This is the second part of this fictional story about Tony and Jenna. For the first part, see the previous post.
Luckily, the assistance was right there on the platform, and it was someone who didn’t feel like small talk, which suited me just fine. The escalators seemed to take forever and when I got to the top of the first one, there was another one. A busker was playing the guitar and singing Puff the Magic Dragon as I finally emerged to take the last set of stairs up to the open air.
Five past eight. Tony hadn’t arrived. I didn’t mind that, because that meant he didn’t see me getting assisted. I didn’t want people I knew to see me get assisted. Ok, correction. I didn’t want Tony whom I wanted to impress to see me getting assisted.
“Are you ok there?” a woman with a broad South London accent put a hand on my arm. “I’m just waiting on someone,” I mumbled hoping she would disappear. “Yeah, she’s fine.” It was Tony. Arriving in another type of situation I didn’t want him to see me in, but you can’t have it all and at least it wasn’t the worst thing he could have seen. Besides, I probably cared about it a lot more than him.
“Sorry I’m late,” he kissed me lightly on the cheek. “But as you know, I’m terrible with time management and suffer from chronic lateness.” He smelled so nice. Coco butter like usual and an aftershave I hadn’t smelled on him before. “I’ll forgive you, this time.” I laughed and he laughed back. “Let’s go,” he said. He held out his arm and we started walking down the street until we turned into an ally way.
“I love this part of London,” I said. “It reminds me of Quartier Latin in Paris. Similar atmosphere with all the noise and the smells from the restaurants.” “Oh, you are half French of course,” said Tony. My dad was from the south of France, and we had spent every summer and Christmas there. I loved France, so as part of my degree, I had spent a year in Paris through the Erasmus project and I have lived in the Latin Quarter. “That’s why I booked a table at a little French restaurant. I can see your face light up when you talk about France and your French family.” “Oh really? But that’s amazing!” I wanted to kiss him, but felt way too unsure of myself to do that yet. “What is it called?” “”Petit Prince.” “Could it be more cheesy,” I laughed. “I know what you mean, but the food is amazing.”
A smell of sandal wood mixed with the aroma of something I guessed must be Thyme and Rosemary, greeted us as we entered the restaurant. All the smells from the places we had passed on the way had made me hungry and I couldn’t wait to eat despite feeling the mixture of being tense, nervous and excited at the same time. “Welcome,” said a French accented woman’s voice as we moved further inside the room. “Table for two?” “I booked, said Tony It’s under Lopez.” “Perfait, I got you a table outside. Hope that is ok?” Tony turned to me and I nodded. “It’s a beautiful evening,” I said.
Our table was small, almost too small, and the chairs were made of metal and made a terrible noise when we moved them, but I didn’t care. The little garden, or courtyard was perfect. Our table was right under what I assumed was a Jasmine tree from the smell. The ground was uneven and I could hear people chatting at the surrounding tables and the sound of a water fountain a little further away. No traffic sound. “This is awesome,” I said sitting down on the chair Tony had pulled out. “I had a feeling you would like it,” he said sitting down opposite me. Our knees were so close they were almost touching. I drew in the scent of him. I wanted to lean over, grab him and kiss him. He smelled so sexy. “You are looking good, he said quietly. “So are you.” He laughed, but not in a “You’re such a joker,” way which he’d done the first time I’d said this to him. To be fair, I’d said it in a very jokey manner so as not to seem too obviously flirty and after having laughed then, he’d said that I was sweet. But this laugh was, well, more of a “Thanks for the compliment” laugh. “Does it feel like being back in the fatherland?” he said after a long pause. “Yeah, sort of. Except from the fact that most people around us don’t speak French.”
A waiter came out and put the menus down on the table. “Anything to drink?” It was a man this time with an English accent. Quite young too judging from his voice. “Does Her Majesty have any preferences?” Tony asked. “I’ll have some water.” “What about wine?” “Sure, but I am no connoisseur. I know the difference between red, white and rose and whether I like them or not.” Tony laughed and picked up the menu to study it. “Ok, I have to admit my wine knowledge isn’t much better than yours. How about a bottle of house red?” “Fine with me.” “I’ll be right back.” The waiter disappeared back inside without a sound.
