Home > life, writing > A Time To Fly (21)

A Time To Fly (21)

While she watched the hotel entrance, a taxi raced up to the front steps.  Geoffrey hurriedly leapt out of the cab and tossed a handful of lire notes to the driver.  The hotel bell captain held the door open for Geoffrey, who took the steps two at a time.  When he reached the bell captain, he handed his brief case to the startled man and turned immediately and ran back down the steps as the cab pulled away.  With just a few strides on his long legs, Geoffrey Sarron was at the edge of the café, looking around desperately for Belinda.  She lifted her wineglass high overhead and smiled broadly.  Geoffrey saw her, broke into a relieved grin, and hurried between tables to her side.  He took her hand in both of his and Belinda noticed how warm, dry, and large they were.  Her well-groomed hand was almost lost in his, like a pearl in an oyster.

          “Forgive me,” he said.  “You know how these negotiations are.  It can be devastating if you break off discussions at an inappropriate moment.”

          “Of course,” she said.  “As colleagues, we both know about the challenges of the profession.”  The waiter approached their table.

          “I’ll have what she’s having,” Geoffrey said.  As the waiter retreated, Geoffrey turned to Belinda.  “What is that you’re having?”

          “Just an apéritif,” she said.  “An appetiser before supper and so on.”

          “What’s good here,” he asked, looking at the small, hand-lettered menu.

          “I don’t know,” she said.  “I’ve never eaten here before, except a breakfast bun and coffee.”  Geoffrey put the menu aside.

          “You know I’m here on business.  Are you here on business too?” he said.

          “I’m vacationing,” she said.


          “You’re alone, aren’t you?” she said.

          “I’m working,” he said.

          “If one can work alone, one can vacation alone,” she said.  They were interrupted when the waiter came to their table to take their order.

          “What do you suggest,” Geoffrey asked him.

          “Beef tortallini for the lady,” he said with a half-bow toward Belinda, “and cheese tortallini for yourself, signor.”

          “Why do you recommend different dishes for each of us?” Belinda asked.

          “It is a gift I have, dear lady,” he boasted.  “I am able to feel the desires of my clients.”  Geoffrey and Belinda looked at each other and blushed beneath their dark cheeks.  Suddenly Belinda began to laugh heartily, and Geoffrey soon joined in.

They followed the waiter’s suggestions, and found their meal delightful.  The food was excellent, and when they tasted each other’s dish, they agreed that the waiter’s sixth sense was accurate.  Their conversation ran the gamut from work related stories of success and failure to their individual romances’ successes and failures.  They had much in common.  Both of them were blacks who had overcome adversity and humble beginnings to rise to positions of respected responsibility.  Also, each had lost a spouse tragically, early in life.  Geoffrey loved his children, and Belinda wished she had children to love.

Their conversation continued for hours.  They completely lost track of time, and were absorbed in one another’s companionship.  The tables gradually became empty.  The busboy began to gather the red and white chequered tablecloths and upturned the chairs onto the tables.  Suddenly Belinda noticed the impatient waiter, pacing nearby.  Geoffrey paid him, apologised for keeping the staff late, and took Belinda by the arm.

          “Where shall we go now,” he said.

          “I think I’d like to turn in now,” Belinda said.  “It’s been a delightful evening, and tomorrow will be a busy day.  I leave the day after, early in the morning, and I want to do a final burst of shopping so I can be packed and prepared well ahead of time.”

          “But it’s still early, and I’ve enjoyed you so much,” he said.  They crossed the street to the hotel entrance.

          “I’ve enjoyed you as well,” Belinda said.  “But this was a friendly dinner between colleagues, and colleagues wouldn’t carry on into the night.”  Geoffrey Sarron thought about that.

          “Okay then,” he said.  “Will you go out with me tomorrow evening, on a date, with romantic intentions?”

          “Why Mister Sarron, how you do go on,” Belinda mocked him with an exaggerated southern belle accent.

          “I’d like to have supper with you, and spend the evening in a nice place, dancing and talking.  Will you?” Geoffrey said.

          “I’d be delighted, Geoffrey,” Belinda said, and touched his hand.  He held the door open for her and she swept through and strode smoothly to the elevator.  Geoffrey Sarron joined her and pressed the elevator button.  They stepped onto the elevator.

          “What’s your floor?” Geoffrey said.  Belinda began to think about what might take place at the door to her suite.

          “One,” she said.  Geoffrey pressed one and three.  Belinda was relieved and disappointed at the same time.  Geoffrey was not going to see her to the door, it seemed.  The elevator doors slid aside at the first floor.  Geoffrey Sarron took Belinda’s hand in his and raised it to his lips as he bent to kiss it.

          “I’ll see you tomorrow evening in the lobby at seven,” he said.  “Okay?”

          “Okay,” she said, and stepped out of the elevator.  She listened for the sound of the closing door, but it didn’t come.  She realised that Geoffrey was watching her ass as she walked toward her room.  At her door, she stopped and turned to Geoffrey who was standing in the elevator, his finger on the stop button, smiling appreciatively.  Belinda gave him a little wave and stepped into her room and closed the door quietly.

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