Here is the very awkward first official date between Oliver and Bella. It had been written at the time of the chapter but pulled it because not only was it incredibly uncomfortable for the characters, we were uncomfortable writing it for on their behalf LOL! But it is still fun and we saved it for now for you as bonus content. Enjoy! Much love, Meeko & Buggy
Oliver stopped the car in front of Alfredo’s, ten minutes after they had decided to stick a label to themselves, and helped Bella out of the car before handing his keys to the valet. It was really hard for him to keep his eyes off of her, the front of her dress had a plunging neckline. As in, really plunging and showed off her beautiful breasts and skin. She had chosen this dress to torture him, hadn’t she?
The interior of Alfredo was definitely inspired by Italy. The walls were accentuated by wooden panels looking like logs, old wine bottles were used as candle holders and the smell of delicious food hung in the air. For a new restaurant, the interior looked already worn and old and it was ‘quaint’.
They were shown to their table, ordered their drinks and looked at the menu. While the menu was also Italian, there were also plenty of all American food to eat, burgers and steak, for example. But Oliver had to admit, he was impressed by the extensive menu and wondered how on Earth they could afford to bring in the ingredients for all those dishes. He mentally scolded himself for being obsessed about money these days and pushed the thought out of his head.
“I saw the uhm… new toys you bought. I hope that either you or Diggle told Roy to stay the hell away from them before he pokes an eye out?”
“You have the boy shoot with bows and arrows and you’re worried that he’s going to poke an eye out with a gun?”
“You know what I mean,” Oliver chuckled.
Bella smiled at him indulgently. “We told him he can’t use them but I also offered to train him properly as well. It doesn’t hurt for him to learn the proper respect for such – devices. I have other ones I plan on him learning from first. Like from Dad’s collection. Like hell am I letting him near mine.”
“I’d rather not, to be honest,” Oliver said as he put the menu down and looked at her. “Even though he’s doing better at controlling it, he still has some uncontrollable rage at times. He needs to wisen up a bit more.”
“I didn’t say I was going to start tomorrow. Plus the recoil might surprise him on some of the ones I had in mind if him trying out anyway. I’m not an idiot Oliver,” she said, narrowing her eyes as she reached for her wine. “I thought we already covered this with that discussion about trust.”
“Sorry,” he apologized as he fiddled with his menu again. He was bad at this, he hoped that the waitress would come quickly so that he wouldn’t have to jump in a hole and disappear.
Bella eyed him cautiously, as her fingers played with the cloth napkin on the table. The awkwardness between them was more than obvious even to her in that moment. “This is ridiculous. We’ve been able to get along just fine everywhere else. So why can’t we just have dinner without it being so…?”
Oliver shrugged. “I honestly have no idea… maybe… because this is something we both haven’t done before? A real date? Like you mentioned you’d like to have one day?”
“Maybe? You’ve seen me when I’m at home. I’m a sweats kind of girl when there aren’t cameras around. Sure it’s fun to glam up every now and then but I’ve been more free these last couple weeks than I’ve been since college,” she whispered as she leaned forward so that nearby tables didn’t overhear – and possibly tease him a little.
“Want to take our food to go? And consider this something we’d have to try again but maybe in a couple of months?” Why did she have to lean forward? He had been able to resist her so far, it was hard enough to sit here with her looking so hot.
Bella looked at him, raising her eyebrow at his sudden change in demeanor, but was thrilled that he suggested they’d still be giving it a go that far down the road. “Sure… Though I might suggest something more simple – like a picnic?”
He slowly nodded and then thought of something. “I actually don’t want to give Diggle or Laurel the satisfaction us giving up.”
“I don’t give up that easy,” she laughed. “Why would they think that?”
“They know me,” Oliver chuckled. “I never went on a proper date. I was always with someone but it wasn’t a date, even if it was a girl.”
“Then let’s make this a date that everyone will talk about. What do you say?” she grinned.
Oliver grinned in return. “What do you have in mind?”
“Hmm, everything that this date was supposed to be but we are too stubborn to let it happen naturally?” she suggested. “Trick our own heads into the situation. Neither of us are comfortable without faking, so let’s fake for ourselves instead of everyone else.”
“Yes, okay, let’s try that,” Oliver said with a sigh of relief. “I hate being this nervous.” He could fake this, easy. His mother had practically drilled him for social events. To be the polite, charming and engaging gentleman, and he used that for work obligations or at the club when he wasn’t in his office or downstairs. “I was actually thinking, that maybe, once our little problem goes away, we could host a charity fundraiser at Verdant.”
Bella smiled at the idea, giving it some thought. There was a lot that they could do, both with their names and with the club. “I like that. Is there a particular charity you have in mind?” she questioned as her hand slid across the table to trace his as her smile turned rather coy.
Oliver caught her hand gently and rubbed his thumb across the back of her hand. “Anything that helps this city,” he smiled at her. “Perhaps something that usually gets forgotten when people raise money for something.”
