Later that night...
Ariel pulled out of her daydreaming and back into her friend’s boring conversation.
They all had this lame idea to try speed dating near the local shopping complex. But this one was going to be held at the restaurant. Ariel had better plans but her friends weren’t having it. This had to be the worst idea they came up with to help her get over her ex-boyfriend.
It’s not like they’ll understand or anything. Her ex was a part of her life since high school, most of their “relationships” never made it past the club mixers they often went to. This was no different.
Ariel tagged along in one of her most casual outfits, she hadn’t bothered with a full face of makeup, because, who cares? She thought. Not as if she had anyone to impress. It’s just going to be a bunch of thirsty losers looking to get their cocks wet.
She could use it to her advantage, actually play along, pretend to find a warm body for the night. It was almost 6 pm, if she got plastered, maybe it won’t be so bad.
After she signed her name and number on the sheet, the hosts gave her a really square name tag and she fake smiled going straight to the bar. Her friends paid for her just in case she bolted.
“So long as you keep these coming,” she said, raising her drink, mock smiling. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Her friends rolled their eyes, got their drinks, and separated as she made her way to the first table she was instructed to. Ariel gulped her drink but paced herself. She looked around as she saw a group of guys walking in, all of them solid 3s. Yeah, she was being a cunt, but seriously, any high-quality guys are nowhere to be found here.
In a few minutes, the place was packed, Ariel couldn’t breathe as the first guy kept staring at her creepily.
“Hey there,” he said, his name was Todd. Why is everyone gross named Todd? She thought.
He checked the time on his phone and grinned, opening his mouth, showing his capped white rabbit teeth.
Ariel cleared her throat, “Hi,”
“Are you shy or something, doll?”
She bugged her eyes, staring down as she face-palmed herself. “Nope.”
“You look like a fun girl. Ever been in a Rolls-Royce?”
Okay, this fucker had money, he could be lying for all I know, she thought. “Not really.”
“Well, mine is outside—” He was interrupted by the bell, which meant he had to get up and go to the next table.
Shrugging, he got up, “Your loss babe.”
Ariel cringed, watching him go and the next guy came to sit down in his place.
“Hiya, blimey, you’re bloody gorgeous,” he said in a vaguely British accent. “What are you doing tonight, love?”
“I may be busy,” she shrugged, he wasn’t that creepy but he was a little desperate, still put her guard up, sipping her drink.
“Well, if ya change your mind, fancy some dinner? Am a chief. I’ll cook you a meal as lovely as you.” He said with complete confidence, taking his business card out and placed it in front of her.
She gave an uncomfortable smile, watching him get up, winking at her as he went to the next table.
The next guy sat down, tall, looked about 6′3", everything about this guy screamed masculine. Then he opened his mouth...
“I have the softest car here if you wanna have a quickie. If you wanna choke me, that’s a bonus.”
“Hard pass.” She rolled her eyes and downed the rest of her drink, signaling to the bartender she wanted another.
He came over and dropped a new one, taking the old glass, and turning away.
“Why do I get the feeling you’re a tomcat?” The greasy Brooklyn guy really needed to cool himself down. “Fucking hot.”
She was about to castrate him figuratively when they were interrupted by another man.
Ariel’s lips parted, she kept staring at the man as he approached the table, determined.
“Believe it’s my turn, piss off mate.” He said in a low Irish accent to the guy who looked like he wanted to jump him. He could, he had 7 inches over him easily.
But the Brooklyn asshat left just as the bell rang. She breathed a sigh of relief.
Ariel gazed at the man as he sat down, soft blond hair carelessly styled off his forehead, his strong blue eyes bore into hers as he stared at her with an amused smile. Ariel looked to his chest and noticed he wasn’t wearing a name tag. What the fuck is going on? She thought.
“Hello, ya alright?” His deep Irish accent reverberated.
Ryan McGuinness realized this was the last time he was going to be set up by one of his mates. Not that he really needed or cared to date anyone, supposed it was pressure to find someone. It’s all a bunch of bullocks, anyway.
As he walked to the restaurant he noticed signs that read SPEED DATING THIS WAY and he rolled his eyes.
Did people actually buy into this shit? Apparently, they did as a group of girls walked by him, one, a brunette, deep emerald eyes, almost cat-like, wearing a scowl as she tagged behind her friends who were clearly more interested than she. She didn’t say anything, just crossed her arms, her green jacket bunching as she did. She seemed sad but it wasn’t Ryan’s problem.
He scoffed and got a table for two in the back of the dimly lit posh restaurant, getting his drink order out of the way. Once it came, he checked the time and looked around the area.
