Julie twists her ring finger, rubbing gently, her eyes search the tender and pale flesh. There's never been a band there, no words to be etched lightly into the skin, but there does lie a deep pink scar. A memory. And I know that memory just like I know every line in her beautiful moss green eyes.

I sip a bit of sweet red wine as she absently stares at her finger, mouth slightly agape. Oh I wish I could kiss those soft pale red lips, but not right now. Now is raw and bitter. I sip a bit more wine.

The truth is she's married to pain. Julie has an affinity for torture. She doesn't know how to let someone love her for who she really is, and she won't let me any where near her door.

"Julie honey, drink your wine, before it gets warm." She nods and quickly slugs a glug down her throat. Her neatly styled and parted golden honey hair stays firm and solid, her lips are pursed in thought. "Something on your mind, sugar?"

She shakes her head. "Uh... no... no... not..." Her thoughts trail with her voice. She's lost in there, and I don't have a map.

Clenching my jaw back and forth, I survey the restaurant. Mellifluous violins tune and pluck little pips of purrs to a smooth symphony, the dim lights vaguely silhouette everyone around us, and waiters and waitresses carry large silver platters of fine dishes. I look back to Julie.

Between us sits a small peach colored candle, tiny and flickering. Julie is back to rubbing her finger.

Our waiter brings another bottle of wine. I hold my finger up, and motion for a whisper. After receiving my message, he nods and takes the wine away. A minute later, a new bottle is emptied into our glasses. A thin sip between my lips brings up a cough. This stuff is strong. It's perfect. I point at Julie and motion for another two wine glasses, full.

She doesn't notice. She doesn't even know the world exists.

"Julie, do you want any wine?" The glass is tipped back, and then set on the table empty.

I switch her glass with another one. "You didn't drink very much wine," I say. She polishes off another glass. Again, I switch. "Are you not hungry?" Again, she drinks.

With a terrible guilt, I look into her eyes. The soft moss green is now a more slimey, sickly goo. She's thoroughly drunk. And I am thoroughly drunk, with a little too much power. Oh the things I could do. But that's not why I'm here. I'm not here for a quick shag, I'm here for her heart.

This will be so simple to tell her the truth.

Slowly and brimming with raw nerves, I raise my glass. "Honey, I want to tell you I think life will be better. That's now that you have your freedom."

Short and heavy tears stream quietly down her face. Later won't hurt, but now does. And she knows that. "Why do I do it?" Her pained green eyes meet mine, they're glazed and bloodshot, not at all what beauty she should be.

"No one is perfect, sugar. No one is perfect. Not even Fabio." I say, patting her hand, cold and rough.

"But why? Why me? What is it that makes me so vulnerable?"

"No one is perfect..."

"But..."

"No one-"

"I never get-"

"Is-"

"Who I should."

"Perfect."

The world is quiet for just a moment. Salt lies in the wounds, but the healing will begin soon.

Julie shakes her head at a crawling pace, slow and fragile. "What about you?" She asks.

"Me?"

"Who do you have?"

Now it's my turn to look down. When I look up, a small o lies on her doll-like lips, full of surprise and curiosity.

"I'm sorry..." she says softly. I sip a bit of wine. No point in driving home, I might as well call a cab for each of us. "I-"

"Save it." I say, the strong wine leaving a bitter taste in my mouth. "Damn it, just get your coat. We're going home."

"But we came here and we haven't even gotten our dinner."

"Waiter, bring me a bottle of your strongest vodka."

"Come on Max, don't do this to me."

"Waiter!"

"Max!"

"Sir, please lower your voice. And here is your drink. Please do not make a nuisance of yourself."

"Max, don't do this. Why don't we go back to my place for some more wine and-"

"Julie, shut it. I'm done. We're leaving."

Slowly, I start to come down. I can't see any faces, but I know everyone is looking at us. I didn't expect this. I didn't want this. No, we better leave.

"Max, let's talk this out."

Looking down, I notice I'm on my feet, fists raised in fury. My face is red, I'm sweating bullets.

"Okay."