Huh. It's kind of been awhile....sorry :) To show that I'm sorry, I produced a monster chapter.
Also, I'm sorry to anyone out there that does know Russian. I had to use google translate in this chapter. heh.
"Just don't let other man touch you."
I frowned again tucking a strand of hair back into place as I slid into a pair of heels. Why was I even getting dressed up for a guy who made demands like that? It was ridiculous. It was old-fashioned. It was sexist.
So why was I putting on a dress that I had gone out frantically searching for last minute this afternoon and checking my hair for a 2nd time?
Worst of all, I couldn't deny that I had been slightly turned on by his demand as he made it and then arrogantly walked back down the hallway and away from me and my hotel room. After that night, I spent the rest of my time in D.C. avoiding him at all costs. The only other contact we had all weekend was when he spoke to reporters after the game and I had watched from a safe distance away just to make sure that it went smoothly.
I thought he had forgotten about his invitation until this afternoon when he had stopped by my office asking if 6 was a good time for him to pick me up. I was astonished that he even had the nerve to ask- especially when he hadn't really asked me again in the first place. He had just popped over, assuming that I would say yes and fall into his arms.
As much as I wanted to be annoyed by all of this, part of me was curious. I couldn't deny that there was an attraction between the two of us. Especially after the way that I responded to him each time he kissed me. I would definitely be lying if I said that I didn't like it or that he didn't make me feel something interesting. But just because I was attracted to the big lug didn't make the fact that I was getting all dolled up for him any more logical.
In fact, I think it only made this situation ten times more embarrassing.
I heard the buzzer ring and I quickly adjusted the navy blue dress I was wearing so that everything was tucked away as it should be. It wasn't a short dress but it wasn't long either, stopping at an inch or two above my knee. What I was more concerned about was the cleavage that I had on display tonight. I had chosen to wear my hair all down so that the length of it could cover me a little bit in case my insecurity kicked in at some point during the night and I necessitated backup.
When I opened the door, Geno was standing sheepishly in the doorway and holding a Lily. He grinned easily and I felt my heart stutter in surprise. He had brought me a flower?
"Here" he said passing the lone flower to me and taking in my appearance. My heart bumped slightly from the gesture settling on a slow beat as I registered how sweet it was. How nice it was to be brought something so simple as a flower. I hadn't been given flowers let alone one flower in a long time. The showy displays that Peter tried to send as an "I'm sorry" gesture didn't count for anything like this somehow did.
"Thanks" I said leaning up to kiss his cheek. I moved to step back and found myself caught by a strong hand on my lower back, holding me in place. In my heels, my eyes were at the same level as his mouth and I found myself staring at his lips, feeling tingly all over from the feel of his hand on my back and the memory of our kiss the previous weekend.
"You're welcome" he said still holding me in place but not making a move. Part of me wished that if he was going to torture me, he would make up his mind and just do something already. I had gotten that breathless, woozy feeling again just from confusion and waiting in anticipation for his next move.
Surprisngly, and to my slight disappointment, he let go of me and stepped back, abruptly leaving me to stand on my own again.
"Ready to go?" he asked, his dark brown eyes boring into mine.
"Sure" I forced myself to say. He was making me nervous the way he just keep looking at me. Like he had never seen me before. "I'm just going to put this in water real quick and then we can leave." I walked off leaving him to look around the apartment while I calmed my pulse down and located a small vase.
If this was any indication for how the rest of the night was going to go, then my glands, which had suddenly decided to act like teenagers, were in for a hell of a night.
I put the flower in a slim vase and placed it on the mantle next to my faux, electric fireplace. It was one of my favorite details about the apartment. When I turned, he was standing close to the few framed photos I actually kept out of boxes and on display on top of a small table next to the couch.
A few of them were simple, silly photos of friends from college and happier, easier times before college kicked my ass out into the real world. Most of my other photos were tucked away and couldn't be put out thanks to the presence of Peter in all of them.
I watched as Geno picked up one in particular of me as a little girl smiling broadly with a missing tooth and pigtails with my parents settled happily behind me. It had been taken when I was 6, a year or two before the accident and I either smiled or felt like crying when I looked at it.
"Ready to go?" I wanted to escape without him asking any questions and get on with the night. Maybe kiss him too. Whatever happened- I just didn't want to be here anymore. Suddenly having him in the apartment for too long felt too personal. I still hadn't gotten around to painting either and the bare white walls felt suffocating and like a mirror image of myself. White and empty.
"Yeah" he finally asnwered setting the photo down and turning to face me. His eyes settled on something behind me and he frowned in confusion. "What's that?"
