lue lighting made everyone seem so warped, or maybe I’m feeling warped. It was definitely a cool place, but noisy, crowded, not really my kind of place. I feel like Abby tonight.

“Let’s sit at the cooking tables.” Ari pointed to barstools with chefs behind them.

“Let’s sit at a regular table.”

The chefs were cooking customers’ orders live, putting on a whole song and dance. It was so Ari.

“What’s the point of going to a hibachi restaurant if they don’t cook in front of you?”

He had a point. So we sat at a cooking table with six other people, not exactly private. I let Ari do the ordering. The chef was whooping away, clanking his offset spatula to a beat, twirling it around. Ari was entranced. I sat back in my seat, I hoped the chef had good aim, dirty clothes are not my thing.

“First things first,” Ari said, reaching for a bag I’d just noticed. He pulled out a flattish square orange box printed with a bold H. No. He didn’t really buy me a Hermes scarf.

“Happy four-month anniversary!” He offered the box to me. I took it, but felt strange. I wanted to see the scarf, but inadequacy washed over me. I was planning a small something for our six-month anniversary, I’d found a nice Versace belt in Century 21, but it was $70; this was easily $400. A bit much, no?

“You really didn’t have to,” I said first, then kicked myself. Just say thank you, Shifra.

“I know.” Ari smiled. “That makes it even more fun.”

Good point. I noted it for the future. I lifted the lid, unfolded the white tissue paper, and looked at the square of scarf on top —beautiful. I couldn’t take it out here, too many people, too much food. I eyed the chef dumping a bowl a rice on the stovetop.

“I love it!”

Ari grinned. But my joy didn’t last, the little monsters in my head thought, How are you topping this? “Thank you, Ari.” I locked eyes with him, he flushed and looked away.

“How’s it going?” Ari asked.

“After this gift? Great.”

“And otherwise?” Ari prompted.

“Okay.” For me, saying that was admitting defeat. Did Ari know me well enough to know that?

“Any of your other clients say anything about the Bug Off fiasco?”

“Thank G-d, no. They’re in a different industry, they’re totally out of the loop.”

“What about Ayelet, how’d she take it?”

“What, me letting her go? She was pretty neutral about it, I wasn’t really able to read her.”

“You fired her?” Ari sat up straight.

“Of course, she’s the one who started this mess with her bad communication. I know I wasn’t perfect either, but anyway I need a non-Jewish employee.”

“Why didn’t you talk to me about it?”

I looked at him, brow furrowed. “Why should I?”

“Because it’s big and important.”

“It was a business decision.”

“Don’t you think you should have mentioned it to me?”

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 635)