Geoffrey prodded the white surgical tape that held the plastic cover over his right eye. By dodging his head one way and then another he was just able to pinpoint colours in the opposite wall of the restaurant through its small perforations. He put on his sunglasses to test how much he could see through his uncovered eye.
The walls became almost totally black, tinted by red where he knew a tapestry was hanging. The seats were black as was the narrow wooden table where he sat. He lifted the glasses. Stained timber appeared, a turquoise candle holder with a yellow flame, the tapestry opposite a fire of ochre, lapis lazuli, burnt umber and emerald. With the sunglasses on he was effectively blind.
This was a terrible idea, he thought. I should have just cancelled.
He had arrived very early, to set up his approach and test the lighting and sight lines. The Almond Bar was a narrow restaurant in Darlinghurst, specialising in tasty Syrian fare. He’d wanted to impress Lucy by booking somewhere chic and intimate, yet casual and unassuming. The food was delicious, the staff engaging and authentic, and the atmosphere was conducive to romantic ambitions. The tapestries on the walls lent a mystical air, the dark seating a formality, and the thick wooden tables a reliability. At the rear the kitchen clattered and emitted a pungent range of aromas that filled the nostrils and enticed the palate.
The tables were the problem though. He had forgotten they were so narrow. Patrons sat with their faces almost touching. Greeting, or kissing, a date did not involve an awkward lean across a large space, risking knocking plates, glasses and other tableware on to the floor. But they were problematic if your chief tactic was to avoid looking at the very person you came to see.
A waiter approached the table and asked,
“Can I get you anything?”
Geoffrey looked up and smiled.
“Thanks, but I’ll wait until my friend arrives.”
He sat with his back to the wall, figuring that she would therefore sit with her back to the light. Combined with the patch and sunglasses he might make it through the evening without catching any revealing image of her. At any rate, it was the best he and Dave had been able to come up with since Sunday night.
He crossed his fingers and stared one-eyed down the aisle of tables without his glasses on, to test if he might be able to see her as she slid the glass door open for entry. He had trouble focusing with one eye covered, and the plastic dug into his eye socket. Another waiter asked if he wanted anything but he declined without looking up, lest he miss the chance of a momentary glimpse of her should she appear.
He texted her.
I’m in already. Towards the back on left nearish kitchen. C U soon XXX.
There was no reply. His phone said it was 7.31. That’s not late, he told himself as he kept an eye on the door. He’d grab a quick look and then put on the glasses for protection. He felt like a teenager, all bubbly with new desire.
Something richly perfumed walked by on a tray. He put on his glasses and raised his nose to enjoy the mix of spices and herbs that wafted behind the waiter. I wonder what that was. There was crash in the kitchen and he turned his head to check what it might have been. Then suddenly her voice said,
He spun around, embarrassed at being caught off guard. He stood up gracelessly in the confined space between seat and table and turned his face in the direction her voice had come from. She was a dark form across from him, a shadowy presence with indistinct edges.
“Lucy, hi!” he said and smiled broadly. I must look like a right clown, he thought, and held out his hand in greeting. Just a hand, that’s lame, but I can’t very well reach out and hug her when I don’t really know where she is.
“I’m a bit to the right,” she said, and took his hand in hers. He delighted in how soft it was.
“What’s all this?” she said. “Can I give you a kiss?”
“Oh sure,” said Geoffrey nonchalantly. They leant across the table and embraced. He breathed in the elegance of her perfume, and held her shoulder firmly to him. Her lips grazed his cheek in an unutterably pleasurable flutter. When he sought to return the offering he only managed a clumsy peck on her ear as she began to straighten up. He wished he could stare at her and admire everything about her.
“You poor boy, what happened?” said Lucy as she sat down.
Geoffrey waved his hand.
“Oh it’s nothing serious,” he said. “I had to have a very minor day surgery on my eyes this morning– well not even surgery, more of a clean out.”
“What was wrong?”
He relished the concern in her voice.
“It’s called Blepharitis-“
“Oh I’ve heard of that,” said Lucy, “my dad’s an optometrist.”
Oh shit, thought Geoffrey. She’s about to see through me. I hope the info Dave gave me is good enough.
