A Lunch Date Gone Wrong

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The lettuce on the glass plate showed signs of wilting. But it was the eruption at the front door of St. Antionne's restaurant that caused me to look at my cell phone to check the time. 

Two loud voices. The first from a woman who called out, "Where are you? I know you're here." 

The second, the maitre'd. A quick response. "Ma'am, please, we have customers enjoying a meal." 

The woman prevailed. "I know he's here. It's his favorite hiding place."

The man responded in a voice sweet enough to reveal he'd like to draw a gun and shoot the offender, "Please, you are disturbing our respectable guests."

I quickly assumed the woman in distress was on the look out for my tardy date. When he suggested this quaint and expensive place, two blocks off the main street, he shifted uncomfortably and then looked over his shoulder.

I could have ended it there. I hardly knew him. But curiosity had the best of me. Why would a professional have fire in his eyes for little ole me?

Me--the Derby wanna-be queen from the time my father bought me a necklace with a roller skate pendant on it. Me--the gal who had a promise-myself-list so long it would cloud a full moon if held to the sky. Me--the gal turning twenty-nine who still believed in love at first sight and imagined she'd cook hot cross buns every Sunday morning for the one and only man in her life.   Me--at a fancy restaurant, pining for a man whose wife stood at the door shouting for him to show his cheating face in public.

I stabbed at the lettuce and caught a piece of avocado on the fork. At least I could enjoy the salad, couldn't I? Avocado and shrimp was a rare treat. I'd ordered it only to show 'Mr. Wonderful' that I wasn't just there for pleasure. I needed lunch and had to return to my job, too. And if he didn't show up, which I surmised he wouldn't, then I'd have to pay for the extravagant salad whether I ate it or not. 

On my budget, anything over five dollars for lunch meant I packed a sandwich the next day.  Yes, I had a steady income, a foot in the door as a receptionist at the hospital, but not what anyone would call a career move.  My last job, a transcriptionist for a law firm, had left me feeling deflated at the end of the day. Too many issues over people skirting the law and so added to my promise list that I'd concentrate on a healthy outlook. What better place than a hospital? A woman's hospital where babies were born every single day.  

I snared another piece of avocado and teased a piece of shrimp onto the end of the fork. If nothing else, the lunch would leave me with fond memories. My eyes wondered over to the front door where I spied the anxious woman, her arms folded across her chest and a stance that would take a bulldozer to alter. Momentarily, I pitied the poor guy if and when he showed up.

Then I decided it wasn't fair to sit there and let her suffer alone. Sure, I could have asked 'Mr. Wonderful' if he was married. Maybe before I said yes to this lunch date. Little ole me--too eager for a date with a tall, sophisticated doctor.  Shame on me.

I called the waiter over, pulled out my credit card and asked him to meet me with the receipt at the front door. If nothing else, I could offer the distressed woman my apology and condolences.  If given the opportunity, I might butt in and suggest she divorce the scoundrel. 

Timidly, I approached the blonde with a scowl on her face. Did I imagine I saw a tear in her eye? 

"I'm sorry, Ma'am," and extended my hand. 

Before she could respond, I felt a tap on my shoulder. So I turned, ready to thank the waiter for the service.

Gray eyes, soft smile, hair spiked as though a cap had been pulled off his head.

"So sorry I'm late, Louanne. Never expect a baby to do what you want." His smile went broader.  "I was so worried I wouldn't catch you at all."

The anxious woman looked at both of us. "Am I interrupting something? Should I move out of your way?" And then she stepped outside and, like a centennial, took her stance. 

"I've never been one to rush through lunch. But I have to get back to my desk now."

"Then I'll walk with you while you decide if you'll give me another chance." 

"Have you ever been roller skating," I asked.

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