“Of course.” He smiled. “Don’t worry. You’ll be safe. See you.”
He walked off. She stared at his retreating back, not sure if she imagined the entire encounter. Did he just ask her out?
It was fucking unbelievable.
And she didn’t know how she was going to pass the time until then.
Gabby picked out her black skirt that she wore for her interviews. It was decent enough for a date, wasn’t it? Sure, it was. She wore it, saw herself in the mirror, and then took it off. Damn it! She didn’t know how the hell to behave when she was asked to go out for something so ordinary.
Someone knocked on her door. She opened it a tiny bit and took a quick peek. If it was one of the young girls, she didn’t want to talk to them. Gabby had hugged the secret of her impending date with Nick like a beautiful secret that she guarded with all her heart. She didn’t want anyone to know. They might snigger at her and laugh at her excitement.
She ushered in Willow. “Hi, come in.”
The older woman was becoming something like a mentor to Gabby. She was about ten years older and way kinder than any other woman that she ever knew. “What’s going on? I heard you are taking off for half a day. Mala was grumbling as she got stuck with kitchen duty.”
She wrung her hands. “Yeah, I am sorry. I should’ve planned better. But I...”
“Relax! You have hardly taken off since you came. And these girls are disappearing for days on end. It wouldn’t hurt her to take on the responsibility.” Willow sat on the bed. “Why are all your clothes out of the cupboard?”
“I can’t decide what to wear,” she whined. Walking over to her black skirt, she picked it and held it up. “What do you think? Is this ok for a...date?”
Surely Willow wouldn’t make fun of her. And true to her assessment, Willow’s only reaction was a slight tilt of her eyebrow. “Who is the lucky guy? Price?”
Gabby moistened her lips with her tongue. She wasn’t sure if she was ready to share this with anyone, even someone as awesome as Willow. “It’s...”
“If you don’t want to tell me, it’s fine.”
“No!” She sat on the bed next to Willow. “It’s Nick.”
Willow’s mouth gaped open. “Nick Parker is taking you out for a date? He said that specifically...a date?”
She felt conscious. Had she assumed that it was a date? Maybe he meant to take her with a large group, or perhaps just as friend. “Not really. He just said we could take a stroll along the harbor and have dinner.”
“That’s a date.” Willow pumped her hand in the air. “I knew that boy could move when he set his mind on it.”
Gabby was glad that she was sitting down. Her legs were suddenly too weak. “He said...something to you about me?”
“No, he didn’t.” Willow snorted. “It’s easier to pry teeth out of a cougar than to get information from that boy. But I’ve got eyes, don’t I? I can see what’s happening.”
Her heart might falter and stop from the excitement and curiosity that Willow was generating. “What’s happening?”
“You’ve got a thing for him, and he has got a thing for you. It’s simple enough to see and understand.”
Was it? It made no sense to Gabby. Did girls talk like this? Did they discuss their boyfriends and lovers in such an intimate manner with another person? Were you supposed to analyze each move of the guy who asked you out? Gabby could be in a room full of men and not feel the slightest bit of shyness or doubt. She knew how to work men. But this...this was unchartered territory.
What the hell was she supposed to do when a man liked her...just for herself?
Frazzled, she ran a hand through her hair. “I don’t think I can do this.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s…a date. I mean…what am I supposed to do with him?” She glanced at Willow. Much to her own shock, tears popped into her eyes. What was wrong with her? A twelve year old could handle this situation better than her. But then most young girls didn’t have to worry about anything other than school, friends, and clothes, whereas she never had the opportunity to deal with such simple matters.
As if understanding her dilemma, Willow put an arm around her waist and hugged her. “Listen, honey, all you have to do is be yourself.”
That was such a foreign concept. A hooker was whoever the client wanted her to be. She didn’t know who she was and what she wanted. “How?”
Willow put her hand under Gabby’s chin and forced her to look into her eyes. “Listen, girl. You’re a sweet, independent, and strong woman. Don’t worry about pleasing Nick. Concentrate on having a good time.”
“But what if he doesn’t like who I am?”
“Then that would be his loss. But I know that boy, and he is not an idiot. And trust me, he has never asked another girl out.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, sure he has gone out on dates, but ever since this one serious relationship that happened much before he entered the club, he has never even looked at any of the girls who have worked here. Oh, sure, he might have taken them upstairs to spend a night or two, but that was as far as he went.”
Gabby sucked in a deep breath of air. “Yeah, he told me about that girl who died.”
Willow’s expression was incredulous. “He told you? He never tells anyone. So that is further proof of the fact that he really likes you.”
“But he hasn’t even slept with me. How does he know if I am good or not?”
Willow ran her hand over Gabby’s hair as if she couldn’t bear the pain of what she heard. “Gabby, he is not taking you out because he wants to sleep with you. That, he could have done here. He wants to spend time with you and get to know you better.”
She gulped. What did people do when they spent time together just for the heck of it? What the hell was she supposed to talk about? She didn’t know much. But there was no point telling this to Willow. “What should I wear?”
