Thursday, 24 January 2008

Chapter 6 - It was only a drink

I must have been miles away. I hadn’t seen Paolo crossing the square to the restaurant. I wonder how long he had been standing there looking at me staring into space.

'Can I join you Flees?'

‘Paolo, this is a surprise, I’ve finished eating but you can join me for coffee if you like?’

‘Would you like me at ask Maria to bring us some fine Spanish brandy to accompany our coffee?’

‘Oh thank you that would be lovely’

I glanced at Paolo as he walks back into the restaurant to speak to Maria. He looks so handsome, dressed for the evening in tight blue jeans and a fresh white shirt. The hours he spends out of doors have tanned his skin a dark chestnut colour and his jet black hair shines in the candlelight.

‘You must be exhausted with all that digging this afternoon’ I say as he sits down at the table

‘Oh not at all, there is always such lovely sights to see when you are standing in the fields’ his smile lights up his face ‘that the work doesn’t seem too hard’

Is he flirting with me? I can feel his eyes staring into mine while all the time that quirky little smile never leaves his mouth.

I don’t believe it. It’s happening again, I can feel myself blushing. Why does this man have this effect on me? Please God don’t let me jabber at him the way I did this afternoon. Let me be that cool sophisticated woman who should be living in our villa. The trouble is I’m out of the habit of having a drink with a good looking man.

I haven’t always been this way. Before I had the girls, I used to work for a publishing house and would often go out drinking with the guys from work. We all thought it was a great way to unwind after a particularly stressful day and if I’m being honest, I enjoyed the attention, being the only girl in an office with five men.

Not that I wanted to make Martin jealous, he thought that it was sweet that they treated me as one of the boys. It was nice to spend an evening with people who didn’t expect anything of me. They just liked me for who I was.

But those days are long gone and the only time I go drinking now is with Martin in the clubhouse after golf, if I’m lucky.

It’s not the same as this, sitting in a restaurant with a handsome, unattached man, not the same at all, but the brandy on top of the wine I had with supper is helping to relax me and I’m beginning to feel quite mellow. It helps as well that Paolo is so easy to talk to and even seems interested in what I’ve got to say.

The restaurant is filing up around us and I realise with a start that we have been sitting and chatting for nearly an hour. If I stay here much longer people might start talking!

‘You must get very lonely all week on your own’ says Paolo

‘Oh not at all’ I lie ‘Martin phones me every night when he is away. In fact I must get back, he usually calls about 10 o’clock’

I’m not sure why I didn’t want him to know the truth that Martin and I can go days without talking. I suppose that it’s because it makes me look pathetic to say, yes I am lonely. My husband is away and I don’t hear from him for days on end unless he wants me to phone his accountant or arrange his business meetings for him.

This isn’t what I signed up to when we talked about moving Spain. I thought that we were coming here to spend more time together. I never imagined that I would be turning into his part time, long distance, secretary.

‘Martin is a very luck man to have such a beautiful wife’

I glance across the candle and smile quietly to myself. It’s been a long time since Martin thought of me as beautiful. To look beautiful you have to believe it yourself and I’m not sure do.

As I get up from the table I stumble against the chair and Paolo reaches over to catch my arm. Walking out of the restaurant he is still holding on to me as we say good night. As I look into his face I am sure that I can see more than just a smile behind his big brown eyes.

‘Would you like me to walk you home?’ offers Paolo as he releases his grip on my arm.

Right at this moment I would like nothing better I think ruefully, but say instead, ‘Oh there’s no need for you to do that, it won’t take me long to walk back. Thank you for the brandy and the company. I’ll see again soon I hope’

‘I’m sure you will Fless, Goodnight.’

I feel that everybody is looking at me as I walk across the square. Can they see how close I was to kissing him?

For the first time in a very long time, I don’t feel like somebody’s wife or even secretary, I feel beautiful, special ……….and wanted.

Am I imagining it or does he really want more than just conversation? My heart is pounding in my chest as I turn away. If I look back now would he still be there? Quickly glancing over my shoulder I can see him leaning against a tree outside the restaurant, still watching me, still smiling.