5 years later
' Okay breathe, you can do this'
I'm standing outside Pulsanas, a stylish new restaurant in the city centre where I rarely venture about to attempt my first date in years and to make matters worse it's a blind date.
' I can't believe I let Kailan talk me into this'
To say I’m not too fond of my pushy best friend at the moment is an understatement, somehow she seems to think she knows what is best for me and I’m already planning how I’ll get her back.
I feel overdressed and start thinking that the people milling about must all be staring at me. I’m a bundle of nerves and debate turning around and leaving.
Instead I take a deep breath, smoothe down the front of my emerald knee length dress and push the door open. I stand awkwardly fiddling with my bag unsure what to do next. I’ve never been here before so I’m not familiar with the layout and that makes me anxious. Looking around quickly I’m thankful its not the huge establishment I’ve been visualising and agonising over, instead it has an intimacy about it I find slightly comforting.
The bar area appears to be towards the left only occupied by a few men and the restaurant and seating area make up the rest of the space, the lighting adds to the comfortable atmosphere being neither glaringly bright or barely there and as I’m led to a table at the back of the room I’m careful not to make eye contact with the other diners, instead paying attention to the clip clop of my heels on the tiled floor which seem to be in sync with my racing heart.
I take my seat, ask for a glass of wine and pull out my phone to have something to distract me from fidgeting like a child and see a text from Kailan
' So, what do you think?'
I text back
' He's not here yet, great choice Kay he's late!'
I drop my phone back into my bag without waiting for her reply and start browsing through the menu.
By the time I’ve finished my second glass of wine, I’m ready to leave, I’ve been sat for god knows how long waiting for a no show. I'm beyond embarrassed and don't know if the flush I can feel on my cheeks is from the embarrassment or the warmth of the alcohol.
Reaching for my bag I hear
About bloody time I think, major points to kailan for his sexy as sin voice but still too little too late as far as I’m concerned. I look up ready to shoot him down with a scathing comment and swallow as my pulse speeds up and I try not to choke on the hostile sentence I had ready, staring back at me are a pair of deep, dirty blue eyes
“Can I join you?” he asks gesturing to the seat opposite me.
I pull my eyes away from Mr dirty blues and some of my senses return, I manage to reply
“Actually I was just leaving, you're too late.”
“I'm not the guy.” he whispers
I watch him run his hand through his dark as night hair and taking the seat anyway he leans forward and says
“Look, I’m not who you're waiting for but whoever he is, isn't coming. You've been sat here for 40 minutes.”
I can't believe this guy, who the hell does he think he is? I'm amazed by his audacity, he may be gorgeous but he's seriously lacking in the tact department. I resist suggesting he should take up lessons and bite back sarcastically
“Wow thank you so much, I had absolutely no idea I’ve been stood up, its so kind of you to go out of your way to inform me.”
Mr dirty blues sits back like I’ve slapped him and I feel a pang of guilt, after all its not his fault and if I’m being honest I’m relieved I don't have to endure sitting through dinner with a stranger.
He's looking at me with a look of….. what is that? Pity?
Feeling slightly bad for my snappiness and not wanting to give him the satisfaction of knowing how being stood up has affected me, I meet his gaze and aim for light-heartedness.
“Do you think he came in, saw me and left?” Which is really what I have been thinking.
Raising his eyebrows he sits forward, grins and replies “No chance, unless he's intimidated by a beautiful woman.”
Crap, what do I say to that? Is he flirting with me? I'm beyond confused and gawk at him, when I realise I’m doing so I blurt out “How do you know how long I’ve been sat here for? Have you been watching me?”
Please say no I silently plea, being watched gives me the creeps and freaks me the hell out. Why am I giving this guy the time of day?
“Yes.” he says without hesitation “I'm not intimidated by a beautiful woman, I couldn't take my eyes off you.” He shrugs and I briefly wonder if he's a stalker.
I wonder if this technique generally works for him with women less guarded than me or if he's just as out of practise as I am. I can't get a read on him but I never have been any good at judging character. Tonight was supposed to be about pushing me out of my comfort zone though so I decide to be brave and give him the benefit of the doubt.
“Hmm I’m not sure whether to be flattered or worried.”
He laughs, a full-on head thrown back, shoulders shaking and all his pearlies on display laugh.
Not what I was expecting.
Once he's calmed he pierces me with those blues “Can we start over?” holding out his hand he continues “I'm Carey, I saw you were sat alone, you looked like you could use some company.”
His expression is so sincere and those damn dirty blues are pulling me in that I want to grasp his outstretched hand, instead I’m sure I’m eyeing it like its going to strike. My palms are so sweaty there is no way I can take it in mine. I don't want to gross the guy out so I settle for smiling and say “Enola, my name is Enola, nice to meet you Carey.
