Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Third Son Excerpt #3
I got back to the office after two. There were no emergencies or unexpected meetings to attend. Nothing that got in the way of my texting Gerard to let him know I was okay. He’d called earlier, but I didn’t pick up as I was on my way to meet James. I had Peter on my mind and a potential rift with an old friend, but now that disaster had been averted, I was able to give Gerard my full attention.
He asked to meet after work, and I agreed. The thought of going back to my apartment after this morning’s incident was daunting. I wasn’t sure if James would get a hold of Peter today, and I couldn’t bear another confrontation on the heels of the last one. Seeing Gerard was a much better option.
I met him at the entrance to his apartment building, and we greeted each other in Mandarin. Tonight’s seafood restaurant had one of my favorite dishes. Cracked crab in black bean sauce with spicy garlic noodles on the side. I removed my jacket and hung it on the back of my chair. The waiter handed us large paper bibs to protect our shirts from splatter. Having done this before, I knew it was a necessary accessory if I wanted to preserve my Armani shirt and tie. The food was incredible, and I slurped the sweet meat out of the crab legs and did the same with the noodles. I paused for a second, recalling my good manners, then I did a quick reboot as I looked around. Everyone around me was slurping up a storm, and the approval in the waiter’s eyes as he watched me enjoying my food with proper gusto was gratifying. I was home.
Beyond Gerard’s initial text regarding my state of mind, Peter wasn’t discussed. I didn’t tell Gerard about this morning’s break-in or my meeting with James. I honestly didn’t want him caught in the crossfire. After we were done, fragrant hot towels were handed out to clean up our fingers and mouths. Green tea accompanied by dessert—small bowls of chilled peeled lychee—completed the meal.
“Are you tired, or would you like to come up to my place for a drink?” Gerard asked when we exited the restaurant. “I did a preliminary sketch for your campaign. I wouldn’t mind an honest opinion before I go any further.”
“That sounds great.”Gerard reached for my hand, and I followed him through the maze of narrow streets toward his building. Once inside his place, we hung up our jackets and toed off our shoes. He directed me to one of the tables against the wall. As he mentioned, the drawing was rough, but I could envision the finished product. He’d captured the natural beauty of a typical Shanghai park, adding koi-filled ponds and lantern-strewn pathways, while inserting crowds of people in varying ages. One had to really look to find the same-sex couples, but they were there for those who were hoping to see a change.
“This is great,” I said enthusiastically. “I think she’ll be pleased.”
“I’m glad,” he said, looking excited. “I’ll have a few more to present by next week.”
We walked back toward the kitchen. “Beer or brandy?”
“What’ll you have?” I asked.
“A kiss will work for me.”
I flushed, not expecting this to escalate so soon, although I should have known better. We were attracted to each other and had been from the first. Still, I had to make an attempt to slow things down.
“Mixing business and pleasure isn’t a good idea.”
“We broke that rule in Vegas,” Gerard reminded me.
“That’s true,” I said, teetering on my resolve. “I suppose one kiss won’t really hurt.”
Gerard moved toward me. “You think we’re stopping at one?”
“Let’s try.” I took a breath before his soft lips met mine, and I knew we’d never stop at one.
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