The Last Supper
The restaurant was a surprise. He normally chose places where the portions were tiny but rich, with everything carefully balanced on top of each other like miniature, edible Jenga, with tiny herbs strewn over everything. Not that he ever ate much, but he obviously thought it would impress me. Delicate lady portions, for a delicate lady…in truth I’d been dying for a steak. By contrast, this place was an old chop house, done up to the nines, all polished flagstones and shabby chic chairs.
“I would never have known this was here,” I told him as he pulled the chair back for me, “it’s so tucked away.” “Ah yes,” he said with a wry smile, “it’s very discreet. Shall we have a bottle of red?” He never drank anything else.
In truth, I wasn’t sure why we were still dating. This was our fourth date and, while we both seemed to have a nice time together, we had little in common. I still winced thinking about our first date, when he’d asked me if I enjoyed travelling and I’d waxed lyrical about my last few summer holidays with a bunch of girlfriends on beautiful Spanish beaches, sailing, snorkelling, but mainly relaxing on a lounger soaking up the sun. He’d visibly pulled back from me, “I don’t do well with the sun, I prefer city breaks.” I felt small and shy, wondering not for the first time what I was doing here with this sophisticated, handsome man boring him with my trashy holidays.
My joy on glancing down the menu was unconfined. Here they offered a ‘pre-starter snack’ of pork crackling; large sheets the colour of peanut brittle, that wonderful gloss of fatty gorgeousness.
Steak tartare as a starter – my favourite; juicy, the rawness of the shallots, the sharpness of the cornichons, lots and lots of Tabasco, oh yes please….God make me a vegetarian, but oh not yet. For the main, perhaps the hare and mushroom pie; or the barnsley chop spiked through with rosemary and topped by a kidney; or a porkchop with bubbling creamy cauliflower cheese on the side, and more, glorious, chunks of crackling.
“The meat is fabulous here. Everything is organic, all the beef is from grass-fed cattle. No rubbish. I think it’s so important,” he said, taking a sip of red wine and looking me dead in the eyes, “to consume only things which have had a good life and, in turn, only consumed good things. So, what are you going to have?”
I was in heaven throughout the meal. He was less formal with me, playful and flirty, laughing a lot more than on our previous dates, even putting his hand on my thigh at one point.
The food was bliss; it pained me to leave any of it – and there was simply no question of dessert – but I didn’t want to be too full to move. Giddy from food overload and the heavy red wine, I excused myself to visit the toilet and freshen up.
I was glad I’d dressed up, every other couple in there – and it was all couples – were extremely elegant and glamorous. I touched up my make up and took a few moments to remind myself how well it was all going and not to mess it up by saying something stupid. I was sure he would invite me home with him tonight and I hadn’t made my mind up whether I would go.
As I walked back to the table, I noticed a small booth in the corner, almost too darkly shaded to see properly, but there was a man, very tall and thin, with a small blonde woman. He had leaned across the table to take her hand and she had turned her head away coyly. As I watched, he pulled her arm towards him and seemed to sink his teeth right into her skin, biting the flesh so that the blood ran down in an alarming gush and splashed onto the table.
“Madame! You have lost your table….allow me to direct you.” Our waiter stood, beaming in front of me, blocking the couple from view and ushering me away, dismissing my protests with a large smile and a wave of his hand.
I took my seat, peering behind me down the restaurant to try and spot the couple in the booth, but there were too many people in the way. “My God, Raoul – I just saw a man biting his date’s arm. Really hard – there was loads of blood. It was horrible – we should call the police, or at least the manager.”
“Ah yes, 50 Shades of Grey has a lot to answer for,” he said mildly, “I’ve paid the bill. I thought perhaps I could make coffee for you, at home.”
I felt confused. Hadn’t he heard what I’d said? But then he was extremely good-looking and I couldn’t believe my luck that he wanted to take me home.
He fetched my coat and gallantly helped me into it. Outside on the street, it was a cold, with a dry wind blowing and no streetlights. It was curiously tucked away, this restaurant, though clearly it didn’t need to advertise itself – those in the know were flocking to it.
He took my hand and we strolled towards the main road; I felt dizzyingly happy. “You enjoyed yourself?” He smiled down at me, with a twinkle in his eyes I hadn’t seen before. “Oh yes! The food was fantastic. I’m just rather full.”
He put his arms around me and nuzzled into my neck, so close I could feel his breath. “Rather full….full of good things.” His teeth were disconcertingly sharp against my skin.