John Francis - Chapter 135

Thursday, July 10, 2008 at 7:09 AM
At 6:30 that evening, everyone was ready and met in the lobby. They had all dressed up for their evening out and Amanda felt like she was moving in a dream as the men entered the lobby one after the other. Richie was first down and she realized that he, like Jon, would never be a ‘blend into the crowd’ kind of guy. He was too good looking and had too commanding a presence to ever truly be ignored. He was also dressed in black, with a deep green shirt that made his eyes seem darker. Tico came down next, black his signature color, but with the cut of his clothing so tailored he was elegant in his jacket, white shirt, and pants. David and Hugh were the last to arrive and while Dave had on a bright yellow shirt with his suit, Hugh had gone for a more understated gray.

They all complemented Amanda on her clothing and she whole-heartedly returned their words.

Laughing a little she asked, “Do you guys ever NOT look amazing?”

Tico’s deep chuckle was heard then.

“Caro, you are the one who looks amazing tonight. Your hair is always so beautiful, but that way…” he motioned to her upswept front and the hanging curls, “…well, you should be in a painting.”

Flushing lightly at his unexpected complement, she thanked him, a warm smile on her face.

They saw that the limo had arrived and Jon and Richie moved up to provide their usual assistance to Amanda.

“Guys, I’m fine, I’ll head straight for the car. You all go work your “magic” with those fans who have been waiting out in the cold for you!”

She did just that, moving quickly to the door of the limo without interference. She sat inside waiting for the men to join her, peeking out at them as the waiting crowd seemed a bit overwhelmed by the dressed up men of Bon Jovi. Instead of the usual screams, the women were almost quiet, whispering in near awe as they stared from one man to the other, flashbulbs from cameras exploding in a near frenzy. Posing and chatting their way down towards the car, the men made quick work as they had a waiting reservation.

They got into the car, Jon and Richie sitting with Amanda, the other three men opposite them. The ride to Papageno’s was filled with laughter and anticipation, each man providing Amanda with a tidbit of information about the restaurant. At 6:55 they arrived and were shown to their table. Drinks were ordered and Amanda rescinded her own new rule as this was their last night in London and she wanted to enjoy herself. She asked for a rum and coke with lime and the men ordered their various drinks. Jon and Richie ordered two bottles of white and two bottles of red for the table to come with their meals, each man arguing a little over the choices. They finally settled on what they wanted.

Jon ordered one of the whites, the Pouilly Fuisse Domaine Ferrand 2004, a rich white with a hint of vanilla, as well as the Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Remoissenet 1997, a classic red. Richie decided on a blend he was familiar with, Penny’s Hill ‘Specialized’ McLaren Vale 2003, which was made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Shiraz. His choice of white was enthusiastically endorsed by Jon as he ordered the Meursault ‘Le Limozin’ Domaine Rene Monnier 2003, a buttery Chardonnay.

Amanda was amazed at the interior of Papageno’s as it was filled with what seemed to be stage props, gilt furniture, heavy drapes, and colorful artwork. They were in one of the larger ‘opera boxes’ that allowed a spectacular view of the interior as a whole. Apparently the men had been here enough that the owner made his way to their table.

“Good evening, my friends, so good to see you!” Richard Niazi welcomed them again to his restaurant.

“Richard!” Jon’s greeting was warm. “So good to see you too!” The other four chimed in their greetings.

Turning to Amanda, Richard smiled at the men. “And who is this beauty you have brought to outshine my artwork?”

Smiling, as Jon knew Richard was famous for his charm and way with the ladies, he introduced her.

“Richard, I’d like you to meet Amanda Matthews, my girlfriend.” Jon’s eyes were warm and filled with an emotion the other man recognized as the introduction was made.

“Ah, my friend, you have truly been given a gift, yes?”

“You’re right, Richard, I have been given a gift.” Jon nodded his agreement.

Amanda spoke then to the man Jon had just introduced, her voice like warm smoke. “I am honored to meet you and thank you for your kind words, but surely you realize that what you have created here cannot be outshone by a mere person.”

She spoke rather formally as she felt the old world elegance of this man and his creation, but her words were genuine and heartfelt.

Raising his eyes at her well-spoken praise, Richard looked at her. “You must allow me to create something special for you tonight, my dear. Will you trust my judgment?”

“I would trust whatever a man of such discerning taste decided.” She smiled at him as he oozed charm at her.

Kissing his fingertips in an agreeing motion, Richard left the table then after a smile at the others.

The five men sat there staring at her. “What?” she looked at them, wondering what she had done now.

