As much as Vera didn’t want to abandon her desire to learn more about her mother, she also didn’t want to betray her father’s wishes, so she simply closed out of the Facebook page of the lovely redhead whom may or may not have given birth to her so many years ago.
Around 6 p.m. the next day, Vera found herself packed and ready to go for this assignment. She had hoped she would procrastinate and time would run over, bleeding into that 7 p.m. time slot Greg had given her, but she definitely had enough space to stop by and see Greg, if he were even there.
At 7 p.m. sharp, Vera found herself at Kafka Café, lugging her travel drag bag behind her. She looked around the coffee shop. An old couple drinking tea in the corner, a teenager and friends on their cell phones, and a businessman on his laptop. Good, she thought. As much as she wanted to see Greg, she secretly hoped he wouldn’t show so her life wouldn’t get any more complicated.
She ordered an espresso and sat down at a table, figuring this would be a good time to catch-up on rereading The Corrections.
Just then, Greg walked in, purchased a coffee at the counter, and plopped his stuff down in the seat across from her.
“You came,” he said.
“Didn’t think you would.”
“I didn’t think I would either.”
He scooted his seat closer to the table so he could be closer to her.
“Now will you give me a name? I know Louisa Gradgrind is a Dickens character. You think I don’t know books because I’m in e-books?”
“Vera. My name is Vera.”
“Nice to meet you, Vera.” He eyed the drag bag next to her. “Where’re you off to?”
“Perfect. That leads to my second question. What is it that you do with loans?”
“I’m a loan officer. I have to assess this business proposal out of town.”
“Fair enough. Where out of town?”
“Newport, Rhode Island.” This part was true. The wedding was going to be ritzy. After all, she was going with a millionaire.
“I’m really getting you to spill secrets now. So when do you get back?”
“In about a week. But what about you? I’m tired of talking about me.”
“Divorced. No kids. Non-smoker.” He looked up toward the ceiling, searching for words. “I don’t like bicyclists.”
“They drive me crazy on the road. I’m always so worried about hitting them with my car.”
They continued to chat, and Vera found herself really liking this guy, so much so that she lost track of time. Cole coming into the café jolted her back into reality that this was not a date, but a pit stop before this big assignment. Spotting Vera and Greg sharing an intimate moment, Cole bee-lined it to their table.
“Well,” said Cole. “Nice seeing you here again, Greg.”
And that was it. The two of them didn’t say anything else, taking a swig of their coffees instead.
“Well,” said Vera. “I hate to break up this conversation, but Cole and I should really get going.”
“You’re going to Newport with him?” said Greg.
“You told him we’re going to Newport?” Cole looked like he wanted to throttle Vera.
“Yes, Cole. I didn’t think it would be a big deal to tell him that we have to assess a loan there.”
Vera stood up, gathering her things. Greg also stood up.
“It was lovely to see you, Greg.”
“The pleasure was mine.” He leaned into her and kissed her on the cheek. Vera tried not to blush as Cole looked on, tapping his watch apathetically.
As Cole and Vera exited the café, Vera looked behind at Greg, who was watching her as she left.
“Who’s driving?” said Vera.
“Oh. Change of plans.”
With a look at what was parked in front of Kafka Café, Vera realized it was going to be an interesting trip.