Man to Man
Besides Mr. and Mrs. English and Thomas, the other members of the family joined in the meal; Kiara, who was 17, Gaylord, who was 14, and Samuel who was 11. Gaylord filled the meal with chatter. Samuel rivaled as the closest competition. Kiara—attractive, slender, smiling, and quiet, found it difficult to leave her dark eyes from casting in Rich’s direction.
After the meal Rich declared to Mrs English, “From this day on when I see a goat I will see nothing but a good meal.”
She smiled shyly. “Thank you, Rich.”
Rich, Thomas, and his father, Big Tom, sat in the lawn and watched the clouds drift across the western sky and pass before the sun. Kiara brought tea on a tray. They sipped and talked for an hour.
“I must be heading back,” Rich said and stood. “This meal will be one to remember and I enjoyed your company.”
“Thank you for eating with us,” Big Tom said.
“Thanks for the invitation,” Rich said. “You have a nice home and good family.”
“You must have a meal with us again,” Big Tom said.
“Allow me to invite you to my boat sometime,” Rich said. “Salty says I’m a better cook than him, although Salty claims to be the worst cook in the world.”
“Is he?” Thomas said.
“I take him at his word,” Rich said. “He refuses to cook.”
“Thank you very much, Rich,” Thomas said. “We will see each other tomorrow.”
“Please give the rest of your family my goodbye,” Rich said and shook hands with Thomas and Big Tom.
“Let me walk you to the main road,” Thomas said.
“That’s fine,” Rich said. “It’s only a short distance.”
“I insist,” Thomas said.
Rich and Thomas walked together toward the main road leading to The Odyssey.
“You have something to say,” Rich said.
“Yes,”Thomas said. “and it is delicate.”
“You can speak straight forward with me,” Rich said.
“I have wanted to invite you for a couple of weeks, but hesitated,” Thomas said. “My sister, Kiara, has visited the work site on a couple of occasions. And she has become infatuated with you.”
“Our meeting has only been a brief introduction by you,” Rich said. “Beyond that I don’t think we have spoken complete paragraphs.”
“That’s why I say it is infatuation,” Thomas said. “I have explained to her that you hardly notice her.”
“I can’t help noticing a beautiful girl,” Rich said, “but I have not indicated anything beyond politeness.”
“Oh, don’t take me wrong,” Thomas said. “I have taken notice. Your conduct is only what would be expected of a gentleman. What I am trying to say…”
“Don’t take advantage of your sister,” Rich said.
“Yes,” Thomas said. “I know you will leave and never return, yet I know you are a man – I just don’t know how honorable.”
“I am young and so is Kiara,” Rich said. “I understand the consequences of young love – it scares me. If I should fall in love with Kiara I would stay here or take her with me. We would never part.”
“That puts me at ease,” Thomas said.
“Furthermore, my friend,” Rich said. “there are some things in my life at present I could never involve anyone I loved. There are things that must be put far behind me before I ever involve a woman in my life and only time can do that. Now is definitely not the time.”
“Do you wish to talk about it?” Thomas said.
“If I do,” Rich said, “it will complicate things and may put you in a bad situation. It is best you don’t know anything.”
“Here we are at the road,” Thomas said. “Have a pleasant walk and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Rich walked for a half mile – the road well lit by the moonlight. In the distance the sound of the surf beat against the beach and a gentle breeze fluttered the leaves slightly.