Chapter 12

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It was almost a week before Melanie and Brian could get together again. She had been working 12 hour shifts and he had gone back to filming. His ankle was still sore but he was able to walk without the crutches.

They had talked on the phone almost every night in the interim. They were both genuinely interested in hearing about each other. While they had both agreed that what they had going on was nothing serious, neither of them wanted to admit (to each other, and more importantly, themselves) that they were starting to have feelings for each other.

They had settled on dinner in Manhattan for their next date. Brian was craving a steak and suggested the Capital Grille in lower Manhattan. He had said he would make a reservation for 7:00 and would pick her up at 6:30. She hadn't been to this restaurant before but she knew it was upscale. After standing in front of her closet for nearly 10 minutes she decided on a dark plum dress. It had a plunging neckline, spaghetti straps and stopped just above the knee. She paired it with a black shrug and black heels.

Brian showed up right on time. When she opened the door he took a step back.

"Wow," he said, "you look amazing."

She felt her face flush and she was suddenly very warm. His eyes seem to be boring a hole through her. He couldn't look away.

"Thank you," she said. "So do you."

He looked really good, wearing a black blazer and pants and a white shirt. He stepped in to her apartment and kissed her on the cheek. He smelled good. Her body tingled. She loved a good smelling man.

"Are you ready to go?" he asked.

"Yep, let me grab my coat."

Despite having snowed nearly 6 inches less than a week ago it was unseasonably warm tonight. When they got in his car he leaned over and kissed her. It was slow and sensual.

"I've missed that," he said when they broke apart.

It was less than a 15 minute drive to the restaurant and on the way they talked about their day.

When they got to the restaurant Brian turned his car over to the valet. As they made their way in he was stopped by a couple of fans who chatted for a minute then asked for a picture. As they walked away Melanie smiled at him and he seemed to blush.

Once they were seated at their table she leaned over and asked "So does that happen all the time?"

"What? The fans? No," he said. "Just every now and then." He still seemed to be blushing.

Brian ordered a bottle of wine and they talked and drank for a while before ordering their food.

"You look so beautiful," he said to her. Now it was her turn to blush.

"Thank you."

"Did you know purple is my favorite color?" he asked, taking a gulp of wine.

"No, I did not. It's mine as well."

"So tell me more about you," he said.

"Well what else do you want to know? We've covered most of that in phone conversations."

"I don't know. Did you have pets growing up?"

"Yeah," she said, "we had two dogs and two cats. And a rabbit."

"Get out! I had a rabbit. He was great."

"Mine was called Henry. Lauren named him. To this day I have no idea where she came up with that name."

"What kind of dogs did you have?"

"When I was born we had a German Shepherd named Gus. He was my dad's dog. When I was five we got a cat, a black female named Grace. When Gus passed away my dad was really upset so it was at least a year before we got another dog. When we did it was a Boarder Collie named Jack. Shortly after we got him Cassie found a stray kitten on her way home from school and talked my parents into letting us keep him. Cassie named him Mr. Jingles."

"Did you travel a lot when you were a kid?" he asked.

"We took a one week vacation every summer. Usually to a different place each year. Places like DC, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Disney in Florida and California... You know, most of the same stuff other families do." There was a moment of silence before she said "So tell me about your friends. You've really known them since high school?"

"Yeah, we all went to different schools up until high school. We all met freshman year. Murray - James - and I were really close back then but over the years Sal has been the one I'm closest to. We went to an all boys Catholic high school."

"Oh that must have been fun," she said with a laugh.

"Oh yeah. Just a bunch of horny teenage boys with no girls around. I mean, there was a sister school, but we didn't see girls on a regular basis. There were dances and I did school plays so I could meet girls."

"Really?" she asked. "Like musicals?"

"Well, some of them were, yeah. I mean, I did what I had to do!" They both laughed. "What about you? Did you ever do any acting?"

"God no. I didn't do well in front of crowds. It still makes me uncomfortable but I'll do it if I have to."

The waitress soon brought their food and they continued to talk as they ate. The conversation between them was effortless. It was as if they had known each other for years.  By the time they had finished eating it was after 9:00. They hadn't made any plans other than dinner.

"So what do you want to do now?" Brian asked her. "It's still early, relatively speaking. "

"Um, I don't know. We could hit a club."

"Are you a 'clubber'?"

"No, not really. I mean, if your talking about the clubs with the techno music and the strobe lights, definitely not. But I like to drink," she smiled, "so a place with some normal sounding music and alcohol works for me."

He smiled back at her. "Drinks it is then. I know a place within walking distance. Is that ok?"

She nodded as she took the last few sips of her wine. He paid the bill and they headed out into the cool night air.

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