the aisle and stops next to where he sits. The movement causes her to sway slightly and her hip brushes his shoulder. She seizes his eyes with her own, a pair of wide black bullets that bore through him, a discomfort he cannot evade.

“Do you get off here?” she asks, still swaying slightly as the bus slows. “Perhaps you can drop me at the beach.”

“Sorry, but I go on till Amagansett,” he answers. “Next stop.”

She nods slightly. “Too bad.” Her eyes remain locked on his.

The bus stops. “Well thank you anyway,” she says, and offers her hand.

It all seems very formal to Posner. Very European. Her grip is warm and he senses her fingers linger across his palm far longer than normal, but what is normal?

“Enjoy,” he says and releases her hand. He watches her walk down the aisle, briefly wonders why she was flirting with him, and smiles at the idea. The woman is probably only slightly more than half his age. Whatever it is he feels a physical quiver where he has become used to near dormancy.

He stops at Citarella in East Hampton before going home and collects a pound of cooked shrimp, a few ripe tomatoes, a wedge of Gruyere, and a sourdough baguette. All these are Sara’s favorites and should please her, although at this point he feels unsure whether it’s likely to warm the atmosphere. It’s just as possible she’ll say a late lunch has diminished her appetite. He’s about to head to the checkout when he decides to pick up lunch. At the take-out section, he selects the first sandwich he sees in the bin. He is not a picky eater. He chooses chicken and avocado. He could have done worse, he thinks, as he plucks a Diet Sprite and moves to the cashier.

He sits at one of the outside stone tables despite the chill. He is suddenly very hungry. His last meal was a Chef’s Salad the previous night at a local Manhattan bistro.

“Oh, so it’s you.”

The words draw his eyes upward. The woman in pink and white stands above him, a burst of white teeth against tanned skin. He has never gotten used to people who smile so openly.