Looking out at the city he now called home, Kingston Thorn marveled at the picturesque beauty of the view from his 9th floor office at Starlight Industries. As if he had choreographed the scene, he heard Blue Saraceno’s “Save My Soul” spin up on his iPod and thought how well that song fit Little Rock. After five months in the mid-sized city-capital of Arkansas, he was coming to appreciate the rugged beauty of the Natural State. He never imagined that he could connect to a place like this in the proverbial “middle of nowhere”. Having traveled the world for the past 10 years, it felt good to begin planting some roots in a place. Still smiling over the news he’d just received that his condo was now ready for him to move in, Kingston decided it was a good time to take his lunch break. He grabbed his jacket and walked out of his office pausing at the desk of his executive assistant.
“Darcy, I’m starving. What’s a good place nearby where a brother can get some good fish?”
“You looking for catfish or the healthy stuff?” she replied, arching her back and batting her eyes a little too much for Kingston’s liking. He made a mental note to watch his language choice around this one concerned that he might have to call the temp agency again. He definitely did not have time for any office distractions.
“Healthy, most definitely, with a nice view of the river if possible,” he replied.
“Well, there’s this place cousin works at called Brave New in Riverdale. It can be kinda hard to find but she says the view is gorgeous.”
“Sounds perfect, can you write the address down for me?”
“Sure thing boss,” she scribed down the address on a piece of paper, stood up and walked around the desk slowly to hand it to him. “Anything else I can do for you, boss?” she said suggestively giving him “the look”.
“No thank you, Darcy, I’m good. Oh but please cancel and reschedule my afternoon meetings. I have some personal business to attend to,” he said as he made his way to the elevator. Yep, he was definitely going to have to find another assistant. This was the third one in three months that seemed more interested in getting next to him than doing the job they were hired for. He’d made that mistake once and it almost cost him his career. Shaking off that unpleasant memory from his past, he climbed into his 2015 Hyundai Genesis and pulled out of his parking space headed toward a nice peaceful lunch.
Brave New was a bit crowded for the early lunch crowd, so Eva was glad she and her dad were regulars. As they entered the owner spotted them and began making his way over to give his customary greeting. A tall man with kind eyes, he took Eva’s hand and raised it to his lips gently smiled.
“And how are you today, beautiful lady? When will you stop toying with my heart and let me take you out to dinner?”
“Henri, I’m sure your wife would have something to say about that,” Eva smiled at the game they had been playing for well over 5 years now. An incorrigible flirt, everyone about town knew that Henri was and would always be head over hills in love with his wife who ran the kitchen in Brave New.
“Aah, this is true, plus she feeds me and you know how I like to eat,” he patted his belly as proof of his words. “And how are you today, Rich, my friend? We missed you at church last Sunday.”
“I was feeling a bit poorly and Eva thought it was best that we stay in, but I’m feeling much better today,” Rich said smoothly.
“Well, lets get you seated. Since it’s gorgeous outside today I’m guessing you’d like the patio,” Henri said, gathering a few menus and ushering them toward their favorite spot.
“You know us well, Henri,” Eva replied and followed their host to an empty table on the balcony.
“Your server will be right out to you,” said Henri as he turned to go back inside.
“Dad, there’s something that I need to talk to you about. I got a letter the other day from our program officer at Starlight Industries that said our funding is about to be cut. Apparently, they took a big hit during the recession and are having to pull back on a number of their projects and we’re one of the ones on the chopping block.”
“Well, Eva, we knew that this could happen. Do you think there’s any chance that we might be able to make an appeal? We are so close…”
“I don’t know, Dad. I’ve heard that they have brought in a new guy from overseas to see if he can right the ship but I don’t know who it is or if he would even take my call.”
“Hmm, the Lord has helped us get this far, baby girl. He’ll show us how to move from here.”
Eva sighed, patience was a part of the faith that she’d always struggled with, but she was glad that her dad seemed to be doing well today and that she’d decided not to keep this news from him. It felt good not to have to shoulder this particular burden alone.
“I’ll start figuring out how to jockey a meeting with the new guy at Starlight. I wonder where our waiter is?” she said looking inside the restaurant. Starting back at her were eyes that felt like they were climbing into her soul. She felt the menu slip from her hands and a ringing in her ears. Panic raced through her blood fueled by her pounding heart. The pair of eyes changed from wonder to something stormy before the man looked away breaking the connection.
“Eva…EVA! Honey, are you alright? What’s wrong?!” Richmond asked noticing that his daughter seemed distraught for some unseen reason.
“What is HE doing here?” she whispered grabbing her water glass and taking a few sips.
“He who, Eva?” Richmond turned to see if he could identify the cause of his daughters distress.
“I thought I saw Kingston inside, Dad. Oh God, it is him and it looks like he’s coming out here,” knowing there was no way to escape without causing a scene, Eva tried to brace herself as she saw the only man she’d ever loved beside her father walk out onto the balcony.
To be continued…