Last Monday, I meant to post another chapter of this book. My flimsy excuse is that I was so into drafting chapters of the difficult final part of this mammoth undertaking that I completely forgot. I got seven chapters drafted over the past two weeks, so now I can relax and get back to other things like posting chapters.
The Souring Seas
Tony hurried into Cuppa Java and skipped to Beth’s favourite place by the window. She greeted him with the now traditional kiss, and his heart missed a beat. He sat confused by thoughts of a newfound commitment. His usually suppressed optimistic emotional self was winning the battle with his more pragmatic scientific one. When his mind cleared, he realized Beth was nattering away.
“Sorry I missed you yesterday and the day before, but Mr. Brockleman wanted to see me Tuesday afternoon. And Wednesday, we rushed through an extra scene for my Smugglers Cove episode.”
He leaned forward, whispering. “So, being pregnant isn’t a problem?”
Beth smiled. “Might even help. Yesterday, when I was leaving, he said he would weave my pregnancy into the ongoing series. He wants to discuss it tomorrow afternoon.”
“Does this mean you’ll become a regular?”
“Hope so. Come for dinner tomorrow. I’d love to share the news, and I’d rather it was you than Bernie.”
Beth laughed as she placed her hand on his. “My neighbour, Bernadette, not some new boyfriend.”
Tony sighed, telegraphing his relief Bernie wasn’t another boyfriend. “What time should I arrive?”
“Six. I get hungry earlier and earlier these days.” She pulled him from his seat. “Let’s get out of here.”
He reached back, grabbed his cup, and gulped a final mouthful of coffee before hustling after her. “Where we headed?”
She led him to the Halifax Common, several blocks of lawn crisscrossed by paths leading to various parts of the city. They lounged on the grass and Beth described a future that included a staring role for Tony.
At six, they strolled down Quinpool Road and into the Parthenon, a Greek restaurant that also sold a variety of Mediterranean dishes. Beth sported, as she had every time they’d met, a flattering little sundress. This one had a blue and red paisley print. Tony wore a decent pair of Bermuda shorts and a golf shirt.
Beth knew the staff, and after they ordered, the waitress brought them complementary glasses of wine. Beth pushed hers across the table and explained she was pregnant. Thereafter, dinner became a very involved affair as Dimitri, the owner, his wife, and one after another of the staff brought treats and sat down to discuss Beth’s pregnancy. She and Tony departed stuffed to the gills.
They wandered home arm in arm like lovers without a care in the world. As they approached her apartment, Beth invited him up.
She pulled her living room curtains across the deck door, put a sultry Diana Krall CD on the machine and pushed him onto the sofa.
As Ms. Krall crooned ‘The Look of Love’, Beth reached up and kissed him.
Tony returned the kisses and soon had her dress above her hips and his hands on her breasts. She flinched, and he pulled away. “Something wrong?”
“Sorry, I guess I shouldn’t have invited you up. I’m feeling overwhelmed, but I promise, by tomorrow night when you come for dinner, I’ll have it sorted out.”
Tony sat silently for several minutes with his hands in his lap. “I’m not planning to dump you as soon as the baby shows. You realize that, don’t you?”
She fought back tears welling in her eyes. “I know, but my mind’s in too big a jumble.”
They snuggled together until the CD ended. Tony kissed her once more and took his leave. She was half asleep.
As he traversed the few metres between her apartment and his, Tony wondered about the previous hour. She’d gone from the brink of a major triumph into a serious retreat. And it wasn’t the first time in their short relationship she’d charged ahead only to pull back without explanation.
This time the answer was simple. Pregnancy, excitement, and busy days in the film studio had worn her out. Tomorrow he’d take a slower, more traditional approach—flowers, little presents, slower seduction—everything would be copacetic.
When he arrived for dinner the next evening, Beth was pacing back and forth on her building’s porch in another sexy sundress, a barely opaque yellow one with white flowers. She looked cool and enticing with her translucent dress blowing in the warm evening breeze.
“Come in, come in,” she exclaimed before he stepped from the public sidewalk. “I was so impatient I knocked on your door, but obviously you weren’t there.”
Tony loped across the few metres of path. “Buying you flowers and a little present.” He held up his packages as she reached forward and engulfed him in an intimate embrace.
“I love flowers. Come upstairs and I’ll put them in water. Do you like my dress? It’s one of my favourites, too revealing for most occasions, but perfect for tonight.”
“It’s nice. I love your sundresses. They’re very sexy.”
“Come in, come in,” she repeated as she opened her apartment door. “Everything’s under control. I’ll put the flowers into water, then I must see what’s in the box.”
He handed her the flowers and the box, realizing when she was silhouetted by the sunlight streaming into the apartment, she was naked under the almost transparent dress.
“I hope you didn’t wear this dress to your interview.”
“Of course not. That meeting called for high heels, a push-up bra and a dress that accentuates my curves.” She tore open Tony’s present. “Now, what’s in here?”
She held up the glass dolphin in a halo of gold. “Oh, beautiful. Are you making me into an environmentalist like Pamela Anderson?”
“Pamela Anderson supports People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, it’s Brigitte Bardot who wants to save the wild ones.”
She put the chain around her neck and looked down at the dolphin nestled between her breasts. “I love it. Thank you, you are a dear.”
“He looks happy sitting there.”
She slipped the dolphin inside her dress. “Would he be happier down here?”
“We don’t see him as clearly.”
She slid the straps off her shoulders. “I could solve that problem.”
Tony remembered how her flirtatious mood the previous night had gone so wrong. “Perhaps we should save that for later,”
The dolphin remained thinly veiled until bedtime when Beth put on another sultry CD. She shed her dress and lured him to the bedroom after a single song wearing only the golden dolphin.
During the night, Tony lay awake marvelling at the change one week made in his life. Monday, he dreamed about a relationship with Beth. Now, a mere four days later, he’d made an unspoken commitment to a woman and her child. The prospect should have frightened him, but it didn’t. He felt… contented. He’d soon be registering as a PhD student with a future as a family man and climate change researcher making a real impact on science and society. What more could he wish for?
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