Liz had woken up early the next morning. She had an early meeting so she hadn’t been able to talk to Michael before leaving. But first opportunity she had she called him from work.
“Liz? Hi. What’s up?”
“Oh. I’m on a break. Work’s been hectic this morning. We finally finished sorting out the intern’s mistake. But actually I was calling to see if you had any plans tonight?”
“Um. None actually. Are you up to doing something?” Michael asked cautiously. He still wasn’t sure if Liz was as accepting about their plan as he wanted her to be. He was sure she’d be mad after having that goodnight kiss last night. But she sounded fine, and she was asking him out.
“Yeah. See I have these tickets that Tess bought ages ago for the ballet. We were supposed to go together since Alex hated the ballet, and I’d completely forgotten about it. But I thought since you owe me one you’d be willing to go with me.”
“Ah. So the truth comes out. . . You want to blackmail me into going to the ballet.”
“Oh come on, you definitely owe me one.”
“Oh, all right. I guess I can make the sacrifice. As long as you pay for dinner.”
“Dinner? Well you did amaze me with dinner and champagne last night. I guess it is my turn to wine and dine.”
Michael laughed at the tone of mock resignation in Liz’s voice. He couldn’t believe she was sort of flirting with him. It gave him hope because this was so different from their conversations prior to his big idea.
“Well, we have a deal then. Do you want to meet up at the apartment?”
“Yeah, that sounds good." Liz hesitated and then said, "Um, you’ll need to wear a suit and tie.”
Michael groaned. “Now you tell me.”
“I had to get you to agree first.”
“Fine. I’ll see you then.” Michael placed the phone on the receiver and stared off into the distance. Actually, he was staring into a poster he had placed on his wall. If he crossed his eyes he could see Liz in it. Well actually, he could see Liz in his mind every time he thought of her.
“Guerin.” Max startled him out of his reverie by walking into his office.
“Hey Max. What’s going on?”
“Not much. But you look like you won a million dollars.” Max seemed surprised by the appearance of a happy look from Michael. Michael was well-known throughout the office for being a grouch.
“I think I just did.”
“Really? Do tell.”
“Nothing to tell. Just got a date tonight.”
“Cool. Is she hot?”
“God Max. Yes. Did you want anything?”
“What? Oh yeah, Jerry had a question on the Friar’s Project.”
Michael sighed. He wasn’t getting paid to fantasize about Liz. Even if he was really, really good at that. But the Friar’s Project had been in the works for months, and was really just as important.
Liz ran a hand through her hair. She’d set it in curls and was wearing a long clinging backless black dress. She’d taken care with her appearance. She wanted to look like a girl. And remind Michael and Kyle that she was a girl. They usually just thought of her as one of the guys.
Apparently she was ready early because when she walked into the living room there was no sign of Michael. He hadn’t yet arrived when she got home, but she hoped he hadn’t forgotten about their date.
And then she heard a whistle at the door.
And she turned around the smile on her face slipping when she saw who was standing there. It was Michael, as she had never seen him before. In a suit and tie, his longish hair slicked back with gel, he looked amazingly sexy and the look of appreciation he gave her warmed her.
“Hey. You look amazing. Ready to go?” asked Michael.
“Yeah. You’re not looking too bad yourself.”
“Thanks.” Michael held out his hand. Prepared to lead Liz out to his car. Surprised when Liz took it unquestioningly.
Michael didn’t say anything. But internally he was smiling. His plan was working.
Liz was amazed at how well Michael behaved throughout the ballet performance, even if he was bored out of his mind. He nevertheless pretended to pay attention to the stage, not falling asleep once during the show. The only reason Liz knew he was bored was by how attentive he was to her. He noticed every move she made.
By the time the show was over Liz was starving and she’d made reservations at her favorite Mexican food restaurant, Rosa Mexicano, that was conveniently located across from Lincoln Center. They walked across the courtyard and made their way into the jam-packed restaurant.
“Good choice.” Michael said as they took their seats.
“You like this place too?”
“Like it? I love it. The guacamole here is to die for. Besides I love spicy foods.”
