I’m on the subway on my way to meet Maxime. He’s taking me to lunch at Tribeca Grill, a restaurant co-owned by Robert De Niro. I so excited that I’m going to be seeing Maxime again. Too excited to concentrate on mystic mall cops and maroon feather dusters, a book I’m currently reading. It’s about a young cop who works in a shopping mall and he has a secret which no one knows about as yet. He’s a mystic and has connections with spirits through thought and meditation.
He finds a maroon feather duster in the back seat of his car and then another in his desk drawer. Where did they come from? Who was leaving them? Was someone trying to contact him? Then, one night, he had a vision of a young and very attractive black woman. In her hand she is holding a maroon feather duster. She looks terrified.
He has this vision several times until one day, he reads of the sudden disappearance of a wealthy family’s maid. There is a photo of her and it’s the same woman in his vision. I’m at the part where he’s wondering what he should do.
It’s not the sort of book I usually read but when I was browsing, I saw it and was curious. And, so I borrowed it from the library. This was the same afternoon when I met Maxime.
Maxime. I close the book and slip it into my handbag. I stare out of the window and daydream about Maxime. I still can’t believe that I met him. I’m so happy that I decided to go to the place where I could see the Statue of Liberty instead of going straight home after leaving the library. Some might say that it was fate but I say that it was God. He brought Maxime and me together.
I felt so embarrassed when I bumped into him but I could see that he wasn’t annoyed. And when I apologized, he said that he wasn’t paying attention either because he was too busy looking at Lady Liberty. That made me feel better. Then, we got to talking and when he introduced himself, I couldn’t hide my reaction. I was astounded that his name was Maxime. And when he asked me to join him for a cappuccino or latte at a nearby café, it was as if my dream of being swept off my feet by a handsome stranger like Maxim de Winter had come true. I wordlessly accepted his invitation and as we walked to the café, I couldn’t help wondering if he was a widower like Daphne Du Maurier’s hero.
We spent hours in the café talking. He asked me about myself and my family. And he told me that his parents were dead and that he had an older sister who was married and had two daughters. She lived in Yorkshire. He said that Kate and he had always been very close. He didn’t say much about himself, except that he lived and worked in Cornwall but frequently traveled to London on business. He told her about Brierwell Manor which had been his family’s home since he was a child and which he inherited after his parents died. From the way he described, I imagined a beautiful and magnificent estate. He didn’t mention a wife or a woman so I assumed, hoped that meant that he was single.
We ended up having something to eat and he made sure I took a taxi home. Before we parted, he asked me to have dinner at Tribeca. And here I am on my way there now. The train pulls into Canal St subway and I get out. It’s an 8 minute walk to the restaurant. When I get there, he’s waiting outside. He spots me and waves. My heartbeat accelerates and I quicken my pace.
My eyes travel eagerly over his tall frame. He looks gorgeous in his navy blue suit. I see the way he looks at me and am bowled over. “Hi,” I greet him breathlessly.
“Hi,” he replies, smiling.
Although I was right on time, I ask him, “Have you been here long?”
“No. I got here about five minutes ago.”
There are dinners sitting outside but our table is inside. When I googled the restaurant, I learned that it is set in a converted warehouse. There is an antique wooden bar in the huge room and paintings of Robert De Niro Sr hang on the brick walls. The place has a warm, cozy feel about it and our table is in a corner which suits me very well.
Maxime holds my chair out so that I can sit and after making sure that I’m comfortably seated, he sits opposite me. I look around at the place and the other diners. I can’t believe that I’m here. “This is my first time here,” I say.
“Mine too. I have heard very good things about it.”
I open the menu and will myself not to react at the prices. The waiter comes over and asks us what we would like to drink. I ordered the Raspberry Fizz mocktail while Maxime asked for a glass of Pinot Noir. While he goes and gets our drinks we look at the menu. When he returns, we both order the Arugula & Buffalo Mozzarella salad. I have the Pan Roasted Amish Chicken for the main course while he has the homemade Pappardelle pasta.
“Have you ever gone for a carriage ride in Central Park?” he asks me.
“No, I never have.”
“Good. I was thinking that after dinner, we can go for one.”
My eyes dance. “That would be lovely,” I reply, anxious to be alone with him in horse drawn carriage.
As we dine, he asks me about my plans for university. “I have applied to universities here in New York.”
“Have you thought of studying abroad?”
I shook my head. “No. It never occurred to me to apply to a university outside of America.
“Perhaps you should consider studying in London. There are several very good universities there.”
“How far is London from Cornwall?”
“Less than 5 hours by train or car.”
“I have an aunt who lives in London.”
“Then, you don’t have to worry about room and board.”
That’s true. All I had to worry about was my tuition which my parents would take care of once I decide which universities in London I want to apply to and the one I get accepted to. I knew I was thinking of applying to studying in London because of Maxime. He and I can see each other when he was in London on business. “I’ll definitely think about it,” I tell him.
He smiled. “Good.”
We talk about other things and then, it’s time for dessert. I have the Hot Fudge Sundae and he has the New York Cheesecake. By the time we leave the restaurant, I feel stuffed.
He hails a cab and we head to Central Park. When we get there, there are carriages lined up. Maxime chooses one and helps me up. It feels nice him holding my hand and I feel like a princess. The driver is very friendly. The tour takes 45 min Central Park covering the main highlights like the Carousel, the Ice Skating Rink, Bethesda Fountain, Cherry Hill Plaza where we stop.
We get out of the carriage and while Maxime and I stand beside each other with our arms around each other, the driver takes our photo with the with the carriage and beautiful the San Remo towers in the background. Then, we get back on and head for Strawberry Fields, Tavern on the Green and much more.
When we arrive back to the pickup stop, we thank the driver and after Maxime helps me down, he pays him and gives him a generous tip for making the ride such a pleasant experience. He beams at us and bids us goodnight. Maxime hails a cab and we get in. He asks for my address and gives it to the driver. As we pull into traffic, I feel sad because I really don’t want the evening to end.
About a half-hour later, we are standing outside of my family’s home, facing each other. “Thank you for a lovely evening,” I say to him. “I had a wonderful time.”
“Me too,” he replies quietly.
“When can we see each other again?” I ask. I hope he doesn’t think that I’m being forward for asking this but I’m anxious to know, especially as he will be returning to England fairly soon.
He returns my stare, his expression unreadable. “I’m more than twice your age, you know.”
My heart sinks. “I’m going to be 20 in September.” Is he going to use our age difference as an excuse not to see me anymore? I hope with all my heart that this is not the case.
“And I’m going to be 41 in December. You should be with a boy your age.”
“I don’t want to be with a boy my age,” I quickly inform him. “I-I want to be with you, Maxime.”
A few minutes pass by and then, he asks, “Do you like Art?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Meet me tomorrow at 2pm outside of the Metropolitan Museum.”
My heart leaps with joy. “All right.”
He takes my hand and raises it to his lips, brushing my skin and making my stomach flip. Then, he walks down the steps. I stand there and watch him get into the taxi and it pull away before I open the front door and let myself into the house.