The elevator doors opened. Levi dropped a brief kiss on the top of her head before cupping her elbow to propel her forward. “Thank you. I know what you did back there and I appreciate it.”
Stepping out with him, she placed a hand on her chest right above her low cut neckline drawing his eyes. “Me, do something?”
“Give it up. You’re as subtle as a sledgehammer.” He winked at her, which caused her heart to stumble.
An alert host swung the door open at their approach. “Good Evening. Are we celebrating anything special?”
A denial formulated in her mind, but Levi answered before she could reply.
“Of course we are. We’re alive. It’s a gorgeous Indian Summer evening and I have most beautiful girl in town on my arm. Sounds like worthy of a celebration to me. “
The most beautiful girl in town, she’d never heard those words connected in relationship to her. A huge silly smile bloomed on her face. The man had charm, who knew? Manners and charm, she wondered what else the night would bring.
The host led them to window table with a remarkable view. Wilsonville might be small potatoes, but Lauren across the river wasn’t. The skyline glittered like a handful of stars thrown out on the dark backdrop of the approaching evening. The small votive lamp cast flickering shadows onto Levi. Normally, shadows made people look threatening, but on Levi they only made him more mysterious. What would it take to peel back those layers similar to the skin of onion?
A waiter showed, flourished menus, and preceded to relay the special of the day. She only half listened to caught up in the experiences of the day to consider the food. The waiter suggested the crab bisque to start, and Mahi Mahi with roasted vegetables, which sounded good. Levi went with the salmon New Orleans and a salad.
A dark suited man appeared with a towel draped over one arm and a bottle of champagne. “A patron has gifted you with this champagne in honor of your service. Will you accept?”
Levi’s eyebrows shot up as an elderly man stood and saluted him. He stood up, faced the man, and snapped out a crisp salute back. “We’ll accept.”
The wine steward opened the bottle and poured two flutes provided by an alert waiter. The same waiter returned with a wine cooler for the bottle. The wine steward and waiter left without a word hurrying off to serve the other patrons.
Levi lifted his glass. “To appreciating what we have, to life.”
The crystal tinkling of the glasses as they gently tapped together made something well up inside. She took a sip in an effort to quell the need to burst into tears. Today had been an emotional roller coaster, but she certainly didn’t expect it to end like this. If she were someone else watching, she’d probably see a romantic love story unfolding. Hero boyfriend returns from war to devoted girlfriend.
Her eyes met his over the rim of the glass. What was not to like about the man? Besides his tendency to jump to conclusions and assume the wrong thing. Not like she hadn’t done the same. What was he thinking? Did he feel the magic of the evening?
He put down his glass and glanced back in the direction of his beneficiary. “Never had anyone give me anything.”
“What?” That made no sense. “What about your parents, Uncle Roy?” Sure, her life had been rough as a foster kid but, she really didn’t expect anything else. Occasionally she got a gift on her birthday or Christmas. It was never anything big, flashy or something she wanted. Usually, it was practical cotton underwear and socks. One family gave her on manual how to be a good foster child. The awkward phrasing and photos that didn’t go along with the text made her think it was self pubbed even before she found the box full of copies hidden in the garage.
“Oh, yeah, of course my parents and Uncle Roy got me stuff. I’m talking about people not related to me.” He picked up the champagne bottle and refilled their flutes. “How about you?”