He thought about texting the girl he was meant to meet but declined. No need to seem desperate on the first date.
He was only half-interested in this working out. Mutual friends don’t really make him hold his breath. If he got laid, okay, but he prayed she wasn’t a psycho if she showed up.
It’s been about 15 minutes, it could be a maintenance thing, knowing girls, but he had better things to do. In five minutes if she didn’t make an appearance, he’d jet without another look. Probably head out to the club, actually guarantee some action on a Friday night.
He walked up to the bar to pay for his drink and got a validation when he paused. It was that girl from before. Cat eyes, she rubbed the back of her neck, looking extremely uncomfortable. The giant bloke sitting opposite from her was more than likely responsible for it. Not his problem, but he wasn’t an ass, the guy was practically harassing her and all Ryan could do was look back at the girl in mental pain.
This wasn’t right...Ryan charged forward toward the table, having no clue what he was doing, but he knew he had to do something.
“Believe it’s my turn. Piss off, mate,” Ryan said, seizing the guy up.
He stared him down and stood his ground with mild apprehension. He actually won this one with minimal brooding. This guy was all braun but no balls, Ryan could tell. Being shorter than he, he could probably kick this guy in the balls and call it a night.
He barely caught the girl’s surprised expression as the guy stepped off and he sat in his place, having no idea what he’s going to do next. The girl, ARIEL, on her name tag kept staring at him, her eyes dropped to his chest then back up in confusion.
“Hello, ya alright?”
She blushed into an awkward laugh, finding it difficult to speak. Ryan laughed along with her, breaking the ice, feeling the exact same as her.
"Okay, well, that was...not quite sure what that was.”
“Well, could see ya weren’t interested in the bloke. Looked a little too fresh in me eyes.”
Ariel stared at him, scoffing.
"Why are you here?”
“To find love.” He smirked.
“Do you have any idea how strange that sounds?”
“Could ask the same of you?”
“Neither here nor there.” She raised her brow.
Ryan looked at her and tapped his chin, “Ya wanna get out of here?”
Ariel blinked at this guy’s tenacity. “Oh hell no.”
“I’m not what ya thinking. What do ya say?”
Ariel pursed her lips, staring at him, trying to read his mind, all he did was smile like he had a secret.
“Meet me outside when you’ve had enough, love.” He winked.
She watched him stand up and make his way over to the bartender, asking for a paper slip, wrote something down, and handed it to him. With that, he left, without looking back at her.
Ariel narrowed her eyes and grabbed her purse, not knowing what the hell was going on but more than willing to find out.
A whistle was heard as the bartender held up a folded note pointing it in her direction. She went to the bar, grabbed the letter, and read it.
Hey Mermaid Girl,
Bring your cat-eyes outside
❤️ Ryan (the blond bloke who came to your rescue)
Ariel rolled her eyes at the mermaid quip, is this guy for real? Why would she ever come outside with a stranger?
Maybe the curiosity got the better of her. She bit her lip, staring at the exit. Before she could think, she walked outside and looked at both sides of the doorway. Nothing.
“Jesus, am I being stood up?”
“It’s Ryan, and don’t remind me.” She heard the Irish guy, Ryan, say behind her.
She smirked, turned around, “You think you’re so slick.”
She held up the folded paper between her fingers. “Care to explain?”
“Yes, I got your note. Tell me if this is a joke right now so I can get outta here.”
Ryan laughed, throwing his head back, “Do ya think if I was mad I would try to score ya?”
“So I’m just supposed to trust you? Just like that?” She asked him.
He shrugged, blond hair flying in the breeze. “Your choice, love. You chose to come out and I promised to take ya out of here.”
She narrowed her eyes, “Where?”
He held out his hand, waiting for her to take it, but she just stared at it.
“I have no idea what’s going on.”
“I know, neither do I.” He smirked, keeping his hand extended to her.
“This is absolutely the craziest thing I’ve ever done.” She shook her head in disbelief, slipping her hand in his.
“First time for everything, suppose,” Ryan said, leading her to his dark green Range Rover.
She looked at him as he opened the door for her, smiled, and got in. He went around to the driver’s seat and got in, both buckling up.
Ryan switched on the lights and turned on the engine, the heater flipped automatically on at full blast. He turned to her, wincing.
“Sorry, I uh, it was freezing when I drove here. Like it kinda hot.” He rubbed the back of his neck, pulling out of the parking lot, slightly turning down the dial.
“Feel free, it’s getting a little cold outside.” She said, staring at his profile, the dark chest hair made her curious.
He shared a look with her before getting on the road, driving to nowhere in particular, “Fair play, were you really gonna stay until the end with all those dodgy blokes trying to score ya?”
