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It was over two years since Brian’s divorce was finalized, and after having some amazing encounters shortly after, life had sort of gotten into a rhythm that he’d expected. No one had believed his story about the strip club, but then, he didn’t need them to. He’d occasionally hooked up with the dancers here and there, but that had eventually petered out.

Knowing what he really wanted, he finally broke down and got on a dating app, initially really reluctant to put his picture on the Internet for dating, but he’d come to realize it was totally normal and how many of his friends had met their significant others.

But man, what a slog it was. He’d gone out on a lot of first dates with a lot of women who were nice, cute and…just not what he was looking for. A couple of times, things had seemed good, and then they’d just not worked out for various reasons. He’d slept with a few of the women, and even dated one for a few months, but he was beginning to realize that if he wanted to find a life partner, it was going to take a lot of time, effort, trial and error.

At 32, he knew he had time still, but he felt like he was in a holding pattern.

Sitting on his couch — at least he’d moved into a house now and wasn’t in his old apartment anymore — he picked up his phone and opened the app. He had some chat notifications, but he knew they weren’t going anywhere, and, abhorring the idea of ghosting anyone after his own disheartening experience with that particular phenomenon, he politely broke off the chats.

“So, what now?” he asked himself.

He flicked through profiles left and right. Plenty of attractive, eligible women. But he’d been around this scene now, and despite looking at their pictures and entertaining ideas of what it would be like to sleep with them, he couldn’t bring himself to initiate contact and go through the small talk phase.

He was just burned out.

On a whim, he changed the search parameters. He’d had it limited to women from 24-33, but now he changed it to 38-47, just to see what he was looking at if he went older. When he watched porn lately, he’d found himself gravitating to the MILF/mature/cougar categories, and while he assumed those women were mostly actually about his age, he was curious.

He was surprised at the number of profiles, thinking, apparently naively, that this was a younger person’s way of finding love.

Another surprise was how attractive he found so many of them to be. He knew many older women were still very attractive, but maybe his whole take on the thing had been biased by his younger years when, at 19, 40 seemed ancient. Now, however, he knew 40 wasn’t old, and he laughed at what an ass he’d been to think so.

One profile caught his eye, and he sat up straighter, looking at a stunningly beautiful face. He clicked onto the profile, and saw that this woman was actually at the top of the age range — 47 — and she was smoking hot. Her dark, neck-length hair fell around her face in a playful bob, and her smile was slightly lopsided with a single dimple. Her dark brown eyes looked somehow inviting in the picture, with subtle laugh lines at the corners giving her a mature and sexy look, and the modest cut of her white V-neck hinted at her cleavage without even really showing any of it.

Brian saw there were more photos, but skimmed her profile before allowing himself to look further. This was probably the best photo, and he wanted to hold onto the image longer.

She lived in one of the suburbs of his city, she was French, had come here in her 20s, had an 18-year-old, and had been divorced for several years. She was not looking for hookups, one-night stands or anything like that. She was firm in her age range, which specified no one younger than 44, and she was looking for a long-term relationship.

“Fuck,” Brian thought. “There goes that.”

Nevertheless, he scrolled up to her picture, clicked on it to enlarge it, and felt that animalistic pang of desire that was so intense it actually hurt. But of course that was bullshit. He didn’t know anything about her. He was captivated by a cute face and an idea influenced by watching porn.

He swiped to the next photo. If anything, she was even more attractive in this one. It was a whole body shot showing her wearing a sun dress in some tropical locale, smiling broadly at the camera, leaning forward slightly, which gave a marginally larger peek at her chest, and as his eyes traveled downward, he ogled her long, tan legs. Looking at the background, he recognized new-model cars, so it was clear that either she was a Photoshop whiz, or this was a very recent pic.

The next pic was better still. She stood in a line with three of her friends and all were in bikinis. While all of them were attractive, she stole the show. She had a see-through swimsuit coverup tied at her waist, but nothing over her bikini top, and while she wasn’t the skinniest woman in the picture and wasn’t sporting a toned six-pack, she was clearly fit and curvy in all the right uşak escort places and exuded sensuality.

