“I want to know all about Vanessa,” Andy said, taking a sip of his ice water.
He looked across the table to the elegant bar situated in the center of the restaurant. Andy had forgotten how much it dominated the main dining area at The Ivy. Crystal glasses hung from racks, glittering in the soft overhead lighting.
If only one of those crystal glasses could be sitting in front of him filled with a fine wine, or better yet, a nice glass of scotch over ice. Stop it, Andy!
Being a recovering addict was never easy, but sitting at a table overlooking a bar stocked with every imaginable delicacy was almost more than he could bear.
He turned his head and gave Vanessa his full attention. “What do you do when you’re not on holiday in London, toying with the hearts of unsuspecting rock stars?”
“Toying?” Vanessa placed her hand in front of her mouth, feigning shock at his accusation. “You make me sound so vindictive.”
“Well, aren’t you?” Andy leaned closer and lowered his head to look her in the eye. “Toying with me?”
“I’m merely enjoying a lovely day of shopping with a handsome man, and a fine dinner at his favorite restaurant.” She lowered her eyes and pouted in true Southern-belle fashion. “Although, I am disappointed that you never took me to see the garden.”
“The garden?” Andy cocked his head to the side.
“Yes, you said we were going to visit the Covent Garden.”
“We’ve been here all day,” Andy said.
“Where are the flowers?”
“They stopped selling flowers in the 1970s, I think.”
“Then why do they call it a garden?” Vanessa asked.
“Because…” Andy stammered on his words. “I dunno. That’s just what it’s called. This area used to be well-known for its wholesale flowers. Now it’s just a very large shopping area, but it used to supply flowers to the whole country.”
“Well, I’ll expect you to bring me flowers the next time you take me on a date. It’s only fair since you didn’t bring me to a garden.”
“I suppose that can be arranged.” Andy reached over and took her hand, giving it a little squeeze. “But first I need to know about you. For starters, what’s your favorite flower?”
“That is for you to figure out.” Vanessa walked her fingers up his arm and then poked him on his lips. Two lips? Maybe she likes tulips!
“Okay, no more stalling,” Andy scolded her. “Tell me more about Vanessa. Do you have a job?”
“Yes, I do.” Vanessa batted her eyelashes.
“You’re not going to make me guess that too. Are you?” Oh, crap. Another ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question. “Let me rephrase that. What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a hairstylist.” Vanessa reached across and laced her fingers into Andy’s hair. He almost moaned audibly. “And I am dying to get my hands on that mop of yours!”
“Mop?” Andy feigned insult. “I am a rock star. There is nothing wrong with me having long hair.”
“How long has it been since a stylist has gotten her hands on you?” Vanessa raised her eyebrows.
“About fifteen seconds ago, and I wish she’d put her hands right back into my hair.”
“I will not touch your hair again until I have a pair of scissors in my hand,” she said.
Andy looked around as if to find a pair of scissors.
“And before you get any ideas about asking our waiter for a pair of scissors, I’ll add a caveat. I will not cut your hair unless you are sitting in my salon… in Nashville.”
“What time does our flight leave, again?” Andy leaned forward and rested his elbow on the table, staring intently into Vanessa’s eyes.
“My flight leaves in two days, well,” Vanessa looked at her watch, “a day and a half, actually.”
“Well then, you’re going to have to go out with me again tomorrow,” Andy said.
“Because I haven’t had a chance to kiss you yet.”
“Is that so?” Vanessa leaned forward on her elbow opposite him and smirked. Her face was close enough to his that it would have taken little effort to close the distance and connect. But he didn’t. Torturing her was almost as much fun as her torturing him.
“Do you folks need a few more minutes with the menus?” their server interrupted. Andy and Vanessa didn’t flinch.
“I think I’ve decided what I want….” Andy said.
“I’ll bet you have,” Vanessa drawled in her adorable Southern accent. She broke eye contact first and smiled sweetly at the server. “What would you suggest? What’s your favorite thing on the menu?”
“Uh…” The server cleared his throat and gulped, clearly affected by her flirting. Andy almost laughed out loud, glad he wasn’t the only man in the room completely entranced with Vanessa. “Well, we’re famous for our Shepherd’s Pie.”
“I don’t really care what you’re famous for,” Vanessa said, waving her hand dismissively. “I wanna know what’s your favorite.”
“I really love the seared scallops.” The waiter smiled down at Vanessa and then glanced at Andy and looked away.
“Then that is what I’ll have.” Vanessa sat back and crossed her arms, winking over at Andy. He didn’t release her gaze as he gave his request to the server.
“I’d like a steak, medium rare.”
“Ribeye, fillet, or sirloin?”
“Fillet,” Andy said. “No… ribeye. No, fillet. Yeah, I’ll stick with a fillet.”
“I thought you said you already knew what you wanted.” Vanessa raised her eyebrows.
“For dinner, I want a fillet.” Andy felt Vanessa’s foot tickle his calf muscle under the table, and he almost jumped out of his chair. He cleared his throat and looked up at the server. “With heritage potatoes, please.”
“As you wish, sir.” The waiter scribbled on his little pad of paper.
Andy shook his head infinitesimally and smirked at Vanessa.
“Would the two of you like any starters?”
“Want to try the fried duck egg?” Andy asked Vanessa.
“That sounds disgusting.” Vanessa’s sweet tone could have easily substituted ‘delightful’ for ‘disgusting’ and not miss a beat.
“How about a nice spinach salad?” Andy suggested.
“Much better,” she said.
When the server was finished getting all the details for their selections of dressings and sides, he offered them the perfect wine to go with their choices of meals. Andy politely declined, and the man left them alone.
“You are in so much trouble, you little vixen,” Andy murmured, a cheesy grin hovering on his face. “You are going to be the death of me.”
“Well, I wouldn’t want to kill you,” Vanessa said, placing her hands in her lap and sitting up straight. “You haven’t even kissed me yet.”
“I’m afraid to kiss you now.”
Vanessa’s expression shifted from teasing to smoldering. “You won’t be when the time is right.”
This time when Andy fought to stay in his seat, it wasn’t due to shock but pure emotional desire. He knew in that moment he was no longer tempted by anything behind that bar. All he wanted was to see her soft smile across the table for the rest of his life.