“Great. So how did you like the show?”
“Um. . . right the show. . . it was okay I guess. I’m not a big fan of the ballet.”
“I kind of figured. But you were great. Thanks so much for coming with me.”
“Well, I like spending time with you Liz.” Michael admitted. He wasn't sure how far he should push this, but he wanted to make sure Liz understood that he was interested in her beyond this fake dating thing.
“So we got interrupted last night before we could finish playing twenty questions.” Liz said teasingly.
“We were playing twenty questions?”
“Well it certainly felt like it with all the deep dark secret stuff. But really I realized that I don’t know that much about you. And I feel as if I should. I mean not only have I known you for the past six or eight years, not only are you my roommate, I’m pretending to be dating you. And as a girlfriend I should know stuff.”
“Well what kind of stuff do you want to know?”
“I don’t know. How about where would you go if you could go anyplace in the world.”
“I think it’s the place every architect dreams of being. The art, the history of the city, the people who lived there, the Renaissance has its roots there. I think it would be an amazing place to see.”
“Wow. That does sound amazing.” Liz smiled at him. "Isn't the David there? I think you could convince any girl to go with you. It sounds super romantic and then there are all the hot sculptures."
Michael laughed and asked “Where would you like to go?”
“I guess I’d love to go to Spain. I actually speak some Spanish and I’ve always seen it as a country of such contrast. I’ve always really wanted to visit.”
“Cool.” Michael wished he had something more intelligent to say, but he'd never been to Spain and didn't really know much about it other than people spoke Spanish there.
Liz seemed to focus on something beyond him suddenly. “Oh my God! Is that Kyle?”
Michael’s heart sank. He did not want to watch Liz drool all over Kyle for the remainder of their dinner. He looked around, sure enough there was Kyle with Isabel. “Yep. There’s Isabel.”
“Weird. What do you think there doing here?”
“Eating would be my guess.”
“Funny Guerin. Let me scoot over a bit closer to you.”
“We’re supposed to be all lovey-dovey. Remember?”
Michael was silent. His plan was working. Only too well. She was very enthusiastic about dating him, but only as a means to an end. She was embracing the plan so far as it furthered her case with Kyle. He wondered if she had even planned this encounter.
“Yeah. I remember. Want to make out?” He said. He was being crude, but he wanted her to turn him down. He didn't want to kiss Liz because of Kyle.
Michael felt as if he had been sucker punched. He had never thought Liz would agree to kiss. In a restaurant of all places. But his thoughts were completely erased by Liz’s next action. Pressing her lips against his, she nipped his lower lip with her teeth, taking advantage of his mouth opening to slide her tongue in. Michael couldn’t help but respond. She was an amazing kisser. It was all he wanted to do for the rest of his life. Kiss Liz. Only she wanted to kiss Kyle.
Disturbed by the idea of her imagining it was Kyle she was kissing, Michael broke off the kiss. Only to realize that Kyle had seen them and was making his way to their table. If anything wasn’t going to go according to his plan, the worst possible thing that could happen was that Kyle did get jealous.
But he couldn’t be that unlucky could he?
“Hey guys? What’s up?”
“Nothing much. We went to the ballet and are catching a late dinner.”
“Do you mind if Isabel and I join you?”
Liz looked over at Michael with a sparkle in her eyes. The hint of promise so very easy to find, only Michael knew it wasn’t really for him. He nodded his head, resigned he said. “Not at all man. Feel free.”
Dinner was ruined for Michael.
But not for Liz.
She took every opportunity to touch Michael. His hand, his shoulder, his arm. She looked into his eyes and smiled a special smile. She laughed at all his jokes and maintained their conversation flirty and the tone intimate. She made the entire dinner seem like a date between two people in love.
Only Michael knew it was a sham.
It was all he wanted. Liz, entirely his. But she was playing a part he had assigned to her, not thinking that it could be his very undoing. And now it was way too late to go back. He had to find a way to make his plan work. And soon.
Because it looked like Kyle might be seeing Liz for the amazing woman she was for the first time in his life.
And that would be the absolute worst.