“Well, what I know is it’s a build-up of grime in the eye which restricts the tear ducts. And mine got bad enough to need a spring clean.”
Clamping his left shut he lifted his glasses and showed her the patch. He caught spots of creamy skin and a flash of red lipstick and her red hair before putting the glasses back on.
“So the right is covered up. But to do it, they put in the stuff which dilates the pupils so the doctor said to wear sunglasses to limit the amount of light going in.”
“Does it hurt?”
“Not at all. It’s just a bother not being able to see anything. With all that took place over the weekend I forgot I was booked in today and then I remembered we had made this date and I thought I’d look stupid turning up like this, but if I cancelled I’d look even more stupid and besides I wanted to see you. Even if I can’t, see you properly.”
“What can you see?” she asked.
“Virtually zero. You’re dark and very blurry. It’s like that famous photo of Sasquatch – you know the one where the blurry black beasty is a shadow in the scrub?”
“Should I take that as a compliment?”
“No, oh sorry, I didn’t mean-“
“It’s okay.” She took his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. He liked this woman a lot. “It’ll be you and me then, Sasquatch and the Phantom of the Opera.”
A narrow rectangular shape appeared on the table. Geoffrey leant in and moved his head from right to left to see what it might be.
“They’re almonds,” said Lucy. “There’s three types, roasted, what looks to be spiced, and candied or salted, I can’t tell, but they look yummy. Would you like to try some?”
She moved the little dish, presumably towards him, but he couldn’t see where it was.
“Mmm, thank you,” he said in a confident tone and sent his fist out in a random swipe for a nut. He hit the tray and nuts scattered all over the table and on to the floor. He heard Lucy squeal and a waiter’s voice say,
“That’s okay, we’ll get you some more.” He was vaguely aware of a shadow looming over the table, and after some more head dodging he concluded it was the waiter cleaning up his mess.
“I’m so sorry,” he said, looking in the direction of neither Lucy nor the waiter.
“I’d better do this,” said Lucy. “Open up. At least you can tell me what flavour they are.”
He opened his mouth and felt her fingers pop two nuts in. Her fingers just touched his lips. Did she linger there, he wondered. I hope she lingered. I want her to.
“”Um, it’s a cinnamon type taste, but with something else too,” he said. “They’re very nice.”
“Okay, you do me now.”
“I don’t even know where you are,” he said.
“I’ll put the nuts in front of you, and you feel along the table until you find them, and then raise your hand. I’ll direct you to me. To make it even, I’ll close my eyes. Tell me when you have the nuts.”
He followed her instructions, gently this time, and found the little tray. It was wooden. He selected a couple of almonds and raised his hand, keeping the nuts hidden.
He felt her hand on his, and she pulled it to her mouth. He straightened his fingers to insert the almonds when her lips closed around them. He tongue tripped across his fingertips and deftly removed their burden, but she paused ever so briefly before removing his hand. Oh god, he thought, she lingered.
“Mmm, salty,” she said.
“And the nuts?” said Geoffrey.
“Very droll,” she replied.
He moved his fingers gingerly across the table again and found the tray, and made a selection.
“This could be quite fun,” said Lucy. “I get to choose the food, choose the wine and you can spend the night guessing what it is.”
The waiter’s shadow appeared, and he heard her say, “We’ll have some of this, and this, and this, and what do you recommend?”
“That’s very nice,” said the waiter.
“Then one of those too,” said Lucy, “and a bottle of that one.”
“And you, sir, is there anything you’d like to ask?”
Geoffrey felt helpless. The night was rapidly backfiring on him. He was about to reply when Lucy stepped in.
“Oh no, he’s fine. He had a bit of eye surgery today so he can’t see a thing.”
“Eye surgery you say.”
Geoffrey swallowed. The voice was that of the waiter who asked if he wanted something before Lucy arrived, when he wasn’t wearing his glasses.
“Yes,” he said, “nothing serious, just a spit and polish type thing-“
Geoffrey felt a hand on his shoulder. Did the waiter know he was scamming it?
“No need to explain, sir, your secrets are safe with us,” said the waiter. “Everybody is welcome here. If you need an extra pair of eyes, just let me know.”
“This is going to be fun,” said Lucy after the waiter left.
