Editor's note: this is an excerpt from Tony's recent book Neighbors and Wise Men (Thomas Nelson, 2012).
Ani took two quick strides and he was standing nearly against me. This was not the first time I would be startled by the scant size of the Albanian spatial bubble. He took my hand in his. He face shone in the early evening light with a huge smile and sparkling eyes. His head bobbled slightly as he talked. He spun several sentences of what sounded only of gibberish to my unseasoned American ears.
Then it happened.
Startling, to say the least.
If you had asked, I would have said that it was impossible for Ani and me to stand any closer.
I was wrong. So very wrong.
Gripping my hand and forearm, Ani pulled me closer. Then he pulled me closer still. He was not a large man, but I could not deny his strength. Then, with celebrative force, he kissed me square on the cheek. Remembering it now, my memories move in slow motion. He slowly released, pulling away only so slightly. ...