But, man. Jerry. Jerry was too freaking real. And Liv was still deserving better. But she was stuck on this ride at least until she"d choked down the last bite of her steak.
"Can I get you another round of drinks"" their waitress asked.
"Can we just eat here in the bar"" Jerry asked. "This wait is ridiculous."
"Oh, sure. Of course," the young woman said, pasting on a smile. Working in customer service, Liv knew what it took to deal with assholes like Jerry. And being three years single and back on the dating market, she was starting to know what it was like to date them, too. "I"ll grab you menus."
He put a hand on the woman"s arm. "That won"t be necessary. We don"t need menus. I"ll just order for us."
Liv wondered if her expression appeared as stunned as the waitress"s, especially when the woman stepped out of Jerry"s grasp and looked at Liv as if to ask if this was okay.
No. Definitely, totally not okay. "Actually," Liv said, trying to keep her irritation in check. Because dang if breaking that be nice habit wasn"t hard as heck. "I""
"I"ll have the ten-ounce Kobe filet mignon and she"ll have the six-ounce Kobe filet. Both medium well with loaded baked potatoes and asparagus." He stared at the waitress.
The waitress shook her head. "I"m sorry, sir, we don"t have Kobe beef. We have an excellent local provider of American beef, and we have Wagyu."
"That"s okay," Liv said. "I prefer ribeye anyway. Medium rare."
"Ribeye is too fatty," Jerry said, looking at her like she was a child who"d disappointed him before his gaze returned to the hapless woman standing beside their table. "And I"d like to speak to your manager. Because what kind of steakhouse doesn"t have Kobe beef""
"I"ll get her for you right away," the woman said, nearly running from them. Liv couldn"t blame her.
The silence that followed was thick with tension, and Liv almost couldn"t decide if she"d hallucinated what"d happened or if this first date was truly just that bad. Jerry wouldn"t make eye contact and, instead, peered down at his cell phone beneath the table. So she took the opportunity to survey the diners sitting at the horseshoe-shaped bar near them in the hopes she"d see someone, anyone, she knew. God, please give me a way to escape Mr. I Don"t Use Menus. But God had clearly forsaken her, because the party of three women having a girls" night out were strangers. As were the various groupings of men, some of whom wore Orioles gear and watched the pre-game commentary on the captioned television screens above the bar. An elderly man she didn"t know sat alone nearest to their high-boy table nursing a glass of bourbon, and two seats down from him"sat the hottest man Liv had ever seen.
And that was her impression just from seeing him in profile.
He had dark blond hair and a chiseled jaw, and even sitting, it was clear that he was tall. Seriously broad shoulders filled out a dark green button-down shirt, and big hands gripped a glass of water. Now God was just being mean. Because someone was going to get to be with that man tonight while she was stuck here with Jerry of the I Don"t Use Menus clan. As she watched, not-Jerry pressed his cell phone to his ear and began talking in tones too low for her to hear.
On a sigh, Liv returned her attention to Jerry. Not that it mattered, because his gaze remained fixed on his phone. She drained the rest of her Prosecco and wished someone would bring her the bottle. That wouldn"t be too awkward for a first date, right" Right"
"How are you folks this evening"" a new woman asked as she stepped to their table. "I"m Ms. Sanderson, the manager."
"Well, Ms. Sanderson, we"ve been better," Jerry said, launching right into a tirade. "We wanted the Kobe filets."
The manager produced two menus from behind her back like she"d been hiding a present. "I"m happy to recommend some other""
Jerry blocked the large leather folio from hitting the table. "I don"t use menus."
It took Ms. Sanderson a moment to recover, but you could hardly blame her. She glanced at Liv like Liv might impose some sanity on the situation, but the sanity ship seemed to have sailed on this date. "Well, sir, that"s really the best way to see what we serve""
You don"t say, Liv thought, pressing her fingers to her lips to smother the smile that threatened.
"Why are you making this so hard"" Jerry asked. "It"s a steakhouse. I want your best steak."
"Very good," the manager said with a seemingly sincere smile. "We have several cuts of Wagyu. If you haven"t had it before, I highly recommend it."
Red streaks climbed up Jerry"s throat and face. "Wagyu is ridiculously expensive, and this is only a first date," he huffed.