“I think the table is slanting on your side, love,” Bob observed. “Yep. Look at the water in my pitcher. It’s definitely tipped towards you.”
Andy squinted at Bob as she chewed her burger and swallowed. “C’mon, Bob. Let me push some of this stuff onto your side.”
The table was laid in halves. There was Bob’s side, which contained a big bowl of salad – full of crisp romaine, shredded roast chicken, and diced watercresses in a blue cheese dressing – a glass, and a pitcher of ice water, immaculate as his appearance. He would be having a black coffee later. Then there was Andy’s side, laden with a dish of tomato soup, a double patty cheeseburger with the works, a large basket of fries dribbled with salt and vinegar, and a whipped cream topped peach cobbler, the list ending with an ironic Diet Coke. She had an extra plate to pilfer some of Bob’s salad onto. She couldn’t go without her daily intake of the greens.
“No bloody chance,” Bob now shot down her wheedling with a chuckle. “Serves you right for ordering more than you can eat.”
“Oh, puh-lease! I can easily pack away all of it, you just watch. I worked up an appetite in the ring.”
Bob arched an eyebrow, his usual firm smile in place. “Yes, kicking my butt should do that.” He didn’t look like he minded in the least having his butt kicked by a woman as he forked up some lettuce and crunched into the freshness.
He had such great teeth, bright, straight, strong, healthy. Like the rest of him, Andy muttered to herself as she bit into the only type of beef she could allow herself to enjoy. It was the first week of the month. Her period was due any day now. Must explain why she was feeling so… ravenous.
“Tell me what has you so worked up?”
Andy started at his question, blushing profusely. “W-what?”
“Tell me about the meeting with your father,” he replied, frowning with suspicion at her uncharacteristic blush. “Something must’ve happened to put you on edge.”
She relaxed. “Meetings with my dad are always edgy.”
He nodded sympathetically. “If it’s too personal–”
“No, it’s not like that,” she cut in. She didn’t hide much from Bob apart from her three-year itch. “At least, it wasn’t this time. We faired pretty well compared to our usual meetings. I just don’t know if I’m allowed to disclose what we talked about.”
Bob cocked his head. “Well, now you’ve really piqued my curiosity.”
Andy bit her bottom lip as she contemplated how much to tell Bob. She pulled the soup towards her, replacing her half-eaten burger, and began spooning the rich hot liquid into her mouth as though the answer was at the bottom of the bowl.
She looked up to find that Bob had set his fork down and was now leaning back in his side of the booth as he studied her with patent worry on his face. She swallowed audibly.
“That bad, eh?”
She grunted in resignation and set her spoon down. Wiping her mouth carefully on a napkin, she didn’t take her eyes off him. “He told me why he has been mostly absent from my life all these years.”
She watched as the square tip of Bob’s right index toyed with the edge of his fork handle, his eyes glancing away from her out the glass wall adjacent to their table. She could tell Bob was trying not to let his curiosity show for her sake. As though any sudden movement would scare her off. “Yeah, and it’s pretty bad.”
Bob laughed nervously. “Don’t tell me your dad is a Russian spy.”
“Damn, that’s pretty close.”
“What?!” People from other tables looked over as he yelled. “What,” he repeated, lowering his volume significantly.
Andy reclined on the back of her seat. She was feeling faint. “No, he’s 100% American,” she confirmed on a squeaky note. “He’s just-”
“Bauuuuuuuuub!” A lethally gorgeous redhead slid into their booth next to him, wrapping him in her lithe arms, lustrous curls, and heady perfume before he had more than an opportunity to be startled by such an enthusiastic greeting. Redhead Barbie bounced back and crooned in a strange European accent, “You promise you call so we meet in weekend, yes? You no call!” She pouted prettily.
“Mischa, how great to see you.” Bob’s face looked as red as Mischa’s cranberry curls. That was not a natural hair color. He didn’t look like it was great to see Mischa at all. In fact, he looked like a deer trapped. “What are you doing here?”
“I run,” she answered, gesturing at her one-piece neon pink spandex suit, which showed off her great body. “I buy water here and you scream. I come over.”
“I didn’t scream.” Bob glanced at Andy then averted his eyes. Right into the cleavage peeking out of Mischa’s unchained collar. Then he squeezed his eyes shut until his face was turned safely towards the sugar dispenser.
Andy didn’t look away from Mischa’s cleavage. With her assets on display like that, it’s no wonder she dared wear neon pink with such red hair. Who’d notice that the colors clashed?
“Is this why you no call, Baub? Because you date someone else now?” Mischa was still pouting.
