Barb stood at the bar, nursing her cocktail. Thomas had just gone off to check on how much longer the wait would be. He hadn’t thought to make reservations, even though sifud. was the hottest night spot in San Kaissa at the moment.
“What am I even doing here?” she wondered.
“Hi! Who had the Yia Yia Mahi?”
Thomas gave a discreet signal.
“That makes you the Brie & Berry Salad,” said the server, laying a rather outsized dish in front of Barb.
“That looks good,” Thomas said, somewhat lamely. Barb mustered a half-smile. She’d inadvertently filled up on oyster crackers at the bar.
“No, no, I’ve got this!” Thomas insisted, handing the bill to the waiter. Barb put her purse back on the adjoining seat.
Their plates cleared, small talk long since dispensed with, a silence settled over the table.
Barb stared out over the waters, looking at the lights on the docked boats.
A soft rain pattered on the roof of Thomas’s car. The sifud. parking lot was mostly empty now. Not that he or Barb could see that, thanks to the fogged-up windows.
Barb sat back, brushing a bit of hair off her sweaty forehead. Tom still knew his way around the back seat of a car. He was good enough that Barb was able to overlook the garlic breath for the most part. Why did he have to order that fish plate? Barb was surprised to realize she was a little disappointed to realize things weren’t going to go past simply making out tonight.
She gathered up her purse, preparing to head back to her car on the other side of the parking lot. It was quiet and dark outside. She realized her heart was beating with fear as much as passion.
“You think you could introduce me to the guy who runs your kung fu dojo?”
Thomas smiled, that trademark roguish grin that still made Barb melt. “It’s called a ‘kwoon’—dojo is a Japanese word. And yeah, I’d be happy to introduce you to my sifu. You interested in learning kung fu?”
Barb opened the door, ushering in a chill breeze. She returned Tom’s grin with one of her own. “Yeah, maybe.”
Thomas’s farewell words—“Call me?”—were muffled by the shutting of the door. Barb’s heels clacked on the slick asphalt as she pulled her knit cardigan tighter around her shoulders. The shadows seemed to pursue her all the way to her Acura.
Looking back, Barb noted that Thomas had been good enough to wait until she got in her car before starting up his own and driving off. Barb started her car, put it in gear, but then paused. She stared out the windshield across the darkened parking lot, now illuminated by her headlights. Was that a snowflake she just saw drifting through the lights of her high beams?
She shook her head and drove off.