10:55 p.m.

The streets were teeming with people enjoying their Saturday night. An added bonus was the near perfect weather. Tav scouted the streets for a parking place. We had to circle the area twice before we had any success.

I unstrapped my seat belt, and jumped out of the car. I was excited to see where we were. Tav came around, and we started to walk down the sidewalk. Every now and again, the groups of tourists and others out on the town would separate us. After about the fourth time, Tav held out his hand to me. “I suggest you hold on or we’re going to lose each other.”

I’m aware of my hand in Tav’s hand—steering me through the crowds. I’m trying not think about anything, just want to enjoy every moment of it. No matter what happens. Restaurants line both sides of the streets, and as you pass each of them, you can hear the sounds of different live bands.

“This is so much fun!”

“I thought you might like it,” he yells back, grinning. “I don’t think you’ve been here before, have you?”

“No…I didn’t even know it existed.”

We stop along the way to listen to some of the bands. The restaurants all had their windows open in hopes of luring customers in.

“Natalie! What are you doing here?” I swing around with a start, sadly, letting go of Tav’s hand. I want to severely wound whomever had interrupted us.

“Marc!”

“My friend’s band is playing. I’m checking them out.” He nods toward the band playing in the restaurant in front of us.

“They sound good.” I suddenly remember that Tav is standing quietly by our side. “Tavish, this is Marc.”

“Lucky you, Tavish. I’ve tried to get her to go out with me and she wouldn’t.”

“You have to kidnap her,” Tav says, smiling at me. I wish he wouldn’t. No, I wish he would.

I am so dead.

“Well…take good care of her.”

“I will.”

Tavish takes a hold of my hand again. I feel like one of those pathetic heroines in those romance novels. Then he took her hand, and she fainted.

Except I didn’t faint, or even would want to faint. I mean, that’s so stupid. Why would I faint?

The walk had increased my appetite, and I was anxious to see what Tavish’s choice of restaurant was.

La Parisienne! Are you kidding me?

It couldn’t be, but it was. It was the cutest restaurant ever. Of course, with Tavish, anything seemed better than it really was. The décor was just like the pictures I’d seen in my magazines—the little tables and cozy booths. I felt like I was in heaven.

The waiter led us to a table by the window. “I hope you like this! I figured you hadn’t eaten much tonight.” Tavish obviously was aware of church dinners.

“Like this? Are you serious? I love it. How did you know Paris was on the top of my list of places to visit?”

“Somebody in the office mentioned it enough times!”

“Very funny!”

“Actually, this is my favorite place. I was hoping you’d like it too. The food is good.”

“I’m ravenous!” I always am.

The waiter brought us our menus, and Tavish ordered us our drinks…in French. This was beyond cool. I’m sitting here loving hearing them speak French together.

“Have you been to Paris?” I suddenly want to know as much as possible about him.

“I’ve been to Paris, and I love it there. I wish I could show you Paris and take you to my favorite restaurants.” He looked out of the window like he was seeing the rues de Paris.

My big dream is to visit France. To that end, the only subject I had really paid attention to was French. I had several years of French under my belt. I couldn’t speak it like a native, but I knew enough to get by. I didn’t want to tell Tavish that right now. No way! Not after hearing him speak it so fluently.

“Where did you learn to speak French?”

“At home.”

“Home?”

“I’m bilingual. My mom’s French and dad’s Scottish. Dad was a military man in France when he met my mom. She was not what my grandparents wanted him to bring home,” Tavish laughed. “I don’t think her parents were too thrilled that she married a Scotsman either. They still tease each other about it.”

“Sounds like you have a good time together.” I was still trying to absorb the idea that Tav was half-French. I just figured with a name like MacGregor that he was anything but French.

“We do. I have a brother and sister. Both married with kids. My parents have given up on me.” I’m trying not to stare at him. “What about you?”

“I gave up on you long time ago,” I respond very seriously. “In fact, my daily prayers have been for God to rescue you.”

“Naughty girl! At least I’m happy to know that I’m in your daily prayers. That means you think about me at least once a day.”

If you only knew, I’m thinking to myself.

“I hope you don’t mind, I need to text I Gwen. We have a rule in our family, when we’re out, we text or call and let someone know where exactly you are.”

So I text Gwen. “Having dinner with Tavish at La Parisienne. Will be back late.”

She writes back. “A late dinner with a pastor? I should worry.”

Me: “Haha! You sound exactly like mum!”

She: “She should know…she married dad! Enjoy yourself!”

I love hearing Tav talk.

In fact, I feel like a giddy teenager. I love to hear his voice, watch him smile, anything. I am definitely the queen of pathetic.

Fortunately, the waiter came back with our first course for the evening. Traditionally French, we’re going to have a four-course dinner.

“When do they stop serving?”

“About 1:00.”