That was it. No more pictures. Brian frowned, then cursed himself for being so weirdly broken up about not having more pictures or a chance with this woman. Brian knew he wanted to have a relationship, and get married — probably — and have kids, and, well, a 16-year age difference wasn’t what he, or she, for that matter, was looking for.

He closed the app and tossed his phone aside, breathing out heavily and looking up at the ceiling.

A few minutes later, he picked up his phone, intending to go back to the app and search through the string of familiar faces of women his own age, when he noticed that he had a notification for a profile view. Clicking on it, he saw it was the older woman, and he smiled, knowing she had clearly seen that he’d checked out her profile, and had come to visit his.

In a rush, he clicked back on her profile and thumbed the button to send her a message. Typing fast, so he wouldn’t talk himself out of this obvious blunder, he wrote:

Hey, I know I’m not what you’re looking for, but I just have to say that I came across your profile and wished I was, because you’re absolutely stunningly beautiful, we have similar interests, and some lucky bastard is going to win the lottery with you and live the dream. I hate him already 🙂

In all seriousness, I hope you’re having a great day, you’re avoiding the morass of douchebaggery I know my gender can throw at you, and that you spend many, many more hours in that beach town enjoying yourself, and just have a good life. I’m probably being super creepy, but you made me smile today, and I wish you the best. In another circumstance, I’d invite you down to explore some of the new wine bars downtown and see if they live up to what you have in France. But, quel dommage. And no, I don’t speak French, I just Googled that to sound super suave.

Cheers, and best of luck!

-Brian.

He hit send, then tossed his phone aside again, feeling his face flush. This kind of thirstiness was exactly why women like her didn’t want to get inundated with messages from younger dudes.

Oh well. Chances were that they’d never interact again, and it wasn’t likely he’d run into her in person anywhere.

Brian spent the rest of the afternoon tidying up around the house, sat down and watched a few reruns of his favorite sitcom, and then, feeling lonely and restless, picked up his phone and absentmindedly opened the dating app.

He had notifications for two new profile views and a new message. He saw one was his friend Jenny, who would periodically log onto his profile, and usually send him a snarky message giving him shit about a photo or something he’d written. Jenny was like a sister, and neither one of them could imagine being with the other romantically, but she was a good sounding board to make sure he didn’t look like a total knob, as she’d put it after spending a few weeks in London.

The other was from the mature woman. Brian didn’t think twice about it, assuming he hadn’t cleared it previously, and he went to his messages to see what Jenny had to say now.

Only it wasn’t Jenny. It was the mature woman in his inbox.

“Oh God,” Brian thought, “here’s the part where she calls me out for being, well, a knob.”

He opened it:

Hi Brian,

Well, I have to say thank you for the kind message. Definitely not creepy. I’m not sure it’s quite suave, but it was cute, and it made me smile 🙂

I’m sorry to hear you hate my future boyfriend. I think he’s really nice, actually.

And no, I’m not looking to get involved with anyone significantly younger than me, but I have been wanting to try some of those new downtown wine bars. But since you didn’t invite me, I suppose it’s quel dommage.

-Virginie

Brian felt his heart skip three beats. “Holy shit,” he whispered. He quickly typed back:

Hi Virginie,

Um, wow, you’re as funny as you are beautiful. I’m really sorry about what I said about your future boyfriend. He must be nice if you like him. Please don’t tell him I said that.

Well, in the interest of showing the French our lovely wines, I think I really should invite you to the wine bar. So, will you go with me? I am actually free…well…whenever, which is a super cool thing to say. How does Friday sound? And if that sounds too much like a romantic date, we can do Thursday, which is not at all a romantic date night, of course.

I am also inviting you to join me for dinner before, if you’re up for it, since that area is really cool and has a lot of new places. Let me know.

He finished by adding his phone number and grinned to himself.

A few seconds later, he got a new message on the app.

This sounds like a nice evening, and I’ve wanted to explore the area more, so, yes, we can do dinner as well. Friday is fine. You seem trustworthy enough. Quelle surprise.

I will let you choose the restaurant uşak escort bayan and the time. I’m free after 6 p.m.

-V

Beneath that, she posted her number. Brian smiled widely, knowing this was not to be a relationship or, most likely, even anything beyond a friendly, decidedly platonic interaction, but it didn’t stop his mind from wandering.

