“You look very handsome, Tadeas,” Velma told him when he went to pick her up at her flat to take her to dinner at Claridge’s.
He blushed. “And you look very beautiful and sexy in that dress. I won’t be able to keep my eyes and hands off you.”
She smiled. “Afterwards, we’ll come back here and you can ravage me.”
“I like the sound of that,” he said as he pulled her into his arms and kissed her long and hard on her mouth. They were both breathing heavily when he raised his head.
“We’d better leave now or we’ll never make it to the restaurant,” she said.
“You’re right,” he agreed and reluctantly released her.
She pulled on her jacket and grabbed her handbag. His eyes traveled admiringly as she preceded him to the front door. It was going to be tough to sit across from her at the table and not imagine them in bed making love. He felt his body respond to the thought.
“Very impressive,” Velma remarked when she saw his car. It was sleek, sliver Bentley.
“I’ve had it for a year and a half now,” he told her as he opened the door for her. When she passed him to get into the car, he wanted very badly to take her in his arms again and kiss her. Later, he told himself. For now, just enjoy your first date with her.
“During my lunch hour today, I decided to do a little research on Claridge’s and I learned some very interesting things,” Velma said when they were on their way. “It was founded in 1812 as Mivart’s Hotel, in a conventional London terraced house and then, it was expanded into the adjoining five buildings. In 1854, the Mivart sold the hotel to Mr. and Mrs. Claridge who owned a smaller hotel next door. The hotel established its reputation when when Empress Eugenie made an extended visit and entertained Queen Victoria at the hotel in 1860. In 1893, Claridge’s was bought by Richard D’Oyly Carte, the man who also owned the Savoy. Claridge’s has the oldest manned lift. It’s still being operated by an attendant. In 1945, Winston Churchill and his wife Lady Clementine moved into Claridge’s sixth house penthouse suite temporarily. She loved their new home but he didn’t like living so high up. Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s ruby wedding party and Charles and Diana’s wedding reception were held there. And Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s visited the hotel regularly.”
“I learned all of this from my mother. She also told me that Dame Barbara Cartland, her favorite author, was a regular at Claridge’s and it was rumored that when she was on her way there for afternoon tea, her secretary would ring the hotel to let them know what color she was wearing so her table could be laid in the same colors. Can you believe that?”
Velma laughed. “When it comes to some rich people, nothing surprises me.”
“Another favorite Claridge’s story of my mother’s is Katherine Hepburn. Apparently, she was a regular visitor who had to be reminded that ladies weren’t allowed to wear trousers in the lobby. So, her solution to that problem was to continue to wear her trousers but use the staff entrance instead. “
“Good for her.”
“They have a shop too. My mother buys things from there. She bought a luxury bathrobe, Hand-embroidered Claridge’s Women’s Slippers, Claridge’s Afternoon Tea China Set for Four. I personally wouldn’t buy anything from there.”
“Does she shop there for Christmas?”
“Sometimes. Speaking of Christmas which is less than a month away, do you have any plans?”
“No. What about you? Will you be spending it with your family?”
“No. I was hoping to spend it with you.”
She smiled at him. “I was hoping to spend it with you too.”
“It’s settled then. We will celebrate Christmas and the New Year’s together.”
They arrived at Claridge’s restaurant and were shown to their table. It was nice and warm inside the dining area, so she didn’t need to keep on her jacket. They both had the Roast tomato soup, olive and parmesan palmiers. For the first course, he had the Wood roast Norfolk chicken, mousseline potato, French style peas, thyme, sage and onion jus and she the Scottish salmon with langoustine, sea beet, toasted buckwheat and lemon verbena nage. For dessert, they each had a slice of the Chocolate Tart with Milk Stout and Hazelnut.
“This is so good,” Velma remarked as she finished her second mouthful of the slice of cake.
“Yes, it is.”
“I wonder if the Queen has had it.”
“Most likely. There aren’t many choices. Would you like some coffee to wash it down?”
“Only if you’re going to have a cup too.”
“Sure.” He asked the waiter for some coffee. “Uh, oh.”
“What’s the matter?”
“I just noticed that one of my mother’s friends is sitting over there with two women. I’ll have to say hello on our way out.”
“Do you think she’ll mention that she saw you here with me to your mother?”
“Of course, she will. She’ll probably call her as soon as she gets home.”
“Hello, Mrs. Godfrey.”
“Hello, Tadeas. It’s nice to see you. These is my daughter-in-law, Eleanor and my grand-daughter, Louisa.”
After he exchanged greetings with them, he introduced Velma. “Ladies, I would like you to meet my girlfriend, Velma.”
Mrs. Godfrey and her daughter-in-law exchanged glances while Louisa smiled and held out her hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Velma,” she said.
“It’s nice to meet you too,” Velma replied.
Mrs. Godfrey didn’t shake her hand but said, somewhat grudgingly, “Hello.”
Her friend said hello but her hands remained on the table.
“Well, good evening,” Tadeas, said and clasping Velma’s hand, he steered her away from the table. “Miserable lot,” he muttered as soon as they were out of ear shot.
“Louisa seemed nice, though.”
“Yes. She isn’t narrowminded like those two. I won’t be surprised if Mrs. Godfrey excuses herself and rushes off to make that phone call to my mother.”
“I’d like to be there to see your mother’s face when she calls her.”
“And I’d much rather see you out of that dress.”
Velma laughed. She put on her jacket before they walked out into the night. They went back to her place for a nightcap.