An Excerpt From My Upcoming Novel Something To Be Brave For

“I’ll never make you cry, my little angel,” he whispered. “I’ll never hurt you,” and he engulfed me in his arms. 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.

Two nights later he surprised me with tickets to my favorite opera, Tosca—an outdoor production on Boston Common. “It was on your to-do list along with Snoop Doggy Dogg and some art gallery show. I thought Tosca was my best bet—you might never have seen an outdoor production, and I don’t even know what a snoopy dog is.”

“My list?” I asked in surprise.

“It fell out of your bucket basket on our first date.”

He saw that?

We arrived early, and Claude picked out a spot under an old maple tree in full view of the stage and unrolled a blanket.

“A glass of wine and some chocolate hearts?” he asked, pulling a bottle from a small cooler he’d brought. “I decided on a rosé––Domaines Ott––a great French one. Have a taste.” I took a drink. It ran smooth and cool down my throat.

“No, no, not like that! You’re so adorable. Let me show you,” he said, pouring himself a taste. “First, look at the wine. Swirl it around. Look at the color, how it catches the light, comme ça,” he said, twirling the glass. “Then, smell it, like this,” he said, arms.

After the final bows and bravos, Claude rolled up the blanket and we began walking with the crowd toward the car, discussing the opera’s ending.

“Would you die for love?” he asked.

“Yes,” I answered. “Well—that’s hard to answer, know what I mean? I used to dream about finding someone I loved so much, I would die for him. It happens all the time, at least in opera.”