“A guy can dream,” he thought.

——————————————————————————————————-

Brian refrained from texting Virginie over the next three days beyond a quick message to let her know the restaurant, and a couple of short back-and-forth interactions that were playful, but not overly flirty.

Now, as he walked up to the restaurant 15 minutes early, he hoped he looked mature enough that she wouldn’t feel like she was out with someone too far from her in life experience. While Brian had not dated much, he was successful professionally, and he’d taken some time to travel since his divorce, which he hoped appealed to her as an expat. While he waited, he messed around on his phone, occasionally opening the images he’d screenshot from her profile so she wouldn’t know how many times he’d pulled them up and get scared off.

The evening was warm, and the sun was still a few hours from setting as the meeting time approached. Brian lounged on a bench in a park within sight of the restaurant — one of the reasons he’d chosen this one — and he hoped she’d like his outfit, which he considered his date clothing: a blazer over a nice shirt, well-fitting jeans and nice shoes. He’d spent too much on the shoes, but he’d read somewhere that women judged a man by his shoes. Probably total bullshit, but he wasn’t taking any chances.

And then he saw her. She must have parked down a side street, because she came walking up toward the restaurant, and he grinned, enjoying the way she looked in a dress that was form-fitting up top and flared out slightly at the waist, coming down to the lower mid-thigh and leaving a tantalizing amount of her legs showing. Her hair was in the same playful bob as her profile picture, and she wore a pair of sunglasses that hid her eyes.

Brian stood and waved as they each approached the front door.

“Hello,” he said as they approached, and he was about to hold out his hand to shake hers, but sensed at the last moment that a hug would be better, and he put his arms around her lightly, chastely, but he still reveled in the fleeting moment of her body pressed against his.

“Thank you for inviting me,” she said, smiling and taking off the sunglasses.

Two things struck Brian immediately: Her accent was hot as fuck, and her profile pic had not been retouched. She was every bit as sexy in real life as she had been on his screen.

“Uh, yeah,” he said, recovering. “Thank you for coming.”

He’d reserved a patio table, and the hostess led them there and sat them alongside the railing that separated the patio from the street. Looking down the street, the sun was setting over the park, and some of the city’s best-preserved historic buildings looked stately.

“This is really nice,” Virginie said, looking around, her eyes flashing as she took everything in.

“Yeah, the work they’ve done down here has made it a ton of fun to live in the area.”

“Ah, so you live really close?”

“Not too close, but yeah. I did walk here.”

“That is not very American of you, I think,” she replied with a coy smile, pronouncing “that” as “zat.”

Brian shrugged. “What can I say? I’m mysterious.”

“I hope you like Mediterranean food,” Brian said. She’d agreed to it over text, but he wasn’t sure how much she might like it or was just being agreeable.

“Of course. And I see over there is a French restaurant,” she said, pointing to a building across the street. “I may have to come back and try that one as well.”

“Well, maybe we can do that, but I am sure you will see how well we do wines here, and I didn’t want you to feel like I was trying to let America one-up French food as well.”

She flicked her hand and acted indignant. “Bah. Zat eez not possible,” she said, overdoing her accent and laughing. “And are you already asking me to another dinner?”

“Well, I think it would be a natural reaction for any guy lucky enough to be meeting you for a dinner.”

She stiffened slightly and regarded him, and he wondered if he’d gone too far. Suddenly an awkward silence filled the void between them, and he was relieved that that was the moment the server showed up to take their drink order.

“Share a carafe of red?” she asked, and Brian nodded, letting her select the wine.

As the server hurried off, she smiled at Brian, and said, “I am having fun. Thank you.”

Brian grinned. “Me too. I’m glad we could do this.”

Over dinner, they had a great conversation, getting background on each other’s careers, likes and dislikes, and other first-date small talk, but they’d steered clear of anything too flirtatious, and Brian knew she was making escort uşak it clear that this was to be strictly platonic.

When they’d finished their meals, the server dropped the check, and he reached for it.

“Brian,” she said. “You are going to let me pay my share, no?”

“If you like, or you can pay for the drinks at the wine bar. Probably makes it easier.”

“I think it’s best if we each pay our half,” she said.

