Today's Reading

With a final check through the peephole, Kera pulled open the door. Her visitor was wearing a dark fedora and a dark overcoat she'd never seen. Before she could greet him, he swooped into the room, closed the door, and enveloped her in an embrace that took her breath away. Only then did he put down the shopping bag he was carrying and remove his hat and coat, which he tossed onto the couch.

"As I said, we have to celebrate," he announced with great fanfare. He then proceeded to take out several impressive cut-crystal fluted champagne glasses, followed by a chilled bottle of rosé prosecco nestled in a thermal sleeve, and finally, a small package of cocktail napkins. "Check this out!" he said, showing the bottle to her as if he were a sommelier.

"Okay," Kera said while reading the striking black label. "Bortolomiol Filanda Rosé. I've never heard of it."

"It's fabulous," he said proudly, "and remarkably hard to find."

"What exactly are we celebrating?" she asked hesitantly while he struggled with the wire securing the bottle's cork. This kind of response from him was what she'd hoped and had expected when she'd originally broken the news. She'd been crushed when it hadn't happened.

"We're celebrating everything," he said triumphantly. "The fact is, you were right, and I was wrong. What's happened is truly a miracle that was meant to be. I just didn't see it in the heat of the moment."

Kera could have pointed out that he'd taken far longer than a moment to come to the realization; in fact, there had been nearly a month of confrontation. But she didn't say anything for fear of breaking the spell his enthusiasm was creating. She heard a resounding pop when the cork came out of the bottle. A bit of foam with a pink blush appeared at the bottle's mouth.

"As you said, life is too precious a miracle not to embrace." He poured two glasses of the bubbly wine.

"What about your wife?" Kera struggled to question.

"History," he said simply, as he handed one of the glasses to her and then hoisted his and extended it toward her.

A melodious clink resounded in the otherwise silent room as the glasses touched. Following his lead, she took a healthy swig of the prosecco, which tasted better than any other wine she had ever had. Almost a month earlier she'd decided to avoid alcohol, but this moment was special. They had had several unpleasant arguments about the future over the previous weeks, and she'd reconciled herself to their being hopelessly miles apart. His sudden 180 elated her. It was most definitely a time for celebration.

"Let's sit and enjoy the wine," he suggested while gesturing toward the couch. He moved his coat and hat to a side chair. "The company that makes this wine is from the Veneto part of Italy," he added as he tugged on the sleeve of her robe, urging her over to the couch and to sit.

"It is tasty," Kera said. She had no idea where the Veneto was but assumed it was somewhere near Venice. She didn't ask for more of an explanation since she didn't care. As for the taste of the wine, she was being truthful. As she sat down, she took another healthy swig, enjoying the effervescence as well as the smooth and subtle taste. She'd never been particularly fond of champagne and had always questioned the fuss and the cost, but this was different, making her wonder how much was from the wine and how much from her joyous mindset. Whatever it was, she was savoring the totality of the experience. Of course, she had a million questions, but for the moment they could wait.

While he rambled on about prosecco and the Veneto of Italy with no appreciation of her lack of interest, she took another drink of the wine and held it in her mouth for a moment before swallowing. It was truly a delightful experience, and she luxuriated in the wonderfully relaxing feeling that spread over her, a far cry from the depressive thoughts she'd struggled with over the previous month. But then a dizziness intervened that wasn't so pleasant. Although he was still talking, his words stopped having any meaning. At the same time her vision blurred. Blinking repeatedly to clear her eyes, she put her glass down and tried to stand, but her legs wouldn't work.

"Are you okay?" he asked while putting his own glass down.

"I'm okay, I guess," she managed, but her words were mumbled. "I'm just suddenly so tired . . ."

Kera's voice trailed off as she slowly sank back with her head resting against the back of the couch. Her eyes had closed, and with her mouth agape, her breathing slowed.

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