© 2020 Victor Cabana
Deb’s exclamation to herself is immediate when the glass of wine is placed before her and she follows the waitress’s eyes as she announces, “Compliments of the gentleman.” Indicating the man in the corner booth. The man Deb had noticed often as she chatted with her friends at their usual Friday Happy Hour gathering. Awfully good looking to be sitting alone in the bar, just reading. Her interest had piqued further when he had gently rebuffed the advances of several attractive women.
As he strides closer she is even more intrigued. He is striking, not just handsome. Tall, broad shouldered, lean – almost gaunt, slightly curly black hair combed back, dark grey piercing eyes, sunken cheeks, perfectly fitted navy business suit, and a fluid walk, oozing confident athleticism. Maybe mid-thirties. The smile is warm, as much in his captivating eyes as his sensuous lips.
“Hello, my name is Emil Kyriakos.”
Of course it is; you’re a Greek god.
“I wonder, might I have a word with you?”
Deb feels the deep, mellifluous voice resonate inside her, stirring things up, but though she has no plans – John had seen to that, damn him – her innate caution flares. “Actually, I was just about to leave.” Damn it, Deb, why are you so guarded? This is very interesting. Why shut it down?
“Oh no! Please don’t leave. That wine is very good. I believe King Estate Pinot Gris might be one of your favorites. Is that not so?”
OMG! It is! How could he know? Is this some kind of con? What’s going on? “Well, it is, but I really do need to be going.”
“But it’s written right here,” he gestures to the small book in his left hand – Hmm, no wedding ring or telltale white, untanned circle – “that, though you do say it, you really have nowhere you need to be. Is that not correct?”
Well, yes, that’s right, but this is weird, maybe creepy. “Is that what it says? Really?” Deb is surprised by how cold, accusatory her tone is.
Emil recoils, distressed. “Please accept my apology. I know this must appear very strange, but I promise that I am not a threat. Look around. Though the crowd has thinned there are still many people. You’re completely safe. Please allow me to explain. May I sit while I do?”
He’s right; this is my favorite hangout, Joe’s behind the bar, Alice is serving drinks, all as usual. Why am I always so wary, so controlled? Come on, Deb, be daring. For once in your life. I love his voice, that accent… “All right, just for a moment.”
“Many thanks. When my afternoon meeting ended early and I had nothing else scheduled, I browsed in the used bookstore, the one just up the street. I discovered this, in the back of the store, covered in dust, hidden amongst other books. Here.” He hands it to her.
My, what strong hands, you have, Emil. The better to… No, don’t go there, Deb. The small booklet is ornate, tooled-leather bound, with gold leaf trim. There is no writing on the cover. Deb opens it and finds the title, Scenario, written on the first page. There is no author or other information given.
“It’s very nice,” Deb says as she turns to the second page and sees: “Dear reader, if you have come upon this volume it is not happenstance. It is ordained by fate.” The text, like the title, is in large, beautiful calligraphy, and though tempted to read on, she feels it would be rude to do so in his presence. She closes the book and hands it back.
Her heart flutters and she blushes slightly when she sees that he has been staring intently at her face.
“It’s certainly a nice book, but I fail to see…”
The infectious smile comes back to those sensual lips. “Ah, then you didn’t read far enough. Where did you stop?’
“‘It is ordained by fate.'”
“Please, read more, or may I, just a bit? It will explain everything, I believe.”
How intriguing. OK, Emil, read on. I’ll sit here and bask in your voice. Nod, Deb. All right, it’s OK that I smiled, too.
His voice is even deeper, more resonant, “If you are interested in adventure, in discovering your true fate, purchase this book.” He turns the page, saying “Of course I was fascinated, so I did.” His eyes flash to hers. They smile, replete with whimsy and enthusiasm for the unfolding mystery.
He reads, “Now, as the new owner of Scenario, play it out, follow the script. At 5 PM adjourn to a nearby bar on this very day, the one in which the book is acquired. It is foreordained that there you will have a most interesting and enlightening encounter. You will know with whom when you see him or her. After that person’s companions have departed, order your fated friend a glass of wine. King Estate Pinot Gris will be a favorite.”
“See, it’s right here,” Emil says, leaning close and showing the passage to Deb.
My God! It is! How is this possible? Hmm, that’s nice cologne.
