David picked up his cell phone, and methodically dialed the number he'd made a point of looking up earlier that day. It had taken him several hours to work up the nerve to actually use it, but... (0038
"Good afternoon, Barberella Hair Design, how may I help you?" a pleasant male voice asked. Must be the half-alien guy he'd seen at the desk when he'd gone in for his haircut, unless it was the other stylist.
"Hi - could I speak to Jane please?"
"Sure, one moment..." the man said. He didn't put the phone on hold, but merely covered the handset with his hand - David could hear his voice, muffled, calling to Jane that it was for her. He waited patiently; after what seemed like forever but couldn't really have been more then a few seconds, he heard the scratchy noises of the handset being passed from one person to another.
"Hello?" Jane asked.
"Hi, Jane... it's David."
"Oh, hi, Mr West," she said, the smile he could hear in her voice making up for the formality of her response. "Calling to book a maintenance trim?"
"Not yet. Actually I, errr... wanted to ask if perhaps you were free tonight. For dinner."
There was a short silence. He was just starting to think that he was an idiot, and had misread her level of interest in him, when she finally responded.
"I'd like that," she said, softly. "Dinner out or in?"
"Out, if there's somewhere good around here, or we'll have my housemates sharing the meal with us," he said, ruefully.
"There's a couple of places. The best is just around the corner, actually - or if you'd rather not dress for dinner, there's a couple places in tourist country down by the lake..."
"Dressing up is fine," he assured her. "What time should I pick you up?"
"I'll meet you there," she said. "Around six? I have a long-hair perm starting at four..."
"Six o'clock is fine," he assured her. "What's the name of the place?"
"Framboise - it's French for..."
"Raspberry," he said along with her. "All right - see you at six then," he said.
"Later!" she responded, and hung up the phone. He grinned happily, then hurried upstairs to check that his suit was clean and wrinkle-free, and his dress shoes well polished.
David looked around. No sign of Jane yet, but it was still lacking a few minutes until six. He looked up the street towards the intersection again, the hair salon's sign clearly visible at the corner, and wondering if she'd be coming from that direction, or if she lived somewhere down the other direction.
A tap on his shoulder made him jump, startled, and spin around.
"Holy cow," he breathed, staring at the vision in front of him.
Jane smiled demurely. "You like?" she asked.
"Very much," he assured her, taking in the lovely vintage black-and-cream dress and the sleek up-do. (0039
She smiled, obviously pleased with his reaction to her outfit, and gave him a once-over in turn.
"Do I pass?" he asked.
"Oh, I suppose you'll do," she said, and smiled. "You clean up well."
He snorted, and smiled back, then offered her his arm. "Shall we go see about a table?" he asked.
"Yes, we shall," she said, and slipped her hand into the crook of his elbow, letting him lead her inside.
The service inside proved to be excellent, unobtrusive, and fast - in less time then he'd have expected it to take, they'd been seated, orders taken, and drinks brought, followed in short order by their meal.
David breathed deeply of the delicious odours rising from his place, then took a cautious bite. (0040
"What do you think?" Jane asked.
"It's fabulous!" he exclaimed once he'd swallowed the first bite. "Makes my taste buds want to stand up and dance."
Jane laughed, then started in on her own plate. They paid their food the ultimate compliment of enjoying it in silence for a while, savouring each flavourful bite.
"Here, you should try this," David said after a while, gesturing at his plate and cutting a bit of the steak free. Before he could offer it to her, she reached over and stabbed it with her own fork, giving him a mischievous smirk as she stole the tidbit.
"Hey!" he exclaimed quietly, glanced around, then frowned at her in disapproval. Jane giggled. He glanced around a second time, then suddenly reached over to her plate with his own fork and snagged one of her remaining shrimp.
"Hey! I was about to eat that!" she hissed in mock outrage.
"Too late! All mine now," he told her, and popped it into his mouth, smiling happily as he chewed.
"Bah," she muttered, then put down her utensils and leaned forward, smiling. "You know, you're the first person to steal a bite back from me." (0041
"Don't tell me you make a habit of making off with other people's food?"
She made an innocent, butter-wouldn't-melt-in-my-mouth face. "What, moi?"
"Yes, you. Do you see some other steak-stealing female at this table?"
"Hey, you offered it to me! I never offered you any of my
"Which is clearly terrible manners on your part," he said, shaking his head regretfully. "I don't know, here I thought you were a very proper young lady..." (0042
"And it turns out I'm actually highly improper
," Jane sighed, leaning forward with her chin cupped in one hand, elbow resting on the table.
"Oh, really?" he drawled, raising one eyebrow. "And just how improper is 'highly', might I inquire?"
Her eyes sparkled as she sat back in her seat again. "Oh, well... that would be telling. But maybe you'll get a chance to find out some time," she said, and winked.
David laughed, and the two grinned at each other. David looked down at their now-empty plates. "Dessert?" he suggested, not wanting the date to end.
"Mmm... no, I'd better not. But I'll let you take me upstairs to the bar and buy me a drink," she said, equally loathe to bring things to a close.
David nodded. "I'll meet you up there - I'll just pay for this first."
Jane nodded. "Excellent! Gives me an excuse to sneak off and powder my nose first," she said, and rising to her feet, whisked out of the room.
David watched her go, then signalled the waiter for their bill. The cost of the meal made him wince; it was a lot, by his old standards, though not so bad now that he had a steady income. He handed over cash, including a generous tip, then decided to make his own detour to the men's room before heading upstairs.