“My dad is a lawyer,” said Tony after having read out the menu and we had decided what we wanted. “What kind of lawyer?” “A criminal lawyer. He has this friend he met in his student days. He is the kind of lawyer who helps his rich clients so they pay as little tax as possible.” I giggled.” It’s true! Although, that’s not what he says. But I’ve forgotten what his actual job title is. Anyway, this guy loves his wines and is a proper wine snob. So one day, I must have been about 15 or 16, because I still lived at home, he came over for family dinner. My mum couldn’t stand the man, and neither could I nor my brother, so before dinner, mum switched the wines. Dad had bought a couple of bottles of expensive Bordeaux his friend really likes. Mum switched the content of one of the bottles with a really cheap red to see if he could tell the difference.” “And could he?” “No. Mum had been careful enough to choose a wine of the same, is it depth they call it? Of taste.” “And did you tell him afterwards?” Yes. He tried to laugh at it, but he looked more like he was about to cry.” “And your dad?” “He pretended it wasn’t funny until his friend left.” “That’s amazing! I don’t quite get those wine snobs.” “Says the French girl?” I shrugged my shoulders.
The waiter returned and pored ice water from a jug into two glasses. “Would you like to taste the wine sir?” Sure,” I could hear Tony sniff the wine, before he took a sip. “MMMM, this must be….. I know red wine!” I bit my lip so as not to laugh too loudly while the waiter was there.
For starter, Tony ordered the fried Camembert and I the goat cheese salad with pine nuts. We both chose the sea bass with steamed vegetables for our main course.
My salad was amazing, and we ate in a comfortable silence. The couple at a nearby table seem to be having an argument that got louder and louder. It was getting quite silly too and I was embarrassed on their behalf. Still, I liked nothing more than to listen in to other peoples embarrassing conversations when I was out. “I know you and Kate are getting it on because Fiona saw you!” the woman’s voice was winy and by the sound of it, she’d had a bit too much to drink. “Please Gillian, calm down. Can’t we talk about this later?” “You always say that Fred!” the woman shouted. “But I want, no, I need to talk about this now!”
“Hope that’s not me in 20 years,” I said putting my fork down. “Just make sure you keep fit and dress nicely so I don’t feel like trading you in for a younger model” Tony replied. I put down my glass and leaned forward. Had he really said what I hoped he’d said? “Don’t look so terrified, it was only a joke.” He took my hand which I’d placed on the table. “No,” I said. I mean, yes, of course, but it wasn’t that.” “Gillian, I swear, it was a work thing with me and Kate.” The woman scraped her chair back. “A work thing. That’s what you said it was with Nancy, Emma and Jeanette too! And I didn’t think being an estate agent involved screwing your colleagues. Or have I not seen the job description?.” She started walking away on clicky heels, her husband shouting for her to come back, but she was gone.
“So what was it then?” Tony squeezed my hand. “Nothing, it sounds stupid.” “Come on Jenna.” He picked up my hand and placed it between both his. “Well, you said that you wouldn’t trade me in for a younger model if I stayed fit. Does that mean?” I was struggling to get the words out; “Does that mean I am, we are, you know……” I let the words trail off. “Jenna, Jenna, Jenna. Listen. I’ve been totally mad about you since I met you in that God forsaken corridor at work five months ago. I wanted to ask you out long before, but I didn’t want to seem desperate and besides, I had so many work commitments and I wanted to do it when I knew I probably was gonna be in the country for a little bit more than a week.” He laughed. I smiled at him. “I can’t be sure you feel the same, but you did say yes to this date.” “I did,” I replied. “So, let’s cut the crap then and say you’re my girl?” He tried to sound confident, but I heard a tiny quiver in his voice. “I agree. We’ll cut the crap and say that.” We both leaned forward simultaneously and he took hold of my face. Gently gently, he lifted it upwards until I felt my lips meet his. It was a dry, soft kiss, but it lingered for a long time leaving me wanting more.
“Ahem,” The sound came from behind Tony and caused us to jump apart. “The sea bass is here,” the waiter said putting two delicious smelling dishes in front of us. We picked up our cutlery, but to my horror I realised that not only was the sea bass fillet whole, which I had expected anyway, but it was in sauce which would mean I’d have very messy fingers by the time I’d eaten it. I am ok really with cutting up food, but need to feel for it with my fingertips so I know where to cut. I wasn’t a fan of doing that in front of people I didn’t know well, or in restaurants where they sometimes arranged the food in such a fancy way that I managed to spill all the vegetables everywhere. But, I decided to pretend that I was totally cool with it and I was thinking that should Tony not fancy me when he saw how I cut fish, then so be it.
