Sarifina couldn’t believe that she was in Maxime’s London flat. It seemed like ages since that awful day last summer when they said goodbye at Kennedy Airport. It had been the worse day of her entire life, watching the man she loved walk away, not knowing when she would see him again.
Weeks went by and then, she got the acceptance letter from the University of London. Almost beside herself with excitement, she told her parents and they were thrilled for her. Her mother called her Aunt Sianeh to ask if she would be willing to put her up and the answer was yes.
It was the first week of September when she left New York and flew to London. Her aunt met her at Gatwick Airport and after exclaiming over how much she had grown, they hugged and then, took a taxi to her flat. Over dinner, Aunt Sianeh asked her about her studies and told her that she was sorry she couldn’t be there for her graduation from high-school. “I’m proud of you, Sari,” she said. “Your mother told me that you graduated with high honors and as the Valedictorian.”
Sarifina had smiled. “Yes, I did. I studied hard and kept my grades up.”
“Good for you. You were always a very bright girl. And with your high grades, you could have chosen any number of universities in the United States. Why did you choose the University of London?”
“Last summer, I met a wonderful man named, Maxime. He’s a widower and was on business in New York. We met one afternoon when I was looking at the Statue of Liberty across the river. Actually, I bumped into him and he was really nice about it. We spoke for a while and then, he took me to a café where we got to know each other over Lattes. We saw each other everyday when he was there. Mom didn’t approve because he’s twice my age. Anyway, he suggested that I study here in London and I decided that I would apply to the University of London. I can’t tell you how excited I was when I was accepted. I thought it would have been too late. Although Maxime lives in Cornwall, it’s a lot closer than New York.”
She had spent the rest of the evening talking about Maxime and how wonderful he was. And here, she was in his flat. After they had spoken on the phone and he had told her that he was going to come down today and spend the weekend in London, she had told her aunt. And this afternoon after her last class, she had hurried home to shower and change because Maxime was taking her out for dinner. He arrived and she ran down the steps to him as he stood beside the passenger side of the car. They hugged and kissed before she climbed in. And off they went. Dinner was at Core, a fancy restaurant. Over Roasted Cod and Lamb Carrot, they chatted.
After dinner, they went to Alexandra Palace and from the top of the hill they enjoyed the incredible views. What better way to spend the time than to watch the lights of London with the man you loved? It was after eleven when he took her home and arranged to see her today. He picked her up from her Aunt’s house and this time, he met her. The older woman looked him over but she was friendly in her manner.
“How does your aunt feel about you seeing a man twice your age?”
“She doesn’t approve but she’s not as bad as my mother. My father doesn’t know as yet but when I see him, I’ll tell him.”
“I take it that he wouldn’t approve either.”
“Probably not but I’m not a child. I’m going to be twenty-one in October.”
“Don’t be hard on your Dad. If I were in his shoes, I too might have a problem if I had a daughter your age and she was involved with a man my age.”
“I wish people would stop being so obsessed with age. When two people are in love with each other, age or race shouldn’t matter.”
“They shouldn’t but unfortunately they still do.”
“Let’s not talk about anymore about people and their hang-ups.”
He agree and they changed the subject. In one day, he took her to Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Park, Westminster Abbey. He wasn’t sure if they should visit The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben because they were are both undergoing significant renovation works at the moment but he decided he would take her. For lunch, they grabbed wraps at LEON. She had Jerk N’ Jam Chicken and he had the The Pink Peppercorn Ste*k Wrap which they ate in the car before heading to Trafalgar Square which was nearby.
Sarifina posed in front each lion statue while Maxime took her picture and then, they got a tourist to take a few of them together. “Did you know that Edward Landseer, the sculptor of these lions had never seen a lion when he was commissioned to make the statues?”
Sarifina looked at him, her eyes wide. “He had never seen a lion before and yet he was able to sculpt two of them? How did he manage?”
“He had had to wait for a lion at London Zoo to pass away so that he could use it as his model for these statues.”
“Wow. That’s very interesting.” She asked him to take pictures of her in front of the two lions and then asked a tourist to take a few of her with him and a couple of him alone. After pausing by Nelson Column which was in the middle of the square, they went to the National Gallery where they spent the rest of the afternoon.
The last place they visited was The London Eye and during their 25 minute ride, they were treated to beautiful views. And since it was such a clear day, they could even see as far as Windsor Castle which was 25 miles away. It was early evening when they finally came here to his flat which overlooked the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and the River Thames. “I’ll order take out dinner,” he said as she stood there gazing at the spectacular views.
“How about Fish and Chips?” she said, turning to face him. “I heard so much about that and promised myself that I would try it at least once.”
He smiled. “I happen to know the best fish and chips place in London. I’ll telephone them right now.” He went over to the phone and called Sutton and Sons to order their Cod and chips. After he hung up, he faced her, leaning against the wall with his hands in his pockets. His gaze traveled over her. He was so thrilled that she was there in London and in his flat.
“You have a beautiful place with amazing views, Maxime. If I had a place like this I don’t think I’d ever want to leave it.”
“As much as I like this flat, it’s nothing compared to Brierwell Manor. You’ll see what I mean when I take you there one of these days.”
“I remember what you told me about it and it sounds wonderful–like something out of a movie or a book like Manderley.”
“When we’re there, I’ll take you to see Menabilly, the inspiration for Manderley although you will have a hard time seeing it through the trees. And I will also take you to Jamaica Inn which houses the du Maurier Museum which is next to its Cornish Smuggling Museum. I’m sure you’ll like that seeing that.”
“Yes, I would like that very much. Was the film, The Birds shot in Cornwall?”
“No, although the novel was set there. The film was shot in Bodega Bay in Northern California.”
“Tomorrow, I’m taking you to Bolshoi Ballet: Swan Lake matinee show at 3pm and then for dinner afterwards at Prezzo Restaurant.”
Her eyes danced. “I can’t wait!”
The doorbell rang. “That should be our fish and chips now.”
He was right. They ate their meal in the airy, open kitchen. A couple of hours later, they returned to the living-room and relaxed on the sofa. In the background, playing softly was ‘Liebesträume’ by Franz Liszt. Sarifina didn’t want the evening to end. “I wish I didn’t have to go,” she said wistfully.
“Me too,” he replied huskily. “If I had my way, you would stay here with me.”
“Oh, Maxime, I wish I could stay with you forever.”
He reached out and caressed her cheek with his knuckles before he leaned over and brushed her lips with his. She wrapped her arms around his neck and deepened the kiss. He held her against him and passionately returned her kiss.
Several minutes passed before he raised his head, his darkened eyes meeting her dreamy ones. “I’d better take you home,” he muttered, breathing harshly. It took all of his will power not to take her to his room and make love to her even though he wanted to very badly.
She stared at him. “Take me home?” she repeated.
“But why?” she asked, bewildered.
He gently disengaged her arms from around his neck and rose to his feet. “Because if I don’t, we’ll end up in there.” He jerked his head towards his bedroom door.
“But, isn’t that what we both want?” she asked, greatly disappointed. Her body was on fire. She wanted him so badly.
“Yes, it is and we will make love, I promise, but not tonight. Now, let me take you home.”
She reluctantly got up from the sofa and followed him out of the living-room.