Even though the majority of the nineteen hours Bill spent with Gabrielle had been shrouded in the fear he felt over his son’s kidnapping half a year later it was still a memory that he replayed in times of trouble and loneliness. Their dream-like date had been shattered when Bill received news of his son’s kidnapping and then the gentle, high school first-date quality had been transformed into six hours of the most passionate love-making Bill had ever experienced and culminated in their shared Amtrak ride to New York where Gabrielle retrieved her husband from the clinic and its stem cell treatment, a treatment that they had all hoped would reverse, halt or at least slow the ravages of ALS that were consuming his lover’s husband. He’d found himself in the odd position of praying for his rival’s recovery.
Today’s chance encountering of Gabrielle and her wheelchair bound, speechless husband had shocked him deeply. It was one thing to have a vision of the man who shared a bed and life with the woman whom he longed for but seeing him in the flesh was far more powerful than thinking of him in the abstract.
He looked on as Amber brought a glass of white wine and a tall stein of beer to the table. “We’d like two of the flat breads with roasted vegetables please.” He heard Gabrielle’s dulcimer tones waver across the short distance that separated them. She sounded upset to Bill and he wished he could go to her and ask if he could help.
He smiled as she pulled a sippy cup from her purse and poured some of Adriel’s beer into it. She did a marvelous job of not creating too much head on the brew and managed not to spill any. Watching her hold the cup to her husband’s lips was more than he could bear to watch and he signaled for his server to come over.
“Yazzie, I’ll take the check please. And can you do me a favor? You see that table over there with the guy in the wheelchair? Amber’s their server, right? Have her put the two drinks on my bill. And tell her not to say anything unless they ask, okay? I want it to be a surprise.”
Bill’s circuitous exit route gave him maximum separation from the Gibeons. “Surprise,” he muttered under his breath. “Guess who!”