I have a regular appointment on Sunday evenings, but my mornings are my own.
This one is mild for January, and I leave my leather pea coat open, a lacy merino scarf the color of a good Bordeaux around my neck.
Jeremy is waiting for me, leaning up against the wall outside Starbucks like he’s being paid to do it. He is perfect. A chiseled jaw, eyes like the seawater off Ka’anapali, but what I love most about Jeremy is that, even after more years than either of us would admit to, I still want to bathe in his brain. He is simply the cleverest, wickedest man I’ve ever known.
He has been my best friend since we were fourteen.
“Bee!” he says cheerfully, setting a ratty copy of the local art-scene tabloid down on a nearby table. The outdoor seating saddens me in the cold months, stripped, chained, and huddled together as jacketed swarms of humanity buzz by.
“It’s too gorgeous to stay inside. We’re going to the Navy Yard,” Jeremy notes, shoving himself from the wall and wrapping me in an embrace. Behind him, on a jutting ledge of stone, are two cups and a paper bag, which he grabs as we depart.
“You want to look at the seamen,” I chide, hugging him hard.
He holds me out at arms length, running a gentle thumb under my eye. “You had a late night.”
“I stayed up too late watching things I won’t disclose,” I sigh. “And I started a blog.”
Jeremy hands me my coffee. “Am I in it?”
“You are now,” I reply. As we walk through the park, past the bone-bare shrubs, pushing against their winter winding sheets–imploring the sun, it seems to me, to grant them just one unseasonal touch, I feel I’ve passed a tipping point. Yesterday, the clothing, the elaborately elegant hair, and the charade in the lounge felt like the disguise; this morning, my slip-on shoes and drawstring pants, my ponytail and drugstore sunglasses, make me feel like an impostor.
“Did you know,” Jeremy is asking, “that some of the granite deposits in New England are ten miles deep?”
“I didn’t,” I laugh.
“Glad to see you’re listening,” he says, taking my hand to cross the street, as if I am a child. “You were a million miles away just then.”
“At least ten miles deep,” I reply saucily. He offers me the paper bag. I rummage as we walk, pulling out a blueberry muffin. “We’re going to have to walk all day if I eat this.”
“You’re seeing Madeleine tonight?” he asks, though he knows the answer.
“I am,” I say pulling a piece off of the muffin’s bottom with my fingers. “I’ll be in my own bed by ten.”
“Good.” He has always done this, mothered me. I am about to tell him to stop when I see the wiry frame and rumpled clothes. The young man from the store coming towards us.
Until he passes and I understand it was a trick of the light.
“Bee?” Jeremy says. I can here concern in his tone. I look at him, as if to challenge him to ask me who the young man was to elicit such a reaction. “You should be careful. If you ever looked at me like you just looked at him, I’d screw you on the spot.”
I snort, thankful suddenly that I was between sips of coffee, that the young man was not the cheap cologne buyer, that it is Sunday and I am with Jeremy, who for all his talk would never screw me.