Saturday night and I was home alone again. With a heavy sigh, I tossed the book I’d been reading to one side and rolled off the couch I’d been lying on for the past three hours. I gave a mighty stretch then headed for the kitchen. Pulling a beer from the refrigerator, I popped the cap and chugged about half the bottle’s contents in one go, before exhaling a long breath of satisfaction.
“Damn good,” I muttered then gulped back the rest of the beer. After tossing the bottle into the trash can, I ambled back into the living room and threw myself back down on the couch.
I was bored and pissed that another lonely evening loomed ahead of me, one of the many I’d endured since my ex, Robert, had left. I wasn’t going to give in to wondering what had gone wrong—again. I’d turned that particular subject over and over in my mind countless times, until even I was tired of it. And every time, I came up with the same answer—I had most probably just bored Robert to death.
It had all seemed so great at the start. We both had so much in common. We liked the same kind of music, enjoyed Italian food, hiking, tennis, movies—and the sex had been so damned great…for me, anyway. In my mind’s eye, I could see Robert’s sleek, smooth body, lightly tanned, firmly muscled. He wasn’t exactly a gym bunny, but he exercised there enough to keep that delectable physique tight and taut. He’d felt so good in my hands…so warm and sensual. Now someone else was caressing that body, kissing those plump lips—
Jesus Christ! I was doing it again.
“Let it go!” I yelled, jumping to my feet, tears of frustration springing to my eyes. “Let him go. He’s not coming back.”
“I’m not coming back.” Those were the last words Robert had said, just before stalking to the door of this very room and slamming it behind him. I could still hear the resounding crash of finality as the door had been banged into its frame with such force, the walls had shuddered, and I’d heard the angry voices of the neighbours yelling, “Cut it out!”
I’d stood in the centre of this room, stunned into disbelief that he had really left me. Left me for someone he’d met at the gym, someone who shared his interests. Someone who wasn’t content just to stay home every night, but who knew how to enjoy life. Someone like me, before I met you, Robert, I’d thought. Funny thing was that I had known it was going to happen. I don’t know how or why, but I’ve always had this innate knowledge of when something life-changing was going to happen to me. Several times throughout my life, I’ve had premonitions of events that have later taken place. Like when my father died so suddenly…
“Shit,” I muttered, wiping my eyes. “I’ve got to get outta here.”
Maybe Rhonda who lived in the apartment above me would like to take in a movie. Rhonda had been so terrific to me when Robert left, spending hours just talking to me, telling me Robert was the loser, and it wouldn’t be long before I’d realise that and start dating again. Even though I hadn’t believed a word of it, I valued the encouragement and the friendship. But who was I kidding? It was Saturday night, and Rhonda would be out painting the town all shades of red.
Walking quickly into the bathroom, I turned on the hot shower spray. Maybe if I spruced up a little and went out for a drink, I might run into a friendly face—maybe even someone I knew. There had to be one or two friends left somewhere. That’s the trouble with committed relationships, people you used to hang with suddenly disappeared—especially the single ones.
What happened to Ron? I wondered. We used to spend so much time together…good times, too. I wondered if he still managed that Italian restaurant—I must have his number somewhere.
Drying myself, I looked at my reflection in the mirror. I’d be twenty-five in three weeks and apart from the ‘melancholy baby’ aura, I guess I still looked okay. I’m just a little less than six feet. My hair is reddish blond, thick and wavy. My eyes, when they’re not bloodshot from crying, are a clear, light blue, and my mouth is full and wide.
Robert used to call it truly kissable. Pushing that thought from my mind, I tried smiling. It looked more like a grimace. Gotta perk up if you want someone to pass the time of day, or night, with you, I told my reflection. After applying a spicy deodorant and a splash of cologne, I pulled on a pair of my favourite blue jeans and a black cotton tee. Shoes or boots? Sneakers, I decided.
I spiked up my hair up a bit, picked up my keys and billfold then headed for the door, wishing I felt more into this than I really was.
* * * *
The Blue Moon was fairly crowded when I sauntered in, trying to look cool and unattainable.
“What’ll it be?” The bartender gave me an appraising look. He was cute.
“Comin’ up.” He smiled as he passed the bottle across the bar. He let his fingers linger on mine for just a second as he took the five I proffered, and I grew warm. I smiled back at him, before moving away into the crowd, my eyes scanning the people around me while I looked for a familiar face. A strange sensation stole over me, and my senses came to full alert. Someone, somewhere near, was waiting for me.
