The streets were crowded as always at that time of the day. Men and women were heading off to have their lunch before returning to their jobs. Now as they were walking next to each other, Dave and Carla remained silent on this sunny day late in Spring. There weren't any clouds in the sky : it was clear blue. She looked up and saw some birds flying high above them, searching for some twigs for their nests. It was nearly time to hatch all those future little birds.
Dave was watching Carla from the corner of his eye. He liked this woman. So mysterious... She seemed to be a strong person to him. He felt that he wanted to get to know her a lot better. And he'd find the way to do that. He didn't know why he was doing this, but he wasn't ashamed to be doing it.
Finally they arrived after a ten minutes walk. She went in before him, and a little bell above the door rang as they entered the friendly restaurant. It wasn't very big, and nearly every table was taken already, so it looked like a popular place. As Dave looked around, he could see students leaning over their books, businessmen in suits, some kids with their mother or father.
They found a table next to one of the big windows looking out onto the street.
" Looks like a nice place " - he noted as they sat down.
" Yes, I like it. Clean, efficient, tasty food.." - she was interrupted by the waiter, who greeted her with a smile after nodding in Dave's direction.
" Bonjour, Mademoiselle Carla, what can I bring you two for an apéritif ? " he asked as he put two menus in front of them.
" Well Tim... I'll have an orange juice "
" And I'll take a diet coke " answered Dave.
The waiter was beckoned by some other customers as he was writing the orders down and immediately went away.
" Do you know him ? "
" Yes, quite well. He's like a friend of mine " - she answered looking at the menu, but she felt his gaze still on her face.
After a few minutes Tim came back with the drinks and took their orders. Dave chose fish and chips, while Carla took her usual: fried pigeon breast with mashed potatoes .
When the drinks came, Dave proposed a toast - " To many more meetings like this " and he raised his coke to touch her orange juice.
" To a fruitful working relationship " added Carla. „ You know, it won't take me long to sort out your little problem : it's apprehension. You fear that the pain that you experienced before is just round the corner, and..." she stopped when she noticed that Dave was pleading her with his eyes for something - " What is it ? What's wrong ? " she asked.
" Do you mind if we talk about something else ? The consultation was over, I thought " He seemed genuinely upset.
" All right Mr. Gahan, I'm sorry, but I just wanted to reassure you, that's all. " She reached out across the table and touched the back of his hand, the fingers of which had started drumming irritably when she had mentioned his voice problem.
" You do believe me ? " she lowered her head to get into his line of vision, as his head was down now. His hand stopped moving. She started a smile, which he slowly returned, and then he flipped his hand over and took hers to give it a friendly little squeeze...
"You're only trying to do your job, I suppose - sorry I'm so sensitive, it's just that my voice... " he was cut off by Carla pursing her lips and telling him to shhhh ! How he ached to kiss her again - it was hard enough to watch her mouth when she was talking but now....
" Now you are talking "shop" Mr. Gahan. I must say I don't understand you ! " Carla looked confused.
" O.K. no more, I promise ! And call me Dave, please ! I know what I've been meaning to say since you got changed : I haven't complimented you on your suit - it's very elegant – and the colour really sets off your eyes ! " Dave was drinking in her slight embarrassment as the attention was now fully on her.
" Well – er - thank you, Dave - most of my stuff is boring black or white or beige, but I get this blue suit out when I feel Spring in the air - I've had it ages, but it's comfy and practical " she hadn't removed her jacket when she'd arrived but felt awkward doing it now - so she pretended she needed to go to the ladies' room. " If you'll excuse me just a moment... this is a sure way to make the food arrive ! " She laughed.
" Don't worry, I'll get them to keep your little pigeon warm until you're back."
All this time, without even realising it, they had been touching hands ! It had seemed so natural, and now breaking away as she stood up, Carla felt a stirring feeling inside her.
" I - er - won't be long " she said and almost ran towards the "Dames" door at the back of the restaurant.
Once inside, she removed her jacket, draped it over the radiator and carefully splashed cold water on her face - then looked at herself hard in the mirror - her own words echoed in her head : " you feel the pain you've experienced before is just round the corner " which was true for her and her last relationship. Should she transfer Dave to a colleague ? Could she trust herself to care for him without getting involved ?
She had no idea how long she had stood there, and it was only when another customer pushed the swing door open that she was startled back to life. She picked up her jacket, checked her eye make-up and went back out to the table where Tim was now serving the food.
