Muskoka. Tuesday, October 9.
The weather was terrible. A thick and solid layer of grey clouds had hung over the area for twenty-four hours and refused to move. Wind blown rain made outdoor activity very uncomfortable.
Steve decided to postpone a trip to his north Lake Joseph construction project and wait out the weather. Instead he lit a fire in the pot bellied stove in his kitchen and drank more coffee than he should. Cinnamon was added to the blend because he loved the smell and the taste. He had read and re-read Kerri King’s reply to his note and gift of flowers. He read it again.
“Thank you very much for the roses. It’s difficult for me to tell you with written words how much I appreciate your kindness. If you’re ever in New York, call me. Dinner is on me. We’ll continue our conversation.
She included her cell phone number.
In his carefully crafted note to Kerri he had deliberately imbedded a thinly veiled message that he wanted to see her again. Her response was a clear indication, he hoped, that the feeling was mutual. Even though guilt tormented him, he really hoped her invitation was something more than kindness, or sympathy. His desire to see her again had trumped all of his efforts to suppress it. He was engaged to marry Christine, but had reached an age that no longer afforded the luxury of trial and error. He had to be certain.
He picked up his cell phone and dialed Kerri’s number. She answered on the first ring.
“Hi, Kerri. It’s Steve Montieth. I hope I’m not calling at a bad time.”
Surprise and joy shot through Kerri’s body like a high voltage electric shock. “Hi yourself. Nice to hear from you, and to take time out from the usual madness. How are you?”
“I’m just fine, sitting alone in my kitchen, drinking coffee, and looking out the window at an absolutely miserable Muskoka day. Everything okay with you?”
“With me, yes. With my life, no. It’s been a little crazy since September eleventh.”
“I can only imagine. I saw you on television last week and want to tell you that I thought you did a wonderful job of telling the world who you are, and the full extent of the problems you’re facing. It gave me an insight. In a lot of ways it helped me to deal with my own loss.”
“Thank you. How is your mother dealing with it?”
“Not well. She really loved dad. It’s like her heart has been ripped out of her body. It’ll be a long time before she gets this behind her, if ever.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Please tell her she’s in my thoughts, and that I would welcome an opportunity to talk to her. It might help her to know what I’m going through.”
“I will, and thanks for offering. You’re very kind...I would welcome an opportunity to talk to you, too. That’s why I called. I’m going to be in New York on Friday for the annual American Home Builders Association Convention. I thought I might get a chance to continue our conversation, if you could find the time to have dinner with me that night.”
Steve’s invitation was like a ray of sunshine on a dreary day. It awakened feelings in Kerri, feelings she had not experienced in a very long time. It also triggered her defense mechanism, one that the scars of her previous relationships had strengthened, one that screamed at her not to date a man who was engaged to be married. Her heart won the battle. Her memory of his beautiful hazel eyes and perfect body made it no contest. Besides, she could use a friend, particularly one with whom she shared a very unique bond. “Sure. I’d like that,” she said.
“Then I’ll call you at noon on Friday. I’m looking forward to it. I’ll leave it up to you to pick the restaurant,” Steve said, relieved and delighted that he had at last made something happen, something he had wanted to happen since the moment he saw her.