All around us, Lulu’s fellow waitstaff carry trays of flatware and napkins, setting tables, completely oblivious to our little plan.
She bounces a little beside me. “Totally sure.”
My heart beats my blood into a frenzy. I’ve never done anything this insane.
Well, except marrying a stranger. And then lying about it to a government official.
“Are you really going to do it?” she asks, thrilled. “This is the best idea, ever.”
I swallow the panic in my throat. If Lulu thinks it’s a good idea, I’ve definitely lost my mind. “I’m going to do it.”
Two weeks and one day later, I’m back at Blue Hill, at exactly 4:50 in the afternoon. Dinner service begins at five, Calvin will be here at six, and this gives me plenty of time before the crowds roll in.
I brought a book and my phone, and am wearing a dress whose manufacturer has assured me it is wrinkle free. Now I have to wait.
Every second leading up to now, it seemed like a fantastic idea. It was daring, and adventurous, and something we’d remember forever. Lulu will get Calvin to the table, under the assumption that he’s still waiting for me to arrive, and boom, surprise of a lifetime. It’s his birthday in three days, and what better way to celebrate turning twenty-eight than with some surprise oral sex in a fancy restaurant?
I was confident right up until the moment Lulu led me to where I’d be hiding. But now that I’m under here, hearing diners come in and be seated only feet away, feeling mildly uncertain about the cleanliness of the underside of the table, hoping that nobody can see my feet and that this is what Calvin meant when he said he thinks about doing this somewhere while nobody knows . . . this seems like a pretty insane idea. And by insane, I mean terrible. It was one thing to imagine this, quite another attempting to carry it out.
The problem is . . . I’m stuck.
I pull my book from my bag, and realize it’s too dark to read. I don’t want to risk the light from my phone bleeding out through the tablecloth, so I don’t use that, either.
Time inches forward. Food smells seem to seep beneath the table and get trapped here. I’m sure that under normal circumstances it would smell amazing, but I’m really not this person—a sexually adventurous law breaker—so my appetite has vanished and apprehension now seems to live permanently in my throat.
Lulu’s signal that Calvin is here is a knock on the tabletop as she passes on her way to greet him, and when it comes—after I’ve been sitting here for seven years—it is a single sharp rap without any other warning. I startle upright—well, not really, because my legs are asleep—nearly breathless with an indescribable mixture of relief and nerves. But I hear feet returning, and another more tentative knock on the table just above my head.
“She’s going to be so surprised to see all three of you!” Lulu yells.
“It’s her birthday, too,” Calvin says. “Well, almost.”
And then I hear it: Robert’s deep rumbling laugh.
My stomach drops through the floor. Oh, fuck.
I can barely see anything—only the shadows of several pairs of shoes.
“Calvin, why don’t you sit on this side over here so she can see you when she walks in?” Lulu says, knocking a hand on the right side of the table.
I quickly scurry over there. My legs are pins and needles and I am going to vomit all over this place.
Calvin slides in, colliding with my shoulder. I muffle a gasp and he lets out a surprised “Oh my Christ!” before Lulu jumps in.
“Good!” she cries, voice shrill, and I can imagine her distracting him, giving him a meaningful look and miming my location like an insane person, when she says, “Now you’ll see her when she comes in.”
“Oh,” he says, on a quiet exhale. “Ohhhh.” His hand grapples beneath the table, finding my shoulder, my face. And then I hear him let out a quiet laugh of disbelief and a whispered “What in the world . . . ?”
“Robert and Jeff,” Lulu calls, loud enough for me to hear, “let me take your coats.”
There’s some commotion and then Calvin bends down, his voice suddenly close. “What in the bloody hell are you doing?”
“I was going to surprise you with a blow job!” I whisper-yell.
“Oh my fuck. I was going to surprise—heeeeey.” He sits back up, and spreads his legs a little so I can shimmy closer as Robert and Jeff slide into the booth.
Robert’s knee is less than six inches from my arm. Oh my God, this is a disaster. Why didn’t Lulu take them on a tour of the . . . room or something? Why didn’t she seat them somewhere else?
The only saving grace here is the enormous booth. I curl my knees up, leaning into Calvin’s hand when he slides it reassuringly beneath the table. As carefully as I can, I pull my phone out, quickly dim my screen, and open my texts.
Lulu has already texted me.
What the fuuuuuuuuuuuck?
Why did you seat them???
There aren’t other tables, and Calvin knew you’d made a reservation. Fuck I screwed up. I’VE NEVER DONE THIS SORT OF THING BEFORE AND I PANICKED
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO???
It’s hot under here and I’m starting to feel a little dizzy—am I just rebreathing the same air and possibly suffocating?