“It’ll be a date to remember,” she said. He heard cutlery jingle on the table. “Now tell me, how did you bear up after Saturday?”
Geoffrey was conscious of his shoulders drooping.
“It was pretty traumatic,” he said.
“It was,” said Lucy softly, and added, “I could see it affected you on the night.”
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Geoffrey, “that sort of car accident. Let alone a fatal one. And poor Slabs, and his poor wife.”
He realised that he hadn’t actually focused on the accident and Slabs over the weekend, but had been preoccupied with his visions. He felt a sudden rush of grief and guilt as his mind was dragged back to the memory of the twisted wrecks under the evening lights and the ambulances taking Slabs’ body away in the silent street. He struggled to stifle a tear.
“Sorry,” he said. “This was meant to be a happy meal together but look at me – blind and blubbering.”
She took his hands in hers.
“It’s okay, no need to apologise. It’s only three days since it all happened. Everything is still raw in our minds. It’ll take time.”
Geoffrey smiled wanly.
“And how are you about it all?” he asked.
“I didn’t know him like you did,” she replied, “but it’s still really shocking. I was quite upset, and had a little cry when I got home.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry, you must feel I let you down,” said Geoffrey.
“No, not at all,” said Lucy. “It’s just that one moment here’s someone you know and then the very next he’s gone. You can’t predict that.”
“But I did,” said Geoffrey, and sniffed loudly. She squeezed his hand.
“What was that all about anyway?” she said.
It was the visions I had. I want to tell you all about the people at the car accident, the hobo, the Uber driver, Dave and the hospital, explain why I ran away and that the eye patch is fake, and I desperately want to stare into your eyes and tell you that you are magnificent. But he knew he would destroy any chance of romance if he did so. He suspected he was on thin ice already given the circumstances of their meeting and now his “eye issue”, and he was lucky to have got this far. She was going to want to see his eyes one day. He said,
“Yeah, that was weird.”
“I enjoyed the kiss though,” said Lucy.
“Oh god, I’m sorry about that!” said Geoffrey.
“No, it was lovely.”
“Yes it was, it was fabulous, but I mean how I ran away. It wasn’t a reflection on you.”
“You were upset, I understood that.”
He looked at her directly, or at least in the direction of where he thought directly was.
“Are you an angel?” he said.
“Why, because God rang you to tell you he was missing one?” she said.
“Good grief no, nothing like that. It’s just that you have been so patient and caring.”
“It’s been an extraordinary time,” said Lucy, “what with Saturday and now your eyes. And besides, I haven’t had a chance to see your faults.” Then she added, “A guy actually used that line on me once – about God calling for his angel.”
“Really? What did you do?”
“Ah, food’s here” sad Lucy. Geoffrey heard dishes clap on the wooden table.
The waiter’s voice said,
“This one is Shawamba, the-”
“Don’t tell us what’s in it,” said Lucy. “This is a blind date, so I’m going to make him guess what he’s eating.”
“Well, this is the shawamba, this the muhamurra and this is the hummus aswed, and some bread. And the wine…”
Geoffrey heard the snap of the seal breaking on the cap and a small portion of wine slosh into a glass. After a short pause Lucy said,
“That’s lovely, thank you.”
More glasses swilled with wine. He felt a stem pushed into his hand.
“Cheers,” said Lucy.
He raised his glass and she clinked it with hers.
“To – to, a happy night,” said Geoffrey. Was that too lame?
“To a happy night,” echoed Lucy.
The wine was light and fresh. He put his glass down with a thud, realising that he couldn’t gauge the level of the table properly.
“And now the fun part,” said Lucy. “Open wide.”
Geoffrey spread his arms out tentatively in case he knocked something around him.
“Not your arms, dear boy, your mouth.”
A small pocket of bread landed on his tongue with a savoury cream in the middle.
“Tell me what you are tasting,” said Lucy.
He chewed it gently. It was fragrant, sweet with a tart edge.
“Capsicum,” he said. “There’s definitely capsicum, but there’s also something else. Almond maybe?”
“Walnuts,” said Lucy, “but not bad at all. Now try this.”
Another wad of bread and dip.
“Oh that’s easy, it’s beetroot.”
