Camila was used to men trying to impress her on first dates so she wasn’t surprised when Ryan suggested they go to the most expensive Italian restaurant in town. They agreed to meet outside Graccina’s at 7 p.m.
Even from a distance, Ryan was stopped in his tracks by Camila’s beauty. Wearing a tight-fitting red dress, which perfectly complemented her raven-black hair, she looked even better than she had in her dating app photo.
Camila saw Ryan approaching. He was wearing beige chinos and a blue shirt. Noticing his eyes fixed on her, she smiled and thought: he’ll do nicely.
They introduced themselves with a light kiss on the cheek, allowing Ryan to breathe in the musky scent of Camila’s perfume. He’d never been out with someone so stunning before and felt his ego surge. He held open the restaurant door, allowing Camila to enter first. A maître d’ approached, his eyes veering towards the woman.
After being shown to their table, the maître d’ asked if they’d like to order drinks. “How about a bottle of champagne?” Ryan asked, eager not to appear a cheapskate.
“Sounds perfect,” Camila said.
The smell of cooked garlic wafted through the restaurant. Camila picked up a menu and said, “Shall we see what’s on offer?”
As Ryan scanned the options, his eyes kept flitting to his date. He was drawn to her lips, glistening with red lipstick, a slightly darker shade than her dress.
From her previous dates at Graccina’s, Camila knew the chef to be a master of taste bud titillation. She chose a beetroot pasta and oyster dish for her starter. Ryan was keen to keep his breath fresh so tried to avoid anything that contained garlic. He opted for Mousse of Ham Garibaldi, even though he couldn’t completely work out what it was from the description on the menu.
Whilst waiting for their starters to arrive they told each other about their lines of work. She worked in a hospital buying department. He was a gym instructor.
“I can see you keep yourself in good shape,” Camila said.
Ryan was pleased by the comment. The hours he spent on the weights felt suddenly worthwhile.
Their starters arrived. The portion sizes were small and they each took respectfully dainty mouthfuls. Ryan noticed that the colour of Camila’s beetroot pasta almost matched her lips. At every opportunity, he stole a glance, soaking up her beauty. What were the chances of finding someone like her on a dating app? He could scarcely believe his luck. Treating her to this fine dining experience would show her just how serious he was.
For their mains, Ryan ordered a steak — medium rare — and Camila went for a seafood pasta dish. As Ryan cut into the meat, Camila’s eyes were drawn to the pool of blood surrounding it. She felt her senses spark.
To her annoyance, Ryan seemed intent on making conversation. He asked about her job. How long had she been there?
“Two years,” she answered.
Did she have desires for promotion? Not really, she told him, explaining that she’d never been a career woman. She preferred spending minimal time working and maximum time doing the things she wanted. “My philosophy on life exactly,” said Ryan, chewing a mouthful of steak. “By the way, this meat is incredible. So succulent.”
Camila smiled. She felt glad she’d had time to clean up her place earlier that evening. Now she could relax and enjoy the meal, safe in the knowledge that her spick and span apartment was ready to welcome in a new man.
For dessert, she chose blood orange panna cotta – how could she resist with a name like that? He went for a chocolate torte. When the dishes arrived, Ryan watched Camila ease the silky panna cotta off her spoon. On seeing the amber substance glistening on the side of her mouth, he struggled to imagine how the date could get any better.
He’s so pleased with himself, she thought, looking into his gleaming eyes. “Thanks so much for bringing me here,” she said. “It’s amazing.”
He reached across the table, smiling. Camila let him slip his hand over hers. He wondered what she was thinking about. Perhaps what might happen later, he thought. After all, that was the only thing on his mind.
Camila was thinking about what would happen later. Feeling the warmth of Ryan’s skin switched her thoughts to the little bundle in her chest-of-drawers at home. She remembered how hard she’d worked on her job application for the position in the hospital buying department, how she’d charmed her interviewers. Now, two years into the job, she was proud of having kept herself free from suspicion. Not that it had been difficult. Hospital management seemed far more concerned with operation waiting lists and a congested A&E department than the odd piece of surgical equipment going missing.
A waiter arrived, looked at Camila and asked whether they wanted more drinks. She shook her head and Ryan confirmed with, “No, thanks.” The sooner they could get out of there, the sooner Camila might invite him into her apartment, he thought.
Camila thought again of the items in her drawer, neatly rolled up inside stolen stockinette. She imagined herself giving the bundle a sharp tug and seeing the scalpels, scissors and syringes tumble with a clatter onto the steel table in her home theatre. The tension was unbearable. She could barely wait to get home. Ryan would be getting the full treatment tonight.
“Fancy getting the bill and heading back to my place for coffee?” she said. A grin from Ryan signalled his agreement. He raised his hand and waved over the waiter.
David Lowis lives in Surrey, England. He writes mainly micro fiction with the occasional foray into longer pieces when time permits.
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