Three Blind Dates - An Evolved Energy Short by Erin Robinson
A rainbow of bright, fluorescent light glittered from the tall ceilings onto the black, marble tiles of the floor. Swaying couples rhythmically twirled against each other to the beat of an up tempo jazz quartet. Some distance away, perched on a metal barstool, with his elbows rested on a thin, steel table, was Saul.
Tonight he had company. Female company. The sort of female company that Saul had hoped for weeks would give him a second glance.
Tendrils of fiery red hair snaked down the woman's shoulders and her eyes sparkled like sapphires. She was quiet: cautious. Saul wasn't sure how to pull her out of her shell so he ended up watching her tongue dart out to lick the sugar-coated rim of her cocktail glass.
He swallowed the dry ball at the back of his throat. All his usual pick up lines had fallen flat but, strangely, she hadn't left his side.
“So,” Saul chewed his lower lip. “Do you like to dance?”
Green eyes flickered up to his for a brief moment. “Yeah.”
Saul grinned. “Would you like to dance with me?”
She shrugged and Saul sagged back down in his seat. A shrug wasn't a no. A shrug also wasn't a yes. He wasn't going to be one of those pushy guys that he'd seen in movies: the kind that get their asses handed to them by ginormous bouncers.
“You have pretty eyes.” Saul’s cheeks tinged pink.
The woman's eyebrows jerked upwards. “Are you... hitting on me?”
Saul blinked. “I'm, um, trying to.”
“Am I falling flat on my face?” Saul smiled softly.
“I don't have sex so if you're wanting that then yes.”
“Are you a lesbian?”
The woman's eyes widened into orbs. “So just because I don't want to get intimate with you, I must be gay? That's the only logical explanation for why a woman wouldn't want to go to bed with you?”
Saul’s bottom jaw dangled loosely. This was the most the woman had said to him all night. He didn't think it was a good sign.
“No, I didn't mean... I just thought it might be a talking point.”
“You regularly ask people about their sexuality as part of your small talk?”
“No,” Saul sighed. “I don't care about that. I have a gay mate and a bi mate. Except people don't know he's bi so it's a bit sensitive and-”
“So you just outed your friend?”
Saul didn't think his jaw could sink any lower. “What are you talking about?”
Ice-cold liquid encased his face momentarily before he had any chance of acknowledging what had just happened. Citrus wafted up his nose and sticky droplets fell from rogue strands of hair around his face.
Out of stinging, blurry eyes, Saul could see that the woman's glass was empty: as was her seat.
What had possessed him to come out with so much garbage in the space of thirty minutes? He couldn’t fathom it. Recently his confidence had been failing him. Henry had told him it was because he was getting older, fatter, and uglier. Eacal had said it was a run of bad luck. He was slowly coming to the horrific realisation that Henry might be right about something.
Henry pushed his forkful of lasagne from one side of his plate to the next. Across the table, a blonde was gesticulating at rapid speed while attempting to convey a story Henry had lost interest in ten minutes earlier. For the fifth time in an hour, Henry’s gaze flicked to the clock on the far wall.
As far as dates went, this wasn’t his worst. Connor was a nice guy. Not fabulous, not interesting, not ambitious, but nice. What did it matter if there was too much wax in his hair, or his tie clashed with his shirt? Wasn’t Saul always telling him that the dating game meant compromises?
Drumming his fingers softly on the table, Henry tried to refocus on the man in front of him. If only he could remember what the story was about. Work? Family? He was sure a dog had been mentioned at some point... Henry cleared his throat. He was the best lawyer in this city and he was sure as hell not going to look like an idiot in front of Mr Waxy Hair.
“So,” Henry interjected as soon as Connor paused for breath. “Do you date much?”
Connor’s smile widened to reveal a perfect set of pearly whites. “Being honest, no. Not really. I haven’t in a while... I got divorced three years ago and it’s difficult to get back on the horse, you know?”
“Yes,” Henry gulped from his glass of white wine. “Of course.”
