Dinner with a Stranger

He stood near the door and watched her, an elegant regal woman of color. She sat comfortably at a place in the middle of the room. It was appropriate, he mused, that she be the center of the room's attention. For at that moment, she reminded him of nothing less than a queen holding court amid her loyal subjects.

She crossed her legs, and he could not help but admire their sleek lines and rich mocha color. He stood mesmerized as the single elegant red pump which he could see bobbed rhythmically up and down.

At once his view was blocked as a potential suitor approached her seeking an invitation to her table designed for two. His easy smile was no doubt meant to charm, his good looks to impress. But his efforts went for naught, as the regal beauty rebuffed his advances with a gentle smile. The watcher nodded approvingly. She would not be won over so easily. He scanned the room, evaluating other potential suitors. There was no one he deemed worthy of her attention.

Including himself . . . Still, he meant to try.

Confidently he entered her presence - knight before queen - and stood waiting until she chose to acknowledge him. "Yes?" she asked imperiously, her head tilted back in order to look into his eyes.

"I have not seen you here before. Are you dining alone, lovely lady?"

She considered him for a long moment, then took her eyes from his to look fleetingly at her watch. "I am waiting for someone," she replied. "He is very late- again." Against her will, the slightest trace of amusement could be heard in her voice.

"He must be a fool," he responded, his voice low and sensual, "to ever leave a woman such as you waiting."

At her most regal, the dark beauty stared coolly at him. "Your assumptions are incorrect."

"Are they?" He sat down uninvited across from her. "Then why are you here alone?"

"I do not discuss such personal things with strangers, however handsome they might be," she replied sternly.

"You admit that you find me handsome." He nodded. "Great romances have begun with less."

"Are you always so forward with all the women you meet?" She crossed her arms and awaited his answer.

"Never," he insisted. "You are the exception to the rule."

"Likely story."

"I see that you doubt me. Have a drink with me and I will prove my intentions to you," he proposed. Motioning to the waiter, he had a bottle of wine brought over.

"Please don't. It would not be proper," she informed him. "And I do not believe my husband would approve. He can sometimes be a jealous man."

"Really?" His eyebrow rose. "Has he cause to be?"

"Of course not," she smiled brilliantly, watching as he poured her a glass of red wine. "However much I may admire other men, ultimately I am faithful to him."

Dry-mouthed, he watched as she took a sip from her glass and then ran her tongue across her lips. "How long have you been married?" His voice was scratchy.

"It is nearly eight months now," was her quick response.

"And already you are left to dine alone?" Shaking his head sadly, he reached across the table and took her hand. The massive diamond she wore sparkled brilliantly. "At least he shares his wealth with you." She pulled her hand from his. "You deserve more," he insisted, leaning across the table. "You deserve his attention and his time."

"I have those things," she insisted quietly. "My husband is all I could want." She saw the doubt in his eyes. "He completes me," she began, her beautiful face softened by the strength of her love for her husband. "His words inflame me, and his touch ignites me." She paused. "But we were separate people before we met, with separate lives. Nonetheless when we are apart, I feel his love as strongly as when we are together."

Her companion's eyes darkened with passion. "Let us go home, Carlotta."