Rachel arrived at the restaurant at six-twenty. They had decided on a steakhouse that she had heard rave review about. She stepped in to the dim entry way. To her right the bar was full of women on barstools. There was only one man and he was at a table for two with a woman she assumed was his husband. She walked to a wooden podium where an equally wooden woman stood.
“My date isn’t here you. Do you have a menu I can look at while I wait?”
“Sure.” The woman handed her a menu. Rachel thanked her and sat down on the padded bench along the wall. Despite the packed bar Rachel was the only person who waited to be seated. She scanned the choices. As she imagined there was mostly beef, and surf-n-turf. There were also quite a few items at “Market Price”. She checked her wallet. When she picked the place she hadn’t realized how expensive it was. She had enough money to cover if she had to.
“Sorry to keep you waiting.” Drew said when he walked in the door. He wore suit pants and a white shirt with no tie. His top button was undone and as he walked toward her he began to roll up the sleeves of his shirt.
“It’s fine. I was a little early.” She stood to greet him. He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. She was startled by his advance but when he turned away as if nothing had happened she concluded that maybe he was just very European.
The hostess motioned for them. “Right this way.” Drew touched the small of Rachel’s back and she complied by stepping in front of him. They followed the hostess past what appeared to be four separate dining areas, before entering a fifth room, holding five tables, with only two of them occupied. Candles burned on each table, soft music wafted around them and the whole place was elegant.
“Is this table all right?”
“Fine, thank you.” Rachel said as she sat down in the chair Drew pulled out for her. The hostess opened her menu and gave it to Rachel then did the same for Drew before setting the wine list on the edge of the table and leaving them.
“This place is really nice. I’m glad you suggested it.” He said.
“The girls at the office rave about the food here. I had no idea it was this fancy, or expensive.”
Drew opened the menu. “Wow, how much are you paying your employees?”
“I pay them well but I have a feeling they’re paying on plastic if they eat here very often.”
“Did they have any suggestions from the menu?”
“Almost everything here is great they said but the most popular was either prime rib or fillet mignon, medium rare.”
The server came out a few minutes later and took their orders.
Rachel gave the server her menu then placed her napkin across her lap. “Do you like working in real estate?”
“Usually. The hours are long some weeks.”
“I think that can be true with any job.”
He nodded his head. On the table a small oil lamp threw a soft glow on his face. His deep, smooth voice reminded her of a radio personality who hosted the all love song show from eight to eleven every evening.
“Have you ever considered a job in radio?” She asked during a short lull in the conversation?
He smiled and took a sip of his drink. “No, why?”
“You have the perfect voice for it.”
He chuckled, “Thank you. I’ve never had anyone say that before.”
“I mean it.” He looked away for a moment and Rachel soaked in his features. Shannon was right, as usual. Drew was what she’d been looking for. She wouldn’t need to go home and read her romance novel with the radio on at night if Drew were there. His voice could be the radio and his touch the romance novel.
The server stepped up to the table, “I have one rib eye with a potato and one rib eye with asparagus.” She set the plates in front of them.
Rachel cut her meat. It was the perfect shade of pink and the tender cut melted in her mouth.
“I don’t know how I’ve never heard of this place.” He said before putting another bite in his mouth.
“Do you find working in real estate affords you the opportunity to hit on lots of women?”
He finished chewing and started to cut off another piece as he spoke. “Not usually. I deal with a number of couples or divorcees. I don’t have many beautiful, single women pass through my office.”
“Good.” She cut off a small piece of asparagus. “I wouldn’t want to be jealous of all your appointments.”
“You’d have nothing to be jealous of.” They chatted between bites throughout dinner.
“Would anyone like dessert?” The server asked as she cleared the plates. They ordered cheesecake and coffee.
“Tell me about your family.” She asked.
He shifted a bit in his chair a bit. “I’m not really close to my family at all.” A flash of anger registered on his face but quickly softened. Rachel stiffened a bit. His eyes were wild when he was angry. “I volunteered for years at the Red Cross and Alzheimer’s wards of Nursing homes. They are really my family, if you’d want me to point to the people I love and who support me.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to bring up anything painful.”
“Hey, you didn’t know. It’s a fairly normal question.” His expression softened further. “I’d rather hear about your family.”
“Well, I guess we have the All-American” family. Mom, Dad, Son, Daughter, I’m the baby of the family.”
“And that is why your mom was house hunting for you?”
“No, my mom likes to nose in my life. That is why she was house hunting for me.”
“Ooh, I sense some animosity.” His voice reminded her of a school boy taunting a chum on the playground.
“No, just issues I guess. Everyone has them.”
He nodded in agreement.
The server came back out with their dessert and coffee. The vanilla bean cheesecake melted in her mouth. She scooped up a bit of the raspberry sauce drizzled around the edge of her plate and took a second bit. “This is incredible.”
“I will have to come here again.” He looked around the room they were in as he spoke.
“Let me know when you do.” That had sounded pretty forward.
They finished their cheesecake and ordered a refill on their coffee before they decided to call it an evening. The outside are was cool and damp.
“Smells like rain.” She said.
“I was thinking the same thing. I like the damp smell of leaves in the fall.” He inhaled deep and let it out slow. “Makes me want to jump in a pile of leaves.”
She reached down and took his hand. He stiffened for a moment the interlaced his fingers with hers.
What was she doing? It was too late now. If she let go it would be rude. She’d gotten caught up in the moment again. Why was she always doing things like this? She was going to take this one slow but the evening, the food and-
“I had a great time tonight.” He said and pulled her in front of him to take the other hand.
“So did I.”
“I guess I’ll be talking to you soon on the house.”
“Yes.” She shifted on the other foot and looked in his eyes. She hated first dates. They were nice to look back on and remember your first date but that was only because you could look back and laugh at all the dumb things you’d done.
Right now there was the first kiss question. The timing of the first kiss usually set the entire pace for Rachel’s relationships. Kissing on a first date and less than a month he’d be spending the night if history was any indication. But if she put him off she was only postponing and would have another awkward-
His lips brushed lightly against hers before he gently kissed her. As if flipping a switch her body instantly took over and all reason and logic left. She kissed him back passionately losing herself in the touch of a relative stranger. Like the heroine in her current romance novel a strong hero was snatching her out of her mind and causing her to live in her heart.
The kiss ended and she looked at him again but now with new eyes. The tension of first kiss was gone and the tension of when to invite him over was a least two or three weeks away. Right now she could live in the moment.
You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.
Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
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