LEATHER AND LACE Chapter 5 Excerpt on Eat Sleep Write

*This originally posted here.

Leather and Lace - Chapter 5 by Erica Sutherhome
posted by Adam Scull
January 23, 2014

Angie finished her errands and returned to her one bedroom apartment.  It had all the basics, of course, with a small kitchenette, sitting area and a bathroom, but little else. She still hadn’t scraped enough together to buy a decent computer like she’d had before…no, she wouldn’t think of that now.
She took a shower, and did her hair and makeup carefully.  Tonight was a date, not the club.  She wanted a natural look.  With a secret smile, she chose her lingerie, then donned a long, cobalt blue, but soft maxi dress.  She went for black strappy sandals and a matching purse, and included a like-colored shawl.  Now she was ready.  She left the apartment, drove to Patrick’s house and rang the doorbell.  It was seven-thirty.  She was a punctual girl.
When the door opened, Angie saw that Patrick was dressed stylishly in a dark blue pin-striped dress shirt and black dress pants.  She wondered if he ever dressed down or relaxed.  His dark, layered hair was styled perfectly tonight, unlike the bed-mussed look he’d sported that morning.  She realized she liked it both ways.
She noticed she was staring and smiled.  “Hello, Patrick.”
“Angie…”  The word came out like a groan.  “God, you look amazing.”
“Thank you.” She felt the flutter of nerves and, baffled by it, she tried to get her breath back.  “Are you ready?”
He nodded.  “Just one moment.”
He was gone for no more than a few seconds.  When he returned, he had shrugged into a black dinner jacket.  And there was one thing more.  He held a single red rose out to her. 
Her breath caught, and she was oddly charmed by the gesture.  “Oh, Patrick.  Thank you,” she whispered.
“You’re welcome.”
She took the rose and inhaled its sweet fragrance.  “This is lovely.  Can we put it in a vase?”
“Of course.” He opened the door and she accompanied him inside.  They found a vase, filled it with water, set the rose inside and stood back to admire it.  “Shall we?” he asked.
“Of course,” she replied and followed him out.
Patrick closed the front door, then with a hand on her back, he urged her towards his car.  It was a black sedan, not luxury like she’d suspected, but still fairly new.  He opened the passenger door for her and she got in.  After he climbed in, started the car and pulled away from the curb, he flipped the music on.  Fireflight’s “Wrapped in Your Arms” came on, and startled eyes flew to him.  But, his gaze was on the road, his face composed. 
It was the same kind of music she listened to when she wanted to relax. Fireflight was one of her favorite bands. When she was feeling moody and reckless, she listened to the hard beat of the alternative songs to bring herself down.  This one, however, was softer, one that her romantic’s heart secretly yearned for.  She imagined it was a story about a love so true, it even stood the test of time.  She shook the thought away and tried to ignore the pull of the emotional lyrics.
She cleared her throat. “Where are we going?”
“I thought we’d do Italian.  You like Italian?”
“Yes, that’s fine.” She looked away, out at the quick flash of headlights from other cars that passed by.
“You seem quiet,” he commented.
 “So do you.”
He chuckled.  “You may be right.”  He cleared his throat.  “Did you go to work today?”
She shook her head.  “There really isn’t much of a crowd during the day.  The money is in the evening.”
“So it is,” he said softly.
The silence that passed was awkward as hell.
Angie worried her hands in her lap. “Was this a mistake?”
He frowned, sparing her a glance before he looked at the road again. “What do you mean?”
“You said you were interested.”
“I am.”
“But, we’re mixing business with pleasure.”
“If I’m not mistaken, your profession is all about pleasure.”
She gasped.  She couldn’t think of a reason why she should feel hurt by his comment. “You’re right. Of course.”
“Forgive me, Angie.  It’s not just about that.”
“It’s not?” she asked after a moment. “It seems pretty awkward right now. If there was more than sex, wouldn’t we have known that by now?”
Patrick was silent for a moment while she looked anywhere but his tempting presence.  “I know it doesn’t seem like it.  But, you’re not as removed as you pretend to be.  I’m a cop, Sweetheart.  I read people.  And there’s a lot more than surface to you.  Just as there’s more to me than money.”
            Angie grimaced.  “I didn’t mean to imply-“
“Of course you did.  But, I understand.  Let’s just put that behind us and try to enjoy the evening.  I want to know more about you, Angie, but I’ll give you time if that’s what you need.”
Gratitude moved through her.  She reached out to squeeze his free hand.  “Thank you.”  Willing to try, she turned the music down a little.  “So, you like Fireflight?”
He smiled and nodded.
“Me too.”
“See?  Maybe we have some things in common after all.”
“We’re both stubborn?” she quipped.
Patrick laughed, and her heart felt much lighter all of a sudden.  “There is that,” he agreed.
 Angie relaxed.
When the car slowed, Patrick parked near a two hour parking sign.  They exited the car and he took her hand as they crossed the street.  Angie couldn’t dismiss that strange flutter of nerves that returned.  She thought it might be some kind of exhilaration. 
When they stepped up to the restaurant, she could tell it was housed in one of the old brick buildings in Beacon Hill.  Ristorante Toscano was outlined in shiny black paint, and the word “Toscano” was large, drawing customers in.  The letters were painted yellow and there were two lovely symbols on each side of the word.  They reminded Angie of a fleur-de-lis.  Once inside, the din of a busy restaurant was evident.  When Patrick gave his name, they were seated promptly.  On the way to the table, her heels clicked on the wooden floor, creating a strange echo. 
The pleasant smell of Italian food wafted about.  The tables were cozy with white tablecloths and high-backed chairs outfitted in leather padding.  The décor encompassed the building’s architecture, drawing on the brick of the walls.  On the ceiling were large, random lights with an antique color and scrolled ironwork that offered an intimacy to the atmosphere.  In the middle of the restaurant a glass case sat, housing all types of wine.  Behind Angie’s seat on the wall was a circular mirror ringed in black with gold decorative accents.  It was all quite impressive.
