Nathan’s persona, if taken on the surface, portrayed a man both cunning and disingenuine. A player. A man full of fun-loving endless “party til you drop”enjoyment. A good-time guy. He was up for anything and had the money to back his momentary enjoyments whether flitting off to France on a whim or throwing a bash everyone eagerly attended. He wasn’t someone to be taken seriously! His antics were well known and often the topic of the “rag mags”.
Emma knew this, was prepared for this. She’d read every article she could get her hands on. Depending on the source, he was esteemed, his lifestyle celebrated, or equally hated by those jealous of his success and readily vilified his lifestyle.
She’d grown up with Nathan and although he’d been a few years older had watched over her, protecting her on occasion when bullies knocked her about. He’d just “been there” as if appearing out of a mist of smoke and disappearing as quickly. When Nathan was around, she knew she was safe, protected. Any time their paths crossed, when their eyes locked, the sincerity, the earnestness she noted touched her heart. It was what she held onto, what kept her going through the tough times.
Unwittingly Emma measured every man she met against that bold earnest sincerity and watched to see if the actions were in accord with the emotions. So far, none she’d dated could come close. Perhaps her ideals were too lofty, coloured by those interactions. Still, a girl could dream, couldn’t she?
Today, their paths would cross for the first time since school. Emma’s assignment, to cover the bash at the Cosmopolitan which was backed and funded almost entirely by Nathan Armstrong. Dressing with care, a practiced smile in place, she entered the dance hall. Wandering, she nodded at a few she’d interviewed for other articles. Some smiled, others nodded, some watched her curiously.
Unprepared, she stumbled onto Nathan. The moment their eyes locked, she was pulled back into childhood and those rare but special moments their paths had crossed. She peered into his eyes, hoping to see the sincerity she’d witnessed so long ago. He moved closer, a warm smile hovered and his eyes went from warm to heated to sincere. There it was. The look she remembered and associated with Nathan.
She’d been schooled in seeking the truth, looking beneath the surface of what was said to what was real. Once she explained her purpose here, how would he act? she wondered.