Georgina wrapped the antique string of pearls around her finger. Coiling and constricting, as the chandelier dripped delicate crystalline rain and soft arias floated down from hidden speakers. She stared at the milky baubles strangling her finger, willing them to impart their years of wisdom.
What do I do?
Across the table the empty chair and abandoned jacket mocked her
If you go looking for trouble, you’ll find it.
You have a tendency to self sabotage. You believe you don’t deserve to be happy or to be loved.
Gerald is just the man for you Georgie. No more of these online tossers.
She had sworn she’d been on her Last Blind Date Ever, but Tom was persuasive. That’s how her neighbour topped the sales every month at his work and how she came to be dining with his friend Gerald.
Initially Gerald’s reluctance to speak about himself put her at ease. It was relief to find he wasn’t an egomanic who could talk under wet concrete. But something, she wasn’t even sure what, hit her radar as they cleared away the main course. Something beyond first date nerves, shyness or someone who genuinely found other people more interesting.
As she savoured the decadent crème brulee, tapping through the fragile sugar crust to the vanilla-bean custard below, she’d asked the question. He deflected and then excused himself to the men’s room.
Georgina knew one thing – married men avoided talking about their lives engineering conversation detours to avoid being caught out in a lie.
Georgina also knew married men preyed on desperate women. Tom had explained it was palpable the vibes which came off a woman who was desperate. She wasn’t like that any more, filling her time with life drawing classes, indoor cricket and French cooking. Filling her well, learning to love herself and longing for only what she could provide for her own happiness.
The tip of her finger began to throb, turning plum-coloured as the blood banked up on the wrong side.
Just one peep in his wallet.
She’d never done it before, though she should have. Invading a man’s privacy in such an underhanded and premeditated fashion always seemed wrong, even when her gut feeling assured her she should. This time, she’d save herself the time and the heartache, fed up with being lied to and strung along by double-life cretins. If Gerald was married she was going to find out – post haste.
Georgina scrutinised his jacket, looking at the symmetry of the cut and the way it fell. One side seemed heavier. She bet his wallet was in that pocket. Pulling his chair around to her left side gave her the opportunity to take it. Her fingers brushed the silkiness of worn leather. She hesitated. Rather than get stuck in a circular mental argument she wrapped her fingers around it, sliding it from his pocket, into her lap. Looking down, she pretended to be scrutinising the linen napkin she’d been careful not to soil.
Biting her bottom lip she opened it. Her stomach lurched. His wife and three kids smiled up at her. What the hell was Tom doing setting her up with a married man?
“Pardon?” Gerald said, as he eased himself into the seat beside her. Georgina looked up at him, uncomfortably close now. One hand folded over the other in her lap, hiding her crime. His lie sat between them like an uninvited dinner guest.
“I was thinking,” he said, leaning in. “If you don’t have to be up early in the morning…” He punctuated the sentence with a dry cough and then scratched the side of his eye brow. “Well Georgina, I was wondering if… perhaps, if you wanted to that is… we might see a late movie. I know this place down on King which shows all night classic flicks. Maybe they’ve got a Carey Grant?”
Georgina knew the place. A date last year had taken her there and expected her to go down on him in return for the cheap, nasty Chinese feed and ticket he’d paid for. Her nails dug into the worn flesh of the wallet as she fought to keep her composure. This was no cheap Chinese dive where you could make a scene. She was going to walk out alone, and with her dignity intact.
He looked at her with a mix of teenage anticipation and middle aged dread. “If I’m being too forward….”
“Monsieur,” the maitre de said, arriving at their table, placing a slim leather folder beside Gerald.
Georgina held her breath as she saw his hand sink into the jacket pocket a look of temporary relief softening his face.
Drop the wallet.
But her fingers refused to yield.
“Oh… no!” He looked perplexed.
“You’re looking for this,” Georgina said, placing the open wallet in front of him. “My gut feeling was spot on. You are married.”
Gerald’s face froze in the high beam smiles of his family, his adam apple pumping. Next would come the ‘woe-is-me’ monologue to justify this date.
But he said nothing, stood and slipped his jacket on. He took five $50 notes from his wallet and put them inside the bill folder, then took a few faltering steps from the table, stopped as if to turn, but continued on in the direction of the men’s room.
Georgina sat stunned.
If you go looking for trouble…
“Have you enjoyed your evening mademoiselle?” The maitre de filled the space recently vacated by Gerald’s chair. “It was delightful to see Monsieur Levitt again and in the company of another beautiful woman. It has been-”
“He brings Mrs Levitt here?” Georgina felt the blood rising in her cheeks at both the audacity and the complicity.
“Brought,” the maitre de corrected. “She passed away from breast cancer two years ago.”
“Oh Christ!” Georgina pushed her chair out and stood, grabbing for her handbag. “Do you have a rear exit?”
This was inspired by the the [Fiction] Friday #138 prompt from a fortnight ago.