" Bon appétit." Tim left them to taste their dishes, and the first to comment was Dave :
" I knew this was a mistake ! " he laughed as he pulled the soggy batter off the fish..." fancy me ordering this in Paris ! Never mind, the chips are good ! I just had this craving for fish'n'chips..... do you ever get that, an unreasonable craving for something, no matter where you are ? "
" Mmmm-" Carla had to finish her mouthful of delicious pigeon breast first " you must taste this - it'll stop you ordering things even a French chef can't do properly ! Here you are -" and she cut off a piece of meat and put it on the edge of his plate.
Dave speared the morsel and ate it - as he chewed he began to nod his head slowly -
" Now that really is good ! Is that a pepper sauce ? You know, I think I might send this back and order what you've got... do you think they'll mind ? "
" Of course not ! Tim ? Please ! " Carla immediately got Tim's attention. " Le poisson n'est pas bien cuit - monsieur veut prendre le pigeon à la place, si c'est possible, mais rapidement, s'il vous plaît. " Dave was mesmerised hearing Carla talk French for the first time... her mouth moved beautifully to get those sounds just right....
" D'accord Madame, ce sera fait - et toutes nos excuses ! So sorry sir – will you keep the chips or do you wish to have the mashed potato ? "
" Actually your chips are very good so I'll stick with them. Thanks."
" Then we will serve you a new portion with your pigeon, Monsieur." Tim went off to sort things out.
" Thanks, er..." Dave didn't know what to call her now !
" Carla, if you're Dave, then it's only fair ! "
" Carla - suits you – a no nonsense name ! So are you a pure-blood Parisian ? " Dave asked. Carla found this very amusing.....
" Actually, yes and no " - she took another mouthful of pigeon.
" It's a bit strange. I can't hear your accent clearly. Jut a little bit when you are at a loss" - he smiled and Carla watched as those little wrinkles appeared around his shining eyes. She needed to clear her throat before she could answer.
" Erm... actually my father is from England, from Glastonbury. After the divorce I spent some years with him and studied there. But my mother is Parisian." she shrugged and looked down at her plate.
" Aha, now I understand. And can I ask why you came back ? " he continued the conversation , breaking off to thank Tim for the new order of food which arrived. He started to eat.
She forbore his gaze and sighed.
" That's a painful part of my life. I'm sorry Dave, but I don't really want to speak about it " - she looked through the window as her ex-fiance's face came into her mind.
" Sorry, jeez Carla - I didn't want to call bad memories up from the deep" - he stopped eating for a moment.
" Don't feel bothered about that. No problem, it was some years ago " - she looked up at him. He returned her wink and gave a faint smile to her.
They ate in silence for some minutes until they finished.
" Do you want to have some dessert ? Or coffee ? " she asked.
" Is there anything you'd reccommend ? " he smiled.
" I think you should taste the famous French apple tart" she giggled a bit " It's my personal favourite and they prepare it really well here."
" Then... I'll give it a try. I'm curious. I love comfort food ! "
" Oh, yes I know. Especially Belgian chocolate, am I right ? " - she asked while her hand waved for Tim.
" Hey now, you know quite a bit about me ! "
" Not as much as it seems. I just hear little bits of news about you and your band " - she shrugged again and Dave followed the moves of her fine muscles under the nice dress - " I'm not a big fan, but I know some of your songs. Sadly I don't have much time to get into music and its background ..."
" So you are a busy woman ? " he smiled and ordered a strong coffee too.
„ I suppose you can say that ” she murmured „ If I work a lot I don't have time to wallow in emotional misery ” she sighed.
” So, when you fell silent that was the reason : someone you lost still lurking in your mind ? ”
” No, he is not lurking anywhere, he is a proud husband and father of two. He chose money and power over love, that's all. He is a ruthless business man now, the smart, witty young guy I loved once. Now he is where he chose to be and I...Well, I don't think you need to know about all this. Sorry, I don't know what got into me, really ”
” I know what it is : you're feeling alone and alienated and want some support and love”
” Dave, you are straightforward to the utmost. If you put it that way, yes, it's true. But why would you bother ? ”
" Because I like to see harmony in my enviroment" he shrugged with a smile on his face. "I always love things to be in harmony. That's just how I am, and it's why I love being on the stage so much, where all I can see is happy faces in the crowd."
" And they adore you..."
" Yeah, that's in the game too, but that's not so important for me. The most important thing in my life is to bring joy into other peoples' lives"
" Just like an angel " Carla noted and took her fork into her hand.
Dave laughed. "Maybe. It's not easy playing the angel, though..."
Carla raised her eyes to the cieling at his oh-so-obvious pun. She smiled but then went on...
