From Wines to Sunsets
John Laneri
Sharon came into my life the day we met to discuss a legal matter involving one of my clients from West Texas. Most of the time, I confined my law practice to small town matters and avoided major dealings, especially those out of state. The meeting that day was in New York City and represented an exception to my rule.

On entering the her suite, I introduced myself to her receptionist and glanced about. The setting was impressive as was the decor. From what I saw, I pictured Ms. Sharon Parker as a high priced, no nonsense woman who wore sensible shoes and trampled other lawyers for fun.

At the time, I reminded myself to tread carefully. The lady could be difficult.

My first surprise, however, came when I encountered an attractive woman wearing a fashionable business suit accented with a white silk blouse and stylish, high heel pumps.

She rose from behind her desk and extended a hand to greet me, her bright eyes and silky hair projecting an alluring presence, one reminiscent of a fine wine.

“Thank you for coming. May I call you Greg?”

I indicated yes, as I removed my Stetson and set it under my chair.

She glanced at the hat, seemingly amused, then seated herself and reached for a portfolio of papers. “I’ve studied your client’s proposal. It’s interesting, but there are several points that I judge to be in need of further clarification.”

Her approach seemed a bit formal for what I was proposing, so I said, “My client’s intentions are sincere. He’s an honest small town boy trying to make the deal work for both parties.”

“I’m sure he is, but lets dig a bit deeper, shall we?”

We continued to discuss our differences for several minutes. Then, she asked, “Do you come to New York often? ”

“Only when necessary.”

She seemed surprised. “It’s a wonderful city. You should take a close look.”

“Perhaps later,” I replied, feeling a bit annoyed by her tone. ”But now, I think we should amend paragraph five of section three as we discussed previously.”

She sighed and glanced in my direction. “Is that really what you want?”

By then, I was beginning to wonder what made the woman tick. I was merely requesting simple clarification of a minor point. It was something that could have easily been handled with an email, but she had insisted that we meet face to face, so I ended up half way across the country, sitting in her office arguing trivia.

A phone call interrupted us. She answered it then turned away, her manner conveying disgust. After a lengthy conversation, during which she stepped out of the office, I sensed a high level of agitation on her return.

“Is everything okay?”

She ignored me as she took several deep breaths in an attempt to gather herself. Then forcing a smile, she said, “I understand you're from Texas.”

“Yes ma'am, I practice out of a small town west of San Antonio.”

“Do you have a ranch like most people in Texas?”

Surprised by her comment, I chuckled to myself and replied, “I graze about two hundred head of beef cattle. I also do some farming to keep the excess acreage in use.”

She studied me. “I can't imagine living away from the romance of a big city. We have everything one ever needs.”

“I manage to get by. It's not so hard once you get use to the clear skies and clean air.”

“But, don't you miss the city lights, the hustle and bustle?”

“No ma'am. I like the quiet. It gives me time to enjoy the sunsets while I sip my wine and kick off my boots after a hard day's work.”

She smiled as if she had won a point. “I thought cowboys only drank beer.”

“When we're hot and sweaty, a cold beer is mighty fine. But in the evenings, I prefer the wines from my vineyards.”

Surprised, she asked, “Cowboys make their own wine too?”

“Yes ma'am, I have about a fifty acres for vines and a winery for my fermentation vats and bottling plant.”

“I'm impressed,” she smiled, as she seemed to relax. “Very impressed. You're a busy man.”

In an attempt to redirect her thoughts, I asked, “Have you made a decision as to my client’s position regarding paragraph five? It would definitely allow both parties to profit handsomely.”

We continued to discuss our differences for awhile longer, but she remained distracted and hesitant to concede any points, saying only that she would gladly pass my thoughts on to her client, so I suggested that we take a another approach.

“Another approach?” she asked, her eyes questioning mine.

“Yes Ma’am... our differences are minimal. So, let's finish discussing them while we have dinner and share a bottle of wine. Maybe, we'll even catch a sunset.”

She studied me thoughtfully then smiling pleasantly, she set her papers aside. “I doubt we'll see a colorful sunset here in the city. As to wines, I prefer the ones from France, especially those from the Bordeaux region.”

“Whatever you like. But I have to admit, the Texas wines are worth a look. Life is best appreciated when the spirit inside is unlocked and allowed to roam free.”

She pushed away from her desk and came to her feet, her features beginning to brighten. “Then, let's do a Texas wine. I'm ready to roam free for a change.”

And, that’s how it went. We had our night on the town. We failed to see a sunset worth mentioning. And best of all, we discovered each other.

A few months later, after moving to the ranch, she began to enjoy life again as the wines and the sunsets set her free, then drew us together, captured our spirits and allowed us to become one.

John Laneri's

writing focuses on short stories and flash. Publications to his credit have appeared in several professional journals as well as a number of internet sites and short story periodicals.

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