She woke up in a bit of a panic. Was last night a dream?
Her mouth was dry, and still tasted a little bit like champagne. Her hair was still in that long braid.
She got out of bed and went to her kitchen to get some coffee going. That's when her phone rang. She glanced at her caller ID.
RICH FOOL, it read. She'd have to change that.
She picked it up nervously.
"Hello?" She asked.
"Good morning," she could hear those pearly whites through the digital signal connecting them. "I just wanted to say good morning."
"Good morning," she smiled as she said it.
"Alright, well, I'll see you at the restaurant," he said.
"See you there," she said.
They both hung up. This was going to be so awkward.
She was thankful that she showed up to work first. She began her daily checklist with their opening staff.
Ben came into the kitchen, his face barely able to contain the grin he wore. The wait staff hit the floor and the kitchen staff got to their prep work. Willow pointed her pen in the direction of the alleyway. She stepped out first and he followed.
"How are you?" He asked.
"I'm well," she responded, but she didn't want to talk anymore.
All she could think about was how fantastic it would be to kiss him again.
Before she knew it, he was inches away from her.
"I'm sorry, but," he breathed out, "I want to kiss you again. Would that be okay."
"You don't have to ask permission," she smirked and grabbed his shirt collar to pull his face down to hers.
They kissed. It was warm and sweet and left her feeling fuzzy.
"I have a restaurant to manage, and you're distracting me," she sighed.
"Let's go on a date tonight," he proposed. "Dinner and a movie?"
"I would like that."
And, so, they dated for several weeks.
Ben had fallen fast. Really fast. If he was honest with himself, he fell in love with her the moment she scolded him for giving cash to a beggar.
He wanted to marry her. And he wanted to give her his mother's ring.
He steeled himself before knocking on the door to his father's study.
"Come in," the gruff voice of George Montgomery resonated through the heavy oak door.
Ben stepped into his office and began to look over the many books that filled the shelves surrounding his father's desk.
"How is your venture with the Chan's?" George asked.
He wasn't ever opposed to his son investing in his friends' business, but he worried. Restaurants were risky.
"It's going well, dad," Ben smiled. "Really, really well."
Silence fell between them. George was waiting for his son to speak. Ben was gathering his words.
"Dad, I've been seeing someone," Ben said.
"Oh," that wasn't what he was expecting to hear.
"I was hoping..."
"Ben, I've arranged for you to meet with the daughter of one of our clients," George said.
"What?" Ben was shocked.
"I'm teasing you, son," George smiled. "Tell me about her."
George and Ben were still working on their familiarity with each other. George couldn't claim to be a great father in the time of mourning, when his son needed him the most. He was ashamed of that. He was working on it. And, while he enjoyed teasing his son, the latter often wasn't prepared for the sense of humor of the former.
"Oh," Ben smiled. "Well, she's sharp, and funny, and loyal. I'm in love with her."
George pondered this for a moment as he watched his son's eyes shine with happiness.
"I would like to meet this girl," George said.
Ben nodded excitedly, "Of course. Dad, I was wondering if I could take mother's ring to the jeweler and have it resized."
George straightened up in his chair.
"Bring her over for dinner," George said. "Let me meet her, and I will consider it."
"I know, I'm asking a lot," Ben said. "And I really appreciate this. Would dinner tonight be okay?"