Jaime sat forward in the cab, her eyes alert, her hands clenched on her knees. The driver had greeted her with a friendly smile and had nodded when she gave him the address. Thankfully he hadn't tried to make conversation as they rode the five miles to the restaurant, she wasn't sure she could have concentrated on talking and breathing at the same time. A light rain that had started shortly after the taxi had pulled out into traffic, was already starting to taper off and for that she was thankful. She had only brought Mary Jane's white silk shawl as a covering for her dress.
"Almost there missy." The driver who bore all the earmarks of an Indian native said in a thick Southern drawl. The two contrasts made her smile and relax for a minute. "Would you like me to drop you off in front?"
"Yes, please." She smiled at him. Opening up her silver clutch, she pulled out a $10 dollar bill and held it tightly in her hand. As they drew closer to her destination, she leaned forward even more, wishing for not the first time that she had the bionic eye.
The cabdriver put the car in park and turned to face her. "That will be eight dollars." He smiled. She handed him the now slightly crumbled $10 and told him to keep the change. He got out of the car and walked around to the back door, opening it. "Have a good evening." He said with a gallant wave of his hand and she thanked him. She watched until the man got back in the yellow cab and pulled away. Suddenly she felt very alone.
The air smelled fresh she thought as she headed toward the throng of people that stood outside the heavily carved doors of the Little China Pagoda. Lights twinkled in the trees that lined the mosaic walk way; a fountain shimmered pink in the night air. She saw a group of men and women standing near it, talking and laughing, cigarette smoke floating on the breeze.
Where was Oscar? He had offered to pick her up but she knew that Mary Jane's townhouse would have been out of his way and assured him she would meet him here. But scanning the crowds she saw no one that fit his description. One night not to long ago, she had watched an old movie on TV where Fred Mac Murray had played a man who got so involved in his work he forgot to show up to his own wedding. She had thought then and reiterated it now that that was something that Oscar would do. He wouldn't mean too, he just wouldn't realize that he wasn't where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there!
She glanced at her watch, noticing it was half past the hour. He was coming she told herself. Something unavoidable must have happened. Oscar always kept his promises. Still she couldn't shake the knot that had lodged its self in the bottom of her stomach. What if he had decided it was all a mistake? What if he hadn't meant it?
The front door opened and an oriental tune came out into the courtyard. Asian music always sounded so sad she thought. A black sedan pulled up by the walk- way and she turned in eager anticipation, but it was short lived. The man who got out of the back seat was the exact opposite of Oscar Goldman she thought. He gave her an appreciative look as he walked past. A look that didn't go unnoticed by the dark haired woman who came over to kiss his cheek. Jaime stifled a giggle, knowing that at this point if she started she wouldn't be able to stop. The last thing she wanted Oscar to see was her laughing like a hyena. She counted to ten and tried not to panic. She hadn't been stood up since the 4th grade!
"Jaime?" The sound of his voice sent her heart into overdrive. Slowly she turned around and there he was.
"Hello Oscar." He was wearing a blue suit she had never seen before and he looked wonderful. He held out his hands and she took them in her own. Pulling her close, he placed a kiss on her mouth, a moment she didn't want to end. When his mouth left hers, she felt his lips brush against her ear, his breath warm. "I'm sorry I was late Babe."
"You're here now, " she answered. "That's all that matters."
Taking hands they walked down the path, the doors opened for them by a uniformed attendant. "Table for two." He said to the maitre d' as they entered the restaurant "Goldman."
"Ah yes, Mr. Goldman." The man's fingers stopped half way down the page. "Right this way please."
The table was beside a fountain that splashed multi-colored water in the air—an air that smelled heavily of lotus and magnolias. "Make I bring you the wine list sir?"
"Thank you. " Oscar nodded, accepting the menu that an attractive girl who had appeared out of nowhere had handed Jaime and then him. The waitress gave them a brief smile indicating she would soon return.