He was already moving past me and striding towards the wall behind me that partially separated the kitchen from the living room. My eyes landed on the Lowe's paint samples that I had taped up to the wall but still hadn't decided on. It was embarrassing that I was this indecisive about finally picking a color for my damn apartment but everytime I tried to make up my mind, I couldn't do it.
"Oh" I said trying to shrug it off like it was no big deal, "those are just my color options."
"I don't understand" he said looking to me for some kind of answer.
"I've been trying to decide what colors to paint my apartment" I clarified feeling more and more embarrassed as the look of understanding passed over his face.
"Why haven't you picked one yet?" he asked. Hell, if I knew the answer to that, I would have gladly told him. Too bad I had nothing. No logical explanation for why I just couldn't decide.
I shrugged instead feeling awkward. He looked so male in my living room examining the colors with female accents surrounding him in the room.
I turned and grabbed my coat off the back of the couch where it had been waiting and shrugged it on hoping he'd take the hint. He was making me start to regret agreeing to this.
Without another word, he gave me the lopsided grin that I was used to and took my hand leading me out the door. Somehow it had escaped my notice that the paint samples were no longer on the wall behind us.
He opened the door of his car for me and helped me get seated in the snazzy little sportscar. It was different from the other car that I had seen him drive and I assumed that this was his sexy car. All guys, especially young guys with some amount of power, had that one car that they thought made them hotter. It was the modern day way of displaying the extent of their manhood only in car form.
The idea of it all made me smile and when he jogged around to the other side and was seated beside me, he noticed. "What's funny?"
"Nothing" I said turning so that he couldn't see my secret smile. "So where are we going?" I asked trying not to sound too eager. Curious maybe, but not eager.
"To eat" he said purposely trying to put off his answer. He was smiling though too so I knew that it couldn't be that bad.
"I know that we're going to eat. But where are we going to eat?" I was partly curious because I wanted to see what kind of environment he would take me too. Would it be showy and expensive or low key like that bar he had dragged me to the first time? Would it be crowded or secluded? He was a Pittsburgh celebrity too so would we really be able to go anywhere without him getting hassled?
"You'll see" was the only answer he gave me as we pulled out onto the darkened city streets.
After a few minutes of driving in relative silence, I couldn't handle the lack of noise and reached over to start fiddling with his radio stations. I couldn't decide on one song and flipped through not even noticing his grunt of disapproval.
"You pick one and you listen to it" he said reaching over and stilling my hand. Keeping his eyes on the road, he kept my hand in his and rested them on the center console, ignoring my stare between his profile and our joined hands. When I realized that he had no plans to let go, I forced myself to relax and go with the flow. It wasn't even real hand holding if you thought about it. More like hand holding with a purpose.
I couldn't recognize the streets anymore and wondered where the hell he was taking me for the 4th time since we had gotten into the car 15 minutes before. We finally stopped in front of a long line of connected row houses in what was an old neighborhood on the outskirts of the city. It reminded me of Brooklyn a little bit because of the old-quality charm it held. The name painted onto the window was red and in a language that I didn't understand. Beneath it it read "Yuri's."
"Is this where we're going?" I asked. He parallel parked the car with ease and let go of my hand to get out of the car. I was already out of the car before he could open the door for me because I was growing more curious by the second at his choice of restaurant.
He shook his head at me waiting patiently by the side of the car and answered my question with a quick "yes." We waited for a car to pass us on the street before he grabbed my hand in his again and we crossed the street together heading towards the restaurant called "Yuri's."
We climbed up the steep steps to the restaurant and I cursed myself for wearing heels. What if I was too dressed up for this place? Geno seemed comfortable enough in his black slacks and button down but it was hard to guage if I was or not.
A bell chimed over the door as Geno opened it, ushering me inside before I could ask anymore questions. As I took a look around, the restaurant instantly struck me with its charm. Most of the small restaurant was full with patrons and the dim lull of their voices clashed pleasantly with the festive music coming out from what I assumed was the kitchen. A woman watched us both shrewdly from the corner her eyes landing on Geno first and assessing me next. She leaned over and spoke loudly into the kitchen in a rapid fire of words that I couldn't understand.
"Evgeni" I turned to hear a booming voice echo out of the kitchen followed by a very large man. "Vy ne prishli k nam v poslednyee vremya."
Up close, my mind registered that the man was speaking in Russian. I had been around enough Russians in the past few months to recognize when it was being spoken.
"Mne ochenʹ zhalʹ. Vot pochemu ya syeĭchas zdesʹ" Geno answered smiling at the enormous man. He looked at me next and I felt myself being unapologetically sized up.
"Kto eto? Yavlyaet·sya li eto vasha matʹ Oksana zhaluet·sya?" he asked. I hated that I had no idea what they were talking about. Especially when I felt like it was about me. I glared at Geno wondering why the hell he had brought me here if I was just going to be looked at by everyone like this.