“Very good,” said Lucy, “and there’s one more.”
“Oh, I heard the waiter say it was hummus something, so I know what it’ll be.”
“Yes, but this time you have to guess the colour.”
“Well, it’s hummus, which is usually a sort of beige colour, like cement or plaster. So unless you’re doing a double bluff, I’ll say it’s something different. Red?”
The sample reached his mouth and he ate it. It tasted like humus tastes, although this was a particularly good example of humus.
“It’s black,” said Lucy. “It’s amazing. It looks like oil.”
“Wow, I wish I could see it.”
“And now, clever dick, the wine. What is it?”
Geoffrey reached out gingerly for his glass. He took another swig and focused intently on the taste.
“It’s red,” he said.
“No points for that,” said Lucy.
He continued to swill the wine on his palate, and then swallowed.
“It’s not too heavy, mild fruit. I’d say, a pinot noir, from the Yarra Valley maybe, even Mornington Peninsula.”
“And how old?”
“I’ll say two years.”
He set his glass down, this time feeling for the table first.
“Well I’m impressed,” said Lucy, “you obviously know your wine regions.”
Got it! How about that?
“I’ve been to a few corporate lunches,” he said. “Was I right?”
“No, not even close. It’s a three year old merlot from Western Australia.”
Geoffrey laughed, slightly embarrassed.
“Damn, only three thousand kilometres out.”
She put a chunk of bread in his hand. “Open up for some more dip.”
He took the piece of bread and hummus and ate, and said,
“So what happened to the cheesy guy with the angel pick up line?”
“Oh, I wrote down a phone number and told him to call God on that number to say he’d found the missing angel. Then I left.”
“What? Did he ring?”
“It wasn’t my phone number. The poor fellow. He was so cute and had no idea.”
Geoffrey felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. Instinctively he knew who it would be, and with what news.
“Sorry about this,” he said to Lucy. “It’s rude of me, I’ll be quick I promise.” Then he said, “Dave, talk to me.”
He listened and nodded. He hung up.
“All okay?” asked Lucy.
Geoffrey hoped he did not sound too upset.
“That was Dave, you met him last Saturday in the pub. He needed to talk to someone outside work. One of the patients in ICU just passed away.”
“Oh, that’s sad,” said Lucy. “Do you need to speak with him for longer?”
“No. He knows I’m out with you, so he said he’s happy to talk later. Besides it’s not one of his patients. Not that that makes it any less sad for the patient, but Dave’s not personally invested. It’s just that we had been talking about the hospital and some of the cases there, and this was one of them. He was just ringing me to let me know.”
“Are you alright?” said Lucy.
Damn, she’s seen through me.
“Yeah, yeah. I’ll be fine. Maybe it’s all a little fresh still. Anyway, let’s continue with our good time.” He forced a smile and hoped it was authentic.
The waiter arrived and set plates of food on the table, announcing their names as he did so.
“Ablama, banyi bi lahmi, and the hindbi bi zeit.”
Lucy thanked him and said to Geoffrey, “I should have asked if there is anything you don’t eat. So I’ll tell you, it’s an eggplant dish with a yoghurt sauce, lamb with okra and an endive and bean salad.”
“All good, I’m an omnivore.”
He heard the sound of cutlery on a plate, and the sounds of the restaurant about them. Then Lucy said,
“Mmm, this is fantastic food.”
He bent to look for his cutlery and waved his head from side to side to catch a glimpse, hoping the light might bounce of a steel edge and give away their location.
“Would you like a hand?” said Lucy.
I really didn’t think this through at all. She’s going to have to feed me the whole night.
“This so embarrassing,” he replied.
“No, it’s great, I have all the power. Open up.”
A fork of creamy eggplant and spiced yoghurt saturated his tastebuds. He leant back in the chair with sigh of ecstasy as he rolled the food around his mouth.
“You might not get this,” Lucy was explaining, “but often women on dates feel they shouldn’t be too assertive, so as not to scare the man away. But this has turned the tables. I control what you eat and when. Incoming.”
Rich shredded lamb mingled with bittersweet okra on his palate. He took some wine with it, and emitted an appreciative groan.
“Good, hey?” said Lucy.
He nodded, still savouring the mix of flavours playing in his mouth. “Delish!”
