"That's one thing about Kevin," said Handsome as she dialed. "He almost always answers."
The phone rang once and went instantly to voicemail. She put it on speaker.
"Hi, it's Kevin. Tell me the pertinent stuff and I'll call you back."
When it went beep they each looked at each other but she spoke first.
"Hi, Kevin," she said.
"Hey, Kevin," said Handsome. "It's Con. I have found our missing friend and we're calling to wrangle dinner invitations. Call me back."
He nodded at her to disconnect.
"I was hoping to leave here with a plan," he said. "A relaxing evening with Kevin and his wife. What she does to a lobster is amazing. Oh, god, I'm afraid I'll start drooling if I think about it too much. Tell me you like lobster."
"I like lobster," she said.
"Do you eat meat?" Handsome asked.
"Yes, I eat meat," she replied.
"Do you cook?" he asked.
She looked at him and cocked her head to the left.
"If you don't cook, it's okay," said Handsome. "I cook. I'm a great cook. I just wondered what you bring to the table, pardon my pun."
"Cranberry relish," she said without apology. If Handsome would like her, he'd like her for her lack of kitchen activity.
"Thanksgiving's favorite side, good, good," said Handsome.
"I also bring conversation," she said.
"A lost art," Handsome said. "I like conversation a lot. So I have one more question."
"Okay," she said.
"Am I babbling?" he asked. "I feel like I'm babbling."
"You're not babbling," she said. "Conrad."
"Con," he said. "Call me Con. Or Connie. I like either but women I've dated don't like to call me Connie because they're afraid of being thought of as lesbian when they talk about me to friends."
"Connie and I went to the movies? Connie is so affectionate?" she asked. "That kind of thing?"
"Yeah," he said.
"And you don't tell them to just shut up, Connie?" she asked.
"Those haven't lasted a long time, I assure you," he said stepping close to her and taking her right hand in his left and bringing it close to his chest. "I just had a good feeling about you."
They stood like that for a few minutes, looking at each other like each was a spectacular sunset, with big clouds that were a purplish gray at the top and a coral magenta at the bottom, and the sun was filtering through with long rays of light. They were interrupted by a knock on the door jamb.
It was Kim, the girl who didn't say yes.
Handsome kept her hand but turned slightly.
"Sir," said Kim, "thanks for your speech. It was really lovely. "
"Oh," said Handsome. "I thought you were upset by it."
"I just don't like surprises. It caught me off guard," said Kim.
"Life sometimes does that," said Handsome. "It takes you by surprise. You think you're going to a birthday party and someone asks you to marry him. You think the presentation you're giving about the locks of love will give someone an idea that someone's about to propose. You think you're riding the train with your friend to get a motorcycle and you meet someone fascinating and interesting who apparently thinks you're trying to murder her."
"Who's that?" asked Kim. "That's not me and my boyfriend."
"That would be me," she said.
"Fascinating?" asked Kim with mounds of incredulity.
"Extremely," said Handsome, squeezing her hand, then lowering his hand and letting hers go. "Your boyfriend is a generous man with great taste."
"Yeah, can you please show me your stuff? I want to see what was in store," Kim said.
"Sorry," said Handsome. "I was hired by your boyfriend and when I pack up the bags, I don't open them again."
"Well, what's the difference? You haven't left here. Maybe I'll buy something," said Kim.
"Show's over," said Handsome. "Nothing to see here."
Kim gave him a look like he was scum.
"I can give you my card," he said.
"No, thank you," said Kim icily, turned quickly and walked out of the office.
Handsome closed the door.
"Good," he said quietly. "I didn't want to give her my card anyway. Did you know she was so difficult?"
"I really didn't," she said. "We've never worked together so it's just greetings at manager meetings or in the hall or bathroom. I got the feeling that she was a little shallow and controlling but I didn't care because I wasn't working with her."
"I am hoping the boyfriend changes his mind," said Handsome. "I suspect he's too good for her."
"Let them make their own mistake, Connie," she said.
"No more locks of love presentations for her," said Handsome. "But I will happily sell him this one mammoth diamond, a real knuckle buster. Do you want to see it?"
She did want to see it. And the settings and the smaller diamonds, too.
"Sorry, Con, I have to get back to work," she said, because she did.
"Atta girl," said Handsome. "Leave 'em wanting more."
Handsome put this handcuffs and his briefcases in the Costco frozen food carry bag and zipped everything up so it looked like a guy whose wife made him bring his lunch to work for the next year all in one trip.
"Should I call you when I hear from Kevin?" he asked.
"Yes, please," she said. "Thank you."
He stepped forward and stood very close to her. He leaned forward and whispered in her ear.
"I am so happy we found each other," he said.
"I am so happy you're not trying to murder me and wear my flesh." she replied.
He smiled at her, turned, and left.