She stood there watching as the evening unfurled, a solitary figure in a room filled with people from the fashion and business world. She was there by invitation from her friend, a fashion photographer. She felt so out of place. She wasn’t used to be around such glamorous people. Several people thought she was a model. A few photographers snapped her photo, much to her chagrin. It reminded her of the time when she had to recite a poem in front of her classmates. She managed to get through it but it was nerve-racking.
She wasn’t one for socializing and at the first opportunity, she slipped out and escaped to the brightly lit garden. It was a beautiful evening. A slight breeze blew, gently rustling the trees. It was early summer when the weather was comfortable.
She had no idea of how long she would stay outside but for now it was where she felt most comfortable. She slowly walked along the path, her gaze sweeping over the sprawling grounds and in the background, she could hear peals of laughter and the clinking of glasses. She paused at the rose bush. Unable to resist, she leaned over and breathed in the sweet fragrance.
The voice startled her and she swung round. A tall figure approached her. As he drew nearer, she recognized him from the photos her friend had taken and which were featured in the Spring issue of GQ. Her heart began to beat fast and she wondered what she could say to him. “Good evening,” she replied.
He smiled as he held out his hand. “Adrian Barlow.”
She shook his hand. “Simone Jackson.”
“I see you had the same idea,” he remarked. “Getting away from the crowd, I mean.”
“Yes,” she looked away, feeling self-conscious because of his penetrating stare.
“I hope you don’t mind me joining you, Simone.”
She shook her head. “No, I don’t mind.”
“Shall we take a walk?”
She nodded. And they walked along the path.
“Are you a model?” he asked.
She shook her head. “No. I’m the Assistant Art Director of a children’s publisher.”
“Do you like what you do?”
“Yes. I like my job very much. As a child, I loved to read. I still do. I know that you are a model. I have seen your photos in GQ. Do you like modelling?”
He shrugged. “It’s something I do when I am not too busy. I don’t see myself doing it for much longer. I have my own business which I enjoy running.”
“You know my friend, Erin. She’s the reason why I am here tonight.”
“I saw when you arrived and watched you all evening, waiting for an opportunity to speak to you. I saw you slip out and followed. You really are quite beautiful, you know.”
She didn’t know what to say. It wasn’t often that she had a gorgeous man tell her that she was beautiful. They had come upon a fountain. There was a bench nearby and she went toward it. She sat down and he sat beside her, turning so that he was facing her.
“I didn’t mean to embarrass you just now,” he said. “Surely I’m not the first man to pay you such a compliment.”
“No, you aren’t the first but you have been around so many beautiful women.”
“Yes, I have,” he acknowledged. “But none of them hold a candle to you. Have dinner with me tomorrow evening, Simone.”
She stared at him and saw that he was very serious. His amazing eyes were unwavering as they met her startled ones. “Dinner with you,” she repeated, somewhat dazed. This moment was almost surreal.
“Yes, unless you have other plans.”
“No, no. I don’t have any other plans.”
“Then, you will have dinner with me?”
She gave him her address which he scribbled on the back of a business card and placed in his breast pocket.
They sat there a while longer, talking. She found herself becoming very relaxed with him and opening up. Then they heard the sound of cars leaving and realized that it was time to go. Reluctantly, she got up from the bench. “Do you have a ride home?” he asked.
“Yes, I will get a ride with Erin.”
They headed back to the mansion and stopped at the foot of the steps where they were to part company. “I’ll pick you up at seven tomorrow,” he told her before he took her hand and raised it to his lips. His eyes held hers as he kissed it. Her heart was pounding and her skin tingled. “Good night, Simone,” he said softly when he raised his head.
“Good night, Adrian.”
He released her hand and walked away. Just then Erin joined her. “I was wondering where you had gone off to,” she said, watching Adrian go. “I see that you were in good company.”
Simone smiled. “Thanks for inviting me tonight, Erin. I had a wonderful time.”
“I can see that,” her friend teased before she took her arm and they headed to her car.
Source: The Guardian Jobs
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