“So, how are things going between Re and Monica?” Tamar’s mother asked her when she walked into the kitchen.
“Mom, can’t you see that he isn’t interested in her?” Tamar asked her mother, exasperated.
“But, she’s such a sweet girl. I think she would be a really good match for him.”
“Re has a girlfriend.”
Her almost dropped the dish with the cake on it. “He does?”
“Yes. I asked him when we had lunch on Tuesday and he said that he’s dating a woman he met last year.”
“Why didn’t you tell me this morning when we spoke on the phone?” her mother demanded, looking all flustered.
“You’re right. I should have guessed what you were up to when you mentioned how nice it would be if Monica could meet a nice guy like Re for a change. Poor Re. He’s probably trying to figure out how to tell her that he already has a girlfriend. I’m going to put him out of his misery right now. Say goodnight to Dad for me.”
“Where are you going?” her mother demanded.
“The night is still young. I’m taking Re out somewhere–maybe to a nightclub.”
“A nightclub!” her mother looked horrified. “Why would you want to take your cousin to a nightclub?”
“I’m sure he’ll like. Goodnight, Mom.”
“But what about dessert?”
“Sorry. Don’t have any room for it. Goodnight, Mom.” She kissed her on the cheek and hurried out of the kitchen.
Rehoboam and Monica were standing by the fireplace. They turned when she entered the living-room. “I was just telling your cousin about my recent trip to Thailand,” Monica said.
“That’s nice. Re, I’m leaving now.”
He stared at her. “Ok. I guess that means I’m leaving too. Monica, it was really nice meeting you.”
She smiled. “Likewise. I hope you will visit Toronto again soon.”
“I will. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight, Monica,” Tamar said before she grabbed Rehoboam’s arm and hustled him out of the room.
“What’s the rush?” he asked as they headed towards her car which was parked beside the curb outside the house.
“I just wanted to get out of there,” she said. “The night is young and I didn’t want us to spend all of it with my parents and Monica.”
“Monica seemed surprised when I mentioned that I had a girlfriend.”
When they were inside the car, Tamar explained the whole thing to him. “Poor Mom. She thought she had found the perfect guy for Monica. I’m so sorry that you had to go through that.”
Rehoboam smiled. “No harm done. Monica’s a sweet girl. I’m sure she will eventually meet the right guy. So, where are you taking me this time?”
“To Lula Lounge, one of the hottest spots in Toronto for Salsa dancing.”
His eyebrows rose as she pulled away from the curb. “Salsa dancing?”
“Yes. I remember that Puerto Rican girl you used to date when you were in college and I used to watch the two of you dancing to Salsa. I used to wish I could dance like that. That’s why I promised myself that when I got older and could afford to, I would take lessons.”
“And have you taken any lessons?”
“Yes. I’m taking them now at Lula Lounge. That’s why we’re going there tonight. I want to dance with the best salsa dancer I know.”
“And who might that be?”
“Me?” he laughed. “I’m flattered that you think I’m the best. I haven’t done it for a long time so I might be a bit rusty.”
They arrived at the club and after they sat and had a couple of non-alcoholic drinks, she stood up, grabbed his hand and pulled him onto the dance floor. It was Salsa Saturday. The music began to play and their eyes met as they began to move. For Tamar, it felt really good to be expressing her sensual side. And it was such a thrill for her to be finally dancing with Rehoboam. He had taken off his jacket. The white silk shirt fitted him snugly across his broad shoulders and chest and the way he was moving his hips…Perhaps, this wasn’t such a great idea after all. She was feeling things she ought not to be feeling. Was it the dance? The music? Or just him?
When the music ended, she drew back from him. “I need to take a break,” she said, sounding breathless.
They went and sat down. She was feeling hot and began to fan herself with her hand. He looked at her. “Are you all right?” he asked.
When he covered her other hand with his, her heart lurched and she quickly withdrew it. Jumping to her feet, she mumbled, “I’ll be right back.” She was gone before he had a chance to say anything.
She headed for the washroom. She hated using public washrooms. After she was finished, she turned on the tap, washed her hands and patted her face with her wet hands. She needed to cool down. Things had heated up on the dance-floor and when he touched her hand, it was too much. She had to get out of there.
As she dried her hands, a woman who had just come out of one of the stalls and was washing her hands, said to her, “My girlfriends and I were watching you and your gorgeous boyfriend dancing. It was pretty steamy stuff. Are you professional dancers?”
“No, neither of us is. I have been taking lessons here at the Lounge. And, he’s just a natural dancer.”
“You’re so lucky to have boyfriend who’s such a terrific dancer. We wish if our husbands could dance like that.”
“The guy you saw me dancing with isn’t my boyfriend.”
The woman looked really surprised. “He isn’t?” she exclaimed. “Wow. We assumed that he was because of the way you were dancing and looking at each other. Well, I hope things work out for you two. There’s definitely a lot of chemistry between you two.” She asked Tamar questions about the Salsa lessons at the Lounge and after thanking her for the information, she left.
Five minutes, Tamar returned to the table where a Mock-tail was waiting for her. “I got us a couple of drinks,” Rehoboam said. “Are you sure you’re all right?”
She nodded. “Yes.” Her hand trembled slightly as she held the straw to take a couple of sips of her drink. “I was just talking to one of the women over at that table. She said that she and her friends were admiring us on the dance-floor. She asked if we were professional dancers.”
“I didn’t realize that we were that good.”
“She–she also thought that you were my boyfriend.”
“Did you tell her that I’m your cousin?”
“No. I just told her that you weren’t my boyfriend.” She didn’t want to tell him everything the woman had said.
“Maybe she picked up on something.”
“What could she have picked up on?” Tamar asked, her heart racing. “All we were doing was dancing Salsa.”
“When I was at the bar, one of the guys told me that my girlfriend and I were pretty good dancers.”
“And–and what did you tell him?”
“I told him that you weren’t my girlfriend but he didn’t believe me. He said that there was no way that we could be just friends. I didn’t tell him that we were cousins. I just smiled, got the drinks and walked away.”
“Maybe coming here tonight wasn’t such a good idea.”
“Do you want to leave?”
“Yes.” She stood up. They left the Lounge and the drive to his hotel was a quiet one. When they got there, she turned to him. “Good night, Re.”
“Will we see each other again?” he asked quietly.
“Yes, of course. Uncle Vivian is having a barbecue tomorrow and Aunt Olive invited all of us over to her place on Saturday…”
“No, I meant see each other alone, not with the rest of the family.”
“Sure. I’ll-I’ll call you. Good night, Re.”
“Good night, Tamar.” He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek before pushing open the door and getting out.
She watched him go inside the hotel, her breath unsteady and her skin tingling where his lips had been. Yes, the woman and the man and who knew how many others had picked up on something between Rehoboam and her. Now, she was afraid to be alone with him. Afraid of what might happen…
Rehoboam let himself into the hotel. He headed straight for the bathroom, stripping as he went. He climbed into the shower and turned on the faucet. He closed his eyes as he stood under the cold water. “Tamar…” he muttered under his breath.