I'm trying to make these entries free-standing, but for those who have not yet read it, Part One is here.
Anton blotted his mouth with his serviette and dropped it on his plate just before the server cleared it away. "Choices," he said. "I'm talking about choices. You make your decision and follow your bliss."
"You have to understand," said Geoffery. "It's just such an odd way of being approached with an offer like this. I'm much more used to a business-to-business approach —"
"I'm a businessman," Anton interrupted smoothly.
"Of course," said Geoffery. The server distracted him as she set two glasses of brandy on the table.
Anton kept his eyes on Geoffrey and didn't say anything — he just picked up his brandy glass and swirled the liquid inside it. Geoffery did the same after a moment's hesitation, then raised his eyebrows at Anton.
Anton held his glass up in a silent toast and took a sip. Geoffery followed him, taking a smaller sip. "It's nice," he said.
"They have a good bartender here," said Anton. "He remembered to warm it up a little. They don't always around here. Drives me crazy."
Geoffery set his glass on the table with exaggerated care. "For the figure you're asking, I'll have to call head office for authorisation," he said. "They'll want to know when we can receive the data."
Anton spread out his hands. "Immediately, once the payment is confirmed," he said. "I already have the data."
Geoffery nodded several times, bit his lip, and nodded again. He picked up his brandy glass abruptly and downed the rest of his drink in one gulp, then stood up. He extended his hand. "I'll call them first thing tomorrow. We have an exclusive offer?"
Anton rose and shook Geoffery's hand. "Until five PM tomorrow."
"Thank you." Geoffery smiled. "What will you choose to do with the rest of your evening? Watch the playoffs?"
Anton glanced at the large TV set hung behind the bar. "I never got into ice hockey. However, I think some physical activity will be in order." He nodded at the tall redhead sitting by herself at the bar.
Geoffery's eyebrows raised again. "I didn't realise you had arranged another appointment. I'm keeping you."
"Oh, no appointment," said Anton. "I'm just choosing to make the most of the opportunity, my friend."
"What if she says no?"
Anton grinned. "Then something novel would have happened," he said. "Have a good night. I look forward to closing the deal tomorrow morning."
"I'll try not to call too early." Geoffery smirked and left.
Anton finished his brandy and paid for the meal, then sauntered over to the bar. The redhead was studying the hockey game on the TV with the focus of a scientist observing a rat in a maze.
This country is insane, thought Anton. Even the beautiful women are sucked into this stupid game.
The redhead's focus on the hockey let him take his time studying her. Flawless skin, and definitely natural breasts. The red of her hair was a little too bright to be natural, but her pale complexion and wide grey eyes indicated her real hair colour was close to it. Anton liked the classic simplicity of her outfit — little black dress, pearl necklace, pearl-and-jet bracelet. No earrings, he noticed. Nothing ostentatious.
And she was watching a goddamn hockey game.
"Who's ahead?" he said, signalling to the bartender at the same time.
"The Leafs," she said, as if by reflex. "But it won't last."
"Maybe this is their year," said Anton.
The woman gave a short, soft chuckle. "They haven't won the Stanley Cup since 1967."
The bartender came over. "Buy you a drink?" said Anton.
The woman finally stopped staring at the TV set. "Oh," she said, as if suddenly awake. "Thank you. Rye and ginger, please."
"Make it two," said Anton. The bartender nodded and left.
The redhead's eyes drifted up to the TV set again, but it was showing commercials. She gave Anton a gentle smile. "You don't follow hockey, do you?"
Anton shook his head. "I never had time for pro sports. I'd rather play a game myself than just watch someone else do it."
"You don't like to appreciate other people's talents?" said the redhead.
Anton shrugged. "The way I see it, life is made up of a set of choices," he said. "Opportunities arise, and you either choose to make the most of them, or you let them drift past. My general preference is to not let them get away."
The redhead was watching the game again. Anton watched her breasts rise and fall as the away team moved the puck towards the net. She groaned as they scored a goal.
"You see?" she said, gesturing towards Anton with one hand while she pointed at the replay with the other. "I wish the Leafs would choose to defend the goal a little better."
"Yeah, but that guy who just scored, the, uh, running back..."
"You gotta admit, he made the most of that opportunity."
The redhead glanced at him over her shoulder and batted her eyelashes. "So it's the actions that are admirable, not the cause?"
"Well, uh..." Anton wasn't sure if she'd changed the subject or not. "They go together, don't they?"
The redhead checked the clock counting down the period on the TV screen. "Let's see." She patted Anton on the arm. "Twenty-six minutes left."
The Leafs lost by three goals. In the twenty-six minutes it took them to lose, Anton and the redhead had flirted steadily, and, at least Anton thought, with increasing chances that he would get laid that night. Anton offered the redhead a condolences drink once the game was finally over, but she checked the time on the clock behind the bar and announced she had to leave.
"What, you come in here all dolled up like that, watch a bad hockey team lose, and now you have to go?" demanded Anton.
The redhead showed her teeth as she smiled. "Choices are made in context and have consequences. It's almost ten — I was supposed to go at nine-thirty, but you know, overtime... Thanks again for the drink." She had her coat picked up and was heading out the doors before Anton could think of a comeback.
"What the hell?" he finally said to the almost-empty restaurant.
"It's the playoffs," said the bartender, taking up the empty glass and pushing the redhead's untouched rye and ginger towards Anton. "All sorts of weird shit happens. You have no idea."
To be continued...