Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Dinner For Two: A Valentine Short Story


Dinner For Two
A Romantic-ish Short Story by Meka James
2017

Carla gave herself one last once over. The form-fitting red dress hugged her ample curves in all the right places. She ran her hands through her newly colored brown hair, fluffing up the curls. Another application of lipstick and she was out the door.
She slid onto the plush leather driver’s seat of her car and fired off a text to her husband.
On the way to the restaurant. See you soon.
Carla tried to ignore the nervous uncertainty that had been fluttering in her stomach most of the day. She tried not to overthink Brandon’s increased distraction as of late. She knew he could get that way when in the midst of working on a big case. Still it hurt that he hadn’t even said happy anniversary before rushing out of the door this morning. Her disappointment mounted throughout the day. No messages. No surprise flower delivery. They’d planned this night months in advance. Dinner at their favorite restaurant and a night spent at the Ritz in the same room they’d had on their wedding night. Things had been rocky with them, but they’d agreed they wanted to work on the marriage. Tonight was more than just their anniversary, it was their new beginning. He wasn’t going to forget. But as she glanced down at her dark phone screen, she wasn’t so sure.
Carla pulled up to the valet station.
One of the young attendants hurried over to open her door. He put his hand out to assist her out of the car. “Welcome to Amato’s Steakhouse.”
“Thank you.” He tore off the bottom half of the claim ticket handing it to her in exchange for her keys.
“Enjoy your dinner ma’am.”
Carla smiled and nodded a thank you in his direction before heading into the restaurant. She flipped her hair over her shoulder as she walked up to the hostess station.
“Welcome to Amato’s. Do you have a reservation tonight?”
“Yes. Um, yes, should be under Garrison for two.”
Carla glanced around the location hoping to spot Brandon waiting.
“You’re first to arrive.” She signaled to another waitress that walked over to escort Carla to her table.
Dylan Roth sat at the bar checking his watch as he nursed his Jack and coke. His date was thirty-minutes late. A man knew when he’d been stood up. He loosened the pink and white polka-dot tie around his neck. He’d worn the damn thing for Samantha. During their online chats she’d mentioned her love of pink and polka-dots.
He took another sip of his drink. He’d been a fool and should have just listened to his gut. Online dating was not his thing, but his sister had insisted he give it a try, saying his job had made him cynical. He’d been chatting with Samantha for a month before working up the nerve to ask her out in person. On paper they appeared to be a good match. Now as he sat at the bar on a Tuesday night alone, he was rethinking that.
He signaled the bartender, time to head home. Thirty-minutes late, no messages, she wasn’t coming. He looked around as he waited to be cashed out, a beauty in red caught his eye. She sat at one of the center tables casually sipping out of the water glass. Dark brown curls cascaded around her shoulders. The deep red lipstick made her pouty, full lips stand out. The color matched the sexy dress she wore perfectly. She had a perfect sun-kissed complexion. One that he knew was natural unlike the bevy of fake tans he’d come in contact with over the years.
The glint of her diamond ring drew his attention. He smiled to himself, her husband was a lucky man. The bartender brought him back his card, he thanked her before picking up and draining the remaining liquid from his glass.
Carla hit the button on her phone, bringing the screen to life. No call, no messages. Unlocking the device she dialed Brandon’s cell. It rang and rang until the voicemail picked up. Her next call was to his office. He picked up on the second ring.
“Brandon?” Fumbling on his end, as if he dropped the receiver. “Brandon honey.”
Moaning. Heavy panting. “Fuck yeah baby.”
Carla’s heart squeezed. She knew that voice, she’d listened to it for the last fifteen years.
A woman’s voice. “Harder.”
Carla’s hand shook. Bile rose in her throat. Tears burned in the back of her eyes. She should have hung up, but she couldn’t, she listened. Listened to the sound of her husband having sex with someone that wasn’t her.
“Don’t cry darling, I’m not that late.”
A stunned Carla looked up to see the smiling face of a stranger taking a seat in the chair across from her. She hit end on her phone, laying it face down on the table. Dylan reached across the table to wipe away the tears that rolled down Carla’s cheek. She stared at the stranger unsure of what to say or do. Her mind reeled at her new found knowledge of hearing her husband cheating on her.
The stranger across from her smiled as he opened his napkin and placed it in his lap.
The waiter approached. “Would you like to see the wine list sir?”
Dylan looked at Carla, “Wine dear?”
Carla simply nodded and picked up her water glass again. Her thoughts raced, her stomach twisted in knots. This was not how her night was supposed to go. This was their new beginning, but her husband was fucking someone on his desk at the office instead of having dinner with her. She looked up at the handsome stranger.
He smiled as he leaned forward to speak to her. “If you’d like me to go I will. I saw you sitting here, you’re hard to miss looking as lovely as you do.”
Carla blushed at the compliment. “How did you...why did you come sit down?”
“I don’t want this to come out as creepy, but I was watching you from the bar. The way you kept checking your phone and looking towards the door. And then how your demeanor changed when you made that phone call. I’ve been stood up too, so figured I’d take a chance and save us both the embarrassment.”
The waiter returned with the wine Dylan had selected. Carla quietly watched as he sampled the selection before giving his approval. He was a handsome man. His jet black hair was cut low, but the top was wavy. She imagined the waves would turn into curls when wet. He had deep, chocolate brown eyes that showed nothing but kindness when he looked at her. They were set off by thick lashes that most women would kill to have naturally.
“Are you ready to order?”
Carla blinked, realizing they were waiting for an answer. “Huh, no not yet.”
