When he picked her up on Saturday, Mike parked the car and buzzed her apartment. She let him in and gave him a quick tour. She was glad she'd done a thorough cleaning that morning.
"I like your furniture," said Mike. "We seem to have similar taste. I like your color scheme very much."
"Thanks," she said. "I call it 'amazing accident.' I sort of found what I needed and it happened to go with other things I already owned."
"It all looks well thought out. You also look well thought out, if you don't mind the compliment," Mike said with a smile.
"I try," she said. "And thank you."
"So," said Mike. "Shall we?"
They left her apartment and walked to his car, a few houses up the street. As predicted by Mr. King, it was a new white Cadillac. He opened the door for her and closed it after her. The ride was very smooth and he wasn't a scary driver. Almost everyone's driving, save her own, scared her, so this was an amazing thing to consider and boded very well for Mike.
"You said you were game for anything, so I thought we'd go to this place in Chinatown I like," he said.
They found street parking and she offered to pay the ridiculously high parking fee but Mike would hear nothing of it. He gently took her hand and put it through his arm and led her to the restaurant which specialized in the cuisine of Beijing.
She'd been here before, years before, with Lee. She wondered if Lee thought about her much, if he was mad at her for not being in touch.
"Oh my goodness," she heard a voice say from a table when she walked into the restaurant.
It was Lee, waving energetically at her. She walked to his table while Mike gave his name to the host.
"Hi, Boo," he said.
"Hi, Boo," she replied.
"This is Philip," said Lee, tipping his head toward the handsome man across from him and telling Philip her name and who she was.
"And she's the one who introduced me to this place," said Lee.
"You know it's our favorite," said Philip. "I am so pleased to meet you at long last. He only talks about you all the time."
She smiled and found her eyes getting moist. He wasn't mad at her. Not one bit.
"Well, Miss Boo Boo, I should be totally pissed at you for not keeping in touch but you have all that weird shit going on so I decided to just let it go. I am not going to end a long time friendship over something that will blow over," said Lee. "You on a date?"
"Yeah," she said looking for Mike who was walking over. "This is Mike," she told Lee and Philip, and to Mike, "This is Lee and this is Philip."
"Nice to meet you all," he said. "I've not heard a thing about you because this is our first real date."
"First real date?" asked Lee. "I gotta hear this."
"I picked her up by the elevator in her office building," said Mike. "She looked so happy that I wanted to take some of that home."
"We had lunch," she said.
"At a place where we're both regulars. I'm surprised I never saw you there," said Mike, looking at her with a smile.
"I was keeping it low profile for a long time, Mike," she said. "You wouldn't have noticed me."
"That's true, Mike," said Lee. "When she wants to be invisible, you don't see her. It's like she's made of a vapor that only her friends can see."
"Oh, mysterious," said Philip.
"Your suit is beautiful," said Lee to Mike.
"Thanks," said Mike. "It's my way of distracting people."
"Distracting them from what?" asked Philip.
"From my lack of hair, my large nose, and being not tall," said Mike.
"Just stop," she said. "Your personality is what I saw."
"Oh?" asked Mike.
"He asked if I remembered him so I had to look at him carefully. So yes, I saw what most people think of as him, but it went instantly away," she told Lee and Philip.
Lee and Philip smiled at each other.
"Would you guys care to join us?" asked Lee. "I know it's your first date but we've got a table and we've not ordered."
"Up to you," Mike said to her.
"No, up to you," she said.
"Let's get some chairs," said Mike.
Lee and Philip were seated at a square table for four so they all fit fine.
"We were talking about what to eat," said Philip. "Lee likes it super spicy but I like it a little moderate."
"Lee likes it so spicy that sweat pours off his head while he's eating," she told Mike.
"I have to go with moderate," said Mike. "I want to be able to sleep tonight."
After they went around and around, they decided what they'd order. Lee reached under the table and pulled out a bottle of red wine in a brown paper bag.
"Let's share this," said Lee.
"And toast our meeting," said Philip.
Philip was as pleasant as he was handsome.
"I'm driving, so I'll pass," said Mike.
"I might just have a taste," she said. "You guys go ahead."
"She's not a drinker," Lee told Mike. "Maybe a taste here and there. You don't have to worry about her getting drunk and barfing on the hood of your car."
"To be absolutely graphic," said Philip.
"Always good to hear that my date won't be tossing cookies on, in, or near my car," said Mike. "It's white and vomit tends to stain."
Lee had been drinking some water and he did a spit take.
"I salute you, sir," said Lee.
Mike tipped his head, closing his eyes for a moment, acknowledging the compliment. She hoped this was all genuine. He seemed to not mind bonehead chatter. He seemed to not care that Lee and Philip were gay. He seemed to actually just want to get along with her and her friends.
"So, what's your job, Mike?" asked Lee.
"Attorney," said Mike. "But I'm okay. I'm just a normal guy."
"He's not a litigator," she said.
"Oh, that makes a difference," said Philip.
"What do you two do?" asked Mike.
"I work in the same business as your date," said Lee.
"And I'm a litigator," said Philip.
They all howled at his joke.
"No," said Philip. "I really am a litigator, but I'm the pro bono litigator at my firm. The capital partners didn't want to sully themselves with pro bono work but they like bragging about all their pro bono work. They hired me to do it."
"Cool," said Mike. "How's it going?"
"The capital partners are sensational gasbags but they compensate me pretty splendidly, so I don't share with them what long-winded jerks they can be. I do work of which I am proud," Philip said.
"And isn't he just the handsomest thing?" said Lee.
"Oh, so handsome," said Mike. "But she's more my type." He cocked his head in her direction.
"You're adorable," said Lee to Mike.
"Should I be jealous?" asked Philip.
"I have eyes for you only," and leaned forward and squeezed Philips' hands with his.
"Let's eat," she said. "Before this turns into a sweetness fest and we have to race out for insulin."
Dinner was delicious -- they agreed they could not go wrong with Beijing eggplant, duck with mixed vegetables, Szechuan green beans, and lamb with cumin -- and Mike, ever the gentleman, picked up the check for them all.
"We all make money, Mike," said Philip. "And I'm an attorney. I am most adequately compensated."
"Tell you what," said Mike. "The next time we run into each other by pure accident on a Saturday night in Chinatown, dinner's on you."
"He's a generous guy," said Lee to her.
"We have to accept it," she added.
They all said good night and Mike again put her arm through his and led her to his car, again opening the door.
In the quiet of the car, she said, "Wow, that was lovely."
"I think so, too," he said. "They are great guys."
Just as he was about to put the key into the ignition, their eyes met and they kissed.
And that was it. They were a couple.