The Birthday Dinnerbyalonzo14©
Annie stood before the "Action" section at Suncoast Video with a frown on her face. In her hands were all of the Terminator DVD's. Looking down at them she muttered to herself, "Well, it's not what I'd want for my birthday, but if this is what Paul wants, then this what Paul gets!"
Its not that Annie didn't like action movies. She had pretty much been a tomboy while growing up. As a kid, she played basketball and hockey, mostly against boys, and had held her own, too. Heck, she's probably gone to every action movie that's ever come out. Yet, for Paul's birthday, she wanted to get him something nice, something romantic. Despite her tomboy beginnings, Annie was very much a woman and she had a very traditional view of courtship.
Well, perhaps courtship was too strong a word. She liked Paul. More everyday. Sure, he had his bad points. Who didn't? He had a tendency to walk ahead of her a step or two when they went out, and Annie didn't like that at all. And Paul could be a little immature at times. If she hadn't caught him on the rebound, she might not have gone out with him at all.
Paying for the videos, Annie put them in her bag and began walking back to work. She had used her lunch hour to run this errand and needed to get back to the office.
As she walked, she was aware that most of the male passersby were looking at her and she enjoyed the attention. Annie was a formidable sight. Nearly 6 feet tall, with blonde hair and an athletic body, Annie had turned many a head throughout her life. She enjoyed her femininity just as she enjoyed her ability to compete with men head-to-head.
Annie met Paul shortly after breaking off a tumultuous relationship with a married man. She knew that her fling with Robert wouldn't last. He had an unhappy marriage, but was unable or unwilling to leave his bitchy wife. Annie had grown up a block over from Robert and had secretly loved him all of her life. While she could handle herself with any other boy, both physically and intellectually, she turned into jelly whenever she was around Robert. There were many times when she tended to tell him how she felt, but when the moment of truth came, Annie always faltered.
Robert went away to college and eventually married.
Annie heard about the marriage and was devastated for while, constantly cursing herself for her lack of courage with regard to Robert. She settled for a guy named Jimmy and got pregnant. Jimmy was a jerk. He wasn't dependable and treated her badly. They never married and a few months after the birth of her daughter, Annie left Jimmy and the small town in which she had grown up and moved to the big city. There she raised her daughter and made a home for them both. Annie promised herself that she would never let another man treat her badly. There would never be another Jimmy.
Annie had a friend named Alex who had developed a thriving real estate business, and he offered her a job. As time went on, their relationship grew into a partnership. Alex was a real go-getter. He was a whiz in the real estate game but could come across as ill-tempered and uncaring at times. These first impressions often went by the wayside as people got to know him and he helped them get the property they wanted.
Any thoughts of Robert diminished with each passing year.
All that changed the day that Robert walked through the door of their office.
He was looking to buy some property in the city and a friend had steered him to Alex. When Annie saw Robert, all of her old feelings for him came rushing back in a tidal wave that nearly overwhelmed her. When Alex went to introduce Robert to his associate, Robert recognized Annie immediately. It was all that Annie could do to retain her composure as she greeted him.
Since Annie knew Robert, Alex asked her to handle the project. Annie was filled with mixed emotions. All of her old desires had resurfaced and she didn't like it. Her life had been calm and serene and now here was this man, stirring things up again. After that initial meeting Annie asked Alex to take her off the project but Alex insisted that she was the logical choice, because she knew Robert.
So over the next couple of weeks Annie spent a lot of time with Robert. As well as the business at hand they talked about their time growing up, and about their lives since. It didn't help that Robert had begun flirting with Annie. It only served to intensify her old feelings. Robert complained about his marriage and even said that he was a fool for not noticing what a wonderful girl Annie was when they were growing up.
Well, to make a long story short, Annie fell into an affair with Robert. But the initial joy of finally getting her man shortly gave way to the realization that she didn't want to be the other woman in his life. It was clear he wasn't going to leave his wife and she couldn't and wouldn't tolerate being his mistress, so after the property deal was done, so was their affair. To Annie, she had to be number one. There was no playing second fiddle for her. No man would take advantage of her. That was rule number one.
