He could feel them approaching, leaving the guestroom and preparing to open the door into the kitchen. Holding his breath, Solomon’s mind counted down the final few seconds. Three . . . two . . . one . . . “

[Breathe . . . must breathe], he thought.

Solomon’s heart raced as Shelby glided into the room. For years he had remembered every detail about this beautiful woman he had loved since junior high school, but those details had been incorrect. The woman standing before him now was far more attractive than his brain could have possibly recalled. Everything about her screamed from the highest mountain top [incredibly sensual woman]. Solomon’s mind asked his brain questions. [Why was I scared to come to dinner? I should have been here hours ago, possibly even this morning or yesterday! I won’t waste a single minute this time!]. These thoughts and so many more flashed through his mind, and then it happened.

As Solomon listened to Shelby’s voice, his heart and mind could not agree as to whether or not his ears had detected such a beautiful sound before. His brain said [yes . . . I remember], but his heart said [no way . . . I’d remember if I’d heard Angel’s voice before].

“Hello,” Shelby said softly.

Hesitating briefly, Shelby quickly gathered her wits and finished her sentence. “It’s good to see you.”

Solomon could not have described how soft and lovely her voice sounded even if he tried for days. After years of hearing her words within his mind, and seeing her beautiful face every time he closed his eyes, Shelby was standing right there at arm’s length. Quite suddenly, all the pain, tragedy, and heartache had been washed away by her face, and everything was going to be okay. Life was wonderful.

“Solomon,” Shelby said, now holding her right hand at arm’s length for him to take.

As Solomon clasped her hand within his own, his eyes briefly left her gaze to fall upon her fingers and hand, thereby recognizing Shelby’s tattoos, tattoos which had not been there the last time he had seen her.

Clearing his throat, “I’m good, Shelby. Thank you,” Solomon said softly, and then released her soft hand.

Until this moment, he had not noticed Abbey had passed by to the next hallway leading to the dining room, leaving them alone in the kitchen. She had walked directly past him, nearly bumping into his shoulder. Shelby’s effect upon Solomon had remained consistent with their time spent together during the past. He only had eyes for her.

Solomon and Shelby stood face to face, each doing a quick but polite mental inventory of the other. Shelby had worn a beautiful black and white long-sleeved dress. It was an Italian Patchwork Dress, similar to what her mother used to wear during nights out with her father. She had worn her hair up, and very little makeup. Although wearing high heels, her shoes were closed-toe, once again leaving her feet to Soloman’s imagination. For jewelry, a gold heart necklace and matching hoop earrings, both gifts from her late mother. Abbey had taken Shelby with her to the salon the day before. Both women had their hair cut, and nails were done to perfection. Tonight, Shelby’s nails were painted black to match her dress.

Abbey had surprised Shelby by picking up her dry cleaning, and the clothing she had left for alterations. The two women had gone shopping together two weeks ago, each picking out several items, including the dress Shelby had worn this evening. She had dropped the beautiful Italian Dress off with Abbey’s cleaners for a few small modifications, necessary changes for a woman who expected her womanly curves to scream [look] at the man standing before her now.

As Solomon struggled to keep his eyes on Shelby’s eyes, instead of her curves, his mind raced once again with a barrage of thoughts such as [I want Shelby. No other woman except for Shelby].

“Shelby, you look fantastic. Even more beautiful than I remember. And I didn’t think that was possible.”

Shelby’s heart raced, and now she began to struggle with an overwhelming wave of want and need as her body temperature seemed to rise higher than the stove she was standing next to. Smiling uncontrollably, she stepped forward, now toe to toe with Soloman. Wrapping her arms around him, she hugged him tightly, kissing him on the side of his cheek, leaving a faint trace of lipstick. Hours later after returning to Mason’s house, he would look in the mirror smiling and say to himself [hmmm . . . coffee cup . . . I knew it].

“Thank you, Solomon. That’s precisely how I remember you. Nobody else has ever spoken to me in such a way.”

“Well, hearing that makes me both sad and happy, Shelby.”

Shelby did not need to ask Solomon to explain his remark, and she was touched by his kind words. At that moment, Abbey walked into the kitchen, but neither of them moved as she began working and talking.

“Please, you two go and sit down. David’s will help me serve. I insist now go,” Abbey said, motioning for them both to leave the kitchen and go to the dining room.

David entered the kitchen and proceeded to walk straight to the oven so he could remove the Prime Rib. The roast had been done for nearly an hour, and had been allowed to [rest], since he had first checked the final temperature and pulled the Primal from the oven. Medium Rare to Rare, David was confident all of their guests would be pleased.

“Please listen to her. We have this under control,” David said, pointing towards the door to the dining-room.

Still standing toe to toe, neither Shelby nor Solomon had moved an inch or reacted to either of the Goodman’s voices. If either of them had been questioned at a later date, both Shelby and Solomon would probably say something to the effect of [I don’t remember anyone walking through the kitchen]. To say that each of them had become lost within the presence of the other would be an understatement.

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