“Where’s your artwork?”
“In the dining room. You‘ll see.”
A black man, dressed in a dark blue suit, smiled at me. “I’m Samuel. I own this fine establishment.” Then he punched Jordan playfully in the arm. “I thought you were coming by yourself. I didn’t know you were bringing a friend. I would have dragged out all the fancy trimmings.”
“Don’t let him fool you, Katie. He won’t do anything different. In fact, we’ll probably get horrible service.” Jordan teased.
“You will now,” Samuel said. He waved at the hostess and she showed us to a table with a view of all the art in the dining room.
Each portrait was lit separately. The same ones from his sketchbook two years ago except each one was painted with bold jewel tones as if their personalities lived in those colors.
“Wow, Jordan. These are… you’re so talented.” I looked around the room.
“Yours didn’t make it here.”
“Why? Not good enough?” I nudged.
“No, it was perfect. I didn’t sell it. I didn’t want you to be hung on a wall at a restaurant.”
“Yeah, me neither,” I agreed that would be strange.
Samuel sat down with us. “Please, let me experiment with you two tonight. Chef has a new menu, but I need some honest critics that will tell the truth.”
Jordan looked at me, and I shrugged my shoulders. “You said it would be an adventure. I’m game.”
Samuel got up from the table. “Great!” He glanced at his watch. “Let me get you some wine.”
They fawned over us over during the entire meal. First came a small bite of scallops, then a tiny salad, and chicken with a sweet sauce. Every bite was delicious. I was stuffed by the time the dessert came out.
“No, I can’t eat anymore.” I sipped the last bit of my wine and looked over the rim at Jordan. He watched me with a small smile on his face, as if he were savoring my presence and not the food. I shifted in my seat and basked in his gaze.
“Chef will be mad if we don’t at least try it,” Jordan argued.
After each course, Samuel came over and requested our opinion. He asked for mine first and then Jordan’s, who was much more critical than I was. I thought it was all perfect. I liked food.
At the end of the dinner, the chef came out to meet us. Jordan got up and gave him a big hug.
“Katie, this is my friend from Los Angeles, Dominic Petra.”
He took my hand. “Nice to meet a friend of Jordan’s. He’s told me about you. The big-time lawyer from New York?”
“I live in Boston now.”
I met Jordan’s gaze. Did he talk about me to his friends? I hadn’t even told him I moved, had I?
Dominic sat with us for a moment. He ignored Jordan and asked me questions about the dishes he prepared.
“Hey, what about me?” Jordan asked.
“You’re too picky. I need someone who will actually eat here to give me real feedback and looks as beautiful as this.” Dominic beamed at me.
Jordan laughed. “Yes, I suppose that helps when deciding if your food experiments were good or not.”
“I thought it was all very good. I usually eat at the Parc when I’m in town,” I said. “I think it’s just as wonderful.”
“Yes, I used to cook for you there.” Dominic grinned.
“Then I am a big fan,” I gushed.
“Keep her,” Dominic added and got up from the table. “I got this. Thank you for helping tonight.” He took my hand and kissed it. “I hope to see you again, Ms. Jones.”
He left. “How did he know my last name?”
Jordan smiled. “We all appreciated your last name. You tipped well, and you’re nice to everyone.”
He got up and took my hand. The heat from his touch startled me. My breath sped up from his contact. “Let me get you home at a reasonable time.”