Grilled ribeyes wafted through the air. Annie knew her steaks, and her nose told her these were excellent. She and Paul had been trying to get together for two weeks. Paul always had to work, but that was life as a banking executive. At least that is what he kept telling Annie.
A waiter walked by with two full plates. The lobster made Annie’s stomach growl. Annie’s mind and stomach wondered, where is Paul? Her watch showed 7:15 pm. Oh well, our reservation isn’t for another fifteen minutes. I guess I’m just running early. Annie walked over and sat in an empty seat in the waiting area. There was no use standing in her four-inch heels for fifteen minutes, even if Paul walked in the door now. Annie checked her wrists. The two hundred dollar perfume she had bought for the occasion smelled of flowers and jasmine. She was sure that would keep his attention.
Annie checked over her black sequenced dress. The fabric fitted tightly over her body and ended just above the knee. She was sure that would catch his eye. Annie looked around the room for Paul and noticed several men looking her direction. She smiled to herself. Unless he was blind, he would pay attention to her tonight. Inside her small clutch, Annie’s cell phone chirped. She ignored it and continued to watch for Paul to come through the door. It chirped again. Annoyed, she pulled her phone out.
Annie worked to hold back her tears. Paul’s text made it all clear. He was working late again, and this time he requested she not try to schedule another date. Paul wanted to blame it on fate, but Annie only saw cowardice. He did not have the decency to even call her and talk about it. She put her phone in her pocketbook, screwed up her dignity and walked towards the bar for a drink. At least that way everyone around her would not know she had been rejected.
Annie sat at the bar. For an expensive restaurant, the bar was ordinary. She rested her arm on the padded railing around the edge of the dark wood. Annie stared at nothing and let her mind go blank for a few moments.
“Excuse me.” A deep voice from behind startled her out of her malaise.
She turned. A gentleman in a tailored black silk suit stood in front of her barstool. She estimated he was over six feet tall. His bright blue eyes and jet black hair were easy on Annie’s eyes. Still, wasn’t Paul handsome, and he turned out to be a jerk.
Annie gave the stranger a glare and said. “I’m not interested.” With that, she spun back around to the bar. The stranger sat down next to her.
“Hi, my name is Justin. I think you are confusing me with somebody else.”
Annie looked to her left to see Justin flashing her his best smile. She was not having any of it. “Look, Justin. I’m sure you’re a great guy. I bet you have a lot of money and women lined up, but tonight I want to be alone.”
Justin’s voice was soft, although she could hear him above the football game on the flat screen over the bar. “You didn’t come here dressed like that to be alone. I’m guessing whoever he is he really must have broken your heart.”
Annie interrupted. “Okay, now you sound like a creep. You really should leave before I get someone.”
Justin held up his hands in defense. “Easy, please let me finish, and I’m on my way. I noticed your sad eyes when you walked into the bar. I just wanted to buy you your drink. I’m not looking for a date. You see, my wife died six months ago. We used to come here on our wedding anniversary, which just happens to be tonight. I thought I would have dinner alone and remember her. Well, I’m not alone, she’s with me still. Anyway, I thought you could use a little kindness.”
Annie’s heart softened. Tears begin to trickle out of her eyes, and Justin handed her a clean bar napkin. She sniffed and then spoke. “I’m sorry, Justin. My name is Annie, by the way. I guess I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself.”
Justin gave her a friendly smile and patted her shoulder like a brother. “That’s okay, Annie. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately myself. ” Justin looked down at his watch. “Oh, my reservation is in a couple of minutes.” He reached inside his suit jacket and pulled out a card. “Like I said, I’m not looking to hit on a pretty young woman with a broken heart. If you need a friend though, feel free to call me. We can talk on the phone.”
Annie looked at the card. It read “Justine Loudin Investment Manager.” She looked back up, and he was standing to leave. “You’re that Justine? The man who built half these skyscrapers? I heard about your wife, I’m so sorry.”
Justin smiled. “I am, does that make a difference?”
Annie put on her best smile. “Well, it means you aren’t a creep.”
Justin smiled and shook his head. “I hope not. Well, it’s time for me to go, I hope your evening improves, Annie.”
She smiled and said, “I think it already has. Goodnight.”
Justin walked off, and Annie finished her drink. A broad smile spread across her face as she stared at his business card and let her thoughts take over. My evening has gotten a lot better. I believe I’ll be moving up the dating ladder. A new rich widower. I like the sound of Mrs. Loudin, especially when they say it to me at the bank.
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