I know… I know… finish one you’ve already started, Penny. But I can’t help it! These ideas just come to me in the middle of the night, or maybe while I’m in the shower, or I could be staring into the abyss again and I have to write them down!
Anyway, my feeble excuse out of the way… Have a look-see what I’ve already written. *grin*
NB (updated 10/02/2020):
If you’re new to the story, I added a prologue,
please read it here.
I was feeling pretty low when I first met him. I was sat in a bar, wallowing in my own self-pity as I stared into a welcoming glass of rum and coke. I knew ordering a rum and coke was a little immature. A glass of wine would have been more adult-like. Maybe a glass of whiskey to remind me when I lived in Scotland. But fuck it, I was in a bad mood and I actually needed a reminder of my teenage years to lift my mood.
It didn’t. It actually made me feel worse.
I didn’t know at the time why I was low. Realisation came a little while later.
I sighed and looked up from my disastrous drink and scanned the bar. I noticed a couple of lads laughing at something funny while one of them rubbed his face in embarrassment. I wondered what was so funny. Maybe the embarrassed one told a humiliating story and that was why he was red in the face? Or maybe the others were reliving something from another day that the guy didn’t want brought up again for the hundredth time?
My attention then drifted to a young couple who were barely looking at each other. Their faces were almost white from the glow of their phones they were staring into. I snorted as I imagined them either talking to each other via their phones instead of talking across the table, or maybe engaging in a pathetic attempt at advertising their wonderful night out on social media.
I sighed again. This time deeply as I brought my glass up to my lips to take another sip.
As I did so, something had caught my attention. Well, more appropriately; someone. My smile fell from my face. The smile that I didn’t even realise I was wearing until that moment. I realise now that that smile wasn’t a happy smile; it was a bit of a cynical smile from imagining the previous couple having a fake good time on social media.
I noticed I had faltered slightly, the glass raised to my lips but not moving any closer. His eyes only briefly glanced at me, but it was enough to send a curious shock through my body and linger dangerously.
I hadn’t noticed him before now. I don’t tend to notice people right away. My first instinct when I’m walking into a bar on my own is to find a table that is both free and far enough away from too many people. Usually in a corner or by a wall so as to not draw too much attention to myself and so I can sit and people watch. It’s not until I have successfully got a drink and slinked my way onto the table quickly enough that I can relax a little and look around myself.
The group with the curious and allusive embarrassing tale were the first people I properly noticed. The couple were the second. And he was the third.
As soon as I noticed him, however, my attention elsewhere was nearly non-existent. He had a strange air about himself that drew all attention to him the moment you noticed him. Everyone else was just background noise. Or extras in a film. There, but not really important. The main characters were important. It was as if he was the main character in this film.
He was ruggedly handsome. Short dark hair, either dark brown or black, I couldn’t tell in the poor light of the bar. A strong jaw, cleanly shaven, with a curious scar on his thin upper lip. He wore a crisp suit, which was also dark, it could have been black but I wasn’t ruling out any other dark colours. He held himself tall while he took large gulps of a beer. He clearly seemed unbothered by the noise around him. Like he too thought it was unimportant background noise.
I found myself staring. My glass now back on the table, that sip I had been meaning to take was never taken. It had lost its appeal. It was as if the welcoming liquid in the glass held no more significance to me and might as well have been stale water.
I gasped as his eyes flicked to me again. His deep endless green eyes seemed to stare straight into my soul and almost reveal my biggest weakness right before me. I was helpless. I even saw a faint flicker of a smile.
Little did I know, that was the beginning.
I remember reading somewhere once that most women – probably only the straight women – usually go for the tall, muscular men who are confident and powerful because they want a partner who can protect them. I also remember thinking that every time I thought of my Mr Right, he would be tall and muscular too. As well as confident enough to protect me and keep me safe. I knew no one was perfect of course, I was expecting some flaws in my Mr Right. But those were definitely my main requirements.
I’m not saying that guy at the bar was my Mr Right. In fact, I’m certain he wasn’t. Far from it. I imagined my Mr Right as a loving guy, with a wacky sense of humour to make me feel better on my low days, who loved me unconditionally and even enjoyed cuddling – I know, cliché much! The guy at the bar didn’t even strike me as that sort of guy. Even then, on that first day I met him. I couldn’t imagine him wanting to cuddle or even having any form of sense of humour. But Mr Right was suddenly forgotten about. Especially when the Mr Most Probably Wrong stood up and walked right over to my table.
“Have we met before?” he asked. His voice as deeply masculine as his features. The now familiar American accent I had gotten used to boomed in front of me. Even his voice sent an involuntary shiver down my spine. I should have realised then that I shouldn’t engage in any form of conversation with him. He was entrancing and it was dangerous.
But of course, I couldn’t help myself; “No,” was the only thing I could say. Unable to string a few words together to complete a sentence.
I was happy enough to know I spoke the right word; I didn’t know him. I was certain I’d remember him if I had ever seen him before.
He watched me for a few seconds. His gaze had some sort of superpower as I felt the hairs on my arms start to raise.
“Are you sure?” he was stern and commanding.
“Yes,” I uttered another single syllable word.
“What’s your name?” he practically ordered. It wasn’t really a question; it was a demand.
I remember thinking that I shouldn’t answer. I shouldn’t give him my name. I didn’t know this man. What if he was a serial killer looking for his next victim? But of course, my lips seemed to move on their own accord; “Jo.”
“Tell me, Jo,” he started. I was unable to read any emotion on his face or his voice. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was currently incapable of reading people or if it was him. “Why do you look familiar to me?”
“I… I don’t know,” I stuttered. Well, at least it was better than a single syllable word.
He seemed to watch me again for a few painfully long seconds and I could feel my palms getting sweaty. He seemed dissatisfied with my answer. As if it was my fault he couldn’t figure out why I looked familiar to him.
“Sorry,” I uttered involuntary to break the uncomfortable silence between us. The background bar noise didn’t even register to me by this point.
For the first time I saw his face move, other than his lips. His right eyebrow rose. “What are you sorry for?”
“For…” I paused. What was I sorry for? “For not being much help.”
“I don’t know…” Another movement, this time a small smile. A smile that made you falsely believe you were in safe hands. “I still think you can.” He suddenly plopped himself down in the chair opposite me uninvited and took a swig of the beer he was holding. The beer I’d only just noticed he even had.
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