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In the Beginning
For their fourth date Aneeta decided to move her relationship with Phillip forward, a step. They’d gone the first night to Vanderbilt, a low-pressure, after-work cocktail spot where Phillip teased Aneeta over how long she took to finish her one prosecco. Second, he had taken her to a ball game, and though she told him she didn’t understand baseball, she cheered his team, ate hotdogs, and took a sip from Phillip’s flask. A week later they rode bikes over the bumpy dirt trails the park, stopping by the lake for huaraches and bottled beer from the Latin American vendors. They ate sitting among the wildflowers growing down the sloping bank, the wind whipping Aneeta’s long black hair across her face. She laughed, and Phillip framed the perfection of her profile with his fingers. He called that Wednesday to suggest dinner at Ai Fiori on Saturday night.
The mention of Ai Fiori had made Aneeta decide it was time to give Phillip an undisguised signal she was willing to go wherever he led. Clearly, she thought, Phillip felt the same way. It was one thing to eat Mexican food in the park or hot dogs at a ballpark, but another thing altogether to have dinner at Ai Fiori. Aneeta wondered how on earth Phillip had got a reservation, if he’d had to pull strings. Maybe doctors were given preference? She let herself say out loud only one time: Aneeta Beharry is going to have dinner at Ai Fiori with a medical doctor. To consider the date too much she realized, would make her delirious, would spin her mind out of control at the possibilities. Instead, for most of Saturday, Aneeta tended the dahlias she’d planted this year. Working in her garden—always flowers, never vegetables—kept Aneeta calm.