I met Mark at a raw foods cooking class. Before Mark, I had thought that raw food chefs were all pale, skinny guys with blonde dreadlocks. Mark wasn’t. He was a built, beautiful Adonis with tanned skin and a magnificent beard. He wore one of those chef’s coats, but it clung to him like a white double-breasted suit jacket. He looked delicious!
As the class began, I raised my hand to ask a question.
“Yes?” he said in his deep resonant voice.
“Can I record this on my phone,” I asked, really just wanting him to notice me.
“Sure,” he said with a smile.
For the next hour, Mark chopped, sautéed and muddled vegetables and herbs. His hands were man’s hands, thick and strong. Yet he held his sharp butcher’s knife with the gentleness of a baby bird. And when the defeated vegetables rolled a step out of places, he would use his knife to guide them back with the calm deliberateness of a shepherd. I could barely take my eyes off of him.
When the class came to an end I sat waiting for everyone else to leave. I looked around as the Whole Foods shoppers returned to their shopping, and Mark was cleaning his makeshift chef’s table. Watching him, I wondered what it would be like to put my hands around his biceps. I wasn’t even sure that the two of my hands could encase them.
“That was a really interesting class?” I said walking up to him.
“Did you like it?” he asked with a smile.
“Do like raw foods?” he asked, clearly making conversation.
“I’ve only had it once when a friend invited a raw foods chef to cook lunch for a group of us. It was good though.”
“Everyone should be eating raw foods. It would clear your mind, strengthen you heart… You’d lose weight. It’s eating like humans were designed to eat.”
“But you don’t just eat raw food, though, do you?” I looked at his built chest and bulging arms again.
“Well, I’m a chef, so that is what I cook. But I’m not a dick about it. If someone is cooking me something, I’m gonna eat it.”
I liked his casualness about it. He almost seemed normal. It was like he was just a regular guy who happened to cook raw foods. I liked him and I wanted to know more about him.
“But you don’t get like that by only eating raw foods, though, right?” I said trying not to blush.
I looked at him positive that he knew what I was referring to. But accepting his coy invitation to flirt, I put my hand on his bicep. His muscles were harder than I had expected them to be. He was as solid as a rock. My chest heaved and I could feel my cheeks glow.
“You have to eat a lot of protein,” he said with a small smile creeping across his face.
“Whey. It’s the healthiest form of protein. I could cook you a meal, all raw and you wouldn’t be able to guess that it didn’t have meat.”
“You could, huh?” I said challenging him.
“You don’t believe me. Why don’t you come by my place? I’ll cook you a meal and you would never want to eat anything else again.”
I looked at him with a smile on my face. I couldn’t help it. My body was pulsing with heat and smiling was the only thing I could do to stop myself from kissing him. I chuckled trying to figure out how to accept his invitation while still giving him the message that I was a good girl.
“I don’t know. I don’t even know you,” I said coyly.
Mark turned to me and did something completely unexpected. He touched my bare forearm. It was neither intimidating nor sexual. It was just a brief touch from his finger tip and it confused me.
He then touched my shoulder. And as soon as I registered the touch he was touching the elbow on my other arm.
“Do you want to come over and experience something you’ve never had before?”
I couldn’t think straight. He was asking me a question and his touches were drawing my thoughts preventing me being able to come up with something playful to say. And at a loss for words, I just said what I was thinking.
“Yeah,” I said feeling raw.
“Then just do it. You’ll never regret it.”
Mark stopped touching me returning to his cutting board which he tucked away in a large backpack.
I wasn’t sure what had just happened, but I liked it. It was like he had stripped me of all of my inhibitions leaving only my unprotected self. It felt more sexual than a kiss, but without the awkward intimacy. It felt like he was hunting me, except he had caught me and now he was just toying with me. He made me feel weak around his strength and I liked it.
“Walk with me,” he ordered, tossing the backpack over his right shoulder and heading to a backroom door. “Do you drive?”
I thought it was strange question but I answered. “Yeah, I have a car. Do you need a lift somewhere?”
Mark looked back and smiled finding the question funny. He pushed through the backroom doors and gestured for me to follow him.
I looked around as the light changed. It was definitely not as bright behind the scenes of the grocery store. Past the brief hallway was what looked like a warehouse with pallet after pallet of dried goods.
I had never imagined what the back room of a grocery store looked like. In fact, I hadn’t even given it much thought whether or not it had one. But here it was and it was huge.
We didn’t go much further than that, though. Instead, Mark ducked in to a small room on the left quickly returning with a leather jacket and shiny black helmet. The raw food chef rode a motorcycle. And if the helmet was any indication, it was the type that made your windows rattle when he rode by. I had no clue who the man before me was and it scared me enough to want to know more.
“You can come by my place tomorrow at… What time do you get off of work?” he asked leading me out of the store.
“I work for myself at home, so I get off any time.”
“Come by at seven. Okay?”
“Where?” I asked suddenly afraid that he wouldn’t tell me.
“What’s your number? I’ll text you,” he said flinging his leg over what looked like a Harley Davidson.
I gave him my number. He could have given me a quick call, but he didn’t. Instead, he put the phone in his jacket pocket, adjusted his backpack and flipped on his helmet.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said starting his bike.
The rumbling was enough to rattle loose the remnants of my inhibitions. I stepped toward him putting my waist in arm’s length of him. If he wanted to grab me and kiss me he could. I would let him, but something deep inside told me that he wasn’t the type who asked for permission.
He didn’t kiss me though. He didn’t even touch me. What he did instead was pull a lever on his handle bars which proceeded a loud click. And then with me standing there staring, he put his feet up and rode away.
I watched as he exited the parking lot and entered the street. He never looked back. For that brief moment, the streets were empty except for him. He pulled away like some motorcycle bad boy. And as soon as he was out of sight, my first thought was of when he would text me.
I didn’t have to wait long. I received a text in 45 minutes letting me know his address. The last guy I had dated had been Nicholas. I was determined to learn my lessons from that experience.
All of Nicholas’s actions had told me that he didn’t really want to be with me, but I hadn’t listened. He was always distant. He only contacted me for Saturday sex. And it all should have been clear when it took him a week to text me for the first time. The signs were all there that he didn’t want to be with me. I simply hadn’t paid attention.
Mark was clearly different. He didn’t keep me waiting for a week wondering if he would call. He didn’t keep me wondering if we would get together again. No, Mark obviously wanted to be with me. He set a date as quickly as possible and he invited me into his home to cook for me. If Mark’s actions weren’t a sign that I was making different choices, than I didn’t know what would be.
It was great that Mark was so into me, because I was really into him. He was the type of guy that I dreamed about. He was a “man.” He was a hunter. He was strong and aggressive. And god, was he hot. But not only that, the fact that he was a raw food chef said that he also had a sensitive side. It wasn’t like he was a butcher. He cooked raw food. Mark was like a ruthless gladiator who loved kids. Mark was perfect.
The next day as I prepared to go to Mark’s, I wondered if I should pack a bag. Sure, it was our first date, but I was going to sleep with him. I wasn’t going to tell him that. He was go to have to work for it. But if he put in the effort, I was going to give in. And since I knew that, I had to figure out how a good girl could show up on a first date with an overnight bag.
Certainly I would leave the bag in the car, but still, how does a good girl happen to have a tooth brush in the car the next morning? How does a good girl happen to have a change of clothes?