That's when Paul entered the scene. Annie met Paul playing tennis at the park. Annie was there with two girl friends, Lynn and Alyssa. Their fourth for doubles had cancelled at the last moment and the three of them were left playing two against one. Paul had just finished a game on an adjacent court and had begun watching from the sidelines. Lynn called to him and asked if he wanted to join the game. Paul smiled and bounded onto the court to join Lynn against Annie and Alyssa.
After the game, Annie stayed behind to collect her things and began chatting with Paul. By the time they said goodbye, he had asked her to dinner.
Annie liked Paul right from the start but never really thought of him as a long term commitment possibility. With her friends, she referred to him as her boy toy. Lynn and Alyssa thought that Paul was hot and Annie was sure that anyone of them wouldn't mind stealing him away from her. He was amazing in bed, but lacked some of the refinements she looked for in a man. Actually, Annie preferred slightly older men. Paul was 36, only one year older than she was, but he acted much younger. Most of the men Annie had dated were in their early forties and she even went out with a man in his fifties for a time. These men know how to treat a woman and could provide the both the intellectual and physical stimulation Annie expected.
But, as they continued dating, Annie started seeing more of Paul's charming side and she knew that he was crazy about her. She liked that adoration, even if he didn't know how to express it quite to her satisfaction.
Annie's plan for Paul's birthday was to take him out to dinner. She thought it would be fun to go out with Alex and his fiancée Chloe. Then after dinner, she and Paul would go back to Paul's place for presents and snuggling. Although the Terminator movies were his official gift, she liked the thought of herself being the real present.
The offer was made to Alex at work so that he could make arrangements with Chloe. Annie then called Paul to tell him of her plans. She was surprised at the silence at the other end of the line when she told him that Alex and Chloe would be joining them for dinner.
"Do we really have to go out with them? Paul asked. "I was hoping to spend the whole evening with you!" Paul's tone made it clear that he wasn't happy with Annie's birthday plans, at least not the dinner ones.
Realizing she had blundered by setting up the dinner with Alex and Chloe without consulting Paul, first Annie quickly tried to pacify Paul.
"It's okay, Paul. I'll cancel Alex and Chloe. I'll tell them that you had something else planned for us. I'm sure they'll be okay with that."
"Okay, Annie. Thanks," came Paul's whiny reply.
A minute later, and before Annie could get up to go talk to Alex, the phone rang. It was Paul again.
"Listen, Annie. It's okay. We can go to dinner with them. Just so we can have some time alone later. Okay?"
"Okay, Paul. If you're sure its okay with you. It's your birthday after all."
So the plans were set into motion. Annie was to drive over to Paul's house and Alex and Chloe, who lived within a few miles of him, would come by to pick them both up. Then the four of them would drive to the restaurant.
Taking great pains to look her best, Annie put on her slinkiest black dress, one that highlighted her two best features: her long legs and her full breasts. This should knock Paul's socks off, she thought to herself, as she admired herself in the mirror.
Since she was planning on spending the night at Paul's, Annie's daughter was going to sleep over at a friend's house, so she had to drop her off before going on to Paul's place.
When Annie arrived at Paul's house, he answered the door with a frown on his face. It was clear that Paul still wasn't totally happy with the situation. He didn't even compliment her on her outfit. Annie regretted going ahead with the evening's plans. She told herself that she should have just cancelled Alex and Chloe, even after Paul called her back. This could be a long evening, she thought to herself as she came in.
Laying her small gift-wrapped package on a little table near the door, she tried to lighten the mood by joking, "And no peeking at your present until after dinner."
Paul managed a feeble smile and offered Annie a drink while they waited for the other couple to arrive.
Just as they were sipping on the wine Paul had just poured, they heard the sound of car pulling up. "Oh, jeez, they're here already? Paul grumbled.
Annie put her glass on the table, saying, "We'll have that glass and the rest of the bottle when we get back" and then taking Paul's hand she pulled him out of the door and into the back seat of Alex's sedan.
Inside the car, on the way into town, Alex and Chloe made small talk. Annie joined in but was very aware of Paul's silence. Ok, she thought, he's not going to enjoy this dinner, so afterward, she'll make it up to him. No one enjoyed sex more than Annie, but she would go all out for Paul tonight.
