I am a big fan of first meetings, or the Meet Cute as they are called in romantic comedies. These often set the tone for the relationship, and tell us a lot about how the couple will interact with one another later in the story.
Asher Wilkinson is an actor with an improv group, much like Whose Line Is It Anyway, that performs at a local club. They each take turns acting as MC and this night, it's Hansel's turn. Gay and in a committed relationship, Hansel always likes to look out for the romantic interests of his friends. As MC, he chooses participants from the audience and tonight, he chooses the lovely, poised Ruby for Asher to improvise a song about her job.
Asher grinned, waving as the ladies cheered. Hansel made a big show of choosing someone from the audience, but Asher knew he'd made his decision before the show even started. An attractive, well groomed woman rose from her table three tiers up. Hansel met her, holding her hand as he asked her name and profession. She was average height, with walnut brown hair and melted chocolate eyes. Her full lips were tinged ripe cherry red. Her figure was trim, but well padded in all the right places.
"Hi, I'm Hansel." He held out his hand, taking hers.
"Ruby," she replied in a well modulated alto.
"What do you do, Ruby?" Hansel asked.
"Spend other people's money," she said with a toss of her long, brown hair.
"Oh, really? That sounds fun. Are you an identity thief?" Hansel teased.
"Yes, is it that obvious?" She pretended to be shocked.
"Actually, I'm a personal shopper for obscenely wealthy people."
"They pay you—to shop?" Hansel put his hand on his chest. "Be still my heart! That's a dream job!"
"Free trips to Paris, Milan, New York—Yep, it's pretty sweet!"
"Well, Ruby, the Personal Shopper. Asher here is going to sing you a song. Would you like that?"
"I can't think of single a thing I'd like more." Ruby walked up the two steps to the low stage, stopping in front of Asher. Her dark brown eyes gave him a once over from his short blond hair, to his blue eyes, brilliant smile, broad shoulders and down. Did her eyes linger on his fly a moment longer than they had on his face? Biting her lip, she took his hand. Asher grinned, ducking his head, trying to keep his face from showing his delight in meeting her.
"Pleased to meet you, Miss Ruby." He let the slow, Southern drawl elongate his words.
"Ooh, a Southern Man! Sexy," she whispered as she sat.
Marissa glared at Asher before beginning to play. Hansel hadn't specified what genre the song was to be, so she chose the one she knew Asher liked the least, boogie-woogie. It wasn't that he objected to the genre, per se, but he found the rhythm hard to put lyrics to.
"This might take me a second," he whispered to Ruby.
"Take your time. I'm easy," she replied, winking at him.
Suddenly, the lyrics began in his head. "Oh, Miss Ruby, you done stole my heart. Oh, Miss Ruby, you done tore me apart. Fly home, Ruby, from Milan. Tell me, baby, that I'll be your man. My girl, Ruby, she likes to spend money. I'm sure sorry, I ain't got much, honey. . . ."
Instead of sitting still on the stool, Ruby got up, took his hand and started dancing. Asher took full advantage of the situation, swinging her around the stage, showing off his dance skills. The lyrics forgotten, they danced another minute or two until Marissa got to the end of the song and abruptly stopped playing.
Applause was uproarious. Ruby's friends started a standing ovation. Asher twirled Ruby under his arm, catching her before lowering her into a dip so deep, the ends of her hair touched the floor. Raising her slowly, he held her close. Ruby lost her balance, swaying toward him. He steadied her and she pressed one palm to his chest. Asher closed his eyes for a second, inhaling her scent, before releasing her. Hansel saw her back to her seat and Asher stood on the stage, watching her walk away.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes