I shared a Sexy Without the Sex scene from this novel a few weeks ago. I love Lionel. He's a fun character. He's the epitome of the absent minded professor. Arista isn't quite sure what to make of him. When they first meet his behavior is quite erratic and confusing. As he's leaving after their interview, he invites her to dinner at the most exclusive Italian restaurant in town, Sarducci's. He doesn't need a reservation, he just walks right in. Arista isn't quite sure what to make of it all.
Lionel was in the lobby when she breezed into Sarducci's at 7:05. He wore the same suit as before. He smiled when he saw her, motioning to the hostess.
"This is she," he said, pointing over the crowd to Arista.
The hostess nodded, smiling as she grabbed menus. They followed her to a corner table, out of the traffic patterns, just off the main floor. They were near the windows that overlooked the river. The swirling currents wove around the water in an intricate, spiral pattern.
"Your usual, Lionel?"
"No. We'll need a minute. Thanks, Constance."
"You know the hostess by name? And you can walk in the door without a reservation?"
He frowned. "Yeah. So?" He opened the menu, glancing at it.
Arista opened her own. It was written in Italian. There were no prices beside anything.
"What's good?" she asked.
"I like everything except calamari. Always reminds me of rubber bands."
She giggled, agreeing with him. "I can't read Italian."
"No? Okay." He translated for her, pointing to some of the dishes on the surrounding tables.
Their choices made, he waved to a waiter. The young man rushed over, grinning.
"Wazzup, Doc?" He did a complicated handshake with Lionel. He spoke with a strong Hispanic accent.
Lionel ordered for them, including a bottle of wine. A wine steward brought it out, opening it with a flourish. He went through the tasting ceremony with Lionel, then filled Arista's glass. She tasted it as she'd seen him do, smiling as the fragrant bouquet filled her mouth.
"Oh, God, that's amazing!"
"1842 was a good year."
"18- Holy God! That's a hundred and seventy-one years old?" She whispered, holding the glass with greater respect.
"Yeah. Are you okay?"
"I'm in over my head," she whispered, setting the glass down like a holy relic. "This is unreal. Any second I'm going to wake up and be at home with the worst hangover of my life!"
"Arista." Lionel leaned over, trying to find her eyes. "What's wrong?"
"Today. Today is all wrong."
He said nothing, a worried frown creasing his brow.
"You're the most confusing person I ever met. I don't know if this is going to work out or not."
"Because! You're so—and so . . . !" She gestured erratically, feeling like a mime with Tourettes.
"You aren't making any sense, you know."
"Before, when I first met you, you were way out in BFE. I don't even know where you were. You stared at that paper for ten minutes, forgot I was there, and then came back all normal. You have things handed to you on a silver platter at the university. You walk into the most exclusive restaurant in town like you own the place. . . ."
"I do. Own the place. I do."
Arista groaned, her head flopping onto the table as her body finally gave up.
© 2014 Dellani Oakes