yes, of course.”
He proceeded to lead me around like a prized turkey, introducing me to everyone whose names I immediately forgot. When the aroma of cooking food hit my nostril I turned to Claire.
“What is that?”
“Ah, come with me.” She took my hand and led me away from the crowd and into the kitchen. “Ginny, this is Mason. He noticed what you’re up to.”
Ginny laughed and held out her hand, “Hi, Mason.”
“It smells like lamb.”
“How many pounds?”
“You’ve been here all afternoon.”
“Well, I’ll leave you two. Ginny … about half an hour?”
“Better make it forty-five minutes just to be safe.”
“Good. And, Mason. Don’t forget, the bar is in the other room. Just help yourself.”
“Thank you.” Claire left the room as I turned to Ginny with a smile. “I don’t drink alcohol. Do you have anything here I can pretend with?”
“I do, indeed, and I have a lemon or lime twist to make it look authentic.”
“That’s great. Now, tell me what else you’ve created with this treasure. I’m a bit of a cook and I’m always eager to learn.”
“Happy to share. Ready?”
“Okay, here goes. Dijon mustard on glazed carrots, herby roasted Jersey royals, some zesty spring greens over here. Roasted baby leeks with oak-smoked bacon croutons…”
“What – no mint jelly?”
Ginny laughed, “Not this time. Strawberry-mint sauce. Here. Have a taste.”
“Hum, Ginny. Outstanding. I can hardly wait. Everything looks wonderful.”
“You’re allowed to sample. Just don’t let Claire see you.” She laughed. “And then there’s peas with pancetta, roasted courgettes with lemon, roasted garlic and clementine carrots, and finally roasted butternut squash with garlic and parsley.”
“This is absolutely amazing. I suppose there’s soup and dessert.”
“Top secret. You’ll just have to wait and see.”
“What about wines?”
“I cook with Zinfandel; Mrs. Ricci is serving Petite Syrah at the table.”
“Ah, I’m not familiar with that … a new experience, eh?”
“I think you’ll enjoy it.”
“Thank you, Ginny. I’ll leave you to it.” I smiled and retreated from the kitchen with my cola and a twist of lime. As I walked into the living room, there they were … the boys sitting around the fireplace with their scotch and smoking cigars. Robert saw me and raised an inviting hand. I smiled and shook my head.
“I understand you just complete renovations on this beautiful home.”
“Yes, I have. Would you like a tour?”
“I would, indeed.”
“I was just about to take these ladies. Stand fast while I gather them. Gloria, Phyllis. I’m ready. Come along Judy. Edna, Brenda, I’m ready.”
Judy Kelly stumbled on the stairs to the second floor and grabbed my arm for support. “You’re with Robert aren’t you?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Isn’t that nice.”
The distain in the tone of her voice told me she was going to be trouble. It was obvious she was well on her way to three sheets to the wind by her inability to keep her evening dress on her shoulders. She had brought her drink with her and managed to spill the entire glass on the stairway before we reached the second level. I distanced myself from her once we reached the second floor.
When the dinner bell rang, Claire cut the tour short. “Come on folks, dinner is served.
The dining room was huge. Someone explained that the table had been constructed with the house and could not be moved. Each place setting had more utensils than I’d ever seen. I would have liked to have had a small instruction sheet on how each one was to be used. But I didn’t, so I winged it by watching everyone else to see what they did.
Claire and Mark occupied the ends of the table while the rest of us were scattered, six on one side and seven on the other. I found my place card at the end of the table next to Claire. Robert found his at the opposite end next to Mark. I would have felt more comfortable with him closer or at my side but no such luck.
As the guests found their places, Brenda Beckway sat across from me, Paul Wong to her left and the slightly tipsy Judy Kelly next to him. Gloria Ramano sat to my right and Dale Blum to her right.
The first course went well enough. I was surprise with and enjoyed the Brie Cheese, Salmon Lox and mushrooms sautéed in garlic. Conversations where somewhat muted as everyone enjoyed the faire. When the second course of Mesclun, toasted Hazelnuts and Mushrooms salad was served, Gloria, who sat to my right, asked what I did for a living.
“I’m a novelist.”
“Oh, how interesting. Romance, murder, intrigue?”
“A little of everything, but I enjoy writing short stories.”
And then she offered the first snide remark of the evening, “Are they gay”?
Everyone I could see at the table took notice of her remark.
