Sitting on the rock, his feet dangling in the water. It was the place he could relax, where all the pressure was lifted off his shoulders. He wished, he could share it with her though. While his eyes scanned the ocean he wondered where she would be right now, what she was doing and whom she was with.
He remembered the day he saw her at The Dragon’s Lair. The memory of the first and second time he kissed her was burned like a tattoo into his brain. The shocked look on her face when he picked her up in the limo with a rose, champagne and a new dress to wear. It was emerald green to match her eyes.
He sits here looking out onto the horizon and remembers it all. He had to call her Candi because she wouldn’t tell him her real name. She was his candy, his liquor, his coffee and anything else he could be addicted to. He remembered when she sat down next to him in the limo and just stared at him. She asked him “Who are you?” He smiled sheepishly, “I am your knight in shining armor.” The reaction he received was not what he was expecting. “Do you really think this is pretty woman and I need saving? What is this dress?” she said incredulously while looking at the beautiful green dress. “WHO ARE YOU?” she blurted out loudly. He looked disappointed.
She felt bad that she had darkened his fantasy but this was reality, not a Julia Roberts movie. He said, “My name is Julian. I want to get to know you better. ”
“Why? Why do you want to get to know me better? What is this all about? Are you just wanting a fantasy? What do you want?” she demanded with hostility.
His eyes flared, his face got hot but he calmly said, “It’s like I said, I just wanted to get to know you better. I like how I feel around you and want to learn more about you. You can leave at any time.”
“I am an exotic dancer, stripper, whatever you want to call it. What makes you different from the others?”
“I don’t care what you do for a living. I find you intriguing and interesting and want to spend time with you.”
“Oh” she said and leaned back in the comfortable leather seats. “I’ve got to be out of my mind but let the date begin.” she said snarkily. She took the rose and the glass of champagne he handed her, clinked their glasses together and drank the whole thing at once. She stared at him looking for his agenda. His blue eyes were burning a hole through her. He looked passionate and a tad angry, she liked that look on him. She will remain guarded until she knows for sure what he really wants.
The driver shut the door and went to chauffeur the couple. It was going to be an interesting night.
Julian and Candi sat in the backseat awkwardly trying to make conversation. The tension could have been cut with a knife. Finally, Julian looked at her in the eyes and said, “I have planned the night but if there is any time you want to leave, just say the word and I will take you home and I won’t bother you again.” Candi looked at him back in the eyes, “I appreciate that Julian. Would you tell me where we are going?” and then she smiled and he smiled back. “I will take you to dinner and after that we can go wherever you would like. Is there anything particular you would like to do? Sky’s the Limit.”
“Really?” she said incredulously, “Who are you again?” He smiled a little and said, “Tonight, I’m just Julian.”
They pulled into the front area of the restaurant. Candi had yet to put her dress on. Julian waited for her to change and she asked him if she could change alone. Yes, she knew this is weird considering she was naked in front of him before, but this part is not her job. Julian stepped out of the limo and he and Steve, the chauffeur waited for her to open the door. They were at a top of the line Steakhouse that was impossible to get into. Impossible for most people, but not impossible for Julian. When she stepped out of the car, she took his breath away.
He stood there with Steve and both of them were speechless. She had pinned her mahogany hair up into a loose bun, fixed her makeup and the skin-tight dress showed her every curve in all the right places. He was nervous all of the sudden and he could see that she was too. She looked at both of them and said “WHAT?” Chauffeur Steve composed himself and shut the car door behind her. “Master Julian, I will be waiting here when you are finished” and he went back to the front seat and drove away. Julian stood there staring at her. “You’re beautiful” he stammered and then composed himself. He put his arm out and said “Shall we?”
When they entered the restaurant, everyone was staring at this beautiful creature in the green dress. She felt awkward in such a beautiful place but put her head up high and walked in with grace. The maitre d went right up to Julian and said “Good evening sir. I will get you seated right away.” Candi was shocked. Julian was a big shot. She really wants to know who he is, besides “Just Julian”. They were seated in a private area away from all the other customers. What on earth is going on?
Once they were seated, the waiter came over and brought a bottle of a 1983 Le Pin Bordeaux Blend Red. The waiter poured him a glass and he swirled the glass, smelled the wine and tasted it. He said something in French and the waiter poured them both a glass. She didn’t dare touch it. She didn’t know anything about fancy wines, just the $3.00 kind she unscrews at the 7-11 and usually drinks out of the bottle. What was she doing here?
She looked at Julian and didn’t know what to say. She was way out of her element. Julian sensed that she was uncomfortable. He picked up his glass and said “Cheers” and there was nothing she could do but pick up her glass and clink it against his and sip. The wine was like heaven in a glass. It was smooth and just slid down her throat like silk. All she could say was “Wow!” He smiled really big. She couldn’t help but notice how gorgeous he is but she had to keep her guard up. It was getting harder to resist him.
“So Julian, what do you do for a living?” she said with a mischievous smile because she just couldn’t resist.
