Simon was hot, tired and had sawdust in his black hair from working all day on the new house. He probably didn’t smell so good either. Maybe he’d better order the beef dip with fries for takeout.
With Mattie away, he’d begun picking up dinner at Speed’s Neighbourhood Pub on his way home from working on the new house. The evenings at home alone were long and as days stretch into weeks, he began eating at the pub.
“Hey, Simon! I’ll be right with you.” Marianne abruptly abandoned the guests she was taking an order from and was now crowding his personal space. “Having dinner alone again?”
“Not too close, Marianne. I’ve been working in a sweltering enclosed space all day.”
“Man scent, I think it’s sexy.” Marianne winked.
“I’ll take it out tonight. Philly sandwich and fries, please.”
Marianne pouted. “Aww. We won’t get to chat.”
“I’ll wait out on the patio.”
Unlike most pubs, Speed’s was located right on the Fraser River. Simon headed for the big patio knowing the cool breeze and riverscape would soothe him. On his way out to the deck he passed a table of three women, two smiled at him. He smiled back for no other reason than he was friendly, though sometimes it raised expectations and led to uncomfortable situations. “You’re too damn handsome for your own good” Mattie had told him, “And mine.” He smiled remembering and felt an ache in his chest. He missed her more than he could have imagined.
Since forever, the opposite sex had been attracted to him, though he honestly didn’t understand why. His little sister called him a chick magnet and teased him because all her girlfriends had crushes on him. But when he looked in the mirror he saw average, not unpleasant but nothing to warrant the attention he got. “That’s part of your appeal,” Mattie said. “You’re oblivious to the effect you have on women.”
Simon never cultivated this appeal, never used it to take advantage. There had always been girlfriends, but the relationships never bloomed. The women were nice, and he enjoyed their company except there was almost always something more important to do than spend time with them. They never broke up, no emotional scenes, thank goodness since he was not comfortable with personal confrontation–just a drifting apart, fading away, forgotten.
That didn’t happen with Mattie. She began by challenging him, who he was, what he believed in and that never changed as they started to fall in love–it grew more intense. It was like she wanted him to be worthy of her love. And she wasn’t afraid to be in his face, or anyone’s for that matter. It wasn’t about control. She gave him space–at times so much he felt like an afterthought in her life. She was her own person, had her own life and interests. Where they converged, what brought them together were shared core values. They believed in issues bigger than themselves; causes and principles they were prepared to sacrifice for. It was uplifting to love someone like that. And when they loved you back it was validating.
“Beautiful view.” One of the two women he’d passed on the way to the patio sidled up and leaned on the railing beside him. He knew he shouldn’t have returned their smiles.
“Nice breeze,” Simon said. The woman was attractive and sexy, a sleeveless blouse, top buttons undone, lots of smooth, tanned skin.
“My name’s Katherine, Kat for short.”
“Do you live in Delta? You look familiar,” she said.
“Excuse me, Katherine. It looks like my order’s ready.” Simon headed inside.
“The cougars are on the prowl tonight,” Marianne said when he approached the bar.
“How’s the order coming?”
“Barry. How long for Simon’s Philly sandwich?’
“Another minute or so for the fries,” came a voice from the kitchen.
“Marianne nodded toward the patio where Kat had re-joined her girlfriends. “Looks like you were the prey.”
“Just being friendly,” Simon said.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish