Livvy Excerpt: “Date with Manny”
As he pulls into the parking lot of the restaurant, I fix my hair in the vanity mirror before getting out.
He opens the door again for me, offering me his hand to help me out of the car. “So, do you like my hair like this?”
“It’s sexy,” he says. “The way it exposes your neck and your shoulders is incredibly sensual. I didn’t think you should be hiding them last year when I photographed you. Remember? I moved your sleeve.”
“I remember,” I tell him with a blush as we go inside. I stand in front of him just inside the door, waiting for the hostess. I feel his thumb on the hollow beneath my ear.
“That part’s begging for attention,” he whispers. The blush from before spreads across my body in a flash of heat. That was sexy. I’m grateful when the hostess shows up and directs us to our table. He holds my hand loosely as we walk through the restaurant.
“Emmanuel, what can I get you?” a woman asks. She has high cheekbones and overly-plumped lips. I assume she’s one of his models.
“Let’s see… Spanish tapas? I have to go for a margarita, I guess. On the rocks.”
“And your date?”
I look at Emmanuel first, unsure if I should order anything. He nods subtly. “Ummm…” I have no idea what to even ask for. I’m about to order a rum and Coke, but the waitress speaks up before I can.
“The red sangria here is wonderful,” she suggests. I shrug my shoulders and tell her that’s fine.
“What’s sangria?” I ask when she walks away.
“It’s red wine with fruit and juice. I bet you’ll love it.”
“If someone recognizes me, they’ll know I’m not old enough,” I tell him.
“That’s why we got this table… and why you’re seated with your back to everyone here.”
“Oh,” I say shyly. “Thank you.”
“Do you get that a lot here in Connecticut?”
“Not really. People don’t make such a fuss here.”
“It must be weird, living your life.”
“I wouldn’t know. It’s the only life I’ve ever led.”
“Do you think you’ll go back to Manhattan after college?”
“Of course,” I tell him. “I love it there.”
“Even with no privacy?”
“I have some privacy,” I explain. “It’s just when I make a scene in public that photographers start to swarm like blood-thirsty sharks.”
“Do you do that often?”
“More often than I’d like to admit. I don’t think I make a scene more than any other person does.” I hear my phone ringing in my purse, but ignore it. “It’s just that when I do it, people gravitate toward me instead of turning the other way.”
“Tell me the last time you made a scene,” he says laughing. The waitress brings our drinks, and Emmanuel holds up his hand to stop me from answering. He picks up both of our drinks, handing me mine, and offers a toast. “To a fun night.” His toast is definitely a let down from all other toasts in my life, but I can’t expect everyone to be as eloquent as my father.
“To a fun night,” I return, touching my glass to his. We both look over the menu quickly after taking a drink, picking out a few different dishes to try.
“Okay, you made a scene…” He urges me to continue.
“You know,” I say, shaking my head, certain that he’s already familiar with the story. “After my graduation.”
“No, I don’t know. What happened?”
“Really? You haven’t heard this?”
“There’s a reason why you don’t get bombarded in New Haven, Liv,” he says. “You’re really not news here. Yet.”
“You have family in Manhattan, though, right?”
“Sure, but you’re not really news with them, either. Yet.”
“Oh. Well. I’d rather not get into it then.”
“No, now you have to tell me. I presume this is something I can look up on the Internet, huh?” He takes his phone out of his pocket and starts to type something into it.
“Okay, please don’t, Emmanuel.” I put my hand on his, stopping him.
“Will you tell me?” My phone rings again.
“Hold on. Let me see who’s bugging me.” I pull out my phone, stunned to see the name on the display. Camille. She hasn’t spoken to me since the day I graduated. “I have to take this.” Emmanuel nods, looking back down at his phone. “Camille?”
“Hey, Livvy,” she starts hesitantly.
“Can you hold on a second, Camille?” I don’t wait for her to respond before I cover up the mic and address my date. “Emmanuel, please don’t look it up. I promise I’ll tell you in a second.”
Sensing the urgency in my voice, he agrees and puts his phone away.
“Sorry, ummm. What’s going on?”
“How are you?” she asks.
“I’m good, Camille. How are you?”
“Great, Livvy. I’m really great.”
“Yeah,” she says. “Listen, if you’re busy–”
“Yeah, I’m just out with a friend,” I tell her.
“Well, I’d love to catch up, but I have a reason for this call, and I hope you don’t mind.”
“Sure, go ahead.”
“I’m failing chemistry,” she says. “I need a tutor.”
“Oh, well… you know I went to Yale, and not Columbia, right? I don’t think I’d have the time during the week, and my weekends are pretty up in the air.”
“No, of course, I know you chose Yale. I wasn’t suggesting that you be my tutor. I remember you had one last year that helped get you the best grade in your class… I wanted to see if Jon would be available to work with me some afternoons. Do you think he could? I’d pay him.”
“I, um…” I can’t believe she thinks we’re still on good terms. “I’m not sure if he has time.”
“But could you ask him?” Could I ask him? He didn’t even want to talk to me the last time I saw him. And he hasn’t answered any calls from me or returned a single voicemail since, well… since the last time I made a scene in public.
“Sure,” I tell her, regretting my answer as soon as it comes out. I should tell her no. I should change my response, but I don’t. To have a legitimate reason to call Jon is too tempting for me. I wonder if I’d be brave enough to give him a piece of my mind. I wonder if he’d just hang up on me. I’ll have to find out now. “It may be a few days before I get back to you.”
“That’s fine,” she says. “I’d call him myself, but I deleted his number. Honestly, I deleted yours, too. I had to call your dad’s office to get it.”
“I understand, Camille. I’m really sorry. I’d love to have a chance to explain.”
“We can talk when you get back to me.”
“Sounds good. I’ll call you soon.”
“You’re welcome, Camille. Thanks for calling me.” I hang up and stare at the phone. What in the world will I say to Jon? In a daze, I look across the table to see Emmanuel staring at me. “Huh?” I ask, assuming he’d said something to me.
“You were going to tell me about the last time you made a scene.”
“Funny thing about that,” I tell him. “The last time I made a scene, I kissed a friend of mine, and lost my best friend in the process. That was her on the phone. I haven’t talked to her since then.”
“Yeah,” I say, finally deciding to put my phone away.
“So you had a boyfriend when you visited. What happened to him?”
I’m sure my regret shows in my expression. “I kissed a friend, and lost my boyfriend in the process, too.”
“You cheated…” He raises his eyebrows and purses his lips, as if this intrigues him. “Livvy Holland, I didn’t think you were the type.”
Livvy ©2014 Lori L. Otto