This story is by Laura Beiler and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
After giving a slight bow, the waiter closed the door behind him, leaving me in the room alone. Just behind him I could make out the tall, handsome man that was sitting at the bar, shot glass in hand, a slight smile on his lips. This was the same man who caught my attention as I was escorted by the hostess with the short black dress to the VIP room in the back of the restaurant, and the same guy who nodded cordially in my direction. I returned the gesture with my million-dollar smile, perfectly straight and bright white. I wasn’t trying to be vain, but I knew I looked good; I had chosen this particular outfit with the intention of looking my absolute best. The plunging neckline was draped in such a way that it was still slightly modest, and the back neckline swept down to my lower back, revealing my thin figure and clear skin. The hemline was not too short but paired with my navy-blue stilettos, this favorite deep yellow dress of mine was a showstopper. My mother always said that yellow was not my color, but in this dress, I begged to differ.
Now that I was in the VIP room, I glanced around to see what gave it its name. The room was large, easily able to fit four or five dining tables and accompanying chairs without feeling cramped. However, tonight there was just one table, set right in the middle, with two tapered candles already lit, a small vase with a single white rose, and clean linens. A little cliche, but I still smiled at it. I knew tonight would be the night that Josh would propose to me, and I was willing to look over his predictability and cliches for the night. After all, I loved him.
I sat down on the right side of the table and poured myself some water from the decanter that was set to the side of the glasses. I leaned forward, propping my chin in the palm of one hand and running my finger across the rim of the glass. It wasn’t crystal and the water was flat. Whatever, I thought. It’s not like I have used real crystal or china before anyway. Besides, this is still nice, especially for Josh. I chuckled to myself thinking about how far out of his comfort zone Josh must be to come here tonight. He knows French cuisine is one of my favorites, and the chef here at Deux is one of the best, but he is more of an Italian or American restaurant date kind of guy. So when he suggested coming to Deux tonight, I was ecstatic. I knew things were getting serious.
As I sat there running my hand absent-mindedly across the rim of the glass, the waiter pulled the door back open. I smirked when I saw the same guy was still sitting at the bar, pointedly looking in my direction.
“Is there anything I can get started for you, madam?” the waiter asked. I looked at his lapel and found his name. Bart. How very French, I thought sarcastically.
“No, thank you,” I replied. “I will wait for my date.”
“Oui madam,” Bart replied, and again closed the door with a bow. The guy at the bar craned his neck around the bowing waiter to catch my eye again, and this time he waved. I laughed out loud as the door closed, shaking my head. Men.
Speaking of, where was Josh? He had texted twenty minutes ago to say he was on the way but was held up at work, to go ahead and ask for the table under his name so we wouldn’t lose our reservation. It was one of those things I both loved and hated about Josh, how he was always so busy at work. But, I would tell myself, he was dependable, smart, and predictable. After the many shoddy relationships I had before Josh, I thought he was a good, safe alternative. I could forgive him for running a little late, especially if tonight is the night. I checked my phone to see if there were any more messages, but there wasn’t. So I sent a text to Josh telling him I was at our table and the room was lovely. I left off the predictable part. I stared around the mostly empty room, occupying myself with studying the intricacy of the Parisian wallpaper, in neutral tones of gray and white, the soft blue of the drapery, closed shut against the noise and lights of the city. The chandeliers that would normally hang just above where the rest of the tables would be now hung awkwardly strewn about the room, feeling like cluttered ambiance. I looked up and saw the chandelier that would be above my table was slightly to the right, offsetting the symmetry of the room. I supposed this table did not normally sit in the middle of the room. I looked down at the wood floor and tapped my feet. “Hello,” I said, loudly, to see if the room echoed.
Almost instantly the door opened again, and like a comedic act on stage, there was Bart, and there was the guy at the bar, watching. “Did you call for something, madam?” Bart asked.
“Sorry, no. I was just talking to myself,” I replied, making eye contact with the guy at the bar and waving my left hand every so slightly at him. He held my gaze until Bart closed the door again, blocking out the real world and all those living in it while I waited for my life with Josh to start. If he ever got here. At least I had the cute guy at the bar to keep me amused…
Ping ping. My phone lit up and alerted me to an incoming text. Sorry Georgia, I can’t make it tonight. I had everything planned but the boss asked me last minute to go over this contract one more time. It’s due tomorrow and there is just no getting out of it. I hope your answer will still be yes the next time I see you. I will make it up to you, I promise.
Well, I thought, at least I did know he was going to propose. So predictable of his boss though. I was starting to get tired of all this predictability. Poor Josh, he is such a sweet guy, and I do love him, but it seemed to me that I was not at the top of his priorities. And I think he is slipping from mine.
No problem. If is it okay with you, I am going to go ahead and eat and head home.
Ping ping. My phone lit up quickly with his reply. Yes, please do. Tabs on me.
Hmm. No I love you, sorry again? He must be busy I thought. As always.
I had just put my phone down when Bart entered the room for a third time, and for a third time that guy at the bar was watching.
Bart bowed again and said, “Madam, are you sure I cannot get you anything?”
“Actually,” I replied slowly, “the one I was waiting for is not going to be able to make it, so I would like to see the menu please.” After a moment of hesitation, I added, “And can you please ask the guy behind you at the bar if he would like to join me?”
Bart looked amused, but only replied, “I am sure he would like that very much, madam,” and with a bow closed the door once more.
After a few anxious moments, there was a slight rapping sound on the door. “Come in,” I called out, suddenly feeling very nervous. The door opened and it was the guy from the bar, glass still in hand. He grinned widely and, leaving the door ajar, made his way across the room to the table in long, easy strides. He was taller than I thought. I stood and held out my hand.
“Stood up?” he asked.
I bawked at his blatant questioning for a moment, and then, sagging my shoulders and exhaling deeply, replied, “Yes.”
He studied me for a moment, then looked around the room. “Nice place you have to yourself. You still going to eat here?”
I shrugged. “Why not? It’s paid for, so might as well not waste it.”
He sat his glass down and held the chair for me to sit. I thanked him as he sat down across from me.
“I suppose I should introduce myself, seeing that I asked you to dinner,” I chuckled. “My name is Georgia.”
“Lovely to meet you, Georgia,” he said. “My name is Josh.”
Of course, I thought to myself.