None of us felt like eating much. Between bits of food, which tasted great, and sips of wine, we were busy exploring how holding hands in different ways felt. I felt as if I had a stupid smile on my face the whole time and I could tell Tony was smiling too.
“What are your holiday plans?” he asked. We had finished our food and our fingers were intertwined under the table. “I don’t have any plans really. I haven’t even decided when to take my holidays yet. How about you?” “Well, I haven’t taken out any so far this year. So I was wondering; This may perhaps seem a little rushed, but have you ever been to Switzerland?” “No.” “I could change that, if you’d like to come on holiday with me for a week in August?” “I would love to!” I leaned forward and kissed him. A quick one this time.
We declined the offer of dessert, but excepted coffee. I was wondering what was gonna happen next. Would he ask me to go back with him? What should I say if he did? On the one hand, I wanted nothing more than to spend the whole night with him, but on the other hand, I liked him a lot and wanted to save that moment, look forward to it at some point in the not too far away future.
“Let’s walk a bit,” he said after having paid the bill. This time, he took my hand and little electric shocks tingled through me. We walked for a long time. We talked about Switzerland, at times we were silent and at times we stopped to steal quick discrete kisses. After a while, we came to a park. The evening was still warm, but had got cooler and I was glad I had my shawl. “Let’s sit down on a bench for a while,” Tony said. It seemed as if we were alone. The sounds of the traffic were accompanied by the sounds from the swans and ducks from the nearby pond. Tony drew me close. “Lucky me,” he whispered into my hair. “Lucky me, I said wanting to pull back. “What’s the matter?” I don’t like making out in front of people.” “Me neither,” he said and turned me towards him. “So when I do this, it means there are nobody around, or at least not near enough to see a lot anyway.” The kisses started off gently and got more and more passionate. Our mouths opened and I could feel the tip of his tongue caress mine. He tasted wonderfully and we pressed our lips ever closer together, if that was possible. I don’t know how long we sat there for. All we did was kiss, occasionally stopping to draw breath. We started exploring each other’s faces and hair. Tony’s nose was bigger than I had imagined, though he did not have a big nose. His hair was soft and wavy. His lips seemed to fit mine perfectly. His fingers felt hot and light against the bare skin on my back and shoulders. I was sure he must have had a lot of experience with women, because he knew exactly what he was doing. How to make me tremble with desire for him. “Jenna,” he breathed after we pulled back for the millionth time. “You know, right now, all I want is to take you home and make passionate love to you all night, followed by breakfast in bed.” He Took my hand and we stood up. He pressed against me and I could tell from his body that he meant what he said. “But I start work at six tomorrow morning and I don’t want to rush it.” “Ssshhh, it’s ok,” I said, putting my finger to his lips. It’s better this way, in the beginning. I really want this to work and don’t want to destroy it with doing things too early.” Tony laughed softly. “Ever sensible. But you’re perhaps right.”
“So you are an item now? Come on! I wanna hear it all!” Rachel passed a chocolate muffin across to me over the cafe table. She had been asleep when I had arrived home around 1 in the morning. “HMMMMM,” I said wanting to draw this moment out for as long as possible just to annoy her. “Don’t do this to me. I know you are.” “And when did you become psychic?” I asked sipping my cappuccino. “You’ve got that silly face I had when I first got together with Ben, so I’m just guessing and I’m also confident that I’m right.” I nodded slowly “I, knew, it!” She jumped up from her chair and gave me a hug. “You seem pretty happy ladies.” The voice came from the table next to us, a friendly old man. “She just got the man of her dreams!” “Rachel,” I hissed trying to calm her down. “That surely doesn’t happen every day,” the man said. “I remember, it was in 1949 when I met my Gladys. Teenage sweet hearts we were, and to me, there’s no prettier woman on this very planet till this day.” He sat there lost in his own happy memories for a while before he said: “How about I pay for your breakfast, and your friend’s too to celebrate?” “But you can’t,” I began. “Oh yes I can,” he said almost Barack Obama style. “I can and I will. Cheers for love,” “Your coffee,” whispered Rachel quickly. I lifted my cup and we leaned over to clink them together. “To love,” Rachel and I repeated in unison.