Breakfast only bolstered the favorable first impressions Jars had of Nikki. She was smart as well as attractive and their conversation had touched on a wide array of topics. If she didn’t know something she didn’t pretend she did. Nor did she inhabit a narrow world of her own constrained making. The few subjects they touched upon in which Nikki professed ignorance were no greater in number than his own. Her agile mind asked the right sort of questions and her boundless good humor, though quirky, made him laugh out loud, a rarity in the fast-paced life he’d been living putting him completely at ease.
Realizing that nearly two hours had passed and they were the sole inhabitants left in the dining room, Jars reluctantly mumbled something to the effect he had better get going.
“That’s right. You have a son to meet.” Nikki’s words acknowledged the commitment Jars had shared with her. She gave him an encouraging smile.
“We’re having dinner together.” Although spoken casually, Jars was surprised at the unexpected appearance of emotion somewhere in his gut. “Reservations at eight.”
“Is it a long drive?”
“Less than three hours.”
Nikki sensed that the thought of meeting his estranged son wasn’t an altogether comfortable one for him. “Would you like to join me for a picnic? Glimmerglass Park is just up the road at the opposite end of the lake.” The invitation slipped out of her mouth before she had time to think. But it made sense. It was obvious that if Jars left now he would have several hours on his hands at the other end. And she was a good listener. Maybe it would help if he talked about whatever had come between the two of them. A picnic would afford Jars a no-pressure opportunity to work through his feelings. At any rate, it couldn’t hurt.
Jars found his plan to leave after breakfast quickly taking a back seat to what he considered a more attractive option. He hadn’t been on a picnic in more years than he could count and Nikki’s offer of an outing came as an irresistible surprise. But his first impulse was to decline, thanking her for the gracious invitation and expressing a desire to not interrupt her vacation plans. True, his dinner engagement wasn’t until later in the evening and the drive north would take less than three hours leaving him with more time on his hands than he wanted. Nikki deftly dismissed his concerns by reminding him that she had already spent the previous two days touring the Hall of Fame and such a beautiful day should be put to better use than spending it indoors. Besides, he looked like he could use a picnic, leaving Jars wondering what there was about him that gave him away.
In the end, Nikki had made it easy for him to say yes, and now, as he slid a CD into the Land Rover’s sound system, watching as the disc glided silently into the slotted mouth of the player, he was glad he had. The afternoon had been wonderful, reminiscent of sensations he had once known but had either given up on or abandoned in sacrifice to the torrid schedule his work at Synapzius demanded.
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