After a severely brain-draining half-hour I hung up, sighing and falling back onto my bed.
Bea had happily proclaimed me to have a 99.9 % chance with Raphael, at which I laughed. It was still hard to believe what had happened, and the idea that he wanted anything to do with me.
Unless...unless he was some kind of playboy that wanted nothing more than to make a pass at me. He had the looks, and the money.
That was probably it.
I cleaned up and went to sleep, hoping that I wouldn’t be as confused in the morning.
I wasn’t any less confused, but I did feel less affected by what had happened. It was easier to convince myself it was some champagne-fuelled dream than reality.
Training for The Nutcracker was going to start in a few days. I didn’t want to be a wreck when it did.
I went for a long morning swim, trying to push away memories of the pool. As part of the Chicago Ballet I had access to various amenities, and one of them was a gym.
Naturally, I wanted to make full use of it.
The soreness of a good workout helped me to forget the events of the previous day, and after a shower I headed to Frisco’s to get in some hours.
Imagine my surprise when I saw none other than Raphael walking in towards the end of the shift, raising his eyebrows in slight shock at the sight of my uniform.
“I should go to diners more often.” He commented, sitting on a stool across from me.
I continued wiping down the counter, refusing to let him get me tongue-tied again.
“How did you know I worked here?”
“Magic.” He said with mock weight, waving his hands around for added effect.
I stared at him, not amused, and he gave in.
“I have a friend who’s a food critic. He knows every restaurant in Chicago. Told me about a certain blonde on wheels and I knew it had to be you.”
“That’s convenient.” I replied, skating to the left to clean another section of counter.
Raphael moved to the next stool so that he was still sitting across from me.
“Why so serious, Abromovich?”
“Why do you always use my last name?” I asked in reply, my face expressionless.
“It has four syllables.” He replied, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“So does my first name.” I shot back, skating further to the left.
Sutton switched stools again.
“I guess you’re right. I was lying anyways.”
“Really?” I asked with a universe’s worth of sarcasm.
“Your last name let me distance myself from you, by means of formality. And I’m less afraid to mispronounce it.” He chuckled, making me sigh.
“How about Kate?” he asked, “Can I call you Kate?”
I didn’t reply and he took that as a yes.
“Now, back to my original question.”
“I’m not serious.” I said seriously, “I’m just tired to death.”
I looked at him, the perfect male specimen sitting across from me, and sighed.
“Why are you so cheerful?” I asked, almost glowering.
Raphael leaned an elbow on the table, holding his head in his hand, and looked at me.
“I have my reasons.” He replied, his eyes smiling.
I squirted him with some of the water in the spray bottle, a wicked smile on my face.
“I have my reasons too, sunshine.”
He spluttered, blinking the mist out of his eyes.
“You’re too cruel, Kate.”
“Only returning the favour.” I said in a singsong voice, moving to get my rag.
Raphael picked it up before I could, standing up and holding it just out of reach. I gave him a petulant look, grabbing at it again and again and failing to get it.
I hit him with another barrage of misting before managing to wrestle it out of his hands.
“That was not fair.” He commented, getting a smirk out of me.
“You’re not fair.” I retorted, resuming my cleaning.
Raphael resumed his study of me, narrowing his eyes in thought.
“I don’t think I’ll ever understand you.” He said finally.
“I don’t understand you either.” I replied, picking up glasses and mugs left behind from some recent customers.
“What’s not to understand? Ask and you shall know.” He said with mock bravado, to which I skated over and leaned on my own two elbows on the counter.
“Okay,” I started, thinking, “Why did you kiss me last night?”
That took him off guard.
“You kissed me back.”
“That’s besides the point,” I replied, “Don’t question the question.”
Bea had taught me a comeback or two.
“Well, uh,” he started, “Because I...feel something for you?”
“Why me?” I shot back, “When there were at least fifty rich, gorgeous girls at that party?”
“You’re not like them.”
“Are you saying I’m ugly?” I asked incredulously.
“No, no,” he said quickly, “You’re...real. You have character. The list goes on.”
“Are you trying to get in my pants?”
That actually got him to blush a bit.
“That wasn’t my original intent, no.”
“Don’t expect that kind of action any time soon.” I warned, “I’m not that kind of girl.”
“I didn’t think you were.” He said honestly, and I felt bad enough to let up with the questions.
“You pass, for now.” I sighed, “But don’t get too comfortable.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”