Paul Gregory entered the club during its first rush of the evening and relaxed in the pleasant backdrop of familiar faces. People called to him and he was able to return their greetings wholeheartedly. Some told him it was good to see he was once again himself and he had no reply to this. If they only knew. He understood that they meant well, but since Lily’s death he’d been living in a deep pit of despair from which only death could release him. When he appeared in public, as he did this night, he pretended an enthusiasm to avoid being an object of pity. He wanted no sympathy; no one could possibly understand the depth of his loss.
As he walked across to the bar he glimpsed someone making her way toward him from the far end of the room. He assumed it was the new hostess that his assistant manager had hired and was amused to see the oblique, admiring glances she drew from diners as she threaded her way past their tables. As she approached, he recognized something about her that was familiar and when she drew closer he experienced a sudden surge of joy and his heart missed a beat. Lily! She flicked her dark hair back from her face.
Mr. Gregory, I presume.” She smiled and he found her subtle overbite a charming flaw. She held her hand out to him. “I’m your new hostess, Andrea Darling.”
For a moment he couldn’t speak. He took her hand and continued to hold it as a delighted smile lit his face. He said, “Call me Paul.”