Letters and Lies
Spending my Saturday night in a Five-star restaurant with a man I had perceived as a woman for the better part of my junior year was, to say the least, a little unsettling. Could you really blame me for being freaked out and kind of (ok, really) confused?
To make matters worse, my attempt at being sophisticated by ordering a glass of Shiraz had been shot down with a firm stare and a degrading, "He'll just have Pepsi."
At least the bread was good.
"Have you decided what you're ordering, Benjamin?" he asked.
I glanced at the menu. "Um…"
He brought his hand towards my menu and gently turned the page to the back. "Vegetarian dishes. I hear they're quite good." I looked up at him. His eyes were dark like before in the Florist shop, only this time they held something different. Something that made me uncomfortable.
"How," I swallowed, "how'd you know I was a vegetarian?"
"Didn't your shirt this afternoon bare the slogan 'Meat is Murder'?" he asked, amusement quite evident in his expression. His hand glided down the menu to point at an item. "Do you like pasta?"
He wouldn't break eye contact. I swallowed again. "Er, yeah. It's- I like it." I thought he was staring.
He laughed. "Well?"
"It's been a half an hour and you haven't asked me a single question. Really, I'm insulted!" He rested his chin in the palm of his hand and played with the stem of his wine glass. "Aren't you curious?" he whispered.
I looked down. "Sorry, I'm just a little… a little shocked, is all. I mean, all this time I thought, you know, I thought you were a-"
"A what, a woman?" He laughed again.
"Really Benjamin, if that's how you fell, what do you think those letters meant?" He leaned towards me. "Were they from an admirer, perhaps?" He smirked. "Wouldn't that make you… dishonest as well?"
I blanched; mouth agape. "What are you talking about?"
He frowned. "You enjoyed receiving them, didn't you?"
"Well, yeah," I said. "I mean, it was nice to be thought of. I thought it was kinda cool I-"
"Cool that someone, a woman, was writing to you? And you wondered why Nina was upset?" He smirked. "Tell me Benjamin, does this change things now?"
He traced his fingers over my hand. "W-what?" I whispered.
"Now that you know I'm really a man. Do you still feel the same? Do my letters still hold the same weight?"
I wanted to move my hand away. Hell, I wanted to leave, but I couldn't move. I was frozen; held by fear and curiosity.
He let go of my hand. "I'm sorry, Benjamin. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable I just…" He gave an odd laugh. "I guess I have a few questions of my own!
"You should try their fettuccini alfredo," he suggested. "And think about what I've said."
"Yeah. Yeah, ok."
I watched him take a bite of his veal even though it turned my stomach to watch a poor cow being devoured. His tongue flicked out of his mouth to lick a bit of marsala sauce off of his top lip, and for some reason I blushed. He caught me staring, and evidently the blush as well.
"Do you like the pasta?" he asked quietly. I nodded and took a bite to prove my point.
We finished our meals in relative silence. Occasionally I'd look at the rose resting rather precariously near the edge of the table. Every time it caught my attention I held my breath, thinking I was making a big mistake and that if I disturbed it even just a little everything would blow up in my face. My elbow shifted a bit, the stiff fabric of my shirt irritating my already uncomfortable skin.
He looked out the window and smiled faintly. "It's getting late. What time is your father expecting you?"
"He didn't specify…"
Damien gave a slight nod. "Well I suppose it's for the best that you head home now."
"Yeah, yeah I guess." I stood and he did as well. "Thank you," I said stiffly.
"You have got to be kidding me," I said when we walked outside.
It was raining. Not the 'Oh what a nice drizzle we're getting' kind of rain, but the 'holy shit you could poke an eye out with that stuff!' kind of rain. Ugh. I hated getting wet.
'Man up, Ben,' I thought and squared my shoulders, ready to walk out into it.
"Not the sort of weather I'd anticipated," Damien said thoughtfully, looking toward the sky. "Where did you park?"
I pointed toward the far end of the lot. "Down there," I said.
He raised a brow. "Why so far away?"
"I didn't want to park so close to the other ones and risk wrecking the paint job. 'S not my car…" He raised a brow. "Ah."
"Well, er, gotta dash," I mumbled. "I'll, see you? Maybe?"
"I'd love that," he said, and extended his hand. I looked at it for a minute. "It was nice to finally get to meet you properly, Benjamin," he said expectantly.
"Oh! Right, yeah. You too," I said, gripping his hand. I think I shook it too hard, but he didn't complain.
I looked into his eyes for a minute, but he was looking over me. "Isn't that…?" he asked. "What?" I turned to look, my hand still in his.
Across the street a rain soaked and laughing Nina and Will took cover under the awning of a little gift shop. She wiped her bangs from her face, smiling. Will looked down at her and put a hand on her cheek.
"What the fuck!?" I shouted and tried to run, but Damien wouldn't let go of my hand. I turned back to him. "Let go of me, damn it! Can't you see she's- look! What the fuck!" I shouted.
I looked back at them. He was kissing her.
"Calm down," he said. "You'll do something irrational."
"I don't care!" I ripped my arm from his grip. "All that shit about those letters when she's the one who's cheating!" I ran towards them, but he grabbed me again.
"Leave me alone!" I growled.
"No," he said. "Not until you calm down."
"I'm not going to fucking calm down! Nina's over there with that bastard and I'm over here and-"
"And what, Benjamin?" he asked sharply. "You really think you're behaving any better than she is? You've been caught up in those letters. Did you expect Nina to hang on forever?"
"But she said she wanted to start over…"
"And yet here you are with me. If you had only paid her more attention to her perhaps she would not be-"
"How can you say that?" I asked. "You're the one who sent them to me!"
"But it was you're choice to make."
What the hell. I jerked away from him, crossed my arms, and walked along the side of the building, trying to think of what to do. The rain soaked through my jacket.
Fuck the rain, fuck Damien, and fuck Nina. I slammed my fist into the brick wall.
End Chapter Two
A/N: Well. Ben's a violent little potty mouth. And only an idiot would go out with their stalker. Silly, silly Ben...Please review!