Trent handed his car key to the valet and took Cindy’s arm. Her eyes got wide as they strolled into the best restaurant in town.
“This is spectacular, Trent. Did you win the lotto?”
“No… Just want to take my best girl for a well-deserved night on the town.”
She pretended to pout. “And who would that be?”
Trent pulled her close. “You, Cindy. Of course. Who else?”
“You said, ‘best girl…’ Of how many?”
He shook his head at the faux pas. “Only girl. Of course. Or do you prefer, ‘baby’?” She smiled slyly. He turned to her, “How about, ‘Love of my life’?”
He spoke the truth. He was crazy for her.
They kissed. All better. Trent slipped his hand into his jacket pocket to confirm the ring box remained safely in place. He had big plans tonight.
The maître de showed them to their table. Cindy couldn’t stop looking around.
“I feel like a kid on my first trip to Disneyland…”
“Hey, and no lines…”
“I hope you brought money. This will be pricey. Look at those chandeliers.”
“Custom made to the owner’s specifications.”
“One of those could shelter about twenty people in some countries. How many homeless tents you guess one of those would buy?”
“Homeless tents? That the new standard? Talk about inflation… My Dad always judged anything’s cost by how many beers he could buy with it.”
They picked up their menus. Cindy gasped.
Trent touched her hand. “Chill. Get whatever you want. This is your night.”
“If you say so. I’ll take that one.” She pointed at the filet mignon. “No six dollar burgers for me…”
The waiter brought a pitcher of water. He nodded. “Good evening. I’m Franz. I’ll be serving you tonight.”
Trent ordered, “Two glasses of the merlot, please. And two filets. Medium rare.”
Franz bowed slightly and withdrew. Cindy kept swiveling her neck about, looking at the room.
Trent offered, “Would you like to change places? Better view from here.”
She stood. “Thank you. You’re such a gentleman, Trent.” She laughed, “Who knew?” They traded places. She continued to watch everyone in the large dining room.
Trent checked his pocket again. Reassured, he nodded. Trying to catch her eye, he shifted in his chair. But Cindy was too distracted.
“Oh, look. Isn’t that…?” She cocked her head toward a table across the room.
Trent looked around. “Who?”
“You know… the guy… In that chase movie?”
He saw ‘the guy,’ consuming a dessert. “He played the bus?”
“No, silly… Okay, he’s gained some weight. But that’s him. I’d bet on it.”
Trent frowned. “I don’t think so.” He whispered, “Cindy, don’t stare…”
She dropped her napkin, and picking it up, waved it at the other diner.
The waiter approached with the wine. “Is everything alright? Do you need anything? More water?” He placed the glasses and poured.
“Oooh, about time.” She grabbed her glass and held it up toward the other diner. Trent took his glass and nodded to the waiter who backed away. Cindy reached out. “Whoa there buddy. Where you going with that? Why don’t you leave it on the table? Hate to keep calling you back for refills.”
Trent blinked, and then nodded to the waiter, who did as she asked. He said, “Your dinner will be out shortly.” He made his little bow and exited.
Trent raised his glass. “A toast to my beautiful Cindy.”
“Where’s the bread? Don’t tell me a place like this doesn’t have bread.” She waved at Franz, who approached. She smiled and batted her eyes. “Lonely, Fritz? Can’t stay away, can you?” He nodded and remained silent. “Do you have any bread? Some rolls? Perhaps a cracker?”
Franz withdrew with his signature bow.
Cindy whispered, “I mean, even prisons’ll give you bread and water…”
Franz returned and placed a basket of bread on the table. “Sorry about the delay. Fresh from the oven.”
Cindy raised it over her head and cheered. “Whooo-hooo! Score!”
Trent looked at the table. She unfolded the cloth covering and grabbed a slice.
“Yes! Yes…! Oh, hot, hot!” She dropped the bread onto her plate.
He leaned forward. “Let’s have a nice meal, okay? Here come the steaks.”
Cindy scoffed. “I don’t know about you, but I’m having a ball. You got a problem?”
Franz served the steaks. “Careful of the hot plates.” Franz refreshed her wine glass.
The couple sighed at the delicious smell of the filets. Trent touched the ring box in his jacket.
He sliced a piece to reveal the bright red center of the steak. He smiled. “Perfect…”
Cindy followed suit, but frowned when she saw hers had been over-cooked. She looked at Trent’s steak.
“You ordered them medium-rare. What’s the deal?”
Before Trent could react, she lunged with her knife. She stabbed the slice of meat on his plate, withdrew, and popped it into her mouth.
Trent gaped. “Don’t cut yourself. I know you like it bloody, but…”
“Oh, that’s so good! Trade with me.”
Looking to see if anyone watched, they switched plates. Trent ate a piece of his new steak. He nodded with satisfaction. He checked his pocket. All good.
Cindy took a bite of her purloined steak. “Needs salt.” She moved the centerpiece. “Where’s the salt? Million dollar chandeliers and you can’t afford salt?”
Trent handed her the shaker which had been sitting in plain sight. He touched the ring box with his other hand.
She smiled, “Thank you.” She shook salt violently onto her steak. “Let’s eat before it all gets cold.”
His mouth full, Trent nodded. Cindy methodically consumed her steak. He raised his glass to her and she nodded. Trent kept her wine replenished. He didn’t understand why her glass always seemed empty.
Franz approached. “Dessert? Coffee?”
Trent ordered her favorite dessert, Tiramisu, and coffee.
Cindy said, “Give him a big tip. He needs cash to get his ears cleaned.”
Franz brought the bill. Trent estimated how many beers, the dinner, and the ring cost him.
He let go of the ring and reached for his wallet. He signed the receipt.
Cindy said, “I’m stuffed! That wasn’t half bad.”
They lingered over the coffee. Trent didn’t touch the dessert. She asked for a box to bring home the last morsels of Tiramisu.
Trent patted the ring box once more. He’d made a decision. He stood.
“Maybe they have a dolly to wheel me out.”
The valet brought his car. He held her door, and got behind the wheel.
“I’ll drop you home.”
“You won’t stay over? You okay?”
“Yeah, I dunno. Something at the restaurant. Got a headache.”
Cindy looked out her window. “Okay…”
Trent nodded to himself. He felt good.