Tico answered her, “It’s just you, caro, you seem to charm everyone.”

Frowning a little, Amanda answered him. “I wasn’t trying to charm him, Tico, I meant what I said.”

Laughing now, Tico replied, “We know that and that is what’s so charming!”

He shot a look at Jon who was just staring at Amanda. And to think I almost lost this! He looked at his friends then, gently shaking his head out of Amanda’s sight. Before much more talk could resume, food started arriving at their table, complements of Richard. Plates of cruditĂ©s, thinly sliced raw vegetables served with a garlic dipping sauce. A huge variety of fresh vegetables were provided, including carrots, celery, cucumbers, sweet peppers, red cabbage, fennel, tomatoes, mushrooms and radishes.

In addition, Richard had sent over Cheese Borek, smoked Gouda and Emmenthal cheeses, wrapped in baked phyllo triangles. The final appetizer included three large platters of peeled prawns and avocado. Instead of dampening the appetites of the men, the food provided only showed what this restaurant was capable of and increased their hunger for the main courses.

The service was excellent as Richard provided well for his celebrity guests and friends. Wines not ordered were provided with the courses and Amanda enjoyed each different taste, although she made sure she drank very sparingly. Gentle teasing came from most of the men regarding her wine consumption and she ducked her head, grinning a bit from their joking. She shot Jon and Richie a look that begged them to leave the bar story for another night and breathed a huge sigh of relief when it seemed they would comply.

Their dinner that night was leisurely as befit the atmosphere of the restaurant. Richard stopped by again to check on their progress and they assured him they were being well taken care of. Everyone but Amanda ordered a dinner, the waiter informing her that Richard was overseeing her meal. One man ordered lamb, another steak, and three of the others decided on fish. Admitting her eagerness to see what might be coming, a discussion took place over her surprise. No one could agree on anything though as Papageno’s was known for such a variety of well-prepared and excellent food that the only thing they agreed on was that she was sure to enjoy it.

The meals started to arrive, each looking more delicious than the last. Amanda was the last served and gave a gasp at what had been done for her. A small perfect lobster tail with a garlic butter sauce side was there, along with baby carrots and asparagus tips in a vinaigrette glaze, and a small aged filet mignon topped with caramelized shallots with a side of BĂ©arnaise. Her eyes wide, Amanda turned to her companions.

“Is Richard able to read minds?” She asked in wonder. “These are two of my favorite foods in the world!”

She took a bite of everything, sipping one of the wonderful wines in-between bites to cleanse her palate. The steak was so tender it literally could be cut with a fork and melted on her tongue. The lobster was sweet enough that it seemed to have been dipped in honey. The vegetables were perfectly crisp, yet tender, with the glaze made from Balsamic vinegar, a heavy taste that suited them perfectly. Rolling her eyes in pleasure, she slowly savored the meal, being transported from the mundane to a small bite of heaven.

Richard timed his arrival back to the table to coincide with the removal of the dinner dishes. Amanda rose from her chair and gave him a hug.

“Thank you so much! I cannot remember a better meal anywhere!”

He was pleased at her response and her spontaneous show of gratitude. As she returned to her seat, he looked at Jon again. He nodded at the younger man.

“A gift,” he said softly, as he reminded them to enjoy their desserts and after dinner drinks. He moved off to see to his other customers.

Amanda declined dessert, but accepted a brandy. She sipped it slowly as she felt languorous after the meal and from the atmosphere of the restaurant and the closeness of her companions. While the others were talking, she put her hand on Jon’s arm, drawing his attention to her.

“Thank you,” she told him softly, a gentle smile on her face, her eyes glowing.

“You’re welcome, baby,” his voice was also soft and his eyes were a deep emotion-filled blue.

They finished their after dinner drinks and the men all threw in money for the bill. Amanda surreptitiously tried to get a peak, just out of curiosity, but couldn’t quite manage it. A good indication though were the hundreds the men all threw onto the table and she then decided she didn’t want to know. They caught Richard’s attention as they were leaving and thanked him profusely for their wonderful meal. He kissed Amanda’s hand and she kissed his cheek, murmuring her thanks. They moved out to the waiting limo, discussing where they were going next.
*Papageno's is real, as are foods described above.


  1. Lori Says:

    Great chapter! I love all the details, especially the description of the wines.

  2. Opester Says:

    Amanda is a girl after my own heart-lobster and steak is one of my favorite meals!

  3. jovikitn65 Says:

    Dinner sounded amazing. The fact that the guys were able to just relax and enjoy themselves was a nice touch.

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