“What’s this?” he asked.
“It’s what it looks like,” I answered, not caring to explain that it wasn’t an engagement ring. There would be too many questions. “Is that a problem?”
“No,” he said, “Not a problem. I just thought I should make sure.”
It was then that I gave him my full, no holding back, look-at-all-my-pretty-teeth smile. As my smile relaxed, I turned towards the bar and then glanced back at him over my shoulder, narrowing my eyes ever so slightly.
He blinked—twice—and angled toward the counter also. We took turns sipping our drinks and talking with our eyes, pretending to watch the game. After a few minutes he spoke.
“You’re trouble aren’t you?”
“I am tonight,” I confirmed.
We both had our phones on the counter and I reached for his.
“So what would you say to me putting my number in here?” I asked.
“I’d like that. As long as you call me,” he said with a glance at my ring.
I punched in my number, saved it and handed the phone back to him. I had just turned back toward the bar when I felt a blast of cool air as the bar door opened. Mandy and Ricky waved to the newcomer. She had straight, dirty blonde hair up in a loose ponytail and wore jeans and an old LSU sweatshirt. Stephen stood and gave her a hug, while she looked up at him smiling. He pulled out the bar stool he’d been sitting for her and slid into one next to me, scooting it over so our shoulders touched.
The Rangers scored and everyone in the bar cheered along with the crowd in the stands. I was happily buzzing and nodded yes when the bartender asked if she could pour me another. With each passing minute I felt years of good girl, rule following bands start to slip away. It was like being tied up with dental floss and feeling a little more freedom, a little more relaxed, a little more real with the snapping of each strand.
Stephen eased off his bar stool and headed towards the men’s room, gently bumping against me as he did so. Our eyes met again. As he walked away I felt pure, perfect lust in the pit of my stomach. My fingers wanted to trace the muscles of his back, my mouth wanted to taste his skin, my body wanted to be against his. My phone chirped with a text message.
“We just met. You call me, remember?” it said.
As I was reading it, Stephen walked out of the bathroom, slipping his phone back in his jacket pocket. He saw me looking at my phone and gave me a half smile before sliding back onto the stool and turning away to talk to the girl who was obviously there to see him.
I texted him back, “You should stick with the girl on your left. She looks safe.”
“Are you saying your aren’t safe?” was his reply.
“Exactly,” I typed, “Girls like me eat guys like you for breakfast.”
I didn’t know where this boldness was coming from—the vodka, music, lust and my mood made for a startling combination. But I enjoyed it. It was powerful. Addictive.
Stephen laughed and shifted in his seat when he read my challenge. I waited for his response, pretending to watch the game.
It read, “Oh no… I’m an alpha male.”
The bantering back and forth continued for the next hour, us sitting side-by-side, shoulders touching, but only allowing the occasional glance to gage each other’s response to the latest text message. Five drinks in, my fingers disengaged from my brain and did what they’d wanted to do for the last two hours. His back was broad, muscular, strong and warm. I could feel his heat through the layers of his clothes. He leaned into my hand, encouraging my touch. My phone chirped.
“Will you follow me home?” he messaged.
“Yes,” I replied.
There was no debating with myself about whether or not this was a good idea. No processing of the fact that I just said yes to following a complete stranger home, not knowing anything about him, where he lived or even his last name. My body was acting without consulting my brain. And I didn’t care.