That seemed to be enough attention for Ana for a while. I pulled Sa’afia’s face a little closer, by her hair, and whispered, “After I’ve punished you, tonight, where do you think I’m going to put the stick?”
Ana hadn’t heard what I’d whispered, but she stared at Sa’afia, hoping for a clue. After a few seconds Sa’afia blushed. So I couldn’t help pulling her back towards me. I kissed her cheek, and touched her skin briefly with my tongue, to feel the warmth. She turned to smile at me, and I mouthed, “You’re lovely.”
That was something I’d trained myself to say when I had the urge to say, “I love you,” and saying that would be a bad idea. Sa’afia took her hands off the table and pressed my cheek.
Even I sympathised with Ana when she coughed. “Ok. K, people. I’m here, ok?”
I said, “Sorry,” and disengaged from Sa’afia. “Ok, we’re back.”
Sa’afia took Ana’s hand, and some kind of cousinly communion went on. A waiter who’d hovered while Sa’afia and I were distracted closed in and and began taking away plates and glasses.
It occurred to me that I’d noticed Ana’s jealousy early enough to avoid making her miserable. In fact I seemed to be far too clear-headed for a man who’d had five cocktails. They must have been exceptionally light on alcohol. Perhaps the barman had cheated us, but that seemed unlikely. It must have been one of the things Ana had been whispering while she placed her long and complicated order.
That was one odd thing. The next happened after I said, “So, you want dessert?”