“Take a look at that gorgeous guy who just walked in,” Rita said to her friend, Kadisha as they sat at a corner table having dinner. It was a Friday night and they had decided that they would treat themselves to a nice dinner before heading home. They were at a Middle Eastern restaurant which a co-worker had recommended.
Kadisha followed her gaze and her heart leapt and started pounding wildly when she recognized the tall, athletic figure following the waitress who led him and his date to their table. It was Fadi. He looked gorgeous in the burgundy sports jacket, black shirt and black pants. Her eyes shifted to his date. She was tall and beautiful with thick, shoulder length black hair. The black cocktail dress she wore flattered her figure and gave her a look of elegance. Was she his girlfriend? Kadisha wondered and sighed. “That’s Fadi, the guy I’ve been telling you about,” she told her friend. “Remember I told you that we work on the same floor but in different departments?”
“That’s him?” Rita exclaimed, staring at her. “None of the men I work with look anything like that. Who’s that with him?”
“I don’t know.”
“You’re still interested in him, right?”
“Yes, but as you can see, he’s with someone.”
“Is he married?”
“That’s good. Most of the men in my department are married and the single ones stay clear from single women like me. I think I scare them because I am a single mother. Most men or at least the ones I’ve met don’t want to date single mothers. They avoid us like we’re a plague.”
Kadisha looked at her friend. “I’m sorry that things didn’t work out between Jim and you,” she said.
Jim was the man whom Rita had been in a relationship with and the father of her now teenage son. It turned out that Jim was married but separated from his wife. He met Rita at a resort and they became involved. They dated for a while and then the relationship ended when Jim reconciled with his wife. It took Rita a long time to get over the hurt but Kadisha had been there for her, helping her to pick up the pieces and encouraging her to concentrate on raising her son. Rita found it difficult to get back into the dating game. The men she met lost interest soon after they learned that she had a son. She never heard from any of them again, not even the ones who were fathers themselves. They were running away from blended families.
Rita shrugged, “I guess he wasn’t the one for me, after all,” she said. “We wouldn’t have been happy. His wife would have always been between us. If there’s a man out there for me, I will find him someday. Until then, I can live vicariously through my friends. So, what are you going to do about Fadi?”
Kadisha picked at the Eggplant dish with almond yoghurt and pickled chilli which smelled and looked appetizing. “Nothing,” she said. “He’s never really shown any interest in me. We say hello to each other and exchange pleasantries.”
“Do you know anything about him?”
“A co-worker told me that his parents are expatriates from Lebanon. They came to America when he was a baby. He has two older brothers.”
“I wonder if his brothers are as handsome as he.”
“I don’t know.”
“Don’t look now but I think he just noticed you. Ahh. He’s getting up and—he’s coming over.”
By now, Kadisha was in quite a state. Her heart was beating at an alarming rate and her hands began to tremble. I must keep calm, she told herself. She looked up the same time he arrived at their table and smiled. He was looking at her. “Hello, Kadisha,” he said, smiling which made her heart melt.
“Hello, Fadi,” she said, barely audibly. She turned to Rita, “This—this is my friend, Rita.”
Rita beamed up at him, holding out her hand which he clasped in a firm handshake. “It’s nice to meet you,” she said.
“Likewise,” he replied. He turned his attention back to Kadisha. “I didn’t notice that you were here until just now. If I had seen you earlier, I would have come over earlier to say hello. Is this your first time here?”
Kadisha nodded. “Yes, it is.”
“I’ve been here before. How do you like it?”
“I like the place, the food and the people.”
“Well, I hope you both enjoy your dinner,” he said, although his eyes were still trained on Kadisha. Then, he excused himself and returned to his table.
As soon as he left, Rita looked at her. “I thought you said he has never shown any interest in you,” she scolded her. “The man couldn’t take his eyes off you.”
“If he’s interested in me, why is he here with her?” Kadisha demanded.
“Have you ever given him any encouragement? Does he have any idea that you are interested in him?”
“Well, I didn’t want to make it obvious since he never showed me any signs that he was interested.”
Rita rolled her eyes. “At the rate the two of you are going, nothing will get resolved. Either you or he has to make the first move.”
“It’s not going to me as long as he is dating someone else.”
“I wonder why he didn’t bring her over to meet you.”
“I expect he has his reasons. Let’s change the subject, please.”
“All right. This short rib in the beetroot glaze is delicious. I love Middle Eastern food.”
