It was Monday afternoon and he had gotten home by four. He showered and changed. Then, went into the kitchen to microwave some leftovers. He sat down at the table and waited until he heard the beep. He took up his plate and set it down on the counter. He shared out the piping hot food and took it over to the table.
He sat down and ate. Shiloh was going to be popping by in about an hour. She had called to say that she was going to the library after school to return a book and do her homework there. He was excited and nervous about seeing her since the last time she visited him.
He could still remember how soft her skin felt when he caressed her cheek. He shouldn’t have done that but the temptation was so strong. He remembered the expression on her face. He could tell that his caress was doing things to her like it had been doing things to him and even now, he could feel a stirring in his loins.
He finished eating his dinner then got up from the table. He quickly washed the dishes and placed them in the drainer to dry. He poured himself a glass of non-alcoholic wine and took it into the living-room. He went over to the window and looked out.
At exactly five o’clock, the doorbell rang and he went to answer it. Shiloh stood there. She removed her sunglasses and smiled. “Hello, Mr. Gladstone.”
“Hello, Shiloh. Come in.” He stepped aside for her to enter. After he closed the door, he faced her. “How is your family?”
“They’re doing well, thanks. My little sister loves sweet and salty succotash and pencil toppers.”
“They are chewable. Apparently they defeat destructive oral grinding, lessen anxiety and improve attention spans.”
“Are they safe?”
“I asked and was told that they are phthalate, lead, latex free and FDA approved.”
“Isn’t she a bit young to be using a pencil?”
“My mother supervises her. She’s learning how to write but it’s still hard to control a pencil to make letters like M, N, K.”
They went into the solarium instead of the living-room. Bright sunlight streamed into the room. “I’ll be right back,” he said and quickly left the room. He returned a couple minutes later, carrying a present which he handed to her. “Your birthday present. I hope you like it.”
Her face brightened. “Thank you,” she said as she took the wrapped box and card from him. She read the card first and then she unwrapped the gift. When she saw the key chain, she exclaimed, “It’s beautiful. I love it.”
“I’m happy to hear that. As soon as I saw it, I thought of you–the girl I know who can do anything she puts her mind to.”
She put it back in the box and then put it and the card inside her satchel. “Thank you for the gift and the card, Mr. Gladstone.”
“You’re welcome, Shiloh.”
Unable to resist, she hugged him around his waist. After a slight hesitation, he put his arms around her shoulders. They were like for a few minutes, then she drew back and looked up at him. Their eyes met and held for a long time before she said, “This is the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten.” They were standing apart now.
“Would you like a glass of Fruit Loops?”
“I’ll be right back.”
“How come you’re not sitting on the floor?” he asked her when he returned to find her sitting on one of the chairs.
“I’m a young lady not a child,” she informed him.
He handed her a glass. “To many more birthdays.”
They toasted and then, he sat down. “Are you going to the Senior Party?” she asked him.
“Yes. I’m one of the chaperones.”
“Are chaperones allowed to take dates?”
She wanted to ask him if he was taking a date but didn’t want to seem nosy.
“Are you going to be there?”
She nodded. “Yes.”
He wanted to ask her if she was going alone or with a group of friends or with a date but didn’t want to seem inquisitive. “We usually hold it the weekend before the Prom but this year the school board decided to have it on May 15 instead.”
“I think it’s a good idea to spread them out like that.”
“Oh, before I forget, on Saturday when I told Emily that it was your birthday, she drew a picture for you and asked me to give it to you. I’ll give it to you before you leave.”
Shiloh smiled. “She’s such a sweet kid.”
“Yes, she is. I’m planning to take her to Verona Park on Saturday afternoon. Would you like to come?”
“We can go to Bob Evans afterwards and have something to eat.”
“That sounds great. I went there once with my family and loved it. We had the hand-breaded fried chicken family meal.”
“It’s Emily’s favorite place.”
“I’m looking forward to Saturday,” she said. She was excited about it and couldn’t wait for the week to fly by.
“Me too.” He was. It would be a nice change from them always being here in his place. Besides, he had always planned to invite her to go to the park or playground the next time he planned on going with Emily.
They chatted for a while longer and then she asked if she could take a look at the books in his library. He took her to the large room with massive bookshelves filled with rows of books. “Wow,” she marveled. “This is impressive.”
“I’m an avid reader.”
“Have you read all of these books?”
“Most of them.”
“Do you have Masked men and stolen kisses or Guardians of the graveyard and the mushroom forest by Chester Clare?”
Her eyes lit up. “Those are the two books I’ve been dying to read. May I borrow them first and then I’ll borrow Masked Men and Guardians another time?”
“Sure. He reached up and took them down. “Here you go.”
She took them. “Thank you, Mr. Gladstone. I’m going to finish these in no time.”
“You’re welcome and there’s no rush. Take your time and enjoy them.”
“I will.” She couldn’t decide which one she would read first. “I’d better be heading home now.”
They left the library and while she went to the living-room to get her satchel to put the books away, he went into his study to get Emily’s drawing. She smiled and was very touched when she saw it. It was a drawing of her and Emily playing. She stood in the doorway facing him. “Thanks again for the present, the card, the Fruit Loops and the books.”
“Please thank Emily for her beautiful drawing. Tell her that I love it.”
“I’ll see you both on Saturday.”
“Yes, see you then.”
“Goodbye, Mr. Gladstone.”