[For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Diane gave me this prompt: "It's Backwards Day!".
I gave FlamingNyx this prompt: "the girl with the tortoiseshell glasses"]
He watched her make her way across the room towards him, maneuvering with feline grace around the other tables. He stood as she approached, looking her up and down for the first time. Elin wasn't wrong- she was quite a beauty. She had long legs, a tiny waist, and a brilliant smile.
"Are you Robert?," she said cheerfully.
"I am," he said. "You must be Julia."
"I am indeed," she said, finally reaching his table. He stood up, pulling her chair out, and she sat, smoothing her flowered dress under her thighs. She crossed her legs, focusing her gaze on him as he sat again. The waitress, a blond with jealousy burning in her eyes, hovered nearby.
"Do you want a drink?," he said.
"Sure," she said. "Zinfandel?"
"Certainly, ma'am," she said, turning her head slightly to look at him. Her round face looked pinched by her hair, which was pulled severely back.
"Draft beer," he said. "Iron City."
"Of course," she said, moving off like a ghost, leaving the menus behind.
"So," he said.
"So," she said, giggling softly. "Elin told me all about you."
"Well," he said with a chuckle. "I'm not sure how I should feel about that."
"Oh, you," she said. "She didn't say anything bad. She thinks you're a great guy. You're just not right for her, that's all."
"That's comforting," he said. "She was sweet. It just wasn't working, you know?"
"Oh, I know," she said. "My last relationship ended like that. Everybody's still friends, but you just...you know when it isn't going to happen, for whatever reason. Personality, or habits, or physical things, or who knows what. I read this article that suggested that even people's smells have to be compatible. Lots of things can go wrong."
"True," he said. "There are so many obstacles, it's a wonder anyone makes it work."
"That's so right," she said. The waitress came and silently delivered their drinks, hovering for a moment again.
"Would you like to order, or...," the waitress said.
"Not quite yet," she said, and the waitress drifted away. He snuck a glance at her as she walked away, her full hips twitching under a long black skirt. They both sipped their drinks and set them back down again.
"So how did my name come up?," he said.
"We were just talking. You know how girls talk. I knew she wasn't seeing you anymore, and we were going on about how awful men are, and...you know. She told me what broke you two up, and how, otherwise, you were such a great, sweet guy. "
"How much did she tell you?," he said. He took a longer sip from his beer.
"Oh, she told me."
He made a face.
"Oh, don't," she said. "You don't think we compare notes? We talk about that kind of thing. We're no worse than men are."
"I don't know anyone who talks like that," he said softly.
"Oh, you do so. All men are like that. Look, I'm not going to lie to you. She told me what happened, and it intrigued me. I've never had that problem. And I don't think it's a coincidence that I've never been all that satisfied with anyone. So how about it?"
"How about what?," he said slowly.
"My place is about 3 blocks from here. Let's skip lunch and see what we can...see," she said. She finished her wine, her tongue darting out to sample a drop that lingered on her lips.
"I don't know."
"Oh come on," she said. "It's every guy's dream. I'm taking precautions, don't worry. And Elin knows me, I'm not usually like this. I just kind of...I don't know...I have to know. I want to know. I'm not asking you to do anything more. You can leave afterwards and never speak to me again if you want."
"Doesn't say much for my humanity, does it? Makes me into a thing," he said.
"Oh, cut the crap, Robert. You objectify women all the damn time. I saw you looking at the waitress as she walked away. Spend an hour, satisfy my curiosity, and then, if I'm as bad as you seem to think, you'll never hear my name again."
"Feels mercenary. Cold," he said. "Like I don't matter."
"It's a simple transaction, hun." She opened her clutch and took out a gold credit card. "I'll even pay for the drinks. Follow me home, show me what it's like, and you can go about your business. And I'm pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. And even if I'm not, as my ex Lee liked to say, the worst one you've ever had is still pretty good, right?"
"Aren't there other ways to...ah...get you what you need? Like with a...um....,"
She giggled again. "I have a drawer full of those. Believe me, if that was all I needed, I wouldn't be here today. The real thing is...different."
He looked at her, then into his beer, watching the glimmer of the bubbles in the amber liquid.
"It doesn't feel right," he said.
"Oh, please," she said. "You sound like Elin, for God's sake. Who cares how it feels? It will feel good, and then you're done with me forever. If you want."
He didn't say anything.
"You know you want to," she said. She motioned to the waitress and said brightly, "may I have the check? Our plans have changed. " The waitress moved away.
"I'm tired of talking about this," she continued. "I'm going to go outside and make a phone call." The waitress came back with a black portfolio. Julia withdrew a big black pen, wrote something on the reciept and signed it with a flourish, handing it back to the waitress. The waitress glanced at it.
"Thank you so much," the waitress said, turning and walking away. He watched her leave again.
"By the time I'm done on the phone," she said, "if you're not outside, I'll assume your answer is no. And that you're a fool." He didn't know what to say, so he didn't say anything. She got up and walked away, gliding on high heeled shoes with a skinny ankle strap. He looked at his beer again and took another long sip. He didn't know what to think about, so he thought about the waitress, and he wondered if she talked that way with her friends. Then he got up and left.