Dart Valley Writers U3A
Serena shielded her eyes from the early spring sunshine, and scanned the riverside terrace before she chose her seat. There was no one she knew. She ordered a large glass of Pinot Grigio. She was early for her lunch appointment, despite a stressful morning spent racing to meet an important deadline. Serena worked in an advertising agency; it was demanding and exciting work, but this latest contract had been difficult to handle, and she felt drained. Still, she could begin to relax now; the whole delicious afternoon lay before her.
Her mobile rang. She glanced at the screen and read 'Greg'. Oh God, not now…
'Hi, how are you doing? It's not great timing...yes, I'm meeting Rosie for lunch...oh, just a wine bar near the office...yes, I'll be back by then...yes, I know it's a bit tight, I'll be there, don't worry. Bye.'
This evening they were going to a formal dinner with Greg's new colleagues and he was nervous, and desperate to make a good impression. Serena sighed. The staccato conversation had left her feeling guilty. She looked out across the swollen river, lost in thought.
Serena kept checking her phone and glancing nervously at the door every time a customer appeared. She had chosen this traditional riverside pub, because it was not a favourite of friends or colleagues. They needed a place where they could have a quiet conversation. She had finished her wine, and was trying to catch the waiter's eye, when she saw Chris at the door, searching for her. He flashed that disarming smile as he caught sight of her.
Serena smiled back and gave a little wave as Chris came over. He kissed her lightly on the cheek, and sat down, and they ordered some drinks.
'Hi Serena, it's great that you could get away.'
'It was touch and go, but here I am.' Serena gave a nervous laugh.
'I was so hoping you could make it. I've been thinking about you a lot since we met in the wine bar the other evening, with Rosie.'
'I've been thinking about you too.'
Chris leant towards her and looked into her eyes, 'Serena, I would really like to get to know you better. I find it so easy to talk to you; we really seemed to click, and that doesn't happen to me often.'
'You feel the same?'
'Well, it was a pleasant surprise how well we got on, straight away.'
Chris made a face, 'That's fairly non- committal!'
'Well, that's because I'm not into committing to anyone right now.'
'You're not in a relationship are you?'
'More like trying to get over one.'
'You've had a hard time?'
'You could say that.'
'Right, I understand, I've been there too. There's no hurry. Let's just take it a step at a time.'
'Sounds good to me.'
Chris reached across the table and took her hand. The warmth of his personality enveloped her, and she began to relax. They talked easily: about work, the friends they had in common, what they liked to do at the weekends. They discovered that they both liked walking, and loved being near water.
Serena watched Chris's even features as he talked, and her feelings of guilt about Greg began to slowly ebb away. She deserved to find happiness and fun again in a relationship; Greg didn't need to get hurt, she told herself.
'Listen, it's a beautiful day. Why don't we go for a walk? I know a lovely route along the river. It's not far from where I live, actually. You could always come back to my place afterwards?'
Serena couldn't help smiling at the deft way he had invited her to his flat. Chris glanced at her, and laughed.
As they left the terrace hand in hand, Serena knew that she may not make it home in time; Greg may have to go to the dinner on his own this evening.