Found By Drew by TS Arthur

 

My face twitched as I tried not to betray emotion. It was a new relationship technique my friend Annie had insisted I try out; some stupid claptrap she’d read in one of those silly women’s magazines littering every salon waiting room. The guy I had been talking to was a walking cliché - a cartoon character from my youth brought to life.

I wasn’t confident around guys; I preferred to sit back and let the man make the first move. That’s why I let Annie guide me so much. She was the confident one, the one with all the answers - the one who had pushed me in Alex’s direction in the first place.

He stood at about six feet tall, a beautiful, sculpted figure of a man who had been turning up the charm to make me flash my pearly whites all night. The thing was, I hated flashing them on account of the twisted mess some of them were. When a dentist offered me a brace at 12, I’d cringed and denied.

You had to give the guy credit for trying though; he’d cracked corny pick-up lines and cheesy jokes for over an hour to make me smile, and when that muscle had twitched to lift my lips on the one side… well, I kind of felt like he deserved it. Besides, it meant I’d earned myself a free meal on our second date, and no one could argue with that.

“Boom! And there it is, ladies and gentlemen; the lady cracked a smile. And boy, what a difference it makes to your face, my beautiful little doll.” He smiled, all teeth and blue eyes, flicking his 90s-style fringe with a toss of the head.

Bugger me, cliché all the way. But so what? It worked on some weird level.

“Indeed, it was. Just a tiny one. You'll have to do better than that old rubbish to get a real smile out of me though,” I teased, enjoying the interaction.

I had been young, free, and single for far too long, and his general hotness made me feel sexy in all the right ways. For a guy like Alex to finally take an interest in me… well, my brain was still trying to work that one out. But I wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity of spending more time with him. I loved an old-fashioned guy who knew how to treat his lady right, and this one seemed like he would tick all the boxes.

“So, how does Friday at eight suit you, doll? I’ll meet you here for a drink, then perhaps we can drive out to a swanky little place I know.” He winked, slight creases appearing around his eyes. We'd known each other for years; friends of friends, bumping into each other at one gathering or the next. I’d always liked the look of him, but one or the other of us had been attached whenever we’d met. We had never managed to move past the friend zone.

“It’s a date,” I said, smiling a little more despite myself.

Annie’s stupid magazines be damned. If I had something to smile about, I was bloody well going to smile about it.

“Don’t be late,” he said, standing upright, running a hand through his hair and leaning into me. I panicked, not wanting to seem prudish, but I wasn’t one for kissing on the first date, no matter how long I might have known him. I didn’t mind so much if it were in my apartment, and I was no stranger to the odd drunken mistake, but I always worried about having the piss taken out of me by someone a few months down the line. You never knew who might be lurking in a shadowy corner, and I'd been caught out before. One more of my weird peculiarities, I supposed.

He must have sensed my awkwardness, or remembered my weirdness from one of our previous conversations. Changing tack as he leaned in, he moved his arm, touched my shoulder, and let his fingers trail with delicate touches down to my slender wrist. He cupped my hand in his, lifted it to his mouth, and pecked it ever so quickly. His eyes never left mine. It was romantic, but in a masculine kind of way. It reminded me of the way Europeans in movies always made the kiss look sexy and intimate, rather than the sleazy way they are in most nightclubs. I flushed and looked up at him through my eyelashes.

“See you Saturday, Alex. It’s been a pleasure bumping into you again.”

“Oh, Lia. The pleasure was all mine, believe me. ‘Til Saturday, doll,” Alex said, his voice husky. He winked again as he turned and walked away.

For the first time in ages, it seemed like the fates weren’t against us. He was single, I was single, and we’d finally get a chance to see where this—whatever this might be— could lead us.