Kendra sat on the steps of the Opera House with her take-away salad letting the sun soak into her office caged skin. She couldn’t believe the fabulous weather London had been having this spring. It was if the whole of the city was rejoicing with her over her new man. She didn’t want to jinx things by saying she was in love with Asra, but she knew in her heart she was. They had such a lovely day at South Bank. It was so flowing and easy being with him. The complete opposite in almost every way from Will. They laughed and talked and he listened, actually listened to what she said and he seemed genuinely interested.
As the day faded to evening, Asra suggested they go to a restaurant he liked in Soho. It was an intimate candlelit place. They drank champagne and ate melt in your mouth steaks. When the last chocolate dipped strawberry was gone, Asra said, “I have another little secret I’d like to show you.”
Kendra agreed and followed him through thin passages and winding lanes to a ratty looking doorway. “What’s this? I hope this isn’t where you admit you’re into Jack-the-Ripper re-enactments.”
Asra laughed. “No, something much better I hope.”
He opened the door and she could hear music. They climbed a thin, steep staircase. At the top was a door and when Asra opened it Kendra couldn’t believe her eyes. The door opened onto a ballroom, a wooden dance floor sprinkled with couples, many in formal wear, long ballroom dresses on the women and the men in tuxedos. There was a full orchestra at the front and the music was glorious. Old big band hits Stardust and In the Mood. She felt like she’d stepped back in time.
“How did you find this place?” Kendra asked.
“We used to come here when I was at university.”
“You went to university in London?” Though they’d spoken all day he seemed to never be clear about his exact whereabouts at different times in his life. She knew he was born in Egypt and had lived there for some time and she knew he’d gone to flying school there. But she wondered why he knew so much about London, it couldn’t be from lay-overs only. Now she knew.
“Yes, I went to King’s College.”
“You went to King’s College to become a pilot?”
Asra smiled. “No, I got a BA in comparative literature.”
“A bachelors degree in literature? My! You certainly are a complex and interesting man,” Kendra said.
“It’s going to get a bit more interesting just now.” Asra’s eyes were twinkling again.
The orchestra began Unforgettable by Nat King Cole and Asra held out his hand. Kendra took it wondering if she would manage. She could dance only good enough that strangers didn’t gawk at her wondering if she was having some sort of fits. Ballroom dancing, with all of its complicated steps, was not something she thought she would ever be capable of.
She needn’t have worried. Asra took her in his capable arms and it was as if suddenly her feet knew what to do. She didn’t even have to think about it. He led her around the dance floor and it was like she’d been doing ballroom dancing her entire life. They were Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and Kendra was carried away.
She could feel Asra’s strong body pressed against hers and she could think of little else. The music swirled around them creating a magical bubble with only them inside. He whispered funny nonsense in her ear, ran his strong hand along her back and twirled her around the floor as if they would dance forever. And she wished they could.
They danced and danced until the early morning. They left the dance room with plenty of couples still on the floor and the band still playing. She wondered when they knocked off.
She and Asra walked the streets of London, noisy with late night crawlers making their way home. They didn’t want to part but he was off to Tokyo the next afternoon and he needed a bit of sleep if he was going to be flying hundreds of people miles above the earth.
“It’s been so nice today, tonight,” Asra said. He held her in a ring of his arms. “Wonderful actually.”
“Yes,” she said. She couldn’t find words for how she was feeling because she’d never felt this way before, ever. “So when will I see you again?”
“I’m back in London next Sunday.”
“Will you have time to see me?” she asked.
“Of course.” He kissed her and she wondered if she’d ever tire of those kisses. She was surprised, then, when he let go of her and flagged down a taxi, helped her inside, but didn’t get in himself. After the day and night they’d had, she would have thought he’d assume that he was coming home with her.
“Are you not coming?” she asked as he stayed put on the pavement.
“Not yet. I want this to move slowly, I want to feel every little bit of this. I think it will be important later.” He reached his head in the taxi and gave her one last kiss then closed the door and the taxi drove away.
“Where to, miss?” The taxi driver asked, but Kendra had turned around to watch Asra as they drove away. He was smiling, but she noticed sadness at the edges. Was he missing her already? She hoped that was it.