His eyes were bright with an emotion I couldn’t quite name: something I felt, too. Desire. Beneath the tablecloth, I twisted my wedding ring. I lived a measured life, I avoided drama, I had never cheated and never would… And yet here I was, smiling across the room at a stranger — and here he was, smiling back. His smile was lovely, surprisingly shy in such a masculine face.
The fado singer finished her second song and the room broke into applause. “Bravo,” called the man, but he was still looking at me. As the applause died down, he rose. He stood for a moment at the edge of the room, his hand on the back of his chair, holding my gaze. My pulse quickened and my breath came faster, my chest rising and falling beneath my button-down dress.
The man tilted his head towards the doorway and raised his eyebrows. I nodded once — my decision was made — and rose to follow him. I left my book and handbag on the table, next to my plate of fish: this didn’t seem like the sort of place people stole from, and I didn’t want the waiter to think that I’d fled without paying.
In the lobby of the restaurant, the man turned left, up a flight of stairs that led deeper into the old building. He didn’t look back at me, and for a moment I wondered whether I’d misunderstood him — was our wordless exchange in the restaurant just a side effect of my sexual repression? And then, on the first floor, he finally turned and I caught my breath. In this light, he was even more handsome than he had been in the restaurant. Silently, he took my hand and led me into a large, dim, empty room. He moved through it as though he knew this place, as though he had done this many times before.