Geno brushed him off and looked between us again. I decided that I should probably speak up and say something already since Geno obviously wasn't going to for me.
"Hello" I said pulling my hand away from Geno's and brushing it off on the fabric of my skirt. "I'm Ava" I said extending my hand to the man before me and praying that he took it in response.
He did and his booming laughter echoed off of the tiny walls. "Yevgeniĭ okazalsya amerikanskiĭ devushku!" The woman from the back who had been watching us the whole time smiled with what felt like pity and joined the man still holding my hand captive.
"My husband doesn't mean to be rude. He's man and so he's stupid." She smiled and with a nod of her head instructed us to follow her to a table in a corner. She set menus in front of us and walked off shooing and yelling at her husband to go back into the kitchen.
"You brought me to a Russian restaurant?" I asked as soon as we were alone. I wasn't angry, just confused. This place seemed personal to him especially since I hadn't seen a lot of Russian restaurants so far in Pittsburgh. Why would he share it with me?
"Yeah, is problem?" he asked eyeing me carefully.
"No, of course not. I'm just surprised" I said answering him honestly. Surpirsed and a little shocked.
"What should I order?" I asked studying the menu and all of its descriptions of various dishes.
"Do you trust me? Or will you get mad if I order for you?" He grinned over at me like he was baiting me. I decided not to fight him this one time and let him go for it. I had no idea what any of the food was even though the menu was written partly in english.
A few minutes later the woman from before reappeared at our table setting down two glasses of wine in front of us. "Eto vasha dama Oksana?"
"Net, ne sprositʹ o nyeĭ. Eto Ava. Ona uchit menya luchshe angliĭskiĭ." Geno answered her in the same frustrated tone he used when he couldn't think of the word he wanted to use in english. I couldn't understand what he was saying in the slightest but I did pick up on the biting tone of his voice. Instead of whacking him on the back of the head though for being rude, the woman only smiled and shook her head at him.
"I'm sorry" she said turning to me. "We're being very rude by speaking in Russian in front of you. I am Nadia and that is Yuri, my husband. We own this restaurant and Geno is our good friend."
"Nice to meet you, Nadia. I'm Ava, I work for the Penguins" I explained offering her my most pleasant smile. I felt like i had to make a good impression on this woman or suffer from the consequences somehow. She smiled in return and asked what we wanted to order.
"So who's Oksana?" I asked once Nadia left us alone at the table again. I saw him stiffen and look up quickly at me in surprise. After hearing the word twice and the way that it was said, it was obvious that Oksana was some kind of a noun. More specifically, an actual person.
"No one" he replied focusing on the wine. She didn't seem like just a "no one" but I kept my mouth shut wondering why both Yuri and Nadia had brought her up. Maybe she was an ex-girlfriend that he didn't want to talk about?
The rest of the dinner passed by quickly and without any more mentionings of Oksana- whoever she actually was. Geno explained what each dish was to me as it was served and laughed at my facial expressions when I tried something and really liked it or didn't like it at all. We lingered over wine and a berry drink that Nadia called "mors" until I started to feel lightheaded from all of the sensations that I was taking in at once.
Soon we were the only ones left in the restaurant and Nadia had plopped herself down at the table to chat with both of us. I couldn't lie. I was incredibly relieved by the fact that she seemed to like me, especially after the way she had been watching us when we first walked through the door. Her and Geno spoke intermittenly in English and Russian and whether it was the wine or the fact that I liked listening to them speak the language, I didn't mind at all. Between the feeling of Geno's leg against mine under the table and the way he was playing with my fingers in his hand, I felt drunk on that alone, surprised by the strong physical reaction I was having to him.
Thankfully we didn't linger too long. It was only 9 and I wondered if this was the end of the night or if he had something else planned too. I shook both Yuri and Nadia's hands again thanking them for the meal and tried to ignore the fact that they were obviously talking about me in Russian while I was standing there.
"What did they say?" I asked as we left the restaurant and stood in the cool night air on the sidewalk.
"Nothing important" he said smiling down at me. We both knew that he was lying but I dropped the question knowing that he was never going to tell me.
"Thanks for dinner" I said changing the subject and allowing him to take my hand again. He led me to his car and stopped me when I went to open the door. I turned to remind him that I didn't need him to open my car door for me all of the time but was silenced by his mouth sliding warmly over mine. He bit down softly on my bottom lip and the little nip sent one big shiver down my spine.
"Want to go somewhere else?" he asked smiling at me. I nodded wondering what he had in mind.
"Okay" he answered rounding the car to the driver's side. "Let's go."
Part 2 will be up later tonight! I promise!!!!!