"Would you like to join me for dinner?" I blurted.
Oh dear lord. That was not what I was planning on saying. Julia looked at me with what could only be described as utter shock. I was afraid she would faint any moment.
..Okay, now that was a bit too far. But her gray eyes were unbelievably wide and her mouth was agape.
She threw a look over her shoulder, as if thinking I was talking to someone else. My lips twitched but I managed to keep the laugh in.
"Uh…" she stammered, "W-Well, umm you see, I-uh…"
"I don't mean it as a date or anything…" I told her quickly. "I just figured you'd be as hungry as I am after that rehearsal, and…"
She looked somewhat relieved and with a small smile, she said, "Sure."
I pressed my lips together, hoping to give her a somewhat friendly smile, but judging from the way she looked away nervously, I don't think it was very convincing. Grabbing our coats and jackets, we left the large studio. My feet were aching from the repetitive intense footwork, and my muscles felt tight; but the adrenaline rushing through my body made it all worth it. Only dancing made me feel so energetic… as if I was on top of the world.
We went straight to my car, since I knew Julia took the subway, and I quickly drove to one of my favorite Italian restaurant.
"Is Italian okay for you?" I asked as I pulled into the parking lot. Just a tad bit late, Einstein.
She smiled that contagious smile again, "Yeah, it's great."
It was odd coming into the fancy restaurant in casual clothes while everyone else was wearing suits and dresses.
The seating hostess greeted me with a smile, "The usual table, Mr. Farrell?"
I smiled in return, "Yes, thank you."
I watched Julia discreetly as she looked around the exquisitely designed surroundings of the restaurant, coming to the conclusion that she hadn't been here before.
We seated ourselves and settled into one of my favorite tables in the restaurant. It was in the corner next to the large windows, concealed by the various giant pots of plants, giving us the intimate privacy without actually disconnecting us from the rest of the restaurant.
Our menus came and I recommended a few of their specialties and some of my favorites. We ordered some drinks for the meantime; white wine for myself and mineral water for Julia.
There was silence for a few minutes as she continued rifling through the menu. I noticed it'd started raining as I looked out the window. I opened my mouth to say something, but clamped it shut; knowing that talking about the weather would probably make things worse.
To say that the whole situation was awkward would be a lie.
It was beyond awkward.
He kept looking at me and I kept touching the menu. Open, shut, turn the page, shut, open… The cursive writing didn't comprehend in my mind… just a bunch of fancy letters. It was, however, a really nice looking menu. The embossed letters on the cover were impressive, and the beautiful colors on the pages were remarkable. There was a lot of gold on the whole menu, and I personally thought a little bit of dark red or maroon would have made it look a little bit mo—
Why was I sitting in this beautiful restaurant thinking about menus when a gorgeous man was sitting in front of me? There was something seriously wrong with me.
But, then again, this wasn't a date. He'd already made that clear enough, I thought bitterly. Just dinner between two… what? Friends? We weren't friends. We were… acquaintances. So, this was just dinner between two acquaintances.
Looking around, I was feeling extremely self-conscious about my appearance now. As far as I could see, I was the only woman wearing sweatpants and sweatshirt with no makeup, no jewelry, and hair in a loose ponytail, while all the other women looked beautiful and sophisticated in their elegant dresses and priceless jewelry. As if my red hair wasn't enough, my attire made me stand out even more.
My throat seemed to be parched, so I took a sip of the ice cold water from the goblet, and cleared my throat.
"So-uh…" I racked my brain for something to say. "You come here often?"
Oh, Jesus Christ.
"Yes," he smiled faintly, "yes I do… the food is very good."
I gave a small smile. "I'm sure."
Now it was all the more awkward. I sighed inwardly and started twisting the cloth napkin in my fingers.
"How old are you?"
I looked up. What? What kind of question is that?
Frowning slightly, I replied, "Twenty-one."
He blinked, as if surprised with my answer. "You don't look a day over sixteen."
Now I was surprised. That was not true. Well, I didn't really know if it was true or not, but sixteen was a bit too young. That was five years ago. A person definitely grows older in five years.
"Well, then, I guess that'll come in handy when I'm eighty years old, huh?" I said jokingly.
Matthew stared at me for a second before he burst out laughing. My stomach did a somersault as I watched his whole face light up. The warm laughter was contagious and pretty soon, I found myself laughing along. It was strange and amazing at the same time how a person could transform in front of your eyes just because of a single, simple action.
Our food arrived soon, and we quieted down; the atmosphere seeming more comfortable and easy now.
Picking up my fork, I began cutting the pasta. "So…um, have you been dancing your whole life?"
He took a while to answer. "Well, technically, yes. I started dancing at a very young age, but only as a hobby, sort of, in the beginning. I would copy whatever I saw people doing on TV, or the movies… and then I started taking actual lessons when I was about 8 years old."
