I wrote this short story for a contest on vocal.media in 2020 and wanted to share it with you here on the blog! It has the butterflies of possible romance and the spice of a brand new flame. TW: the contest required me to write about Merlot. This was also before I opted into living an alcohol-free lifestyle, and fancied a glass of Whiskey.
Wild Violets by Dalea Faulkner
Abigail has no idea what to expect on her first blind date.
A blanket of stars wrapped themselves around the building, as a fresh summer breeze made the ferns dance and the pines away. I wrapped my fingers around the over-sized brass handle, and took a deep breath. A blind date. This is fine. Angelica said that this guy was legit, and at least worth meeting over a glass of wine. I can do this.
The door was heavy as I pulled it toward me, brushing it against the front of my short black dress. Dammit. A line of dust had appeared on my dress. Instead of heading over to the hostess, I made a beeline for the bathroom. I need to wipe this off... didn't spend all that time getting ready to show up like a mess. This is fine. The paper towels in the bathroom weren't the worst. I wet three of them and wiped at the dust mark furiously. Once I was satisfied, I stood up straight, and fixed my hair. I tucked a piece of my shoulder-length blonde behind my left ear, and swooped my bangs back over to the right side of my face.
My makeup still looked ok, it was subtle and smoky, but with my signature pop of lip color in my favorite coral pink. I filled my lungs again with yet another deep breath, I can do this. As I headed over to the hostess, I was keenly aware of the clacking made by my black heels on the marble floor in the foyer. The hostess peered up from behind her monitor.
"Hi! Welcome to The Starlight Lounge. Do you have a reservation?"
I cleared my throat, "Yes, it should be under Wade... for 7 o'clock? I'm supposed to meet him here, but I don't know what he looks like." My voice came out soft and curious, less playful than it usually sounds.
"Ok, let me see if he has checked in..." her fingers danced across the keyboard in front of her, clacking much louder than my shoes had earlier. "Ah yes, he just came in a few moments ago. I'll take you over to the table."
She grabbed a menu for me, and lead me through the restaurant. The ceiling was immaculate, a deep cobalt with twinkling fiber optic stars, lined with a warm rope of LED's. The same rope lights outlined the vintage bar, reminiscent of an underground speak-easy that had been upgraded and modernized. I had heard great things about this restaurant, from the ambiance to the food, but I hadn't expected this.
Aromas of the delicacies served at each table swirled through the air, amidst the candlelight and laughter. My overly romantic heart beat harder against my chest, as I took a deep breath in to calm my nerves. I hope Angelica's right about this guy...
She was leading me over to a table that was cozied next to a massive fireplace, the mantle was a deep masculine walnut, and it was wide enough for five adults to stand inside it. My gaze was pulled away from the crackling fire and ornate mantle to the gentleman rising up to greet me at my table. His hair was raven, and complimented his tailored suit. My eyes met his, and I felt myself locked... like a magnet. I was mesmerized by the strange emerald gray that had made my mind go blank.
The hostess set my menu down on the table, giggling as she left. "Enjoy your meal!"
I was still standing, mildly dumbfounded, staring for what seemed like ages. He reached his hand out to me, "Nice to meet you. I'm Wade." I held my hand out and wrapped my fingers around him gently. His hand was so strong, yet he didn't grip me with a business handshake... it felt friendly and welcoming.
Recognizing my awkward silence, and our hands still connected, "Hi! I'm Abigail, but almost everyone calls me Abi."
His voice was deep, with a hint of gruff..."I'm glad you came, Abigail. Shall we sit?"
Hearing him say my name sent a snake-like shiver so large down my back, I felt like everyone could see it. Wade let go of my hand and helped me into my chair, and helped me closer to the table. A gentleman so far. I can do this. I smiled and took a deep breath. I was highly aware that I had never experienced this kind of "instant attraction" to a man before, and I had never ventured out on a blind date. I wondered if this was his first blind date too.
"So... have you ever, um, done the whole Blind Date thing before?"
He glanced up at me from behind his menu, those eyes captivating me once again, "Nope, this is my first time. You?"
"Same. And I've never been here before. This place is so... beautiful."
"Angelica said you'd like it, so I figured why not."
