Sally leaned in, her elbows on the table and chin resting in her hands. She didn’t know for how long he’d been sitting there, eyes closed, and with curiosity she watched the face just across the table. His lips protruded slightly, as if expecting a kiss or mulling over something. She expected him to open his eyes shortly, perhaps laugh at her, and say something evocative or amusing. So she studied him. Was he dreaming something up to say? Reminiscing? She noticed his lips quiver ever so slightly. Without his attentive eyes demanding, prodding, examining, questioning, beckoning, laughing, there was just a naked face, inexpressive yet tender and childlike. A puzzle, this happy-go-lucky-guy, who’d filled every moment of her day.
He kept sitting there, eyes closed, doing nothing. Sally leaned back. It was getting peculiar. She couldn’t read his otherwise transparent demeanor. Annoyed? Amused? She didn’t know, but she knew, Herve had something to do with it. Since he left, Rick had barely uttered a word.
Sally took another sip of wine, and felt its warmth spread through her torso and down into her legs. Herve. Just the thought of him sent electric flutters through her loins. Her body remembered; the texture of his skin, his scent, their bodies entangled… Images of their past rendezvous flashed through her private cinema.
She glanced at Rick through her own hazy vision. He was jealous. Herve might had killed Rick’s growing fantasy about the two of them. Not that she wanted to play games, but Herve’s appearance seemed auspicious for the book, the experiment, and of course, for her. Rick’s eagerness made her a little wicked, inclined to test his resolve, his innocence.
Some date you are? She finally said. And felt invincible.
Rick opened his eyes, pressing his lips together, moving his pupils about and lifting his brows as if to readjust his face back to the present. He quickly looked in her direction, but barely meet her gaze and clumsily grabbed the wine glass. Leaning his head back, he drank the last wine in one swig, letting it swirl carefully about all the corners of his mouth and down his throat. When he put the glass down, he looked up and said, a little too loudly, Sorry, I drifted.
I hope it was somewhere pleasant, Sally chuckled and smiled at him.
Rick smirked back at her, but said nothing. He arranged his knife and fork on the plate before him, folded the napkin four times and placed it next to the plate, and in one continous motion pushed his chair back and stood up.
Did I offend you in any way? Sally turned in her chair and upon eyeing their waitress, put her hand up, in a discrete wave.
No, no. I’m just tired, I think the jetlag is getting to me, Rick said. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll find a toilet. He attempted a smile, but it was lukewarm.
Confounded and a bit pissed, Sally paid the check. She found her coat, arranged her scarf, admired the chandeliers, the marbled ceiling, and wanted to call Herve. She stepped into the night. The air was fresh and cool.
Rick met her outside. Well, I think our first day in Paris is coming to a close? It sounded more like a question than a remark.
Sally nodded. For once she was lost for words.