Jaime opened hers, looking only half heartily at the food. She noticed Oscar glanced at his, and then laid it down in front of him. Another server brought the wine list and Oscar took it from him, but it remained closed as the placed it on top of the menu.
"I'm glad you came. " he said. "I'll admit I was afraid that you might not."
"Of course, I came. " she pushed her hair behind her shoulder. "But I do have to admit it was looking a lot like you might not show."
"I do apologize for that." There was a traffic snarl on 395 and I wasn't sure if it would ever clear up."
"You don't live anywhere near 395." she gave him a confused smile.
"No, I don't. " he grinned, touching her hand that rested on the table with his own. She intertwined her fingers with his and she liked the way it looked.
"I guess I'll just have to learn to live with some mystery in this relationship."
"Am I worth it?"
"Yes." she almost whispered. "You are."
The waiter arrived, standing there for who knew how long before either one of them noticed him. "I'm sorry. " Oscar said after the young man had cleared his throat. "I'll have the cashew chicken without the garlic sauce. "
"Very good sir. And for you ma'am." he indicated to Jaime.
She wrinkled her nose at the 'ma'am" but gave an order of sesame chicken and an egg roll. Oscar asked that they bring a bottle of wine that would go with the meal. Their server nodded and left.
They stared at one another for a long moment. It wasn't an uncomfortable space and Jamie felt that she could look at him forever. He had always been handsome to her, but now she was looking at him through different eyes. He was the dearest thing on earth.
"Jaime." he shifted in his chair and tightened his clasp on her hand. "There are a few things I need to say."
"All right. " she hoped she was being casual. But that kettledrum had replaced her heart again and it was going full force.
"There are just a few things you should know about me, if we plan to pursue this."
The wine came just then, the server opening the bottle and pouring Oscar the customary taste before filling the glasses. Jaime took a sip and found it to be light and fruity. She didn't know much about wine and couldn't help but smile when Oscar said he wasn't either. "This is sufficient," he said taking a long drink.
""You know me Jaime. I rarely do anything without a great deal of thought."
"So true." she nodded, wishing her heart would calm down just a bit, so she didn't miss anything he was going to say.
"So, when I wrote you the note and said what I did, I want you to know that I meant it. Maybe more than anything else I've ever meant. I know this thing of you and me isn't going to be easy, but I've never been a fan of easy. So, I want you to know I'm jumping in with both feet. "
She pushed her hair back behind her shoulders; trying not to let the tears that were hovering, fall. " Reaching for his hand, she covered it with her own. "I'm jumping with you."
"Even though, I tend to be nitpicky?"
"And a work alcoholic."
"And sometimes obsessive?"
"And extremely neat."
"And I keep strange hours?"
"And you think too much."
"And I am older than you."
"I don't want to hear that one again ever." she grinned. "It doesn't matter. "
"Even if someone would happen to think you were my daughter?"
"I'll make sure they never think that." and she batted her eyelashes at him.
The food arrived, making Jaime's mouth water and she realized she was hungry. They ate for several minutes, not saying a word, once more the silence comfortable.
"I often don't think enough, " she finally said.
"You are a bit impulsive," he agreed.
"And I'm not very neat." she confessed.
"But you enjoy life."
"Yes, I do."
"And you have a positive outlook on things."
They shared a smile and he once more reached for her hand. "I like the idea of me and you." he squeezed her fingers.
"So do I."
The waiter once more approached their table and asked if they desired "doggie" bags. Oscar declined but Jaime said please, knowing that Mary Jane would appreciate the leftovers the next day for lunch.
"If you aren't in a hurry to get back, I thought a walk might be nice." Oscar offered.
"I'd like that very much."
Their bill arrived, and Oscar gave the man his credit card.
"I'll be right back with this sir, I do hope you and your daughter had a nice evening." and he walked away.
Oscar looked at Jaime and they both broke out into uncontrollable laughter.
"So, it will take some work."
"I've got all the time in the world."