What starts off as a simple date turns out to be much much more....
Is it natural to be scared? There's a first time for everything. Should we embrace fear as it comes, or live in constant dread of its presence? One thing is for sure, fear either gets the better of us, or we get the better of it.
He couldn't breathe. The tightness of the collar restricting his airway, he franticly tried to loosen a button. As cool, welcome air rushed into his burning throat he gasped and gripped the sides of the basin. The nerves had hit him. He would say they did this every time. But this was the first time. He had never done this before. A shaky man by nature, but now getting in a flap about this? He must be stronger. It was not the most impossible thing in the world. Straightening up he adjusted his cufflinks. The red tie stood out like blood against his crisp new shirt. He had always thought white made him look pale and ill looking. But it was tradition to wear white. And he had to keep to tradition.
Reaching out he grasped hold of the bunch of scarlet roses lying wait for him beside the towels. Picking out one he cast the others aside. Simplicity is best, he thought. Keep it simple and the complicated parts will take care of themselves. He glanced down at the small piece of paper with a number scrawled on it. He must not loose that number. Today depended on it. Folding it up he put it in his pocket, picked up his briefcase and strolled out of the room. Making his way down the corridor he heard snippets on conversation from various other rooms. There seemed to be an argument in room seventy two and heated words were being thrown around. Two little children ran across his path playing cops and robbers. One held the bag of swag, which was in this case a packet of sweets, whilst the other chased him round and round. Mesmerized he stood and watched for a moment. Children frightened him slightly. It scared him how they could laugh and be free all the time. He guessed it was the innocence of it all that affected him. The arrival of the lift shook him out of his stupor.
Outside it was warm and stuffy. He could feel the sweat congealing on his back as he raised a hand for a cab. This was far too hot for spring, he thought. Or it may have been the nerves kicking in again that caused the sudden waterfall to cascade down his back.
The journey seemed to take no time at all. In what felt like seconds he was walking, shakily, towards his destination. It took only a few paces more before he saw her.
It was the reflection of the sunlight dancing on her crimson hair that he saw first. Her fingers played with it, entwining and releasing the curls methodically. Her feet were shifting nervously and he could see her chest rising and falling rapidly. From heat or from anticipation, he could not tell. He blue outfit clashed like thunder with her scarlet locks. Yet despite this, she still managed to look so beautiful that passers by had to take a moment to gape in awe at her.
Like so many others he found himself staring. He just had to give himself into a moment where everything from the spring vista to the dancing birds around him seemed ugly in comparison. Silence fell around. A beautiful, clear silence. He watched as leaves trapped in a gust of breeze flew around her. The air caught him and seemed to lead him towards her. It was cool, a welcome relief from the heat. Only someone so beautiful as her could have created it. His feet seemed to take control, steering him towards her. For a moment he looked a bit bewildered as he stood before her, but managed to utter one word.
She smiled. It was as if it would never turn dark again. The smile hit him with such force he had to back away a step. She smiled from her eyes. He could see the specks of green shining with happiness.
She took him by the hand and led him to a table. He went like a sheep being guided into it's pen. When seated he recovered enough strength to hold out the rose.
Her face lit up. If the day could have got any brighter, it did in that split second. Her delicate fingers lightly touched the petals.
"For me?" She asked tentatively.
Before he knew it she was embracing him. Holding her wire frame he felt like he was going to snap her. But she held him with surprising strength. he could smell her perfume. It was unlike any other he'd smelt before. It reminded him of roses and lavender. He breathed her in like a drug. Inhaling her beauty. After what felt like an age they broke apart.
"I can't believe my first date turns out to be a gentleman!"
He shifted in his seat, smiling slightly.
"I mean after James, my last partner, who was only after my money, I was beginning to think there were no decent men in this world... Well, until now that is." She grinned clown-like and stopped a passing waiter.
"Could we have some red wine please?"
He nodded, bowed gracefully and retreated.
Her eyes darted back to her date.
"So... tell me about yourself!"
He would have been slightly threatened by he forcefulness of her voice had it not been for the trance she had put him in.
"Erm... It's not really that interesting, what I do..."
Her face read disappointment.
"Please, I'd love to know!"
He opened his mouth to protest again but never managed it.
"Wine for Mademoiselle et Monsieur?"
The waiter set the bottle down on the table and poured two glasses. The chilled liquid steamed up the glass instantly, creating a hazy mist.
As he sipped at the wine he felt nerves again. Why was this so difficult. It wasn't him first time. Scraping back his chair with a little too much force he stood up.
"Excuse me, I need the washroom, stomach upset..." he blabbered.
Almost racing to the bathroom he locked himself in a cubical. Pressing his face into his hands he tried to breathe normally. He was running out of excuses for himself. This was not meant to be this difficult. SO far things had all gone according to plan, so why was he so nervous? The frustration became so much he tried to stifle an exasperated growl.
"You alright in there mate?"
He jumped. A disembodied voice had called out to him. He glanced down. A pair of scruffy shoes and a mop looked back.
"Yes, thankyou." He squeezed his eyes tight shut.
"If that's your bird sittin' there with the lovely red 'air you've done yourself proud mate. Don't know why a good man like you should be sat in here, snifflin' when she's waitin' for you."
He opened his eyes.
The mop and shoes had vanished. In there place were a pair of green high heels.
"I'm sorry I was so forward earlier... I'm not normally like that, it's just you seemed so nice I just.... let it all flow..."
Her voice was full of resentment and sorrow. He could not imagine such beauty being unhappy.
"Here..." she said.
A rose appeared, being gently pushed by a dainty hand.
"I don't deserve something as beautiful."
"Yes you do!" She said softly.
He reached for his briefcase.
"I'm sorry." He said.
Unlocking the door he faced her.
There were tears forming in her eyes.
"I just wanted something in my life to go right for once."
Suddenly he realized his eyes were wet also. He placed one hand gingerly around her waist, dropping the briefcase to the floor. Slowly he brought his lips to hers. She closed her eyes but he kept his open. Still holding the kiss he reached inside his jacket.
"I'm so sorry Phoebe."
There was a flash of steel, brighter than the brightest star. Then a warm sensation reached him. He broke the kiss and looked into her shocked face. The blue dress was rapidly turning purple. As her head fell back he caught her and placed her gently on the bathroom floor. She could not speak. A sea of crimson began to form, engulfing her hair. Her questioning eyes looked at him before they stared unseeing into his.
He straightened up. Reaching into his briefcase he pulled out his mobile. Dialing the number on the paper he spoke in a shaky voice.
"James. It's done."