It was a farewell party for one of the outgoing diplomats.
A formal, elegant and, naturally, diplomatic occasion. Milling around with the guests, I felt the usual sights and sounds of the affair. The glass clinks, polite comments, regrets, compliments, delights, a solitary burst of laughter; " Must be my Military Attaché." A senior diplomat behind me commented.
An interesting thing about the occasion was her being introduced as Miss. I hung around.
She was a recently posted hotel executive.
I was a businessman.
“A non-diplomatic question, if you permit,' I smiled, "were you introduced as a Miss or Ms.?”
“I am still single..., with no plans beyond.” She answered plainly.
I smiled further. Vanity!
The female diplomat standing with us embarrassingly wore that confused, sheepish look.
"Cheers." She hastily batted her eyes.
Dinner was served.
We shared the same table.
We preferred different desserts.
One of the advantages of a diplomatic circle is that there is always something, someone has to celebrate so we got to meet quite often. She had a plain face but there was nothing modest about her body.
"She has one hell of a sexy ass." Commented a diplomat in a non-diplomatic mood.
She was four years older than me but nevertheless, a convenient dance partner. Over the months, we got to know each other better and our initial hang-ups soon vanished.
"I think I've grown fond of you." I put it vaguely as I watched her cook our lunch. Paid by me, made by her was her offer.
Her hand lingered on the can of vegetables for a while.
She put the container down and folded back her hair with both hand.
"Maybe I relate to you as a mother figure." She plainly commented.
I thought about it for a while, then concluded, "Naah, I don't think so. My mom is much older, and prettier."
"Maybe it's because we all live in a foreign country and need a companion, but I really think there is some chemistry between us." I was driving her home from yet another party.
"Maybe you're right." She reflected.
I was breaking ice, or maybe the ice in me was breaking. Whichever way, the feeling was welcome.
She accepted the kiss but didn't respond.
"Do you think it wise to misinterpret our feelings of loneliness?" She huskily asked.
"I think it senseless to miss the possibility for fear of failing." I whispered.
It felt strange. Excited, scared, confident. Was it love?
As if she read my mind, "I... we’re not sure if it's love."
The next day she came to watch us play tennis; something she had never done before. I felt a childish pride within and did the best of my lousy game. Luckily we were playing doubles.
As we took our break, she went up with the ladies.
I opened the topic with the group. Our relation was now building into an affair and I wanted to confide in the gang.
"Consul...” We all called him consul because he was senior in age, "I think I'm ready to try my luck with her but am scared too. What do you all say?"
He gazed solemnly at me and then at the group.
They exchanged glances and finally turned towards me.
From behind his glasses, the Consul's big face grinned and nodded sharply twice.
I had the group's unanimous blessing. Now I could apply diplomatic pressure on her.
This was yet another reason to celebrate.
Under the cover of that night, an international conspiracy was hatched, the intricacies of which would have dazzled any spymaster.
If only she knew the extent of intrigues she faced in the days to come.
I wonder when it took effect on her but I soon stumbled into my own snare. I suppose I had never truly appreciated her intelligence and her humor. And the confidence she displayed in herself.
"You know, if love also means appreciation of wits, then I am truly in love with you." I declared expansively.
"What took you so long?" She replied plainly.
She had crossed the threshold.
That night, as we sat alone for our own private dinner, we were both a little nervous, a little unsure and a little more willing to give it a try.
We knew we differed in our taste of dessert.
And our outlook towards life.
And our choice of music.
But there was hope in the horizon. Maybe we had found love.
Perhaps it was dawn break? At least we were willing to go, take a look.