(Published: Woman’s World, April 2011)
Why hasn't he called? Catherine wondered, as she
stared out the window into the darkness of the California night. Carrying the portable phone with her, she walked across
the room to the patio doors. Maybe fresh air would help clarify the confused thoughts swirling through her mind.
onto the warm patio slate, she stood for a moment breathing in the perfumed night air.
The only light came from the pool. The semi-darkness mirrored her own
out on the chaise lounge and looked up into a sky filled with stars and a few bright planets.
A fluffy tail flitted
past her arm. "There you are, Muffin. Where
have you been? Come on up here with me."
Two orange eyes peered at her solemnly, considering the invitation, then the melon-colored Persian leaped onto the
lounge beside her. She stroked the long, silky fur.
"What should I do,
Muffin? Should I agree to see him?"
Mark had promised
to call tonight, and she remembered that he was both prompt and dependable. Of
course, that had been over forty years ago. And how well had they really known
one another? They had been so young, their romance so brief.
her eyes and visualized the light blue eyes that turned dark just before he kissed her.
And the strong but gentle hands that pulled her against….
She sat up, abruptly. "I’m being ridiculous!"
Displaced from her
comfortable position, Muffin jumped off the chair, switched her tail and walked toward the house. Catherine laughed and followed. She closed and locked the
patio door, catching sight of her own reflection. In the dim image, she could
almost see the woman Mark remembered, but she knew that in the light of day, that woman no longer physically existed.
They had been corresponding
for a few months by email. A mutual friend had given Mark her address after his
divorce, knowing that she was now a widow.
The sudden ringing of the phone in her hand interrupted her thoughts. She
stiffened, unable to move until the fourth ring.
"I hope I didn't
"No, no, I was just
sitting on the patio. It's such a lovely night."
When Mark responded,
Catherine heard the same surprise in his voice that she was feeling herself. "You
sound exactly as I remember. Can it really be forty years since we've seen
years, but who's counting?"
"Well, however many,
it's been too long. I'm flying to the West Coast on Thursday and checking
into the Four Seasons. My business will be over by the end of Friday afternoon. Would you like to go out to dinner?"
For goodness sakes,
just do it! Catherine told herself.
"Why don't I meet
you for drinks at the Four Seasons bar around seven o'clock? We can decide about
"By the way," she
added, hesitantly, "how will we know one another?"
"Don't be silly,"
Mark replied. "Do you think I could ever forget your lovely face?"
Oh, dear, Catherine
thought, saying goodbye before she could change her mind.
He switched from the History Channel to CNN, then ESPN before giving up and turning off
the TV. An occasional grunt from Molly, asleep at his feet, reminded him that
he was not completely alone. The Irish Setter stretched out farther with a small
with Catherine had assuaged his loneliness. Their emails and tonight’s
phone conversation had brought back long-buried memories.
Was his desire to
see her again just a fantasy? Or was this the beginning of a new chapter
in his life?
There was only one
way to find out.
* * * *
She sat at the small table, sipping her wine. The
lounge area was crowded. Two people she recognized as minor celebrities were
seated at a table close by. She tried not to stare.
The ambience of the
room was subdued and elegant, but Catherine was feeling nervous and uncomfortable. Maybe
she should leave and save both Mark and herself embarrassment. He was probably
having second thoughts, too. She reached for her cell phone.
And then she saw
him. He stood in the archway, surveying the room.
He wasn't as tall as she remembered, a bit heavier, and his hair was silver-gray.
He looked self-assured, strong, masculine.
He saw her and stared. She smiled and watched him walk towards her then stood—waiting.
He reached out to gently grasp
her arms and pull her into a warm embrace. When they moved apart, the look on
his face took her breath way.
Relief and happiness
filled her before he even spoke.
"I'd have known you
anywhere," he said. "You always had the most beautiful eyes!"