“I’ll read on: When the wine is delivered, walk to the table and introduce şişli escort yourself. Your new friend will aver that he or she must go, has things to do. This will not be correct. Point that out and meet his or her natural skepticism by revealing this book. Be persuasive, as your friendship, your similar views on important matters, the congruency of your personalities, is fated. Encourage him or her to read this in the book for him or herself, or read it aloud.” Emil stops and tilts the book to her, pointing to the passage he has just read.
Deb leans toward him, enjoys another faint whiff of his scent, and finds herself hoping that her perfume, applied early this morning, has survived the work day. She sees enough to confirm what he has read, and closes her mouth when she realizes it is agape. “Goodness. That is amazing.”
“It truly is, isn’t it? This curious little volume accurately predicts your taste in wine and that you would say you had to go when you really have no pressing appointment. I cannot imagine how this is possible. Please, may I stay just a bit longer so we can determine if we do, in fact, have similar interests and attitudes? As prophesied?”
God, I certainly love hearing his voice, that accent, and this situation is very appealing. Come on, Deb, be daring, for once in your life. “What did you say your name was?” She remembers perfectly, but wants to hear him say it again.
“Emil Kyriakos, at your service,” he bows his head ever so slightly and accents the first syllable of his first name and the “ah,” of the last.
“Guilty as charged. My father was born in Athens, and my mother, well, my mother is a woman of the world. She is highly intelligent, very beautiful, and athletic, just like you. Let me guess – tennis?”
Oh my God! Is he psychic? “Is that also in ‘the book?'”
His delighted laughter is infectious. “Ha! Intelligent and witty, in addition to being beautiful. No, it’s not in the book, but I am observant. You are obviously fit, athletic, spend time in the sun, and your right forearm is slightly more developed than your left. Ergo, you’re a tennis player. Now, you have me at a distinct disadvantage. Might you divulge to me your name?” The last sentence is delivered sotto voce, asking for the key to the clandestine conspiracy afoot.
Deb feels the warm flush in her cheeks when he calls her beautiful. She knows, no, she believes, that it is not true. She feels like an over-the-hill 34 year-old matron whose biological clock is racing far too fast. Her driver’s license says she is 5′ 7″ and 117 lbs. But she lied about the second number. Just a bit. She’s heard herself described as lithe and shapely with that “je ne sais quoi” appeal, and under truth serum would admit that she does like her legs and ass. But buying B-cup bras all her adult life makes Deb doubt that “shapely” applies, despite her broad shoulders, narrow waist and rounded hips. Her face is classic, long and noble, her nose perhaps a bit too prominent, her lips full and lush, and the hazel streaks in her almost too large green eyes perfectly compliment her auburn hair. But his saying it, deeming her beautiful, feels a soothing salve on an open sore, the one inflicted by John’s frequent nitpicking and harping.
“I’m Deb, Deb Mason.” It sounds flat and banal to her, especially in comparison to the exotic Emil Kyriakos.
“Ah, Deborah. The Old Testament judge.” Though she has disliked her given name since childhood, when he elongates, and seems to savor every syllable, on his tongue it is melodious, alluring, even wonderful. “Do you mind if I use your full name. It’s very lovely, like its owner.”
She feels the blush again. “It’s fine.”
Having surveyed the bar, which now is nearly empty, Emil says, “Alas, it seems that happy hour has turned melancholy. I wonder, Deborah,” I love the way he says it! “Might I entice you to dine with me this evening? I am a visitor in town, have nowhere to go, no one to meet, and am enjoying your company very much. Please say ‘yes.’ I read ahead in the book while waiting for your colleagues to depart and it predicts that we sup together. What say you?”
Deb is torn. Her erect nipples pressing against her bra are tingling, direct evidence that she is aroused by, highly attracted to, this Greek god. By his refined, old-world charm, his appealing accent with his oh-so-proper English, and his powerful physical presence exuding maleness. But the situation with the book is odd, perhaps suspect, and she suddenly feels her customary caution overtake her when her internal guardian angel whispers, This can’t be real and could even be dangerous.
“Does this actually work?” her voice is harder, more cynical than she intended and Deb is dismayed at its timbre. And his reaction.
Emil’s face is perplexed, suddenly concerned, “Does what work?”
“This pick-up technique you’ve been using on me. taksim escort Emil, you are charming but, really, this mysterious book approach is just too much. It’s off-putting. I’m afraid that I need to go. Now.”
