“Hello! How many in your party?”
“Three. Our third party member will be coming around 8:00. Is that all right?”
The waiter smiled. “As long as you order food, we don’t mind.”
“Right this way.”
Hildreth cleared his throat. “I need to use the restroom.”
“I can wait for you.”
“No. Go on and get seated. I’ll be right there.”
It’s 7:09. Why isn’t she here? Traffic? Maybe. Nerves? I hope not. Her father?
The scent of lily of the valley and woodsy musk drifted his way.
His pupils widened.
It can’t be.
But no one else has that scent.
It’s her scent.
She can’t be here.
He bowed his head and stared at the table.
I don’t want to look.
I don’t want to know.
I don’t want to be disappointed.
He looked up and smiled. “Barbara. You’re here.”
“Mm-hmm. Just me. My dad’s running a little late. But he is coming.”
The scent called to him in soft unspoken words.
He curled his fingers around his water glass. It isn’t hot enough. Why don’t they ever make it hot enough?
She scooted next to him. “You look tense.”
It isn’t her.
It isn’t her.
It can’t be her.
So, it isn’t her.
“About what? Meeting my dad? Don’t be. My dad’s going to love you.”
He laughed. It sounded nervous and awful to his own ears.
“Really. Don’t worry.”
The scent curled around his wrists and entangled his throat. It slid into his nose and filled his mind.
The scent dug deep into him and pulled a soft cry out of him.
“Are you okay?”
He shook his head. “I…I feel dizzy. I need some fresh air.”
“I’ll go with you.”
He shook his head.
She scooted out of the booth and helped him out.
As soon as he was up on his feet, Ambrose took her hands and looked down at her. “I love you. You’re so good to me.”
“Ambrose. You’re kind of freaking me out.”
“I’m sorry. I’ll be right back.”
“Are you sure you don’t want me to—”
He released her hands and kissed her. “I promise. I’ll be back.”