The following excerpt is from the first date that Jenny and Steve have when they are trying to find love again. They are at a nice restaurant in the WinStar Casino, and Jenny has never been in a place so nice.
Steve burst out laughing and people at a nearby table looked over.
“Shhh,” Jenny said. “People are staring.”
Steve brought his laughter to a halt and whispered back. “It’s a type of soup. You’ll like it.”
“How do you know about something that sounds so exotic?”
“Believe it or not, I have had some culture in my life. Katie was from Boston. We went back there a lot to visit her kinfolks. They had money.”
“Oh.” Jenny sat mute after that one word, not sure what else to say. The last time he’d talked about his deceased wife, it had been an awkward moment for them both. Tonight, there was no hint of the pain in his voice she’d remembered from when he’d told her about Katie and the cancer that had claimed her a few years before Jenny met him. But still. Jenny knew about grief and how the wrong word could trigger a sharp stab of pain.
Steve reached over and touched her hand. “It’s okay. I can talk about her now without getting all soft and sappy.”
Jenny smiled, relief washing over her, then glanced at the menu again. A young waitress with a hint of a tattoo peeking out from the cuff of her long-sleeved crisp white shirt stepped up. She wore black slacks, slung low on her hips, and a lovely smile graced her face. “You folks need some help with the menu?”
Jenny couldn’t believe she was going to do this, but it was his dime. She looked at Steve, “Go ahead and order for us.”
A look of surprise passed quickly over his face, as if he couldn’t believe it either, then he turned to the waitress, ordering the lobster bisque for appetizers, with one order of calamari. Filets for both with a side of garlic mashed potatoes. He glanced over at Jenny. “Would you like a salad?”
She nodded, so he ordered the spinach salad.
“Would you like a wine, sir?”
Steve considered for just a moment then said, “A bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.”
Jenny put a hand to her mouth to cover a smile. He did know a lot more about fine dining than she did. When she ate out with her kids it was at Randy’s Grill downtown, one or two steps above a McDonald’s. Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in a little town near San Antonio had not groomed her for high society.
Dinner was leisurely and enjoyable; the wine was tart and refreshing, and after a few glasses Jenny realized that neither one of them might be in shape to drive home. She declined a refill when Steve offered the last of the bottle to her, so he poured it into his glass. “Should we get some coffee?” she asked. “To, you know, be okay to drive?”
“We could do that if you want.” He paused a moment then finished, “But we could just stay here until the wine buzz wears off.”
Jenny glanced around the busy restaurant. “They might want this table.”
“I didn’t mean waiting here.” The words were accompanied by a grin and a glint of mischief in his eyes. “Win-Star has a very nice hotel.”
Jenny’s eyes widened in surprise. “I couldn’t. I mean … I don’t know.”
Steve chuckled, then leaned over the table to rest his gaze on hers. “Two years ago there was no doubt what was happening between us. And we both had to back away for a lot of reasons. I understand that. But now, there’s nothing in our way. And I want you, Jenny. I really do.”
Those last few words stole her heart. But still. Was he just hot to get her into bed and then nothing? “Was this part of your plan all along?”
He shook his head. “Not a definite plan. Just a thought. Or maybe a hope.”
He settled back in his chair, apparently willing to give her all the time she needed to make up her mind. Desire warred with good sense. She’d never gone to bed with a man on a first date. Ever. Not Ralph and not Steve. But if she counted the dates with Steve from before, this wasn’t the first date. Rationalizing to be sure, but she knew in her heart that there would be something after tonight.
The waitress walked up to the table. “Will there be dessert for you folks today?”