I felt like I’m in Europe. I had heard about late, late night dinners. It was so much fun. As the waiter placed our plates before us, the words of the song they were playing came through loud and clear,

Quand il me prend dans ses bras,
Il me parle tout bas,
Je vois la vie en rose.
Il me dit des mots d’amour
Des mots de tous les jours
Et ça me fait quelque chose…

“Awww…that is one of my favorite songs!” How much more fun could one evening get?

Tav lifted his wine glass in a toast, “La Vie en Rose…mine too. To many more favorite songs and evenings together.”

“Amen!” I responded, automatically. It had sounded more like a prayer to me than just a toast.

And the clock chimed twelve!

“Now tell me all about Natalie…before Cinderella runs away.” Tav set his glass back on the table, and leaned back to listen to me speak.

“Don’t we have to leave?”

“Natalie, this is a French restaurant. They don’t hurry their customers out over here.”

I remembered all the stories I heard of long dinners in Europe. That used to be like a faraway notion, yet with Tav here, everything seemed possible.

“Let’s see. I’m Natalie. Not much to tell. Pastor’s daughter. I have a sister. We have fun together too. My parents are amazing.”

“They must be. They have an amazing daughter.” Tav’s steady gaze on my face as I spoke was a bit disconcerting.

Within a short time, Tav had been able to find out everything about me that my closest friends hadn’t even figured out in my twenty plus years of knowing them—my family, my faith, my love for God. Things my peers didn’t think worth talking about.

“Your parents sound like wonderful, solid believers.”

“They are.” I lapsed into silence. I really missed them. I wanted to go home. Thank God my mom knew me so well. Frankie would have been a huge mistake, and…

Dessert!

I had enjoyed the potage Parisien, the baked fish, poisson du jour—even though it was the typical French style, the whole fish! I tried not to look at where the eyes should be. The Salad Niçoise was one of my favorites, but dessert, this was where I liked to begin my dinner.
Of course, it had to be something chocolatey—pots de crème! Tav had ordered my dinner for me, and he seemed to know what I’d like.

“I know you like chocolate, but taste this.” He put a spoon of ice cream in my mouth.

“Yummy! What’s that?”

“Blueberry-Lavender ice cream.”

“That is incredible! I’ve never heard of that.”

Tav had introduced a new, exciting chapter to my life. I really wanted to visit Paris now.
Dinner finished, we walked slowly back to the car. I looked up at the sky, and caught a flash of light streak through the dark sky.

“Oh, a shooting star!”

“Did you make your wish?”

“Yes.”

“I gather you’re not telling me.” Tav squeezed my hand.

“You know it won’t come true if I do.” There was no way that I was going to tell anyone what I had wished for.

I’m looking at him and thinking it’s not fair for God to create someone who is as gorgeous and as nice as this man standing in front of me.

_______

1:30 a.m.

The drive home is quiet—a lovely quiet. Tavish is listening to his favorite soft French songs. What a perfect way to end the evening—all too soon ending, I’m thinking.

He’s insisting on taking me up to my door. “Wouldn’t want anyone else to kidnap you.”

“You don’t have to worry.”

“It’s too late in the night for you to be out alone. Gwen won’t forgive me.”

“You’re right, she wouldn’t.”

“Thanks for going out with me.”

“It was an evening to remember. Thank you!”

“We should do this more often.”

I shut the door and think. Yes, we should.

Like for the rest of my life.

“Drive safely home!” That is my prayer.

__________

1:45 a.m.

“And…” Gwen’s in the kitchen, waiting up for me, and demanding to know how my evening went.

“And what?”

“Don’t ‘and what’ me, Missy!”

“Oh Gwen! It was amazing. He’s so much fun…and I can talk to him…and he listens…and…”

“What?”

“I don’t kiss and tell!”

“Natalie Taylor!” My sister pretends to be shocked as I give her hug and say good night. It really has been a good night.

And I’m remembering another occasion…way back…in my office…

_____

1:50 a.m.

“Hey there!” I grab my phone, probably Tav letting me know he got home safely.

“Hi Natalie.”

“Walt?”

“Yes. I was driving past your place and thought I saw your light still on…so I thought I’d call and make sure you’re alright. Not worrying about anything…”

This is so weird. I’m not sure how I should be reacting.

“Thanks Walt! That’s very sweet of you. I’m doing fine.”

“You’re sure? You know Faith seemed very angry after you left…”

“No, yes…I’m fine.”

“You’re sure now? You know you’re very special to me.”

“Thanks Walt, I’ll see at church.”

“I’ll be waiting for you. Till then, Natty.”

“Bye Walt.”

Natty?

Maybe Kate and Gwen were right. Maybe Walt did like me. I guess it’s good to have someone who cares about you so much…Or is it? I’ll worry about that some other time.

But for now, I’m listening to this –

_____

Photo by Toby Charlton-Taylor via Flickr