Don’t worry, honey. Keep pouting like that and you can take Bob home with you in a doggy bag. Andy decided to spare her friend. “Hi,” she said, proferring her hand for the newcomer to shake. “I’m Andy Tybalt, Bob’s lawyer.”
“Mischa Mikhailov.” Announcing Andy’s innocuous relationship with Bob curiously made the redhead go on red alert. “So you Andy? Baub talks much about you.” She did not shake Andy’s hand.
“That’s funny. He has told me nothing about you.” Andy covered up her snarl with a tight smile.
“Yet. I haven’t told Andy about you yet,” Bob salvaged as he warned Andy to be polite by rounding his moss-green eyes at her. “We only just met last Sunday and Andy was away in Florida.”
Only last Sunday and already so attached? My! Andy rounded her violet-blue eyes back at him, feigning innocence. “Yes, I just got back in last night,” she corroborated with a stiff upper lip. Never mind it was only a daylong trip.
“Last night? And you work already,” Mischa remarked with a friendly smile that was as fake as her nose. “On Sunday. How… industrious!”
Her trilling was giving Andy a headache. She snatched up a couple fries and began munching on them to keep her mouth too occupied to respond.
“Oh, but you work so hard, too, with your crazy modeling hours. Mischa is here on a modeling sponsorship from Russia,” Bob explained.
And he thought he couldn’t handle a Russian spy. “How nice for Mischa,” Andy replied with such lameness in her tone that if she were a horse, she’d already be dead. She thought of her own tall tomboy figure and disturbingly broad thighs and looked at all the food she was consuming with discomfort for the first time since she had ordered. She could probably take Bob’s model in the ring but she had no prayer in the field of romance.
Not that she was looking to entice Bob that way. But Mischa was beautiful in as many parts as he, despite his receding hairline that he disguised by shaving his head. He was powerfully built with masculine rugged features and she vibrated with the kind of youthful energy he always dated. He had a British accent, she had a Russian accent. Andy was from a different continent. Who was she kidding? She grabbed her cheeseburger again, her only fallback.
“You have healthy appetite.” Mischa’s eyes looked hungry.
Andy polished off the last of her burger, savoring the tender meat in her mouth before swallowing. It was cold comfort but it made Andy feel better that she could have something the girl couldn’t.
Bob looked apologetic for Mischa’s rude remark. “Andy and I just got back from the ring. We enjoyed a bit of boxing.”
“Ohhhhh. I wonder how one woman eat so much food.” The woman turned in her seat to give ‘Baub’ her undivided attention and to draw his undivided attention back to her perky bosoms. “So we meet tonight?”
Andy’s displeasure at Mischa’s appearance earlier was perhaps undeserved but there would be no reason to give her the benefit of the doubt anymore. Mischa disliked her as much as she was beginning to dislike Mischa. She slurped her Diet Coke noisily to drown out the conversation opposite her.
But blocking out the couple’s discourse from her vision was more difficult. From the corner of her eye, she could see Bob smoothing the woman’s ruffled feathers. What could he have possibly said to the woman in one week’s time that brewed such animosity? And why hadn’t he told her that he was seeing someone new? In their short relationship, they had come to rely on each other for all sorts of advice. And not only in lawyer-client confidentiality. Their friendship was one of those instantaneous lifetime things and here he was being evasive. Secrets were beginning to creep its way in.
Mischa was finally pacified and was smiling so brightly, Andy wanted to whip out her sunglasses. But the next moment she kissed Bob with such heat that Andy thought she felt her drink boil in its container. Finally coming up for air, Mischa spared Andy a glance. “It was very nice to meet you, Andy. Hope we will see again.” She gave Bob one last heated gaze before sliding out of her seat and prancing out of the diner.
“Well, she’s quite the catch, Bob,” Andy commented while Bob was still recovering from being mauled. She signaled the waiter. When the waiter arrived, she asked to have her cobbler packed to go.
“You’re not leaving,” Bob asked, finally coming to as the waiter whisked her dessert away.
“Why? I thought you could eat it all in one sitting.”
“I seem to have lost my appetite,” she said.
“I think we were also discussing your father,” he said, politely ignoring her empty plate, basket, bowl, and glass.
“Oh, yes. It’s nothing. He used to work for the CIA.” Suddenly the greatest secret of her father’s life no longer seemed the most troubling issue in her’s.
Bob’s eyes bugged. “Bloody hell! That’s not nothing at all.”
“He doesn’t work for them anymore and I can’t change the past.” I can’t change the present either.
“Well, you just don’t throw that kind of information at me and leave.”
“Would you like me to stay while you finish your salad?” Please say no.
Bob stared. Then, “No, it’s okay. You obviously have to go.”
He was always so considerate. “I do.”