Last night was an entertaining one.
Some of you know my cousin Elle, as this blog is partially hers, and there are several posts that refer directly to her. She is the person I consider to be my best friend and cohort. We’ve had some epic adventures together, she and I, and we bring the fun, no doubt. But I have never introduced our cousin Ainsley to the blog until now.
Ainsley is a 6′ tall smokin’ hot blonde bombshell with an even better personality. And when she gets paired up with me and Elle, it does bring out the wilder side of her. Since she is married and wrestles with the whole “church” mentality, she tends to err on the side of caution most often. But when she gets around me or Elle, I think she wants to break out of that mindset a bit and let her hair down. I, for one, can certainly appreciate it when she does, because when she is raring to go, we are a killer combination. And the Lola/Elle/Ainsley trio is always a definite crowd pleaser.
I have been wanting her to meet Gray for some time now, but didn’t want it to be weird since Gray and I really have no determined status at this point. However, when I casually floated the idea to Gray, he snatched it out of thin air and ran with it, so I guess he was ready to meet someone close to me.
So last night we all met for drinks. We sat in a row in the swanky Italian bar, me in the middle of the two of them, happy as a lark. I played hostess to our little trio, finding things to connect us all in conversation, and stealing little looks at Gray who looked positively dashing in his tan slacks and burgundy pullover.
Since Ainsley and I are heading to Chicago for a shopping spree on Saturday with another girlfriend, we briefly discussed our impending plans as Gray seemed perfectly content with our girlish chatter. Pretty soon he pulled out his wallet and deftly counted out several crisp bills, and when Ainsley turned away to order her next drink, he took my hand in his and placed 100 bucks in my palm. “Here,” he said in husky undertones, “I want you to have a great time in Chicago.” I was touched and a bit thrown by the gesture. I felt cared for, yet as Jez puts it, a bit like I have a sugar daddy.
Gray and Ainsley were engrossed in a conversation about 401ks or some such when I couldn’t help but notice a dashing gentleman in his early 60’s arrive at our corner of the bar. He took off his elegant wool overcoat to reveal he was wearing a perfectly tailored tuxedo, complete with two emblems on the lapel. He looked very official, and the bar was immediately a twitter with his arrival. The bartender was beaming and instantly opening a very expensive bottle of Pinot Noir asking the gentleman, “Your usual, Alberto?” Alberto nodded and immediately started introducing himself to the surrounding people at the bar. His thick italian accent rang out matching his warm and jovial spirit. I sensed he was someone special, and subsequently was having a hard time focusing on the home insurance and 401k rollover discussion in my neck of the woods. I studied him as he introduced himself around the bar. He was quite handsome, with a strong square jaw and a full head of immaculately groomed gray hair. When he smiled, a row of perfectly white, straight teeth emerged from behind his full lips. I was instantly intrigued by this Alberto.
Once he settled in on his bar stool, it was finally our time to be introduced. Our eyes locked and I felt a special zing as I told him my name. He repeated it slowly, as though savoring the way my name rolled off his tongue. His gaze lingered on me a little longer before he moved on to Ainsley. I could tell he liked me. I attract Italian men like crazy. Lol.
After introducing himself to Gray, who was seated closest to him, he motioned to me and said to Gray, “So do you two belong together?” Ha ha. I was amused, and decided to let Gray answer since the question was directed at him.
“We’re friends.” Gray said with a weird blend of forced casualness and ownership behind his voice.
“Ah, friends,” said Alberto nodding knowingly. I could not contain my smirk as my eyes danced with amusement. “Does this mean part-time lovers, full-time lovers or JUST friends?” Alberto shot back. I laughed out loud, loving the directness and the fact that he was pinning Gray down. Gray somehow managed to laugh it off without answering and Alberto thankfully dropped the subject. I think he got what he was looking for though, with a non-answer from either of us.
Alberto wanted to buy the two lovely ladies a drink, and I was all for it, pleased that we would become his company for a little while longer. As we talked, we found out who Alberto really is, which is a very successful and well-known entrepreneur with oodles of money and even more charm. He kept his eyes on me the entire time, and I was clearly the object of his affection for the evening. He flirted shamelessly with me and I flirted right back. After all, Gray was the one who had told him “We’re friends.” Ainsely was terribly amused at how I dished back the flirting, and she was throwing out her own blend of banter, adding an interesting spice to the mix. Gray seemed to have a permanent smile painted on his face as he sat shaking his head from time to time from our antics. I could tell he was lovin’ the flirty and attractive women at his side. Alberto gave Gray the appropriate props, saying, “Boy, aren’t you the lucky one with two such beautiful companions at your side?” Gray nodded affirmatively and said charmingly, “I know it, I’m one over tonight.”
When Gray excused himself to the restroom, Ainsley suggested we move towards Alberto as a show that we were enthralled with him. So we did and Alberto was positively beaming at the advance. He leaned over and touched my shoulder saying jovially, “Look at Lola’s rosy cheeks and beautiful smile! She’s the picture of radiance!” He said admiringly. When Gray came back, we dutifully moved back over to allow him his rightful spot beside Alberto and Alberto confessed repentantly, “You had better stay between me and Lola, because I touched her once while you were away.”
Ainsely and I burst into gales of laughter at his confession and Gray seemed a bit scared as he half-asked, “Oh boy, what happened…” It was at this point that it seemed Gray decided to step up to the plate a bit more as he leaned over and touched my hand and said loudly enough for Alberto to hear, “I do want him to meet us out sometime again, he’s good company.” I was thrown by the sudden display of “ownership,” given his earlier comment about us being friends. Part of me liked the fact that he was referring to him and I as an “us,” and part of me sensed jealousy, which didn’t match up with the Gray I know. I didn’t know what to do since I felt he was delivering me a subtle message, so I decided not to change my behavior one iota.
As Alberto regaled us with stories of his playboy lifestyle and how he adores free-spirits, he looked pointedly at me and said, “You’re a free spirit, I sense, yes?”
“Oh yes!” I said swiftly. “That is a 100% affirmative, Alberto.”
Alberto beamed and said, “I think you are also the type who enjoys a challenge.” My eyes lit up at the trigger word, challenge. He definitely has me pegged, I thought briefly. Then realizing who I was dealing with, I shot back, “So do you have standard lines when flirting with women, or do you tailor them to fit each woman?” I was sincerely curious, because the flirtation seemed effortless but also perfectly suited to me. Alberto sputtered a bit and my crew laughed uproariously. Ainsely said laughingly, “Alberto’s probably not used to having it dished back quite this much.” Alberto, red-faced nodded emphatically as he chuckled and gave me a look that showed honest intrigue.
We reveled in Alberto’s company for more than an hour before he decided to take his leave. But not before he serenaded me with an Italian ballad in his rich baritone voice. Ha ha. Then with a standing invitation to skinny dip in his pool or have every inch of my body massaged anytime, Alberto decided it was time for him to depart. He put on his overcoat and we all stood to bid him adieu. I kissed him squarely on his somewhat parted lips as the bartender called out, “Drive fast, Alberto!”
And with that, Alberto vanished into the night.
I certainly hope I see him again. He has the potential to get me into all kinds of trouble. And I DEFINITELY do LOVE trouble!