After their bizarre meeting, Quinn heads to the restaurant to meet Dmitri for their date.
Dressed in a creamy linen suit with a dark green shirt, Dmitri paced the sidewalk, waiting. He came over and helped me out of the car, taking both my hands in his. I was glad I'd chosen this particular dress because he looked at me with such hunger, I could only imagine how he'd have eyed me in something more revealing.
"Thanks for meeting me. Normally I'd have come for you, but I had to go to the hospital."
"You're not sick?"
He chuckled. "No. I'm a doctor. I'm down here on a consultation. One of our residents is ill and needed a specialist."
"Oh, I see."
We walked into the restaurant and waited to be seated.
"What kind of doctor are you?" I asked. It was kind of an oddly worded question, but the only way I could think to ask it.
I frowned. I understood the word, but not what he did. Grinning, he explained his job.
"An immunologist looks at the immune system of all organisms. From there it gets rather complicated and technical."
"Don't think I can understand?" I said with a toss of my head.
"I think you'll understand just fine. I'd rather talk about something more interesting—like you."
"Good answer," I replied, raising my chin almost defiantly.
"So, you're a ranger. What do you do all day?"
"Besides startling naked men?"
Wouldn't you know that the waitress chose just then to walk up? And she's a friend of mine from high school. Cindy Wu is petite, dark haired and fair skinned. She looks like a Geisha doll. We hugged and I introduced Dmitri. He stood up, shaking her hand.
"So, naked men?" Cindy said, raising an eyebrow. "Do I hear a story?"
"I'll tell you another time," I replied diplomatically. The subject made Dmitri uncomfortable.
"I'm holding you to that. Beverages?"
"Long Island Iced Tea," Dmitri replied.
"Your usual, Quinn?" She winked as she turned toward the bar.
"Please." I blushed, ducking my head. "Great name, naughty drink," I told him. Open palm, insert face and sigh. "Great drink, naughty name, I meant to say," I mumbled.
He leaned forward conspiratorially. "Ever heard of a Freudian Slip?" he whispered, his breath warm on my ear and neck.
"Yeah." I shivered as his breath continued to caress me.
He put his finger on his nose as he leaned back.
My favorite drink is called Fuck Me Naked. A friend of mine came up with it for a contest and named it after he'd had way too much to drink. I explained this to Dmitri, leaving out the name, of course.
Cindy didn't feel the need to edit quite as much as I did. She set the Long Island Iced Tea in front of Dmitri, announcing it. Mine followed. "And a Fuck Me Naked for Quinn."
"Yes, thanks, Cindy. So much."
With a smirk and a twitch of her hips, she strode off, her black ponytail swinging with every step.
Dmitri raised his glass, laughing at me. His eyes were a remarkable shade of dark green.
"Best drink ever," I replied. "Taste." I held it out to him letting him sip from the straw.
"Wow!" He gasped, inhaling sharply. "Tastes like juice from hell! What's in that? It's lethal!"
"Three kinds of fruit brandy, four kinds of rum, Midori, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, orange juice. . . ."
"I get the idea. Good. Deadly, but good."
I took a sip from the same straw.
"Not worried about germs?"
"With the amount of alcohol in this?" I made a disgusted face. "Tell me odds of me catching something. You're the expert."
He laughed, toasting me with his drink. "Point made. I doubt anything could live through a combination like that. Including brain cells."
"It's the only one I'll have. I've missed them. Can't get this in Wyoming."
"What made you decide to be a park ranger?"
"I love the great outdoors. I grew up not far from where I'm working. I wanted to give something back."
He nodded, taking a sip.
"What made you get into immunology?"
"A sick hamster."
"My pet hamster got sick when I was twelve. I took it to the vet but he couldn't find anything wrong. So I went to the library and started exploring all the things that could cause those symptoms. It was too late for Sparky, but I found the answer."
"Something really gross that I won't mention at dinner. My line of work runs to the really gross fairly often."
