“Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear Michelle. Happy birthday to you.”
Michelle Parker took a deep breath and blew out the candles on her cake, wishing desperately this day would end. She’d always hated her birthday, in fact, if it hadn’t been for her job, she would have simply been home, indulged in a pint of Haagen-Daz and an old cheesy movie preferably in black and white.
Instead, she’d given in to their relentless pleas and agreed to come out for the evening, making the stipulation that the bar be one near her apartment so she could slip out and go home as early as she could.
At twenty-eight Michelle wasn’t the person she’d thought she should be by now. She’d planned to be married to, or at least dating, someone wonderful. The kind of guy you could count on to always be there for you. Someone with Fabio looks and Bill Gates’ money.
Unfortunately, her last few relationships had comprised a thief who’d run up tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt in her name, a lazy good for nothing who slept all day and partied all night with other women, but her latest one had been the worst.
Richard had seemed like a nice guy when they’d first met. He was a detective on the Seattle police force, and in the beginning he’d been a complete gentleman, but after a few months together he’d started trying to control her.
He wanted to know where she was at all times, he tracked her phone, called her at work to make sure she was really working and not off with another man. He’d even somehow managed to get a key to her apartment and would turn up at all hours to ‘surprise’ her.
When she’d tried to step away, he had begun to hurt her. Little things at first, a grip on the arm too tightly or a playful pinch that left a bruise. The worst and last time was six months ago, when Michelle had told him it was absolutely over.
That night, Richard had taken her out for dinner to apologize for his latest abuse towards her. Over terrible Chinese food, she felt comfortable enough surrounded by people that she ended it.
‘I can’t do this anymore,’ she remembered saying, keeping her eyes on her noodles. ‘After tonight, I don’t think we should see each other anymore.’
Richard had paused, his fork halfway to his mouth. Chancing a look up, she saw pure malevolence in his eyes, but despite the look, he simply shrugged.
‘Okay,’ was his reply, his voice flat and emotionless as he lowered his hand. ‘I’ll take you home.’
When he dropped her off at her apartment, polite in public as always, Richard got out of the car and held her door open for her. When she tried to move away, he’d grabbed her arm, his hand as tight as a vice, and tried to drag her inside to do god only knew what.
When Michelle understood his intention, she started fighting, screaming for help. In a rage, he’d punched her across the face giving her a black eye and a split lip, continuing to drag her towards her building.
Her head spinning from the blow, Michelle was helpless as he pulled her up the stairs, slamming her against its cold concrete walls when she managed to break free. Thankfully her neighbors had called the police and Richard had been arrested before he could do more than knock her around and bite her savagely on the arm in the struggle.
Even now, six months later it still burned and ached as if he were still grinding his teeth into her flesh.
In court Richard had pleaded not guilty to the assault charges, and used his connections in the police department to walk away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. The perks of being a cop, Michelle had thought at the time. She did, however, manage to get a restraining order against him thanks to a sympathetic judge, and it seemed he’d gotten the message and had left her alone since.
The only good thing she had going for her was her job. Being a bartender wasn’t the most glamorous job in the world, but it came with a steady paycheck and the tips were nice. Thankfully Seattle had a plethora of sports teams, from university level all the way to major league, which meant that she was usually always busy and she’d managed to save up a tighty sum.
Occasionally she pondered the idea of leaving, starting a new life somewhere else, but she couldn’t think of living anywhere but Seattle. The weather sometimes left something to be desired, but the atmosphere of the city made up for that. She could travel two hours east and find herself surrounded by pine trees and mountains of the Cascades, or two hours to the west and be immersed in the dense, loamy rainforest of the Olympic peninsula.
“Hey, Michelle,” Ollie, one of her regulars called over the din in the bar. “Did you get your birthday spankings yet?”
“No,” Michelle laughed, leaning in to hear her friend better. “Do you think you’re man enough to try?”
“Oh honey,” Ollie exclaimed, fanning himself with his hand. “If I was straight, I’d seriously try.”
The group around them broke out into uproarious laughter, many of the women around them nodding in agreement, some offering Ollie high-fives.
Shaking her head at their antics, Michelle accepted the slice of cake that was being offered and indulged in the overly sweet chocolatey mess. After Richard, she was in no hurry to start a relationship with anyone. As she chewed she decided life was good, especially in a world with limes, tequila, and Death-by-Chocolate cake.
Bringing the last bite to her lips, the door to the street opened letting in a chilly gust of wind and an adonis walked into the bar. Dear God he was beautiful, his dark hair glistened with flakes of snow as he stopped long enough to pull off his overcoat. Looking around, he caught Michelle staring and smiled at her.
He was one of the most beautiful men she’d even laid eyes on, the muscles under his polo shirt undulated as he slid his overcoat off and wove his way through the crowded bar towards the counter, towards her.
Blushing deeply she tore her eyes away from his shapely thighs trying to return to the conversation at hand, but found herself following the strangers movements as he made his way to the bar. He moved with a grace that reminded her of a panther she’d once seen in Woodland Park Zoo.
“He’s cute,” Ollie hissed into her ear, pointing at the man. “You should let him give you your birthday spankings.”