I was hoping to avoid sitting next to Alex in the car, but after Miles got Constance and Evie settled and closed the door for them, Alex was waiting for me on the other side, holding the door open.  I sulked my way into the middle seat.

I held my gaze straight ahead-purposely maintaining my focus on the windshield and the endless green rushing by in a blur.  It was surprisingly difficult when I could see from my peripheral that his focus was on my face.  I incorporated every ounce of discipline to ignore him.  I listened intently to the classical music Miles had playing on the stereo-grateful for the minimal travel time.

The fading sun painted streaks of purple and orange across the horizon, and the salty, harbor breeze rushed a chill over my skin as we got out of the car.

The restaurant’s entrance was teeming with men and women in their dinner best.  Patrons watched, making a path for us to walk through as we approached.  Most stared covetously, and then started whispering the moment we passed.  I wondered what conclusions people came to when they came in contact with the Hamlin’s.  Were they overcome by envy?  Were they as intimidated and enamored by their charisma as I still am?

It was always more than just their notable desirability that drew me in.  At times, the elegance of their mannerisms and articulation rang true of an era that you can only read about in books.  It was the potency of their energy when they entered a room.  To be near them meant intoxication.  Addiction.  Everywhere they went, their presence commanded attention, and from what I could tell, no one was immune.

The middle-aged male host recognized Miles and Constance as they entered, eagerly and warmly greeting them.  He immediately escorted us to our table centered on the back windows overlooking the harbor.  The view was spectacular as the remaining fragments of light danced across the water.  Alex pulled the chair out for me, and as I sat, he leaned over to whisper in my ear.

“Not great,” he said.  “You’re breathtaking.”

The silken perfection of his lips barely grazed the surface of my ear as he spoke.  My heart pounded against my ribs, more at the meaning of is words than his proximity.  He took the seat to my immediate right and I looked questioningly at him.  I wanted so badly to believe that he meant it, but I just…couldn’t.

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