A Taste of Romance
I scrolled through my shirts, attempting to find the right one for the occasion, thinking back to the moment a few days back, when I’d taken the biggest leap I could remember, and the way I felt when she gave me her answer.
Such a simple word, but waiting for her to say it was probably the most vulnerable moment of my life. At that moment, she held my heart in her hands. She had the ability to treasure it, or to break it into a million pieces. I was finally beginning to understand what the others had been telling me all these years, the power that the right person can have over you was immense. It could challenge anything and everything that you had ever known or held dear. I’d never allowed myself to believe that there was a ‘right person’ for me out there, but then, along came Lacey. No matter how many nights that I’d tried to force myself not to entertain the thought of an ‘us’, I’d lose all that resolve the moment that I saw her again, falling for her a little more with every second that I looked upon her beauty, and saw the bravery, courage and strength that was so intense within her. With each close call we had, it made me realise that there was no denying the budding feelings that I had for her. They were spreading like flames through my soul, branding her name into my heart and bringing me to my knees with need to be with her in every way possible. I had never known these feelings, they gave me a strength to fight in even the most dire of situations that we faced, and yet, they also terrified me to my very core.
I pulled a dark blue shirt from the back of the wardrobe, tearing the tag from the label as I held it up. I never really liked to wear fancy shirts, but tonight was a special occasion, and that meant I needed to make the extra effort. Sliding it on, I tucked it into my dark blue jeans and moved in front of the mirror. I tugged at the collar, tilting my head feeling annoyingly constricted by the rigid fabric.
“Gonna have to tolerate it.” I muttered, expelling a sharp breath and unbuttoning an extra button, tugging it open just enough to allow me some comfort, but not look too casual.
I’d wracked my brain the last few days, attempting to figure out the perfect place for this date. I didn’t date, simple as. I had no inclination before to grow close to anyone, so this whole idea was completely alien to me. I’d considered bars, restaurants, clubs, shows, carnivals, the list was endless, and somehow, none of them felt right for this first time. With all of the time that I’d spent considering tonight, I was hoping that I’d made the right choice… only time would tell.
The cab pulled up outside of the flats where Lacey lived, asking him to wait there, I made my way toward the door and pressed the buzzer by her name.
“Hey, you all set?” I spoke into the intercom, feeling a strong fluttering in my stomach now that it was all so real.
“Be right there.” She replied happily.
I retreated back a step, and waited. Barely a minute later, the sound of the latch signalled her arrival. Opening the door, she walked out onto the path, swinging it shut behind her. It was as though my breath had left my body as my eyes roamed over her body, drinking in every spectacular inch of her. She looked incredible in a flowing, long sleeved, garnet red blouse. Its plunging neckline flaunted her toned figure and teased at her perfect breasts. The gold pattern shimmered, delicate twists and twirls covering the red fabric, disappearing under the waistband of the smart, fitted black trousers that were cropped to just above the ankle. Her strappy black heels clicked against the pavement as she walked towards me, and I managed a smile.
“You look amazing.”
She tucked a loose strand of her hair behind her ear, its wavy style half clipped back for the evening.
“Thank you.” She replied, returning my smile with one of her own. “You look pretty good yourself.” She added playfully, as we started in the direction of the taxi.
“Only pretty good? Wow, I was hoping for exceptionally good.”
Laughing at my teasing tone, she allowed me to open the door for her, and shuffled into the back of the car. I climbed in after her, catching the seductive scent of her perfume, and feeling my body instantly begin to react, as memories of our intimate encounters flooded through my mind. Fighting to keep control, I buckled in and nodded to the driver, and the cab pulled back out into the night.
The ride through town was spent mostly, attempting to stop Lacey’s persistent guessing at where we were going, and what we were doing for the evening. When we finally pulled into the turning, she looked out the window and uttered a single word:
I had to admit, I was impressed too, and we hadn’t even gotten out of the car yet. The vineyard was entirely lit up under the inky black sky. The grounds were illuminated by hundreds of tiny fairy lights, and the path towards the building was flanked by lanterns. There was a couple walking up ahead, hands interlocked, bodies closely huddled together as though they couldn’t get close enough to one another. The cab stopped and I handed over the money before getting out.
Looking around, I’d have never thought that a place like this existed so close to our home. The grounds were so lush, so vibrant. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought that we were standing in Italy.
“This place is stunning.” She breathed beside me, turning on the spot to examine all angles of her surroundings.
“Mr and Mrs Knight?” A woman’s voice spoke from behind us.
I whirled around, catching Lacey’s eye, and seeing an amused smirk on her face at the woman’s mistake.
“Erm, we aren’t married.” I corrected the lady with a small chuckle.
The young woman’s cheeks flushed scarlet and she nervously twisted a lock of her blonde hair around her finger.
“Oh gosh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to-”
“It’s okay.” I assured her, relieved that Lacey didn’t seem bothered by the mistake of being addressed as my wife.
“Thank you,” She beamed, regaining her professional composure, “If you’d like to follow me inside, we will begin with the tasting experience.”
