COURTYARD LOVE 8

“I know,” he said. “I guess I was having a mid-life crisis. I had split up with my wife, who had always been a cold woman and rejected my advances ninety percent of the time. I guess I went overboard in the other direction, with a woman who was ready and even eager for sex any time. I over-compensated, I guess. I guess I wasn’t enough for her.”

“We all make mistakes. I’d say you were miss-matched because she’s just not good enough for you. You were on the rebound,” I said, musing on memories of life with Larry. Never had he taken me to a place like this or made me feel this way.

The food came, and I saw at once what the ‘splits’ were. On my plate there was half a serving of sole with slivered almonds and half a serving of veal Marsala. James’ plate was the same. Similarly, we each had two small salads, on Caesar and one chef’s. In fact, the chef came out from the kitchen and greeted James warmly. James introduced me, and the chef, a British man, explained that his name was also James, so when my James (listen to me – MY James… I should live so long) was in school, he worked in the restaurant kitchen… and was called Little Jim to differentiate between the two of them.

The food was superb. A small jazz group in a corner of the restaurant – a piano, drums, and bass – played softly, and it formed a comfortable background to our meal and our conversation, each of which was perfect. By the time the meal was over, we had finished both bottles of the very good French wine. We were fully satisfied in almost every way. I say almost, because during the forty-eight hours I’d known James, I’d developed an appetite for more than dinner and conversation. The man was kind, gentle, generous, handsome, and apparently about to have an exciting career. I was surprised when I admitted to myself that I was smitten with him, and I could have devoured him on the spot. I wished I could see that tall, lean body naked… preferably on my bed.

I noticed that James paid the substantial bill with cash, including a generous tip. In the past, when men paid with credit cards, I felt they were making monthly payments for our date. We left the restaurant and he hailed a passing taxi. We both have cars, but he knew we’d have wine with dinner, and he’s just the kind of person who likes to do things properly. I haven’t found that many men share that characteristic… certainly my ex, Larry, wasn’t anywhere near so thoughtful. I couldn’t help but wonder how thoughtful a lover James might be. I noticed that he tipped the cab driver fairly generously too.

I hesitated to ask James up to my place. We just kissed each others cheeks, expressed our pleasure at sharing each other’s company. He crossed the courtyard while I mounted the steps to my landing. I turned and we waved at each other just before I stepped into my kitchen. I went into my room but didn’t turn the light on. I knew he couldn’t see into my dark room, and I undressed while I looked across at his lighted kitchen window. He crossed into his bedroom, and I lost sight of him until he turned on his light.

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