The Allesandro’s was a madhouse by the time four of them reached the place. Its classy sixty seat restaurant was almost filled to capacity with most of them were white collar, urban people who ended their office hours and wanted to spare few hours before heading to the other destination.
“They’re here!” Paige informed voluntarily and before she waited for the reply, she was making her way through the throng to meet her boyfriend who was waving his hand get their attentions.
Soon all of them were taking their respective seats. Victor was cuddling Whitney. Seth was shown the shopping bag by Paige who had bought few new outfits today. Chloe was reading the menu while Nathan who was sitting at the head of the table was talking on his mobile phone.
And that left Rainie wondering about Draven. He was the only one who was not there.
Well, it’s nothing new, she dismissed the thought of him while she read the menu on the table. However her mind was so stubborn. It kept coming back to him.
Where’s he? Rainie immersed.
“He’s on the way here.”
Rainie woke up from her reverie and found Nathan had hung up his conversation and said out loud as if her thoughts had somehow called out to him.
Gee, what’s this? A mind reader day?
“Where’s he now?” Paige leaned forward the table.
“Parking his car.” Nathan answered her, resting an arms along the back of Chloe’s chair.
His girlfriend stared at him in a quizzing look. “Where’s his driver?”
“I don’t know.” Nathan shrugged lazily as he rolled his long sleeves to elbows length.
“Perhaps he’s driving his brand new car, the Maserati that he purchased a month ago only got it today.” Seth added blandly. “Shall we order or wait for him?’”
However his question did not need to be answered when Nathan looked out to the door, he saw him. “There he is!”
The six pairs of eyes were fixed to him as he walked through a pillared packed room and Rainie forced herself not to follow the others. Instead she kept on pretending to read. Though from the corner of her peripheral eyes, still it could not surpass the sight on Draven Knight’s appearance.
He was very good looking, she admitted. Everything about him was clean-cut and expensive. His broad shoulders and expansive body encased with suit that was in dark grey with a faint white stripe in the weave and it fitted on him flawlessly as though it had been made for him. Perhaps it had. She did not know how to judge these things. It was easy to get the measure of the man himself, though. Smooth and sharp. Actually too smooth and too sharp. She knew that it was not by chance he had selected a tie in a grey, a color that accentuated his incredibly piercing eyes. Then, her eyes narrowed to wool-trousers-clad hips, and admirably taut derriere and long legs.
“Sorry I’m late.” He said apologetically soon as he reached the table.
“Don’t be.” Chloe waved Draven’s apology swiftly.
“Have you ordered anything?” Draven asked as he settled himself next to Rainie, as if the most common thing in this world. His gesture as he leaned was so easy and approachable
“Just about to.” Victor answered without leaving his gaze on the menu.
Rainie was trying hard not to notice or feel his closeness. His expensive cologne filled her nostril, making her heartbeat had to work ten times harder than usually did every time he was near.
Good grief! She scolded. Why God isn’t fair to any man in this room.
There she was, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with one of the most awesomely attractive men she had even encountered in her life and to say she felt more self-conscious about her hair and how prim she was dressed.
Adonis, met mortal woman.
And Draven was an Adonis.
Until now she could not find a little flaw in his face and wonder why she was desperately searching for it. Perhaps to wish he was just any guy. Any regular guy. But he was not any regular guy she would accidentally bump in the coffee house or library.
He was an extraordinary man! A gentleman. He had a square jaw and chin that seemed sculpted to match. His cheekbones were just pronounced enough to give him a rugged edge. His nose was just straight enough to be masculine and perfect at once. Glorious, midnight eyes that actually seemed to gleam like the shooting star. And his body that she saw few days ago that was being adorned by tattoos. And oh...His lips...She had tasted it. He had full lower lips beneath a thinner upper that curved at the edges as if he could not be easily challenged.
She heard her name and tore her gaze away from him finding Whitney looking at her.
“You”re off with the fairies, what are you thinking about?”
“Um...” Rainie searched for something to say. “Uhmmm...” Next to her, Draven’s eyes were alight with laughter.
Please don’t let him know what I’m thinking. She cast about for something likely. “Uhmm...I was wondering about the food to eat.”
Whitney frowned disbelievingly, however she didn’t pursue her queries. “Baked Salmon is good.” She suggested as closing the menu.
Yeah right so is the price. Rainie countered silently.
Besides, Draven who had occupied most part of her brain, she had thought about the price in this place. It was a trendy place, like she had admitted but not so trendy with the price.
And she bet that most of her friends did not care with her wariness of how much she had to spend. She did not make any big cash like Chloe or had a rich boyfriend like her.