Julian liked her smile and found pleasure in her question. “I am a chef. I am Chef Julian.” Her smile got big but then her face fell with astonishment. “Chef Julian? As in, Julian Costa of the Costa Steakhouse? This steakhouse we are sitting in right now? ”
He felt a little embarrassed and smiled sheepishly then said, “The one in the same.” Candi felt like she might pass out.
“It’s really not a big deal. I am just a chef.” Candi sat there with her jaw dropped open and thought to herself “Just a chef? Only one of the most famous chefs in the world. Who also happens to own their own steakhouse that is one of the most famous in the world. Just a chef?”
Candi looked down at her hands and said, “Um, Julian, I am way out of my league here.” Julian frowned and then smirked and said “I was just thinking the same thing about you.” Candi’s head popped up with a look of surprise. How could she be out of his league?
When Julian saw how surprised she was, he realized that she didn’t know her beauty and intelligence. She doesn’t see what he sees. “Don’t you know how beautiful you are?” he asked. At that time, Candi’s eyes watered and a single tear fell down her cheek. He reached across the table and wiped the tear away. Then he rubbed his thumb across her full, beautiful lips and could think of nothing else but that he wanted to kiss those lips again. Candi’s cheeks turned red. “I am just embarrassing myself with you” she whispered.
When she looked up she saw the glint in his eyes and the anger that was following it. He got up out of his chair and walked over to her. In the private room, there was a full wall mirror. He grabbed her hand and put her in front of the mirror while he stood behind her. “What do you see, Candi?” She stuttered but couldn’t answer. “Let me tell you what I see. I see a beautiful woman who has been hurt in life. I see intelligence. I see sexy and I want all of it. How can you not see what I see?” Another tear rolled down her cheek, “You don’t know me Julian. This cannot end well. You should probably take me home.”
He stared into the mirror. She had bowed her head so he wouldn’t see the tears. He pulled her around and placed his lips upon hers with forcefulness and passion. She reciprocated when she felt his energy and the electricity between them but realized what she was doing and pushed him away. “Your kisses are not going to change who I am Julian. Please take me home.”
He conceded. “Candi, please stay for dinner. You need to eat. I am sorry I upset you.” She nodded and agreed to eat with him but all she could think about were the butterflies in her stomach, her need to be with this man and how much she wanted to kiss him again. She had to keep reminding herself that passion isn’t love and she won’t be hurt again. She looked at him and he didn’t seem defeated. He actually looked motivated. What does he really want with her? This couldn’t possibly be a real “thing”.
Julian felt bad that he upset her, but she had to know how he felt when he looked at her. Someone had hurt her really badly at sometime in her life and he wanted to show her that not everyone will hurt her. He wanted her so badly. It felt like he needed her and would be empty without her.
They made polite conversation during dinner. He asked her to talk about herself. He wanted to know her ambitions and her dreams. He wanted to know who she was and where she came from. She wouldn’t talk about the past much except for her younger sister, Jenny. The job she had was going to help her pay for her sister to go to college. She let out little secrets here and there but most of the information was hidden except when she spoke of her sister Jenny. Jenny was 10 years younger than her and she wanted her to have the life that she couldn’t have. Jenny was graduating high school soon and Candi was going to get her into college. Jenny wants to be a fashion designer and Candi is going to help her dreams come true.
Julian was impressed with how much Candi cared for her sister. He had to ask though, “Candi, what are you doing to make your dreams come true?” She looked at him and tilted her head like a puppy trying to understand what he meant. “My dreams aren’t important as long as Jenny gets to be educated and have a life. My life is what it is. I had to make choices. These are my choices so she can have a better life.”
Julian was a bit frustrated. This beautiful intelligent woman was selling her soul so her sibling could have a good life. He knew he liked this woman from the moment he met her. He wanted to make her dreams come true. He had the means. He had the drive. Now he needed to convince the woman.
“If you could have anything in the world, just for you, no strings attached, what would it be?” he asked. “What do you want for you?” She looked puzzled. “I have never really thought about it.” she replied. “I have spent the last 10 years protecting and providing for Jenny. I would want her to have a fulfilling life.” Julian sighed. “Do you want a family? Do you want a career doing something you love? What do you love Candi?”
She put her fist up to her mouth and thought about it. He stared at her because it was such a different look for her. She was thinking really hard to figure out what she loved. It was then that he knew who he was going to love. “I love to dance. I think that is why I picked this as a job, along with the money I make, but I always had a passion for dancing. I never got to take classes or anything so I would watch TV and the Internet and learn from them. When my dad died, he didn’t leave anything for us and my mother didn’t have a lot of skills except being a stay at home mom so we had to make due with what we could. I would work anywhere I could after school and on weekends and dance in my free time. My mom took on a couple of jobs and between the two of us we made ends meet. Jenny was just a little girl then so we took care of her and made things work.”
Julian was touched by this. He stood up and held out his hand “Dance with me.”