I stopped eating. "Wow… 8? That's… pretty young…"
He shrugged and continued eating his chicken.
My curiosity was suddenly aroused. "What styles do you really know?"
He swallowed, and then smiled faintly. "Most Latin dances, salsa, samba, tango, flamenco, rumba… and then there's ballroom, Greek, jazz, modern, foxtrot, quickstep… and a little bit of tap."
I set my fork down. I had no idea he was so… that he knew…
Our own routine was rumba, and he was damn good, but I could never have guessed that he knew so many other styles as well! Just goes to show what kind of dance partners we are. Rumba is a ballroom dance based on the Cuban folk dance, which I guess can explain why Matthew is so good at, since its Latin and he knows most Latin ones… but, the others, jazz, modern, foxtrot, quickstep… and even tap dancing were completely different from the Latin ones. I mean, he did look a bit like he was of a Latin descent, but still, you really can't tell just by looking.
"Wow…I-I… never knew…"
He smiled blandly, "There's a lot you don't know about me."
I looked away uncomfortably, and stared into my plate for a while, my desire to eat the pasta slowly wilting.
"So, what about you?"
Understanding what he was saying, I pushed my plate away and looked up. "I… I'm not nearly as talented as you," I said with a slight smile, "but I did learn ballroom, ballet, modern, jazz, and hip hop…I started dancing when I was around 14…"
Sipping from his goblet, he nodded slightly. "Not really into Latin are you?"
I thought for a minute. No, I hadn't really gone in that direction before and hadn't even thought about it before now. "Uh-… no, I guess I never… really thought about it..."
Oh, God, was this his way of saying that I was a horrible person to dance with? Rumba had been very challenging for me in the beginning, but I'd thought I was getting a pretty good hold of it…
He must have noticed the worried look on my face, because he smiled reassuringly, "Don't worry, you're a wonderful dancer. Even if you haven't had any training in this field before, you've caught on quite well… at least, that's what I keep hearing from Viola."
I knew my cheeks were stained red, but I gave him a shy smile anyway. Time practically flew after that. We talked about this, and that, and everything that came to mind. Before long, we were standing in front of my door. There was only a hint of dark blue in the sky and the streetlamps lining the street flickered on, one of them shedding some light on my driveway. We stood in silence for a bit before Matthew slowly stepped back, towards his car.
Sounding a little uncomfortable, he said, "So…uh- I'll see you tomorrow?"
I nodded and then realized he probably couldn't see me. "Yeah, I'll see you tomorrow."
I watched as he turned back and reached his car.
"Um," I called out, causing him to turn to face me again. "Thank you for dinner… I really enjoyed it."
Illuminated by the overhead streetlamp, I watched his face take on an amused look and a slow smile spread across his face. Giving a brief nod, I slipped inside the car and revved up the engine.
I bit my lip and unlocked the front door.
Well, what an interesting evening.
A/N: Wow, did you read what I just read? I personally don't like the ending of this chapter. Jesus, I was doing pretty well in the beginning and the middle and it wasn't very hard either, but I don't know what happened near the end! I'm sorry, but my thoughts are all scattered and my mind isn't functioning properly and I'm just going to slow down before my brain explodes. Breathe Okay, okay… please review people! Save me from myself! P
Romantic with a pen: Well, I'm sort of trying too! Haha, I've never actually been in the competitive world of dancing… just performing on stage and in front a big number audience. Anyways, I sort of got inspired by all these new dance competitions I've started watching on TV, and I just wanted to see… LoL, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it all works out the way I want it too. : )
Laughter N Ur Head07891: Haha, thank youuu! I'm glad you like it! You probably know by now that I absolutely love to hear from you, LoL. Anyways, what're you talking about? You wish you could dance? You can dance! I believe everyone in this world can dance, no matter how good, bad, or how much training they have or haven't had! ) Anyways, I'm glad to hear that Matthew actually pissed you off a little. LoL, I'm trying to make him a little more complicated than Sean from FL. I don't want him to be the kind of guy you immediately fall in love with, but more like learn more about him and then fall in love with him. Hmm, I don't know if that made sense, but thanks for reviewing! : )
angel-brittany: Oh, wow, what kind of dancer are you? Competitive, by any chance? LoL, maybe you could help me anyways if I need it, because I love to dance, but I seriously don't have experience in the competitive world of dancing. But, anyways, thanks for reviewing, and what did you think of this chapter? : )
Thanks also to: Let It Rain, Ashleigh Elaine, Cherise, xillbeyourcupid, alitalia, violin-lady13, QueenNikateen, fluffy-1128, anacharlie, somuchformyhappyending – for the wonderful reviews and words of encouragement! : )