Authors: Linnea May
He is sitting way back in a hidden corner of the bar, visibly enjoying a shisha by himself. It does not appear as if he is waiting for me – or anyone for that matter.
The bar is cozy and decorated like a hippie living room. The small tables are very low and surrounded by a bunch of colorful cushions instead of chairs. I love the smell of this place and am looking forward to having a little smoke, even though it is just a shisha and not a cigarette. There is music playing in the background and the place is still well visited even at this hour. But it is almost dauntingly quiet, a complete contrast to the club I just left.
He still looks out of place with his business style outfit, but a little more adjusted than at the basement club before. In this environment, he could just as well be your average office slave, who is enjoying a trendy smoke after work.
When I approach his table, he does not turn around to look at me until the very last moment, when I am standing so close that it is impossible for him to ignore me.
He looks up at me. I expect to see a triumphant smile, one that would make angry and cause me to regret my decision to come here. But instead, he just displays a subtle smirk and beckons me to sit down next to him.
"All right, you won," I say as I fall down on the cushions next to him.
He shakes his head. "I didn't know this was a competition."
I frown at him.
"So," he adds. "What did I win then?"
"My company," I reply, trying to sound defiant.
"Fair enough," he says. "Can I buy you a drink?"
"Thanks, but I can buy my own drink," I say, a bit surprised at myself. Usually, I would have no problem with a guy buying me a drink. But everything seems different with this one. I feel the constant urge to challenge him. No matter what his intent is with me, I don't want to make it too easy for him.
He rolls his eyes. "Don't you think you have insulted me enough already? Your intention may be admirable, but since I believe that you're just doing this to spite me, I will insist on buying you a drink."
"Fine," I say. "I'll have another beer, then."
"No," he says. "You won't. I have a better idea. And since I am paying, I will decide."
I raise my eyebrows, trying to demonstrate that his insistence does not impress me the slightest.
He orders something with a colorful name and offers me to take a puff of the shisha. I decide not to take up a fight at that offer and gladly accept it.
"What taste is this? Apple?" I ask as the comfortable smoke shrouds us in.
He nods. "Yes, that's correct."
His reply makes me feel like a little school girl who got one of her answers on a test right. And I smile accordingly – like a dumb little sheep.
"What do you want me to call you?" he asks.
I take another puff and cast him a puzzled look.
"Are you asking for a pet name or my real name?" I want to know.
"That's up to you," he says. "My name is Evan. And that is my real name. I understand that many people are hesitant to share such information after they have just met someone."
"Why?" I ask. "What's the point in that?"
He shrugs. "You never know what they want from you – or what you want from them. Right?"
I subtly nod in silence.
"If you are certain that you're not going to see the other person again, why waste an opportunity to be someone else for a night?" he continues. "I have done it, and it has been done to me. It can make things interesting – but only adds to the appeal of short-lived beauty. It may deny an opportunity for something more long lasting to evolve from that specific encounter."
I look at him, pondering. It seems that he is trying really hard to appear interesting to me. And he is succeeding, so far.
"So, you're telling me that Evan is your real name," I say. "Based on what you're saying this would mean that you intend to see me again after tonight – or at least that is what you want me to believe."
He smiles as I take a little pause before I continue: "Why should I believe you?"
He nods and reaches over to his jacket that is lying next to him.
"Because I can prove it," he says as he produces a little wallet and fetches a card from it that he holds up to my face. His ID.
"Evan Beckhart," I read out loud.
He looks at me with expectant eyes as he puts the card and his wallet away.
The waiter interrupts us for a moment when he brings my drink. It seems to be the same that Evan is having and looks just as colorful as the name would suggest.
"Thank you," I say, both to Evan and the waiter.
"It's a soft cocktail with citrus fruit," Evan explains. "Weak in alcohol, but goes very well with the apple aroma of the shisha."
I raise my glass to him and thank him again before I take a sip.
"Uh, delicate," I comment. "I have never ordered something like this here."
"You should," he says. "You know, there's much more to the world than beer."
"Not really, if you can't afford most of it," I object.
He ignores my remark and takes a puff of the shisha, granting us a moment of silence before he repeats his question.
"So, what should I call you?"
"I haven't decided yet," I blatantly reply.
He seems to like that answer. His smile widens. And it looks freaking handsome.
"So, Evan," I add. "If I remember correctly, you were right in the middle of sweeping me off my feet with your irresistibly charming words when we were standing outside of the club."
He chuckles and shakes his head like a little boy who got caught doing something silly.
"You promised me you would explain that mysterious, non-superficial beauty that you claim to see in me – and that has nothing to do with my gorgeous hair or my makeup."
"Yes, you remember correctly."
"Care to elaborate?" I ask. "I followed you, after all."
He smiles at me. And this time, it is a triumphant smile, the kind that I had feared to see when I first entered the bar.
It doesn't bother me now, though. He is becoming more and more intriguing with every moment I spend with him. Judging from my current point of view, this only promises to get even better.
"I cannot deny that your looks are appealing to me, young lady," he begins. "You are beautiful in a very pure and honest way. Even though you try to hide it under that mountain of dark make-up. But even that suits you."
He pauses, casting me that weirdly intense look again.
