CHAPTER 30 -
Dalton sat in his office wondering what his next move would be. Having so many options, he decided to go with one that felt the best. Pushing the Do Not Disturb light on his office phone, he took out his cell and dialed Jasmine. She was at the front desk of the restaurant, double-checking reservations for the night, when the phone in her pocket rang. The restaurant would begin serving early dinner soon, so she was about to ignore it, when she looked at the screen. It read: Nice Nash.
Smiling, she said, “Hello, Nice Nash.”
Caught off guard momentarily, Dalton said, “What? Oh, aren’t you the nice one. Let me guess—”
“Yes, that’s how you’re programmed name into my phone,” she laughed. “Kinda quirky, but it, well, who cares about all that. What’s up?”
Sitting back in his chair, he caught his reflection in the mirror across the room. He liked the smile on his face. It was pleasant. And real.
“Actually, good news. I’m in town—unfortunately for less than 24 hours, before I head off to an enormous project in Silicon Valley for nearly a month. Which I can tell you all about over dinner. Can you? Pretty please?”
“Oh, James, I can’t—”
“I’ll be extra Nice Nash, if you say yes,” he chuckled.
“Aren’t you the cutest?”
“You are. But seriously, I can’t do dinner. It’s Wednesday night, which is one of our busier nights, and happens to begin earlier than most—for what reason I don’t know. Perhaps next—”
“Nooooo,” he whined dramatically. “I’ll be gone for close to a month,” he sighed heavily. “Okay, how about this? How about you at least let me buy a—what do you call them, splashy cocktail?”
“I do. And we’ll meet after you get off work.”
Hesitating, she wondered if it was the best idea, but before she could answer, he sweetened the deal.
“Look, I’m staying just across the street at the Fairmont. And you know what sort of treats they have at that bar…” He stopped, letting her envision the place she practically drooled over when they discussed favorite spots in San Francisco.
“Ooh, you are so bad, aren’t you?”
“Perhaps I should change that phone title to Nasty Nash,” she giggled.
As much as his plans were dark, he loved the lightness in her laugh.
“Here’s the thing. I’m driving in later tonight. You may recall I’m a night owl, plus, my meeting doesn’t start until later tomorrow morning. Around 10. And to top it off—besides you being able to sleep in, I’ll be nothing but a gentleman and have you home well before sunrise,” he chuckled. “Seriously, one drink. Maybe two. Nothing more. Well, maybe a tiny goodnight kiss.”
After a long moment, she quietly said, “Are you sure you’re not in sales?”
After a shower and shave at home, Dalton prepared a light dinner of steak tartare—thanks to a new friend of his. The fresh dish was complimented with a side of roasted brussel sprouts, truffle fries, and a hearty Napa Cabernet.
Just days earlier, his new friend was a pilot with a two-day layover in the Bay Area. They had met at McCormick & Kuelto Seafood & Steaks on North Point Street in North Beach, where Dalton was people watching, aka tourist stalking.
Although he didn’t ordinarily venture to the city on a school night, Dalton was feeling particularly rowdy that night. After striking up an easy conversation while dining at the bar, he quickly learned that Phil Bishop—also a hobbyist photographer, had never seen the Marin Headlands. So, after a couple of cocktails, they took the short drive across the bridge and up to the hilly peninsula at the southernmost end of Marin County. The drive was carefree at that hour, the conversation was virtually intriguing, and the view—as always, was nothing short of spectacular.
To top it off, the night had begun with clear skies; however, as they were crossing the Golden Gate, a hearty fog slowly crept in, so that by the time they reached the summit, the scene was ripe for a photo op. The encroaching fog created a mysterious backdrop to the occasion.
After the tenth or twelfth selfie, they strolled back to Dalton’s truck, where the fog had blanketed the mountaintop, making the clandestine finale all the more dramatic.
Thanks to practiced maneuvers, exceptionally efficient tools, and the cover of fog, Dalton returned to his house, and prepared the remaining loins for future meals.
The four-figure Rolex Air King, and two American Express cards—one gold, one black, would make a nice addition to his already handsome collection of aliases.
Six hours later, Jasmine arrived promptly at 11:20—just as she had texted an hour earlier, and joined Dalton at The Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar. The iconic destination had delighted guests with its tropical decor, decadent libations, and Polynesian-fusion cuisine since 1945. She appeared looking as fresh a newly picked flower.
I have every intention of planting my stigma into your pistel, he thought—knowing more flower anatomy than he cared to admit.
Welcoming her with open arms, he awaited her warm embrace—not wanting to appear too grabby. She obliged with a hearty hug. Her full breasts against his chest, and the fragrance of her hair and skin was nearly as intoxicating as the bourbon he had ordered prior to her arrival.
“Aren’t you just the most beautiful creation I’ve seen today. Heck, this month,” he cooed, offering a tiny peck on her cheek.
Smiling wide, she said, “You are such a flatterer. But I’ll accept. Thank you.”
As he held out her chair, she said, “And such the gentleman.”
They sat at the end of the bar, where thankfully few people were, and given it wasn’t the height of tourist season and the bar would close shortly, there wasn’t a crowd.
“The bartender’s a friend, so we’re good to stay well after what’s left of the crowds dissipate.”
The bartender wasn’t a friend; however, a friendly handshake delivering a hundred-dollar bill before they ordered—with a promise of a larger tip, made Harlan the Bartender and Nash the Contractor the best of pals.
“Yes, it is,” he smiled. “Having just left a restaurant, this may be a silly question, but do you care to join me in a little snack?”
