“To forgiveness for past offenses and to new beginnings,” he said.
“Here, here!” I clinked my glass to his and he looked at me seriously and said, “It was never my intentions to hurt you. But, with that being said, I have to say that even though I didn’t intend it, I was obviously not cautious enough with your feelings to make sure that I didn’t. I’m so sorry, Robyn. I was never ashamed or embarrassed of you. You’d just be surprised at how horrendous the social skills of a business mogul really are. If you’d like to discuss business, I can go on all night. Otherwise, I’m not sure sometimes what to talk about.”
I felt warm inside. I knew that sharing what he saw as his short-comings couldn’t be easy for him. “Just talk to me about anything…about you, about work, about life. I don’t care, as long as you’re talking to me.”
“I promise I’m going to try. Occasionally, I might need a reminder. A swift kick in the pants or even a sharp pop upside the head works.”
I laughed and said, “Well, I’ll hope it doesn’t come to that, but if it does…”
Our meal was spectacular and just as we were finishing dessert a very smartly dressed man in his early forties and a woman in her mid to late thirties approached the table. Aaron didn’t look pleased, but he stood up and shook the man’s hand and said hello to the woman. Again, he introduced me as his “girlfriend.”
“Robyn, this is Annette and Chase Hamilton.”
“Pleased to meet you,” I said. Aaron sat back down and the man, Chase said,
“We don’t want to interrupt your meal, I was just wondering if you mind me asking how it went with father the other night.”
Again, Aaron didn’t look pleased. “It didn’t go well, but none of us were expecting it would.”
“He’s not talking you out of it though, right?” the woman said. I don’t know what it was about both of them, but I decided in the first five minutes that I didn’t like them. That was unusual for me. I wasn’t usually one to make snap judgments about people.
“No,” Aaron said, “He didn’t talk me out of it. Now if you’ll excuse us, I promised Robyn there would be no business talk tonight.”
“Oh yes,” the man said, “Please forgive us. I’ll see you next week, Aaron.”
Aaron nodded at them and said good night. When they were gone I said, “I get the feeling those two aren’t your favorite business associates?”
“You get the feeling right,” he said. “We should be going so we don’t miss the beginning of the opera.”
After he paid, we walked outside and the Lamborghini magically appeared. He opened the door for me and I slid in. Once he was behind the wheel I said,
“I don’t often take an instant dislike to people, but something about those two bothered me. Do you mind if I ask what type of business you do with them?”
He grimaced, but he said, “Together they own controlling stock in their family business. They approached us and offered to sell.”
“And their father is not happy about that, I’m assuming.”
“I’d say so,” Aaron said, “He called me a snake.” He smiled when he said that. Something about how his face softened when he mentioned the father made me think he was fond of the old man.
“What kind of business is it?” I asked him as we drove up in front of the opera hous
“What’s the sudden interest in business about?” he asked.
“It’s not sudden. I do have an MBA you know. Business interests me very much.”
“Wow, I didn’t know that. I’m even more impressed with you now than I was before,” he said with a smile. He helped me out of the car and said, “Let’s enjoy the show and talk about this later though, okay?”
Robyn and I had such a nice dinner and an even better time at the opera. It finally hit me how close I’d come to letting the best thing that ever happened to me walk out of my life. I resolved that no matter what, I wasn’t going to let that happen again. As I was helping her into the car after the opera I was approached by a man I only knew as Paul. Paul was a freelance photographer who sold his pictures to various magazines like Forbes and Variety and even People. The one thing I did know about him was that he didn’t sell to the tabloids.
“Mr. Winters, could you give me a pose with your beautiful date?”
I wanted to hurry and get my beautiful date home and all to myself, but I looked at Robyn’s face and I knew this would be a big step for me in her eyes. I said,
“Beautiful date, do you object?”
She smiled and said, “Not at all.”
I helped her back out and Paul snapped three pictures of us underneath the marquee. We got on our way at last; the only other thing I wanted that evening was to be alone with my “girlfriend.”
“My apartment or yours?” I asked her.
“We’re closer to yours,” she said. If I wasn’t wrong, the smile she had on her face was telling me she wanted the same thing I did tonight…to make love and fall asleep in each other’s arms. I turned the car over to the valet at my apartment building and as we were riding up in the elevator she said,
“So, you were going to tell me more about the Hamilton’s.”
I laughed, she was too much. We stepped off the elevator and I said,
“You really want to talk about business?”
“No, not really,” she said as I unlocked the door and let her inside. “But I saw the distressed look on your face and I heard those people sounding like they were much more interested in making money than they were in how it was going to make their father feel. I wonder how going through with that deal is going to make you feel.”
“It’s a very lucrative deal,” I told her.
“I’m sure it is. You’re a very good businessman. But,” she said, turning in a circle around my apartment, “It might seem to one as un-informed as me that you don’t really need the money….”
That was true, but I was still a businessman and this deal was still good business. “I can’t let my business stagnate because it happens to be doing well already though, can I? You’re in marketing and from what Max tells me you are outstanding at what you do. So then I know you understand the importance of a fresh approach and fresh new ideas and fresh products.”
“What does the Hamilton’s business manufacture?” She understood that manufacturing businesses were the ones that I was interested in acquiring. It was what we did at Winters, Inc.