"And here I thought it was all bright sunshine, a great ass and no tan line."
Cindy walked up with her pad and pen. "Do you save this stuff up for me? Or do I have the worst timing of my life?"
"The second one," Dmitri replied. "Ready to order?" he asked me.
"She gets the same thing every time. I'm here for your order."
"Oh, okay." He flipped open the menu. "The Silverado Combo. Extra hot, and black beans instead of refried."
"You got it. You sure you and Quinn aren't related? That's exactly what she always orders."
Without meaning to, Cindy had hit on a very important subject. I'd hoped to avoid it a little longer, but now it was in the open, I couldn't dodge the bullet.
"Speaking of related. . . ." I'm not sure how much of my explanation he actually got. I tend to babble when I'm nervous. The fact that I was highly attracted to him and could see our relationship eventually heading to the bedroom, I needed to clear this up swiftly.
"Hold up a second. Slow down. Let's see if I have this right." He paused, working through my speech. "I get that you've got a huge family."
"And that makes it hard to find dates who aren't related to you less than six degrees of separation."
I nodded, hoping he wasn't going to laugh or get angry. He did neither. Instead, he settled back in his seat and picked up his drink. He examined the contents a moment as if it held the secrets of the universe.
"So, before you can go to bed with me, you need to vet my family tree—make sure our kids won't have stump legs and flipper arms." He put his hands by his shoulders and waved.
I almost spewed my drink on him. Cindy walked up with our food.
"All right," she said exasperatedly. "I give up. It's going to be like this until you leave, isn't it?"
"Very likely," Dmitri said calmly. His dark green eyes were shaded by the darkest, thickest lashes I've ever seen.
"I hope you intend to leave a large tip."
"Obscenely large." He smiled up at her, eyes twinkling.
"You're forgiven." With another toss of her ponytail, she turned back toward the kitchen.
"So, does that sum it up?"
"My family is from Poland, mostly. Got a smattering of Lithuania and the Ukraine mixed in. My parents were the first generation born in the U.S.—Chicago. My grandparents escaped Communism as kids when their folks defected to the U.S. My great-grandfather was someone important in the Kremlin. He gave his life so that the rest of us could be free. Have you any family in Central Europe?"
"No. We're from Ireland, Scotland, Wales—with some American Indian tossed in for good measure and great tans."
He blushed a little, ducking his head. "Not gonna let that drop?"
"Then I sincerely hope we're not related in any way, except for the obvious." He raised his glass.
"I'm ninety-nine percent sure we're not, unless you've got a McNulty, McTeague or Tooker in your family tree."
He made a face, considering before shaking his head. "Nope. Doesn't sound familiar. Of course, I could call my mom and check that out for you." He whipped out his phone, finger poised over the screen.
"You really would!"
"I'm highly motivated."
"Yeah. You've already seen me naked. I'd like the same opportunity."
Cindy walked up with our bill. "Okay, enough!" She said, holding up her hands like we had a gun on her. "I've heard some weird conversations, but this takes the prize. Quinn, anyone but you, I'd think something really shady was going on."
"I live a colorful life," I replied. "And Dmitri's a nudist."
"It's true," Dmitri chimed in.
"He flashed me today."
"And you went out with him? Are you sick?" She was getting shrill.
I decided it was time to calm her down. "Seriously, it's okay." I gave her the short version of our meeting.
"I still think this is a weird conversation," she said as she handed Dmitri the bill.
"But now I have it in context. . . . It's still a freaking weird conversation."
"Obscenely large tip," Dmitri said with a smirk and a flourish of his credit card.
"You'll be embarrassed by the amount," he promised with a wink.
"In that case. . . . I'll be right back. But you'd better be having a normal conversation."
Dmitri smirked at me as she walked off. "We've covered everything from nudity to dead hamsters. Is there such a thing as normal conversation?"
"I don't think so. Then again, for me, this is pretty normal."
"But you live a colorful life."