Romance Fiction posted September 10, 2022


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The men make decisions

The Office, Four B

by Shirley McLain

“What did you think about the activity today concerning my father and my so-called mother?”

“I know she was not cutting your dad any slack in the part of the conversation I heard. Your dad blackmailed her into having a conversation with him.”

“What do you mean he blackmailed her? That doesn’t sound like my father at all.”

“He told her if she wouldn’t take him to her office, he would be glad to share what he had to say in front of the office staff. It didn’t take her but a second to agree to talk to him in her office. I never saw them again, so I don’t know what happened.”

“I have to admit I’m curious myself. The circumstances under which she left; I can understand. Staying here so close to us and never making contact for so many years, I don’t understand.”

Amanda thought for a few moments as she sipped on the champagne. “I don’t know for sure, because I’m not inside Harpie’s mind. I’m sorry, I should start thinking of her by her name. I’m not inside of Emily’s mind, but she told me and you she came here to be close to you. I think she thought you and your dad would be so mad at her that you wouldn’t see her.”

Tony didn’t respond to Amanda’s statement because the food arrived. It smelled divine and tasted heavenly. The conversation between the two took a long pause as they ate their dinner.

“What do you think?” Tony asked.

“Can’t you tell by the way I’m scarfing it down? I will eat here again, even if I have to take out a loan to do it.”

Laughing, Tony said, “You won’t have to take out a loan. I promise I will bring you back here anytime you want to eat this food.”

Tony reached across the table and took Amanda’s hand in his. “I have something to say, and I want you to listen. Will you do that?”

“Sure, I’ll listen to what you have to say. You’re scaring me just a tad.”

Tony smiled and continued holding her hand. “Don’t worry, there’s nothing to be scared of. I know we haven’t known each other that long. If it wasn’t for the good fortune, I had in finding your shoe caught in that elevator crack, we may not have met, but I’m of the opinion fate would have brought us together sooner or later.”

A smile lit Amanda’s face as she thought of the day the two of them met. “I think you’re right. I think fate caused us to meet the way we did. You were such a gentleman to save me from that evil elevator crack.”

“I wasn’t as much of a gentleman as you thought. I had ulterior motives. From the moment we met, I knew you would matter to me. I know it has only been a short time, but I have fallen so in love with you that I can’t stand to be away to even work. There is only one solution to solve the problem.”

“What pray tell is that? I’m curious.” Amanda’s heart was pounding. She was sure Tony felt it in her hand, so she removed her hand from his and placed it in her lap. She could see a questioning look cross Tony’s face.

“To solve the problem of work, I would like to marry you and spend the rest of my life with you. Will you agree to become my wife?”

The blood drained from Amanda’s face. “Tony, I agree we are strongly drawn to each other, but I’m not sure about marriage. I care deeply about you. How can you love me after only two weeks? I start a new job on Monday. Do you remember?”

“Of course, I remember, and that has nothing to do with what I am saying. I love you with everything inside of me, and I truly believe you love me, but are afraid to admit it. Think about it and take as long as you need. I am not going to leave unless you tell me to go.”

“Oh Tony, I promise to think about it, and I will give you my answer. You don’t know how blessed I feel having you in my life, and you honor me.”

They finished their meal while chatting about superficial topics. Amanda’s insides were shaking as they continued eating. She only mixed the food around on her plate and finally pushed the plate back.

Tony signaled for Alex, who promptly stood beside the table. “Are you ready for dessert?”

“That was a wonderful meal, Alex. Give our compliments to the chef,” Tony said. “We would like to have dessert and coffee on the patio if it’s not too much trouble.”

“Follow me, and we’ll find you the perfect table.” Alex led the pair through the side door. “As you can see, you would be the only ones out here, so sit where you like. I’ll be back quickly with your coffee.”

The wide screened porch was perfect for them. There were four tables, and Tony chose the one furthest from the door. “I think this will do nicely.”

“This is lovely, Tony. I’m glad you suggested it. The weather is perfect for it.”

"I intended to propose to you out here after dinner, but when I took hold of your hand, I couldn't wait.” Taking hold of her hand, he pulled her to him, and kissed her. At first, it was a slow, soft kiss that increased in passion as the seconds ticked by. Then they heard a throat clear. “I’m sorry, I have your coffee.”

Breaking apart, which neither of them wanted, Tony said. “Thank you, Alex.”

“You are most welcome, and I’ll be back in a second with the desserts. I won’t disturb you again after that. I’ll let you come inside before giving you the ticket.”

“That is nice of him, but I don’t think us necking on the porch is appropriate.”

“I think it’s very appropriate. We’re all alone, and I like kissing you.”

“I like kissing you also, Mr. Wilkins. Let’s sit down before our coffee gets cold, and Alex gets back with our dessert. I can’t wait to try that Creole Bread Pudding.”

Tony pulled out her chair, and when she sat, he pushed the chair in. “Thank you, kind sir.”

Tony sat across from her and reached for her hand once more. “My pleasure.”

Alex opened the door and stepped out to the porch. “Here it is, the best bread pudding in the world.”

“I don’t doubt it one second if it’s even close to the rest of the meal. This has been one delightful meal and evening,” Amanda said.  

“It has been my pleasure. Please don’t hurry, we are open for another hour and a half. I’ll see you inside.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

***

Henry Wilkins sat in his den in his overstuffed chair, thinking about the talk he had with Emily. The ice clinked in his glass of bourbon when his hand tilted the glass down. That wouldn’t have been good if I’d poured my drink out. It’s too good to waste.

I still love Emily, and I have to convince her to become part of this family again. The door to the study opened, and Tony entered the room.

“Hello Dad, I knew you’d be in here and with a glass of bourbon in hand. Do you mind if I join you?”

“Of course not. Fix your drink and sit down. We need to talk, anyway. What have you been up to this evening?”

“Amanda and I went to Marie Labou's for dinner.”

“Was it as excellent as always?”

“The chef outdid himself tonight, and I asked Amanda to marry me.”

“That was quick. What was her answer?”

“Yes, it was quick, but I know in my heart she is the one, and I don’t have to wait around a year to know how I feel. As far as her answer, she is thinking about it. How did your talk with Emily go?”

“Son, she is your mother, and I would appreciate it if you addressed her as such. I still love her, and that hasn’t changed one iota over the past twenty-two years. I intend to make her my wife again. I made mistakes by not standing up to my parents on her behalf and not going after her when she left.

Emily has been here the entire time you were growing up. She watched you and me from a distance. I have many things to make up for because of what she suffered.

We actually fell back into our comfort zone. It surprised both of us. It was almost like old times, once she relaxed a little. I have a question for you.”

“Sure, Dad, go ahead and ask.”

“Do you think you can make your mother part of our family? I know that would mean the world to her.”

“Dad, I stayed angry at her for a long time because she left me. After hearing her story and now being grown, I have some understanding. I can’t understand why she has stayed away from me. My grandparents have been gone for several years. I don’t know her, and you don’t either. We will need time to develop a relationship. The bottom line is I will give her a chance.”

“I can’t ask for anything more than that. I think we have a lot of work to do to convince our ladies to marry us.”




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