Once they were seated, Meaghan picked up the menu. She had been here several times, and enjoyed the western fusion choices and the relatively low price. Still, she wanted to hide behind the menu as she thought about this evening.
Although he appeared to be oblivious, as they were walking into the restaurant, she could see the interested stares of the females in the lounge area. She peeked over the top of her card stock to find him looking at his own menu. She took a moment to look at his features, trying to ascertain why the attraction. He was the epitome of the strong male, and she wondered again why they kept meeting when it was obvious they were in two different spheres.
Rickie glanced up from his menu, only to see those beautiful chocolate eyes quickly skitter away. He put the menu down and steepled his hands on the table.
"I'm glad you chose a restaurant that one of my favorites; I like that we share the same taste. What do you plan to eat?"
"Uh, I'll have the lemongrass chicken." Meaghan cursed at how breathless she sounded, then cleared her throat and turned to the brightly-dressed girl next to her. "Leaf, what do you want?"
"I'll have the small lamb cutlet, please, no bread. I want to save room for dessert!" Rickie chuckled, a sound that sent a frisson up Meaghan's spine.
"And I'll have the sea bass." Rickie waved a hand, and immediately a young waiter arrived to take their food and drink orders.
Leaf sighed, watching as the boy walked away, "I like this place a lot!"
While waiting for the meal, the trio stuck to safe topics: Tina's school and classmates, local politics, entertainment news. Meaghan was awed that he could easily keep up with her younger sister's quicksilver subject changes, and she gradually relaxed for the first time since Rickie showed up at her house this afternoon.
When the steaming dishes arrived, she sniffed appreciatively at her chicken, and then dug in. After a few minutes, Meaghan looked at her sister. She was still dreamingly following their waiter as he handled his other tables.
"How are your plates?" Rickie asked, as he sampled his wild rice. Leaf nodded and gave a thumbs up, her mouth already filled with spaghetti. Meaghan stated, "This is one of my favorites here at this restaurant."
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The meal settled down into a companionable silence as they applied themselves to their dinner, and Meaghan felt herself relax in his easy company. Once, when she returned from the bathroom, she saw Rickie and her sister in earnest conversation, but they broke apart when she reached the table.
"What were you two up to?" Meaghan asked suspiciously, only to be met by two overly-innocent looks. Rickie spoke up, "She was asking if she could have the Moroccan date tart for dessert."
Meaghan didn't believe them, but the evening was going well, so she didn't argue.
Later, replete from the meal, the drive back to Meaghan's was quiet, as Rickie stopped at the front of their terrace house.
However, as soon as he alighted from his truck, Rickie felt a tingling sensation between his shoulder blades and quickly scanned the area by the house. His instincts were telling him they were being watched, but he was unable to determine where the lurker was. The malevolence in the air made it seem almost metallic, and he wanted to get Meaghan and her sister inside as soon as possible.
Quickly walking around to the passenger side, he handed out first one girl, then the other, then hustled them towards their door. Meaghan must have felt the urgency; she didn't protest as he practically pushed her to the door.
He didn't take a deep breath until Meaghan had unlocked and opened the front door, and Leaf had slipped inside.
Meaghan turned and looked at Rickie, who was distractedly looking around her front yard. She hesitantly touched his arm, feeling the warmth of his skin. He turned and focused on her, those points of blue staring into her eyes.
"Thank you for this evening, En Ahmad. My sister appreciated it, too."
[A/N: "En" is a Malaysian way to address someone, the equivalent of "Mr" or "Mrs"]
"Rickie. I'd like you call me Rickie, and I had a good time, too."
He placed a hand over the one Meaghan had on his arm. Suddenly self-conscious, she tried to pull away, but he had her hand trapped. He gave it a slight squeeze and released it.
Meaghan could feel the hairs of his arm as she removed her hand, and stopped herself from wiping it on her skirt to try and stop the tingling. She nodded, quickly went through her door, and closed it behind her. But not before she looked at his face a final time.
Rickie felt a moment of triumph; Meaghan was no longer avoiding eye contact or keeping her head down. The moment was short-lived when he remembered the feeling he had when they drove up to the house. He stared into in the dark shadows along the road, but could not discern any movement.
The feeling of evil had faded, leaving nothing more than a bitter tang in the air. Rickie glanced one more time at the front door, and walked back to his truck.