„ So you are really interested ? Not much to tell about me though. Only that the feeling of loss is still so bad. The idea of what our life would have been together is still quite disturbing. I still believe that we could have been happy together. Not much use in crying over spilt milk, is there ? What happened has happened, and no one can turn time back”
” No, you're right, no one can. What you need is some careful attention. Someone who is listening to you and only to you. Someone’s undivided attention.”
” Err, and is this an offer you're making me ? ”
” Kinda. If you want to see it like that.”
„ And what have I done that I deserve this favour ? ” she asked and put a piece of tart into her mouth slowly.
He followed the movement and his coffee cup stopped half way to his lips. Suddenly it was a bit difficult for him to breathe.
„ Your mouth,” he said „ it is mesmerizing me. I want to kiss you again,Carla ” he said with desire in his voice, and he sat still waiting to hear what she would answer him.
Carla smiled and cleaned her mouth with the edge of her napkin and replied to his hot look. Her gaze fell on his swollen lips. "Yes, it wouldn't be bad to taste your lips again, but..."
She looked into his eyes again and opened her mouth to say something. One or two seconds passed while she hesitated, then finally she sighed.
” Yes, I want it too, but I can't do it ” - she shook her head lightly – „ I'm sorry...”
„ And why not? Is it because I am your patient ? ”
” Yes ”
” I ...I can search for another specialist.”
” Or you can wait until I finish with the treatment.”
” How long will it take ? ”
” It depends...you seem impatient.”
” Oh, yes I am, Carla ! ”
” Hush, don’t say another word. When it's over and if you still want to kiss me, then I will let you do so.”
Carla took some money out of her bag and put it in the middle of the table, then quickly got up and went to leave...
" I'm sorry Dave, I just can't stay here looking at you because..." and she was already half way out of the place, not trusting herself to finish her thought out loud...
" What..." Dave was completely taken by surprise, but noticed Carla's jacket was still there and picked it up for her before following her out.
" Hey - slow down ! " he caught up with her just outside the door. She hadn't slowed her pace so they walked along fast, while Carla explained...
" It's going to be the same as last time - once before I fell for my patient, and instead of helping him I created more problems for him, then he really fucked up my life - and if you must know, I left London and all I had there because of him. Why should you be any different from him ? I don't want to hurt or get hurt again."
" Hey wait a minute - don't you DARE judge me because of what some other fool has done to you ! ” Dave had stopped walking – his face was deadly serious.
„ You hardly know me! And I really want to get to know you better. Here - if you want proof - " and he took her in his arms and pulled her close to him to kiss her so gently, so sweetly, oh GOD she was melting into him, but for just one second, because he had already let go of her.
" Here's an example of my self-control. You can see in my eyes the kind of kiss I wanted to give you, but not yet. I want us to talk - to get to know each other, to make memories, special moments, like this - can this be our first ? " Carla looked around at where they were - a crossroad with shops that she liked - her favourite patisserie and a shoeshop with heels and boots to die for. She would remember this special kiss and this place forever now, so she nodded him a very shy "yes".
" This is yet another side to you - one that I like !" she smiled and linked arms with Dave - . " Come on - you can walk me to my practice. It's just down there.”
After they said goodybe to each other she went inside her office. There weren't any messages, fortunately. Carla sat down in her chair and picked her pen up. She was thinking about Dave and what they had done. She doodled a huge „D” on her notepad, then made leaves and flowers and little hearts sprout out of it. She found him an interesting and mysterious man. There was something in him that made Dave overwhelming. She was dead sure that there were only a very few people who could say "no" to him.
She wasn't sure in herself. That wound from the past... Eric, the patient, back in England, had been her great love and she had got burned from him really badly. He had just used her – and when he had no longer needed her, she had been discarded. He had come to her to improve his voice control for making power speeches at his meetings with all the other rich heartless bastards that now filled his world. She felt tears welling up in her eyes, thinking of haw Eric had taken her in. That was why she'd come to set up her practice in Paris – since he had chosen London, she felt obliged to move away. She had come to her mother's in Paris first, then made her own way, found a flat, business premises, and hadn't looked back, until today...Now, as she was thinking about her situation her little moment of happiness with Dave lost all its sparkle.
What was she thinking? Dave had a family, a wife and children ! What did he want from her? Just to sleep together a few times, until he got bored with her and went back to his family? This possibility made her heart beat fast. She wouldn't let him do this to her.
"No, he's my patient, so I'll help him to solve his voice problem, but then it'll be goodbye Mr. Dave Gahan, no matter how sexy you are and how much I want to touch you" - she thought and dropped her pen on the table.
At that moment, a knock was heard at the door and the first afternoon patient came into her office.