Love for Leona Ch. 08

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All characters are over 18 years.

***

A group of business-men were seated at a large table in the centre of the restaurant when Jules and Leona arrived by taxi.

The men were talking loudly about what they could and could not get in business. There had been a frenzy of money-spending just before Christmas.

‘They’re over there, on the other side,’ Jules was saying as Leona followed her to the table where the two men were sitting. ‘Hey guys. How’s it going?’ Jules said.

‘This is Nathan,’ pointing to the shorter of the two men, ‘and this is my brother, Gareth, who’s just down from Brisbane.’

Nathan Monroe greeted both women warmly. The other man smiled slightly, before saying,

‘Nice to meet you, Leona,’ – shaking her hand. His voice carried a deep vibrancy.

Gareth Hamilton was tall with bright blond hair that was dark at the roots. His nose was slightly crooked, as though it had been broken and reset at some time. She couldn’t help but scope him out.

Nathan eyeballed Jules up and down, admiring her slim figure. ‘You look gorgeous, red suits you!’

Introductions being made, Leona found herself again drawn to the haunted face of Gareth Hamilton; his all-examining eyes flicking over her face and figure assessing.

‘Shall we order now?’ Nathan said from across the table.

The waiter had arrived and Leona joined Jules in ordering a white wine to accompany Chicken Maryland as the main course, while the men chose red wine.

‘What do you girls consider the most important thing in life?’ Nathan was wanting to get the conversation rolling.

Jules smiled. ‘Getting as much amusement out of life as possible, and that’s the end of it. You amuse me – and I’ll amuse you.’

‘Yes. But first having the inestimable cash advantage,’ with a short laugh. ‘When you work it out, everything comes down to money in the end. Everything’s escort kartal got a price.’ Nathan was perusing the menu for the second time and was selecting a porterhouse steak for himself. ‘Just as any of those guys at the table there.’

Naomi spoke of her independence since her divorce.

‘Everybody’s got to agree with you – that’s your price,’ Jules returned. She then spoke of her independence since her divorce. ‘And that’s the most important thing for me,’ – seriously – ‘I feel that I am now in sole control of my life. I can do exactly what I want to do, not what some man tells me to do. I’m proud of being in charge of my work and life. It’s been that way for five years now.’

But Leona knew that Jules would do anything Nathan wanted.

‘And although independence is important to me,’ Jules said sipping her wine, ‘I don’t know if I want to spend my life alone.’

‘Fair enough,’ Nathan said with a smile. He turned to Gareth. ‘What’s the important thing for you, old boy?’

Gareth had not yet entered the conversation. He did not talk much, and always seemed to be thinking about something.

‘Nothing. Except perhaps a clean conscience.’ He seemed almost bored with the conversation.

A waitress arrived with their first course and the talk continued along more desultory lines. Nathan was the most voluble and he and Jules were keen to chat for most of the time.

Leona and Gareth were content to listen, neither being inclined to do more than attend to the food before them.

She wondered if Gareth was aware that she was supposed to be his date for the night. Oh, well, it didn’t matter, she thought.

By the end of the second course, the waitress was not about and Nathan rose to order more drinks for them all. Jules excused herself and headed for the Ladies.

Leona and Gareth sat alone at the table.

There was a curious maltepe escort cold distance to him, which she could not get across. ‘So you’re down from Brisbane, I hear?’

‘I’m originally from Melbourne,’ Gareth replied. ‘But I’ve been living up north for the past seven years or so.’

He’s the complete opposite of his sister, she thought. Jules was talkative, grasping all that life had to offer, whereas Gareth was quiet, studious it would seem, morose even, yet courteous in his own quiet way for all that.

‘What brought you back?’

‘Work, mainly. I’m a designer of electronic circuits for a computer company, and I’ve been assigned to a project here. In Melbourne I often find myself at a loose end. What do you do?”

‘Nothing exciting. I’m behind a counter all day in a city store.’

Jules came back to the table just as Nathan returned from the bar with the drinks. Leona gave him the full brilliance of her smile as he placed a brandy before her.

Towards the end of the meal Nathan and Jules stimulated by drink were again laughing and talking volubly, making plans for the following weekend and were really enjoying themselves.

The Conversation was becoming a trifle stilted and Leona decided that Gareth Hamilton was the cause of this. Certainly it was nothing to do with Jules, since her brassy voice talked most of the time.

Gareth seemed lost in thought and Leona found herself thinking about his dead wife, wondering what she was like.

She and Gareth did not seem to be hitting it off at all.

Soon everyone finished their coffee and Nathan was settling the bill with the waiter. They made their way out to the carpark where polite ‘good evenings’ were said.

A light rain was falling outside and the pavements glistened in the street lights.

Jules stood by Nathan’s car, holding her umbrella over him. Unexxpectedly, pendik escort bayan Gareth offered to drive Leona. ‘I’ll see you home, if you like,’ – gentlemanly.

‘Thanks, Gareth. No trouble, is it?’

‘None at all,’ – smiling – ‘I go more or less in your direction. I enjoyed tonight,’ he said as she put on her seat belt.

‘Really?’ she said as he made a U-turn and drove towards the city.

Leona could not have been more surprised by this remark. She had thought he was bored by the whole evening. Her face set in thoughtful lines. Was he simply being polite or was he extremely shy. Jules had said, ‘he’s naturally reticent – that kind of man.’

Gareth was cynical where women were concerned, Jules had also explained when she spoke to Leona on the phone earlier that day. She wondered why. Surely he had loved his wife? And she had died so tragically.

‘Are you seeing anyone steady?’ he asked overtaking a taxi in the left lane.

‘No, not at the moment,’ – a strange sensation quivered within her.

‘I find that hard to believe.’

‘Why’s that?’

‘I thought a girl like you would be popular.’

‘You flatter me.’

‘If it makes you uncomfortable, I won’t’

Leona was indeed flattered. This man seemed to be able to appreciate her. But she didn’t want to rush things. She didn’t want to get into the same pattern again.

‘It does embarrass me, a little.’

He threw her a measuring look before switching his gaze back to the road.

She was suddenly aware that she was now relaxed with Gareth, despite the fact that they hadn’t talked much. He seems cool, she thought. She was glad she had agreed to come out after all tonight. But she was also determined she was not going to rush into anything with him.

Ten minutes later they arrived at Leona’s apartment building. Gareth, looking at her slantwise, hesitated a moment.

‘Well, here we are. Hey … um … Leona?’

Leona thought for a moment; was he going to make a pass at her?

‘What’s up?’ She had turned to face him.

‘I just wanted to thank you for tonight.

‘You’re welcome,’ she said as she left the car.

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