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He certainly isn’t to my usual taste; I’m usually attracted to the lean and wiry type. What was Sue thinking when she set me up? That said, for a first look on a blind date, he’ll do. He’s better than the last two she swore were perfect for me. Big brown eyes. Bit older than I’d expected. The touch of grey at the temples is nice. He’s so tall I have to tip my head back. I’ll get a crick in my neck if we don’t sit down soon.
He holds out his hand. Bloomin’ Eck! They’re like shovels. I return the gesture, and his hand swallows mine whole, squeezing my fingers so hard I think my newly polished nails will look like cracked eggshells when they emerge.
‘Jack,’ he says in a warm, deep voice, his eyes never leaving mine.
‘Helen,’ I answer before swallowing hard. He lets go, and I try not to rub some feeling back into the lump of tingling flesh and bone that won’t be able to pick up a glass, let alone a knife and fork, for at least an hour. I’m not sure this blind date business is for me. I think I might be better off on my own. Less heartache that way.
He holds out the chair, and I sit down before he literally lifts me and the chair up and tucks me perfectly under my end of the table. He sits down on the opposite side and grins widely. His teeth are sentry straight and dazzlingly white as I return a tight-lipped smile.
I pick up the menu and try to concentrate, but I can feel his eyes on me the whole time. I’m beginning to wish I’d worn a polo-neck sweater rather than this strapless summer dress. He’s making me feel as though I’m sitting here in my underwear. I lift my menu higher so that it sits below my chin. Jack blinks and focuses on his menu.
By the time the waiter arrives to take our order, we haven’t said a word to each other, and I have downed my first glass of red. I was trying to fill the silence and calm my nerves, but it’s gone straight to my head, and I can feel my neck and cheeks burning. I probably look like a belisha beacon already. I glance at his glass. It’s still full.
We order, and the waiter disappears.
‘I’ve never been on a blind date before,’ he says, finally picking up his glass. ‘It was my friend that persuaded me.’ Was he blushing?
‘This is my third.’ I take another sip of wine and cover my mouth with my hand. ‘Sue says it’s the done thing these days.’ I look for a response and see his raised eyebrows. ‘Well, perhaps in her eyes. Since my divorce came through — I didn’t want to, but Sue—she’s pushy—you know, wears you down until you agree.’ I grin, my tight-lipped grin like an idiot.
‘Is Sue a close friend?’ he asked.
‘Since nursery school. We’ve always been there for each other.’
‘It’s good to have friends when you find yourself alone again after so many years. The other two? Up to expectations?’
‘Sorry?’
He smiles widely again, showing those beautiful white teeth. My hand remains over my mouth when I speak. I mean, whoever heard of a forty-something wearing a brace?
‘The two other blind dates.’
‘Ah. Well.’ I sigh and put my hand down. No use trying to hide anymore—he’d have soon found out, anyway. ‘It’s the braces. It put them off.’ I smile and show him the diamond decked wires that hold my upper teeth prisoner. ‘It comes out next week. It’s my two front teeth—they cross slightly. I’m trying to correct them. I know it’s not very nice to look at, and I know you won’t want to meet up again, but it’s okay.’ I swallow another large mouthful of wine. ‘It’s still nice to meet you, and we may as well have the meal; I’m happy to pay and——’ He puts his hand over mine to silence me.
‘Hang on a minute. Let me have my turn to speak. Who said anything about not meeting again? We haven’t had a chance to get to know each other yet. Please don’t make assumptions about me.’
‘I’m sorry. It’s the wine it makes me prattle—’
The waiter arrives with our starters. I look enviously at Jack’s beef crostini.
I hadn’t wanted crushed ‘petit pois and delicate local ham-hock crouton’ soup, but it seemed like the easiest to handle. Why didn’t they just say pea and ham soup? Why do these places have to be all la di da? I’m a spade’s a spade sort of girl.
Before I can apologise again, he opens his mouth and points at his pearly whites. ‘You should have seen these before I got them done. Talk about Dracula, all pointy and broken, as well as an enormous gap where I lost my two front teeth in a fight.’
A fight? God. What sort of man have I come to meet? I look around the room, hoping no one is staring at him. What would I do if he started a fight in here?
‘Don’t look so frightened. My days in the ring are over. I gave up boxing a couple of years ago.’
‘Oh.’ My shoulders relax a little. ‘I wasn’t frightened. I was just… err… curious.’
‘My taste in hobbies has changed a lot. I’m into walking these days. I used to go on walking holidays with my mum and dad when I was much younger. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed it.’
Now I really smile at him, mouth open, brace on full display. ‘That’s brilliant. I go walking all the time.’ Things are looking up. I take a fresh look at this mountain. No, not my usual taste in men at all. Much nicer.

A Sense of Taste

Short Stories

Read more . . .

A Sense of Taste

He certainly isn’t to my usual taste; I’m usually attracted to the lean and wiry type. What was Sue thinking when she set me up? That said, for a first look on a blind date, he’ll do. He’s better than the last two she swore were perfect for me. Big brown eyes. Bit older than I’d expected. The touch of grey at the temples is nice. He’s so tall I have to tip my head back. I’ll get a crick in my neck if we don’t sit down soon.

Read more . . .

Pouring Down

The rain starts off light, a fine drizzle making Lily’s hair sparkle as if thousands of diamonds have been weaved through her golden crown of curls. I smile and squeeze her hand.
‘Not far,’ I say.

Read more . . .

Safety in Numbers by Carole Richardson

I put the mobile back in my apron pocket. I should know better. No matter what time Andrew says he will be here, he’s always late. Now everything’s spoiled, and I’m ravenous.

Read more . . .

The Big Show by Carole Richardson

‘Let’s do a show’ yelled Judith.
‘Oh No,’ moaned Malcolm as he sat on the edge of the kerb dragging a stick through the rubbish in the gutter, trying to poke it down...

Read more . . .

A Dog of a Day by Carole Richardson

Liv had forgotten her umbrella and was valiantly trying to hold off some rain with her handbag. It was coming down in sheets. She nearly missed seeing the heap lying on the pavement under a lamppost.

Read more . . .

Monday, Monday - by Carole Richardson

Monday, Monday.

Linda is cutting vegetables as she stands at the granite-topped island in the centre of the kitchen. Thirty years of marriage means order and routine for Linda.

@2021 CJ RICHARDSON, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, POWERED BY DISLO

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