Escape

“Lily, I’m leaving now!” I grabbed my black purse from the kitchen counter and took one last look in the mirror. Puckering my maroon-stained lips, I ran my fingers through my brown hair and straightened my skirt. I hope my date did not mind the lack of makeup; all I had on was mascara, lipstick, a touch of blusher and shade in my eyebrows to make it look fuller. I tried adding on with some beige eyeshadow to go with my cardigan and white top, but I looked like I was trying too hard, so i washed it off.

Lily came bouncing in the living room of the small apartment we shared, and nodded approvingly at the outfit i chose. “Very nice,” she complimented my curls. “Looks like someone’s going to get lucky tonight!”

I put my fingers to my ears to block out her high-pitched voice, and shook my head. “Look, the only reason I’m doing this is because Daniel’s your friend, and I love you like a sister,” I said, for the fourth time that day.

“And I, you,” She replied, going into the kitchen. I heard glasses clinking, and she reappeared with a glass of water in her hand. Sipping it, she dismissed me with a wave of her hand and i rolled my eyes. “Bye,” I said, trying to remember the pass-code I was supposed to give her if the date was not going well.

We came up with a great idea if I ever needed help to escape from a date. I would have to say “I’ll be there in a few” when she calls at a specific time. If I was enjoying the date, the reply would be “I already took care of that.”

Lily and I had been roommates for 2 years now, and she had been bugging me since Valentine’s Day to meet this guy she knew from her aerobics class. He was “hot”, “flexible” and “has muscles in all the right places”, as she put it. In my defense, I had not been dating for quite a while because I had not found anyone worth falling head over heels for, and I certainly had no interest in the guys at our campus. My expectations were too high; some guys are too tall, as I was a mere 5″7, and some guys are too friendly on the first date, etc. So Lily, being the nice and overprotective friend that she was, tried to hook me up on a blind date with Daniel for the past week. I turned her down again and again, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer, so here I was walking towards the bus stop, heading to a restaurant I had never heard of in the city.

I was supposed to see him there at 7pm, and I glanced at my watch as I sat down in the bus. Huh, it was 6.55pm. Who cares, I could make it there in 5 minutes – if he was a true gentleman, he would wait.

Or better yet, he could have fetched me.

I began to wonder if he had a car, or a motorbike, or if he looked anything like the celebrity Dave Franco. Dave Franco was  a dream boy. Smiling, I began to daydream about if I ever had the chance to meet him.

Absentmindedly, I didn’t realize I had missed my stop, and when I snapped out of my daydream due to the sudden braking of the bus, I rushed out of my seat and pressed the bell to stop the bus from going any further. Thank goodness it stopped in time, although I was a good 2 stops away from the restaurant.

“What a great start to the night,” I muttered.

As I walked uncomfortably in my heels, I noticed the many oblivious stares I received from passers-by. Suddenly i felt really self-conscious and nervous – was my skirt too short? Did my hair come undone? Was there something on my face? I brisk-walked to the restaurant and burst through the doors without waiting for the waiter to usher me in, and bee-lined towards the restroom. I looked at my reflection in the mirror, and was surprised to see that my hair was in perfect condition despite the rush earlier on, my skirt was neat, and needless to say, my makeup was still in place and had not faded.

Unable to explain the weird stares I received earlier, I shrugged and went to find Daniel. He told Lily he was wearing a white T-shirt with a black blazer over it. It should not be hard to find him.

Amidst the many patrons in the restaurant, which, I must admit, looks really big and classy, was a man sitting alone at a table, waving his hand at me. He fitted perfectly into the description Lily had given me of my date, and I walked towards him, feeling a little flushed.

“Hey,” he greeted as soon as I sat down. I smiled in return, hoping the evening would end soon. I had a feeling that tonight was not going to go very well, and I bet it was because of this date.

“So, Sam, right?” He asked, raising his eyebrow.

“Yeah, Daniel,” I confirmed.

“I ordered green tea for you,” He smiled. I was surprised; how much did he know about me?

“How-” I began, and he cut me off. “Nah, Lily just provided me with a few general information about you.” he explained.

“Ah, of course,”

His eyes diverted down to my feet, and I began to worry. Oh no, I thought, don’t tell me this was another guy with a foot fetish.