I take another puff from the shisha and beckon him to continue.
"But all that would not have caught my attention as much as your dancing did," he finally says.
I look at him with disbelief – and start laughing. Loudly, very unladylike. Because I cannot believe what I just heard.
"You have to explain to me," I exclaim, trying hard to suppress my laughing. "You have to explain what it is about my erratic movements that cause you to come up with all these charming words and efforts to grab my attention. What is wrong with you?!"
He raises one of his eyebrows again, looking at me with suspicion. "Why do you think there has to be something wrong with me?"
"Because that is such an... odd thing to say," I whisper. "My friends actually left me alone at that club, because I embarrassed them so much. Well, and because they hated the music."
"Not a very nice move by your friends, but they have every right to do that," he says. "However, I did – by no means – say that I found your dancing beautiful."
I look at him, feeling slightly offended. And apparently it shows in my face, as he chuckles at the sight of my expression.
"You have a weird way of charming a woman," I say. "Showering her in crazy sweet words to lure her in – and then revoking everything you said."
He smiles at me. A very handsome smile, I still have to admit. This man is way too gorgeous for me, out of my league on so many levels. I still can't help but wonder what kind of sick game he might be playing with me.
Or if he is just really, really bored and looking for a one-night stand at an unusual place. Unusual for him, at least.
"I did not revoke anything," he says, still looking at me. "I am still maintaining what I said earlier, about you being a beautiful person. Or at least appearing to be. The way you move on the dancefloor is so carefree, so unlike all those posing swans, who care more about looking graceful. No matter what kind of beats are shaking the room, they remain untouched by it – and you don't. If there is something that touches your heart, you have no trouble showing it, and you don't care what it might look like to others. I like that. It is very appealing to me."
The way he looks at me while he is saying these things confuses me.
“I’d like to push the buttons that make you lose control like that,” he adds, locking me in place with his intense stare.
I feel myself blushing and turning into a stumbling mess as if my bones are turning into soft rubber under his eyes.
"Whatever," I say, trying to appear nonchalant and cool as I reach for my drink to take another – big – sip from it. But my hands are shaking – and he notices.
"See," he comments, his voice calm and confident as he nods toward my trembling hands. "I know you are trying your best to be that cool and unapproachable girl, who is way above me, trying to put me in my place. Me, the narrow-minded businessman, who you think you have all figured out. Yet, you can't hide that your heart has been touched. Why are your hands shaking when I pay you a compliment?"
I hide behind my drink as I cast him a look through narrow eyes. Who the hell does he think he is? And why am I shaking and blushing like a little schoolgirl? I hate that. And I hate that he is right about everything he is saying.
"So?" he continues. "Why do you have such trouble admitting that my words have an impact on you? Why do you care so much about what I might think if you admit it – or what others might think?"
I put my drink down and take a deep breath. "Why do you think I am concerned with these things? Didn't you just say that I look like a 'carefree' person who does not care about appearance and what others might think of her?"
"Yes," he says. "And I think that is true for the most part. But still, you are trapped in certain prejudices and notions that make it hard for you to give in to attraction when it hits you."
I look at him with indignation. "Please, what?"
He chuckles and leans forward, moving closer to me. I flinch when he lifts his right hand to touch my face. But I don't move away. He gently caresses my cheek with his thumb while his dark eyes search for mine, catching me with their intense gaze.
"You saw me," he whispers, his voice so low that only I can hear it. "You saw me and you ran away, because what you felt was scary to you. You may not be able to explain it, and neither am I. But there is something, attraction, interest. Something that is drawing us close to each other. I followed you when you ran away, just to have you enchant me with the spirit that surrounds your beautiful body when you dance."
My jaw literally dropped at his charming words. I am inclined to believe them, even though I feel more than silly for being so naive.
"You're just saying that," I whisper. "To get into my pants."
A faint smirk flees across his handsome face. "I am not denying that I would love that. I would love to get a chance to pursue this and see if I am reading you correctly, if I am interpreting what I feel when I look at the right way – or if I am just imagining things and so desperate to find someone who mesmerizes me, that I am projecting things onto you that aren't there."
He pauses for a moment and looks at me, waiting and searching for a reaction. But all I do is staring at him. With disbelief – and desire. I know I want him. His hand on my face feels warm and comfortable, weirdly familiar. His touch soothes me and sends shivers of yearning through my body.
"But," he adds. "I might lose interest if you keep insulting me."
I cannot suppress a little laugh at that. A giggle, shy and insecure like the young girl I never wanted to be, resonates between us and lifts the veil of tension.
And just as I am about to object him, he leans forward and kisses me. His lips meet mine with the force of surprise. My instincts tell me to shy away from a sudden kiss like this, but I don't want to.
Instead, I hear myself let out a little moan as I lean into him. His tongue explores mine with an unknown eagerness. It feels so right, so insanely hot. He is a brilliant kisser, so passionate and sensual, without forcing it too much. My heart has never skipped beats the way it does during this first, unusually intimate kiss we share.
His facial expression has changed after we part from each other. He moves back slowly, his hand still on my cheek and his eyes on mine. But again, there is no triumphant smile. No sign of a predator who is joyous about the fact that he succeeded in capturing his prey.