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Lunchtime parking at Rockville Town Square Center was usually a challenge and Bill drove west past Gibbs Street and turned up Washington instead. He patted his stomach and thought, ‘I really need to get serious about my fitness regimen,’ as he hiked the block from the parking lot to the restaurant.

There were three or four groups of diners waiting to be seated as he walked in and he excused himself as he made his way to Jewel who managed the hostess stand. “Good afternoon, Mr. Finger. I have a highboy waiting for you, unless you’d rather wait for a booth?”

“Hey, Jewels. No, no. Highboy’s great. You know it’s okay if you call me Bill, right? You make me feel old when you keep calling me Mr. Finger.”

“I’m sorry, Bill,” she replied with an ingratiating smile. “It isn’t that you’re old just, well, distinguished. Follow me please and I’ll take you to your table.”

‘Distinguished,’ he thought, ‘I wonder how long that’s been a synonym for old.’ “Lead on,” he replied.

Seating him, she began to hand him a menu when she asked, “You don’t really need this, do you?”

He returned her smile and said, “Not if my salads been ordered.”

“Maybe desert?”

“‘Get thee behind me Satan.’ No, no desert for me.”

“Amber should be over in just a minute with your wine and water.”

“Amber? No Yazzie today?”

“She’s on a little vacation. Went out west to visit her family.”

“Good for her. Thanks, Jewels.”

“You’re welcome, Mr. Fing- You’re welcome, Bill.”

Bill scanned the restaurant for familiar faces but saw no one that he felt compelled to speak with. He pulled out his tablet and returned to Gabrielle’s email and after making sure that his reply would go only to her and not to Jenny Gallardo as well replied to her earlier message.

Arachne-
Great news about the clinical trial! Jenny was very excited for you. Keeping her out of the loop is getting trickier and trickier as things go on, isn’t it? She’s a great gal and I couldn’t be happier with her as an assistant or as a confidant for Sean but sometimes I just wish we could come clean and get everything out in the open.
Call me when you have an opportunity to chat. I’d love to hear your voice and get some details on your upcoming trip.
Bruce

Message sent he heard Duvan’s familiar voice greet him with, “Mr. Finger! How nice to see you.”

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