“Now that I can help you with!” Willow grinned. She stood and walked over to the pile of clothes that were heaped on the chair. “Let me take a look. This skirt should only be worn when someone is dead.” She hung back the black skirt. Picking up Gabby’s ripped jeans, she inspected them. “These have potential. And if you team them up with that navy blue top, that would look quite good on you.”
Gabby was willing to put herself in Willow’s expert hands. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, honey I am.” Willow handed the clothes over. “Now go on, wear these. Show me what you got.” Once Gabby wore the clothes and strode out into the room, Willow inspected her. She whistled. “Looking good! Let me do your makeup. It’s got to be subtle, not too over the top.” As she played around with Gabby’s hair and face, Willow made small talk. Unable to pay attention to all that the other woman said, Gabby nodded or merely grunted. “I don’t have a daughter so never got a chance to do this. There you’re done.” She held up the mirror.
Gabby gasped. She looked different, softer, and mellower. “Thanks.”
“Now go on, have fun.”
Gabby hugged Willow. “You’re so kind.”
She went downstairs. Nick was already at the bar, waiting for her. Seeing her, his eyebrows rose up a little bit. “You look beautiful,” he announced.
She fiddled with her hair, feeling self-conscious. “Thank you.”
They walked out and she sat behind him on the motorcycle. Although she had never ridden bike before, Gabby didn’t feel scared as she held Nick and leaned against him. It felt like the most wonderful and natural thing to do. The swift wind, the speed, and the ease with which he swept through traffic impressed her.
Gabby discovered that she loved riding.
When they parked the bike, she handed him the helmet which he strapped to the bike. “How was your first ride?”
“How did you know it was the first time I rode a bike?”
He laughed in that winsome way which never failed to make her heart accelerate. “I could tell by the way you gripped me. You were a little scared”
She blushed. It wasn’t because she was scared. She enjoyed pressing her body against his hard, muscled back. The thrill of it was enough to make her pussy wet. As he held her hand and led her towards the harbor, Gabby fought the desire that spiraled inside her. Damn it! Couldn’t she control her hormones? But it seemed that his mere presence was enough to arouse her, and she found it difficult to keep a sane thought in her head when he stared at her with that penetrating gaze.
Talk about being horny!
Rather than answer him, she flipped her hair and gazed at the view that met her eyes. Even though it was daylight yet, she could see the ships out in the ocean. People milled about on the docks, and sat on chairs outside restaurants, or walked about. A light breeze blew. It was a beautiful day.
And she was determined to soak in all the fun that came her way.
Tomorrow would take care of itself.
“Do you want to eat now or a while later?”
She could spend her life with this man; the thought came unbidden. Gabby pushed it out. “We could walk around a bit.”
“Sure.” He shrugged. “Let me show you my favorite gallery.”
He led her straight towards the shops. “They showcase some of my favorite local artists.”
“Ah!” Gabby didn’t know what he was talking about, but she enjoyed listening to him. His voice, low and soft, was soothing, and his hand on hers was firm. When they entered the gallery, Gabby was mesmerized by the sheer beauty she saw on canvas. Some of the art work really took her breath away. She was enraptured by color and texture, by the play of eccentric patterns, and hauntingly realistic landscapes.
“That’s just gorgeous.” She stood in front of a painting that showed a woman who stood on the edge of a cliff. The sheer vibrancy of the ocean, the kaleidoscope of colors on the sky, and the timid beauty of the woman was enough to make her feel that she could stand forever and gaze at the scene.
Who was that woman? Why did she stand there?
Did she mean to fall down?
And if yes, why?
“Like it?” A new voice startled her.
The tall man who stood next to her wore outlandishly red trousers and a bright green shirt. “Yes, it’s beautiful. I wonder what the artist was thinking when he created it. Could it be something he saw?”
“Maybe he dreamed it and wanted to capture it for all eternity.”
Gabby narrowed her eyes. “Do you know the artist?”
He grinned and nodded. His floppy brown hair fell forward on his forehead. “I painted it.”
“You’re the artist?” She was at a loss for words. How could this man who didn’t seem to have any ideas about colors (judging by his clothes) paint such a gorgeous scene?
“Do you have any doubt?”
She slanted her head and took a good look at him. He might have been simple in his choice of clothes, but there was infinite wisdom in his eyes. “No. You’re a genius.”
“Ah! A woman who knows my true worth! You are a real gem. May I take you out for dinner?”
“She is with me,” said Nick who was watching them both with amusement in his eyes. He didn’t look pissed to see that guy hit on her. “And dude, I don’t share.”
“Oh sorry! My bad! Maybe another time.” He grinned, not looking perturbed by Nick’s looming presence. “But I must admit that you’ve got discerning taste. Do you paint?”
She couldn’t help the giggle that slipped through her lips. “I’ve never held a brush in my life”
“In that case, you are a true connoisseur. And I salute you.” He executed a perfect salute and walked off.
“Who is he?”
“The resident artist and owner of this gallery, Miles Ruben,” said Nick. “His work sells for thousands of dollars in exhibitions and other galleries. He only keeps a few pieces for his own gallery.”