General Fiction posted October 17, 2017


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A dangerous liaison.

Red & Blue

by Maria Jose Garcia

Dining Out Contest Winner 

Mina was strikingly beautiful and she knew it. Her curly red hair was the color of autumn leaves. Many of her friends and acquaintances had tried to imitate it using various chemicals, usually with disastrous or at least disappointing results.

Her eyes were blue, like a field of forget-me-nots. However, when she was angry, they shone with a violet light.

When she walked into the Les Rochelles, the new French restaurant next to Macy's, silence took over the room.

The receptionist and the maitre d' greeted her in unctuous tones she secretly despised. Once at her table, she proceeded to study the menu.

Steve arrived ten minutes later. He hadn't changed one bit. Always on the go, always looking as if he had just come out of the shower, just like Pierce Brosnan.

'I'm sorry. I was in the middle of a meeting and ...'

'No worries. I haven't waited much.'

'You look wonderful. I like your dress.'

The dress in question was as quaint, enticing and lovely as Mina herself. While most of the other women at the restaurant were wearing little black numbers, golden shifts and the like, she had chosen a long silken gown that would have made any stylish gypsy happy.

'Thanks... I guess.'

They stared at each other for a while and Mina tapped her fingers on the table absent-mindedly. After a while, she started talking again.

'So how have you been?'

'Good, good. I miss you though.'

'I've missed you too. But you know...'

'I know. We did what we had to do back then. The children needed me.'

'How's Willow?'

The presence of his wife's name on Mina's tongue caused Steve's back to stiffen imperceptibly.

'Older. Wiser. Bitter as usual. But aren't we all to a certain extent?'

Just then, a waiter approached their table. Mina thought he looked like a child, but then again, that was what happened when you were in your fifties yourself. Everybody else started looking younger.

'Are you ready to order?' he asked in heavily-accented English.

'I'll have the onion soup and a steak in pepper sauce. Well done, please,' Steve told him. He spoke in a monotone, as if restaurants and life in general bored him.

'Good choice, sir. What about you, ma'am?' the waiter said.

His eyes caressed the contours of her face for a short while and he had to make a big effort to look professional.

'What do you recommend?'

'The bouillabaisse is excellent.'

'I'll have that then,' she said, the corners of her mouth dissolving into a mischievous smile.

The waiter left and after a few seconds Steve started speaking again.

'I have been following your career.'

'I thought I was good at covering my tracks. I'm always very discreet.'

'You are. But when one is driven there's always a way.'

'So you've been stalking me?' Mina asked, feigning an anger she didn't really feel.

'No. I just wanted to know how you were doing. And we had promised not to call each other.'

When their food arrived, they moved slightly backwards and stared at each other like two bulls ready to charge. Mina was spellbound. She had never understood the power Steve held over her. She'd dated many other men, but she had never felt so completely vulnerable with any of them.

'And yet, you've broken that promise. You said you couldn't tell me whatever it is you want to say over the phone. How cliche.'

'It's true. And I can't tell you here either.'

'Where do you suggest we go? Is there a hotel room you have in mind?'

'No, actually, I thought we could talk in my car.'

'Good idea.'

Mina kept on chewing daintily, pretending she felt at ease, that there was nothing strange in their being together. However, inside her brain, synapses were flickering like playful fireworks. She wondered what Steve was planning. If he didn't want to sleep with her again, then what did he want? All sorts of scenarios presented themselves to her in record time.

'So what is it like to be a grandfather?' she forced herself to ask. She didn't want him to notice her discomfiture.

'So you've been stalking me too...'

'Just from time to time. And?'

'It's the best feeling in the world. You should see how beautiful she is. And those little dimples.'

'What's her name?'

'Linda.'

Dessert came and went. They refused coffee and Steve put his shiny MasterCard on the table. Mina didn't even bother to offer to pay her part. He owed her and besides he had money to spare.

Once in the street, Mina sighed. She was a wild creature and closed spaces made her feel restless. The night air, however, was a lovely balm, a calming potion.

The sky was dark blue and the street lamps shone yellow and white.

They walked side by side awkwardly, conscious of the proximity of the other, but making an effort not to touch.

Mina was eager to find out the real reason Steve wanted to see her.

When they finally drove out of the parking lot, she felt elated, drunk on anticipation. She didn't love Steve anymore, but there were two things she craved more than anything else: victories and puzzles.

The car slid almost silently. Mina and Steve didn't talk. Half an hour went by. When they finally parked, Mina was not sure she knew where they were.

'So?' Mina asked facing her companion and trying to hide her glee.

'This is a serious matter.'

'So it seems...'

'You know I don't love my wife.'

'You know I'm not a therapist... Let's not play games. You haven't brought me here to tell me that.'

'I loved you very much, you know. It was real.'

'Why didn't you leave her then?'

'I've already told you. I couldn't.'

'Cut the crap, Steve...'. Mina's voice was shrill. It was unusual, but sometimes her composure flew out of the window, like a sparrow escaping approaching footsteps.

'Ok... What I want you to do is ...I want you to take care of Willow.'

'You're kidding, right?'

'No, I'm not. That's what you do, right? I told you before I've been following your career.'

Mina wiggled in her seat like a caged deer. She wondered if she could trust him.

'I don't know what you're talking about. You know I'm a writer.'

'Drop the act, sweetheart. I mean your other career.'

'Can I think about it?'

'Yes. How much time do you need?'

'I'll know by tomorrow. Meet me by our tree at seven. And now, can you please drive me home? I'm tired.'

Mina looked out of the window. The fear of the previous moments was already fading and in its place the seed of an idea was starting to form. She couldn't risk being exposed. Steve would have to go...





 


Dining Out
Contest Winner

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Submission for the Dining Out event in the "The Book Nook Club".  Locate a writing club. Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by CammyCards at FanArtReview.com

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© Copyright 2017. Maria Jose Garcia All rights reserved.
Maria Jose Garcia has granted FanStory.com, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.