“The best protection any woman can have is courage.” – Elizabeth Cady Starton
“Hi, sorry I am late. There was traffic. Ca va?” He held my face and kissed both cheeks as he said this.
I took a deep breath and told myself to let the annoyed feeling pulsating throughout my body go.
“It’s fine.” I replied curtly. “So, where are you taking me?”
“We are going to a local Indian place next to my apartment complex.”
Sounded casual and unappealing, or maybe I just had a bad taste in my mouth. Twenty minutes later Damien parked the car. I was disappointed. Here I was in a black dress and fur, it was a Saturday night in Paris and we literally pulled up in front of a neighborhood Indian restaurant in the outskirts of the city. Taj Mahal flashed in a neon sign above the restaurant. There were red curtains and old glass doors. The interior was bright yellow, with ancient Indian artifacts and paintings everywhere. At this point, someone would have had to convince me I was still in Paris. I instantly felt embarrassed and mortified that I had gotten this dressed up for a casual Indian dinner. I had at least envisioned Tanjia located on Rue de Pontheui or Buddah Bar on Boulevard Glassy D’Anglas in Paris, which were trendy and international with eclectic atmospheres and had a sexy date night vibe. My fur would have been the perfect ensemble walking into these places. But instead, we were walking into a hole in the wall in the suburbs. Uncomfortable was an understatement for how I was feeling. Damien could sense it, but did his best to make me feel comfortable. If I had a vision of places men take women they want to hide or keep a secret, this place would have fit the bill. I remember watching an episode of Sex and the City where Mr. Big takes Carrie Bradshaw to a hole in the wall Chinese restaurant and she feels the same. She was curious and it made her feel he did not want to be seen in public with her.
“Here, so they do have wines by the bottle. Pick one that sounds good.” I took the wine list out of his hands. I skimmed the bottles and prices and ended up selecting a Bordeaux. I knew it was not a perfect pairing by any means with spicy Indian food, but that was what I was in the mood to drink. Damien agreed and stated that it was whatever I wanted. Next we chose several dishes to share. Damien ordered everything and then turned to me and asked if I was okay.
“You seem quiet, like something is on your mind.” He stated with an inherent trepidation. He took my hands in his. I broke from the handhold to take a sip of my wine and then returned my hands to clasp his in the center of the table.
“Well, what you texted earlier… I found it strange. I feel like you are putting rules or pre-determined stipulations on the date. I would love to know why.”
He looked at me intently before he spoke as if to think of the perfect way in which to respond. Then he said, “Well, I need to work tomorrow. If you stay the night I will not be as comfortable in my sleep. I need my sleep in order to work well. I would rather not have you sleep at my place until I am very comfortable with you. It’s not personal against you. This is just the way I am.”
I didn’t know yet if his response made me feel better or worse. Ironically, it made me want him even more. He was so formal, serious, and well spoken. He was polite and said things in a way to make me feel honored while still telling me no. It was a well thought caution that I had no choice but to respect. Damien was so sure of himself that I realized it would take time to be let in or to receive his acceptance or any ounce of adoration. In a sense, he was purely unattainable. He had discipline and rules around being let into his world. I found this not only utterly appealing, but fascinating as well.