Tanner was waiting downstairs in the lobby for her. Melania smiled when she saw him and they hugged. “Hello,” she said when they drew apart. He looked and smelled good. “No jacket?”
“It’s in the car.” His gaze traveled over her. “Aren’t you cold with your legs bare like that?” he asked. His eyes darkened when he remembered how she used to wrap them around him when they made love.
She smiled and shook her head. “No. It’s mild today, besides, I wouldn’t be spending much time outside. So, where are you taking me for lunch?”
“Volos where they serve the best Greek cuisine.”
“I’ve never heard of it.”
“I’ve been to it a couple of times. It’s downtown, on Richmond Street.”
“I love Greek food.”
“That’s why I’m taking you there.”
“Yes. Just a few weeks ago, I was remembering when we went to the food festival and we tried the Greek Jewish food.”
“And it rained just after we finished eating. Fortunately, you didn’t live far from there but we were completely soaked by the time we got to your apartment.”
Their eyes locked when they both remembered what happened after they got there and while their clothes were in the dryer. Then, Melania looked away and said, brightly, “Well, we don’t have to worry about it raining or snowing today. I heard on the radio that it’s going to be sunny all day.”
“Yes.” Tanner put on his sunglasses so that they hid his eyes. “Let’s go and enjoy that sunshine and some good food.”
She followed him out of the building and to his car which was parked in a visitor’s parking space. He opened the door for her and she got in. His eyes dropped momentarily to her legs when she sat down and then, he closed the door, a muscle throbbing in his cheek. He got in and soon, they were off.
“Thanks for taking me for lunch,” Melania told him.
“I thought it would be an opportunity for us to spend time together. We have about seven years of catching up to do.”
“I can’t believe that it has been seven years since we…”
“Since we broke up.”
“I didn’t want to break up with you but I felt that it was the best thing to do at the time.”
“Did you have any regrets afterwards?”
“It was hell for me, Lana. I missed you–what we had. Many times, I wanted to call you and to see you but I wanted to respect your decision even though it hurt.”
“I’m sorry, Tanner. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“Don’t be sorry. You did what you felt was best.”
“Did you date anyone afterwards?”
“I got involved with a woman I met at a mutual friend’s barbecue but it didn’t last long because I was on the rebound. I haven’t been dating anyone since.”
“But now you’re thinking of dating Gina, of all people.” She rolled her eyes and shook her head.
“The other day, she came to the gym to see me.”
“She said she was interested in joining the gym.”
“And you believed her?”
“No. She had a reason for being there and it had nothing to do with membership.”
“What do you think the reason was?”
“I mentioned that I saw Matt at Yorkdale. She asked if he was alone and I said no. She asked if he was with a woman and when I said yes, she guessed that it was you. She also mentioned that Natalie bumped into Matt and that they had chatted for a while. Natalie told her that she had seen me too and that I wasn’t alone. I told Gina that I had met a friend for lunch and she wanted to know if that friend was you. I’m not sure why she would think that I would be having lunch with you when it was already established that you were with Matt. Anyway, she asked if you and I knew each other. I told her that you were an intern at the company I used to work for nine years ago. She seemed surprised that you and I kept in touch for all that time but I told her that the day in the mall was the first time we had seen each other since the internship.”
“So, she doesn’t know about us.”
“No. I changed the subject by asking her why she was really there and insinuated that it was because she was attracted to me. I asked her to have dinner with me that evening and she said she would rather have a hernia. Then, she left.”
“Were you serious about having dinner with her?”
“Are you going to ask her again?”
“Does Matt know that you and I are having lunch?”
“Did you tell him that we bumped into each other at Yorkdale?”
“No. He doesn’t know that we know each other.”
“Don’t you think you should tell him?”
“I guess so.”
“I think you should before Gina does.”
“You think she would?”
“Yes, I do.”
“All right. I’ll tell him later when I call him.”
“I think you should call him now, Lana.”