“Um, Sam?” He pointed to my feet.

“What?” I looked down slowly, thinking there was a bug or something of the sort that landed on my legs. I blushed even deeper when I saw what it was that got me receiving all the stares earlier.

A condom – a used condom – was stuck in my heel. Somehow, somewhere along the way, I had stepped on a condom and because my heels were thin, it hooked onto the condom and I brought it.

Into a restaurant.

And my date had seen it.

Could the night get any more embarrassing?

“Excuse me,” I blushed sheepishly. Taking the utmost care to avoid the eyes of the other couples and families in the place, I made my way to the restroom, keeping my poise as I walked. Once I stepped into a cubicle, I grabbed a handful of toilet paper and ripped the condom from my heel. I threw it away and washed my hands.

As I approached Daniel the second time, our meals were already served. Mmm, sirloin steak with black pepper sauce. I could feel my stomach rumbling.

Daniel grinned with pleasure as he saw me looking hungrily at the food in front of me. “Dig in.”

I furrowed my eyebrows at him. “Dig in? Really? Is that how you speak to a lady?” I raised my eyebrow at him. Hah, touchè.

“It is,” Daniel smiled cheekily, “If I were to speaking to a lady with a condom stuck to her heel,”

Dang, I knew he was going for that attack. Undeterred, I nodded and sipped the green tea.

“Well played, Mr. Daniel,”

“As for you, too, Ms. Samantha,”

I sliced through the steak, careful to take small bites rather than gobble the whole steak. It was good, really good. Kudos to Daniel for choosing this restaurant – we should really come here more often.

Wait. What was I thinking?

Clearing my throat, I sipped my green tea while Daniel kept his brown eyes on me, watching me tear through the cooked meat like the lady I was.

“What?” I asked him after a while.

“Nothing, just wondering,” He cocked his head. I looked at him dubiously.

“About?”

“About how a small girl… Could eat such a big steak.” He smiled and raised his brow. That cheeky little-

“You watch Big Bang Theory too?” I asked, surprised. Wow, here was one just like me, watching comedy TV series, and Big Bang Theory too!

“Yeah, I do,” he nodded and took a bite of his mashed potato, “Actually I started watching it right after Lily told me you liked the series,” He added.

I squinted my eyes at him, my inner conscience shaking her head at his delightful sense of humor, and honesty.

“But that quote was from the eighth season…” I continued. He quoted Howard Wolowitz. I just heard him say it.

“Yeah, it took me about a week but I got through with it,” He replied, maintaining eye contact.

“How…?” I was speechless. There was no way he could have gone through all eight seasons in a week. How was one to juggle with work and a hilarious TV show?

“Chill,” he said as he looked at the dumbfounded expression on my face, “I started from the eighth season,” he chuckled.

That bastard, I thought to myself as I chuckled too. “You got me there,”

“I did, didn’t I?”

I smacked my lips. “So, Mr. Smartly-Dressed,” I started, “What do you think of the series? Pretty great, huh?” I bit into my steak.

Daniel nodded again, a smile crept on his face, obviously amused by my nickname for him. “What, this old thing?” He tugged at his blazer. “Nah, I don’t usually dress like this. I’m an artist,” He winked. “And yes, the series were pretty awesome.”

I laughed again. My, he was a charm. I felt my phone vibrating in my purse, and took it out. Lily was calling me? What did she-

Oh. The rescue.

Eh, I thought to myself, I don’t need to be rescued.

I picked up the call anyway, signalling to Daniel to be excused from the conversation we were having. “Lily? Whatever it is, I already took care of it.” I said, eager to get back on track with Mr. Smartly-Dressed.

“Okay but you have to tell me everything when you get back!” Lily said, not bothering to hide her excitement. I hung up and smiled. She was cute like that. I was so lucky to have a room-mate like her.

Putting my phone away, our plates were being cleared and replaced with ice-cream and chocolate brownies. Yum. I could get used to this.

Daniel was already digging into his dessert, and he looked at me. Pointing at my purse, he asked, “Who was that?”

I shrugged. “My room-mate. Asking if I had paid the rent for our apartment.”

