“I’m thinking of breaking up with Josiah,” Phyllis said to her friend, Veronica when they were having lunch at a cafe close to Veronica’s workplace.
Veronica looked surprised. “Why?” she asked. “I thought you were really into him.”
“I am but, I’m not sure where this relationship is going. We’ve been seeing each other for three and a half years now and I still haven’t met his family. The last two years when he flew to Seoul for the Christmas holidays, he doesn’t ask me to go with him. I don’t even know if he’s told them about me. He met my family in our second year of dating.”
“Yes, he did on Thanksgiving but as I recall, some of your relatives didn’t exactly welcome him with open arms. Maybe he’s trying to spare you from the same kind of treatment from his family.”
“You really like him, don’t you?” Phyllis asked.
“Yes. He’s the best thing that has ever happened to you. Don’t blow it. Hang unto him. He’s a keeper.”
Phyllis sighed. “All right. I’ll take it one day at a time. Thanks for being such a terrific friend.”
Veronica smiled. “You’re welcome.” She glanced at her watch. “It’s time for me to head back to the office.”
“Let’s do lunch again soon, okay?”
“Sounds good to me.”
They split the cheque and parted company. Phyllis walked back to her office. She was busy for the rest of the afternoon and was thankful when it was time to go home.
She grabbed a hot chocolate on her way to the subway. On the train ride home she thought about what Veronica said. Josiah was a really special guy who treated her like a queen. He liked to buy her gifts, take her places and cook dinner for her. Tonight, she was going over to his place for another romantic, home cooked dinner. She was really looking forward to the dinner and spending the weekend with him. She couldn’t wait to see the expression on his face when she wore her new negligee. I probably wouldn’t be wearing it for long, she mused. Yes, I would be a fool to break up with him. When the time is right, I will meet his family.
When she got home, she checked her messages and then took a long, hot shower before she got dressed, grabbed her overnight bag, handbag and left.
“Something smells really, really good,” she remarked as soon as she entered the apartment.”
“It’s Popcorn chicken with basil.”
“Hmmm. My mouth’s watering just thinking about it.”
He smiled as he helped her to remove her coat. After he put it away in the closet, he took her in his arms and kissed her. “I’ve been looking forward to doing that all day,” he said when he raised his head several minutes later.
Phyllis could hardly breathe. “You have?” she gasped.
“Yes and I want to kiss you again but if I do, it will lead to other things and the dinner will get cold.” Reluctantly, he released her and stepped back.
“Why-why don’t I go and freshen up in the meantime?”
“Good idea. Dinner will be ready in a few minutes.”
She took up her overnight bag and headed for the bedroom.
A few minutes later, they were sitting at the candlelit table, having dinner. In the background, classical music was playing. “This is so good,” she exclaimed after she finished her first mouthful of the food.
“You’re such an amazing cook.”
“Cooking is something I really enjoy doing. Before I became a Marketing and Sales Manager, I wanted to be a chef. After I left university, I went to a culinary school in Paris. It was a fantastic experience.”
“Why didn’t you become a chef?”
“As much as I loved it, I realized after a while that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working in a kitchen. So, I decided that I would open my own restaurant and hire a guy who went to the same culinary school as the chef.”
“I’m glad you did. We met at your restaurant. One of my girlfriends was celebrating her fortieth birthday and we wanted to take her to the best restaurant in Soho.”
“Yes, I remember that night as if it happened today. When I came out to greet and chat with the diners, I saw the staff gathered around your table singing happy birthday. I came over and my eyes fell on you. I barely acknowledged who else was at the table.”
“I couldn’t believe that you were the owner. You looked so young.”
“Is that why you didn’t want to go out with me at first?”
“Well, I’ve never dated a younger man before and…”
“and one who’s from a different culture.”
“Yes, but then, I was so attracted to you that after a while, I had to stop making stupid excuses not to go out with you.”
“And here we are three and a half years later.”
She smiled. “Yes.” If she had followed her mind instead of her heart, she wouldn’t be here now enjoying a romantic dinner with him.
“I spoke to my parents this morning,” he said as they cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher.
“Oh. How are they?”
“They’re doing well. I’m planning to visit them in July.”
“Oh. I’m sure they’ll be happy to see you.”
“They’re looking forward to meeting you.”
She almost dropped a glass. “They know about me?” she exclaimed.
“Yes, they do. I wanted to take you to Seoul to meet them but my grandmother was living with them and she wouldn’t have approved of us. I wanted to spare you that. While I was there and when she wasn’t around, I told my parents about you and even showed them pictures. I hated spending Christmas without you and I promised myself that I would never do it again. My grandmother died a couple of days after I left. I couldn’t go to the funeral because of the short notice and I had already been away from the restaurant for a while. My parents understood.”
“I’m sorry about your grandmother.”
“Me too. I wish she could have known you and accepted you.”
“I’ve met people like your grandmother. They don’t see past color or culture.”
“My mother had to deal with the same thing because she’s British. My grandmother wanted my father to marry a Korean girl and was furious when he didn’t. She refused to attend the wedding and stopped talking to my grandfather for months because he did. I’m surprised that she didn’t shun me because I was Eurasian but she said that I looked more Korean because my Korean blood was stronger than my English blood.”
Phyllis shook her head. “It’s sad that this sort of thing still happens in families.”
“Yes it is,” he agreed. “But let’s not talk about it anymore. The important thing is that we are together.”
“Yes. And we have our parents’ approval.”
“And even if we didn’t, it wouldn’t matter.”
They left the kitchen and the dishwasher going and went into living-room where they spent the evening talking and planning their trip to Seoul. It was close to mid-night when they decided to turn in. While he undressed in the room, she was putting on her negligee in the bathroom, her heart pounding with excitement and anticipation. When she finally emerged, he was standing beside the window, wearing only his pajama pants. He turned when he heard her and his eyes traveled over her. She knew that the negligee looked great on her. Its muted red shade flattered her coloring and the fine silk hugged her body in all the right places.
In a matter of seconds, she was in his arms and he was kissing her ravenously. She clung to him as she returned his kisses. They stood there kissing wildly and then he drew back, his chest heaving and pulled the negligee over her head. She was naked. Then, his hands and lips were all over her, making her head swim as ripples of indescribable pleasure spread through her body. Then, he was backing her over to the bed until she was lying on top. His heated gaze ran over her as he ripped off his pajama pants. She reached eagerly for him and their lips met as their bodies merged.
In between kisses, he murmured, “I love you.”
When he buried his face in her neck, she whispered, “I love you.”
Before they went to Seoul in July, they got engaged and in the spring of following year they got married when his parents visited New York for the first time. In June, at the age of 40, Phyllis gave birth to their first child, a healthy boy whom they named after her father who passed away just a couple of weeks before. The second boy was named after Josiah’s father.
Two different worlds collided and became one.