‘Go on, he’s so your type!’ her sister hissed, giving her a subtle bump with her fleshy hip. She had been hesitant to go out. Her Oktoberfest dress was far too short and her thigh high stockings (worn only to the knee to avoid her ample thigh bulging over to top) kept shimmying down her legs. When she used to manage the bar, years ago, she had observed a couple on a first date. Well, she had concluded it was a first date by the way the lady’s body faced slightly away from the man and she kept nervously touching her face as if ridding it from invisible cobwebs that had accumulated over the years of dateless solitude. The image of the woman struggling with her awkwardness flashed through her mind as she tugged down her skirt.
She thought of the way Robert had made her feel over the time they were together. Worthless. As if she were something he was ashamed of, embarrassed about. She pushed her hair behind her ear and sucked in her breath, trying to stand a little taller. She could do this. It wasn’t that long ago she used to go out every weekend and flirt shamelessly with anybody who took a look at her sideways. Where had that confidence gone? Had he taken that from her as well? She could not accept that. This was her time.
She lay her handbag to rest next to her sister’s and sashayed past his table. She felt her stomach drop as their eyes caught, just as it used to when she was a young girl at the carnival on the very last row of the pirate ship ride. Perfect, she thought to herself as she passed his table.
Suddenly, a strong hand gripped her wrist. She turned to face the offender. Surely it would not be that easy? Her eyes drifted downwards, locking eyes with the culprit who hadn’t even bothered to stand up to snatch her wrist.
‘My friends and I were just saying…’ not her prey, but his sidekick. Close enough. She could work with this. She leaned down closer, pretending to be genuinely interested in the man’s story; or to give him a better glimpse of her perfectly framed assets.
‘You would have to be the best looking bird in this place.’ His breath smelled of cigarettes and beer, a masculine scent that was not
‘Liar,’ she said, a hint of a flirt in her voice, leaning further in.
‘Marty!’ he called, sliding over on the bench seat, dragging her down next to him with one hand, and waving to his comrade, Marty, with the other. ‘How hot is this chick?’
She couldn’t help but smile. It was all fun. This could help her get her zang back.
‘Mate, she is banging! Definitly an 8.’ Marty made his way over. Her eyes drifted over to the stranger. He was looking at her. Yes. This could definitely help her get her zang back.
‘I think you boys have had a few too many drinks. Which is a shame because it’s only one o’clock, and we wanted to have a big night.’ How easily it was all coming back. She caught his eye again. Still looking. Oh yes.
‘Oh, babe!’ slurred the first man, wrapping his strong, hairy arm around her shoulders and dragging her closer to him, ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet.’
She stood and swiveled graciously out of his embrace, looking straight at her stranger once more.
‘I think I need to catch up,’ she winked.
As she shimmied away from the group and strutted up to the bar, she could feel his eyes burning her back. And she liked it. Where had this new found confidence come from?
‘What are you drinking?’ A hand on her shoulder; a gentle squeeze. It was him. It was instinct. The feelings came back to her. The empowerment of attracting a person solely based on physical appearance. The heat from standing inches away from somebody and both knowing instantaneously that these games of silly words and needless touches are going to result in something far more electric mere hours from now.
She looked into his eyes. Hazel. Or brown? His hair, wavy, natural, chestnut, perfect, in waves around his face, finished just above his shoulders. Her sister knew her well. He would do.
‘I think a schnapps,’ she said, holding his gaze for a moment longer than necessary, ‘but there are too many flavors to choose from.’ Hazel.
She was drinking him in. Thirsty for a healthy dose of masculinity. Yes. He would do nicely.
‘Well,’ he leaned in close. Cigarettes and musk. ‘Let’s start with the raspberry and work our way down.’ He was so tall. An intoxicating blend of all she fancied in her men. It had been too long since she felt so tingly. Too long since she had felt desirable.
‘Sounds like a good plan to me.’
He ordered their drinks and immediately focused his attention back to her. She watched as his eyes scanned her, up and down, consuming every detail as if he were a man adamant of remembering each curve and crevasse of a long time lover he was about to leave for an unimaginable length of time.
‘You are a very sexy woman,’ he concluded, a benediction to his observations.
They slammed their shots as soon as they’d been placed on the bar. Sweet and strong. She felt it burning as it travelled down her insides like fire.
‘Cigarette?’ he asked, grabbing her by the top of the arm and leading her towards the stairs. A man who took the lead. She was impressed further.
The light stung her eyes, a vast contrast to the dingy, crowded pub. On the cobblestone laneway people spread out like birds on the first days of spring, trying to find sunlight to warm their wings. He offered her a cigarette. She had been making a conscious effort to cut down on them. A filthy habit that she enjoyed so much. But right now, a cigarette would complete the picture. She felt strong, she felt invincible. She felt sexy.
She took the cigarette from his hands and leant in towards his lighter.
‘So,’ she started, exhaling a stream of smoke and relishing in the feeling of the last bit of self-doubt leaving her system, ‘what’s your story?’
‘My story?’ he purred, wrapping one arm around her waist and pulling her in closer to him. ‘I’m a 28 year old engineer who’s out for a good time.’
He was divine. Rugged and masculine and divine. He took a deep drag of his cigarette and she watched him. An engineer? Automatically her mind started reeling. Engineers make good money don’t they? He must be intelligent to be an engineer. Before she got too excited, she calmed herself down and tried to live in the moment. As if an affirmation, he chose that exact moment to lean down so he was looking straight into her eyes. They stood there in that moment. Hazel to blue. Her feeling light with excitement and him stoic in confidence.
She knew it was going to happen before it did. And she embraced it. She willed it; she wanted it and needed it to her very core, this feeling of worth and desirability. He leant down and kissed her so gently that at first she wasn’t sure if it was actually happening. He pulled away just as softly, the tingle still on her lips where he had been only moments before, where she wished he still was.
‘Mmmmmm,’ he lulled, ‘I liked that.’
And just as tenderly, he kissed her again. This isn’t real, she thought, this is too good to be true. It always was.
Finally, after what seemed an eternity and a heartbeat all at the same time, he pulled away. He didn’t release the firm grip from her waist the entire time, as if she already belonged to him, as if already his property.
‘So I guess I will be needing your number,’ he smirked.
She never gave her number out. It was a rule she made for herself after heartbreak number 7. No numbers. If it was meant to be it would be. Maybe it was the warm spring sunshine massaging her winter soul, maybe it was the dress, too short and too low, maybe it was the schnapps. Maybe she just wanted to break her own rules.
‘I guess so,’ she purred.
She knew it would not end here. She knew he had exactly what she needed to nurse her fractured heart back to functionality. She tapped in her number and handed back the phone, letting her mind wander to the possibilities this September afternoon presented; after all, it was only two thirty.
Suddenly vibrations from her pocket interrupted her daydream. Message from an unsaved number.
Has anybody ever told you
you look scrumptious in yellow?
For the first time in weeks, bathed in golden butter sunlight, she threw her head back to the sky and laughed.