"Damn he was sexy!" Sophie said as she continued to stare out the door and watch James as he walked away. "Mia, did you see him? He was gooorrgggeeousss!" Her face was practically pressed against the glass.
"Sorry to disappoint you, but no. It just means things will be... different."
I could see his eyes staring into my own.
No. No. No. No no no no no no no no no no!
Different. Was this what he meant by different?
I startled as I came back down to earth. "Huh?"
"Please tell me you saw tall, dark, and sexy?"
"Uh. No sorry."
"Come on Mia! He looked at you like he wanted to eat you up!" She cried her hands thrown in the air.
That could be one possibility.
"Ew. No thanks Soph."
"God you need to get laid. When was the last time you got laid?"
"Really Soph? I'm not discussing my sex life with you." I tried to slink back into the kitchen and dodge the topic at hand. My head was spinning, trying to come up with a plausible reason for what had just happened.
"Mia, who else are you gonna talk to about it? We both know I'm you're only friend."
"Thanks Sophie." I muttered pushing through the swinging door.
"I didn't mean it like that!" She stated following me back into the kitchen. "I just meant you should be able to talk about that stuff, any stuff, with me. I'm your friend and I'm concerned that you're not getting laid enough." She finished by putting her hand over her chest and feigning concern.
Rolling my eyes I started back in on the remaining dough. "I dunno, it's been... awhile."
"Well then we're going out tonight!" She declared as if the matter had already been decided.
"Exactly. Thirsty Thursday. I know this hole in the wall bar that has strong drinks for cheap."
I briefly considered the thought before shaking my head no.
"Come on! Pleeeeaseee! Please let me find you some sexy man to crawl all over for the night."
I couldn't suppress the laugh that bubbled up inside of me. "Fine. But I'm just going for the drinks, not the men."
"That's what they all say." She grinned before starting on her own pastries.
Truthfully I was just going for the drinks. What I needed were good, strong drinks. That way I could drown out my worries about the now very real James. I was going to turn my brain into mush if I had to.
"So you come here often?"
I pulled at hem of the shirt I was wearing, wishing the dark haired man sitting next to me would go away.
"No. First time." I played with the tiny drink stirrer and tried not to make eye contact with him.
"She doesn't get out much!" Sophie piped up from beside me, she was cradling her own drink, and was looking a little tipsy. John stood next to her, his hand resting on her hip and a smile on his face. A small smile crept onto my face seeing them together. It was clear he was crazy about her. I would be lying if said I hadn't felt like a third wheel when Sophie showed up to my door with John in tow, but I was happy for her, and I was here for drinks. Just drinks.
"Hmm more of a homebody?" He questioned me. He had a crooked smile, not the adorable kind either. My own smile disappeared as he brought my attention back to him.
"Guess so." Why couldn't he take the hint and move on to the next girl.
"Well then" He leaned in closer while placing his hand on my thigh and gave it a firm squeeze. My eyes dropped to his hand and then back to his face. His eyes were slightly hazy. "Why don't we go back to your place where you'll be more comfortable?"
I could feel the slime dripping down him.
"Excuse me." I turned my attention to the intruding stranger, happy for the distraction.
"Yes?" I asked reaching out for help hoping he could see the desperation in my eyes.
He was a tall man with broad shoulders and yet somehow he managed to squeeze in between me and creeper.
"Hey!" I heard the creeper protest.
"Can I get a beer? Whatever you have on tap. And a..." He turned to look at me. "What would you like?"
"Oh no, you don't have to buy me a drink."
"Nonsense your glass is empty. So what'll it be?"
"Cranberry and vodka."
"And a cranberry and vodka."
"Excuse me?" Creeper sounded really annoyed that the new stranger had bought me a drink.
"You're excused." Stranger said and quickly turned his attention back to me. I noticed creeper glaring at him, possibly sizing him up and deciding I wasn't worth it, before he slunk off to find his next victim.
"Thank you for that." I said motioning at his retreating form.
"Not a problem. He didn't look too friendly and you didn't look like you were having much fun." He shot me a wide grin and I noticed the small dimple that popped up on his right cheek.
"I'm Mia." I extended my hand and waited for his name.
"David." He offered me his hand and gave me a firm hand shake.
The bartender came over and sat our drinks down.
"So Mia, what brings you here tonight?" He asked leaning up against the bar top.
"My friend Sophie dragged me here." I motioned in her and John's direction and noticed the smile plastered across her face and her wiggling eyebrows.
"Seems we have that in common. My friend Connor convinced me to come and it seems he's disappeared with some woman." The hearty chuckle that came out of his mouth was undeniably sexy.
"Oh well that kind of stinks. Him ditching you like that."