“Wait!” His hands, those large, aristocratic hands, spring up, freezing her. “If anyone is to go, it should be me. I accosted you. But are you sure? The wine was right, your lack of schedule was correct. It seems like fate. Please reconsider.”
“No, this is making me uncomfortable. I need to…”
“Then I will go, right now, if you but ask. However, please, Deborah, stay and finish the wine. I’m very sorry that I made you uneasy. Just say the word and I’m gone.”
The rejoinder “The word,” springs into Deb’s mind but she rejects it. She is a serious person and doesn’t want to be clever, certainly not flippant. Though she often wishes she weren’t so guarded, her dominant prudence wins out. “I want you to leave now, Emil. While it’s been interesting, this ‘scenario’ is over.”
He stands, bows slightly, formally, and says, “Again, please accept my apology for upsetting you. I meant no harm whatsoever, Deborah.”
She watches ruefully as he strides away. It is an appealing walk, smooth, confident, strong without being overbearing. Deb admires the way his tailored suitcoat highlights his broad shoulders. Damn, why did I do that? I guess I didn’t think he’d really leave. Why wasn’t he more persistent, like every other guy who’s ever hit on me? But of course, he said he’d leave if I asked, and then did exactly what he said. Damn. Oh, well. At least I have the Pinot Gris. Who knew he’d really leave?
It’s HIM! Deb shouts to herself in consternation as she yanks her shopping cart back, away from his, after the collision.
“Deborah! What an excellent surprise! How nice to see you again.” The humor is back in the sonorous voice. Deb is immediately glad, even excited to see Emil. Perhaps it IS fate. After the litany of invective-laced self-recrimination that she had heaped on herself for being such a stodgy, boring prude after he left the bar, it seems a second chance. But then her instinctive wariness asks, How can he be here? Could he be stalking me?
“Emil, this seems odd. Are you following me?”
His eyes crinkle, laughing, “Actually Deborah, you seem to be following me. And I’m delighted that you are, of course. As you recall, I left the bar first. It’s hard to be following someone, even someone as lovely and charming as you, when you arrive at the destination first.”
“You could have waited, seen me leave and followed. It’s very possible.”
“Yes, I suppose so. But look at my cart – this is from the meat aisle, these are from the vegetable area, this from the… Whereas you just have a couple items. The evidence is overwhelming that I was here first. But it is wonderful to literally run into you.”
“It’s just so unlikely that we would end up at the same store. I suppose it was in that little book of yours.” Why am I being so cynical, so unfriendly? He’s a dream, after all. Look at him. This could be a do-over. No, Deb, this seems too good to be true. It could be the beginning of a nightmare. Be careful.
“The book does indeed indicate that we meet again. Perhaps as the book suggests, it is fate. Please allow me to again ask you to dinner. We can discuss whether this is coincidence, fate, or just serendipity at our leisure.”
“I don’t believe in coincidence, or fate. It seems very suspicious to just find you here. Perhaps I should call the police.”
“Whoa! Seriously? Wait, I know.” He reaches into his suit jacket, takes out his wallet, and removes something. “Here, use your phone. Take a picture of me holding my driver’s license. Then you’ll have very good information when you file your complaint. For recklessly driving a shopping cart, or perhaps for forcing a glass of wine on you.” He holds the card by his face and mugs. Even with distorted features, there is no way his face is anything but handsome. Deb takes a picture and immediately begins to feel foolish. Is she making a mountain out of a molehill? However, her caution persists.
“I need to finish shopping, and I have made plans for dinner,” she says. As they go their separate ways, down different aisles, Deb’s self-recrimination resumes. You’re driving me crazy, Deb. What possible harm could there be in having dinner in a public place, a restaurant, with Emil. John is away this whole weekend, and pointedly didn’t invite you. Probably because he’s with another woman. He’s been acting very oddly lately, and that conclusion – that he’s found someone else – has been occurring to you frequently. It’s probably over. Maybe it has been for weeks, which explains why he’s lost interest in sex. At least with me. This, dinner with Emil, on the other hand, could be fun, exciting. Why am I so hesitant?
As she is laying her items on the topkapı escort conveyor belt Deb notices that Emil is right behind her in line. Her defensive hackles immediately rear up. “It’s you, yet again. I really do think that you’re following me and it’s making me nervous.”