The sun had fully set by the time they stood and walked down the street toward Les Deux Caves. It took them about 10 minutes, and it felt nice to be walking next to her, enjoying the warm evening air.

Arriving at the bar, they were seated at a corner table that was pretty secluded, as were all the tables. Brian would have been lying if he’d said he hadn’t chosen it for this reason. He’d wanted to have intimacy even if it was just a friendly date.

“This is a really nice place,” she said, taking a look around the space, eying the barrel-vaulted ceiling and the country French decor.

“I’m glad you like it, but let’s let you try the wine, first,” he said with a grin. “Then you can tell me how nice it is.”

“Oh, no,” she said. “I am supposed to believe this wine will be beyond my wildest dreams. So that must be the case, and I have nothing to fear.”

Brian laughed as the server approached.

Virginie had selected a red blend recommended by the server, and they’d opted to share a local cheese and charcuterie plate, complete with blanched almonds, dates and half a baguette.

“So, are you nervous?” Virginie asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Should I be?”

“Well, I suppose that depends on your level of confidence.”

Brian grinned. She was being cryptic. Was she talking about the wine, or him? Was she back to flirting? “I’m not nervous, but I wouldn’t say I’m overconfident,” he replied.

“Interesting,” Virginie said.

“Well, I think it’s just that I know that whichever way it goes, it’s going to be fun. I am certain, though, that the service here is better than in the French style. Americans are more attentive.” Brian was pleased with himself, knowing he had plausible deniability that he was talking about restaurant staff, but enjoying the idea of this being a double entendre.

“Speaking of attentiveness,” Virginie said as the server arrived and set down two large Riedel glasses, displayed the bottle to Virginie and, upon her nod, opened it and poured a small measure into the glass.

She picked up the glass, expertly swirled the wine inside, held the glass to her nose and breathed in, then took a sip before nodding, at which point the server poured two glasses and set the bottle on the table.

Brian picked his up, swirled the crimson liquid, and smelled it.

“How would you describe it?” Virginie asked.

Brian gave a pensive look, furrowed his brow, looked her directly in the eye and said, “Alcoholic and clearly derived from grapes.”

Virginie giggled despite trying to look aghast. “This is quite a provincial thing to say,” she said, rewarding him with a smile and a sexy look out of the top of her eyes as she brought the glass to her lips.

Brian laughed. “I never said I am sophisticated. I just boasted about California wines.”

“You threw me off with your earlier actions — walking to the restaurant, being, how did you say it? ‘mysterious’ — but now, I am quite certain you are absolutely an American.”

Again, Brian laughed. “I never claimed to be anything else.”

“But you have traveled,” she said. A statement, not a question.

“I spent some time in the UK, France, Italy and the Czech Republic,” Brian replied. “Not enough to really immerse myself, but it was a fun three weeks outside of the norm seeing how it’s done over there.”

“Where in France?”

“I’ll give you one guess.”

She rolled her eyes and said, “Paris.” Again, not a question.

“Yep. I wish I could have gotten outside the city, but I just didn’t have enough time. I’d like to go back and explore more. I take it you’re not from Paris.”

“Aix en Provence,” she replied. “In the south.”

“Near the Mediterranean, then? That explains how you’ve got that sexy olive skin and jet-black hair going for you.”

She smiled. “Are you always so complimentary to people you meet?”

“Only when it’s true,” he said.

“Pfft,” she said. “Definitely American. But one who has spent time watching rom-coms and knows the lines.”

“Well, I did tell you I’d been married. And I’m not much for dating, so my experience is just the movies,” he said. “And all the trashy romance novels I read.”

“You don’t!” she laughed.

“No, but you almost believed me,” he said with a wink.

“Do you still think about her a lot?”

The question caught Brian by surprise. “Who?”

“Your ex-wife,” Virginie said. “But maybe that answers the question.”

Brian nodded. “You know, I did. A lot. It wrecked a few opportunities I had following the divorce. One with a woman I was really into, but she was the first woman I dated after, and it was clear from the start it wouldn’t work out. She even told me so right at the beginning. I suppose we both knew it. But, as you say, c’est la vie.”

“Do you regret that?”

“What?”

“The one it didn’t work out with.”

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