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Chapter 2 of my novella Fate at First Sight.
As always, I welcome your positive feedback and advice.
Thank you for your consideration.
One Month Earlier…
The mid-sized bar was a local favorite for those working in the nearby office buildings. Sitting atop the five-story multi-use building, its open air patio looked out over the city. On a clear, comfortable night, one could find singles searching for company, couples relaxing and friends ensconced on either the plush seats lining the patio, the leather chairs inside, gathered around the full sized billiards table, or holing down seats at the bar. And Friday happy hour was the busiest. Many stayed well after that. This night, so did Alyss and some of their coworkers.
Hayley finished off her third drink of the night. Her boyfriend Sam and Alyss watched as she almost slammed it.
“Easy girl,” Alyss said, her third drink of the night half full in her hand. “It’s not that late.”
“She’s right,” Sam said with a smile.
Hayley sat her glass on the bar, then turned towards Sam. She put one arm around his back and the other hand on his chest. Sam saw the rum induced haze in her eyes and devilish smile on her full, purple colored lips.
Alyss looked at them both as they kissed. Hayley’s ebony skin, brown hair done up in small, tight curls fanning out from her head and lean frame contrasted with Sam’s fashionable blazer, blond hair and pale complexion.
Done, Hayley leaned back.
“You just want me good and drunk tonight,” she said.
“No,” Sam answered, his arm now around her. “Just buzzed enough to still enjoy it.”
“Getting buzzed and laid is the aim of most you guys here tonight,” Hayley added. The two kissed again.
Alyss sat quietly on a bar stool, her friend Russell stood next to her, trying not to overly stare at the public display of affection, and suggested activity once the two arrived back home. He glanced down at Alyss, taking in the powder blue camisole under the jacket of her light yellow pant suit.
“Been meaning to ask how your week went?” he asked, drawing their attention away from their friend’s activities.
“Great! Actually,” Alyss said, looking up at Russell, welcoming the distraction. They had been friends for a while. He worked in one of the office buildings nearby. “Business is going great. Got a lot of great ideas as far as the graphics we’re designing.”
“Hey, Alyss! Don’t give away our company secrets!”
She and Russell saw Armon and Grace approaching. With them were some other coworkers, including Regina, all fashionably dressed.
“Get tired of the patio?” Alyss asked as the group huddled around them at the bar.
“Gonna grab one more before we leave,” Armon said, he and Grace each holding a near empty pint and each others hand.
Regina came up next to Russell. Alyss saw her drink him in with her eyes, as she always did when they meet.
“You guys having a good night?” Regina asked him.
“Always when among friends,” he answered with a smile.
Both let out a small laugh. Alyss smiled. She knew Regina had been trying to bed Russell şişli rus escort for a while. Men were not the only ones here getting a buzz and trying to get laid, if not necessarily in that order. Given his looks, this was no surprise. That and the fact he was currently single got him a lot of attention.
“Well,” Regina then said, putting her arm around his. “I’m going to find some seats. Got something to do before I leave here tonight. But promise not to go before we get caught up with another round.”
Russell smiled. “Will do.”
Regina looked at Alyss. “You too, okay?”
Alyss lifted her drink and smiled. Regina then set off towards the back part of the bar.
Armon then gestured at Russell. “Speaking of business, how’s it going for your firm Russ?”
“Well. Like you guys, we got some projects…”
There in the middle of it all, Alyss sat back and sipped her drink as Russell went on about his line of work. Sam and Hayley, still grasping each other, chatted away with Grace and two others. As her rum and cola neared the end, Alyss wondered if she wanted another, a more than noticeable buzz starting to hit her. With her glass with one hand, holding the thin straw within her mouth in the other, sipping the rest of her drink, she noticed the elevator door nearby open up. One of the perks of this bar was direct elevator access from the first floor. As conversation filled the air around her, she watched the twin doors slide apart, exposing the lone occupant.
Her heart missed a beat. She froze, transfixed on the man stepping off the elevator, sitting there with a straw all but hanging from her mouth. Dumfounded by her own actions, she simply stared at him.
He walked casually towards the bar, his blue, two-piece suit fitting him perfectly, moving as he did. His dark rimmed glasses matched his short, dark hair, as did the five o-clock shadow surrounding his face. The bit of extra flesh under his chin did not detract from the rigid jaw line he carried. All of this gave him a rugged look, bringing to mind a man of Italian decent, mixed with a soft skin tone from some unknown relative beyond the Mediterranean area.
As this unknown person passed by, he glanced at the bar, looking at no one person, scanning the rows of bourbon and whisky from all over the world upon the shelves. Alyss peered into his dark eyes as he did so.
An urge she had not felt in a long time sprang up deep within her stomach. The almost primal sensation tickled her spine.
She slowly rotated upon her bars tool, watching him walk past, now only catching a glimpse of him between the other people standing around her.
Alyss turned back towards Russell, his question breaking her concentration.
“Yeah.” She cleared her throat and swung around to face the bar. “Think I’ll a… have another.”
Russell had noticed the odd look on her face. Now she sat without another word as he watched her pull her hair back behind her ear, then turn her head the other way. He looked that way also. The man who just walked by, the one Alyss seemed to fixed on a moment ago, now stood near the end of the bar, scanning the entire room.
No sooner had şişli türbanlı escort he decided to ask if she was alright, he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned. His friend Julia stood there staring at him all smiles.
Alyss paid no attention to Russell or his new companion. Her sight held steadfast in the opposite direction. She had lost sight of him. Ever so subtly, she raised herself in the chair, using the footrest of the bar stool to gain elevation.
