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The Arrangement

by Leslie Nichols

It was Friday and the hottest day of the year.  The heat was unbearable and Kate dreaded going home to what she believed was the hottest apartment in New York. Her air conditioner had gone on the bum again, and she was miserable. She envied her friend Sarah, whose boyfriend had been waiting for her when they left work.  Kate hated being alone in the summer.  There was something so romantic about the warm air that made her wish she was the other half of a twosome.  It had been a while since she’d had a date, and tonight she wished she had one.

She decided she would call the repairman when she got home, and go for a walk in the park. The phone was on its fourth ring and she was growing impatient.  The heat was sweltering and she couldn’t wait to get back out into the fresh air. Finally, a deep melodious voice answered and Kate’s female antenna kicked in like radar.  Her thoughts went askew as she struggled to give her reason for calling.  She finally got the words out, and the repairman agreed to come in a couple of hours.  When Kate hung up, she realized she had been struck by the magnificence of his voice.  It was intriguing.

Later, she described his voice to her best friend, as hearty and rugged, yet confident of the beauty of its owner. When she hung up the phone, she felt like she had experienced an exciting phone encounter with a gorgeous stranger.  An hour later, she was straightening the apartment as if she were expecting company. When her sister popped in to pick up a borrowed blouse, she was in awe.  “I thought you were staying in tonight,” she asked, with a puzzled look on her face.  “I am,” Kate replied.  “But I’m expecting company.  The guy is coming to repair my air conditioner, and he sounds like a hunk.”  “Wow, this guy must have really sounded good.  You look more like a date being picked up, than a service call.”

Kate laughed. With the anticipation of the possibilities, (he could be as gorgeous as he sounded, single and Fate’s door to romance,) she felt like she was waiting on a date. She tingled with excitement. She popped an extra steak in the oven, just in case the encounter sparked an extended visit.  She wanted to make her hospitality hard to turn down. She smiled at the thought of what a difference an hour could make. At six o’clock, she was bemoaning the absence of a Friday night date, and at seven, she was dressed like she was going on one, anxiously awaiting the arrival of a man she didn’t know.

Suddenly, her excitement was overcome with doubt. He’s probably married, and looks nothing like he sounds, she thought to herself.  She recalled what happened to her friend Jan last year when she met a guy on the phone who turned out to be married with four children.

The doorbell interrupted her thoughts.  Her enthusiasm had diminished  She walked to the door in trepidation.  Her hopes had dwindled to zero.  She felt moronic about the steak. She closed her eyes and opened the door.

“Hi, are you Kate?”  Her eyes flew open at the sound of his voice.  Her heart began to flutter.  He was tall and handsome.  “I’m Dave Brown. I’m here about your air conditioner?” he asked looking at her intently, as he guided his toolbox expertly through the door.

Kate was speechless, as she pointed in the direction of the air conditioner. She found her voice.  “I hope you’re not expensive, Mr. Brown, I forgot to ask how much you charge?”

“As pretty as you are, you can pay by buying me dinner sometime,” he replied, giving her a big grin.  She blushed.  What a perfect opening for my steak, she thought. “Well, if you do a good job I might share my dinner with you if you’re not off to another appointment.”

“No, this is my last stop.  But you know it’s weird.  After speaking to you on the phone, I was so impressed with your voice and I had a funny feeling that somehow I’d be sharing dinner with you tonight,” he replied looking at her with a quizzical look. “Sit and tell me about yourself.  What’s a beautiful woman doing home alone on a Friday night?” 

And thus it began. It turned out he was single and it seemed Fate had arranged for them to meet. They began dating and seven months later they were engaged.

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