It was the first time he invited her to his mansion and she couldn’t believe it when she walked into a large room and saw the candy cabinet. “You can play whatever games you like on it while I shoot pool,” he said.
She stared at the candy cab, her eyes wide with wonder. “I had no idea that you had one of these. This is awesome.”
He smiled. “I grew up playing these and thought it would be neat to have one of my very own.
She walked over to the cabinet. It was impressive. “Is this Japanese?”
“How many games are on it?”
“It’s offers about 7,000 games.”
“Wow.” She sat on the stool and scrolled through the games and selected the Chinese domino-like game Mah Jong.
He smiled. “You can play on it until 7.”
She looked up at him. “What’s happening at 7?” she asked.
“That’s when I usually have dinner.”
“Oh. Okay. I’ll make sure I stop playing before then and leave you to have your dinner.”
“Oh, no,” he said. “I’d like you to stay and have dinner with me.”
She stared at him in surprise. “Really?”
“But what about Natasha?” Natasha was a close friend of his family’s. It was obvious that she wanted to be much more. She had met her once and couldn’t believe the hostility she felt from the woman.
“What about Natasha?” he asked, his eyes narrowing.
“I don’t think she would approve of me being here with much less staying for dinner.”
“Natasha isn’t my keeper.”
“She’s got a thing for you, you know.”
“Well, the feeling isn’t mutual. As far as I’m concerned, she is just a very good friend.”
I’m happy to hear that, she thought as she turned back to the screen.
He left her and went over to shoot some pool before leaving the room to spend a couple of hours in the study. Just before 7, he went and got her. She followed him into a massive, high-ceiling dining-room with a very long table. He held out the chair which was adjacent to his which was at the head of the table. After she sat down, he took his seat.
“You have a very lovely home,” she said as she unfolded the napkin and placed it on her lap. “but isn’t too big for just one person?”
“It’s the home I grew up in. I couldn’t bring myself to sell it. Besides, I have a full live-in staff so I’m not alone here.”
“I guess one of these days you’ll have a wife and children and it won’t seem so big any more.” She lowered her eyes so that he wouldn’t see what was in them. The mere thought of him marrying and settling down with someone else bothered her. It was foolish to even think that he would harbor more than platonic feelings for her. Just like Natasha, she was just a good friend whose company he enjoyed occasionally.
He stared at her. “Let’s not talk about marriage or family right now,” he said. “Let’s talk about other things.”
“All right. I don’t suppose you’ve ever had any moldy mishaps.”
His expression was blank. “No.”
“Well, just the other day, when my sister cleaned out her car, she found one of my water bottles which she had borrowed from me a couple of weeks ago and it was full of mold.”
“So what did she do?”
“She didn’t throw it out but googled how to get rid of mold and came across the website, Tidy Mom and she read how a mother was able to clean mold from a bottle and she followed the steps. She soaked it in hot water with a little Clorox Bleach. She put the lid on, gave it a good shaking and then let it sit for a few hours.”
“Did it work?”
“Yes! When she checked the bottle, the mold was completely gone below the water line, so she tipped it upside down, gave it another good shake and then let it sit upside down for a few hours so that the bleach water would get into the lid as well. After dinner, she saw that my water bottle was mold free. She rinsed it in hot soapy water and placed it in the dishwasher to give it one more good clean wash and make sure she got all the bleach out. And when I got my bottle, it looked as good as new.”
“What a remarkable story. I’ve never had a bottle or mug full of mold. I always keep these things on the front seat of my car so that I don’t forget them.”
“I’ve never encountered having any of my things full of mold either. Anyway, I bought a water bottle similar to mine for my sister.”
He smiled. “That way, you don’t have to worry about there being mold inside your bottle again.”
“Exactly. If she hadn’t done such a great job cleaning it, I would have probably tossed it in the garbage.”
Just then, dinner was served. It was a four course meal–with stuffed mushrooms for the appetizer, Arugula, Grape and Almond Salad with Vinaigrette for the first course followed by the main course which was Duck Breast with Pomegranate and for dessert, Deep Dish Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae.
“Wow, do you always eat like this?” she asked. She was full and didn’t have space for anything else except the after dinner drink.
“No, not always. Sometimes, I have just an appetizer and the main course or the main course and a dessert.”
“Hmm. What’s this I’m drinking?”
“It’s Chartreuse. Its secret recipe, which originated with French monks, includes anise and fennel which are believed to help with digestion.”
“I like its sweet and spicy taste.”
He stood up. “Let’s finish drinking it in the drawing-room,” he suggested as he moved around to hold her chair.
She got up and followed him to the drawing-room where they spent the rest of the evening sipping their Chartreuse and talking about many things while the fire crackled in the fireplace.