Richard was a solitary man by nature and could never socialize. Even family gatherings were avoided, with the use of various excuses. Lacking even a rudimentary sense of humour, he found the crude jokes and innuendoes too embarrassing.
He had, on occasions, attempted to befriend the woman at the library but she remained aloof and offered only the required courtesies. Her apparent lack of interest always dented his confidence, pushing him further into his isolation.
He met Lucy, purely by chance, at the supermarket. Laden with her cumbersome shopping bags, she was struggling with the heavy load.
“Let me help you with that. I’ll find you a trolley.”
She’d stared up into his blue eyes that seemed so far above her. His six-foot frame was well proportioned, while her own diminished five foot seven seemed to embarrass her. There was something alluring about the woman, with her big brown eyes and shiny dark hair tied in a ponytail. Richard guessed that she must be about thirty as he continued to stare admiringly at her face, until he remembered the trolley and rushed away to find one.
They met at the supermarket several times over the following two weeks and chatted as they navigated the aisles. Eventually he plucked up the courage to invite her to dinner. He prided himself on his culinary prowess and looked forward to the opportunity to cook for someone else. She paused for a second or two before replying.
“I’d like that, thank you.”
A small rack of pamphlets offered something to write on and he rescued a pen from the depths of his pocket. Lucy watched with some amusement as he scribbled his address and handed it to her.
“Would seven o’clock Saturday be okay? That gives me time to knock up a good meal.”
“You can cook?” She sounded surprised.
“Is that so unusual?”
“Perhaps not.” She regretted asking the question. Had she offended him?
Richard laughed and eased her conscience.
He spent most of Saturday preparing a meal that he hoped would impress her. Lobster mournay and a highly decorated pavlova. With the meal ready, he laboured over the dressing up of the table. His one and only tablecloth was ironed and the cutlery polished. He decided to forgo the customary candles, thinking it a little too cliché.
Lucy arrived a little before seven and Richard could do little but stare, dumbstruck by her overpowering beauty. She blushed at his attention and broke the silence. “Did you do all of this?” She waved a hand in the direction of the table, impressed by what she saw. The promise of a romantic evening brought all of his fantasies to life.
As he attended to the task of opening the wine, Lucy strolled around the room, admiring the collection of ornaments and picture. She paused at a framed photograph on the sideboard and picked it up. Frowning, she carried it over to Richard and pointing to one of the figures, she asked, “Do you know him?”
“Of course, that’s my father.”
Lucy’s mouth fell open as she stared at Richard with a look of disappointment. “He’s my uncle”
Dinner passed in friendly silence and Richard wondered how many more first cousins he had.