He took another big spoonful of the vanilla ice-cream, and I started poking at the brownie on my plate. “So, you said you’re an artist?”

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Obssession

There he was. Right in front of me. On the stage, his fingers dancing across the strings on his guitar, eyes closed as he felt the music. Behind me, I could hear the bartender arguing with a customer, a woman yelling at him, people laughing and clinking mugs, college students playing at the pool table. I was amidst the crowd at the far end of the bar, eyes set upon the only guy I’ve ever loved since I was a teenager myself. I still could not believe my eyes.

One of his band members was singing off-key, but it didn’t ruin the song. His hands were like magic, they strung together beautiful notes off the guitar. I could tell everyone was mesmerized by this man’s talent, the way their bodies sway to his music, despite the bad singing that accompanied it.

Before I knew it, they finished the song, and was hopping off the stage. While the rest headed to the bar, the guitarist headed towards the back door. Off for a smoke, I thought.

This was it. This was my chance.

I felt my fingers curling around his lighter in my pocket, the one he dropped that afternoon as he rushed off to the bar. I had followed closely behind, and picked it up. At first, I was going to return it to him, but I had a better plan up my sleeve.

Pressing my hands against the back door, I pushed it open and stepped out into the cold night. The light breeze blew strands of my hair across my face, as my eyes searched for him. I spotted a couple making out near the dumpsters, but that couldn’t be him. He didn’t have a girlfriend, nor was he hooking up with anybody. I did my research.

My eyes finally settled on a lean, dark figure right up the alley, back against the brick wall separating the main road and the back of the bar. The dim light from the lamp post merely softened the bright red shades on his head, bringing contrast to his sharp jawline and his gorgeous body, his hands feeling his jeans for his lighter.

The lighter I was holding.

“Fuck,” I could hear him whisper as I approached. My heartbeat quickened, breathing became rapid. My groins tingled with lust; I was 5 feet away, yet I could smell his strong cologne.

Mmm, Playboy. I could get used to inhaling that scent every day.

My eyes never left him, hands huddled across my chest, clutching the one thing I had belonging to him tightly as I stood there. I never wanted this moment to end.

He noticed me. He stopped looking for his lighter, the light settled on his sole possession I had as it blinked; it was calling out to him. I stopped breathing. All was quiet, the noise in the bar sounded too far away – it was just me and him. I could no longer hear the couple behind us. It was just us.

“Um hey… Miss? Do you have a lighter or matches on ya?” He was facing me, his face was hidden in the shadows. He held out his hand. “Miss?” He called out again.

Speak, Rachel. S-P-E-A-K.

I found my voice, but all I heard was “I-uhh-do-gah-have-uhh-a-light-uhh”. Immediately my hand clasped my mouth, and I stared at him. Shit.

After months of tracking down the band, and finally having them where I wanted them, that wasn’t what I expected. This wasn’t part of the plan. I was supposed to make him notice me, and once he realized what a remarkable girl I am, he’ll fall for me. I’ll follow him wherever he travels, far and wide. I’ll have his babies, I’ll be a good mother to his kids. I’ll be his loving wife, cook for him, massage his head, combing my fingers through his soft hair…

“Miss…? I could really use a lighter right now. I think I see one in your hand,” He said, softly this time, like he was trying to calm me down. Like I was a predator on the loose, and he was the prey, stalling me. Buying himself time before I pounced.

“Yes,” was all I said. I was in a trance, images of us flooding my mind. Of us, in the church, saying our vows. Of us, on our first trip together, sharing a milkshake on the Eiffel Tower, in Paris. Of us, as we cuddle together on a soft, white bed, me in my undies, him in his boxers, my legs wrapped around his body…

“Good, thank you. Can I borrow that?” He was conversing with me. We were having a conversation. He was replying every word I said. He wanted to talk to me. I thought he liked me. Oh god, the feeling in my stomach. I felt like I was going to throw up. No, stand your ground, Rachel.

A smile crept on my face, I nodded ever so slightly. Putting one foot forward, I almost yelped in glee as his fingers brushed across mine. Slowly, he took the lighter, and lighted his cigarette. Smoke whisked around his face, fading into the air. I watched as he inhaled on the cigarette, his muscles relaxing, and he smiled. At me.