He wasn’t looking forward to having lunch with Antonia and several times, he wanted to call and cancel but Martina persuaded him not to. She was the only reason why he was here. He would have preferred to be with her, either at her place or his. But, here he was and he was going to have to make the best of an otherwise undesirable situation. Hopefully, the time would go by very quickly.
He parked the car and after checking his cell for messages, he got out and walked through the parking lot to the restaurant. It was exactly one o’clock. The place was filled with families and couples. He went up to the hostess. “Good afternoon,” she greeted him with a smile and an admiring gaze. “A table for one?”
“Good afternoon. I’m meeting someone here. The reservation is under the name Pendlebury.”
Her smile faded. “Oh. Your party is already here. Come with me.” She showed him to the table where Antonia was waiting for him and promptly left.
“Hello,” he said to Antonia as he unbuttoned his jacket and pulled out the chair to sit opposite her.
Antonia smiled, extremely happy to see him. “Hello, Laird.” How she longed to tell him that he looked very handsome.
“This is a very nice restaurant,” he remarked. “I’ve never been here before.”
“It’s Lebanese. I hope you don’t mind.”
“No, I don’t mind at all. I’ve had Lebanese food before and I quite like it.”
“So do I. How was your lunch with your friends and colleagues?”
“It was very nice. We had a terrific time.”
“I’m happy to hear that. How-how is Martina?”
“She’s fine. She asked me to say hello to you.”
“I guess she’s busy planning for the wedding which is less than two months away.”
“Yes, she is.”
The waitress came over to ask them if they were ready to order. He let Antonia order first and then he ordered. “Dad told me that Bradley’s going to be your best man.”
“Yes. He and I have known each other for years.”
“You’ve known his wife, Emma longer, though.”
“Yes. I met Martina through them.”
“I met them once at a ballet at the Royal Albert Hall. Dad introduced me. They seemed very nice.”
“Yes, they are a class act. I’m blessed to have them as friends.”
“I think I would like to be friends with Emma and Martina.”
He wasn’t sure he wanted her to be friends with Martina but that was up to Martina. “Perhaps, they would like that too,” he said.
The waitress brought their drinks, his order of Mosaka and hers of Balila. “So, Martina is an excellent cook.”
“Yes, she is.”
“I’ve been taking cooking lessons.”
“How’s that coming along?”
“Fine. I don’t think I’ll ever be really good at it, though.”
He didn’t answer.
“When you and Martina are married, where will you live?”
“At my place until we find somewhere else.” The Mosaka was delicious.
“Another flat or a house?”
“A house as we plan to have a family.”
She lowered her eyes so that he wouldn’t see the pain in them. “That’s nice. I’m sure Dad’s looking forward to being a grandfather.”
“Yes. And I’m sure he is as much as Martina and I are looking forward to being parents.”
“And I’ll be an aunt.” She almost choked over the words. Being an aunt to his children was the last thing she wanted.
The main course arrived. His was the Stuffed Lamb because he didn’t like charcoal meat and hers was the Kafta Meshwi. He was definitely going to bring Martina here the next time he came. She would love the food.
“Have you and Martina decided where you’re going for your honeymoon?”
“Yes. Bora Bora.”
“That’s nice.” She forced herself to eat.
They both passed on dessert. “Thank you for lunch,” Laird said to Antonia after she insisted on paying because it was her treat.
They got up and left. The hostess was standing there. She gave a perfunctory smile as she bade them farewell. Laird smiled to himself. He couldn’t wait to see her reaction when he showed up with Martina and introduced her as his wife.
They stood outside of the restaurant. A quick glance at his watch told him lunch had lasted fifteen minutes short of two hours. It wasn’t as unpleasant as he thought it would be. He had treated Antonia civilly. Martina would be very proud of him.
He was thankful, though that this was behind him now. The wedding was fast approaching and he still had much to do. He was really looking forward to the big day and of course, the honeymoon. Not for the first time, he wished that Karson and their mother were still alive to celebrate the most exciting day in his life.
“Goodbye, Antonia,” he said now, anxious to be on his way.
How she longed to hug him. Smiling, she said, “Goodbye, Laird.”
They parted ways. The next time they saw each other it was on the day of the wedding.
Source: The Daily Meal