Suddenly, Paul's cell phone rang. He pulled it out, flipped it open, looked at the display, and then snapped it shut. A few minutes later, the phone rang again. This time, however, Paul didn't even bother to take his phone out of his pocket.
"Don't you want to get that, Paul? It's probably someone wanting to wish you happy birthday," Annie suggested.
"No, it's nobody important," Paul replied in a voice that made Annie think that he was hiding something.
A short while later, Paul's phone rang again, and this time he shut it off. Knowing that he was popular with the ladies, Annie figured it was a woman, and that Paul didn't want to answer the call while she was with him. Well, that's okay, she thought. After all, she had other male friends as well. It was nothing to get alarmed about.
Once at the restaurant, the situation didn't improve. The four of them had a table near the front window and Paul wasn't pleased with that. He didn't like the menu choices and had to settle for something he really didn't want. Alex tended to dominate the conversation, as he usually did. Annie was used to him, but it seemed clear that Alex was irritating Paul. Sitting next to Paul, Annie tried to grab his hand under the table, but he recoiled from her.
As they ate, Annie caught Paul looking at his watch from time to time. Was this dinner so annoying to him or was there something else he had to do? she wondered.
Just as the plates for the main course were being removed, Paul looked at his watch, leaned toward Annie and said, "I'm sorry, Annie, I have to go."
Annie was stunned. "What do you mean you have to go? Where do you have to go?"
Tossing his napkin onto the table, Paul got up and said. "I have to go."
Alex and Chloe looked on in silence, utterly surprised by the turn of events.
"Well, what about me, Paul?" Annie asked?
"Maybe you should just go home," Paul replied coldly, as he turned to leave the restaurant.
Annie looked at Alex and Chloe with a helpless look on her face.
"Well that was rude," said Alex. "What could possibly be his problem?"
The three of them watched Paul through the window as once he emerged from the restaurant. He had his cell phone out and was clearly calling someone. With his back to the window, they couldn't see his face, but his body language indicated that he was angry. Finally, he stormed off to the taxi stand, and got in a cab and drove off.
Sitting there fuming at how she was just treated, Annie asked Alex to take her home. He quickly paid the bill and the three of them left the restaurant and took Annie back to her house.
Arriving at home, Annie pulled her cell phone out of her purse and turned it on. There were five missed calls from Paul. "The rat," she thought, "he's calling me after humiliating me tonight? Well, let him stew for a while!!!"
Annie spent a restless night. Why would Paul treat her so badly? Why did she have such bad luck with men? How could she have been so wrong about him?
The next morning she thought about calling him, but couldn't bring herself to do it. Somehow she felt that that would be giving in and Annie never ever gives in. Especially not to a man who had mistreated her.
On the other hand, Annie was curious as to what happened. Deciding that writing Paul an e-mail wouldn't be giving in, she sent him a short note telling him that she was very hurt and confused by his abrupt departure from dinner. Trying to make it sound like a joke, she even asked if he had someone else he had to meet that was more important to him.
Over the next few hours, Annie checked her e-mail every fifteen minutes. Finally, she got this reply from Paul:
I don't like to communicate my thoughts and feelings in an e-mail. I've invested a lot emotionally with you, but it feels like the next day after a one-night stand. I'm very upset and disappointed.
You didn't even bother to ask me why I left you so spontaneously on my birthday. Don't you care?
And I don't have someone else more important that you. After months of being together, can't you figure out that I'm in love and have been totally devoted to you? Perhaps YOU should be more attentive.
I'm hurt and upset by your behavior.
"He's hurt and upset?" Annie said out loud. "Why didn't I ask him why he left? Why the hell didn't HE tell me why he left? I'm not the villain here. No man can treat me this way."
What about the phones calls he was getting? What was up with that? Why leave in the middle of dinner? Annie tried to figure it out but nothing added up.
Taking a deep breath, Annie replied to his email, explaining that she used e-mail because she could better collect and express her thoughts. She told him that she didn't like that he put the blame back onto her when HE was the one that left HER so abruptly. It was his responsibility to give her an explanation, not hers to ask why.
