Lisa arrived at the ski lodge just past 5 p.m. on Friday evening. The snow was falling at the rate of an inch every hour, and if it had not been for the 4-wheel drive Tahoe she had borrowed from her neighbor, she wouldn't have made it. With all the fresh new snow, this weekend promised to be an exciting one on the slopes.
She looked around the large sitting room of the lodge. No Michael to be found. Michael was her boyfriend of 3 months. They met in the community college where they were both taking some computer courses. She didn't particularly like the word 'boyfriend'. After all, she was 20 years out of high school. Michael was supposed to meet her here at 5 p.m. for check in. They had reserved a cozy room with Jacuzzi, and a fireplace, and Lisa was looking forward to a romantic weekend. She looked at her watch. It was 5:30 p.m. It wasn't in Michael's nature to be late. He was either 10 minutes early, or right on time. She checked her cell phone. It showed no messages. She sighed, and headed for one of the huge, luxurious couches over by the fireplace. All around, there were couples sitting closely together, whispering or cuddling. It made her feel grossly out of place.
A waiter came over to ask if she'd like anything. She ordered a glass of Zinfandel, meanwhile looked at her watch again. The waiter nodded and hurried off. She stared over at the blazing fire in the corner of the room. It gave off a warmth that made her feel safe and warm. She glanced toward the door. It opened and closed, again and again, and still no Michael. She wondered if he had had car trouble, or some kind of accident. The snow was coming down harder now, and it was almost fully dark. Twenty minutes past 6. Almost 90 minutes late. She was really beginning to worry when the waiter walked over and asked if she was by chance Lisa Robertson. "Yes I am, " she replied. "Message for you. Came in at 3 p.m., but the caller didn't describe you." He then turned and walked away. The message was from Michael. 'Wont be coming-made other plans. Michael' That was it. No explanation. "Made other plans?" What did THAT mean? Was he dumping her? It would seem so. Lisa thought she might faint. Maybe it was the wine. She suddenly felt the urge to throw up. She reached for the back of the nearest chair to steady herself. Just then, she felt a hand on her arm. "Are you alright?" A voice next to her sounded like it was coming from a faraway place. Her vision blurred. The room around her was fading away. She felt the hands guiding her to the chair she was grasping, and slowly being lowered into it. A figure came into view and crouched before her. "Are you ok now? Can I get you anything?" the soothing voice said. She looked into the brownest eyes she'd ever seen. He stared at her worriedly. She looked as if she might pass out. He reached for her hand and held it tight. He signaled for the waiter and ordered her a glass of water. "I'm alright, really. I'd just like to go to my room, if I may." She rose from the chair, still a bit unsteady, and made her way to the desk so she could sign in and get her bag. All she wanted was a hot bath, and sleep. Then in the morning she would leave. No sense in staying here. It was to be a weekend for two. And since Michael had obviously made other plans, with other people or person, what was the use in staying?
The Samaritan was beside her again. "Can I at least help you with your bag?" he asked. "You don't look like you feel very well, and I'd like to help." He looked so kind. And very handsome. He was light-skinned, fit, caring eyes. She smiled. "Thank you_____" she trailed off, realizing she did not know his name. "Jeff, Jeff Simpson at your service my lady." He jokingly saluted her and clicked his heels together at attention. "Well thank you, Mr. Simpson, but as you can see, I didn't bring much with me, so I think I can manage. But thank you very much for your kindness." Lisa picked up her bag and headed for the stairs. If she were lucky, sleep would come quickly. Then the morning would come faster and she could leave. Jeff watched her with wonder. What could have happened? He thought. Something or someone had upset her. Whatever it was, he felt a twinge of anger. She didn't deserve to be treated that way. He had an idea.
Lisa entered her room, dropped her bag on the floor, and sat down in the chair by the fireplace. Already a roaring fire was blazing, as if a wonderful evening in this room had been planned. Well it had. And now it appeared it was over. A tear crept down her cheek. She realized now that Michael had never cared for her. She had cared for him, but she didn't think it was love. It had never gone that far. She supposed he felt the same way. Maybe it was time to move on. But she thought they could have discussed it in person, instead of him casting her away like old shoes. Maybe he had found some willowy blonde Barbie doll type. All tits and no brains. Well fine. That's the type he wanted? Whatever.
An hour after her bath, she felt better. Sitting in the same chair again, she poured herself a glass of champagne from the bottle in the ice bucket that she had ordered to be brought up before their arrival. She raised her glass. "To a wonderful life alone." She gulped the whole glass. Fruity. Bubbles tickled her nose, and she giggled then at the ridiculousness of the whole thing. She was better off anyway. Now she could be free to pursue more interests, and have a good time. As she was pouring her third, or maybe her 4th glass, she didn't exactly remember, someone knocked on her door. She opened it to find a bellboy carrying a very large arrangement of white roses. "Oh my," she said. "Are those for me? You must have the wrong room." "Yes maam, they're for you. Lisa Robertson, room 1203. May I put them down for you?" She led the way to a table near the window, where the young man put down the vase. The vase was heavy. There were 2 dozen long stemmed white roses. "Can I get you anything?" She pressed a few bills into his hand, and thanked him. After he had gone, Lisa looked to see if there was a card. She opened the tiny envelope hidden in the huge white blooms. 'Please dine with me this evening. I have reserved a table for us for 9 p.m. Would love for you to join me. Fondly, Jeff'
Lisa was bewildered. Someone was inviting her to dinner. The handsome gentleman who had been so helpful to her downstairs. All she had wanted to do was to go to bed. She giggled again. She was doing a better than average job of getting plastered too. She glanced at the clock. Ten minutes past 8. Did she have enough time to get ready? Did she even dare go? It would be rude not to, after the sweet gesture with the roses.
"Why not?" she said out loud to herself. After all, what was the harm in trying to salvage at least tonight. And he WAS handsome. She rushed back to the bathroom, grabbing her bag along the way. A little smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. She was feeling a bit flirtatious at the thought of this guy, the roses, and the champagne.
It was 8:45, and Jeff was sitting at the corner table, enjoying his bourbon and water, nervously watching the door. It was a small little bistro, only seating for about 25. The fireplace in the center of the room gave off a romantic glow and the loveseat next to it was perfect for lovers to share an after dinner drink and secrets.
He looked up again, just as she came through the door. His mouth dropped open slightly. She was wearing a long white, flowing, silk dress accentuated only by a silver bangle at her wrist, and her flaming red hair, which she wore down loose around her shoulders. She looked wonderful to him. Nothing like the wounded, helpless doe that he'd seen earlier that afternoon in the lobby. It was like she was a different person somehow. Her eyes shone; the pain had dissipated.
She smiled warmly at him. "Thank you for inviting me," she said. "And for the roses. It was generous of you, too generous." She blushed, and lowered her eyes. "Beautiful roses for a beautiful lady," he exclaimed, smiling back at her. He couldn't quite figure out this change in her, but he was glad. He was almost sure she wouldn't even show up. He had tipped the waiter to see if he could learn what had transpired to upset her so. He had learned of Michael, and of him leaving her there all alone. Evidently the jerk didn't know a good thing when he had it. Well his idiocy was Jeff's good fortune. He hoped he could make her forget all about Michael, by helping her burn that bridge, and maybe even build a new one.
They dined on shrimp cocktail, stuffed lobster, and champagne. Dessert was declined; but instead more champagne was ordered in lieu of the after dinner coffee.
"What are we celebrating?" She asked him. They had been chatting incessantly for hours, so at ease they felt. He wanted to learn all he could of this woman, so fascinated he was with her.