“More than likely not. Which is weird because I was in the mood for something a little...”
He looked at her briefly.
“...distracting. Planned on getting so drunk that if I did wind up with a guy, I won’t remember anything.”
“That woulda been a good craic.”
Ariel smiled at his sarcasm, looking out the window as she bit her lip. “So any particular reason for my rescue tonight?”
“I needed a reason?” He asked, staring at her, making a turn.
“Well...it was out of nowhere. The guy would have left anyway. That’s why they call it speed dating.”
Ryan made a turn on the freeway and merged with the traffic, “Could tell ya didn’t wanna be there. Saw ya at the start, your mates weren’t about to skip out, you just looked sad and uncomfortable. I don’t know, it felt wrong, suppose.”
Interesting that he was watching her, she didn’t know whether to be scared or a little intrigued that he cared.
“Wouldn’t have been worth it to trade blows with that guy you challenged.”
“Any fight is worth it. Can’t waste a proper punch.”
“Right,” She said sarcastically, rolling her eyes and cleared her throat, “So, where are we going?”
“Wherever, just away. Where would ya like to go?”
Ariel scoffed into a smile, “Are you kidding? I thought you knew where to go?”
“Don’t like living by the rules. Be in the moment. Life would be better without all the fucking rules. Kills off the pressures too.”
Ariel shook her head, clucking her tongue, “So if I told you let’s crash a hotel pool after hours, you’d, what, actually go?”
Ryan smiled, lifting his eyebrows.
“That’s fucked up.”
Ryan suddenly made a U-Turn flipping around the stoplight, “Pretty sure I saw a Marriott Courtyard a few streets back. Feeling daring, love?”
Ariel’s eyes bugged out as she held onto the armrest, “You’re insane. I’m not doing that.”
“Hey, it’s your idea, let’s see if ya got game.” He winked at her.
“And if we get caught?”
He shrugged, “Fuck all, who cares if we get caught?”
“I care,” she said, he looked at her like he didn’t believe her.
“Don’t tell me you’re afraid of a little excitement?”
She glared at him, her scowl returning, “Ugh!” She held her hands up. ”Can’t believe you’re making me do this.”
He gritted his teeth, rolled his eyes, and stopped at an intersection.
“Look, I’ll be sound with ya. I’m not normally this spontaneous. In fact, most of me life has a pretty rigorous schedule. For once, it’d be a nice change to leave it to the wind. Feel like losing the plot a bit tonight.”
Ariel watched as he pulled up to the parking lot of the courtyard, looking deserted. There was an ominous feeling in the air, and Ariel didn’t like it. Ryan on the other hand was like a kid willing to risk getting arrested.
“You better know a good lawyer.” She said, opening the door and meeting him on the other end.
“Shut up, Mermaid Girl, you’re annoying, ya know that?”
Ariel crossed her arms as he locked his car.
The weather became slightly warmer but stayed in the 60s. Ryan automatically took her hand and they walked to find out where the side gate was. They found it but Ariel had second thoughts.
“Wait,” she said, just as he was climbing the locked gate. “Shouldn’t we think about this before committing a crime?”
“Where’s your fun? If we’re quiet, we won’t get caught. Follow me lead. Promise.” He turned around and hopped the gate easily.
Ariel gulped and moved forward, having no idea how she was going to get to the other side. “Umm, yeah, I can’t do this.”
Ryan looked at her like he was bored, “Sure ya can. Just step on there,” he gestured to the step rock that was on the side. “I didn’t cause I got inches on ya. Use it to hop over and I got ya on the other end. You won’t fall, trust me?”
Ariel’s eyes narrowed, “Not particularly.”
“I’ll give ya a surprise if ya come over.”
“Tell me what it is now?”
“No, prove you’re worthy of it. You’re not scared, are ya?” He smiled, goading her.
Ariel rolled her eyes, “Not scared of anything.”
Ryan beaconed her with his finger and stood from a distance but kept close in case. “Am waiting.”
She took a breath and hoisted herself up on the stone step with slight ease, she wasn’t thinking about the height from it, being barely five feet above the ground. She looked to the gate and climbed on top, hesitating before she jumped into Ryan’s grip.
“Got ya, see, that was easy, yeah?” He asked, staring at her for a moment as he held her securely.
She smiled shyly, seeing his eyes up close. Not knowing quite sure where she was for a minute. “Sure, umm, thanks.”
“No problem,” he said, awkwardly releasing her as she stood up. “Alright, let’s go check it out. Just be quiet.”
Ariel brought her finger to her lips and followed him to the pool area, she wasn’t going to lie, it did look pretty good.
