"Indeed you are expected. Layla DeCosta, I suppose?" She rounded the counter and extended her arm with the palm to the upside, and one arm behind her back.
"Please, follow me."
While I was following the lady, thinking about how the counter was unoccupied because of me, I noticed various people staring. Rich looking people.
I knew from school that if I didn't ignore those stares, they'd assume I'm vulnerable and start to pick on me like hungry vultures. But I also couldn't ignore them fully, because that would make me seem naive and innocent enough to fool me.
Instead, I straightened my back even more, swooshed my hair over my shoulder as I walked and tried to look confident, like trying to say "My match is Lee Chang, bitches" without actually saying it out loud.
I actually managed to walk like that and not trip the whole time, and I was really getting proud of myself, but of course, something had to happen.
The lady was setting course to a table in the far back of the restaurant, looking secluded due to the stylish space dividers around it, but when walking in its direction I got a first glance of the person sitting there.
His shoulders were broad, broader than I had imagined from the pictures I saw, and he was wearing a denim blue shirt, a black blazer hanging over the back of his chair.
Only seeing his back and the back of his head made me more nervous, and with every step we took further to his table I felt my knees get more wobbly.
My back cramped and my hands were getting sweaty, and before I could even grasp the feeling building in me, it happened: I dropped my clutch, the lock opened and all the sweets I had stored there came out at once, additional to the loud 'clunk' sound the chain made when it fell to the floor.
I froze. What would the others think of me now? What would he think?
A few seconds, time felt like it was frozen, no one moved and all I could hear was the ringing in my ears.
But then, Lee Chang broke that time freeze by turning around.
Oh god damn he was just drop dead gorgeous, his black hair falling lightly in his face and his Asian roots showing clearly, he looked like a freaking Kpop idol.
His eyes were on the praline that laid nearest to him, then they wandered along the path of the spilled goods, reaching my clutch, and finally, my shoes.
He scanned over my shoes and feet, along my legs, following up to my wait, torso, neck, and face.
His face was stern and his eyes absolutely cold when they met mine, and a shudder ran down my spine. What had I done?
It felt like eternity that I stared into his eyes, and he stared into mine.
Then, without a word or sign, he stood up, startling me and leaving me terrified what he would do next.
He took a step, and I would've taken a step back, but I couldn't bring my legs to move, and so I just stood there, watching him…pick up the pralines?
I couldn't believe my eyes.
He gracefully worked his way through the goods, gathering them all in one hand, leaving me speechless in more than one way.
My thoughts were running in all possible directions, the chaos in my head making it impossible for me to think clearly.
Finally, he had stopped before me, collecting my clutch off the floor before he got back into upright position again.
He was taller than me, not that I hadn't already known that, but seeing him in real life was just so much more…imposing.
His eyes flickered to the waitress, just for the shortest amount of time, then, without breaking our eye contact, he put the sweets back into my clutch and handed it to me.
"Seems you've dropped this. Darling." the pet name sounded wrong from his mouth, but I could see the waitress' eyes widen with surprise and suddenly, I understood.
A facade for the public.
That was what he was doing.
My freeze response was consumed by the fire of annoyance at myself for being so stunned by an action that was not meant for me, but for the public, and I decided I'd play along.
What he could do, I could do better.
"Oh dear, thank you so much. I'm so clumsy! You never feel to startle me out of my mind Honey." I did not know where my courage and boldness came from, but I linked our arms and pulled him to the table.
Only for a split second did he seem surprised, then I saw a little spark awaken in his eyes.
"You flatter me, darling." he said while we were rounding the table, unlinking our arms to pull out a chair for me.
I tried to sit down as gracefully as I could, trying not to pay attention to the waitress, as if this was a normal interaction between us, and only looked at her when he had also sat down.
"We'd like the card please, thank you." I told her, and was surprised by my authority in that split second, watching her nod with big eyes and scurry off.
Then I turned my attention back to the confusing, ice cold man sitting in front of me.
"Your hands are very big."