She led us up the path, and through a set of large, wooden double doors, into a warm and inviting hallway. We kept on ahead until we entered a large room, rich, dark brown furniture, and warm, honey toned wooden surfaces, were illuminated by golden overhead lighting, and accented by the vibrant brick walls. Small tables were set up across the room, with glasses, bottles and various fruits, crackers, breads, meats and cheeses. Three other couples were in the room, and already meandering around the selection, peering at labels on the wine and cider bottles.
“Good evening everyone,” The woman who greeted us called to the room at large, taking up position by the closest table. “My name’s Anya, and this is my family’s vineyard.”
She went on to take us through the general theme to tonight’s event, explaining a little of the history of the place, before showing us the signature wines that they create. My eyes continuously darted to Lacey as I began to fear that I might have tanked the date idea. But each time that I looked at her, she appeared to be fully engaged with what Anya was saying, smiling gently with interest. I drifted in and out of what was being said, until she finished and allowed us all to wander freely, sampling different beverages from their range.
“So, did you hear anything that she just said?” Lacey whispered to me as we broke away to our own corner.
I paused as I picked up a bottle of red, glancing up at her and asking guiltily:
“Does her name count?”
She laughed, watching me begin to pour the rich scarlet liquid into the glasses.
“That depends. Do you remember what it was?” She smirked.
I pretended to think it over for a moment, placing the bottle back onto the counter with a small thud.
“Hmmm… Arnold wasn’t it?” I asked sarcastically.
“Yes. That was absolutely it.” She laughed, as I gathered the glasses and held one out to her.
Her soft fingers brushed mine and I was drawn into that wonderful smile. She was hypnotic, and I felt like the entire room vanished, leaving just us.
“To good wine and even better company.” She said softly, lifting her glass.
“Cheers.” I smiled, clinking her glass.
For a while we wandered around the room, sampling all that was on offer, and enjoying each other’s company. I was finally able to relax and enjoy the ease of the evening. Aside from the location, it was just like any other day that we spent together, filled with flowing conversation and plenty of laughs. After a while, Anya called us all to attention, to announce that we were free to make our way towards the main house for dinner.
The cool evening air was perfumed with sweet flowers, and dewy grass. It was perfectly refreshing after the warmth of indoors. We followed the illuminated path through the gardens, looking out over the vineyard which glowed golden with lights under the twinkling silver stars in the night sky. I wasn’t sure if it was the romantic surroundings, or if it was just the yearning to be closer, but I allowed my hand to find Lacey’s as we walked, interlocking with it and breathing a sigh of relief when she didn’t pull away. She gave it a small squeeze and leant into my side, and together we continued on until we reached the house, glowing warmly from the countless lanterns hanging in the long branches of the trees, all hanging over the top of an Italian inspired alfresco dining area. Small wooden tables were set up, complete with candles, and spaced apart to allow for privacy.
Settling at the furthest table, we placed an order with a blonde man, dressed in black. He shuffled off, returning a few moments later with a pitcher of ice water, and our drinks.
“This was an interesting choice for a first date.” Lacey said with an amused smile, lifting her glass to her lips and studying me over the rim.
“I thought we could use a drink after the week we’ve had. This place seemed to have the best prospects.” I teased.
She laughed, placing her glass back on the table and looking at me seriously.
“How are you healing up?”
“Fine, no thanks to Dodge.”
I rolled my eyes, thinking about his continued persistence at checking my ribs with playful, but painful, elbow jabs each day.
“At least you know he cares.” She winked, gently tracing the stem of her wine glass with her fingers. “Even if he shows it in an absurd way.”
“That’s just how he is.” I laughed, taking another drink.
“You two are really close aren’t you?”
“Yeah.” I nodded, “I mean, we all are. But him and Jax are like my brothers, well even more so than the others.”
“Must have been hard there the other day then. Nearly losing Jax.” She said somberly.
“Definitely gave me a damn good scare.” I admitted.
I wasn’t one to admit fear. But this wasn’t just anyone. It was Lacey, and I knew that I could feel safe enough to let down that wall with her. She gave me an understanding nod, and I knew that she was familiar with those feelings,and worse.
“At least one good thing came out of all that though.” She smiled, leaning in and lightning the mood again.
I looked at her curiously, and she gestured around herself:
“You finally asked me out. I knew that you’d find me irresistible sooner or later.”
Resting my hands on the table, I leant in, hovering just a few inches away from her, and whispering:
“Who said I found you irresistible?”
My skin felt like it was on fire, heat and desire rushing through my system as I considered closing that last few inches and tasting those sweet lips. But before I could do more than think about it, a small cough nearby interrupted, and we looked up to see the blonde man, and Anya, standing at the side of our table, holding our dinners and wearing similar awkward smiles.
“Sorry to interrupt Mr Knight, Miss Rose.” Anya said sweetly, placing the plates she was carrying on the table, and retreating back a few steps, the man following suit.
As they both hurried away, Lacey locked eyes with me, and a laugh sprung from her lips.
“Poor things.” She chuckled.
“Nah, could have been worse, if they’d waited another two seconds.”
She quirked her brow and tilted her head to the side.
“Is that so?”
I stared into the beautiful grey eyes in front of me with burning intensity, and nodded.
“Definitely.” I said simply.