The beaming grin that had painted Connor’s face moments before faltered under Henry’s gaze. Both men covered the awkward lull in conversation by picking at their meals. The restaurant had one of the best reputations in town: it wasn’t the best as Henry reserved that for better company, but it came close enough. He knew the menu like the back of his hand. Unfortunately, he had made the fatal mistake of allowing Connor to select the wine and was now sipping substandard battery acid that had no business accompanying lasagne.
“Have you ever been married?” Connor asked his bowl of spaghetti.
Henry picked at a loose thread jutting out of the seam in his black trousers. “No.”
“Oh,” Connor cleared his throat. “Never met that Mr Right, huh?”
At that, Henry lifted his head slowly. His eyebrows had been pulled upwards by invisible strings. Henry was willing to let Connor make many assumptions about his life - after all, he probably wouldn’t see the man again after tonight - but he refused to let the man believe he was a lonely, eternal bachelor. Henry had known love. He’d felt it in his bones.
Without a second thought, he began to rummage in his pocket. He rose from his seat, discarded a pile of notes onto the white linen draping over the table, and threw his suit jacket over his shoulder. His eyes scanned Connor’s shocked expression for no longer than a fleeting second.
“Sorry Connor,” Henry smirked. “I’m afraid I’ve had plenty of experience with Mr right - it’s just that you’re not him.”
“Eacal, are you even listening to me?”
In reality the answer was no, he had not been listening. In fact, he had no intention of listening to anything she had to say in the next thirty minutes, but causing a public scene was more trouble than it was worth. She was on her seventh glass of chardonnay and it was definitely showing.
“I was saying,” His wife drawled. “That you’ve put on weight since you took that office job.”
Red hot fury burned behind Eacal’s eyes but he grit his teeth together and said nothing. She was drunk. Very drunk. He could have kicked himself for not seeing it coming - especially when she had opened a bottle of wine before they even left the house. Her pale skin was blotching pink in places now, and her white hair was becoming more dishevelled every time her fingers pushed it away from her face. The glass teetering in her hands was nearly empty.
“You know Wyatt has a parent/teacher thing next week.” He mumbled.
His wife cackled. “Do I have to go to that?”
Eacal shrugged. Even if he said yes, the chances of her turning up were slim to none. She would have wandered off somewhere by then, and he doubted she would come stumbling back for the sake of one meeting. Most of the time Eacal wasn’t sure she remembered she was a parent. Before he could change the subject, though, a young waiter walked past their table.
He looked no older than twenty, with thick rimmed glasses and patchy stubble. The poor, unsuspecting guy had no way of knowing Felicity was about to ensnare his wrist in her grip. Eacal flushed as the waiter stopped in his tracks. His wife’s eyes were glazed but it didn’t stop her from batting her glued-on lashes.
“Can I help you?” He gave them both a courteous smile.
Eacal grimaced. “No, I’m sorry-”
“Don’t speak for me!” Felicity shrieked.
Sets of eyes turned to stare. A whispered hush fell across the dining room. If the ground could have opened and swallowed him whole, Eacal would have willingly gone to the depths of Hell. At this point, anywhere would have been better than here. In his mind he thought of Saul’s bar and how good it would have been to spend the night sipping cold beer and listening to Henry. Instead, his wife had begun flirting with the waiter.
“I’m so sorry.” He mouthed to the boy whose eyes had widened into horrified saucers.
He wondered if he would ever be allowed in this restaurant again. It wasn’t his favourite but it was nice enough. It was exactly the sort of place he would have liked to have a date, if only his date wasn’t an intoxicated mess who despised every cell in his body. His eyes pricked with the stinging sensation of tears but he refused to cry - not here, not in front of her, and not over something as stupid as this. He’d tell Henry and Saul about it later. They’d laugh with him: not at him.
Erin is a writer, and blogger, from Scotland in the UK. She mostly writes fantasy and recently released the first in her urban fantasy, detective series: The Golden Gremlin. She blogs three times a week and each Wednesday runs her free flash fiction series: Evolved Energy. This short story takes place within the Evolved Energy Universe.
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