Chapter Six: Killian

Of all times to be late! I’d never run late in my entire life but apparently the universe was making up for my impeccable record today of all days. Maurice came to a halt in front of Italia and I dashed out of the car, checking my phone. 7:15pm. Letting out a groan, I hurried my pace into the restaurant, barely glancing at the exterior. With rushed steps, I came to a halt in front of the greeting desk.

   A waitress was already situated there thankfully. She looked up at my abrupt stop but before her lips had even parted in scripted acknowledgment, I blurted out “Table for two under Reed.” A flash of recognition swept across her face.    

“Ah yes, your companion has already been seated. Please follow me in this way.” She turned and I fell into step behind her. Nervous flutters started to churn in my stomach. Nerissa was here and I was getting closer to her with every second. We continued weaving through the dining area before the waitress came to a standstill.

“Your table sir.”

    The woman already seated there quickly put down her menu and glanced up at the waitress’s words. Her dark hair was piled up in an intricate but casual style. Her pale cheeks flushed with colour, like roses on cream. Wide, green eyes stared at me appraisingly as painted lips slightly parted. She was wearing a red blouse, which complemented her in all the right ways. She was beautiful.  

“Nissa?” The old familiar name left my mouth without thought, but the woman reacted to it with a smile.

“It’s good to see you Killian. Here in front of me. Not just as a picture in a magazine I mean.” The colour grew increasingly in her cheeks, nearly matching the tone of her top. 

“It’s so good to see you again too.” I replied and I meant every word. “May I sit?” I asked, grasping my fingers around the back of the chair.

“Of course!” She exclaimed, awkwardly gesturing at the chair opposite her. I slid into the seat, picking up the menu as she bit her lower lip before releasing it. I yearned to hear her voice again. It had been too long.

   Searching for something to say, I opened the menu before settling on “Is there anything you’d recommend?”  

“Well, my absolute favourite is their spinach and ricotta ravioli. I’ve only had the privilege a few times, but no matter where else I go, the dish is never as good as here.” She seemed so happy when talking about a simple pasta dish, a slight smile gracing her face. I couldn’t help the responding one that bloomed on my own.

“If it’s that good, then I’ll have to give it a try.”

She nodded emphatically. “It’s the best.”   

    If there was anything I’d learnt from when we were friends, it was that Nissa knew her food alright. It didn’t seem like that had changed. I’d still trust her judgement after all this time. The waitress suddenly reappeared with a notebook and pen.

 “Can I start you off with something to drink?”

Nissa immediately requested the house red. She probably knew exactly what she wanted for every course thanks to my lateness. The waitress turned her attention to me and I fumbled with the menu under her stern stare. 

“Erhmm, just a pint of San Miguel for me thanks.”  The waitress nodded and turned on her heel to fetch the drinks. Nissa had a curious expression fixed on her face.

“What is it?”

“I thought someone as worldly as you might have gone for something other than beer.”

I smirked, humour dancing in my eyes. “As worldly as me?”  

“Well you know,” she gestured at me, “you’re probably making international deals and calls all the time in your business.”

“Ah, that’s true, but you can’t really beat the familiar taste of what you love.” I answered. I wondered what image of me she’d conjured in her head. She must think I travel here, there and everywhere. The reality was a lot less exciting.  

“That’s a good sentiment.” She concluded shyly.

    I was desperate to know what she was thinking. I needed to keep her talking. It was as if I’d suddenly found myself in the desert and she was the oasis I needed to reach.

“So,” I began, looking around the restaurant properly since arriving, “what made you pick this place? Do you come here often?” The moment the last words of the question finished, I remembered the few minutes earlier where she said she hadn’t eaten here that much. Stupid! Now she was going to think I didn’t listen! 

“You’ll think it’s silly now.” She muttered, those pretty eyes becoming downcast.

“Hey, no I won’t. I promise .” I went to reach across the table for her hand like I used to, before pulling back sharply. We weren’t that close anymore, but it just felt natural to fall back into old habits where Nissa was concerned.  

   A resigned sigh escaped her. “I picked it because it’s the fanciest restaurant in town I know. I thought you’d be used to dining in michelin star places or really upmarket cafes you know? This is the closest thing in Osegate to that.” She shifted uncomfortably in her chair, pulling her lower lip between her teeth again. It had been some time before anyone had considered what I might like. I was right, she was still as selfless as ever.

“Thank you, it was very considerate of you to think of me like that.” The lower lip was released again and she glanced up, directing those wide, joyful, gorgeous eyes at me.

“Really?”

“Really.” I grinned. “Not many dinner arrangements have accounted for what I might like in recent years.” For the first time, a grin spread across her face and my heart stuttered. Oh boy. “But you want to know something?” I spluttered out, trying to keep my emotions in check so she didn’t think I was an idiot.

“What?”

“I’d be just as happy if all my business dinners took place in McDonalds.”

    A burst of laughter escaped her at my statement and the sound went straight to my soul, burying itself deep in there. I already knew I’d never get tired of hearing it. No, no, no, I needed to keep things in check. I was seeing her again after seven years for goodness sake! Taking a deep breath, I tried to (again) get a reign on my swirling emotions.

   Why did I get the feeling I’d be doing that a lot tonight?  

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