The women returned to the table and the men suggested they browse in the nearby art galleries. As they walked in and out of several galleries, Raji eagerly asked Maggie if she’d like to see a gallery specializing in artists from India. Jack, determined to check out a gallery that specialized in jewelry made from silver, gold, Roman glass, and other precious stones, requested that the couples split up and meet thirty minutes later.

Amazed at the quality of the jewelry Jack showed her, Natalie noted how tasteful and beautifully presented the artistic treatment of ancient glass, precious stones, gold, and silver was. She fell in love with a dainty sterling silver bracelet with intriguing tiny pieces of ancient glass embedded in a silver rectangle in the center. It was simple but exquisite.

Before she could stop him, Jack pulled out his wallet and paid for the bracelet.

“I can’t accept this,” she protested. “Take it home to your wife. It’s beautiful, she’ll love it.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. This is for you. Give me your hand. I want to put it on you.”

People were looking. Natalie held up her hand; she’d worry about it later. A public display was not in order.

“Ah, it looks beautiful on you.”

Jack took her hand. Again, to avoid embarrassment, she didn’t pull away as they left the shop.

Before Natalie knew what was happening, Jack gently but firmly led her down the small alleyway next to the shop.

“Natalie, I must talk to you.” His voice was urgent. “Don’t you understand? Don’t you feel what I feel?”

He pulled her toward him, grasped her face in his hands and gently kissed her. Ever so lightly on the lips. Just a touch.

The very lightness set her on fire. It was as if there’d been an explosion on Ben Yehuda Street. Had he started by pushing his way into her mouth, she would have fought back and been put off. But the gentleness of this first kiss made her urges come alive like an active volcano ready to erupt.

The next kiss was firmer and a little longer. Again he retreated. Just enough for the volcano to erupt a little more.

The third kiss had pressure and staying power. And she yielded. Her mouth opened and she gave permission to the only tongue that ever touched the inside of her mouth aside from David’s in the past twenty-five years. She didn’t resist as Jack’s arm caressed her back and moved even lower.

Time came to a halt. The past had moved forward and all her cells were determined to stay in this present moment. She was very, very hungry. Much more hungry than she’d ever realized a woman could be.

Finally Jack spoke. “I’ve never forgotten you,” he whispered.

Natalie pushed herself away, but not completely. That would be too painful. She leaned against his body, and the memory of it, combined with being in his arms, was so delicious she couldn’t let go just yet.

“Jack, you seem to forget that I’m married and so are you.”

“Sometimes things are just meant to be. Anyway, my marriage isn’t good.”

Natalie slowly came back to earth. How many millions of times had women heard a line like that? How many women became the mistress of a man in a “bad” marriage?

“Well, my marriage is good. We have to stop.”

“You’re right. I’m sorry. This is crazy.” Jack pulled back, tucked in his shirt and brushed back the hair that had fallen onto his face.

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