An Excerpt – Something To Be Brave For

At my parents’ door, Claude moved close and put his arms around my waist. “I hope we’re going to see a lot of each other, Katie,” he whispered as he put his forehead against mine. “Me, too,” I said. He smiled, let me go—rather quickly, I thought—and walked to his car. “I’ll call you tomorrow,” he shouted, and then like a shooting star, he zoomed off into the night.
The next morning, a dozen roses arrived with his card attached: “Thank you for last night. You are amazing and sweet. Claude.”
“What manners, what taste!” my mother exclaimed, placing the flowers on the Steinway grand and then seamlessly shifting into Sister Hildegarde mode. “Remember, Katie, as my mother would always say, ‘Don’t be loose with your favors.’ That’s all they’re really interested in. Make him work for it.”
You call this work?
Over the next couple of weeks, Claude took me to the Public Garden for a swan boat ride, the New England Aquarium to see his favorite penguins, and dinner with easy conversation—never going beyond a touch on my arm, his lips on my cheek, and I wondered, as my attraction intensified, if I was misreading him. Was it a French thing? They’re not like us, are they?
On our fifth date, we drove to Scullers Jazz Club in Cambridge to listen to an evening of Cole Porter. We sat close together in a deep banquette, sipping champagne, empaneled in honey-hued mahogany. The facing windows overlooked the Charles River gleaming in the sunset. As we listened to one song after another, I bent all my mental powers on willing Claude to kiss me, and when we’d finished the bottle, ordered more, and refilled our glasses, he did. I returned the kiss in no uncertain terms. His tongue gently glided into my mouth, and I sucked on it just enough to make him want to kiss me again.