"Not at all." He said waving it off. "Besides I think I've found better company anyway."
I could feel my face begin to heat up. He had such an easy charm about him. I felt a giggle bubble up inside of me and come bursting out of my mouth. I quickly downed the rest of my drink trying to hide my embarrassment.
"Cranberry and vodka, please!" He hollered towards the bartender.
"Oh no! No! You've already bought me a drink." I protested waving my hands around.
"Nonsense! I'm enjoying your company and if you don't mind I'd like to talk to you some more." He gave me a large smile, his straight, white teeth beaming at me. I always had a thing for guys with nice teeth.
"Sure." I said giving him a smile to match his.
"So tell me about yourself, what do you do for a living?" He asked leaning casually against the bar.
"I work in a bakery."
"Oh? So you're a good cook?"
"I guess so, I prefer baking over cooking, but the food I make is edible. What about you, what do you do?"
"I work at the animal shelter down on 5th and York."
Could he be anymore charming? Nice teeth, tall, dimples, loves animals. It was like he was going down my list and checking the boxes as he went.
"That must be really fun! Getting to play with all the animals and stuff."
"It is, I really love it there. If you ever have any free time you should come down and volunteer. We're always looking for extra hands, and if I'm taking a wild guess I'd say you're a dog person?"
"Definitely a dog person." I sipped on my drink and continued to chatter away with David.
I wasn't sure how much time had passed or how any drinks I had had when I heard the bartender yelling for last call.
"Last call?" I mumbled as I teetered on my bar stool.
"Afraid so." David said giving me a sheepish grin, his face was tinted a light red and I was sure he was feeling the effects of the alcohol, maybe not as much as me, but he was feeling it.
I felt disappointed knowing this is where David and I would part. Or would we? Didn't Sophie say I was supposed to be getting laid? Climbing men? This was definitely a man I wouldn't mind climbing. Drunk Mia was jumping at the idea of jumping him.
"Mia? You ready to go?" I turned on my bar stool to find John propping Sophie up against himself, the keys dangling from his fingers.
"Shhhh! No John. She's gonna get laid! Can't you see that!" Drunk Sophie came to my aid.
"Well while that does sound enticing" I heard David's voice rumble from behind me and I turned to face him again, feeling a bit dizzy from all this turning. "I would really like to take you on date, a real date." I fumbled around in the small purse I had brought and quickly punched in his phone number as he did the same for mine.
Drunk Mia was disappointed that she wasn't getting laid by the gorgeous man in front of her. But the small voice of sober Mia broke through and spoke reason. This wasn't a guy to have a one night stand with. He was funny and kind and charming and gorgeous. He was the type of guy to go to dinner with and walk through the park and talk about life, and be stupid with. Yes sober Mia was right, I would just have to wait it out and see where things went from there.
"No." I groaned throwing my hand on top of my phone trying to silence it.
I felt like shit. My head was pounding, my eyes burned and my stomach was rolling in waves of queasy. How many drinks had I had last night? I rubbed at my eyes trying to stop the burning and block out the sunlight at the same time. I rolled over and picked up my phone looking at the screen.
Shone back at me in bright white letters.
David? Who the hell was Da- Images of bright white smiles, deep laughs , and pale blue eyes danced through my memory. David! Handsome, kind, funny, charming David! I scrambled to read the message he had sent me.
'Hope you're not too hungover. I had a really great time last night. Looking forward to talking to you again.'
I felt my body tingle and typed a quick response before falling back against my pillow, my hangover forgotten. I would have to remember to thank Sophie for dragging me out. It was easily one of the best nights I had had in a long time. The loud knock that came from my front door back me back to earth and I quickly threw on a t-shirt and pair of shorts.
I opened the door and stood stock still, mouth hanging open in shock.
"Well hello there gorgeous."
The fire and ice flitted across my skin in their familiar dance and I stood staring into the gray eyes of James. "What are you doing here?" I managed to get out.
"Just dropping in to check on my new neighbor." The smile that spread across his face gave me an uneasy feeling.
"You see, this is what happens when you take your precious time." He trailed a hand softly down the side of my face before I recoiled from his touch. "Things are different now Mia, very different."
"I-I- how? You-? No."
"Yes Mia. This was your doing. I'm just as real to everyone else now as I was to you. Oh and you really should stop taking those pills now, now that you know you're not crazy." The smirk on his face was mocking me as I slammed the door in his face. My good feeling from earlier was instantly gone. My back pressed against the door and I allowed myself to slide down until I was seated on the floor staring blankly at nothing in front of me.
"Don't worry! I won't be far!" He called from the other side of the door. I listened to his footsteps retreating a short distance before I heard a door open and close.
He was right, I wasn't crazy. Now all my fears were real.