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Four Bidding For Love (a novel)

Part 40: The true wealth of a kind and loyal male heart (02/23/13)

     Under his genial questioning, Alexia revealed her hope to acquire a huge horde of classic movie posters from a friend. The collector in Ross completely grasped her enthusiasm, and his sympathetic interest further endeared her to him. Under her direct inquiry he confessed to collecting a few odds and ends himself—melamine serving platters from the 60s, the ones with space-age designs, a few rare journals from the 1960s—and a modest new interest in film posters.
     Each was circumspect about their personal business and wary of providing details which might raise the eyebrows of their bedmate or trigger questions which might besmirch their tender state of communion. For each sensed their own eccentricities rendered them vulnerable to potentially fatal first judgments; and rather than risk upsetting the fragile knitting between them, each chose a guarded discretion. If ignorance wasn't precisely bliss, it certainly resided in the same neighborhood, and each concluded that their collecting business was best alluded to as a light-hearted hobby rather than a peculiarly consuming interest.
     As the pixies garrisoned in the flat did not understand human speech—it sounded rather like birds chirping to them, though much less pleasant—their sense of when conversations might fray or even pull apart the romance being nurtured was not infallible. As Ross veered dangerously close to mentioning his kitchen appliances collection and the Las Vegas show—a topic which would have most certainly inflamed Alexia's curiosity, if not outright alarm—Fate in the form of Hanover the cat meowing for his breakfast intervened.
     Putting on his embroidered Chinese smoking jacket, Ross went to the kitchen to feed Hanover while Alexia slipped on a fluffy pink robe and went to the computer in the living room to check her eBay account for activity. Had Ross joined her, he would have spotted her account name on the screen; but with hunger intruding on his happy state, he set about making a sustaining breakfast for his new love.
     With past romantic failures vividly in mind, each was wary of overburdening the gauzy intimacy that love's invisible loom was weaving between them. As a result, neither suggested a day together; on the contrary, each offered the other respite: Alexia had a shift to work at a nearby boutique, and Ross voiced his need to begin searching for permanent living quarters. Alexia kindly provided him with an old but serviceable laptop computer, and after a hug enhanced by the pixie garrison's liberal dose of romantic gold-dust, the couple parted.
     As Alexia emerged into the bright daylight, there was no chance she would see either Robin or Kylie, for the pair had left for a Saturday spent enjoying San Francisco. And while she walked to the boutique, mulling her changing fortunes, Ross set up the old laptop and checked his eBay account and email. Though he knew it was too soon to expect the Las Vegas show authorities to approve his application, he'd hoped for a confirming email anyway. But this minor disappointment could not dent the affirmative future he now saw ahead, and his search for another room in Berkeley was half-hearted indeed. For the space he hoped to occupy was but a few feet away: Alexia's bedroom.
     Even though his male curiosity about what she looked like sans clothing had been satisfied, he found himself thinking of little else but her. In true contrarian fashion, her protective hesitancy only piqued his desire to win her, not just twice, but completely, and for good.
     For Ross wallowed miserably in relative comfort, and rose only to the longest-shot challenges; Alexia, being shapely and youthful and smart and eccentric, posed a nearly airless summit to a slightly plump, not very handsome, easily annoyed eccentric who also happened to be nearly penniless. As a result of these long odds, Ross set his mind on making another praise-worthy dinner that night, and laundering and pressing his remaining clothing, for someone as fastidious as A.R. would not find slovenliness charming. And I need to lose some of my belly flab pronto, Ross resolved; a good long walk every afternoon down to the Marina will be a start.
     Alexia's diffidence was not her only irresistible feature, for she'd revealed a tender vulnerability beneath her hard-shelled brusqueness. Though anyone could see her sexiness, it was her well-masked vulnerabilities which fired Ross's fantasies: here was a woman who'd been wounded. Wary of love and men, it was nearly impossible to win her trust and affection—and so that became his Everest, the summit he would give his all to reach.
     The traffic between Alexia's mind and heart was so brisk she barely noticed anyone or anything on Green Street. It was foolish to feel humiliated, she told herself; she hadn't inquired if Robin was attached before offering herself, and she could hardly blame him for not volunteering he had another lover. Nonetheless, their sofa time had been so mutually satisfactory that it was natural for the candle of romantic hope to light, and equally natural for the humiliation of being enjoyed and then tossed aside so cavalierly to sting like gravel in the bleeding knee of a fallen 12-year old girl.
     For listening to the activity in Robin's studio last night had made her feel just like a girl who thrilled to the handsome boy's kiss and then spied him the next day kissing a pretty girl she could not hope to best.
     Her practical mind was willing to chalk up last night to the natural desire of someone sandwiched, as it were, between two couples to show the world she did not have to sleep alone. Like the young lady at the party who watches her friends all drift off with boyfriends and finds the last remaining boy—a rather plain and boring specimen of manhood—a worthy enough vehicle to prove her own desirability, Alexia was ready to confess to that quiet desperation and redemption with R.T.
     But this morning had thrown her practical side into confusion, for though she did not find Ross either ugly or handsome, he was attentive and adoring, and her heart was sending her rational mind urgent messages that only a woman marooned in adolescent superficiality would place mere good looks and wealth—both of which could quickly depreciate to zero—above the true wealth of a kind and loyal male heart.

Next: "I should have known there was a man in your life—look at your cute little green dress." (Chapter 12)

To read the previous chapters, visit the "Four Bidding For Love" home page.

A note of thanks to those who buy a book: As an independent writer, book sales are a substantial part of my income. I receive no funding from any university, trust fund, think-tank, shadowy C.I.A. front or government agency. Thank you for throwing caution and rationality to the winds and buying my work.

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