192 - town light
harles' hands were sweaty. Usually he could keep cool in tense situations, but something about tonight was off-putting.
Seated across from him at the table was his longtime girlfriend, Marianne. She looked absolutely gorgeous tonight. He watched her smile as she stared off into space, and he was certain that she was the one. So, why the trepidation? He couldn't figure out his own feelings.
She caught him idly looking at her. He tried to sheepishly smirk it off, but Marianne was intrigued over her boyfriend's odd glance. "What?" she asked.
"Nothing, nothing," he lied.
"Come on, something on your mind?" she prodded.
"Really, nothing. I don't know what you're getting at," he insisted. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw their server emerging from the kitchen. He carried in his hand two plates that looked like what they had ordered. "I think our food is ready," Charles said, trying to change the subject.
With his right hand on his lap, he ran his fingers along the outlines of the small square box in his pocket. The moment of truth was fast-approaching, and he wanted to make sure that he was totally prepared.
Charles' supposition proved correct as the waiter arrived at their table and presented their dishes to them. "Pesto for the lady," he said, sliding a beautiful plate in front of Marianne. "And, the house steak for you, sir, medium-rare," the waiter continued, serving Charles his plate. "Enjoy."
Marianne appeared excited as she examined their food. "Wow! It looks so good!" she exclaimed. Charles was hardly listening to her. He was busy trying to psyche himself up for the big moment. He slid the box out of his pocket, and his brain went to work trying to recall the lines he had rehearsed in his bathroom mirror an hour ago.
Marianne remained unaware of her boyfriend's intentions, so she continued with her observations. "There's really nothing quite as amazing as the ability to prepare a meal. A well-cooked dish for someone you love is so romantic, isn't it?" she asked him.
His adrenaline-fueled brain suddenly told him to hold off in lieu of the words she had just uttered. He casually slid the box back into his pocket. "Yeah, it's romantic," he replied, dazed.
"Well, let's dig in!" she suggested, fork in hand. Charles' body automatically went through the motions of eating, but his mind was preoccupied with analyzing the situation.
How foolish he had been. This was not the perfect romantic situation, which is why he felt something was off all night. He should have prepared a meal for her himself. Something as wonderful as tonight's dish, but made by him personally, would really wow her socks off.
Charles was hardly a cook, and learning to make something at this level would be difficult for him, but that would impress her even more. He could do it. He would do it. He smiled, the sweat receding from his palms.
The rest of the meal was pleasant. The food turned out to be as good as it looked. Marianne excused herself to freshen up in the ladies' room before they left.
In the privacy of her stall, she pulled out her phone. She felt happy to see a message from him, even though he was at work.
"Hey babe. Completely booked tonight and my sous chef just called in sick, so I'm gonna be doing everything myself. I'll give you a call when I get home," the message read.
"Good luck tonight, I'll be home soon, waiting for you. 143," she quickly sent off as her reply, before flushing and heading back to the table.