Lillian couldn’t believe her luck. What had she done to deserve the attention of such a caring man? She had grown up in a house full of beautiful people and she felt that she lacked all of the things that her sisters had. Lillian was the youngest of four, and she watched all of her sisters date easily. They flitted from one man to the next, eating their fill before moving onto the next one. These men lapped up the attention her sisters laid on them, seeing nothing but their beauty. Lillian had only had a couple of flings, men that were pity fucks when she reluctantly agreed to go on a double date with one of her sisters. She could tell that they didn’t want to be there, uncomfortable at being the scape goat for their friend’s hot girlfriend. Thom was different though, he had reached out to her, had seen her on her own merits instead of in the shadow of her sister.
Thom reached for her hand across the table, and asked if she would still like to get a bite to eat. She checked her watched and realised that they had been chatting for a few hours already and it was now 10pm. Lillian felt her stomach grumble, the wine she had indulged in sloshed around her empty stomach. She grinned sheepishly at Thom and said that she was actually starving. She had worked through her lunch break and had only managed to eat a few biscuits from the office kitchen on a ten minute break.
“Do you know anywhere that would be open at this time of night?” Thom enquired. Lillian remembered that he wasn’t a local. She felt a pang in her heart when she remembered that he was only in town for a few days before he had to head back to his home town which was a few hours’ drive away.
“I don’t go out for dinner often, I usually get takeaway and eat at home,” Lillian confessed. She felt a bit silly confessing this to Thom. She hated admitting that she was a little out of her depth in the night scene. She knew that there was a really nice Thai takeaway place just around the corner but was unsure if it would still be open. Lillian took a deep breath and said “There are a couple of good takeaway places around here if you want to grab some and come back to my place.” She felt her face flush. What had she done? She had just invited this guy to her place for dinner, she never did that. Lillian usually preferred to go to the guys place, enabling her to make a quick exit when things didn’t go as planned. She hated having people in her space.
She felt Thom staring and her and her flush deepened. Lillian prepared herself for the inevitable turn down, steeling her face to hide the disappointment. Thom stood and reached for her hand, “Lead the way my fair lady, I am your tourist.” She tensed her hand around his, she was in shock and had never believed for a second that he would say yes. Lillian picked up her handbag from the seat next to hers, slung it over her shoulder and lead Thom towards the door.
They stepped out into the street and Lillian felt a chilling wind rip through her. It was the middle of May and so the nights had begun to develop a cool feel to it. She usually had a light cardigan with her but in her rush to get out of the door this morning, she had left it hanging over the back of one of the kitchen chairs. Lillian rubbed her arm, trying to shake the chill and could feel goosebumps developing on her upper arms. Thom reached for her and asked her if she wanted his coat. She blushed again; she wasn’t used to a man making a fuss over her. She shook her head and told him that it was only a couple of blocks until the take away place she mentioned.
Lillian guided Thom through the busy street. Why were all these people still out? It was only a Thursday night. Then she internally admonished herself as she realised that all of the people were at least 10 years her junior. She would often find herself out until the early hours of the morning on most days of the week. She didn’t want to be alone and so would often bar hop, people watching and taking in the activities around her. There were rarely any actual interactions but being around other people made her feel that she wasn’t lonely. She didn’t have many friends in town, despite still living in the city in which she grew up in. School was a distant memory of bullying and loneliness that she loathed to remember. She had always had trouble making friends. Often the only social outing she had were with her boss when he needed her there to help organise speeches for the charity functions he attended.
They rounded the corner and she was pleased to see that her favourite Thai place was still open. The place was empty so she hoped that they wouldn’t have to wait long for their meal. She pushed open the door and the girl behind the counter met her with a friendly grin. “Lillian!” she exclaimed. “Who is this handsome man you have here with you?”
Lillian looked at Thom sheepishly and introduced him to the girl. Holly’s father owned the Thai place and she worked there most nights. She was 19 and was also attending university. Lillian had gotten to know her over the last 5 years and it was often Holly’s friendly demeanour that kept her coming back to the restaurant. Holly’s father was also a very friendly man and often poked fun at Lillian that she would never get a man if she kept eating his food and not learning to cook. Lillian would always laugh and tell him that if it wasn’t for her he would be out of business.
Thom was looking at a menu and Lillian waiting for him to make a decision. Lillian ordered here several times a week and had her favourite dishes that she always ordered. Holly tried to get her to step outside of her comfort zone and suggest meals that she thought Lillian would like but Lillian was a creature of habit. She rarely altered her routines, sticking to what she knew; afraid that if she changed it would send her into a spiral of confusion.
Holly suggested a few dishes to Thom and he told Holly that he would love to try them. He admitted that he had never had Thai and so had no idea what tasted good. Lillian looked at him in awe. She admired his willingness to do new things, and she was thankful that this personality trait meant he had taken a chance on her. She shook her head and wondered what on earth he saw in her, she was so obviously completely opposite to everything that she was. Holly had already written down the order, with Lillian’s usual added to the bottom of Thom’s. She told them that it would be about 20 minutes until the meals were ready so Lillian and Thom took a seat at one of the small tables that the shop had for people to sit at while they waited for their orders. Lillian guessed that it was also possible that you could dine in, but she had never seen anyone eating here.