Impressive. Ok, ok, this feels way too perfect. There's got to be something about this guy, something he's not sharing. Hmm. He could sense I was sizing him up, and he let me, as he went back to looking at the menu.
I hadn't even looked at mine yet. Grabbing my menu, I scanned over the available options... finally deciding on Pan-Seared Duck Breast with Blueberry Sauce. My eyes wandered over to the small wine menu that stood on the table, next to a votive candle and a single crimson rose in a small vase. Wade glanced up as I was reaching for the tiny menu. My coral nail polish caught the firelight, making my nails shine.
He asked me gently, "What do you usually like to drink?"
His curiosity intrigued me. "I love a good Merlot. I was hoping to try a new one tonight."
He smirked, and I shifted in my seat, looking back at the red wine list. My search was quickly interrupted by a voice beside me.
"Welcome to The Starlight Lounge. My name is Jeffrey and I'll be your server tonight. Can I get you two started with some drinks?"
I lifted my gaze up at Jeffrey. He was a handsome blonde, but couldn't hold a candle to the chiseled Adonis that was Wade. I gulped, thinking about what Wade might look like wearing only his tie.
"What Merlot do you recommend?" The words stumbled out of my mouth.
With confidence, "I always recommend the Jetbird. It's a customer favorite."
"Ok, I will have a glass of the Jetbird."
Jeffrey looked to Wade, "And for you, Sir?"
"I'll take a glass of Jameson on the rocks."
Jeffrey nodded. "Wonderful. And by chance are you two ready to order?"
Without checking if Wade was ready, I heard the word "Yes" escape from between my lips. I rattled off my order, and gazed again into Wade's emerald gray eyes. He smiled at me.
"Make that two." He said to Jeffrey.
"Alright, I will be back shortly with your drinks, and your meals.
Wade thanked Jeffrey before he left, and seemed to be admiring my dress.
I shifted again in my seat, sitting up a little taller. Mom always said that slouching made me look like a slob. He leaned in towards me, "So, why are you here?"
The question caught me off guard. I squinted, confused. "What do you mean?" I thought it was obvious we were on a date.
"Like, your life's purpose. Why are you here?"
Oh, wow. That's deep. He could have asked me what I do for work, or about my hobbies... but I appreciate his straightforward question. I smile shyly, and decide to open up.
"I'm an artist. I love creating new things, or turning old forgotten things into something useful and beautiful." My hair escapes from behind my left ear, and I nervously tuck it back.
"That sounds fulfilling. What are you..." he searches for the word, "creating right now?"
He's interested... this is ok. This is fine. I can do this.
"Right now I'm working on restoring an old typewriter, and painting it with wildflowers."
His eyebrows lift, he seems intrigued. "I'd like to see that some time... if you're willing to show me, of course."
Before I could respond, Jeffrey was back with wine and whiskey, perfect timing for the butterflies about to fly out of my bellybutton. I needed something to calm my ever growing nerves. Just being here with Wade was its own adventure. I reached out for my glass, pausing as I held it in front of me. He caught on, and held his out just the same. A silent toast.
As I took a sip, I rolled the flavors around on my tongue, discovering the taste of wild violets and cherries, topped with cinnamon and strawberry. The essence of wild violets overwhelmed me, my favorite flower... this wine is incredible. I sat with the flavors for a moment, before realizing that he was staring at me.
"Good wine, eh?"
"Oh, yeah." I said, confused.
He tipped his head slightly to the left, "You um, made a face."
Oh, my god. A sunset heat swarmed my cheeks. How embarrassing.
He interrupted me, "It's ok. I do that sometimes too. But only with excellent wine. May I?" He gestured to the glass. Without even thinking, I nodded, and passed my glass over to him, being sure to offer him the side of the glass that my lipstick hadn't kissed. He raised the glass to his lips, took a moderate sip, and let the flavors linger in his mouth. The way he set the glass back down was almost seductive in manner, as I could see him enjoying every note the wine had to offer. I studied his face, his eyes closed and his lips formed a sexy smile. My cheeks and face flushed again, only this time it wasn't because I felt embarrassed.
There you have it! I have had a few requests to turn this into a longer story or novella, and I would love to hear your thoughts on that!
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