They talked about other things during the rest of their dinner and Kadisha tried to avoid looking over at the table across the room. She enjoyed her Chipotle chicken pastille with fennel and pickled blackberries while Rita delved into the Lamb rump with sorrel pesto and vanilla-braised chicory. For dessert they both had the Roasted pineapple, macadamia, coconut ice cream. Rita signaled for the waiter and after splitting the bill, they grabbed their handbags and left the table.
As they approached Fadi’s table, he saw them and stood up. Rita said to Kadisha. “It looks like we’re going to meet his companion after all.”
Kadisha had no choice but to stop at the table. Up close his date was even more stunning. I don’t stand a chance, she thought.
“I’d like you to meet Gaelle, my sister. Gaelle, this is Kadisha, my co-worker and her friend, Rita.”
Kadisha stared at him. “Your sister?”
“Yes, Gaelle is my sister. Her fiancé was supposed to be having dinner with us but something came up and he couldn’t make it.”
“I thought you only had two brothers.”
“Yes, I have two older brothers and a younger sister. She was born here long after we came to America.”
Relief washed over Kadisha and her face brightened. Turning to Gaelle, she held out her hand. “It’s really nice to meet you,” she said.
Gaelle smiled at her. “I’ve heard so much about you,” she said, much to Kadisha’s surprise. She turned to her brother. “Now’s your opportunity to ask her,” she told him.
Fadi took Kadisha’s arm and drew her aside. He lowered his head so that he could speak softly in her ear. Her skin tingled where he touched her arm and her pulse raced because of his proximity. She could smell his cologne. “I was wondering if you would like to have dinner with me tomorrow night. ”
Kadisha nodded. “I–I’d like that very much,” she said.
He seemed very pleased and relieved. “I’ll pick you up tomorrow evening around seven.” He gave her one of his business cards to write her address and phone number on the back. After she jotted down the information, she returned the card to him and he placed it in the breast pocket of his jacket. “Good night,” he said.
She said goodnight to him and to his sister and then preceded her friend out of the restaurant. As they walked to the parking lot, Rita nudged her, laughing. “See, I was right about him liking you,” she said. “His dinner companion turned out to be his little sister. And while you and he were talking, I confirmed with his sister that he isn’t dating anyone. So, there’s no reason for you not to go out with him.”
“He invited me out for dinner tomorrow night.”
“And did you accept?”
“Of course, I did. I’d be a fool not to.”
“This is so exciting.”
They reached the car and after they were strapped in and pulling out of the parking lot, Kadisha sighed. “Now, I just have to figure out what to wear.”
“If you like, I can come up with you when we reach your apartment and see what you have. You want to dazzle and impress him at the same time.”
Kadisha mentally sorted through the outfits she had in her wardrobe. “I think I have a couple of dresses that may work. If I run into any trouble, I’ll call you later and there’s a boutique round the corner where I live just in case I need to buy something.”
“Okay, so if I don’t hear from you later, it means you found something to wear but I want you to call me on Sunday and give me the juicy details of your evening out with your handsome co-worker.”
Kadisha laughed. “I will,” she promised. “Have a good night, Rita.” She got out of the car and waved as her friend drove off.
As soon as she got to her flat, she went straight to her bedroom and pulled open the doors to her wardrobe. She went through the dresses hanging there, praying that she would find something. Her eyes fell on the burgundy halter dress with the flare skirt. It was fairly new—in that she had only worn it once and it was simple but elegant. She would wear her hair up. The silver metallic strappy sandals would complete the outfit. Satisfied and relieved, she closed the doors and went to take a quick shower. She stayed up to watch the news and then went to bed.
The next day, she cleaned the apartment, did laundry and went grocery shopping. The time went by very quickly and seven o’ clock soon arrived and so did Fadi. When she opened the door and saw him standing there, her heart stopped. He looked absolutely gorgeous in the dark blue suit, light blue shirt and no tie. His gaze traveled over her and she could tell that he liked what he saw. “You look very beautiful,” he commented softly.
She suddenly felt very shy. “Thank you,” she said before she turned to close the door and lock it. Although she was wearing high heels, he still towered over her. They walked to the lift and rode it in silence to the lobby.
In the car, they talked about different things and then, he said to her, “Kadisha, I want to date you.”
“I want that too.”
He smiled. “Good.” Then, he reached out and taking the hand resting on the seat beside her, he raised it to his lips. She trembled when she felt them brush against her skin in a gentle caress. Their eyes met for an instant and locked in a steady gaze. Then, he released her hand turned his attention back to the road ahead of him. She sat there, her mind whirling and her heart pounding. Tonight’s dinner was just the beginning of what promised to be a very exciting relationship.