Thom turned to her and asked how her day had been. She told him that it had been extremely busy, but she much preferred that to the times when business had been slow. Lillian worked at a criminal lawyer’s office and while they were building their reputation, cases had been few and far between. She was able to offer secretarial services to both partners and often found herself reorganising the filing system just to pass the time.
The office had been catapulted into stardom when the lawyers had managed to win a high profile case. It had started off as a nothing case but had been thrust into the spotlight when it was discovered that the accused was a relative of a prominent businessman. Obviously the businessman wanted the case dealt with swiftly and as quietly as possible, so had employed her boss and his partner who made up the whole team of Harrison and Brown at the time. The partners were able to get a verdict of Not Guilty and were rewarded handsomely. They were now able to pick and choose their cases and the firm had tripled in size. Lillian often left at the end of the day with work unfinished. Although it was busy and high stress at times, she liked the thrill of feeling useful.
Thom was a computer salesman and was in town for team building conference. He rolled his eyes as he told her about the activities that he done throughout the day. Lillian listened to him intently, drinking in his words as if they were the most interesting she had ever heard. Thom told her that they had, had to do an obstacle course in their workplace groups and he laughed as he recalled to her that most of them were nerds who avoided exercise like the plague. She watched as his eyes sparkled when he laughed, the lines around eyes and mouth evidence that he liked to laugh a lot. Lillian absently touched her temple and knew that those same lines were present on her own face.
Holly walked over to their table and placed their order between them. It was placed in two plastic bags and Lillian instinctively went to grab the bag that contained her meals. Thom shooed her hand away and grabbed both bags, telling her that he was a gentleman who couldn’t possibly let a lady carry her own dinner. Lillian knew that her mother would have laughed at the gesture and told him that she was no lady, but while there was only Holly looking on she grinned with pleasure. “Have fun you two,” Holly said with a wink as she made her way back behind the counter.
When they got outside Lillian told Thom that her apartment was only a couple of blocks away and they could easily walk from here. There was still a steady throng of people walking on the footpath and Lillian dodged a couple and guided Thom towards her apartment. As they walked along, Lillian took in the city; it always looked different at night. Depending on her frame of mind it could look sinister but tonight it looked radiant. It felt like the whole street was celebrating her night with her.
They reached her apartment building and she pushed open the doors and walked through the lobby. Her heels made a loud clicking in the empty room and echoed around them. She walked past the desk that was manned by a security guard. She felt more secure knowing that there was someone keeping watch downstairs while she slept. While she had never experienced anything sinister, working for a criminal law firm, she knew that crime was more prevalent than people liked to admit to. She stopped in front of the elevator and pressed the up button, then waiting for an elevator to make its way to the ground floor. There was a loud ping and one of the doors opened, and she motioned for Thom to step in.
Lillian lived on the 6th floor. She was lucky enough to have views over the city and often sat on her balcony with a bottle of wine after work to admire her surrounds. She told Thom to put the Thai on the dining table as she searched her cupboards for two plates and forks. Lillian found two that passed the guest standards and carried them into the dining area. Thom was already seated at the table and had begun to unpack the food, spreading it around the table so they could share. She wasn’t used to this and often ate dinner on her couch in her pyjamas while watching Maury Povich reruns.
The conversation flowed easily and it didn’t take long for Lillian to begin to unwind. She still felt apprehensive and was waiting for this to all come crashing down around her; killing the high that she felt. She scooped food onto her plate, sticking to the dishes she had ordered. Thom looked at her with a bemused grin on his face, “You know I will share my food with you right?”
Lillian looked at him and blushed. “I’m not used to sharing my food and I don’t really like trying new things,” she admitted. In fact this whole experience is pretty new to me, she confessed. Thom considered her carefully. This is it she thought to herself, this is the moment that he realises what an absolute bore I am and packs up never to be seen again.
He put her hand on hers and she realised that she had been shaking, “It’s ok, I’m here to help you along the way, “he said in a soothing voice. Lillian felt herself relax immediately, and her hand had stopped shaking. She smiled at him and began to eat. She liked that he already seemed to know so much about the way she though, felt and wasn’t pushing her to do things she didn’t want to do.
Lillian put one last mouthful of food into her mouth and then declared that she was filled to stuffing point. Thom agreed and said that he was glad she had taken him to the Thai takeaway. He had been living on McDonalds and Hungry Jacks since he had gotten into town because he didn’t want to attend the dinners organised by the conference. Lillian realised that while Thom seemed out going to her, he was like her in that he liked to have his own space to retire to.
Lillian sat awkwardly at the table, unsure what to do next. Usually once she got back to a man’s place they would retire to the bedroom. She felt that Thom was different. He felt more than a fling, more than a sexual conquest and she hoped that he felt the same way about her. She enjoyed his company and thought that introducing sex to the equation so early would ruin what they had already started.
Thom wiped his face on one of the napkins that Holly had placed in the bag for them. He rolled it into a ball and then placed it in the empty bag, and begun to clean up the empty containers from dinner. Lillian moved to stop him, ensuring her that she would do it later. He nodded and placed the containers back onto the table. He rubbed his hands on his jeans, “I think I might head back to my hotel, we have to be up at 6am for our daily meditation session,” Thom said and he moved towards the door. Lillian followed him so that she could lock the door behind him. Thom turned to her and told her that he had, had a nice night, and then closed the door behind him.