EXCERPT 3

Aaron and I hadn’t seen one another for many years and I had to admit to being somewhat tense. We were to meet in the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel where he was staying. I waited restlessly, rooting around in my purse for a compact mirror to check my make-up one more time when he entered from the rear of my booth. I was startled, feeling a nervous flutter at finally seeing him. Once getting past the newly shorn head and some added body mass, I realized that feelings of longing had surprisingly remained in place. I slipped out of the booth to share a brief, somewhat awkward embrace.

“Hi you,” I said.
“I heard from someone you were gorgeous as ever and it’s true.”
Aaron’s old spirit had remained intact.
“Sounds like a line to me. My lord, who said that?”
“I know better than to burn a source,” he replied, sliding into the booth across from me. “But, I didn’t mean to blurt it out like that.”
“Oh, go ahead. Keep the compliments coming,” I teased. “But first you’ll have to bring me up to date with everything I don’t know about you.”

One of the servers filled our water glasses and I took a big swallow, feeling a little parched from the excitement. I pressed him by saying, “So tell me things and don’t spare the details.”
“That requires a big bottle of wine,” Aaron said, waving down the sommelier in quest of a wine list and ordering a bottle of Pommard. The name of this wine alone flooded the depths of my memory and a hot flush overcame my face. Aaron stood to help me wriggle out of my black wool jacket. He draped it across the seat of the booth and squeezed me briefly on my shoulders.

“So, have you become follically-challenged or just tired of the blow dryer?” I asked.
“Truthfully, a little of both.”

Walking back to his seat, a taste of wine was poured into his glass. Trapping the base of the glass to the table with his first and second fingers, he swirled it vigorously as if urging the wine to wake up, then lowered his nose into the depth of the glass. I had seen this prelude to a bottle of wine thousands of times so many years ago. He nodded his approval to the sommelier. My glass was filled and then his. He raised his glass on high.

“Salud, pretty girl,” he clinked his big-bowled glass against mine.
“Salud back. It’s really, really good to see you, Aaron.”

After nearly a couple of hours, he helped me back into my jacket to change venues. We left the hotel and walked arm in arm across 57th Street for dinner. It was like the script for this meeting had already been written and yet there was so much to catch up on. Acquainted as we had become with email messages and the very occasional phone call, sitting face to face threw us into an altered, real-life frequency and it was clear that we had previously only scratched the surface of our real lives. The wine and late hour soon colluded in making us increasingly flirtatious.