“So on past dates, I’ve tended to be a bit quiet, to let the man speak. Which means I always seemed to end up with men who liked to talk a lot about themselves, and didn’t like it if I digressed.”
“Were there any great loves?” asked Geoffrey.
“Try this and I’ll tell you. I’ve added some of the hummus as it’s a great combination.”
The endive and bean salad, much tastier than the name had suggested to him, countered by the black silk of the hummus. He had to force himself to focus on her story.
“There was one main one. Paul was his name, an IT sales exec in a multinational with Asia Pac as part of his jurisdiction. We met about six years ago and moved in together about eighteen months later. Well, I moved in to his place. I thought he was the one, but then I discovered he had a girlfriend in Singapore. I felt so mad and stupid and powerless. I stopped dating for about two years. More.”
Before he could say anything the lamb returned to tease his tastebuds with its elegant display of spice and meaty richness.
“Simone and other friends were really great, and gradually dragged me out a lot more, but it still haunts me. Have some more eggplant.”
He accepted her food obediently and enjoyed the assault of the fragrant flesh on his tongue.
“Then you came along, or rather were thrown at me like a wedding bouquet in the middle of your triumph party, and you were talking about being an auditor which was really strange – [here Geoffrey heard her take a frantic swig from her glass and the rattle of its base on the table] – because auditing is usually really dull, but you made it seem so fascinating with the tales of kids picking their noses, and just as I was thinking maybe I’m ready to start risking it all again the car accident happened and shoosh-”
A bite of bread with the beetroot dip stoppered the response he was about to make.
“- and suddenly I find myself in a whirl, madly wanting to have sex with you and cuddle up and look after you and have you look after me and dance and go out together and I haven’t a clue what’s going on but I’m incredibly thrilled and excited and a little bit scared to tell the truth, so I ask myself what are these mixed emotions because you are handsome – you are by the way – and have a steady job and seem honest, but on top of that you see things differently, and I really love that passion, but I’m incredibly nervous because I’ve been hurt before by men who kept secrets, so what I’m saying Geoffrey is that even though it’s only been three days, with two meetings and one phone call – which by the way I really loved – I really like you but I don’t want to get hurt again. More?”
Geoffrey declined with a wave of his hand.
“So tell me, Geoffrey, do you have any secrets that might prevent us two getting together?”
In the silence that stormed beneath this ultimatum a million thoughts swirled in Geoffrey’s mind. How attracted he was to her, how bowled over he was by what she had just said, how much he wanted her. But above all this was the one thing she did not want to hear: that, without the protection of his sunglasses and eye patch, he would know the circumstances of her death, which, he realised now as he thought about it, not even he wanted to know. So he was forced into this lie, of denying his new gift, of wearing this ridiculous eye get up, and faking day surgery. He desired her so strongly that he did not want any taint of deception to cloud their possible future together. And he wanted her so much that he could not bear to see her go.
He did not take a sip of wine or try some more food. He said,
“Wow, what you said, that was beautiful. And I’m so thrilled to hear it. I was tempted to get excited when I got your text after Sunday night, but I never expected this. It’s fantastic. Cos I feel the same way. I was up all night planning how to make sure you would be comfortable enough tonight to consider thinking I might be of possible interest sometime in the future, but then you said that, and wow, it’s fantastic.”
He paused and let the sounds of the restaurant re-enter his consciousness, and to bolster his courage.
“I don’t have any girlfriends in Singapore or anywhere else. I don’t have a girlfriend full stop. I’d love one, and I’d love it to be you, but there’s none right now. I’ve never been much good at romance. I’ve had a few girlfriends over the last decade, but I never got close to the lifelong love you described. The longest was about twelve months. I think most women found me boring. So I’ll get that out on the table early on, in case you’re after interesting. Once I tell them what auditing is their eyes roll and they go off with something more interesting, like a lawyer or a funds manager. Or if I let slip my nose picking children, they run a mile. It’s just too weird. So you’ve been very kind. Oh, I don’t have any children of my own either, nose pickers or otherwise. So I don’t know if I am answering your question, but I really loved why you asked it. And I just wish I could take this bloody eye gear off and look you straight in the eye and tell you, I think you are incredible.”
