The Asian was hopelessly drunk the night they danced together, so she prepares to remind him of her name. She does not, however, prepare for his complete lack of recognition. Of course, a little tipsy herself that night, a small possibility exists that this is not the same man. Still, she is certain of his identity and the memory of first noticing him is a sober one. Or is it? Yes, of course it is. The momentary confusion exists only due to the badly lit club allowing his face to disappear in a sea of faces.
Lying prone on a towel at a small beach near La Pointe Rouge harbor, she watches as he walks by her and continues down the sand. The sweat on her skin, just on the pale side of a golden brown, glistens with disappointment. Removing her bun, then sweeping her dark brown hair from her face, she nudges her black Prada sunglasses down the bridge of her nose and takes another look. A gentle breeze carries a few shoulder-length strands of hair, as if gesturing to follow, while the rest of her longer hair caresses her back and assures her that, yes, it is him.
She exhales slowly, cautiously reexamining her attraction to him that night. She wants to think that it was probably just of the moment, lust enhanced by being in a foreign country, and that she imagined the shock at seeing him. C'est la vie and all. But she believes too much in serendipity and can't shake it. He's been in her dreams for years. Someone like him, anyway. Someone who looks very much like him.
Standing, she pulls a light and dark-brown patterned sarong out of her beach bag and wraps it around her waist. Nervous of her conscious decision to pursue him, she hesitates before donning her black shirt. She picks the towel up and pops it clean. Securing her sandals in her right hand, she rolls the towel and shoves it in her bag while trying futilely not to appear to be in a hurry.
Thankfully, the Asian moves slowly, eyes to the ground, pausing every few steps to look out at the Mediterranean. Finally, he sits in the sand and stares at the horizon. Again questioning her own intent, she considers approaching him... instead, she maintains safe distance, finding a bench farther from the water and pretending to share the view. He seems sad, somehow. Alone. But maybe that's how he prefers it. Or, maybe, the sunset reminds him of a broken heart patiently awaiting a new dawn. Smiling inwardly at the thought, she places her sunglasses in her bag and watches the horizon fade as sky darkens into sea, the water's surface penetrated by a retreating twilight.
She's no idea what either of them are doing there.
Unsure of whether to let it - him - go or not, she listens to the sounds of the city and absorbs herself into their chaotic consistency. The vehicles of passersby mimicking the flutters in her stomach. Why not? deafens any question of why?
He sat there for hours, and so did she. Even when the cool sea air began to arouse goosebumps on her skin - she blamed it on the sea air, though his silhouette certainly may have been a cause - she waited. Even when he lay on the beach - awake, but motionless - she waited.
By the time he finally leaves, she's realized that something is wrong. Not with her, nor with him, but with the moment. She's caught up too eagerly in her desire, and he's caught up too introspectively in his mystery. Her intent to approach abandoned, she follows him to learn where to find him. Almost as in a film, two taxis pull up almost simultaneously and she orders the driver of hers - in her limited French - to follow the other.
She is joyous to discover serendipity again with her; he's staying at the Oceania Escale, just around the corner from the Kyriad Carré Vieux Port... her hotel.
Later, in her room, she enjoys a bottle of Château Pétrus, a congratulatory gift from her mother in San Diego. Merlot, she finds, warms her nicely. A chemical foreplay for the most devious and long-awaited seduction of her life. She wanted to wait for his touch, should it ever come, but she soon finds herself enjoying her own. There is a youthful and reckless abandon in the way she uses her hands and fingers, but the whole of her mind and body are smiling in unison, and she can't but help bring them to laughter.
As she fades into sleep, she dreams of tomorrow. It will be the start, no doubt, of one of the most memorable experiences she'll ever have.
*continued in Vitis Coffea, Part II