I looked at her and smiled, “Some are … some are not. I’m not preferential.”
“I’ll bet you’re not.”
Claire became aware of what was happening and dominated the conversation as a diversion until the soup course was served. I checked with my companions to see which spoon was to be used. What they picked up appeared to be akin to a small shovel, it was so large. But it turned out to be the perfect instrument for this operation. I proceeded to enjoy this delicious creamy Leek and Potato soup.
Claire whispered something to one of her wait staff which I figured out when the soup dishes where whisked away and the lime and the basil sorbet course was served. I knew this was a palette cleanser for the main event which I was looking forward to.
I noticed the wine decanter had disappeared from the table and was ably being handled by one of the servers. I watched as Judy Kelly finished her glass of wine and began looking around for a refill. She delicately held up her glass and smiled. But when the server did not respond she didn’t hesitate, “I’d like some more wine … please.”
Claris was ready, “Judy, the entrée is about to be served and I’m having another and much better wine served.”
“Oh, okay.” She plunked her glass down on the table so hard I’m surprised it didn’t break.
Plates were cleared and the lamb was served. Regrettably, I never got a chance to taste it. When I glanced up I saw Judy glaring at me and braced myself. I smiled at her and looked away. And then, out it came in slurred but very loud words.
“So, what does a faggot like you do when you’re not writing gay stories?”
I put my hand up as I saw Claire begin to rise out of her chair.
“What do I do when I’m not writing?”
“I avoid people like you. That’s what I do.” I’m afraid my response was a bit snarky.
“Oh, is that so. And just who do you think you’re talking to like that?”
“At the moment, I’m talking to a falling down drunk.” I heard Robert whisper my name so loud I’m sure everyone heard it.
“You got a lot of God damned nerve. You don’t even belong here.” Then she turned on Claire, “Why do you invite trash like this into your home?”
The bitch was out of the bag so, I decided it was time to depart. I got to me feet, excused myself to Claire, and walked toward the door.
“You come back here. I’m not finished with you.”
I stopped and turned, “Yes, you are. Good night.”
“You fuckin’ fairy. Come back here.”
Then I heard someone yell. “For God’s sake, Judy.” I assumed it was her husband.
The yelling and screaming continued as I walked to the foyer, grabbed my coat and left the house without closing the front door. I could still hear loud voices as I reached the street.
I called for a cab and walked as far away from the Ricci house as possible. When I saw the cab coming, I hailed it, got in without even looking back to see if Robert had followed.
When I got back to the apartment I did something I never do. I had a stiff drink of scotch, went into the spare bedroom and slammed the door. The alcohol worked very fast and I was asleep almost immediately.
It was still dark when I opened my eyes. I wondered if Robert had returned. He knew better than to come into the spare bedroom. It was my refuge when we had one of our rare arguments.
I managed to doze off again and came awake when it was light. I showered and went into the kitchen to make breakfast since I hadn’t eaten the night before.
Robert entered the kitchen as I filled my plate with scrambled eggs and a piece of buttered toast.
I picked up my plate and a cup of coffee, “Good morning,” and went to my office and sat at the computer. I’m sure Robert saw that I was still furious and wisely decided to leave me be. Several hours later he poked his head in, “Can we talk?”
I didn’t hesitate, “No, we can not talk.”
He didn’t respond and the rest of the day was spent in silence. I slept in the guest room that night. I remember reading that you should never go to bed angry, but I couldn’t help it. Hopefully tomorrow would be better.
Robert and I had little to say to one another since the Saturday fiasco. I was still fuming inside – mostly from my own stupidity in not having paid attention to my instincts not to go to the damned diner in the first place.
Quite frankly, I wasn’t sure my relationship with Robert would survive this incident. He had obviously decided to stay when I left. He would have to make the decision which was most important to him – his career with Ricci, Wong, and Ramano or us. We had disagreed on many things in the past but were always willing to compromise … not this time.
Being subjected to the vile mouth of that drunken bitch was one thing, but the repercussion her display would have on Robert and his relationship with the other men in the firm was quite another. But that was his problem. No advice from me would be forthcoming, let alone be useful.
Robert was dressed and ready to leave for the office. He stood in the kitchen doorway; “I’m going.”
I was at the counter measuring ingredients for bread I was going to bake. I didn’t look around. “Bye … have a nice day.” I was surprised at the ‘I could care less’ sound of my voice.