The waiter nodded and walked away. Gathering her thoughts was not an easy task. Dylan studied the woman he’d admired from the bar. Her husband was a fool for not showing. He’d been ready to leave when he’d cast one last glance at her and saw the tears on her face. Coming over here and sitting down was a crazy, impulsive idea, but you only live once. At worse she would have told him to fuck off. At best he’d get to share a meal with a beautiful woman and hopefully in doing so brighten her night just a little.
“My name is Dylan by the way. Dylan Roth.”
Carla had to make a choice. She could go home and wallow in self pity over her husband’s betrayal and the end of her marriage, or she could stay and enjoy a meal with this man that came over to save the day. What did she have to lose at this point? Tomorrow she’d be filing for divorce.
She smiled at Dylan, stretching her hand out across the table. “Nice to meet you Dylan. Carla Garrison.”
She expected him to just shake her hand, but keeping up pretenses, he brought it to his lips and kissed the back of it. Dylan released her hand, reminding himself this was a married woman. Even if her husband was an idiot for standing her up, she was still married and after tonight they’d never see each other again.
She picked up her menu. “I like your tie.”
Dylan held it up, looking down at it briefly. “I wore it for my would-be date. But thank you, glad it’s not going to waste.”
“Are you sure she’s not coming?”
He checked his watch again. “Seeing as it’s been nearly an hour now, I highly doubt it. No call, or message to boot.”
Carla picked up her wine glass, using the time to try and wrap her head around the odd coincidence. “It hasn’t been that long for me,” she paused to glance down at her phone, a wave of hurt washed over her. “But seeing as how my soon to be ex-husband is otherwise occupied I doubt he’s going to show either.”
Dylan saw the sadness in her eyes when she spoke. “I’m sorry Carla.”
She could tell he was sincere in his statement. It warmed her aching heart that this stranger seemed to care more about her feelings than her own husband.
“Thank you. And I want you to know this meal is on me. Well him actually. Order whatever you like, the most expensive thing on the menu.”
Dylan laughed, it was a deep, rich laugh that drew curious looks from those around them.”What is it that they say about a woman scorned? But the gentleman in me can’t allow for you to pay. My mother would be so ashamed of me.”
Carla’s musical laughter filled Dylan’s ears. He felt a swell of accomplishment from being able to make her do that. Over glasses of wine and good food, Carla and Dylan laughed, talked, and enjoyed each other’s company. No one but them knew that they were strangers thrown together by happenstance.
Halfway through their meal Dylan’s phone went off. He paused to check it, shaking his head as he put it back in his pocket. “My date. Says she was held up at work by her boss and lost track of time. She hopes I’ll give her a second chance. But no luck of that. Burn me once, that’s the only shot you get.”
Carla smiled. “I understand.”
Her phone vibrated on the table. She flipped it over, all color draining from her face when her husband’s name flashed across the screen. She stared at the device, afraid to answer. The time she’d spent with Dylan had allowed her a distraction to ignore the heartache and betrayal of her husband’s affair. She didn’t have to think and obsess over all the thoughts she knew were coming. How long had it been going on? Was this the reason for his added distance from her? How did she miss the signs? But now he was calling, undoubtedly with some half-assed excuse and apology.
“Are you going to answer?”
She shook her head as she flipped the phone back over. “You’ve been great company and if I answer I know…” She stopped talking. She covered her mouth with her hand and fought back the tears that threatened to burst forth at any moment. Carla took a breath. “He can lie to me tomorrow.”
Dylan nodded and refilled her wine glass. She drank it down in one gulp. They finished the rest of their meal, but Dylan could tell whatever issue that happened with Carla’s husband was weighing heavily on her. When the check came, he paid like he’d said even though she tried to protest.
He placed his hand on the small of her back as they exited the restaurant.
“Thank you for having dinner with me.”
Dylan smiled. “It was my pleasure.” Reaching into his back pocket he pulled out his wallet to retrieve one of his business cards. He handed to her. “I don’t know what’s going on with you and your husband, but if you need someone to talk to, feel free to call me.”
Carla couldn’t deny they seemed to have a connection. They talked easily like they were old friends over dinner. She took the card Dylan handed her laughing as she read it.
Dylan Roth, divorce attorney. “Do you believe in fate Dylan?”
“Can’t say that I do. My sister thinks I have a jaded outlook on life considering what I do for a living.”
Carla ran her fingers over the card. “I didn’t before tonight, but somehow you were just what I needed, in more ways than one.”
The valet attendant pulled up with her car. She started down the steps, then turned back. She placed a kiss on Dylan’s cheek. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”

6 comments:

  1. That definitely isn't what anyone married person would want to hear on the phone while talking to their spouse. Yikes! lol

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    1. LOL nope, the last thing you want to hear is your spouse getting it on with someone else. Especially when you're sitting at a restaurant on your anniversary waiting on them.

      Thanks for stopping by

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  2. Cute story! So her husband was having an affair with his date, right? I really liked Dylan, he reminded me of the sexy Daniel Sunjata. Carla better call him tomorrow :)

    Keep smiling,
    Yawatta

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    1. Thanks. It was one of the projects that kept me from working on my WIP this week. Yes, the husband is having an affair with his date. She's the secretary. LOL So cliche right? hahaha I'm glad you liked Dylan. This was my first attempt at 3rd person and it worked well for this short story format. Carla will call, she needs a good divorce attorney. ;)

      thanks for stopping by

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  3. Very well done. I liked the twist very much! Sort of hoping there's a sequel too 😊

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    1. Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. Not sure if there will be a sequel, but I'll let you know if I make one.

      thanks for stopping by

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