“All right.” She took out her cell and called Matt. “Hi, Matt. Just wanted to let you know that I’m going for lunch at Volos. It’s a Greek restaurant. Have you heard about it? No? I’m going there now with Tanner. You remember Tanner, right? He’s Natalie’s husband’s cousin. Yes, Graham. Yes, I know Tanner. We met nine years ago when I was an intern at his company. I bumped into him that day when you and I had lunch at Yorkdale. We chatted for a while and said that we would keep in touch. Yes, he remembered me after all these years. I guess it’s because I was one of their best interns and the only black female there. All right. Yes, we’ll chat later. Give Cam a hug and kiss for me. ‘Bye.” She ended the call. “He doesn’t have a problem with us having lunch together.”
“Good. Now, you can relax and not worry about anything.”
For the rest of the drive, they spoke about what had transpired in their lives after their breakup. Shortly after she broke up with Tanner, she graduated from John Bowne High-school. A year later, she moved out of her parents’ home in Queens, New York to move to Toronto so that she could attend the University of Toronto where she studied Management. She stayed with Kira until she graduated from U of T, got a job and found an apartment in Scarborough.
“What made you decide to move to Toronto?” she asked Tanner.
“I applied for and got the position of Director at a top Finance company.”
“Where do you live?”
“Wow. That’s one of the most exclusive and posh areas in the city.”
“Yes. I didn’t want to live downtown even though it would be closer to the office. I take the subway which is nice because I can relax or I can read.”
“And save on gas too.”
They found parking close to the restaurant on Richmond Street. Melania was struck by how elegant and cozy Volos was inside. The were shown to a table beside the window. “This is very nice,” Melania remarked, looking around.
“I knew you’d like it.”
For the appetizer, they both had the Horiatiki Salad and for the main course, she had the Sesame-crusted Pacific Salmon and he had the Moussaka.
“This is so good,” Melania marveled.
“Your 25th birthday was on Friday, August 6th. How did you spend it?”
Melania stared at him. “You remembered.”
“How could I forget?”
“I spent it with Matt. He took me to Crave Wings on Eglinton Avenue West. Afterwards, we had birthday cake at my place with Aunt Kira and Uncle Joel.”
“It sounds like you had a good time on your birthday.”
“Lucky Matt. He got to celebrate your silver birthday with you.”
“So, what would you like for dessert?”
“What are you going to have?”
She looked at the menu to see what Baklava was. “I’ll have it too.”
Two hours later, they left the restaurant. “So, where are you going to take Gina for dinner?”
“I don’t know.”
“I wish you would reconsider.”
“She’s not the right woman for you, Tanner.”
“Are you saying that because you don’t like her?”
“That isn’t the only reason.”
“What is the other reason?”
“She’ll be a divorced woman with a child. Do you want to take on that baggage?”
“What about Matt? He’ll be a divorced man with a child and you don’t seem to have a problem with that.”
“I just think you’re making a big mistake where she’s concerned.”
“Don’t worry about me, Lana. I’m a big boy. I can take care of myself.”
Melania didn’t answer and for several minutes there was silence, except for the muffled sounds of traffic. Then, she changed the subject. She told him about the movie she and her friend, Monika had gone to see after she and he bumped into each at Yorkdale.
An hour later, they were standing in the lobby of her building. “Thanks again for lunch,” she said.
“Take care of yourself, Tanner.”
“Does this mean that we won’t be seeing each other any more?”
“No, it doesn’t mean that at all.”
“Good. As long as Matt doesn’t mind, we can go for lunch again or hang out in the mall or go to the park or do something harmless.”
“I’d like that but Gina might not if you end up dating her.”
“Don’t worry about Gina. I can handle her.”
“I’m sure you can.”
They hugged and then, Tanner walked away. Melania stood there, watching him until he disappeared from view. She turned and walked to the bank of elevators. As she waited for one to come, she thought about him and Gina. She hated the idea of them dating but there wasn’t anything she could do about it. And, she had no right to object anyway. She was with Matt who was finally free of Gina and their miserable marriage. That was what she wanted, wasn’t it?
And yet…Seeing Tanner and being with him again after all these years…She shook her head. No, Tanner was her past and Matt was her future.
Sources: Volos; University of Toronto; University Magazine; Michael Maxwell Homes