I was chopping up vegetables for a salad and listening to Symphony of the Bells at an ear splitting volume when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
I had a quick flash of Klaid grabbing me from behind and my adrenaline roared in my head. I spun around with the knife in my hand - instinct and fright taking over.
Attalla backed away immediately.
“I’m sorry,” he yelled over the music.
“Ma-rye-a, mute,” I ordered.
“I didn’t mean to frighten you,” he apologized at a more reasonable volume now that the music was muted.
“Not frightened, just startled.” I lowered the knife. “I don’t usually threaten my guests,” I apologized.
“I’ll try not to sneak up on you again,” he said. He moved a little closer to show that he trusted me not to stab him. He reached in the salad bowl and pulled out a piece of carrot. “It’s been a while since I’ve had fresh produce. This will be a treat.” He popped it in his mouth.
“Have a seat. It will be ready in a minute.” I went back to chopping.
“I like Zealichma too,” he said.
“Ma-rye-a, bring the music back up to background volume,” I ordered.
The symphony flowed through the galley. I put the salad on the table along with the dressings, bread and cheese platter.
“What would you like to drink?” I asked.
“This looks like a good compliment to wine if you have any.”
“Two wines coming up.” I went to the cooler and pulled out an excellent white Zellott that someone had given me as a perk from a former job. I hadn’t ever gotten around to drinking it. I didn’t go in for drinking alone. Somewhere in the back of my mind I figured if I got that started I wouldn’t be able to get it stopped.
I placed the glasses on the table.
“Allow me.” Attalla took the bottle and opened it.
He knew the routine. He poured me a little and allowed me to taste and approve the wine. It was a good vintage. I was pleased I had it to offer. He sat back down and we spent the next two hours talking over a leisurely meal.
It was heaven.