My last date had been over six months before because I was tired. Tired of fools who thought that I was dumb enough to have sex after a first date and splitting the bill 50/50. Tired of fuckboys who weren't ashamed to let me know that they already had a rotation of women on standby. Tired of guys with roaming eyes the moment an average looking Becky or lighter-skinned version of myself remotely looked their way.

No, I wasn't sex-crazed, nor was I sex-starved. When I met Dominic, I hadn't had sex in over a year and I didn't miss it one bit. My ex-boyfriend was only interested in pleasing himself so there hadn't been much to miss.

The only thing I wanted was freedom to be myself and make personal decisions without thinking about family expectations. Make my own rules and break out of my comfort zone a bit.

I was done with finding love and that night at the brasserie, the only thing on my mind was ordering something greasy from the menu.

Samantha was the one who noticed a guy staring at me. When she pointed him out, the first thing that struck me was how tall and imposing he was. He towered over the group of men he was hanging with at the bar. He wasn't what I would have called "cute" but he wasn't unattractive either from what I could tell without my glasses on.

What I did find a bit attractive was his confident air and his unflinching stare. He didn't seem to care about how obvious he was being and it made my stomach flip nervously. A little annoyed, I gave him my resting bitch face but instead of looking away, he simply acknowledged my scowl with a smile and nodded to me. That simple act was enough for me to roll my eyes and turn away.

The only flirting I was in the mood for was with a plateful of hot fries and messy mussels. I had barely placed my order when the guy was standing at our table.

When I craned my neck to look up at him, I was surprised to see that he was better looking than I had initially thought. But I was still annoyed that he was about to get in the way of me and my hungry stomach.

I remember his exact words like it was yesterday.

"Didn't your mother teach you that rolling your eyes at someone is impolite?" The smile on his face never wavered and the teasing in his voice made Sam giggle to the point I wished she would stop.

"What my mother taught is really none of your business, now is it? But she did warn me about talking to strangers."

"Well, my name is Dominic. And if you tell me your name, we'll no longer be strangers, right?"

I couldn't help but roll my eyes again.

"Actually, I must say that you're still beautiful even when you do that. You must hear how beautiful you are all the time, right?"

Having grown up as the darkest one in the family, the word "beautiful" had rarely been thrown in my direction. To be honest, from early on, I learned that I would have to rely on my brains and witty sarcasm instead of looks.

Dominic was fishing and I wasn't about the take his bait.

His corny words made Samantha giggle even more and she quickly abandoned me with an excuse of needing to go powder her nose.

"Do women usually swoon and puddle at your feet with such corny lines?"

When I really wanted to, I could make most men leave me alone but Dominic just stood his ground and smiled even more.

"Actually they usually do. But my interest is always piqued by women who don't, kind of like you."

His smile had me off-balance  and so I said nothing until Sam reappeared. When she sat down, she took it upon herself to invite him and his friends to join us. Kicking her under the table was useless and before I knew it, we had switched to a larger table and introductions were being made all around. Of course, Dominic placed himself in the seat next to me and leaned into ear.

"You have the most incredible eyes and that's why I was staring. I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable." Dominic sounded genuine and I suddenly found myself feeling bad about my bitchiness.

I took a deep breath as my fries and mussels arrived. "And I'm sorry that I was a little abrupt. I tend to get hangry at times."

"Hangry?" Dominic laughed. "I'll take that excuse. Now, tell me why I haven't bumped into you before?"

Dominic took one look at my plate and ordered the exact same thing. Though I still had my guard up, we talked, laughed and I found myself smiling more than I wanted to. We seemed to have a similar taste in music, food and television shows. I had a surprisingly good time talking with him so I wasn't surprised when he offered me his number.

Jarrito nuevo, ¿dónde te pondré? Jarrito viejo, ¿dónde te tiraré?  ¡No sea tonta!

I'd heard Abuela's advice on countless occasions about men and the role they should take long before I was allowed to date.

If a man is really interested, he'll ask you for your number. It's not your place to chase or call a man. If you do, you'll never know if he really wanted you in the first place, if you were his last choice or his only distraction.

Dominic must have read my thoughts because when I gave him a blank look, he promptly asked me for mine.

"What makes you think that I would give you my number?"

Dominic touched my hand and said, "From the twinkle in your eyes, I know that you will."

And he was right.

What had begun as an annoyance had turned into a relaxed evening and I took giving him my number with a large grain of salt. When our checks came, he insisted on paying our bill and when I insisted that he didn't need to, Sam pinched me hard and gave me her "let it go" look.

"Just because you're being a gentleman now doesn't mean that I'll go out with you later..."

Dominic didn't miss a beat as he grabbed my jacket for me. "Who says that I'll ask you out?"

This time it was my turn to touch his hand. "From the twinkle in your eyes, I know that you will."

We both couldn't help laughing and I felt lighter than I had in months. Sam and I thanked Dominic for dinner and like a gentleman, he insisted on walking us back to the car.

I was barely home when my cell rang with a number I didn't recognize. It was Dominic checking that I had gotten home safely and asking me out to dinner for Saturday night. I won't fool you, the fact that Dominic had called instead of texting made me smile. Dominic was confident. And I liked it.

So I said yes to dinner but to this day, I wonder what would have happened if I had brushed him off.

Maybe if I had said no, Dominic wouldn't be dead now but that he is where he deserved to be.

All Rights Reserved ©2019 Marquessa Matthews

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