I sensed he was still there. I kept measuring.
“Are we going to leave it like this?”
I could feel it welling up inside of me. I desperately tried to control it but it was no use. The floodgates opened as I turned. “Leave it like what, Robert?”
In an instant he had his arms wrapped around me, holding me so tight I almost gasped. “My dear boy, I am so sorry.”
“I am so hurt, Robert. Not only for me but for both of us.”
“I know. I know.” He pulled my head to his breast to comfort me.
Then I noticed it and began to giggle.
“What’s so funny?”
“Your shirt. I’ve ruined it with tears.”
“So you have.”
“You’ll have to change.”
He began to laugh, took my head in his big hands and kissed me like the first time we kissed in the Shell Beach cottage.
“I’m not going in today.”
“Yes, you are. I’ll be okay. I want to finish the chapter I’m writing.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure. Now, go.”
He reluctantly withdrew, changed his shirt and was out the door.
I was surprised at the effect my tears had on him. I had never done that before. If nothing else I felt better and felt more secure in our relationship.
Several hours later, the bread had risen twice and was ready for the oven. I set the temperature at 420 degrees, put the timer on thirty minutes, put the bread pans in, closed the oven door, and went to my desk and began working on some dialogue for the novel. When the oven buzzer sounded, I went to the kitchen and turned it off. As I opened the oven door, the doorbell rang.
I thought it odd, and chuckled when I thought it might be the Fuller Brush man or at best Ed McMahon. I pressed the Intercom. “Yes.”
“Clare Ricci here. May I come up?”
I could not have been more surprised. “I’m sorry, Clare, Robert isn’t here.”
“I’ve come to see you, Mason, … if that’s all right.”
I was floored. “Yes, of course. Come on in.” I pressed the entrance door release and left the front door ajar. I had retrieved the bread from the oven and was placing the loaves on the cooling rack when I heard a soft knock on the door. “Come on in, Clare.”
When I sensed her at the kitchen door, I looked up, “Hi.”
“I should have called ahead but I wasn’t sure you would see me. Mason, what is that divine aroma?”
“Fresh French bread. Would you like some?”
“I do. I’m very domesticated. Pull up a stool and I’ll slice this beauty.” As I retrieved butter and jam from the fridge, “With your figure, you probably don’t eat stuff like this.”
“I’ll make an exception today – what a treat. Is that sour cherry jam?”
“It surely is … direct from Italy.”
I poured two cups of tea and sat across from Clare. “I’ll let the bread cool for a few minutes before cutting it. You’re probably here about Saturday night.”
“Oh, Mason. I’m devastated. I had no idea that would happen.”
“I did, and almost didn’t come, but Robert assured me it would be okay. I wish I had paid attention to my instincts.”
“But how could you have known?’
“Being gay all my life, I’ve learned the hard way that bigotry is always near when you least expect it.”
“Mark and I spent the better part of Sunday discussing what should be done.”
“Don’t be concerned about me. It’s Robert I’m worried about. I’ve lived with that man for seven years and can read him like a book … which annoys the hell out of him.” I laughed.
“Mark loves your Robert like a Son. He comments about his contributions to the firm all the time.”
“Well, here’s a little advice … from me.”
She put her teacup down and stared at me.
“Mr. Ricci and the other two partners better do something quick or they will probably lose Robert.”
“Robert hasn’t said as much but as I say, I know him better than anyone else. I’m probably prejudiced but I think Robert is good enough at what he does that he doesn’t need the firm any longer.”
“I hardly know what to say.”
If the firm has been considering him for partnership, I suggest they act on it … fast.”
She stared at me for almost a full minute – I could see the wheels turning in her beautiful head.
“I need to make a phone call. Is there somewhere…?”
“Turn left, second door on your right. It’s our library.”
I was washing up the dishes when she returned.
“Here, let me dry.”
“No, that’s okay.”
I laughed, “Okay. Clean towels are in that cabinet.”
We finished cleaning up and settled at the counter.
“Claire, I’ve been at the cottage in Shell Beach once. I never asked Robert, but who owns it?”
“The firm owns it. It’s there for a retreat when needed.”
“Well, I think Robert and I need it. I’m going to ask him to take some time off.”
“Yes, of course. Just let Mark’s secretary know the dates and she’ll make sure you won’t be disturbed.”
