“You do know that not all Canadians know each other, right?” I grin, leaning back against the filing cabinet, monitoring the copier while Ryan, my new favorite associate, pokes through the files.
“Ha ha,” he mumbles, not even sparing me a glance while he pulls out files and stacks them on top of the filing cabinet. “Do you want to go or not?”“To Ramsey’s new restaurant? Of course I want to go,” I reply, grabbing a stack of sheets fresh out of the finisher and adding them to them my own files before setting a new stack in the document feeder and pressing the green start button. “I just want to know what else you think I might have in common with this hotty? I mean, aside from the fact that we’re both Canadian?”
“I just thought you both might be a little homesick, it might be good for you guys to talk about canoes and ice flows,” Ryan replies sarcastically, narrowing his eyes at me before returning to his task.
“You’re hilarious, really. But seriously…promise me he’s hot, because so far all the guys you’ve been setting me up with look like rejects from the Living Dead movies,” I complain, visualizing all the unfortunate dates I’ve been on since hitting the Island. New friends are one thing. New friends are good, but they also get that look once they get to know you and that’s when the questions start; or at least they do in my experience, with ‘why are you still single?’ topping the list.
“Well he’s rich and he’s a professional athlete, so what else do you need to know?” Ryan asks, pushing one of the drawers closed with a flourish before picking up his stack of folders and turning back to me, expectant, as if he’s waiting for me to bounce up and down and clap my hands with glee. First of all, I’d never do that. That would be degrading, and besides, I’ve never been a cheerleader so I don’t think I’ve ever actually done that. Secondly, after the list of emaciated actors and starving dancers he’s paired me up with lately, I’m not exactly ready to trust his opinion.
“Rich…rich is good,” I admit with a shrug, “but if by professional athlete you mean he’s some big ‘roid abusing pro wrestler or something….”
“Okay, maybe some of the guys I’ve been setting you up with were more my taste….”
“Some of the guys Ryan?”I ask, raising an eyebrow and rolling my eyes.
“Okay well, I promise, this is just what the doctor ordered. Tall, six four, two hundred pounds, pure muscle or so I’m told,” Ryan adds with a wink, “and apparently not even slightly inclined towards the arts. Although what’s wrong with Mama Mia, I swear I do not know.”
“He doesn’t like Abba?” I ask, hiding my grin behind my hand, but too late, Ryan’s already seen it.
“Et tu Bruté?” he sighs, leaning the back of his hand against his forehead and turning his back on me, sighing dramatically as he leaves the copy room. I watch him go, laughing to myself and shaking my own head, before returning to my task with thoughts of a quick shopping trip after work filling my head.
Personally I’m not a blind date person. Back at home I wouldn’t let anyone set me up on a date. Not for all the tea in China, and I’ve been there. There’s a lot of tea. But in the Big Apple, I’m out of my element. I’ve got to know the people at the firm, but there’s a strict no inter office dating policy so no matter how cute the lawyer or articling student, they’re strictly off limits and after my little incident during the summer, I’ve decided against picking up guys in bars.
So here I am, at the London, sitting at one of those white linen draped tables, wondering who I’m waiting for. It’s like a guessing game and I can’t believe I didn’t get more information out of Ryan.
Of course I’m also wondering just what in the hell Ryan’s told this guy, if anything. Friend of a friend my ass, as I stare into the martini in front of me I start to wonder if he’s ever even met the guy. Don’t get me wrong, in the time I’ve known him I’ve come to adore the bones off the guy but I can’t exactly see Ryan as the hanging out with jocks kind of guy. Drooling over them with me, yeah, absolutely, but I just can’t see him as knowing any, personally.
Still, I know two things. Six foot four and two hundred pounds and looking around the restaurant, the only guy so far that fits that description is the bartender and somehow I don’t see a professional athlete moonlighting as a bartender and having a blind date all at the same time. Multitasking is good, but that would be just crazy.
“Are you…Tippi?” I smile to myself before I ever turn around. I like the guy already. The hesitation in his deep voice tells me that he’s wondering if he’s got the name wrong, or maybe even if it’s some kind of joke. Turning I look up into a pair of eyes the colour the Prarie sky on a summer’s day and a shock of read hair.
“It’s short for Nathalie. Well no, that’s not really right, it’s short for tupso which is some kind of Swedish cutesy thing,” I reply by way of explanation as I push myself up to my feet, finding myself just short of his height in my heels, which seems, if his shy smile is anything to go by, to please him.
“I’m Marc,” he replies, very business like as he takes my hand in his and gives it a firm but not too firm shake and I decide I like him even more. Most men do that very limp wristed shake, like because you’re a woman your hand might break if they put a little ‘umph’ into it when the truth of the matter is, especially at my height my hands are usually not smaller than theirs.
“Sorry if I’ve kept you waiting long. I kind of got lost.” I raise my eyebrows at this as I watch him circle the small table and then sort of fold himself into the chair, bumping his knees under the table, just like I did, which makes me happy that I was here first.
“I thought you’d been here for a couple of years?” I ask, watching as the cheeks in his long narrow face turn a bright shade of pink.
“Well yeah but…I order in a lot?” he says, offering an explanation that it looks like he wants me to believe and because he doesn’t say it in that smarmy, you must believe me kind of way, I actually buy what he’s selling.
“Yeah, this city is crazy crowded, am I right?” I offer, wondering if he feels the same way I do. I thought Vancouver was a big city once upon a time. That was before my parents made me visit China. Now there is crowded. Manhattan is bad, but Hong Kong is worse.
“Very, especially when I think about home. Thunder Bay,” he adds reaching for the wine menu and I have a moment to wonder if I’ve already intimidated him and he’s going to start drinking heavily, but then he signals for the sommelier and orders a very expensive, very good bottle of red wine and I decide that I like this Marc, very much.
