“It’s a lovely day for a picnic,” said Devlin cheerfully to Chantal when he joined her in the courtyard after assisting Ella with the lunch menu in the kitchen.
“Yes it is.”
Chantal had just finished sketching the portrait of him. She glanced up briefly with the tip of a charcoal pencil pressed near the corner of her mouth. It was obvious that she was deep in thought about something.
“Let’s go for a walk.” said Devlin holding the picnic basket.
The sweet floral scent of blue flag iris flowers permeated the air as Chantal and Devlin began their stroll beyond the tall iron gates of Brooke Manor for a planned picnic by the pond.
“You’re not your usual bubbly self. Are you alright?” asked Devlin.
“Last night I had a dream about a young man. It was tragic. He lost the love of his life in a dreadful storm. I never saw his face, but I’m sure he was in another dream I had before, in Thousand Oaks.”
“Yes, he also had a quirky mannerism. He twirled his hair in the face of uncertainty or danger.”
That’s me for sure thought Devlin.
“This may sound strange, but I want to dream of him again and see his face.”
“No, that’s not strange at all. Perhaps his purpose was for him to deliver a message to you.”
“Love and death were the primary themes in both dreams. There was his mother’s expressed love for him before he died in a fall, and then the expressed love between him and his wife before she died from a mortal wound. The dreams were thought provoking. I wonder if they were metaphors for the direction my life is going in or if they are somehow analogous to my mortality.”
“Maybe it’s both,” said Devlin, wondering if she would still feel the same if she knew he was the man in both of her dreams.
“How do you mean?” she asked.
“Just that life goes on, whether we adjust to its rhythm or not. Life is precious, and it could be snatched away from you in any given moment. So, on a lighter note, what were you drawing?”
“It’s a surprise,” said Chantal. Fully grounded in the present now, she walked beside him carrying the sketched portrait in an artist tote shoulder bag.
Chantal’s disclosure of her innermost thoughts stirred up an alluring sense of emotions inside Devlin. He felt closer and more connected to her.
“Your radiance strikes a perfect balance with the sunlight. May I hold your hand for the rest of our journey?” he asked.
She replied, “Yes.”
He reached out and took her hand.
When they reached their destination, Devlin placed the brown wicker picnic basket down on the grass, and removed a red plaid colored blanket from underneath his arm and spread it on the ground. They sat down beside each other under a sycamore tree. Then, he opened the basket and proudly revealed its contents.
“Ella packed my favorites for us. We have stuffed olives, scotch eggs, milk lemonade, salmon sandwiches, and sponge cake with fresh slices of strawberries.”
“What are scotch eggs and milk lemonade?” asked Chantal.
“A scotch egg is a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, coated in breadcrumbs or bacon, and baked. The milk lemonade is regular old-fashioned lemonade mixed with chilled milk or cream. It was my favorite drink as a child. Both recipes have been in Ella’s family for generations.”
Chantal reached for an egg and bit into it.
“Umm, it’s good and tasty, albeit a heart attack waiting to happen with my heart condition because of the cholesterol,” she said in a joking way.
“I’m glad you liked it. Lemonade?” asked Devlin.
He poured some lemonade into a glass and passed it to her.
Chantal took a sip and said, “It’s an acquired taste, but I like it. Now I have a surprise for you.”
She unzipped the artist tote bag, reached inside, pulled out the sketched portrait and passed it to him.
“For me?” he asked.
“For you,” she said.
Devlin, entranced, marveled that she captured the love he had in his soul for her in his eyes. Then, he took his index finger and glided it gently over the strokes in the portrait that represented his prominent jaw line, up to his forehead, and finally over the charcoal swaths of color for his black wavy hair.
“Do you like it?”
“I love it. It’s a perfect rendition of me, almost like looking into a mirror.”
He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek and they enjoyed each other’s company until sunset.