Meet Me in Manhattan by Claudia Carroll
Exactly 8 p.m. on a Saturday night and here I am. Sitting all alone at a table for two in Fade Street Social, only one of the swishiest restaurants in town, primped and preened to within an inch of my life.
Peppering with nervous tension of course, but we’ll come back to that.
It’s a perfect table too – if I’d planned it, I couldn’t have chosen any better. I’m right in the middle of the restaurant at a gorgeous table facing the door, so that every time it opens, I get a clear view of exactly who’s just arrived. And more importantly, so that when my date gets here, he can’t miss me.
Can he? I think, a tad anxiously.
No, course he can’t.
Now there’s the slightish concern that he hasn’t the first clue what I look like in the flesh, or I him. But then we did exchange photos via the Two’s Company website, and although mine is a slight bit of a cheat – taken ten years ago at twilight and with the light behind me so as to minimize the wrinkles, and come on, who of us hasn’t done it? Point is though, if his photo is even halfway accurate, then I’m seriously onto a winner here.
Every time the door opens, my neck automatically pings upwards as I look hopefully over, but so far, there’s no sign of him or anyone who remotely resembles him. At least, not yet. But then it’s barely turned eight, I remind myself, and I was here early. We won’t split hairs over a few minutes’ minor delay.
Deep, calm, soothing breaths. The waiting will all be over soon.
Just about every stitch I’m standing up in tonight is borrowed; I’m shoehorned into my flatmate Joy’s ‘serial result’ LBD – a lacy Pippa Middleton-esque clingy number in Joy’s customary black, sexy in that it’s shortish, yet still demure enough around the neckline to look like I’m not trying too hard.
Although ‘not trying too hard’ is a bit of a laugh considering a) I’ve spent the whole morning splashing out on a very spendy blow-dry, then b) I subsequently figured, sure, I’m going to all this bother anyway, why not go the whole hog and fork out for a new pair of high heels? (Which I’m wearing now; a pair of black wedges, an absolute steal from River Island.) Casual enough that this is just a regular, normal Saturday night out for me, and yet also giving me that crucial bit of height, because I’ve a vague memory of my date mentioning he was a six-footer, and the last thing I want is to end up looking like a little Munchkin beside him.
Thing is, I did sort of tweak the truth about my height and size a bit on the dating site. But then what’s a few inches when your online relationship has blossomed like ours has? And I don’t use the word blossomed lightly either.
By nature I’m cautious, wary and a bit mistrustful of people until I really get to know them properly. Yet eversince this whole online flirtation started up, he’s the one who’s been making all the running. And believe me, when you’ve been on your own for as long as I have, all of that full-on attentiveness can be powerfully seductive. Even tonight was at his insistence, not mine. He was the one who suggested it in the first place; he made the reservation and told me all I had to do was turn up.
So here I am. Waiting.
‘Something to drink from the bar, Ma’am?’ asks the waiter, a slightly over-solicitous guy who looks barely old enough to drink alcohol himself, never mind serve it.
I’m about to say no, figuring I don’t want to give off a boozy whiff when my date gets here, but then I decide feck it anyway. This is all just way too nerve-wracking to handle without a little glass of wine on hand. Isn’t it? Yeah, course it is. Nice glass of vino would just take the edge off. And get me into a lighter, brighter humour for that magical moment when he strolls through the door and we lock eyes for the very first time.
Which will, of course, be at any second now…
Meet Me in Manhattan by Claudia Carroll. Released 5th November in eBook format by Avon. Click here to buy.