By doing some detective work, Derek found out what interested me. Chloe and Jodie both told me that he was asking them about me, but neither could divulge what they told him to me. I really wanted to know because, well, one way or another, this evening was going to come as a surprise to me. I’ve never really experienced Derek outside of work, apart from our little babysitting gig, so I was curious to see what he had up his sleeves.
Honouring Daniel’s little break time from me, I hadn’t spoken to him for what felt like an eternity. Why was it that a day felt like an eternity when something bad was going on? Is it so we’d feel every bit of hurt and pain from it so as not to repeat our mistakes again? I should hope so, because I needed to learn something from this. If not something, then I may be unfortunate enough to be in this position again.
Derek came to pick me up around 7PM. He told me to dress fancy, but the only thing I could find in my dusty closet was a black LBD with sheer panelling and lace. Fancy enough, I figured. It wasn’t me that needed to try hard anyway.
“You look beautiful,” Derek said when I opened the front door.
I blushed. “Thanks.”
Derek wore black jeans and a navy blue blazer. A navy blue shirt underneath completed the look. He looked quite dashing, I must say. He was definitely channelling that Calvin Klein dream boat that I first saw in him.
A cab was waiting on the curb. “I thought you were driving,” I said.
Derek shook his head. “We’re going to need a designated driver where we’re going,” Derek winked and grinned mischievously.
I stopped walking alongside Derek and looked at him with disappointment.
Derek laughed. “Would you relax? Trust me just this once, okay?”
He held out his arm in a curve to which, after a moment, I put my hand through. Trust was a big word. What was bigger ‘trust’ or ‘love’? In my mind, because I’m the paranoid type, I had always surmised that if someone asked you to trust them, then in that instant, they unconsciously admitted themselves to be untrustworthy. For some reason, it never rang true to me in some people. The only person, apart from my best girlfriends, that I think I really trusted was Daniel.
Trusting someone for the first time takes a lot of courage, so it only seemed fit that now my courage was under fire, lost in a sea of uncertainty and bewilderment. Was my time with Derek then about to change that? Was he going to turn my courage under fire into ice; cool, calm and collected? Time will tell; however, how much time will tell? Maybe that was my problem from the very beginning; maybe I had written Derek off at the wrong time. I hadn’t given him enough time to be what he believes he is around me. Maybe I put his courage under fire.
In a matter of minutes, Derek and I reached our destination. With how time quickly flew, it almost felt like we could have walked there. Almost. THE CULVER HOTEL was an atmospherically rich place. As soon as you walked in through the doors you can tell there was quite a history here. Since 1924, it had continuously mastered the 20s jazz ambience, almost sending you back in time. The lobby had a band playing jazz. Some people seemed to stick out like sore thumbs with the way they dressed, others were playing along with the 20s theme. I’m just glad I wore black.
“This way,” Derek said after I took a moment to absorb the dark cherry, gold and velvety colours.
He led me by the hand into a dining room, where people sat to drink and eat, and drink at the bar. Even families were gathered around. Our maitre’d, Francois, was the epitome of French sophistication, at least that what’s I thought. He had tall, lanky features that were tanned, and a generous set of stubble; although the whiskers weren’t too long. His eyes seemed a bit angled downwards, probably with sleep; however, his smile was wide as he greeted us.
“Welcome madame and misure,” he said in a thick French accent. “Names?”
Francois checked the book off and then seated us at a nice little table near the window. From far away, we could hear the jazz band play their music in the distance as if they were making love to their own women (or men, you never know!). The room was bustling, unlike some restaurants where you have to put your hand up to speak louder or something,
Derek was such a gentlemen. He pulled out my chair and allowed me to sit down before taking the seat himself. First we ordered drinks before looking over the menu to see what we wanted for our three course dinner. For the first time since this break, I felt giddy and excited. I was looking forward to a night like this; even spending an evening with Derek didn’t seem all too bad. Thus far, he had been wonderful.
The waiter took our menus once he came back with our drinks and to take down our orders. Even though I faced Derek, I couldn’t peel my eyes off of the luxurious and glamorous Gatsby inspired lighting and colours. The cherry on top though, was the jazz.
“You figured me out well, I must say,” I complimented.
Derek grinned, all too proud of himself. “Quite surprising actually.”
Derek nodded. “I would have never figured you as a jazz kind of girl.”
“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
“No, no,” Derek said, “it’s a pleasant surprise.”
“I would have never figured you to draw up something so fancy for our first date.”
“First?” Derek had a twinkle in his eyes.
I rolled my eyes. “That’s the word that sticks?”
Derek laughed. “You’re the one that said it, I’m merely point it out.”
“First and only. Better?”
Derek pursed his lips and pretended to pout for a second. “Not really.”
Our entrees came when Derek began smiling. You can never go wrong with scallops; unless you cook it yourself, just saying. For some reason, I could never get scallops right. I bought a tonne one time in an effort to make a fancy meal for my friends; but not even a tonne could salvage the dinner. The scallops were shrinking to the size of peas, my green goddess rice wasn’t cooked well enough and the rice was still hard (although the green part of the green goddess rice was definitely tasty). The only thing that went well was the dessert, purely based on the fact that it was entirely pre-made. Vanilla ice-cream and fruit aren’t exactly something I’d proud myself on making (and I use the term ‘make’ very loosely), but it still was the best dish. In any case, you’d want to finish every dinner at the end of the night with a good lasting impression. So I wondered what our lasting impression was going to be. Was it just dinner? Or was there more?
At the end of the dinner, which was delicious by the way, we headed out. Before exiting the hotel though, we saw the jazz band again. Suddenly, Derek took my hand and swung me. I was so surprised that I didn’t fall down or at least trip from pure shock, but it was fun no matter what. In the middle of the lobby, somehow Derek and I danced together for about a minute or two; thankfully, our dance wasn’t so obnoxious that it overwhelmed the music. The entire time we danced the members of the jazz party were laughing, people were looking at us, and I just had to go full blown red in the face. After the two minutes, when the music stopped, the band members clapped us and we bowed. Derek, with my hand still in his, then led me out the hotel.