I collapsed on the couch for a nap one evening after a very long day. I was up late the night before working on a case and my coffee buzz had worn off a couple of hours before. Mum and Dad found me sleeping on the couch and were very concerned. The sound of their voices talking about how I wasn’t taking care of myself woke me up.
“Sweetie don’t you think you’re working yourself too hard?” Dad asked when after I sat up on the couch.
“My hard work is paying off Dad. I’m the only officer in my squad to be promoted to Detective in such a short period and now I’m so close to being promoted to Senior Detective.”
“That’s great news!” Mum exclaimed. “I’m so happy for you! See Sebastian, she takes after me. Her genius won’t keep her in the lower ranks for too long.”
“Still don’t work yourself into the ground trying to get promotion after promotion. You have to take better care of yourself. There has to be a balance. It’s not healthy to spend days at a time surviving on junk food and four hours of sleep a night.”
“I know Dad. Don’t worry I’ll try to take better care of myself.”
“No she won’t.” Felix said as he and Ethan came into the room and took a seat on the couch next to me. “Miss Superstar cop here doesn’t know how to take it easy.”
“Yeah she’s got to be the best at everything!” Ethan added.
“Hmm they are right Dad,” I said with a laugh, “but for your sake I’ll do my best to get in at least six hours and a healthy breakfast. What do you say?”
Dad chuckled. “I suppose I have no choice but to compromise.”
We all had dinner together as a family. We hadn’t had dinner together in years. Someone would always be missing from the table be it Mum when she went on her missions to space, Dad when his training sessions with clients ran late, or me while at work on a case. Tonight was special because the five of us were finally together sharing a meal of grilled steak and salad which was Ethan’s favourite dish.
Ethan recently celebrated his birthday and in a few days it will be Felix’s turn. Dad would always comment on how big his babies were getting and soon enough we’ll all be married and making babies of our own. Honestly I’m in no rush to make babies but I am anxious to settle down. But I don’t want to settle though. I want to find love – real, passionate, exciting and scary kind of love. As practical as I am about most things, dating and romance for me usually sends all logic out the window.
One morning, on my day off, I went to meet Uncle Chris at the gym where he was working out. He put on quite a bit of weight over the years and he was trying to lose some of it. I think Aunt Chloe’s menu of cakes, hamburgers and mac and cheese might have had something to do with it.
“Hey kiddo, thanks for dropping off your mother’s cable tester.”
“Oh so that’s what it is!”
“Yeah Bentley’s gonna rewire…something I don’t know. You kids and your technology.” He laughed.
As I was talking to him I noticed a handsome, sweaty man working out on the machine next to us. Uncle Chris started talking to me about renovations and I got so caught up in it that by the time I looked for the man again he was gone. I was slightly disappointed because I wanted to see if I could find a way to talk to him. I knew I was being aggressive again but I was simply drawn to him.
Luckily I was able to catch a glimpse of him again. He looked like he had a shower and was dressed professionally. He looked right at me with his warm brown eyes and smirked.
Uncle Chris was talking but I couldn’t hear a word he said. I was smitten and I didn’t know why. Our stare down lasted all of 5 seconds before he walked past me and left but still I remained blushing and smiling like a school girl who just caught a glimpse of her crush. I didn’t even know the guy! I didn’t know his name! I didn’t know what his voice sounded like! I knew absolutely nothing about this stranger and yet I felt this connection with him. It was so strange!
The next day I saw him again at the gym. This time he was working out on the treadmill but I wasn’t there for a social call, I was on duty. I was looking for a suspect by the name of Gustavo Gillilian, a pick-pocket I busted a while back who decided to upgrade to robbing little old ladies houses in the middle of the day.
I questioned my handsome mystery man about the suspect because we had received calls that a man matching his description was seen at the gym.
“I saw him over there by the punching bags. You might want to get to him quick before he spots you first.” He said. Oh my mystery man is so smart and he has that deep, manly type of voice that could make a girl weak in the knees. Unfortunately he was right. I could not stick around and talk as I had important work to do.
