Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Play Misty… (warning: long post)

She hated weddings. The always awkward 'singles table'; the constant, "I'd like you to meet…"; the terrible food concocted in hopes of keeping deranged, over-lubricated Uncle So-And-So from wrenching the microphone from someone at an inappropriate time - which was, of course, inevitable. She hated it all.

And yet, here she was. Again.

She stared into the large mirror and reapplied her lipgloss, ran her fingers through her hair and adjusted the bright red gown with the plunging neckline. A pair of younger women washed up behind her, chatting about this guy or that guy, ever hopeful of 'love in the air'.

She gazed back at her reflection along the empty granite vanity with a sigh. Damn, she hated weddings! she dropped the tube of gloss into her clutch and clicked it shut.

She stepped into the corridor and thought about heading back to the large room, bedecked in fluffy pink tule and white peonies. She could hear the sound of that dreadful chicken dance wafting down the hall as the doorway opened to release another giggling gaggle of girls.

"Nope." It was a declaration of freedom. She didn't want to go back and she didn't have to. She was a grown woman, she reassured her wavering conscience. She wandered down the opposite direction, toward the lobby of the grandiose hotel and the revolving doorway that would mark her escape. She could go anywhere, she reasoned, her obligation had been fulfilled: gift delivered, cake cut, first dance observed. She didn't have to stay.

The lobby was ornate and welcoming with large overstuffed sofas and wing backed chairs arranged in groups designed to facilitate conversations. She recognized a few wedding guests who had also escaped the bubble gum fray of the reception. They guiltily ignored her as she strode toward the entrance of a dark paneled pub as if it had been her destination all along.

The sound of a drawling saxophone splashed toward her lazily as she entered, pausing a moment to allow her eyes to adjust to the soft lighting. A musician dressed in a herringbone blazer and dark pants blew into the sax on a small stage to one side, his eyes closed and an ancient felt fedora with a wide ribbon tilted precariously to one side of his natty head. Candles in tiny holders flickered a welcome to her along low slung polished tables and posh leather swivel chairs. The room smelled of expensive cigars and aged scotch mingled pleasantly with lemony wood polish.

She strode to the bar and perched like a flamingo, one leg exposed from the slit in her gown as the bartender took her order, "Martini, rocks, very dirty, three olives." She lay a twenty on the bar and swiveled on the stool, crossing her bare leg over the crimson silk of the other, to watch the musician as he coaxed his instrument into sounds far beyond its capacity. The music swirled and dipped around her, embracing the sharp edges of her mood and polishing them into softness. She assured herself that this was a good idea and took a relaxing breath, whooshing out her tension and letting her shoulders drop from their uncomfortable perch.

She sipped from her cocktail, nodding her approval to the bartender and slowly let her eyes take in the low-lit room. That was when she saw him. Pushed up against a corner not far from the stage, legs kicked languidly out in front of him, his arm resting on the table, toying with a glass of dark liquid. He was dressed in a white coat tuxedo, black ebony buttons glinting in the candle light.

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He was staring right at her. She shifted on the stool, suddenly aware of the plunging neckline and open slit of the gown. Her face flushed with the realization and she begged the darkness of the pub to cover her insecurities. She looked away from his stare, unblinking in his boldness.

She tried to concentrate on the musician at the microphone. She sipped from her drink, silently praying that she wouldn't fumble and spill vodka down her front. His gaze was unnerving and she could feel the heat of it from across the room. Her hand quaked ever so slightly as she set the low ball on the bar.

Too soon the musician spoke softly into the mic and excused himself for a break, leaving the stage empty of anything to capture her attention. She smiled at the man in the fedora as he made his way to the bar and took a soda from the bartender. He winked at her quickly and strode to the darkened corner and sat himself down with the man in the tuxedo.

While they chatted together she watched, keeping her eyes low beneath the shroud of her dark lashes. He was exquisite! His hair darkened with a smattering of pomade and combed back from his brow, a slight scruff of beard beginning to show in the late hour on his strong jaw, he oozed confidence and easy attraction. He was trim, but sure strength lurked just below the elegant tux and starched white shirt. Even the bow tie seemed to sport a cavalier, almost mocking grin from below his chin, now broken in a wide smile as he conversed and chuckled quietly with his friend.

He reached for his drink and raised it to his lips as she watched, now openly enthralled, her shyness forgotten in an instant of unguarded appreciation. His eyes locked with hers. She could see his smile behind the glass, transmitted more through the smoldering gaze of his deep brown eyes than anything she could see of his mouth. He lowered the glass and she watched his adams apple move up and down as he swallowed the liquid.

No matter that her mind was screaming at her, panic rising in her exposed chest, she couldn't seem to break his gaze. He reached across the table and patted the musician on his shoulder, still staring right into her eyes as if he were boring into her very soul. He rose from his seat and said something in low tones to his friend, hand still resting on his shoulder as he started her way.

He was coming across the bar, a smirk beginning to form at those perfect corners of his mouth. Oh good Lord! Her mind was reeling, her heart pounding a rhythm in her chest so loud she was sure he could see it thump in the bare spot at the neckline of her gown. It was too late to run. She would probably trip in these shoes, anyway, she thought wryly. She was a grown woman… Surely she could handle this.

He eased his way to the bar, across the chasm of the all but empty pub and leaned on an elbow in front of her. He said nothing as he observed her slowly, letting his eyes flow from her face, down the neckline of her gown, coming to rest at her crossed legs and back up again. The move would normally have left her cold and irritated, but something about him muffled her usual responses. Confidence emanated from him and enveloped her so completely that all she could feel was the giddy rise of heat in her blood.

He smiled easily at her and reached for her hand. And as he opened his mouth to speak a sharp, shrill beeping began to trill in her ears painfully. He looked past her in startled wonder. Desperate to silence the sound she cupped her hands over her ears to no avail. His mouth opened and closed, clearly trying to communicate something to her but all she could hear was that horrific screeching! Was it a fire alarm? Damn it! She could feel the pull of something hard against her, dragging her from the stool and his grasp. Suddenly, she was surrounded by a blinding light...

She groaned in desperation as she rolled from the warmth of her comforter and blankets to slap at the alarm, railing cheerfully at her from the nightstand at her bedside. She kept her eyes closed just a moment longer, but the dream was gone. The man in the tuxedo was gone, as was the fedora clad musician, slipping from her like mist burning off in the intense sunlight pouring through her bedroom windows.

She blinked against the bright light of the morning and turned to gaze at the numbers on her bedside clock. It was time to get up and get showered. She had a wedding to go to.

She hated weddings...