“Great. Thanks … More bread?”
“I’d love it. And that sour cherry jam … where did you get it?
“Ross dress for less.”
“I’m afraid I’ve never been there.”
I thought to myself ‘that’s no surprise’. “Not to worry. It only shows up occasionally and I buy all of it. Would you like to take a jar with you?”
“Yes, I would. Mark will be so pleased. Thank you. Tell me … when I was in the library I noticed several books with the name Hunter Kent on them. Is that a relative?”
“Oh, no … that’s me.”
“You’re an author?”
“How very interesting. I’m an avid reader.”
“What do you like – romance or murder?”
A sheepish grin flooded her face, “Murder.”
“Claire, I have just the book for you. It hasn’t been published yet but I have copies.” I went to the library, brought a copy back to the kitchen, signed it and laid it in front of her.
“It’s not always about Love, Sometimes it’s about Murder.” She looked up at me, “Sounds divine.”
I glanced at the kitchen clock. “Claire, do you realize what time it is?”
“Oh, gosh. I have to get going.”
I laughed, “Our husbands will be home soon.”
She stopped and turned – then began to laugh. “Yes, they will. I’m so very happy I came over.”
“So am I.”
“Yes, of course; I can always use a hug.
She embraced me and whispered, “Thank you.”
“Here, don’t forget your Sour Cherry jam.”
She laughed, dropped it in her bag and was out the door.
I could only imagine what the phone call was about that she so mysteriously made. Three hours later I found out.
I was in the kitchen about to prepare Egg Foo Yung, Robert’s favorite, when I heard the front door open and close.
He was late but that was not unusual. He came to the door but didn’t respond. When I looked around he was staring at me. He must have noticed the two teacups on the counter which I had forgotten to place in the sink.
“Who was here?”
“You drank out of two cups?”
And one of them has lipstick on it.” He looked at me. “This isn’t Rose’s day to clean. And I don’t ever remember seeing her or you wearing lipstick.”
“You’re right about that. But there’s a first time for everything.”
He sat at the counter and waited. He knew I was playing the moment.
I sat across from him. “So, how was your day?”
He was smiling and pursing his lips at the same time.
“Oh, okay. Clare Ricci was here this afternoon.”
“She was concerned and came to see if I was all right?”
“And nothing. I served some French bread, gave her a jar of Sour Cherry Jam, and one of my books – she likes murder mysteries.”
“And nothing. Why do you keep asking that? We just had a nice chat.”
“Did she make any phone calls?”
“Yeah, I think she did.”
“I don’t know … around two I think, why?” The suspense was building. I tried to be cool.
“I was in a meeting about a case we’re litigating when Mark’s secretary came in, which she never does when we’re meeting. When she whispered something to him, he practically jumped out of his chair and excused himself. When he returned, he postponed the meeting we were having. As we all got up to leave, he asked Chet and Paul to stay.
“I didn’t think anything of it until I was ready to leave. Mark called me into his office.”
“Oh, that’s nice.”
“You know, don’t you?”
“Know what for heaven’s sake? Robert, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You’re lying to me, aren’t you?”
“I never lie to you … well, not often.” I went to the sink to hide a grin.
He came over and spun me around and stared into my eyes. “You definitely had something to do with it. I know you better than you think.”
“Something to do about what?”
He enfolded me in his arms, buried his face in my neck and whispered, “Partnership. They offered me a partnership.”
“Robert, I swear to God I didn’t know. That’s wonderful. I’m so pleased for you.”
“What were the two of you talking about before she made the call?”
“I can’t remember specifically. I was just telling her how concerned I was about you and your relationship with the firm.”
“Well, I may have mentioned that you might be leaving them.”
“You devil.” He stared at me for a few seconds, then grabbed my hand and pulled me into the hallway.
“Not a word out of you.” He continued to pull me into the bedroom and stopped. “Take everything off – NOW!”
“My socks too?”
“Especially your socks.”
“But my feet get cold.”
“Not when I get finished with them.”
I did as he asked and we proceeded to make love like it was the first time - ever. Sex with another human can be very satisfying, but when love is thrown into the mix it becomes utterly insane.
When the passion cooled, we lay there peacefully in one another’s arms. Robert kissed my forehead and whispered, “I could use some of that Egg Foo Yung now.”
I smiled and snuggled a little closer, “In a
minute.” He was right … my feet didn’t get cold.