Conversation is easy and flows for the next few minutes, so far I’ve managed to stow any over-thinking but I can feel it lurking and as I’ve nearly finished my third glass of wine I’m concentrating hard on my brain to mouth filter.
I've had chance to study Carey more thoroughly now that I’m somewhat comfortable with his presence and I have to be fair, he takes my breath away. I don't pay much attention to men any more but this one is a fine specimen, I want to congratulate his parents on their model worthy genes.
As well as his jet black hair and amazing blues, he has a square jaw littered with stubble, he's wearing a white shirt unbuttoned at the neck, no tie and his sleeves are rolled to his elbows, his muscles straining the material. I have a quick vision of him bursting from his top hulk style minus the greenness and know I have to stop drinking. He's just so gorgeous, I keep subtly trying to touch my mouth to make sure I’m not drooling.
Dragging my eyes away from the feast in front of me I answer 29 when Carey asks my age, he suggested a speed dating type of Q and A game would break the ice further and was the quickest way to learn tidbits about each other. It's surprisingly fun and I’m shocked at how at ease I feel in his company.
We'd asked all the usual boring questions and I now know his name is Carey Cooper, age 31, favourite colour is blue same as me and we both side-stepped any questions about our parents.
On my turn emboldened by the wine, trying to look innocent I ask “What part of your body is your favourite?”
“That's easy.” he grins “It's a couple of inches south of my stomach.”
“Ah your thighs.” I smile and wink knowingly
He bursts out laughing and I’m floored by the husky richness that makes everything south of my stomach clench.
“Yours?” he asks
“My lips.” I say simply
They're not, I don't have a favourite part, in fact I don't like my body at all but I can't exactly say that and put a downer on the game, plus I want to see the reaction that statement will earn me and he doesn't disappoint. I’m feeling smug as I hear his sharp intake of breath and I can almost imagine what he's thinking.
I don't know if it's Carey's proximity or the ridiculous amount of wine I’ve consumed considering I’m a lightweight but I’m acting less cautious than I’m used to and I start to question myself. I shouldn't be giving him the wrong idea but I can't say I’m not enjoying the flirtation, its been a long time and I’d forgotten how enjoyable this is.
I decide I need a breather “Carey would you excuse me a moment, I need to use the rest room?”
Grabbing my bag I stand and start walking to the rest-room at the other end of the restaurant. I chance a quick glance over my shoulder and he's checking out my arse. I want to hug myself with glee. That gorgeous guy is checking me out, ME! I don't understand it but I’m going to lap it up while it lasts.
Once inside I check I’m alone then call Kailan.
“Uh oh” she answers “do I need to call you back with a fake emergency?”
“Very funny Kay, this amazing guy you set me up with hasn't turned up!”
“WHAT? Shit Nole I’m so sorry, I’m gonna kill him!”
“Yeah well I’ll be your alibi.” I giggle
“Want me to come and get you?”
“Uh actually I’m with someone which is kind of why I’m ringing. I don't know what to do Kay, this guy came over and started talking to me. I mean at first I thought he was a jerk but he's not, well I hope he's not. I'm just worried that he's only talking to me in the hopes of getting laid.”
“For god sake Nole, did it cross your mind that maybe just maybe this guy likes you and is just enjoying your company?”
“Well yeah briefly but I’ve been quite flirty Kay, what if he thinks I’m leading him on?”
She sighs “Nole you have to stop doing this, I love you babe and understand why you're inclined to think the worst but you need to start taking chances again. If you like this guy get off the phone to me and see where it goes, learn to trust yourself Nole, not all men are bad.”
“Okay, thanks, I best go before he thinks I’ve ditched him then, love ya.”
Re-entering the restaurant I’m momentarily confused as I make my way back to the table and see that Carey is gone. I look around hoping to see him at the bar or exiting the mens but nope no sign of him. I sit down and see a scrap of paper with my name scrawled on it and my heart sinks. I open it and notice a phone number at the bottom then read it properly;
Enola I’m so sorry, I had to leave straight away
my brother needs me.
I really enjoyed tonight, please forgive me.
Call me on ………
I read it in disbelief, he had a fake emergency? Am I on some kind of hidden camera show? Does this class as being stood up twice in one night?
What the hell kind of excuse is that? I feel like I should have my own ad on the TV with the catchy jingle ' Enola- Man repellent, buy yours now!'
I knew it was too good to be true, the first time in years I give a guy a chance and I scare him off, it was inevitable really, this is why I shouldn't be allowed to talk to people. Maybe I was giving off bunny boiler vibes? What if I was boring?
Right stop it Nole I chide myself, he was a jerk just like you originally thought and didn't have the balls to tell you face to face that he felt sorry for you and was just humouring you.
I bet he fake numbered me too!
This night keeps on getting better, it would rank number 1 in a disastrous dates poll.