Eight

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Dear Diary,

Things I’ve learned about Dr. Ryan Maxwell. He eats his pasta al dente, he has lived in Fairview his entire life except for his medical training, his lucky number is nine, his favourite colour is green and he has a golden retriever named Sarge. I’ll never eat overcooked pasta again and I love golden retrievers. For real.

Signed,

Ashley

 

There are some basic rules for a successful date.

First, one must find the other party attractive. I’d literally have to be dead, as in missing a pulse and six feet under not to find Ryan attractive so this one is easy to check off of the list. As our date progresses, I discover I am not alone. The waitress hovers too much, the woman at the table next to us blatantly stares and the chef comes out to thank him for diagnosing her asthmatic daughter. I feel like I’m dating a celebrity. Heck maybe in a place like this Dr. Ryan Maxwell is a celebrity. Maybe our date will be headline news in the local paper. I’ve always wanted to be a socialite.

Second, location has to be good. Since I feel like I’m with a celebrity, Lorenzo’s reminds me of something straight out of a romantic movie. The walls are dark and gothic, the banquets lush and overstuffed. The whole atmosphere is rather seductive and matches his charm. The food is better than anything I’ve eaten in Toronto, even though I’d rather watch paint dry than admit it. To do so would be a major hit to my pride.

Third (and this is the most important), the conversation must flow and never be forced. There is nothing worse than those horrific, awkward silences that linger in the air like stale cigar smoke. I’m happy to report that this is not a problem for us.

Ryan is a natural at talking. I know, I know, it’s a miracle in its own right. A man who talks! When he orders a bottle of wine for our table, he picks up his glass by the stem and swirls it around like Liam, the banker. He takes a mouthful, lets it sit for a fraction of a second before swallowing and nodding to the waitress.

“This will be wonderful. Thank you.”

She pours more liquid in his glass and fills mine before setting the bottle on the table and making a graceful retreat. “I should have asked, I hope you like red.”

Wine is kind of like doctors. Vets or MD’s, red or white, they’re all good. I pick up my glass and take a sip. “I love red.”

He smiles. “I’m glad. What else do you love, Ashley? I’ve told you about my dog, my childhood and my weakness for good food, yet I don’t know much about you.”

I take another sip of my wine and hope I look as sophisticated as he does when I do it. “I love shoes, lattes, traffic and wine.” I hold up the glass, “and before you go running for the hills because that sounds shallow, you should also know I love documentaries and yoga and meditation and reading. Sometimes it’ll be a trashy romance novel but more often than not I love the classics like Jane Austen and J.D. Salinger and F. Scott Fitzgerald.”

His face is the picture of how I imagined my own was when Damon the Demon checked my head into the wall.

Stunned.

I let him take it all in. “What?”   

“Beautiful body and beautiful mind.”

“Well, yeah,” I admit, blushing. “That’s mostly true.”

He laughs. “You’re also very funny.”

“I am full of surprises.”

“I must say that it’s been a while since a woman was able to surprise me.”

We talk for a while longer and once the bottle of wine is finished and a warm fuzzy feeling wraps itself around me, we leave. This date blows the one with Liam out of the water.

As we pull up to my mother’s house, gravel crunches underneath the car tires. Butterflies have set up camp in my belly and due to nerves, not alcohol, I can hardly stand in my peep-toe pumps. Ryan cuts the engine and exits the driver’s side door, rounding the front of the car until he is beside me, offering that attractive forearm. I grab it and step out of the vehicle, careful not to lose my balance on the gravel.

There are crickets chirping somewhere off in the distance. The temperature has dropped but only enough to be able to feel a noticeable change in the air around me, and the heat coming from Ryan’s body.

“Lorenzo’s was great food,” I say.

He uses only his pointer finger to tuck hair behind my ear. “You are great company,” he says. “May I see you again?”

Is the sky blue? I nod. “I’d like that.”

My answer earns me a fleeting smile that disappears when his eyes stare just a little too long at my lips. His tongue darts out and sweeps slowly and seductively across his bottom lip. He lifts my chin slightly with his hand before placing a soft kiss on my mouth, like the wings of the butterflies in my stomach. This only leads to a more urgent kiss, which is so heated, I’m positive Dr. Dreamy has set the bar impossibly high for anyone to follow that up.

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