That e-mail marked the end of their relationship. Annie never talked to Paul again. After a few months, she heard that he was engaged to a woman that works in his building.
Paul was a handsome man. He was used to women practically throwing themselves at him. This was both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, he had always had lots of girl friends and lots of lovers. On the other hand, he never developed very many interpersonal skills when dealing with women. He didn't have to. They wanted him. He could do what he wanted. If he wanted to play hockey, he'd play hockey. If his girlfriend didn't like it, there would always be another one to take her place.
Things changed the day he met Annie at the tennis court. He could never remember seeing a more beautiful woman. Annie was tall and athletic. When he joined their game on Lynn's side, he was amazed at how well Annie played. She was nearly as good as he was, and he prided himself on his ability.
As they chatted after the game, Paul asked her out to dinner. It was not a big deal. He always asked a new woman out, and they almost always accepted. It was only at dinner that he realized that Annie was no ordinary woman. She was smart and funny and very independent. He got the feeling that she was not overly impressed with him. For the first time in his life he felt a little intimidated by a woman.
In all of his other relationships with women, he had never really taken the time to get to know them, not really. It was mostly about him. He would ask a woman out, eventually he'd seduce her, they'd have great sex, and he'd move onto the next one. There was always a next one.
With Annie, however, things were different. It was Annie that could take or leave the relationship. He even had the feeling that she was using him for sex just as he had used so many other women in the past. It was Annie's indifference that somehow made him want her. Paul was in uncharted territory. He was falling in love.
Annie had many male friends. These weren't people she dated. As far as he knew, after the two of them had started going out, she wasn't dating anyone else. But he saw how men looked at her as the two of them walked along the street. He saw how at ease she was with them. Annie could joke and kid around with the best of them. Yes, Annie had many male friends, and Paul was jealous of all of them. For the first time in his life, he was insecure. Paul knew that he could lose Annie at any moment. Sure, she liked him but he wasn't sure if she could grow to love him, at least not like he loved her. And the worst of these male friends was Alex, the guy she worked with.
Alex was smart and rich, two things that Paul wasn't. Worse still, Alex was arrogant and often obnoxious. Annie kept telling Paul that Alex was an acquired taste, but Paul knew that he would never, ever like Alex. Alex had a special relationship with Annie. They were co-workers. But they were also friends. Annie would go over to Alex's place to watch TV after work. Paul knew that Alex had a girlfriend, and that just made it harder for him to understand the relationship between Annie and Alex.
Paul's birthday was coming up and he was looking forward to spending the evening with Annie. There was this girl at work, Kristy, who was interested in him. In the past, Paul would have encouraged her. He was always adept at juggling the attention of more than one woman at a time. But now, with Annie, Paul wouldn't think of anyone else. He tried to slough Kristy off, but she was persistent. When Kristy found out about Paul's birthday, she asked what he wanted as a present. Paul got the impression that Kristy had already picked something out: herself.
When he received Annie's calling telling him about her dinner plans for him, Paul was caught off guard. How could she even think of inviting another couple to dinner on his birthday. And especially the hated Alex? Paul balked at the idea.
When Annie told him that it was no big deal and that she would cancel Alex and his girlfriend, Paul breathed a sigh of relief. After the call, he started second guessing the situation. Would Annie think less of him because he didn't like her dinner plans? Couldn't he tolerate the dinner if he had Annie to himself later? Paul's insecurity got the better of him and he quickly called Annie back to tell her that her dinner plans were okay.
As he was waiting for Annie to come over on his birthday, Paul started fuming again. Why did Annie want to bring Alex along? Why did he call her back and agree to it?
When Annie arrived, she looked lovely, but Paul was, by now, too upset to notice. In the car on the way to the restaurant, Alex's constant chatting began grating on Paul. He hoped he could make it through dinner. Then everything would be okay.
When his phone rang, Paul looked to see who the caller was. It was Kristy. He wasn't in the mood to deal with her, so he closed his phone without answering. Two more times on the way to the restaurant, his phone rang. He knew it was Kristy. Why wouldn't she leave him alone? After the last call, he shut off his phone.