I spotted him the moment I stood in the doorway and scanned the room. The large red carnation in his buttonhole may have given me a clue. My eyes travelled upwards towards his face and I gave an involuntary gasp. What was a guy like that – tall, brown crinkly hair, gorgeous deep brown eyes, craggy features, slender build – doing in a hotel bar for a blind date?
I'm pretty sure he noticed my amazement, for one eyebrow lifted in a quirky sort of way and a slow grin spread across his face. Playing it cool, I sashayed across the room and slid onto the barstool next to him.
I held out my hand. "Jane Doe."
At that, both eyebrows quirked upwards and he laughed. He enveloped my hand in his large warm one and a tremor shot up my arm. "Abe Foreman at your service," he said with a slight, old-fashioned bow. "A glass of white wine for the lady?"
I laughed. He was nice. "Perfect," I said, and I wasn't only talking about the wine.
"Have we met before? Perhaps in my undertaking business, Jane Doe? In a churchyard, or something?"
"Ooh, macabre! Meet many ghosts?"
"Only beautiful ones," he purred, his eyes raking my figure, "in slinky red dresses."
What a smoothie! But I lapped it up. I'd been in two minds about the dress, not sure I wanted to resemble the special K girl too closely. Not that there was much chance of that, with her five foot ten, ridiculously slender figure. I'm only five five, and several pounds heavier. And no, I'm not revealing how many pounds. Still, his compliment was very welcome.
I’ve always maintained blind dates are a no-no, but this was the best blind date ever. I'd only accepted Sandy's suggestion when she agreed to a free week in June in her cottage in Corfu. I've been on Sandy's blind dates before, and without exception they have been disasters. Naturally I’d come armed with a pepper spray and my favourite penknife – OK, the blade is only two inches long, but it’s terrifyingly shiny – just to be on the safe side. And I’d insisted on driving myself, for a quick getaway.
But now, with Able Abe Foreman, all was forgiven. Until, that is, the door opened and Sandy and Trevor stood there, together with a short, balding, paunchy guy. And when a leggy blonde appeared from the direction of the ladies and made a beeline straight for Abe, I realised my embarrassing mistake.
I blame my impatient gene, the one that gets me to parties half an hour before everyone else, and has me waiting at airports at least three hours before the plane is due to leave. I inherited it from my father, who was never happy unless he had the whole family marshalled and ready to go at least two hours too early.
My face flamed. Able Abe must have thought me such a fool. I mumbled my excuses and escaped, sliding off the bar stool and reluctantly joining Sandy and Trevor and Porky – whoever he was – and making sure my back was turned towards Abe Foreman and the leggy blonde.
True to form, Porky was a complete disaster from the moment he held out a moist palm for me to shake, and enunciated in a high, clear voice, "How do you do?"
I glared at Sandy, but she merely returned my look with a glance that said you're getting a cottage in Corfu for a week, what did you expect? I sighed, moved as far away from Porky as I decently could, and did my best to be relatively polite.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief when at last the band appeared. With any luck they would be loud enough to drown out any hope of conversation, and I would have the perfect excuse to turn my back on Porky in order to watch the dancing.
Ignoring Sandy's pointed glances which said dance with him or you're dead, I settled back in my chair, but bolted upright again when Abe Foreman sauntered past, brushing my arm as he led Leggy Blonde towards the dance floor. As an electric shock shot up my arm, I was so tempted to stick out a foot and trip up Leggy Blonde, but I had no need, for just at that moment she somehow collided with our table, sent all our drinks crashing over Porky, and landed with her head in his lap.
I don't know which was funnier, Porky's bulging eyes and panting breath as he took in Leggy Blonde, or Sandy's outraged expression, daring me to laugh.
Leggy Blonde disappeared very quickly towards the ladies, with Porky trailing hopefully but benightedly in her wake. Now was my chance to grab Abe Foreman and dance the night away, but I was foiled in my attempt.
My sister glared at me accusingly as though it was all my fault, snatched up Trevor and her handbag and said in tones that brooked no disagreement, "Come on, we’re going.”
Since Abe Foreman had wandered away out of sight, presumably to wait for Leggy Blonde to reappear, I shrugged and cut my losses. At least I could look forward to a week in the sun.
I stretched out on the lounger, lapping up the heat.
"This is the life," I murmured, as Caroline’s long legs reappeared into my line of vision. She set down the tray of drinks, flicked her long blonde hair back over her shoulders, and settled onto the other lounger.
"It's all right for you," she grumbled, "but that was my best dress. And I had the devil's own job getting rid of that appalling guy."
"I paid for your dress to be thoroughly cleaned, didn't I? And you had a much better chance of getting rid of Porky than I did. After all, it wasn't you who was set up with him. By the way, where did you find Abe Foreman?"
Caroline gave me a piercing glance, and began to laugh. "Don't tell me you fancied him! He spent weeks trying to find a Jane Doe in the telephone directory. He searched the Internet, and kept going back to that hotel just in case you were there. Jane Doe! Couldn't you think of anything more original?"
I said stiffly, "As it happens, Jane Doe was entirely appropriate since Abe Foreman was an undertaker."
At that, Caroline doubled up. "Well, at least he has a sense of humour. Abe Foreman! He’s as bad as you. And an undertaker! You really believed him? You have got it bad! Pity you told me not to reveal any details about you, on pain of death. Come on, drink up, we'll have a swim, then we'll wander down to that taverna in the village, the one I was telling you about."
I did as she suggested; there wasn't much point in arguing. Besides, we had nothing better to do.
It was a lovely little taverna. We sat outside under the trailing vine, at a rustic table. I hardly noticed the waiter, until he placed a large red carnation in front of me and murmured, "Jane Doe, I believe?"
If she hadn’t been my best friend, I might have throttled Caroline, but I was too busy, wrapped in Able Abe Foreman's strong arms and exploring his luscious mouth. And was he ever able! Wow!
Who was it said that blind dates are a no-no?