Sort of following off my husband’s comment that I should write what I know i.e. not romance I thought I’d give my version of romance a go and I entered a Harlequin’s writing challenge – theme – Blind Date. Apart from kick-starting me out of a slump it was fun to write and now I’m waiting to hear how I got on. This is the story.
“This is your worst idea ever. I won’t do it!”
My sister sniffed.
“Don’t be so childish. It’s not a life sentence; it’s a blind date and a favor for your sister!”
I shook my head from side to side before I shrugged my shoulders and gave in. I never could stay mad with Sian for long and she was right anyway; it wasn’t a big deal. Her boyfriend’s cousin was coming to town on business and Ron asked Sian to set him up a blind date with one of her friends. That turned out to be me because none of her friends would let her bully them into a blind date.
“Can I at least go home to change?”
I swept my hands down my drab black skirt and drab black tights to my drab black court shoes.
“No! You can’t. You’re always cute. We should be there now.”
“What if I had a date already? Did that ever occur to you?”
Righteous indignation fought with resignation, and resignation won. I trotted obediently behind Sian as her long legs ate up the distance to the taxi rank.
White aproned waiters glided through the restaurant; one of them detached himself and swept to a halt before us.
“How may I help the Signorinas?”
I swooned a little to myself as the smooth Italian accent washed over me.
“We are guests of Mr Dunbar.” Sian answered and our host beckoned to us to follow him.
I saw Ron’s red hair first. Seated at a prominent table in the centre of the room it seemed that nobody passed him by without stopping to slap him on the back and fawn over him.
My shoulders were hunching of their own accord and my feet dragged. I couldn’t understand what my gorgeous sister saw in the pompous Ron with his political ambitions and the bald spot he tried to hide.
Ron’s companion had his head buried in his menu, almost as if he were trying to hide. The top of his head was all I could see; dirty blonde hair that looked as if it had just come through a wind storm, but even with his head bent I could see he was very tall. I wished fervently that I’d been able to go home to change; a pair of heels would be very welcome right now.
Sian swept up to the table and dropped a kiss on Ron’s forehead.
“Sorry we’re late; it’s my geeky sister’s fault.”
Thanks Sian! It wasn’t bad enough that I looked dowdy but now I was a nerd. Computer programmers came in all shapes and sizes, not just nerdy types.
I still hadn’t looked directly at my date but now he was standing and Ron was making the introductions.
“Carly, this is Joseph, my cousin from Seattle.”
Okay I admit it; I was always going to find him interesting just because he was from Seattle – my favourite geeky place. I just wasn’t prepared for how I’d feel when I finally raised my eyes to his though. He looked like a surfer in a suit. Blonde tousled hair brushed the collar of his navy jacket and the white shirt was brilliant white against his tan.
I swallowed nervously, my heart was racing and I prayed that he wouldn’t want to shake hands because I could feel my palms becoming sweaty. His eyes crinkled at the corners when he smiled – I didn’t notice they were brown until later – and my heart was beating a tattoo against my ribs.
He came around the table to pull out my chair and I stumbled my way into it, flustered and awkward as always.
“Nice to meet you.” I muttered as he took his seat and he nodded, with that smile again.
“You too Carly. I’ve heard absolutely nothing about you so we’ll have lots to talk about.”
I shot a frantic look at Sian but she was deep in conversation with Ron and there was no help there. I took a couple of deep breaths and decided I could use my fail-safe method of getting out of personal conversations – we could talk about him.
Ron called a waiter over and we ordered; 16oz steak for Ron, salad with no dressing for Sian and vegetarian lasagna for Joseph and I. We actually shared a conspiratorial smile over that as if to say “Look, we have something in common.”
Sian and Ron continued to engage with other diners and Joseph turned his chair to face mine. I played with the stem of my wine glass and before he had a chance to ask me any questions I blurted out,
“Are you married or anything like that?”
My eyes opened wide and my mouth fell open. I couldn’t believe I had just asked that question. My hand clamped over my mouth and I spoke through my fingers.
“I’m really sorry – I don’t know what made me ask that. I was going to ask what work you do.”
Joseph was laughing at me and the corners of my mouth twitched in response.
“No, I’m not married – or even “anything like that”. I don’t mind you asking. What about you? Are you married, or anything like that?”
We were grinning openly at each other now and I shook my head.
“No, geeky girls aren’t quite as popular as the cool girls.” I nodded in Sian’s direction.
“Geeky girls are popular with geeky boys though aren’t they?” Joseph asked and I made a face.
“Mmm, hard to say – I tested the theory once and that was a disaster.”
“I haven’t told you what I do yet.”
“Oh, what do you do?”
“I’m a game designer at Microsoft.”
The restaurant faded into the background as our eyes locked and then Joseph placed his hand over mine and our fingers curled around each other. I wriggled my toes in my comfy shoes and thanked God for my sister, her annoying Ron and their best idea ever.