“I’m sure we’ll think of something, but now our date. This all was really random and while I am all for giving it a go, if you ever intentionally try to shove the spa down at me again with Laurel, you will be coming with me for the joint torture. Not only had I been forced to endure procedures that I don’t need, which hurt, and are ridiculously overpriced, but her mindless chatter was making me want to toss her into the same pit with Sara and feed them both to some crocs.”
“What, didn’t you like spending some time with your cousin?” Oliver mused as he took a sip of his wine.
She stared at him for a moment as she tried to think of what to say when it came to Laurel. “I love Laurel, I do. But she takes girl talk to a whole new level of extreme. For one thing, I’m not willing to compare notes,” she answered as she casually sipped her wine, glancing at him, hoping he got the hint of just where the girl’s focus had been.
“Ahhh, that kind of girl talk,” Oliver snorted. “Don’t worry, the novelty will wear off soon, I hope. We need to get her to date someone. How about that Derek guy of yours?”
Bella winced as she shifted in her seat uncomfortably. “I don’t think that’s a good idea right now. Derek is a hard worker, yes, but I knew he’d been harboring feelings for me for awhile and I had made it clear a long time ago that I never felt that way. Besides, I never got involved with anyone in my company. He was jealous of you if you didn’t notice. I’d rather not have him around us if I can avoid it. He’s busy enough with the Glades anyway.”
“Yeah, I noticed,” Oliver said with a shrug and gently squeezed her hand. “I promise that I won’t have you endure torture again, not like that anyway. And if you have to, I’ll be there right with you.”
“Then you and Alfred will get to complain to one another all about the joys of the spa,” she smiled sweetly as she leaned onto her free hand.
Luckily for the two of them, the waiter had approached the table, ready to take their order. “Good evening Mr. Queen, Miss Swan. My name is Michael and I will be serving you this evening. Thank you for visiting Alfredo’s this evening,” he greeted as he refilled their wine glasses. “My apologies for your wait…Is there something that we can do to make it up to you? Shall I begin with our specials this evening?”
Bella looked up at him with a friendly expression as she nodded. Listening to the options he listed, nothing particularly stood out to her that night, and neither had anything on the menu, disappointing her. “Does the chef have any alternatives that he might be able to offer that is not listed?” she asked, blinking innocently.
“Is there anything you fancy, miss Swan? I’m sure the chef could make it.”
“Only if it’s no trouble…”
“Oh, of course it’s no trouble,” the waiter smiled widely. “Whatever you want, the chef can make it.”
She folded up her menu and handed it over. “If he is able, I had not seen mushroom ravioli with a sage sauce. I had it once in Italy and it was absolutely splendid. If he’s unable, then I will have whatever Mr. Queen will order,” she said, taking a sip of her wine.
Oliver smiled at Bella before looking at the waiter, sometimes it was good to order something off menu and he had noticed that the waiters waited this long because they had to figure out – draw straws – of who was going to serve them tonight because of who he and Bella were. “I’d like to have the Fettuccine Alfredo, with added mushrooms and chicken please.”
As the boy scampered off, Bella turned back to her date. “For such a staple dish, I was actually surprised it wasn’t on their menu. At least if they are able to pull it off, it would be fresh made. Wonder if the pasta is scratch or premade,” she mused as she eyed a dish that was being carried past them to another table nearby. “It was good that night you brought it over, but reheated food, especially pasta is hard to really appreciate the full quality later.”
“Yeah, Felicity brought me some and I didn’t have to reheat it, but surely, it must taste even better when it just rolls out of the kitchen,” Oliver smiled and looked up to see the waiter return with a basket of Italian bread and a small platter of marinated oils and herb butter before scampering off again.
She watched him disappear around a pillar before bursting out in a giggle. “Why Mr. Queen, I do believe that we make them quite nervous,” she noted. “How shall we put that young man’s nerves at ease?”
“My experience is that there’s no way to ease their nerves,” Oliver chuckled. “Unless you have a better experience?”
Looking thoughtful, she shrugged. “We’ll see. So, how has thing’s been going over at the office? It feels like other than occasional moments here and there, we’ve barely been able to get any real time together.”
“Yeah, fine. Had to deal with some stuff and now it’s being dealt with,” Oliver replied as he took a sip of his wine. “I’ll be around more often next week, I promise. I’m glad you and Diggle get along.”
“He reminds me a lot of my partner I usually have when I go out on the road,” Bella said, explaining why she was so fond of him. “Diggle actually met him briefly, though I don’t recall them actually speaking… Steve was the one that dropped off our, um, equipment.”
“Ah, I see. Do I need to be worried about you and Steve?” He grinned, which earned him a kick against his shins. “Okay, okay, sorry. I was just kidding!”
She shook her head at him. “No. He is nothing more than a friend despite appearances. Granted – in some situations when we were working together, we may have had to pretend to be closer than what we were for the sake of what we were doing with the company and the asset we were looking into, but he and I were never together like you were implying, even as a joke. Actually – he might be a better match for Laurel…” she trailed off in thought, her expression seriously considering the possibility.
