He said it could quite possibly be the most important text he’d ever sent (to her), and would she like to meet him at The Gilded Grasshopper for an early dinner.
Hell, yeah, she would!
With her wild heart pounding, Renée texted back saying she would be there at 6:00.
What could it be? We do business together occasionally, but this is Sunday. And it’s so out of the blue. Leonard is not the spontaneous sort. He said it was important…What if…?
And Renée allowed herself to hope that maybe, just maybe Leonard had changed his mind. Maybe he’d dumped what’s-her-name and realized there really was something between himself and Renée!
“Holy crap,” she mumbled. “What am I gonna wear?”
The news came on and the weatherman was calling for snow that evening. Renée paused to listen, but then tuned it out. She’d ride a ten-speed bike through a blizzard for Leonard. Meteorologists were wrong 50% of the time, anyway.
She made sure she arrived at The Gilded Grasshopper early enough to down a couple glasses of wine before Leonard showed up. She told herself she wanted some time to think; what she really did was allow her imagination to run away with itself. It was true, anything could happen that evening. By the time she was half-way through her second glass of wine, Renée was up for pretty much anything life could throw at her.
She glanced up as he walked through the door. He was as beautiful as ever. How she adored that man! When Leonard saw her, he smiled that killer smile that made Renée melt like a Popsicle on August asphalt.
He rested his chin on the ball of his left hand, and gazed dreamily into her eyes. Heart racing and stomach somersaulting, Renée savored every nanosecond of his attention. While wondering what would happen next, Renée gazed right back into his baby blues. She felt like crying, but didn’t know why. They were neither happy nor sad tears, just tears.
“You really are gorgeous, Renée. “ Leonard sighed. “You know that, don’t you?”
“All I know is what you tell me.” With quivering lips, she smiled what she hoped was a seductive smile.
Just then, a waiter appeared and reached to light the candle at their table.
“My name Chin. I am your server this evening. I can start you with appetizer and a drink for you, sir?”
Leonard glanced at Renée’s empty wine glass. “Another for the lady and a glass of red for me, please.
“What about appetizer? Lady look hungry!” Chin joked.
Renée blushed. Although svelte and slinky now, at one time she tipped the scales at 211 lbs. References to hunger and weight still failed to amuse her.
“Hell, yes!” Renée blurted. “Lady starving. Bring Lady Happy Family appetizer and gentleman miso soup!”
“Okay, ma’am,” Chin mumbled and slunk away, bemused. Americans were so weird.
“You remembered I like miso.” Leonard smiled, ignoring Renée’s outburst.
“I remember everything. So! Tell me. What’s this little rendezvous about?
“Oh, right.” He cleared his throat and looked at her with those dreamy blue eyes. “I’ve given it a lot of thought. This is hard for me, Renée, because I have, well…”
Renée’s heart began to soar. This dream really was going to come true. Leonard loved her. She’d known it in her heart and now his heart knew it too!
Chin arrived with their wine and soup, and served them without making eye contact. Renée took a sip of her Chardonnay.
“You have what, Leonard?” Her green eyes sparkled with anticipation.
“What I have doesn’t matter. I cannot act on my feelings, so I am not even going to talk about them. But what I did want to talk to you about is this: the Firm has taken on a new partner, Peter Marrano is his name. He’s bright, attractive and funny as hell—“
“What’s that got to do with me?”
“I don’t understand…” but she was afraid she did.
“If you’re interested, I‘d like to introduce the two of you. He’s alone and new to the city, and you’re…”
“What, Leonard? I’m what?”
“Uhh. You’re umm, I mean you’re, well you know…you’re…”
She cocked an eyebrow and tilted her head, waiting for him to finish.
“You’re single too, so I thought maybe you and Peter might be a good match.” he took a sip of wine and looked away. “Maybe you’ll like one another.”
At this point she didn’t care about anything. All she wanted was to go home, snuggle deep under the covers and let the tears come.
“I guess.” she shrugged. “When does he want to meet?”
“You’re interested?” Leonard looked up suddenly in surprise.
“Sure. Why not?” Renée emptied her wine glass in one gulp. “Maybe he’ll be Mr. Right,” she lied.
“That’s great!” Leonard beamed.
“Is it?” Renée felt her eyes fill with tears and she tried to blink them away. She’d be damned if she’d let him see her cry.
“What do mean?”
“Nothing.” She waved his comment away. “I have to use the restroom. Would you order me another glass, please?”
Once in the restroom, Renée allowed herself a silent cry–just enough to take the edge off, but then stopped.
Wait a minute. Didn’t he say something about having feelings and not being able to act on them? What did that mean? He’s a grown man and single. Nothing is stopping him from acting on anything. He likes me, sure, just not enough.
With that she blew her nose, fixed her make-up, took a couple of deep breaths and sauntered back to their table.
Her glass of wine and the Happy Family appetizer was waiting for her.
“That was fast,” she commented.
“You were gone for fifteen minutes.” Leonard looked concerned. “I was about to ask one of the waitresses to check on you.”
Maybe he really did care. At least a little. Renée looked into Leonard’s eyes for several seconds and realized that she loved him more than ever now. Shit.
The evening continued without incident: small talk and appropriate responses. In fact, it was so uneventful it might as well never happened.
After they both finished eating, Renée folded her napkin over her plate. “Thank you for dinner, Leonard. I’d better be getting home. I have an early day tomorrow.”
Leonard looked at his watch. “Oh, right. Hey, I’ll be in touch about Peter…”
“Yeah.” Renée glanced at him. “Okay.”
Although its flame was nearly non-existent, Renée blew out the candle that Chin had lit as they got up from their table. The waxy smoke curled its way to the ceiling.
While waiting for her old Buick to warm up, Leonard pulled out of the parking lot and drove away. She watched his taillights blend in with the other cars on the road until she could no longer distinguish them.
As Renée backed out of her parking space, it began to snow.
The weatherman had been right. Good for him. I still would’ve ridden a ten-speed, though.