Daniel spotted me at a bar last night. I had seen him a few minutes earlier and pondered leaving, or at least moving, to make sure I was no longer within eyeshot. But it looked like he was with a lot of people and he was talking so loudly I was sure he was drunk enough to not be paying attention even if his eyes had wandered my way.

Oh how wrong I was. Once he spotted me, his head bobbed behind his friend’s backside every few minutes to make sure I was still there, doing his best to make eye contact with myself, whose head stayed down for the most part. It was an awkward moment.

I hadn’t seen him since last summer. It was a terrible situation. We had gotten ourselves wrapped up in each other while we had both been dating other people. We had quite a few good times, talked about our similar interests in writing screenplays and watching horror movies but collectively didn’t have a leg to stand on. His skin was bronzed and smooth and his body was almost perfect, his arms and legs toting rippled, warmed muscles and his smile electric with pulsing white teeth.

That summer had been one of my most delirious. We spent days lying in lounge chairs by his pool, drinking peach margaritas and smoking cloves, giving into our hedonistic tendencies, giggling at our fanciful whims. We spent a lot of time together and yet he never told me he loved me, something I always respected about him. One cannot love what one does not abhor at the same time. I strongly believe that. There was nothing of any strength or magnitude between us. I certainly didn’t love him.

And yet here he was, doing his best to get my attention. Finally, I could take no more, paid my tab and made my way to the restroom, in the hopes that he would lose track of me and I would be able to disappear.

No such luck. By the time I came out of the restroom, he was standing in front of the door. I cursed to myself.

“Jolie…” he whispered, in the dim lit area in between the bathrooms and the rest of the bar.

“Hello, Daniel,” I said, zipping my purse, tossing it over my shoulder, doing my best to stay calm and collected. I wanted to skip the drama.

His smile melted the ice I had done my best to gather together while in the restroom. I was instantly attracted to him all over again. It was a bad scene. He didn’t say much, but grabbed my arm and brought me slightly closer. “I’ve thought about you every day,” he said softly.

Now, I hadn’t thought about Daniel everyday, but pretty damned close. He was someone I had thought about for years through high school who hadn’t even known I existed until years later, through mutual friends. I remember dreams I once had about him taking me to prom that never solidified but the time we spent together in these years past seemed to more than make up for those childish wishes.

His arm found its way in the side of my jacket suddenly and in one fluid motion, wrapping around me as if it was a gun finding its way back to its holster, as if it had lived there. He pulled me closer and stepped toward me as well, his lips close to my ear. “I have to see you, Jolie,” he whispered, his warm, unsteady breath hovering about my neck and staying. “It’s been too long for me to let you walk out of here without promising you’ll see me.”

I knew he was drunk but he knew exactly how to work me, even after a whole year of being away. I immediately wanted to sleep with him. But again, I was faced with moral dilemmas. I thought of his girlfriend, dumb, cold and blonde. I thought of Drew, dramatic, troubled, everything I felt that I was. I consistently romanticized, talked myself into how good everything and everyone was.

But nevertheless, he was there; I had been drinking my Ketel sodas and from the smell of him, he’d been drinking gin. I remembered him being partial to martinis so I decided that’s what he might have been drinking. I imagined him doing his best to hold the wide round glass gracefully, handling the olive-laden toothpick, pulling one between his teeth and chewing, laughing at a dirty joke or a drunk girl being picked up at the bar just a few stools down. Then I envisioned how he was when he discovered me, all his grandeur and grace being thrown out the window. I found myself moistening at the thought of him desperate for me, like he had been years ago. I was growing desperate myself.

“Can we go somewhere?” he asked.

I decided to attempt to stop this before it got really out of hand. But when a woman hears those words…

“There’s nowhere to go,” I said shortly.

He smiled as if he had just found me out. “There’s always somewhere to go.”

I fidgeted a bit, wormed my way around his arm, trying to wriggle loose but he just held me tighter, pulled me closer. Grinned.

“If you really, really don’t want to go anywhere with me right now, look me in the eye and tell me so, and I’ll let you go and leave you alone,” he said, making his best attempt at seriousness.

I fidgeted more, looked him in the eye. “I really, really don’t want to go anywhere with you,” I said, straightening my posture and feeling confident.

He wrapped his other arm around me. “You fucking liar,” he said smiling, his dimples in full force before he kissed me.

That next half hour went very quickly, and before I knew it I was in his apartment and my jacket was off. I was already chastising myself for agreeing to leave with him. But the vodka had gone to my head and I had acted irrationally and impulsively, as I had with him originally the summer before.

I was playing with my cell phone, silently starting to plan my exit speech. He had just returned from the other room with music now playing softly and two Coronas in his hand.

“Look, Daniel, I really should be going.”

His face dropped as he sat down on the couch next to me. “But, you just got here. It’s been a long time, baby.” He took a swig of his Corona and inched closer, passing me the long neck bottle over my bare shoulder. I wrapped my fingers around the cold glass.

I sat down the bottle on the coffee table before me. “Where’s Megan tonight?” I asked, biting a fingernail.

His eyes settled down a little bit from the frenzy they had worked up into. “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

I nodded, crossing my arms.

“Come on, you said you wanted to come here.”

I couldn’t help but laugh at his audacity. “I actually said quite the opposite.”

“One drink? Please?” He seemed hopeful, good-natured. There was a twisted honesty about him at this very moment, vulnerability in him that I had never imagined, let alone seen.

I wanted to forget Drew. But I knew that this wasn’t moving on. This was a shot, a joint, a painkiller. Another temporary fix.

I lifted the abandoned beer and took a sip. “One drink,” I said, nodding, looking nervously at him. He grabbed the side of my face with one hand, swept down to set down my beer with the other, and leaned in to cover my mouth with his own…

Today I feel dirty. I’m staying in.


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