“I just stick with Caesar Salad.” Rainie replied after a while pretending to read the menu for nth times. Honestly hoping against hope that the price changed miraculously. But it didn’t.
“Caesar Salad?” Draven asked his chin rested on his hand while his gaze lingered on her. “Please don’t tell me you are on diet.”
Not me, she answered him silently. But my wallet is.
“No...” She shook her head slowly. “I just feel like it.”
“Why don’t you try the baked salmon, just like Whitney suggested?”
Rainie wasn’t sure if she imagined the smoky warmth oh his voice but it made her tremble anyway. “Fine, I’ll take baked salmon.” She finally gave in.
Soon after the ordered their food and began to plan for the weekend event. Each of them had their own idea and if Rainie had to divulge, it set the mood for the evening, at least on her part. It turned out to be enjoyable. Probably because of the heart-to-heart with Chloe and more especially the decision she had made at the end of it, Rainie found herself laughing more than she had from the time when her relationship had ended. Well, since she had been Jason, actually, because Jason had not had much of sense of humour. Whereas, Draven was entertaining and fun and a little on the cynical side at times.
The meal was delicious and they lingered over coffee and liqueurs for ages until the conversation gradually began to fade.
Suddenly Victor said. “I’ve to go soon.”
“Yes I think I’ve to go too.” Chloe said also as she pulled the napkin from her laps.
“Great.” Rainie sighed in relieved and just about to take her purse.
“But...” Suddenly Chloe pulled her face and it made Rainie’s tense rose up again.
She hated when she heard the word but. It’d never sound good in her ears. “But what?”
“I’ve to buy something.”
“What do you need to buy?” She asked, picking up her wine glass to sip the last portion of it.
“I forgot to buy the clutch.” Chloe glanced across at her before she turned her attention to Nathan. “Would you like to accompany me darling?”
“Sure.” Nathan glinted, leaning forward to place a light kiss on her cheek.
“So you can’t to go back with me?” Rainie asked incredulously.
Chloe rolled her eyes. “Of course I can’t.”
“I can send you back, Rain.” Draven suddenly said and made event that sound seductive.
No wonder he had women falling over themselves to go out to dinner with him.
“But it isn’t on your way.” Rainie felt her stomach drop. It was the same feeling as when her dinghy was about to capsize and there was absolutely nothing she could do to prevent it. She was going over. It was inevitable.
“It’s not like I’m walking.”
Rainie risked a second look. He was still staring at her.
Grief, he was impossibly handsome and sexy! An accident of nature, and actually that was unfair!
“So?” Draven was asking her for the second time.
She blinked to bring her sanity back to normal. “If you don’t mind.” She said and added. “Thanks.”
“Excellent.” He said. His eyes glinted with wicked delight.
Few minutes later each of the men in the table pulling out their wallets as soon as the waiter came with the bills.
“How much do I have to pay?” Rainie asked, leaning forward to check the bill.
“What are you doing?” Draven asked, his cold eyes stared at her.
“I need to know how much do I have to pay.” She told him, bravely trying to get the leather-folder from his hand.
“You don’t have to.” Draven firmly refused her. “I’ll pay.”
Rainie whipped round to look at him. “I couldn’t ask you to do that.”
“You didn’t.” He replied. “But as a man that is one of the duty paying the woman.”
“But it costs double.” Rainie quipped, unable to resist the thought that popped in her head.
“It’s just dinner.” He said mildly. “And if it can make me broke I’ll send you the bill.” He reached out and placed a hand over hers, which were clenched tightly in her lap as he paused. “With the interest, of course.”
She glanced at his face, ignored the audiences were listening to their conversation and felt never more muddled in her life. It was his fault. Him, his flipping gesture and comment on this and that.
“If I minded, I wouldn’t have offered. I’m staggeringly selfish. Consider it’s an opportunity for me to salve my conscience for having been not nice to you the last time we parted.” He added and started to fish the notes from his branded wallet.
So it was all about. Draven felt guilty to her. But what kind of guilty he felt? That he had not kissed her goodbye? Was she that transparent to show what she not wanted? Hell, this was so embarrassing. She wanted to curl up in a ball and howl, sadly that was not an option.
Rainie bit her lip and tried to decide what was the least embarrassing alternative open for her. In her next life, she decided, this kind of thing was not going to be allowed to happen. She was going to be effortlessly elegant, thin, possibly new few tricks or answers.
“Well, thank you for the offer.” She finally managed to say her gratitude.
“You’re very welcome.” Draven huskily replied before he released her hands.