Sitting across the room from me was a girl. Her hair was a strange, wet-looking blonde with curls that seemed to flow, but never to lose shape. I would glance at her from time to time as she sat listening to the speaker, and I would catch her smile occasionally as she found him amusing, white teeth flashing beautifully. Her eyes were bright, and her slim form wore her clothes well.
At a quarter till noon, we broke for lunch, and I slid through bored working professionals who had, like myself, been sent to this workshop by employers with pockets too deep for them to reach the bottom with their fingertips. I stepped in behind her, wondering what to say. I thought for a moment, and finally threw all my plans out the window. I simply tugged on her sleeve gently.
She turned, a questioning look on her face.
"Can I buy you lunch?" I asked.
For a moment, I hung in space, waiting for her to answer. The tips of her lips twitched, first once, then twice, and her eyes sparkled. "Sure," she said. "Got something in mind?"
I was completely unprepared for this, but having taken the plunge into such cold water, I was at least fully awake. "Hadn't really thought about it, actually. Where were you going originally?"
"I was just going to try the hotel's restaurant," she said. Her eyes sparkled again. "Do you ask women to lunch often, having no place to take them?" she asked.
"Well, I find it a bit presumptuous to tell a lady where we're going before she says 'yes'," I responded. "Besides, I thought you'd probably say no, so I didn't bother."
"I can take it back, if you want, and you can go eat alone," she said, smiling.
"No, I think you're probably better company than I am alone."
Her smile grew broader. "You know, now I'm wondering what I got myself into with lunch."
"Nothing dangerous, I assure you. I'm Mike."
"Celeste. Pleasure to meet you."
"No, Celeste. At the risk of sounding clichéd, the pleasure is all mine."
We had dinner, and a very good conversation. She gave me a business card, but I returned it to her. We talked, laughed, and enjoyed our time together, but I didn't want anything more than company, and I told her as much. What I didn't tell her was that I enjoyed her company much more than I thought I would. She was beautiful and intelligent. It was the best lunch I've had in over a year.
She left before I did, though, and I doubt I'll see her again.