He chuckled, and the waiter offered me some coffee. “Thank you,” I said and turned over my cup. I ordered some poached eggs, toast, and some fruit.
“So, I never got your name. I’m Jordan, your evening bartender.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. My name is Katherine. Everyone calls me Katie.”
“Nice to see you again, Katie.” Those lips uttered my name like he’d known me forever. “Heading out for a run?”
“No, I’m going to do a bit of a walkabout to the Jefferson Memorial. It helps me sort out my thoughts. My next steps.” The server came and poured my coffee. “Thank you,” I said to the server. My eyes met Jordan’s. “I’m not sure of this law firm.”
“It’s Cook, isn’t it?”
I tightened my lips to stifle my smile. “Good guess. Richard Cook. He’s a veritable genius.”
“That’s not what you said last night.” Jordan picked up his coffee and took a sip, hiding his smirk.
“Yeah, I was drinking last night. Please don’t hold me to the unprofessional things I said.”
“Well, I recommend the jump-on-and-off Red Busses. That’s my favorite way to see the sites. I like to watch the tourists. They’re entertaining and great for my sketching.”
“Thanks, after the walk, I was going to hit the National Gallery of Art. It’s the only place I can catch Matisse unless I head to France.” I placed the napkin in my lap and doctored my coffee with cream and sugar.
“You live in New York. They have Matisse at the MoMa and the MET.”
Of course he would know that, being an artist. “I haven’t taken the time to go yet. I’m usually traveling to our main offices in Boston and LA.”
Jordan lifted his eyebrows with a bit of disappointment on his face.
“You’re right to visit Matisse. What do you like about his work?”
I wasn’t sure I could maintain an articulate conversation about art. “It makes me feel happy. I love the bold, bright colors he used. It reminds me of my family.” Suddenly, a dark cloud was over me, thinking about them. Remembering wasn’t what I wanted to do today. I pushed the sadness away.
Our breakfast came, and we continued to talk art. “If you like Matisse, there’s a great section of Van Gogh, and other French Fauves. You’ll see it on the main floor east of the rotunda.”
I ate my food and listened to Jordan share his viewpoints on impressionist artists, his favorite being Edgar Degas. “The Absinthe Drinker is my favorite. Have you seen it?” I shook my head. His enthusiasm for the work made me want to know it. “Degas captures people at actual times of life. This woman is sitting with a burly man. Neither of them are looking at each other, but they are there together. There is a look on her face. Contemplative. Annoyed?” He paused and tilted his head slightly. “You had it last night. Like you were deciding to fight the lions.”
“Not lions. Just three humans.” And my own mental issues. The metaphorical dark cloud lingered, trying to push back into my head. “I have made no decisions yet. More brainstorming potential forward actions.”
Jordan arched a brow at me. I didn’t elaborate, and he didn’t ask.
Our meal was finished, and the server came by to pour more coffee. I put my hand over the cup. “No, thank you. I should get going.” I didn’t want to leave. I enjoyed talking to Jordan. It was smooth, like the whiskey from last night.
Jordan got up from the table, grabbing his paper. “You should ask for Robert, the Matisse Room guard, to show you something special. Enjoy the day of thinking.” With that, he left me at the table but stopped at the stairs leading down to the lobby and turned to look at me, his smile big on his face.
“See you at the bar later? I’ll make you one of our famous Mint Juleps.” He winked and strode away.
“Yes, I’d love one.” What? I hated sweet drinks. I gave him a hasty wave as he turned to leave.
* * *
Iwandered to the Tidal Basin, white cherry blossoms fluttering overhead, then to the National Gallery. All the while thinking about Jordan. I’ll just avoid the bar for the rest of this weekend. That’s easy.
I showered, grabbed a newspaper and sat at the couches on the sidewalk near the outdoor cafe of the hotel. People-watching on these couches was the highlight of my stays at the Willard. I sat down with a newspaper, opening it to read the stories of the weekend. There was no gossip, arrests of senators, or anything of interest, so I put the paper down. Jordan sat across from me.
“Are you stalking me?”
“This is my place of employment so, no.” Jordan stared at me as if trying to figure out a puzzle. “This is a good spot for people watching. I’ve been known to take a nap on that couch.”
“I’m not saying that I don’t have that planned, but it could be an idea.” I turned my lips up.