“I’ve heard you say something along the lines of being in the field yourself a couple of times now but why would you put yourself out there when you have a company to run?” Oliver asked a bit confused. He was getting scolded at – frequently – by members of the board for not being at the office a lot because he was busy doing other things and that he had to step up his game. No matter how good the team around him was, he was always the one in the wrong.
“Besides the obvious?” she asked, with a subtle gesture towards herself to indicate her self preservation ability. Bella took his hand and ran her fingers over his palm as she spoke. “I always believed that I should at least be able to do some of what I was asking my people to do to be able to fully grasp and understand the dangers of it. I went through a lot of the same training and such. Out there, at least in the other countries where they didn’t know who I was, or cared, I was able to be a nobody and be a member of the team and an equal. Steve took me under his wing in that sense and we became friends. He’s the only one I would trust in the company to get any extra supplies now that I’m not really in there anymore. He has his own agenda of course, but a noble one. I knew it when he was hired and I let him use my company for his work because it was the only way for him to get his answers. You two would get along great. Except for your taste in weapons. He loves his explosives. That case of um, eggs, was his doing. I didn’t ask for that.”
“I particularly didn’t like that case of eggs. I have my own things that can make things go up in smoke if needed. No need to do more damage than needed.”
“I didn’t tell him why I needed the other items,” she pointed out. “I supposed he thought we might be able to use them for something. I wouldn’t get rid of them regardless. You never know what we may come up against in the future after all. If there are more people like me, stronger…These A.R.G.U.S. people you told me about – Oliver, I don’t scare easily, you know this, other than storms and that’s from almost dying from one. But the fact that they may want me for who knows what? If I go down, I’m taking every one of them down with me.”
“You don’t have to worry about them. They don’t know about you and they won’t find out. Worst case scenario is that they want you to work for them. Like I said, they’re a grey area. They have their good side but they don’t share the same values as we do.”
“You don’t trust them,” Bella clarified.
“No, I don’t. I have to deal with them on occasion. I mean, they helped me out with Slade, and it really is a conflict of interest of having Diggle being reunited with his ex-wife as she works for them, but I trust him and he keeps her away from us.”
She nodded, knowing that the man she’d come to respect as a friend understood the position everyone was in. “I feel bad because it’s unfair to him to put him in such a position too,” she said under her breath, just loud enough to carry over to him because she could see the waiter coming towards them from over his shoulder.
Sitting up, she smiled brighter when the boy approached. “Here you go sir, ma’am,” Michael said as he set the plates on the table. “The chef expresses his wishes that you enjoy and he hopes to be out shortly to greet you personally.”
“Thank you,” Oliver smiled brightly. “It smells delicious.”
Michael beamed back and bowed, leaving silently. “Eh, let’s just let him be. Leave him a huge tip,” Bella commented as she studied her plate, as if trying to decide where to begin because it smelled simply mouthwatering to her.
When the waiter went away again, they ate in relative silence, although sometimes a soft moan escaped from Bella’s lips which made Oliver feel warm in all the right places. After they had stuffed themselves fully, Oliver asked for the bill and paid for the food, leaving a huge tip for Michael and the chef, before escorting Bella back to the car. “We should definitely go there more often.”
“Definitely,” she echoed his sentiment, leaning into him as they walked over to meet the valet. Not caring who might be around to overhear, she smiled up at him. “Thank you. It was nice to have just a calm quiet dinner with just the two of us after everything the last couple weeks.”
He softly kissed her. “Do you want to continue this quiet night in the comforts of my apartment?” he whispered in her ear. “Or would you like to do something else first?”
The grin that formed on her lips should have been answer enough. “That actually sounds perfect,” she said, sliding her arm around him, under his jacket as they waited for the car to pull up. “Just some soft music, maybe another glass of wine, and relax…”
Oliver parted with his jacket and draped it over her shoulders. “Yeah, that sounds amazing, a good end to a good night,” he put his arm around her and grinned. “Maybe rinse off the day in the bath together…”
“A bubble bath Oliver? Turning girlie girl on me?” she chuckled into his chest as she teased him, her fingers lightly scratching his back.
“It’s not a bubble bath,” He grinned as he tipped the valet and helped her into the car before getting in himself. “But we could make it one if we want.”
She didn’t say anything as she merely smiled at him, waiting for him to pull away from the restaurant. Once safe from prying eyes, she turned in her seat and her hand reached over to slide over his lap and in between his thighs. “Right now Oliver, I really want you to just take me back to your place because I feel like I’m about ready to explode,” she said. “Two weeks of interruptions has been more than enough to drive me insane.”
“Oh, good,” he said, nodding so fast he looked like a bobble-head character. “I was thinking the same thing.”
“Good. I was beginning to think that you had some long, drawn out plan for us. Granted, dinner was lovely, and I was hungry, but I’m kinda craving something else now,” she murmured as she kissed his neck.
“Well, it was all up to you, to be honest,” he chuckled as he tried to keep his eyes on the road. Granted, his apartment wasn’t that far away, but he also didn’t fancy them crashing.
She hummed a response but pulled back, keeping her hand on his lap. “Let’s get us there quickly Cowboy,” she announced breathlessly as her hand gripped his leg to emphasize her desire.