I found Gustavo right where my mystery man said he would be. But by the time I left the room he was gone, probably in the showers. Once again I forgot to get his name. Sigh.
I thought it wasn’t meant to be. Perhaps my mystery man and I were only supposed to cross paths those few times and no more since weeks had passed and I was yet to see him again. And then one evening, while I was at the Solar Flare Lounge, I saw him.
“Hey there.” He simply said. “Um, I don’t know if you remember me. We never officially met…”
“I remember you.”
“We keep running into each other and I don’t even know your name.”
“It’s Danielle, and yours?”
“Stephan. It’s nice to finally meet you.”
“Same here.” I was overjoyed that I finally got my chance with him but I played it cool. I didn’t want him to know that he’d been on my mind since the day I first glanced at him but I also didn’t want to play hard to get. “Would you like to join me for drinks?”
“Sure. I’d love to have a drink with a beautiful lady such as you.”
He was such a charmer. I liked that about him. I also liked his confidence but he was not arrogant at all. He was very polite to everyone at the bar and a total gentleman. The more I learned about him, the more my crush on him grew.
“Well Stephan, you know I’m a detective so what is it that you do for a living?” I asked.
“I’m a supervisor in a company that specialises in art and antiquities.”
“Like a curator?”
“Something like that. I oversee the acquisition of the goods, I perform appraisals and I manage the employees who do the sale and delivery of those items. I guess you could call me a dealer.”
“An art dealer, impressive. My grandmother was a painter. Some of her work is displayed in the museum.”
“Wait… Is Ariana Sloane is your grandmother?”
“Wow. Your grandmother is one of the best artists of her time. Her paintings sell for a fortune.”
“I know but a lot of bootleggers are copying her work and claiming it as originals and selling it for thousands of dollars on the market.” I didn’t want to talk about work but when he mentioned he was an art dealer I remembered the visit my family got from some agents who informed us of the scheme. Wealthy socialites were paying a fortune for my grandmother’s paintings only to learn after they got it appraised that they were fakes. This was not a case we would work on down at the station so I couldn’t ask the chief to put me on it but I wanted them to catch the people behind all of this. “Has anyone come to your company trying to sell a painting that they claim is my grandmother’s?”
“Not that I’m aware. Is this an interrogation?” he asked with a laugh. “I thought this was a date.”
“This is a date?”
“Well yes, we’re having drinks and getting to know each other. I’d say it’s a date.”
“You don’t even know me.” I said coyly.
“That’s the point of the date. Would you like to dance?”
We got out on the dance floor just as the band started playing their rendition of a well-known pop song. Stephan was a good dancer, save for the occasional fist pump.
“I like your moves Dani… uh is it okay if I call you Dani?”
“Sure, everyone calls me Dani, except my mother. She calls me Danielle.”
“Are you close to your family?” he asked.
“I am. I have two younger brothers and two younger cousins. I’m a little bossy with them because I’m the oldest and I feel like it’s my job to look after them. We’re all close. My parents have been married since they were young and they’re still happy with each other so they’re kind of my role models when it comes to relationships.”
“I never knew my parents. They died in an accident when I was a baby.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
“No it’s fine. I wasn’t alone. My older sister was a young adult when they died so she raised me. They had her early in their life and had me late. It’s good that you have a lot of family. I’d like to meet them someday.”
“If you behave yourself then maybe you’ll have the chance.”
“Then I guess I’ll have to be a very, very good boy.” He said flirtatiously.
We spent the next couple of hours talking and joking around while we danced until my feet started to get sore from moving around so much in my heels. It was getting late and I had work the next day so as much as I wanted the night to continue I needed to go home.
“I had a really good time tonight Stephan.” I said after he walked me downstairs. “I enjoyed getting to know you.”
“Same here. I want to see you again. Can I have your number?”
I nodded and called out the digits as he punched them into his phone. “I’m gonna call you tomorrow. Good night Dani.” He then walked away. He didn’t try to kiss me or anything so I began to get a little worried. I really liked him and I thought he liked me too yet he just took my number and left. I was not used to that at all. I hoped he was being a gentleman, something else I’m not used to. I really hoped he would call.