“Need another?” the bartender asked.
Alyss looked at him. “Yes. Please. Thanks.”
Turning again, she saw Regina through the crowd, standing near a set of leather seats and small table between. Looking left and right, there were still too many people milling around, obscuring her view. Glancing back at Regina, she saw her smile and step forward, extending her hand.
He then came into view to greet Regina.
Without realizing it, Alyss drew in a quick breath, her heart beating a bit faster. She watched as the two sat upon down, both smiling and talking.
Regina’s not seeing anyone right now. Alyss thought, a dozen different notions racing through her mind. She’s been trying to bag Russell. Is he a friend—
“Isn’t that right, Alyss?”
She turned back to see Russell and Julia looking at her, he gesturing at her with the glass in her hand.
“Ah… What?” Alyss said with a smile, sitting properly back upon the bar stool.
“Was telling Julia here about how living downtown here is not all that bad.”
Alyss recovered her thoughts. “Ah… Yeah. Near work.” The bartender sat a drink next to her. She took it up and then almost half it down. She looked over at Julia. “All in all, not a bad place to live.”
Julia halfheartedly smiled back, appearing not too happy that Russell brought her into the conversation.
“Hope we didn’t interrupt you,” Julia said, drawing herself closer to Russell, marking her territory. “Looked as though you were trying to find someone.”
At that suggestion, Alyss cringed. “Ah, no.”
“For Regina maybe?” Russell added, looking that way himself.
“Maybe some man caught her eye,” Julia said, wrapping her arm around Russell’s. “I know the feeling. A lot of eye catching ones here.”
Russell looked at her and smiled. “Why would Alyss to that when I’m standing right here!”
All three let out a laugh. Russell to be funny. Alyss to cover her embarrassment. Julia to impress Russell.
At that moment Regina appeared. Stunned, Alyss turned to face her.
“Hey guys,” Regina began. “Might be a bit longer than I thought. So if you need to take off go ahead. We’ll catch up some other time.”
“Everything okay?” Alyss asked.
“Just gonna hit the little girls room and head back to my friend.”
A friend? Alyss thought.
“Oh,” she then spat out. “I’ll… I’ll come with.”
Regina smiled and turned towards the other end of the bar. Alyss finished her drink, watched by a slightly stunned Russell, having never before seen her just pound one down. She then followed behind Regina, not seeing, nor caring, as Julia hoped into the still warm bar stool.
Once inside the immaculate bathroom, şişli ucuz escort the ladies headed straight for the sinks and large, clean mirrors over them. The two then began the ritual of improving their already good looks.
“So how you doing so far tonight?” Alyss asked as she fished out a small compact from within her jacket. Touching up her face, she wondered how to broach the subject of her friend, and perhaps weasel her way into a seat at their table.
“Great so far,” Regina answered best she could while applying more lipstick she just fetched from her clutch.
“Your friend…” Careful, Alyss thought. Don’t look desperate. Already had that Julia woman thinking I was cock blocking her with Russell. “I mean, I’ve never seen him before.”
Next, Alyss produced a small brush/comb combo and began priming her hair.
Regina put away her lipstick. Next, more eye liner was in order. “Hope you get to see a lot of him.”
Alyss froze for a moment, eyes wide, staring at Regina in the mirror. A slight tingle returned to her stomach. She put on a smile to cover her shock and the warm sensation coming over her crotch. “Why. You trying to hook me up?” Oh God! This is too good to be true!
“No,” Regina said, working on the lashes of her other eye. “Might need you to do some graphic work for us.”
Alyss turned to face Regina. Her smile replaced with confusion.
“He’s a client?” she asked.
“A huh.” Regina nodded. “Or should say may be. He’s wanting us to redesign the web site he has for his book distribution business. Imperial Books.”
As Regina went on about the details, Alyss slowly turned back towards the mirror. The feelings of anticipation tinged what that adolescent, horny feeling disappeared. She looked back down at the comb in her hand. Looking back up at herself, she folded up the grooming tool, placing it back into her jacket.
“Need a touch up?” Regina asked, holding a small bottle of perfume.
Alyss looked at her in the mirror, putting a feeble smile on her face, shaking her head. “No. I’m good.”
Regina sprayed a hefty amount over her neck and torso. Finished, she put it away. Next, she straightened out a few wrinkles in her shirt, pulling down on the front a bit to expose more of her chest.
“Well, Alyss. How do I look? Got enough of the girls showing to catch his attention.”
Alyss looked her over in the mirror. She had more than enough showing. “You look nice, Regina. Good luck.”
“I’ll let you know how it goes, okay?” Regina said, readying to leave.
“Sure.”Alyss attempted to display some enthusiasm. “And let me know if you…” She tried to be cheery. “You need my help!”
Alyss turned again back to the mirror as Regina strode away and out of the bathroom. She leaned over, placing her hands on the counter. All the euphoria swelling up within her earlier was gone.
One unwritten, all but official, workplace rule was that relationships with clients -potential or existing- were frowned upon. Leads to accusation of special treatment, especially when it came to money, and lawsuits. That’s how Alyss got her job she found out later. One of the prior graphic artist became a cub to a cougar of a client.
She looked at herself in the mirror.
You can date coworkers, see them outside work, screw them on the weekends if you want, but not a client. Just my luck. Maybe…
A myriad of feelings flooded her. Desire. Disappointment. Yearing. Regret.
It might just be a good thing for me.
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