He heard her rise from her chair and sensed her shadow moving away from the table, and thought maybe he had really blown it. But then she sat down next to him on his bench cushion, and wrapped her arm about his shoulders. He put his arm around her waist.
“Kiss me, Eye Boy,” she said.
Their lips met in a gentle caress. It was not a long kiss, but comforting, and he felt tension flow out of his body.
When they stopped, she said,
He asked, “Are you as nervous as me?”
“No, not at all,” she said. “Yes. Can I pour you some wine?”
He nodded, and said “Mmm, thanks”. As she filled his glass she said,
“I googled you, you know.”
“You are a company auditor with an obscure firm called Fenwicks. You are the youngest person to be made a partner there. You’re on LinkedIn, but I didn’t see any Facebook or Twitter handles. You have a remarkably small digital footprint.”
Her arm was no longer about his shoulders but her body was still pressed up against his.
“I went on Tinder once,” he said. “I was pathetic. Every time I looked at a picture – any picture – I look at the periphery first, then the main subject. So on Tinder I’d check out the background in a photo and then swipe by. But then I’d realise I hadn’t seen the actual woman on the screen, so I’d swipe back again. So I got lots of responses, but none of them ever liked it when I said I’d forgotten to look at them and not their dog, or whatever else might have been in the photo.”
She laughed and he thought of her hair looping back and her smooth neck.
“I googled you,” he said.
“You’re a social media whore. Frankly you should be ashamed of yourself. Ten complete pages with nothing but you. Even the paid ads were for you.”
“Yes, but the question is who paid for them.”
“The Russians probably.”
“Yes, I translated the searches on page nine. They were from the Kremlin boasting you are a Russian agent infiltrating the State Government to influence the outcomes of local elections and policy making.”
“Damn, you should be an auditor.”
“What’s with the dugongs?” asked Geoffrey.
“Yes, the ones you are going to see next week.”
“Oh, I like conservation projects. I work in a city, so once a year I try to get out into the field and do something interesting, on the ground as it were. I saw turtles last year in Queensland and grey nurse sharks the year before that. You’ll have to come with me next time.”
Geoffrey pondered the sharks while he drank some wine.
He said, “Is the food finished?”
“There’s some left, do you want some more?”
“No thanks, all good. How about you?”
“I’m good too.”
“Well then, if you can catch the eye of the waiter, I’ll pay. And no, don’t fight about it, you’ve been good enough to feed me, let me return the offer. You can pay next time.”
“So there will be a next time,” said Lucy.
“It’s in my diary already,” said Geoffrey. “Breakfast tomorrow morning.”
“That’s very presumptuous,” said Lucy.
“What, that you eat breakfast or you’ll be having it with me?”
He had retrieved his credit card from his wallet. When the waiter arrived with the telling machine, Geoffrey said to Lucy, “Put in fifteen percent tip. It has been a very successful night.”
They walked down the street arm in arm. Cars passed, the air was mild and there was a gentle breeze. They stopped once and kissed again. He held her close to him, and felt the soft suede of her jacket on his fingers. He was as happy as the moon.
When they stopped kissing she asked,
“How did you get here?”
“I drove,” he said.
Damn. He hadn’t thought of that. A spring of fear rose in him as he struggled to find a convincing answer. Surely he couldn’t lose it all now.
“It was daylight when I got here,” he said. “I could see well enough.”
“When did you get to the restaurant?”
“Hey, I’m an orderly guy, okay. I was nervous, so I got here early. I just didn’t think about the drive home.”
“Well, we’d better Uber it,” she said.
Phew, close one.
The Uber arrived quickly. When they got in the driver said “Mr Geoffrey?”
Geoffrey recognised the voice.
“You know each other?” said Lucy.
“I drove him home on Saturday night,” said Rajiv. “I was very worried. He looked like he’d seen a ghost. Did you sleep okay, Mr Geoffrey?”
“Are you the only uber driver in town?” said Geoffrey.
“What happened to your eyes?” Rajiv asked.
“Oh, er, day surgery, it’s nothing serious,” replied Geoffrey.
“And are we going to your place again?”
“No, to mine,” said Lucy. She gave Geoffrey a peck on the cheek. “I’m going to look after you.”