A waiter filled their water glasses as they perused the menu. “Would you like some wine with your meal?”
Patrick’s gaze went to her.
Angie smiled.  “Of course.”
He returned her smile.  “The lady has spoken.  We will have a bottle of your Rosato Scalabrone.”
“Very good, Sir.”  The waiter left.
“You seem to know your wine,” she commented.
“I like it well enough.  This is a good restaurant too.”
She had to bite back the urge to ask if he’d been here with a girlfriend.  “Good.”
Soon, their wine glasses were filled and after sipping, they ordered. They asked for bruschetta for an appetizer and ordered Pappa al Pomodoro, or a tomato bread soup. Angie ordered wild mushroom risotto while Patrick took a chance on the sea scallops.  He also ordered broccoli on the side for them to share.
It was a pleasant meal.  During their soup course, she worked up the nerve to ask about Patrick’s romantic past.
He smiled.  “I’ve only dated a few women.  Some in college, one a couple of years back.”
“That sounds serious.”
“Hmm.  Well, it seemed like it for awhile.  The problem was she didn’t respect my job, or that I would want it.”
She nodded.  “Clearly you like being a detective.”
“Oh, I do.  It’s not always exciting.  A lot of it is paperwork.”
“Then what is it that compels you to do it?”
He sighed.  “You’ll laugh.”
“No, I won’t.  It’s important to you.  I understand that.”
Patrick nodded. “I like the puzzle, figuring out what happened. Justice doesn’t hurt either.”
            “Oh.” It crossed her mind that she might be his current puzzle he was working on, but she brushed it aside.  He had asked her out, but it was no more than a dalliance.  They were simply enjoying each other for now.  “Well, I’m glad you like your job.  So many people are unhappy in their professions.”
            “Including you?”
            Angie sighed.  “It’s not always easy.”
            There was a weird moment of silence.
            “If you weren’t working where you are now, what would you want to do? Another kind of dancing?”
            She shook her head. “It’s fun sometimes, but it mostly pays the bills, like you said.  No, I might do art.”
            Angie nodded. “That was my hobby when I was growing up.  I was always sketching or painting.  I…” she drifted off, aware that she was saying too much.
            “Do you still do that?”
            She shook her head.
            “Well, why not?”
            “I don’t know.  I guess I didn’t see any point.  The colors aren’t there anymore.”
            When he blinked, she laughed. “That probably sounds crazy.”
            “No, it doesn’t.  But, if you don’t follow your passion, you won’t be happy.”
            She appreciated the sentiment, but it wasn’t realistic right now for her.
            “Angie, would you do something for me?”
            “If you’re ever in situation that seems dangerous, something you can’t handle, would you call me?”
            “I have pepper spray,” she protested.
            “That won’t help in every case.”
            She knew he was right.  “All right.”
            Patrick dug in his wallet and handed her his business card. “That lower one? That’s my cell phone. You call me any time, night or day, and I promise I’ll answer.”
            “Thank you,” she whispered. It really meant a lot that he was willing to protect her. Once more, she had to struggle to get her breath back. 
            “So, what about you?”
            “Hmm?” she wondered distractedly.  She took a sip of wine.
            “Have you dated much?”
            Angie shook her head. “I’m twenty-seven, and I haven’t had a long term relationship. When I was in school, I dated some guys. It didn’t really go anywhere. I don’t think they were looking for permanence.”
            “I’m sorry.”
            “Yeah. It’s okay. I’m over it.”
            He lifted a brow like he didn’t believe her.  “So…you were in college.”
            “I was.  Not anymore.”
            “I see.”
            But, he couldn’t. No one would understand why she dropped out. She’d simply had no choice.
            The rest of their food arrived, breaking the awkward moment. Angie’s risotto was to die for, and she even snagged a couple of Patrick’s scallops.  She had to admit everything was cooked to perfection. After Patrick paid, they left the restaurant.  The night was mild enough that she didn’t need a coat, and she could see the stars up in the night sky.  There was something very romantic about it all.  The sounds of an Italian opera song streamed out through the open doors of the restaurant.
            Patrick took her in his arms, drew her close to his chest.  They swayed to the beautiful music for awhile until he touched his lips to hers. Tongues danced lightly and she felt a little lightheaded with the sensation. When he drew away, he smiled.  Words weren’t necessary, it seemed.  He took her hand and led her back to the car.
            The car started and she was treated to more Fireflight.  She smiled at him.
            For dessert, Patrick took her for ice cream at the Ben & Jerry’s on Park Plaza. She went for chocolate fudge brownie for she loved chocolate. Patrick ordered cherry Garcia.  They licked at the cones in silence as families with rambunctious children poured in around them.  At one point, Patrick took a napkin and wiped her chin, where some ice cream had dripped.  She could only laugh.  That awkwardness had been chased away somehow. 
Afterwards, they went to a theater nearby, where they saw an action movie. During the particularly intense scenes, Patrick held her hand.  More than anything, she wanted to curl up against him. Did they have that kind of relationship? She wasn’t sure. She didn’t have the experience to know that. She just knew that, despite her attempts to remain professional with him, she was failing.  She was starting to like him a lot.  She couldn’t count how many times he’d made her laugh tonight, whether it was when he was teasing her about something or telling her about his mishaps as a rookie with the department. 
Patrick chose that moment to squeeze her hand.  She looked at him.  His bright blue eyes cut through her. 
Dear God, she thought.  She was in a lot of trouble.