Chapter 8 of Waltzing in the Snow is loaded with clues to the mystery. Scroll down and catch up on Chapter 1 – 7.
Waltzing in the Snow Chapter 8
Chapter 8: Friendship is a Constant, Sometimes
Daniel looked good — better in person than he did on TV. The skinny college boy had become a lean and wiry middle-aged man with his thick, gray hair, close-cropped in a style that was neither a fashion statement nor a throwback to the old days. It was just a practical cut for a man unconcerned with being in style. Amanda caught herself thinking that it would have been dreadful if he’d gone bald or grew a beer belly on his slender frame.
They walked to a bar on Seventh Avenue South and settled into a quiet table near a window with two tall gin & tonics.
“The people-watching is always best in New York.”
“Too many cars in DC, not enough New Yorkers,” Daniel joked.
“I bought it, your book. I haven’t read it — yet. But I bought it.”
Daniel just smiled his reply.
“I will read it, it’s just… I’m afraid I might cry.”
“You might, but remember it’s not exactly about us and Ace. It’s a fictional version of us — I had to make Sara and Allan significantly more interesting than they every were in real life!”
“But really, you come off best in the book.” Daniel continued. “The character based on you, she’s the one with the best scenario, the best fantasy of what happened to the lost friend. It’s the last one in the book.”
“That night, when we were all studying for finals and the snow started to fall… I took a picture of you two that night, of the two of you dancing in the snow.”
“You did? Do you still have it?”
“Yes. It’s not a bad photo. I didn’t know what I was doing. Candy gave me her camera to hold when she went back into the dorm to find you. I was taking pictures in Washington Square Park, of the snowball battle and the X-rated snow couple. She dragged you out into the park. I knew you didn’t want to play in the snow.”
“That’s right. I was upstairs studying for an economics exam. I was terrified of failing that class and I had a history paper due, too. But Ace was insistent. She buzzed me from the intercom at the front desk and told me to get my butt downstairs to come play in the snow. I told her I was busy, but she just kept calling upstairs.
“She wore you down.”
“Yes, but it was because she said ‘come dance with me in the snow.’ And I asked, mainly because I was so tapped out from studying and drinking coffee, ‘what will we dance?’ And she said, ‘a waltz, of course’ and I had to leave my room. It was such a romantic notion. It was exactly the kind of thing I needed to hear.”
“She did know us well. You, me, all of us really.”
“Yes, she was very good at that. Years later I met a man, a very charming man, who told me that the secret of being loved was in knowing what the other person wanted you to be. This man, a really good actor, was incredible… he could become the person you would love. And, at least for a time, you would really love him. I think Ace was like that, at least a little. Not in a Machiavellian way, but….”
Amanda thought about this. She sipped her drink and waved the waiter over to their table. She could feel the gin going to her head.
“May I have a water without ice.”
“And I’d like to see the menu, just some bar snacks,” Daniel added, addressing Amanda. “I want to take you to my new favorite place for dinner. Sicilian food. It’s on Eighth Avenue.”
“I’ve been thinking,” Amanda paused. “She was always Candy to me and Ace to you and… the Russians at the restaurant called her Persik. My father always called her Candace and treated her like she was his equal….”
“What does Persik mean?”
“Peach. It’s an endearment, something you’d call a cute child or a younger sister.”
“A candidate for cheek-pinching?”
“Exactly. Theo told me once that they called her the little orphan girl and that he, and the rest of the staff, saw her as a waif, a girl out of place and time. They loved her too. He took me aside once to make sure that she had somewhere to go over the Christmas break. He didn’t want her spending any holidays alone. He was going to take her home with him to Brighton Beach.”
“And marry her off to one of his grandsons. To them, she was the perfect Russian/American girl. It must have been hard work, being what all of us wanted her to be. Don’t you think?”
“She was someone special to each of us — someone special and different.”