“I’ve always wanted to do this,” I grin as he gives me a hand up into the carriage, pulling me down onto the padded seat beside him and smoothing the blanket down over our laps.
“Well…you see it in movies and uh…it seems like a good idea,” he agrees, the tips of his ears turning pink and, as I’ve discovered over the past few of hours, that’s a pretty good indication that Marc is either embarrassed or he’s thinking about something embarrassing and right now, as his hand reaches for mine under the blanket, I’m hoping it’s the latter.
“So you’re trying to tell me in the two years you’ve been here, you haven’t taken a bunch of other women on this ride Marc?” I ask, biting down on my bottom lip to stop myself from actually laughing when his entire face turns pink and he looks away. The man is just too damn cute for words.
“I was going to, once,” he explains, his fingers slipping off of my own, like he can’t hold my hand and tell me this, “but uh…my girlfriend from home, from Thunder Bay…she didn’t like the idea of the horses walking on pavement and stuff.”
I’ve had one martini and two glasses of wine, so I’m not drunk but I suddenly realize that I feel jealous when he says girlfriend. I have visions of some Dutch milk maid with braids gazing up at him and I want to scratch her fucking eyes out. Reaching over for his hand, I lace my fingers with his and look up into those sky blue eyes of his and smile.
“I’m not really an animal person.” Grinning he looks young and boyish and it’s all I can do to stay where I am and not climb into his lap and ravage him. Instead I do nothing as I watch him lean forward to pay the driver (do you call a guy with a whip and a horse a driver?), watching his long fingers with a sort of hypnotic stare that has everything to do with my over active imagination and nothing to do with the fifty in his hand.
“So…law firms…that sounds busy?” he asks, settling back into the seat beside me, his wide shoulder touching mine, his long thigh brushing mine.
“Yeah, busy, but it’s just an office except that everyone’s educated up the wazoo,” I laugh, glancing over at this strong features, high prominent cheekbones, long, sharp jaw, broad wide forehead. “So…hockey,” I say, taking him back to the topic of conversation I’ve tried to have twice now, which he’s somehow managed to change on me. Even now I can see just the hint of a smile on his lips but his eyes sort of glaze over as he shrugs. “Do you fight?” I ask, trying another angle.
“I guess, once or twice,” he shrugs, his gaze wandering towards the streetlights as the carriage turns into the park.
“Did you win?” I ask, giving his hand a little squeeze and pressing my shoulder firmly against his. He smiles, showing me a line of perfectly straight, white teeth as he shrugs.
“I’m not really a fighter,” he laughs, “that’s not really my thing.”
“So that’s a no,” I tease him, giving him another playful shove to which he only rolls his eyes and laughs.
“Yeah I kinda suck at it, just ask my brothers,” he laughs as he turns to me, his eyes shining in the reflected light of the streetlights. I know he’s going to kiss me before he does it, and I feel my heart leap in my chest as he leans in, his handsome features blurring as I turn my lips up to his.
I’ll have to remember to bring Ryan a white mocha and a donut in the morning.
“That must have gone well,” Miki yawns from the spot on the couch where she’s curled up with one of her books balanced on her knees, a cup of steaming hot tea in her hand. “Considering your reservations were for six thirty.”
“Mmm,” is the only answer I give as I drop into the chair across the room, feeling boneless and too happy to speak. That and my lips are still tingling from the press of his mouth on mine and I’m sort of unwilling to give that feeling up right away.
“So not another unnourished actor I take it, by the fact that there isn’t some mangy, skinny pale guy in our kitchen right now raiding the refrigerator?” she adds with a raise of her eyebrow. I shake my head as I smile across the room and know I don’t have to say anything to her. She can see it plain as day in my face. “Oh my god…you’re finally over it aren’t you?”
“Mmm?” I ask, scrunching up my nose and narrowing my eyes.
“Summer fun,” she sighs, tilting her head to one side. “Whoever he is, he must have made it past the chemical comparison test.”
“Oh he’s so hot Mik…tall, built, and a pure gentleman,” I sigh, using my voice at last and realizing that I don’t entirely lose the feeling of his lips pressed to mine as I speak.
“Gentleman?” she asks, closing her book and putting her cup down before kicking the afghan onto the floor and crossing the room to tilt my chin up, exposing what I can only guess by feel of it is a livid bite mark over my carotid. “Gentleman?” she asks again, shaking her head and tilting my head the other way. She won’t find anything on that side, or anywhere else.
“Yes, he was a perfect gentleman. We made out in the carriage for like an hour and then he walked me home, asked for my number and kissed me good night. That’s it. A perfect gentleman,” I grin up at her, to which she smiles back down at me and kisses me in the middle of the forehead.
“I’m glad. It’s about time you had someone treat you well,” she says in her motherly sort of toner before going back to her place on the couch, gathering her tea and her book before turning back to me. “Does he have a name, this gentleman of yours? I mean, just so I know when you’re gushing over your egg mcmuffin tomorrow morning?”
“Marc. With a ‘c’,” I add, feeling like clapping my hands and jumping up and down. Funny that.
“Marc what?” she asks, raising her eyebrow at me, but I only shrug.
“I don’t know. He didn’t ask me, I didn’t ask him. I didn’t even get to ask him what team he plays for or even if it’s an affiliate or farm tea,” I sigh, but keep grinning just the same. “Not that it matters. We have another date Saturday.”
“Do you now? Well…let me know if I need to get a hotel room or something,” she calls over her shoulder, shaking her head as she drags her blanket behind her down the hallway.
“I will,” I call after her, lifting my fingers to my lips and hoping that will happen sooner, rather than later. If he can do other things as well as he kisses….hot-diggity-dog.