"How hot do you like it," he had asked, which was how they ended up in the latest Sichuan restaurant to open in downtown Paris. The setting was a coy pairing of Continental elegance and Oriental exoticism. And it would have made for a perfect date except for some unspoken fear that flitted in the air around them, like the shadow from a bird of prey circling far above.
When the waiter appeared with the menu, her date had simply passed it to her and turned his attention to the nearby Seine, the last rays of the setting sun disappearing over the Île de la Cité, and the few couples winding their ways home through the cobbled streets. Had something in their relationship changed? Was he disinterested, or simply distracted? Deborah was on the verge of broaching the question when their server reappeared and her date snapped to attention. It was time to order.