It had been awhile. Dating was something that made every introverted bone in my body ache. Someone told me it is a job no one wants. Emails, phone calls, meetings and usually no connection. Yet here I was.
I met Sophie online. We agreed to meet at Antoine’s. It was a small french bistro overlooking the inland waterway. It was out of the way and famous for good wine and savory shell fish.
I arrived early. Facing the door with my back to the open patio. I heard the couple behind me announce to the waiter they were from Ohio. The woman began to laugh. The sound filling the room sounded like a raptor wail with a crescendo of a spoon banging on a copper kettle. Great! The quiet place I chose had a Jurassic Park soundtrack. Sophie walked in.
As she approached the table I stood up, out of awe more than anything else. She was a stunner. She owned the face and body of Scarlett Johansson with twinkling blue eyes. She gestured for me to sit down. She wore a faded denim jacket over a camisole top and jeans. She carried an over-size black leather hand bag. Seated across from me she leaned in.
“Been here long?” she asked with a tilt of her head. “Not long,” I managed to get out. I needed to compose myself. This was so much better than I expected.
“You look much better than your pics. And you are so shy. I like that!” she cooed.
“Thank you. You look stunning. I..” the woman behind me drowned out my comment with her laugh. Sophie smiled and gave a gentle wince. “Don’t worry, you can pick the neighborhood but not your neighbors,” she frowned trying to put me at ease. “Listen this could work,” she said. “You and me I mean. If it does, you won’t regret it. I promise”.
Then she added, “Only one condition. You have to meet my friends and they have to like you.” “No problem,” I replied. I knew right then that I would sell myself to the devil for a shot with this woman.
Science tells us attraction is instantaneous, all instincts. Sorting out the rest is the challenge. Knowing each other’s crazy takes time. You’re in love if you can live with that crazy or change it. Either works. I’d been here before. Her tells said she’s attracted and I was. I wanted this. I was going to meet her friends.
“Listen I have to find the ladies room. Order me a glass of chardonnay,” she said. She stood up. “Be back in a minute”. I ordered two glasses of Russian River and they arrived as she was heading back to the table.
As she approaches the table, I noticed a change. Her lipstick was darker, her hair had some red streaks I missed before and she turned up the denim jacket cuffs. With a roll of her shoulders she landed back in her chair and leaned back. Her blue eyes now more narrow and laser focused. “So, you like Sophie?” she mocked. “Most definitely” I replied. I was loving this. Leaning in she asks, “So what do you own? If you want to date Sophie you need to have some money.”
I take a deep breath. “I have a good job, good benefits, make enough to pay my bills and enough left to do what I want. Own a Lexus and have a bit of cash. What did you have in mind?”
“You have money though, right? Don’t tell me you don’t have money!” she quipped. “Sophie needs a man with enough money to take care of her. Got it? Can you do that?” she asked.
I took another deep breath. “Well..” The Ohio woman burst into laughter again filling the room with that sound. Sophie leaned over and stared at her. The woman gave a curl of the lip that said we are fat and jovial and you are not. Sophie glared at her and sipped her chardonnay. “Good wine” she whispered. “You have good taste. What do you do again?”
I handed her a business card. She looks at it and back at me. “So what, you do accounting? Does that pay anything? Sounds boring!” she chides. As she pocketed the card, I stammer “Listen, I work and make decent money, have good credit. I’ve never been down and out but never rich either. I’m not sure where you are going with this.”
Sophie stood up and looked down at me. “That’s OK I guess, listen I’ll be right back.” She turned and headed toward the ladies room.
When Sophie came back this time I noticed she’d changed. She replaced the camisole top with a black tee shirt and she rolled up the sleeves of the jacket. On each arm was a tattoo of a dragon penetrated with a sword. Her hair had darker streaks now. She put her oversized designer bag on the floor, took a seat and spread her legs in the chair. Leaning in and grabbing the sides of the table she looked into my eyes and asks, “So are you any good in bed?”
I meet her stare and reply, “Yes, as a matter of fact, I am.” Sophie grins, leans back and says, “I believe you. Sophie needs a real man. One who can satisfy her.” The third person references were getting weird. The couple from Ohio had ordered crab and were devouring the crustaceans. The woman’s wild raptor laugh bounced off the walls again.
“Excuse me,” Sophie muttered. She reached into her oversized bag and produced a Bursa Thunder .380. Sophie approached the couple.
The first shot caught the woman in the neck and a second of gurgling replaced the laughter. The next round landed in her forehead. Her head catapulted back and then forward as she landed face down on the table. Her husband, trying to get up, looked like a penguin with arms flapping as he attempted to stand. The third blast creased his skull but the fourth caught him in the skull. He jerked back, arms collapsed and dropped his crab leg to the floor.
Sophie walked back to the table. The Bursa dangled in her right hand. She picked up her wine glass and downed the last of it.
“You’re cute. I’ll give Sophie your number. We all like you. We can have diner sometime. Someplace quiet”, she said as she gave a half glance to the two decreased diners.
Dropping the Bursa into her bag like a small cosmetic, she put on her designer sunglasses. Sophie threw the bag over her shoulder and headed for the door. I took a quick look around. The other diners had slipped out and the staff had scurried into the kitchen. Antoine’s was completely quiet.
As she approached the door Sophie spun around. She lifted her sunglasses, blew me a kiss and in a hoarse but loud whisper said,
“Great first date”.