“He is a friend of yours, Miss?” said Rajiv.
“A friend? Yes, definitely a friend,” said Lucy.
“Then you are a very lucky person. This man, Mr Geoffrey, is a very fine fellow.”
Rajiv turned his attention to the traffic. Benny and the Jets blurted out from the car speakers.
“What did you do on the way home on Saturday, after you’d seen ghosts?’ Lucy asked Geoffrey.
“No idea. Probably worked a bit of auditor’s charm.”
Inside her apartment she took his hand and led him to what was obviously a living room.
“Let me take your jacket,” she said. She removed his jacket half way, so his arms were pinioned inside the downturned sleeves. Her lips pressed against his, and her tongue was in his mouth. He could taste the spices on her breath. He had to hold himself rigid to avoid being pushed over by the urgency of her press. She stepped back and let the rest of his jacket fall away.
“There’s a couch behind you,” she said. “Would you like a drink? I’m going to have a whisky. Would you like one? I do mine on the rocks.”
He sank into a deep cushion. She’s a whisky drinker.
“That’d be great, ice is good,” he said.
He sat in the couch moving his head around, trying to catch some details of her apartment. He heard Lucy open the fridge door in a kitchen, and scrummage for some ice cubes. They fell tinkling into glass. Then suddenly she was back next to him.
“I took my shoes off, you should too,” she said, and handed him a glass. “Cheers.”
“Cheers.” Geoffrey took a swig. The liquor was hot and warming.
“Peaty,” he said. He pushed his shoes off with his feet, hoping his socks didn’t smell. Then she was kissing him again. Her breath was whisky now, masking the spice. He held his glass away from them, and with his free hand ran his fingers through the silken fronds of her hair. She leaned back and took a sip of whisky.
“These sunglasses,” said Geoffrey. “It’s hard to know when you’re coming at me.”
“I know, good hey?” she said. He felt her lean in again, and her breath flowed on his cheek.
“More please,” she said. The kiss lingered and she relaxed further into him, her breathing heavy. He held her close to him, his arm pressing her back. He could feel the muscles working under his hand. She stopped and dropped her head to his chest. He felt awkward sitting there with sunglasses on his head, unable to move as freely as he would like.
“I have an idea,” he said. “Why don’t we turn the lights out and then I could probably take off the eye stuff.”
God I hope that works.
“I have a better idea,” Lucy said. “The bedroom is the darkest room in the flat. Let’s take this in there, and we can get dark and dirty.”
She took his glass from him and placed it on a table next to the couch. Then she took both his hands in hers and led him to the bedroom. The door clicked shut behind him. He sought for indications of her life there, mainly floral perfumes and the gentle texture of a rug beneath his feet. She stood in front with her arms about him.
“We’re in the safety zone, Mr Hanson. You can remove the goggles.”
He kissed her lightly, and turned away to take off the glasses and eye patch. It was good to be unencumbered. The room was almost totally black. He could make out the bed and a side table, and a built in wardrobe.
This is the moment he thought. He put the glasses and patch in his pocket.
Her black form walked towards him and her arms snaked around his shoulders. Another kiss, this time unhampered by the sunglasses. He held her tightly against him, and joined her in the kiss. As they did so, her hands moved down to loosen his belt, and unzip his pants. She pulled back and lifted her dress over her head.
“I actually wore stockings tonight with the black seams down the back, but you can’t see them,” she said.
To his immense relief, he could see no sign of any vision in the dark. He smiled and felt a song of joy burst inside him. He was safe! He had succeeded! And he had this beautiful woman almost naked in front of him. Just her, just now, not anywhere in the future or any other place. Wearing stockings she had worn for him which he couldn’t see. Wow.
He removed his shirt and pants. He saw her fling her bra across the room. He took off his socks and underpants. They were fully naked now. She put her arms about his neck and shoulders. He felt her belly on his, and rested his hands on the exquisite softness of her hips. He gazed upon her blindly, and drank in her scent, her touch and the quiet joinder of their breathing, lips to lips but not kissing. She moved her mouth close to his ear and whispered,
“We are now in the realm of absolute trust. I only ask two things: one, that you care for my heart, and two, that you ravage my body.”