“Wanna get in?” Ryan asked her, taking off his jacket, placing it on the beach chairs.
She blushed, just thinking that but getting nervous as she felt his eyes on her.
“Umm, I don’t have a suit.”
“Don’t need one. Strip down to your bra and pants, er, panties. Don’t wanna get your clothes wet. They got towels over there.” He pointed behind her. “We should be grand.”
She laughed, “Didn’t take long for you to ask me to take off my clothes.”
Ryan scoffed, “Fine, don’t, I’m going in, this looks good to me. Came this far...”
He finished stripping down and winked at her before jumping in the deep end. He did that guy thing where he slicked his hair back and shook it out like a dog. Why do all guys do that? She thought, partly staring at his well-toned arms.
“So you’re just gonna stand there and watch me, yeh?”
Ariel sighed, it was really tempting and this whole scene turned her on in more ways than one. She grumbled, taking off her clothes one by one, leaving on her panties and bra.
She walked to the deep end and hesitated before dipping her toe in the water, rolling her eyes at how lame she was being.
“Alright, I’ll call it, time of death half past 9 pm.” Ryan chuckled. “Just fucking get in, babe.”
“Shut up, making sure it’s not freezing.” She confirmed.
“Just dive in. It won’t be, it’s actually is really warm.”
Ariel stared at him, backing away as she jumped with a slight scream. She fought to resurface her body and screamed again as she saw Ryan’s face close to hers.
She emerged, smoothing her hair back, her breathing sped up, and her heart raced. “That’s not funny.”
Ryan splashed her, “Oh, it’s hilarious, love. Cracking meself up here.”
She went after him trying to get him underwater but he was too quick and dunked his head under, swimming underneath her. She felt him and blushed. Good thing he couldn’t see her.
“Boo!” Ryan said in her ear. “Looking for me?”
She turned around and grabbed his hair, holding him in place. “Got ya.”
"Let meself get caught, only cuz ya joined me,” he winked, moving closer. “Thanks, Mermaid Girl.”
Ariel bit her lip, he was awfully close and he wasn’t backing away, and she wasn’t pushing him away. “Ryan?”
She swallowed, feeling him touch her arm underwater to steady her, “What did you mean earlier?”
“What’s that, love?” He asked, feeling her release the grip she had on his hair.
“When I asked if I was being stood up, you said, “don’t remind me.” What did you mean by that?” Ariel inquired, suddenly wanting to genuinely know.
Ryan’s lips parted, he moved away slightly, “Oh, yeah, that. Honestly, got stood up tonight.”
“Oh,” Ariel’s lips pursed, her face fell, she completely removed her hand from his hair and swam to the shallow end near the steps, feeling Ryan on her tail. “If that was me? I would have been mad. Why didn’t you leave?”
Ryan placed his hands behind his back, “Well, that was the moment I saw you.”
She bit the inside of her lip, moving her long, wet hair from her shoulder. “You really didn’t have to save me tonight.”
“I wanted to,” he said softly, staring at her, looking away. “Just because I got hurt didn’t mean someone else should.”
She gazed at him, feeling tingles in her stomach as she smiled at him, still with his face away from her.
She reached out and turned his face to meet hers. “I’m sorry you were hurt. Her loss.”
Ryan covered his hand over hers on his cheek. “Like to think of it as a gain.”
Ariel’s lips curved gently, she stared at his lips then found his eyes looking at her lips. “I guess so.”
They leaned closer to each other, feeling warmer as every inch closed in. Ariel gasped, thinking she heard a door open briskly.
“Babe, what’s wrong?” Ryan asked, touching her shoulder. “Ariel?”
She looked around the facility and breathed again, “Thought I heard someone. I’m super paranoid about these things.”
Ryan nodded, understanding, “Alright, ya wanna get going?”
“Just to be safe, that okay?”
“Of course. Wasn’t gonna get ya into any trouble, a man of me word.” He smirked, offering his hand to her, she took it and they got out, made their way to the towels to dry off.
They toweled off and dressed. Ryan helped her climb the gate and he came after her, she giggled as she watched him almost fall trying to keep up with her.
She ran to his car, her wet hair becoming bristles. “I win!”
Ryan breathed hard, ”Let you win, big difference, love.”
“It’s completely okay. That thing was scary, wasn’t it?” She asked, raising her brow.
“Fuck off.” He scoffed, watching her huddle her shoulders, “So...it’s getting cold, we should get inside.”
Ariel nodded as Ryan unlocked and opened her door. She smiled and got in, with him running around to his end, getting in. He pulled away, driving out of the lot and back on the road.