Opening the door hours later, Ollie stands in front of me with a small bunch of white ranunculus flowers in his hand.
“Hi,” I smile back, my freshly manicured berry red nails curling around the wood of the door.
He stands looking at me, his eyes travelling down and back to my face quickly, licking his bottom lip.
“You look— beautiful,”
“Thank you, you look very— handsome,”
“Thanks— oh, here,” he says, handing the flowers to me.
“They’re beautiful. Come in, I’m almost ready,”
“Thank you,” he smiles and steps inside.
“Your place looks great,”
“I was just in the kitchen, why don’t you go through, I just need to run back upstairs,” I ask him, placing the flowers on the small sideboard near the stairs. Oliver nods and with a small smile makes his way into the kitchen and I disappear upstairs.
Stood in front of my bedroom mirror, I fix my hair again, and straighten my cherry red dress, checking my makeup in the mirror before slipping my feet into my black shoes and grabbing my coat and a small bag.
As I walk back down the stairs, my nerves settle a little when I see Oliver appear the bottom, his hands tucked into his pockets and smiling widely as I take the last step, suddenly holding his hand out to help me down.
“Thank you,” I smile back, watching as his eyes flicker between my own, “So where are we going?” I ask after a moment of silence.
“I know this great little place, figured we could get a drink and maybe something to eat if you’re up to it,”
“Up to it?”
“Yeah Mali said you were out last night with a friend,”
“Oh she did— did she? Well, yes I was but it wasn’t anyone important,” I lie and luckily he doesn’t notice. I shouldn’t really lie, but I don’t really want to explain any more.
“Well, after you,” I smile again and with a nod, Oliver walks out of the house first and then as I close the door behind me and lock it, surprised as he holds his arm out.
“What are you doing?”
“Offering my arm,”
“Because when I’m not an editor, or putting my foot in my mouth and saying something potentially offending, I can be quite the gentleman,”
“Hope you can prove that,”
“I’ll try my best,” he offers as he opens the passenger door to his car.
I smile again, climbing inside as cautiously as I can, keeping my dress as close against my legs as they’ll allow and watch as he walks around and climbs in beside me. It’s strange because with Oliver, despite how irritated I was with him in the beginning, right now I don’t feel anything of the sort. As he pulls away from outside my house, music plays softly throughout his car and I listen as he hums softly along with it.
“So— how come you wanted to ask me out for a drink,”
“Because,” he begins, briefly glancing towards me before returning his gaze to the road, “I knew if I didn’t ask you when I had, then I’d never have had the courage to do it, and I honestly was amazed when you agreed, even if you were a little hesitant at first,”
I feel my cheeks flush a little, and as I look down to my hands curled around my bag in my lap, I swallow when Oliver looks back to me again.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to—,”
“No it’s ok,” I murmur, “I’m not exactly confident and I can never make a firm decision,”
“But you moved all the way from New York, that was some decision to make,”
“It’s about the only thing I’ve been certain of,”
“Well, I for one am glad you did,”
“We’ll see,” I smirk, looking from Oliver’s face back to the road ahead. As we near the restaurant, we stop at a set of lights and just then as if from nowhere, the heavens open.
“Seriously,” Oliver mutters under his breath, “Sorry,” he says looking across to me, a red glow shining on his face from the traffic lights above. Turning on the wipers, the car warm, music still softly playing throughout the car, the rain pattering against the window, I can’t help but smile.
“Hmm?” I hum as I’m caught.
“That smile, what’s that smile for,” he chuckles gently.
“Oh, nothing— it’s just, I love the rain,” I tell him, as I dip my head and look to the darkened sky. I can’t explain why I love the rain so much, there’s probably a name for people like me who love the rain and thunderstorms even more so. Something about sitting in the window, an enticing book, a glass of rosé and the sounds of rumbling thunder and the rain crashing against the window.
“Yes really. It’s just so calming and I love how cosy it can make a day feel, even if it’s been an awful one, it’s just— soothing, soothing for the soul, well— I think it is anyway,” I turn to see him watching me, a small smile curling on his lips, his eyes looking at me in what I think could be adoration, but then again, who am I to know?
Last night I was sat on the counter in my ex-boyfriend’s kitchen and now less than 24 hours later, I’m sat in Oliver’s car, going on what I think is a date, even if he hasn’t confirmed that it is.
He laughs quietly, before turning his attention to the road as the lights turn to amber and then green. Pulling into the car park of the restaurant, he opens his door first but instructs me not to move until he gets to my door. I do as I’m told and with the pop of an umbrella I’d not even see him fetch, he opens the door and helps me out, shielding me from the falling rain.
Stepping inside, he shakes the umbrella and tells the woman at the small podium that he has a table booked.
“If you’ll follow me,” she smiles courteously. We do as instructed and when she finally stops, she offers us a small table for two, situated in a quiet corner, a small red lamp sitting in the centre and Oliver thanks her before pulling out my chair. A large window offers us an almost landscape view of the city streets, rain still drizzling outside.
The soft and intimate lighting shines on his face and Oliver suddenly looks even more handsome than I had seen at first and with a dry swallow, he looks at me with a frown and smiles with curiosity and just as he’s about to say something his attention is piqued when the waiter serving at our table arrives.
“Can I get you anything to drink this evening,”
“Wine?” He asks, turning his attention back to me.
“No thank you, water will be fine,”
“Still or sparkling?”
“And for sir?”
“The same, I’m driving,” he smiles to me with a wink.
“Very well,” he smiles back and disappears.
“So,” Oliver begins as he clears his throat.
“You want to tell me what really happened last night,”
“What?” I gulp as the waiter returns.
Oliver looks between the waiter and I, glancing briefly as the water we’d asked for is poured.
“I’ll give you a minute to browse the menu,” the waiter announces and then leaves.
“What?” I ask as I pick up my water and begin sipping.
“Which ex was it— number five?”
I splutter into my water and cough a little, hastily picking up the cotton napkin in front of me to cover my mouth. Other diners in the restaurant look to us and with a small smile, Oliver tells them, “The bubbles in the water, got a little stuck,” his hand gesturing softly in front of his throat.
With wide eyes, I remove the napkin from my face and lay it in my lap, “H-how did you know?”
“Mali told me,” he smirks.
“She did— did she? I’m going to kill her,” I mutter, my eyes falling to my lap for a moment. I can feel my cheeks flush but when I look back up to his, he doesn’t seem mad, quite the opposite in fact, if anything he looks curious.
“So, tell me about him,” he asks as he pulls his own napkin into his lap.