I’ve been starving for the sweet taste of a lover’s kiss and an embrace that’d put romance novel tropes to shame.
“Take it easy on the mints, dude,” a woman said over loud club music in an unfamiliar voice. I tagged along with a group of friends to a club.
I sat over a Redhook and mints. The peppermint calmed my nerves. My stomach growled. I’d rather be eating anything else. I’d eat my own organs if it meant finding love. I was the only single in my group of friends. Watching them gyrate on the dance floor gave me a sinking feeling, a question of whether I’d find love again. I wondered about things like being alone when I was alone. I’m so alone. “Excuse me, freak?” I said, raising a bewildered brow. “Have you been watching me?”
“Oh, relax. I’ve only watched you for twenty minutes.” She smiled.
“That’s a little—”
“You’re not so bad,” the woman said, giving me a sultry once over.
“I knew this was a bad idea,” I said low enough for her to read the frustration on my lips, raking my fingers through my thick, dark hair. “I shouldn’t have come.”
“Bad idea for who?” the woman said, closing the distance between us. “Mind if I have a seat?” She gestured as if she’d decided.
I shrugged, exuding self-confidence. “It’s a free country.”
“I’ll take that as a yes.” She smiled and slid into the booth.
I placed my palms on the edge of the table to stand. “Maybe I’d better leave.”
She gripped my arm, returning me to sit beside her. “From the looks of it, you came here without a date. I’m here without a date. Why can’t we chat?”
“Did Sarah put you up to this?” I tapped my finger on the table as though I’d solved a puzzle. I wasn’t interested in this woman. At least, I tried convincing myself as much.
“I’m sorry?” the woman said. “Who is Sarah?”
“Nevermind. It doesn’t matter.” I took a long sip of my beer to quench my simmering nerves.
“I’m Erica. What’s your name?” She reached out her hand as if this were an interview.
“Seth.” I shook her hand. The oily palms reflected the smoothness of her fingers.
“Coming here with my friends. I knew this was a bad idea. One of us is going to end up broken-hearted.”
Erica placed her hand on my shoulder. “Isn’t that how love works?”
It’s been so long that I can’t remember love. All I knew was pain. Falling in love was for other people, not me. At least I’d convinced myself as much. I drew the wrong women, but this Erica woman pursued me, not the other way around.
Erica inched closer and grabbed my chin, giving me a long kiss.
“What the hell?” I said. I wanted to be mad but couldn’t find a single dissatisfaction on her lips.
“Oh, come on.” Erica nudged me. “We’re too old to play games.”
“Thirty-five is old to you?” I said in a neutral tone.
Erica rolled her eyes. “You know what I mean. I promised myself to go after what I wanted, not wait for some mythical time and place to kiss or make love. I know what I want.”
“We don’t even know each other.”
“So, Sarah may have set us up.” Erica squints. “Don’t be mad.”
“I’m going to kill Sarah.” I chuckled.
“What do you say we get out of here?”
“You going to chain me up in your basement?”
“Haha. Something better,” Erica said. “I’ve got something for you to eat.” Erica bit her bottom lip.
(© 2022 AC)