I nearly didn’t go into that coffee shop that day. Sophie needed a shot of caffeine and I really wasn’t in the mood to argue, so we dashed in from the rain and stood in line.
Our conversation had been heated, to say the least; we’d been discussing the HookedUp meeting we had scheduled in Mumbai the following week. It was a mega-deal which she’d been feverishly working on all year. I didn’t think HookedUp could get any more global and powerful than it already was, but I was wrong. That deal was going to make us silly money and it did. Really silly money. I knew I was going to be able to buy that Austin Healey I had my eye on. Hell, I could have bought a fleet of them. Aircrafts too. Whatever I wanted.
I was half listening to my sister gabble on, when a woman rushed in through the door like a whirlwind. She caught my attention immediately. She was flustered, her blonde hair damp from the summer rain, her white T-shirt also damp, clinging to her body, revealing a glimpse of perfectly shaped breasts through a thin bra. I shouldn’t have noticed these sorts of things, but being your average guy, I did. She was battling with an enormous handbag – what was it with women and those giant handbags – what did they carry in those things – bricks?
“Arrete,” Sophie snapped and proceeded for the next couple of minutes to berate me for not paying attention. She was rolling her eyes and behaving like a typical bossy older sister. I was wondering, once more, why we went into business together because she was really driving me nuts. She told me that if I wanted to fuck the girl I was staring at, I could, that American women put out on a first date. I hated it when my sister talked like that to me – it made me cringe, not to mention her sweeping generalizations about other countries and civilizations.
“She doesn’t strike me as that type,” I mumbled in French. The pretty lady was now closer and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She had her head cocked sideways and was staring at the coffee menu, chewing her lower lip in concentration. She was beautiful, like a modern version of Grace Kelly – I decided that she must be about thirty or so.
My eyes raked down her perfectly formed body. She was dressed in a tight gray skirt which revealed a peachy butt; the slit on the pleat showed a pair of elegant calves, but her chic outfit was marred by sneakers. Somehow, though, it made her all the more attractive as if she didn’t give a damn. As my gaze trailed back up to her breasts, I saw that she was wearing an InterWorld button. Good, I thought, we have something in common; I can chat her up.
I cleared my throat and moved a step closer. “So how did you enjoy the conference?”
She jumped back in surprise, her eyes fixed on my chest. I felt as if I was towering above her, although she was a good five foot six. I looked a mess: T-shirt and old jeans with holes in the knee. So far, she was not responding. I knew that New Yorkers could be just as rude as Parisians so I wasn’t fazed.
She flicked her gaze at me but said nothing. I was right – she hadn’t answered my question, just continued to look at me, stunned, as if she really didn’t want to have a conversation at all.
I smiled at her. I felt like a jerk, but dug myself in deeper. “Your name tag,” I said. “Were you at that conference around the corner?” I decided that she obviously thought I was a total jackass as her response was clipped, terse.
“Yes I was,” is all she said and then cast a glance at Sophie.
I realized that this woman – her nametag said Pearl Robinson – must have assumed that Sophie was my girlfriend. Or maybe not. Maybe she just wanted me to shut the hell up and leave her alone.
But I didn’t back off. “I’ll pay for whatever the lady’s having too,” I told the girl serving our coffee. I wanted to say, ‘whatever Pearl’s having’ but thought she’d peg me for some kind of stalker. Why I continued to pursue her, I still don’t know to this day, since she was clearly not interested. But I couldn’t help myself. “For Pearl,” I added, wondering why I was not getting the response I was after. Not to be arrogant, but women did normally at least smile at me, if not give me the eye. They still do. Daily. But Pearl was not buying it. I wanted her to flirt, brighten up my dull day. I went on, undeterred – for some reason I didn’t feel like giving up, she had really piqued my interest.
“Pearl. What a beautiful name.” Jesus what did I sound like? A typical French gigolo type. “I’ve never heard that before. As a name, I mean.”
In my peripheral vision I caught Sophie rolling her eyes again and she whispered in French, “Bet you anything you’ll have that woman on her back in no time.” Shut up!
Pearl Robinson finally reciprocated with a beautiful big smile. Pretty teeth. Sexy, curvy lips. She told me about her parents being hippies or something, explaining her name. I wasn’t listening. I’d got her attention, that’s all I cared about. I could tell she liked me. Took her long enough for her to warm up, though. I felt triumphant. Why? I met pretty women all the time. But there was something about this one that really captured my attention. She was poised and elegant, yet unsure of herself, and had a childish, vulnerable quality about her which I found disarming – even beguiling. She was rifling through her enormous handbag trying to find her wallet. Why are American women so keen on paying for themselves? She was embarrassed because I was buying her a coffee! She asked my name while simultaneously staring at my nametag. Good, ironic sense of humor, I thought. I laughed and introduced myself. Introduced Sophie, too.
Pearl went to shake Sophie’s hand and her wristwatch caught on my T-shirt. I looked down at her other hand. No wedding ring. Good. I felt my heart quicken with the physical contact of her delicate wrist brushing against my chest – the intimacy – and I knew…. in that nanosecond, I knew: I was going to have to fuck this girl.
The way she was looking at me was giving me the green light. Yet her big blue eyes were unsure of me. She was looking down at the floor and then up again at me. She may not have even known it herself at that point – women rarely do – but she wanted me to claim her. I could almost hear her screaming my name. I could picture myself pinning her up against a wall, all of me inside her. I wanted her. And I was going to have her. You bet. Every last inch of her.
And she wanted me. I was pretty damn sure. She was jittery, nervous, tongue-tied – couldn’t get her sentences out straight. Why? Because I was running my eyes up and down her body, mentally undressing her and she could sense the electricity. The heat. She was all flustered. She could read my mind. She was fumbling for something in her monster-bag again. Her apartment keys, she told me. Was she planning on inviting me over?
I suggested to her that we sit down and have our drinks. Sophie left. Thank God. Why I was so taken with Pearl, apart from her obvious good looks, I wasn’t quite sure yet – she had a quirky kind of charm. I liked her. And I decided right there and then. I didn’t just want to fuck Pearl. I wanted to get to know her too.