“I’m sorry if you’re nervous, but Deborah, look around. This is by far the shortest checkout line. Would you have me go to a longer one and wait? That doesn’t make sense.”
“Sure. If you say so.” Why am I being so snippy, even rude?
“I’m very sorry that you have to be shopping on Friday evening, a night better suited to dining and dancing.”
“That’s life I guess. How about you? Don’t you have anything better to do?”
“Well, the book indicated that I should shop for these items, so I did.”
“The book again. You are beyond belief,” Deb says, her exasperation evident. The clerk has tabulated and bagged Deb’s groceries, and she inserts her card.
“Here. Look. Please read the passage.” He shrugs and hands her the volume, opened to a certain page. She skeptically takes the book and reads, as the clerk begins scanning Emil’s groceries. He has all the items listed.
Shaking her head as she hands back the book, “But why are you at THIS store? It just seems so suspicious.”
“This is the closest grocery to the bar, isn’t it? Blame Google Maps, not me.” His laughter is infectious and Deb can’t help but chuckle. Emil presses on, “So, please, do reconsider my dinner invitation. I would love to…”
Deb is sorely tempted, but her wariness wins out again and she interrupts, “I’m sorry, I have other plans.” Damn it, no you don’t! Why are you ruining this again?
“The book indicates that I should be persistent, so please, Deborah, would you do me the honor of dining with me this evening?”
“Emil, this book business is creeping me out. I’m leaving.”
“Wait!” Those large hands halt her again. “If I truly am a malevolent miscreant, and you leave first, couldn’t I just follow you?” His charming smile and the twinkle in the eyes seem harmless, and are very appealing. Deb feels her attraction to him begin to weaken her resolve. “Besides, if you’ll wait one minute I’ll be checked out and then I’ll leave first again – all you have to do is ask. When you see me drive away you can be certain that I’m not up to anything nefarious. Besides, I can enjoy your company for another minute or two. Perhaps you’ll reconsider my dinner invitation? What do you say?”
She nods and he removes his card and lifts his bags. Once in the parking lot Emil says, “There is my automobile. Perhaps you should take another picture – for the local gendarmes – so they can also have my license plate number.” He poses by the car, a classic 1963 Chevrolet Impala Coupe convertible. It glisten ruby red in the setting sun and the top is down, inviting adventure.
Deb takes out her phone and snaps the pic. Emil poses, one hand on the hood, and an impish, imperious look on his face. Deb thinks, My God, this man is gorgeous, intelligent, and amusing. And given this car, probably rich. Why am I driving him away?
Her train of thought is interrupted by his query, “Dear Deborah, I can accept that you choose not to dine with me, but surely you have time for another drink, a quick glass of wine? What harm could there be in that? I would so like to continue to share your company.”
“I’m sorry, but I’ve had quite enough to drink.” Damn me! Why am I doing this?
“Well, confound it. Are you certain?”
“Yes, I am. Now I need to get going.” To another dismal night, home alone, just deserts for a cowardly, introverted prude who’s being loyal to a man who’s probably fucking another woman at this very moment.
“I will drive away if you simply ask.”
“Please leave, Emil.” Why are you doing this? Do you always need to be in control? Can’t you risk anything? At all? Ever?
“Alas, rebuffed by the beautiful lady for the second time in one evening. It was nice running into you,” his eyes gleam and Deb remembers the clash of their shopping carts, “and talking with you, Deborah. Ta-ta.” With that Emil drives off, leaving Deb to face her accusations of being the same old stodgy stick-in-the-mud she has always been. And has vowed not to be.
It’s HIM! Deb realizes, immediately jumping back behind the greeting card display. This is impossible, but here he is, again. I needed to find a card for Carol’s birthday – she loves Golden Retrievers and this one is perfect – this drugstore was close and has a great card selection. Now I’m about to check out and who is in the line just ahead of me when I’m ready? This is very spooky. Wait, don’t hide. Confront him.
“Emil, it’s clear now that you are definitely following me. I seriously may call the police.”
“Oh, hi again, Deborah. Yes, do call. Dial 911.” His laugh is rueful. “Tell them that this stalker has the unmitigated gall to be in front of you in line at CVS. Point out that he left Kroger’s before you did and cleverly selected all these items,” the Greek god’s hand gestures, “to make it appear that he has been here longer than you. Would you like to use my phone?” She likes his voice even when tinged with sarcasm.