“Are you kidding? I’m starved, and have been on my feet since two this afternoon, so it’s not a silly question. And yes, I most certainly will.”
“Did I ever tell you…that I applied to the CIA? And was rejected!”
“What? I had no idea. Are you—”
He laughed out loud, practically choking on a bar snack. “No, not the Secret Service. But I do service a fair amount of secrets, if you must know,” he winked. “I meant the Culinary Institute of America.”
She laughed. “Oh, my God, that’s hilarious. You got me!”
He grinned like Satan himself and said, “You have no idea.”
They snacked for an hour, and drank for most of the time. Satisfied with the robust conversation and tasty treats, along with a nod from Harlan—signifying the staff was ready to leave, he walked her to her car. It was parked in the garage of Devourer, less than a full block away. And although he would have appreciated a bit longer walk—the better to size up his surroundings and choose his preferred method of capture, he went with the flow. Walking around the building, he had never seen the rear entrance, and was glad he had the opportunity, as he was sure it would come in handy another time. Approaching her classic Jaguar, he was impressed to see it had been meticulously restored.
“Very good,” she smiled.
“Series 2, right?”
“Ooh, someone knows their vintages.”
“And a convertible to boot. What a handsome car. And oddly enough, not something I’d have expected you to drive.”
“Is that right,” she slurred slightly. “And what would you have seen me in?”
As little as possible, he thought. “I would have figured you for a BMW or Benz. A mid-to-upper series.”
Shaking her head, she pushed a strand of hair from her face. “Nah, too predictable, don’t you think?”
The strand had fallen back into her face, so he reached across and gently tucked it behind her ear—looking her directly in the eye and nodded. “This,” he jutted a chin in the car’s direction, “Fits you perfectly. Classic and sleek. No, actually, sophisticated is a better word.”
Even in the dim lights, he could see her blush. The moment was here, he would either make a move, or have to wait.
His plan was to…wait!
Suddenly, he was distracted. Just then had he noticed several cameras on either side of the restaurant rear entrance. FUCK, he shouted in his head.
Her face went from “Passionate Yes” to “What The Hell” in two seconds. “What is it?”
“Oh nothing,” his mind scrambled. In one moment, he craved her in ways he had craved no other; an instant later, he was as disinterested—as though she was his fourth grade Catholic school Nun. What the fuck?
“James?” She grabbed his arm as though he would fall. “Are you okay?”
He stuttered a nervous laugh. “Yes, of course I am. It’s so, superlatively silly, Jasmine,” he said, backing away as if to avoid the cameras. “It’s just I suddenly remembered. No, actually I had recalled it earlier, but, truthfully? I was so caught up in you…and this moment…that I. Hell, I feel like such an idiot!”
“What is it, James? Tell me, it can’t be…”
Her voice trailed into the distance, as he searched his database. How in the HELL had I not thought this though? Of course she would park in the garage—she worked here, and lived far enough away she wouldn’t want to mess with…
He was on the fringe of losing it, but didn’t want to. He saw her frowning—evidently in pain, and suffering for his momentary insanity! His mind continued to shout, SHUT THE FUCK UP!
“I’m so sorry, Jasmine. You’re such a lovely gal. One I’m extremely attracted to. It’s just that my mind slipped. It does it from time to time,” he fumbled, trying to pull something out of his ass. Then it came to him. “I told you that I had until 10 tomorrow to prepare for my presentation?”
“It’s not 10 until 7. I transposed it; it’s 7 until 10!”
Shaking his head, but turning from the security cameras, he feigned, “Yes, I’m so stupid. So freaking stupid. Here I was all excited about being with you…when I just lost it. I guess between the drinks…”
She took his hands and said, “James. It’s no big deal. We’ll get together another time. When you get back from The Valley. It’s okay,” she said, leaning in to give him more than just a kiss on the cheek.
He could feel his loins heat and his crotch begin to swell.
“You’re right. We had a wonderful evening. And we’ll have another one equally as wonderful soon. I promise.”
She noticed how he began awkwardly walking away, and wondered what was going on. Conversely, she was so intoxicated she wasn’t sure she even cared. So, she did what anyone would do in that occasion—smart, or otherwise. She said, “Why don’t we go back to your hotel?”
His mind screeched to a halt. Have I just been given a sign? He instantly kicked into the mechanics of it all. I don’t have a room. I have a house—on the other side of town! That’s when time slowed down and he began systematically kicking into everything he knew: Sequence, timing, strategy, and what would come next?
The Devil and the Angel—as much as he believed in neither, begged for his attention. What will it be, you Horny Prick, said the Devil. Why would you hurt such a beautiful woman, said the Angel.
SEDUCE! RESPECT! went the voices. And in the end, he tasted a little bit of both.
He grabbed her by the jaw and shoved his tongue in her mouth. It was a frenzied, yet oddly passionate kiss. At first, she resisted, then in an instant, gave in. Not only did she practically swallow his tongue, but had dropped her purse and was grabbing both ass cheeks with a full grip. She was drunk and on a mission. He could feel her wet pussy soaking the crotch of his pants.
Or am I imagining that?
The next thing Dalton knew was he was on his living room couch, face down in a corduroy pillow with a damp crotch.
“What the fuck,” he slurred, pulling his face from the pillow. Sitting up, he couldn’t recall how he got from Russian Hill in downtown, to his Larkspur home. Fact was, he had no memory of what happened after the kiss.
What’s happening to me?