“When lunch comes, we’re going to eat, and laugh, and otherwise act as though we’re perfectly into one another. Simple enough?” She punctuated her question with a broad smile.
“Sure. I can definitely handle that.” He picked up a piece of the fresh sourdough bread and began to butter it. After taking a bite, a thought occurred to him. “You said you’ve seen this kind of situation before – like why they want me to be dating. How many times exactly?”
Putting a coy grin on her face that was only partly to please the press that might be watching, she leaned back in her chair and sipped at her sparkling water.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?”
“You bet. C.I.A. is a clever acronym for me and my business for lots of reasons.” She winked at him. Flirty Stephanie was never seen in the wild. She thanked her years of acting lessons for her level of skill in being able to pull off the face and body language that went with Flirty since her real-life practice was quite lacking in that area. The quiet click of pictures being taken sounded a few times, then was quiet again. She realized then how much her love/hate relationship with that noise and the reason for it had become quite unbalanced and heavy on the hate side.
Stephanie reveled in the comfort of the wicker seat, recalling the dozens of times her mother had brought her here for brunch, or a casual girls’ lunch. The small grass lawn was impeccably mowed, the flowering bushes lending a lovely pink decoration and gesture of sweet fragrance. The April sunshine was warm and comforting on her shoulders despite the large umbrella above them and the cool gentle breeze that occasionally fluttered her skirt and ponytail.
Their waitress was back again fairly quickly, delivering Stephanie’s salad and Devon’s soup and sandwich. She managed to get in another coy smile in Devon’s direction, but he shut her down by looking back at Stephanie after a quick thank you.
Stephanie’s heart sped up and it took a moment for her to re-master it. What was wrong with her? The first rule in this business is to keep your feelings out. She took a deep breath to try and center herself.
Focusing on maintaining a look of total new relationship interest on her face and with her body, Stephanie guided Devon through some key body language.
“You’ll see me cross and uncross my legs so I can lean closer –” She demonstrated, once again leaning toward him across the table as she daintily picked at her Salad Niçoise. “–because I’m just so interested in whatever you’re saying.” Stephanie went so far as to crinkle her eyes up at the corners with a bright smile and give a short laugh as though whatever she had said to him was highly amusing.
Devon, not pretending, laughed heartily. “This is like one long, acting exercise.” He nodded, stirring his soup around with a spoon.
“Precisely.” She speared a tomato with the tines of her fork and gently placed it in her mouth, chewing with a smile.
Devon winced and shifted in his seat. This made Stephanie unreasonably pleased with herself. Point one to Stephanie.
He placed one arm on the table, taking Stephanie’s unoccupied hand into his on the linen tablecloth. Artificial shutter clicks sounded over their shoulders for what felt like a solid minute. Almost no conscious effort went into her coy smile and a quick dip of her head as though she were flustered to be touching him. She noted that his hands were warm and soft, and Stephanie wasn’t entirely displeased that he was touching her. Both because it was an excellent move for the photogs and because it was a friendly but gentle grip. He ran his thumb over her knuckles, that famous adorable lopsided grin on his mouth, icicle blue eyes boring into her brandy ones.
“Well played, sir.” She complimented. “Good use of the outlined physical contact.” Her heart pounded behind her ribs, an electrical current thrilling her blood from his touch. Point one to Devon.