Excerpt

8

“May I join you?” she asks, resting a hand on the back of the other seat even before he can answer. Such tables are meant for sharing, yet she wants to be invited, and so he waives his hand while his wiry five-foot eleven body swivels to the side to let her pass.

This is the first opportunity to see her face without turning his neck. Her skin is remarkably smooth, as if she is newborn, her natural pink lips full to bursting. There is eye makeup and her brows are neat and dark, but he sees no other artificiality. He hesitates for words. He has rarely engaged a woman like this, but it is all frivolous and Sara is frankly not here to think otherwise. He suddenly enjoys the opportunity to relax.

“I thought you got off at a later stop,” she says.

“I did, but I needed to shop,” he answers and pulls the shopping bag upward.

She ignores his bag, saying, “Can you show me the beach?” She is almost so direct that he nearly winces.

All he can think to say is, “If you want to see the beach, you can take a taxi, or I guess I can drop you there.”

“That’s good,” she says without hesitation, yet even before the last words leave his mouth he realizes that a line has been crossed. He has left an opening, and a part of him, that piece of brain housing genetic material that determines conscience, hopes she declines. He has never been unfaithful to his wife, nor even considered it, despite Sara’s recent illusions. Yet this woman whom he now admits to himself looks exotically attractive does nothing to dispel this thought as she accepts the invitation.

“Do you live near here?”