THE GARDENS RESTAURANT - MAIN
sat alone at her table and enjoyed her dinner. Her mind whirled with
thoughts about her daughter Jillian and soon-to-be son-in-law
Reginald as well
as her daughter Judith and the tragic loss of her child. She was so
consumed with her own thoughts that she didn't hear Fred Rutherford walk up
"Well, hello, Mrs.
Stokes," Fred smiled broadly.
Rutherford," Leticia blushed slightly as he moved around to the other side
of the table to face her. "My head was off in the clouds. I
didn't hear you walk up. I'm so sorry."
quite all right," he laughed with a nod of his head. "I just
came in for a bite of dinner and saw you sitting here all alone so I just
thought I'd come over and say 'hello'." Fred furrowed his brow and
looked at her carefully. "Well, I assume that you're
"Yes, in fact, I
am," she confessed. "What with the girls always out, I often
find myself dinning alone with Judith. However, she's been so withdrawn
that she's really not that much company so I like to go out for dinner. I
still might be alone, but at least I'm surrounded by other people in much
"I can understand
that." He glanced down at the empty chair across from her.
"Would you mind if I joined you? That way we could both enjoy dinner
and neither one of us would have to dine alone."
"Actually, I think I
would enjoy that very much." She kept her eyes focused on him as he
sat down and couldn't help but recognize his sophisticated manner and debonair
style. "But, if we're going to enjoy dinner together, you must
call me Leticia. Mrs. Stokes just sounds too formal."
Leticia," he grinned coyly, "but you have to call me
She nodded her agreement and
they both sat there for a few silent moments. A sudden sense of
awkwardness had set in and neither one of them was sure where to take the
conversation next. Finally, one of them spoke.
"So, Fred," Leticia
began with a slight hesitation, "how is your relationship with Francis
going? I'm sure it has to be difficult for both of you considering
everything that's happened with Annabelle Lake and Reginald."
"Yes, it has been quite
difficult for Francis," Fred admitted, "but I think you've been
misinformed. Francis and I are only friends."
"I-I'm so sorry,"
she stammered as her face flushed with embarrassment. "I was under
the impression that you two were seeing one another socially."
"Well, Francis and I do
go out on occasion." He paused and motioned for the waiter who
brought over his cocktail from his previous table. "But it's more for
friendly companionship than romance. I consider her a dear friend.
She continued to eye him with much curiosity and fascination. His manner
and his demeanor very much peaked her interest. "I could have sworn
that you two were, shall we say, involved."
"Far from it,
actually." Fred let out a slight chuckle. "In fact,
Francis is really not my type."
"And why is that?"
"Well, she's more of a
motherly, homebody type of woman. Not that there's anything wrong with
that, of course." He took a sip of his cocktail, yet refused to take
his eyes off of Leticia. "However, I prefer a more refined woman...a
woman with more of a sophisticated slant." He looked deeply into her
eyes to emphasize his point. "In fact, I prefer a woman more like
Leticia felt her face flush
and she immediately reached for her glass of wine and took a large sip.
She clearly found Fred quite charming and the more that she talked to him, the
more intrigued she was getting.