I shivered slightly as I looked around, and that’s when I saw him, standing in a far corner. Tall, built, wide shoulders, dark, almost black hair cut short, military style. He wore a white tee that showed his honed physique to great effect, and even from where I was standing, I could see he had the most beautiful eyes I’d ever seen on any man. They were startlingly clear grey eyes, and when they met mine across the crowded room, I felt myself go slack-jawed with awe. He didn’t look like he should be standing alone in a gay bar—he was way too good looking to be on his own. I hung back, expecting some other dreamboat to come out of the men’s room at any moment and make a beeline for him. Amazingly, that didn’t happen. Even more amazingly, he smiled—at me.
I thought I heard a voice whisper in my mind, “Come to me.”
That might have been my imagination, but I wasn’t about to wait for a second invitation. As if in a trance, I made my way to where he stood waiting, that same smile lifting the corners of his mouth—a mouth I wanted to plant one on before I even got halfway across the barroom floor.
“Hello.” His voice was low, husky and slightly accented. “My name is Joseph.”
“Hi, I’m Micah.”
He held out his hand. “I’m very pleased to meet you, Micah.”
I took his hand and held it, liking the feel of his cool fingers. “Likewise,” I murmured, feeling slightly entranced by his steady gaze. Was it my imagination or had there been a slight pulse of energy flowing between us as we clasped hands? With some reluctance, I released him from my grip.
“I haven’t seen you here before,” he said.
“I…I’ve been out of circulation for some time.”
“Ah…” He gave me a knowing look. “A painful parting?”
“You could say that.” I liked the compassion in his beautiful eyes—eyes that were not just grey but more a kind of silver. “Can I get you a drink?” I asked. “Your glass is empty.”
We walked to the bar. The bartender, seeing us standing side-by-side, practically fell over his own feet as he rushed over. He beamed at us. “Same again, guys?”
“Please,” Joseph said, smiling at me.
“Red wine…and a Michelob for you, right?”
“Right.” I glanced at Joseph. “I think you’ve made a big impression on our friendly bartender.”
“Really? I thought it was you he’s in a sweat over.”
“In a sweat? No, it’s definitely you he’s hot for.”
“What about you?”
“What about me?”
“Have I made an impression, big or small, on you, Micah?”
“Yes,” I found myself saying. “Yes, you have.”
“Good.” Joseph smiled at the bartender who delivered our drinks. “Thank you, Bob.”
Bob grinned up at him. “Cheers, guys. These are on the house.”
“So, you know him,” I remarked after we’d thanked Bob, and he’d turned away to serve another customer.
“Only from my being here. He’s a friendly soul. He makes me feel welcome, and sometimes, when the bar is quiet, we have lively debates.”
Lively debates. I had a feeling Bob the bartender would have preferred something else lively. “You come here often, then?” I asked.
“Fairly often. When I’m visiting Los Angeles…”
“Oh, you don’t live in LA?” I felt a sudden twinge of disappointment.
“No…but I have business here, at times.”
“So, where do you call home?”
Instead of replying, Joseph leaned closer. “You have some foam on your lip.”
Before I could get my tongue to it, he ran a feather-light touch over my top lip, tracing the outline with his forefinger. The sensation was like an electric tingle. His eyes locked on mine, he inserted his finger into his mouth and slowly, sensually, licked the foam from his finger. I felt myself getting hard.
“Paris,” Joseph said.
“Huh?” I stared at him.
“That’s where I call home. Paris.”
“Oh, right. Sorry.” I stared at him as if mesmerised. “So you’re French.”
“German, actually, but I have lived in Paris for some years now.”
“Paris… I’ve never been there.”
“It’s beautiful,” Joseph murmured, his eyes still locked on mine. “Would you like to come home with me?”
“To Paris?” I croaked.
He chuckled. “No. At least, not tonight. I have a suite at the Plaza.”
“Oh…” Dummy. “I…I knew that,” I stuttered. “I mean, not the suite at the Plaza…but…uh, that you didn’t mean Paris…uh, tonight…oh, crap.”
Joseph laughed lightly. “You look most becoming when you blush, Micah.”
I bet. Becoming? Who uses words like that anymore?
“You don’t believe me.” He touched my hand. “More than just becoming—adorable.” His touch became a firm grip. “So, would you come home with me tonight?”
“Yeah.” I squeezed his hand. “I’d like that…very much.”