“Wwwhhhattt?” she stammered and looked up at him and saw he was serious. “But there isn’t any music.” He said, “I can fix that” and called the waiter over and whispered in his ear. A violinist from the restaurant came into the room and started playing music for them to dance to. “Wow, all you have to do is snap your fingers, huh?” She stood up and put her hand in his and her other hand on his waist. He pulled her close to him and breathed in her scent at the base of her neck.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t dance very well. Maybe you can teach me?” Julian chuckled. Candi looked at him and smiled then put her head back on his shoulder and said “Sure” as she breathed in his cologne. They were silent and just feeling each other through the music. The food began to arrive but they continued to dance. Once the music was finished, she looked at him and said “Thank you. I’m starving now!” He agreed. He was starving too, but for her.
He valued her opinion of the food and the wine. She used description phrases like “It melts like butter in my mouth” and “Smooth and Silky.” He hung on every word and watched her beautiful mouth. He wanted nothing more than to kiss those lips again. He wanted to have her melt like butter in his mouth. He wanted to feel her smooth and silky skin under his hands. “Are you okay?” she asked. He must have had a look on his face. “I’m really good. How are you?” he said feeling silly. His fantasy got away from him. He had to take back control.
As they finished dinner, they decided against dessert, at least at the table. He walked her out of the restaurant back to the limo and asked her if she still wanted to go home. “No, not yet. It’s a beautiful night. Could we go get some ice cream and walk through a park somewhere? I would really like to enjoy this weather.” she suggested. “We can do anything you want.” he grinned. Ice Cream and the park sounded like a wonderful idea.
Steve opened the doors for them and Julian looked at Candi and asked “Which ice cream parlor did you want to go to?” She looked at Julian and Steve and said, “Surprise me.” So they got into the limo and Steve started driving. Apparently Julian already had a place in mind and Steve knew exactly where that was.
Farther away from the restaurant and the city, Steve drove them to the suburbs where they pulled over to a small shopping center. There was an Mom and Pop ice cream store that she wasn’t familiar with that Steve parked in front of. Julian opened his door and put his hand out for Candi. As she got out of the car, he held her hand and they walked into the Ice Cream Parlor. There was an ice cream counter to sit at or booths. It was like they were taken back to the 50’s. There was a jukebox playing 50’s songs and the walls were done in red and white stripes. This was the most incredible place she had ever seen.
Julian walked up to the counter and waited for the man with the little white hat to turn around. Once he did, Candi saw an older version of Julian. He had blue eyes, grayish hair and the same charming smile. “Julian, it’s so wonderful to see you here. I have missed you!” and they gave each other a big hug. “Mama, look who’s here to visit us!” A petite, gray haired, hazel eyed woman came out of the back and almost hopped the counter when she saw Julian. She hugged him that smacked him on the back of the head “I don’t see you anymore. I miss you. You need to call your mother more often.” Then she kissed him on the cheek and smacked him on the head one more time. “Ma, stop smacking my head!” Julian said with a smile. That is when both their eyes turned onto her.
Candi was red in the face. His Parents? Really? It’s the first date. “Mom, Pop, I would like you to meet Candi.” he smirked at her. “A pleasure to meet you Candi. What kind of ice cream would you like? It’s on the house.” said his Pop. Candi was stupefied. “Um, Mint Chip.” “Oh, That’s our Julian’s favorite too.” said Ma. Candi turned as red as a beet. All she wanted to do was run. They sat at the counter and they brought out two bowls of the best ice cream she had ever tasted. Again she said “Wow” and Julian smiled.
They were walking back to the limo and he didn’t want the date to end. He loved to just look at her mahogany hair blowing in the wind, her emerald green eyes shining and her long torso, muscled legs and every inch of her . She glanced his way and looked right into his soul. She said, “Julian, this was the best night I have had in a long time. Thank you.” He smiled at her and then felt like someone punched him in the gut. There wasn’t going to be a second date. There wasn’t going to be a life together. She wasn’t going to stay with him. He could see it in her eyes. She saw his reaction to what she said and she knew that he knew this was the end.
As much as she wanted to be with this man, they were from different lands entirely. She had to focus on her sister and if she was with him, she couldn’t focus on what was important. She saw the look of defeat on his face. It was then that she walked up to him and initiated the kiss. When she separated from him she whispered passionately, “Let’s finish this date off right. Take me home with you.”
His eyes glazed over for a minute. He wanted this so badly. They got into the limo and headed back to his house. It wasn’t disappointing. The house was a mansion. They arrived and Steve opened the door to the limo. She got out and waited for him to exit. Then they took each other’s hands and went into the house, nothing but two shadows walking up the stairs to find their destiny with each other. It was the best night for both of them, but when morning came, it was over.
There is an empty space in his life. He sits on the rock, his feet dangling in the water. It was the only place he could relax, where all the pressure was lifted off his shoulders. He wished, he could share it with her though. While his eyes scanned the ocean he wondered where she would be right now, what she was doing and whom she was with. He will find her one day, his Candi.