Cigar smoke filled my kitchen. I had just come home from a late movie only to find my kitchen turned into a cigar bar. Through the haze I saw Rumi, Harry and a couple others I recognized from around the building chewing on stogies’ and looking at their hand. The game appeared to be five card draw. On the counter was a of couple open boxes pizza. The box said, All Star Pizza Bar.
Everyone grumbled hello. I appeared to have arrived at a crucial moment in the game. I grabbed a slice and pulled up a chair. I had avoided eating junk food at the movie only to find myself seduced by cheese and marinara sauce. I bit into a slice (with red sauce, roasted artichokes, mozzarella cheese, roasted tomatoes and basil-pine nut pesto). Mmmm…pizza heaven.
Everyone had folded the only ones left still standing was Harry (our night concierge) and a friend of Rumi’s a loud fashionable little guy that everyone referred to as, Prince. Harry looks like a human version of the woolly mammoth and so this was a typical David verses Goliath standoff. When the two revealed their hands, it was Goliath that took the pot.
“Well, I gotta start work,” said Harry as he grabbed another slice on his way. The others took their cue to pack up as well. When it was just the two of us and we had wiped down the kitchen and febreezed the cigar smoke away Rumi asked me, “So, I heard you tracked down Armand.”
“Yeah, it wasn’t easy.”
“Auntie Rukhsana will be very happy. I knew if anyone could do it, you could.”
“Well, that reminds me I’m having tea with her this weekend.”
I had decided to keep up Grams tradition of monthly tea. This time Casey and I met Rukhsana auntie at L’Espalier restaurant in Boston for their afternoon tea for their fantasy tea service. We arrived at the crystal room at L’Espalier, which is located in the Mandarin Hotel; Rukhsana auntie was already waiting for us wearing a leopard knit dress that made her look years younger. She gave us both a kiss hello. Casey was wearing a wispy crepe silk dress in deep blue with cascading sleeves that was just perfect for the Crystal Room.
The Crystal Room was the epitome of style and elegance decorated in crisp but neutral tone and surrounded by a wine case that is enveloped in a sheet of glass. I glanced at my reflection. I was wearing a fuchsia crochet trimmed knit dress with a flared skirt cutting me off above the knee. My hair was pulled back into a tight bun and I was wearing a coco lipstick. I looked at auntie Rukhsana she no longer had those tight worry lines. I knew she had been in contact with Armand and she gushed over me so relived that he was ok.
“An old woman worries, you know. I hope I didn’t impose on you too much.”
“Not at all,” I said giving her a big smile. In truth I had been a little perplexed by Armand’s disappearance as well.
L’Espalier has the most scrumptious tea menu. We choose L’Espalier’s Anniversary Blend with which consists of a blend of Darjeeling and three Sri Lankan Estate teas as well as two Chinese green teas lightly scented with jasmine, Italian oil of bergamot and grapefruit peel. We sipped its rich flavor while we nibbled on tea sandwiches: smoked salmon with cream cheese on dill bread, English cucumber with watercress cheese on citrus bread, crab salad with “ocean persillade” in an deviled egg. Next came the pastries: panna cotta, pâte à choux swans with espresso Chantilly cream and apricot frangipane cake.
I could live on pastries. This time we took our time savoring all the flavors. Casey entertained us with stories of more awkward first date, which were probably horrid at the time but damned funny in hindsight. After finishing a luxurious afternoon downtown all I wanted to go home and nap, and curl up with a good book – but what I should be doing after was hitting the gym.
Rukhsana auntie gave us hugs goodbye as she got into her cab, the valet brought around Casey’s car, which this time was a purple Jaguar. I was about to hop in for a ride home when I saw someone touched me on the shoulder, it was Javier in dark sunglasses and a pearly white smile. My spine began to tingle and I felt a teensy bit light headed. I felt flushed and I stood speechless for a moment. It seemed that an inordinate amount of time had passed before anyone spoke.
“I hope I’m not interrupting anything. I noticed you from afar.”
“Well, that’s my queue to exit,” said Casey giving me a nudge “Call me later.”
“I was just on my way home,” I said.
“Ahh…perfect. Let me give you a ride,” he said leading me to his car. I inhaled the musky scent of his cologne. It reminded me of sandalwood.
Destiny awaits, I thought.
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