“Hey, baby. I like your moves.”
I flinch as I suddenly feel two hands on my waist. I turn around and glare at the guy who has the nerve to touch me. When he sees the look on my face, he holds up his hands in defeat and takes a tiny step back.
Tiny, because it’s pretty crowded on the dancefloor.
“Sorry, this is girls’ night,” I tell him and put my arm around Amy’s shoulder, who is dancing next to me.
Damn, wrong choice of words because judging from the look on his face, he’s already picturing us in a threesome.
I roll my eyes and groan. “Fuck off! Not happening!” I turn my back to him and let the bass of the music vibrate through my body again, continuing to sway my hips to the rhythm.
Today’s Saturday – my favorite day of the week. Time to dance away the week’s troubles. I’m at one of New York’s hottest nightclubs, the Avalon. My favorite people are here with me. Right now I’m dancing with Amy, my new favorite girl.
We’ve only met two weeks ago when she set foot in the building of Wilson & Partner, one of the best advertising agencies in the city, where I work at the reception desk. That’s when she started her job as PA to one of the two junior managers. We clicked immediately and get along great.
Tonight we’re trying to hook her up with one of my close friends, Ben. They work in the same department, and for her, it was love at first sight. He likes her too, apparently, but he’s acting like a damn idiot.
“Hey, Lauren, don’t you want to hook up with any of these guys?” Amy yells in my ear and points to all the other potential candidates for a meaningless fling that we are surrounded with.
“No, not tonight. At least not for now.” I laugh and wink at her. I’m glad she’s not judging me for my lack of willingness to find a nice guy for something more serious and long-term. Because being in my mid-twenties, that’s what lots of people expect from me. But been there, done that, no thank you very much. So, for now, we keep dancing, shutting off our minds, not thinking about guys that tend to make life difficult.
It doesn’t take too long, though, until the next guy shows up, this time behind Amy. It’s Aaron, Ben’s little brother and part of our plan to generate some jealousy in Ben. He keeps his hands on her waist and greets her with a peck on the cheek. He seems to be asking for his brother as Amy points to our table.
When he’s gone, my eyes meet hers, and I motion her to follow me to the restroom, where we freshen up and talk about our next steps. Now that Aaron is here, we’ll just have to wait and see how Ben will react.
A few minutes later, we make our way back to our table, where some more people have joined our group. First I see Paul, one of Ben’s good friends and lead-singer of a band. They usually play at O’Reilly’s, a pub around the corner from where I work. I love their music! They’ve become good friends too, and we hang out a lot after their gigs. Or they join us at the Avalon, like tonight.
Ben is talking to their drummer, Jack. And Aaron is talking to their keyboardist, Henry.
Ah, Henry. He’s something else. Everybody is trying to tell me that I have a crush on him. How stupid is that? I don’t crush on people, especially not men like Henry who look like a cover model and can have any woman they want; and he wants them all. I’m surprised he’s not already talking to one of the women I see drooling over him.
Before we reach the table, Amy turns to me. “So you’re telling me you don’t like him more than the others?” She points to my cheeks, which are all flushed.
I glare at her. “Hey, not you too! I’m not crushing on him, okay? I just like to look because - hello? He’s hot!”
Amy shakes her head and chuckles.
When Henry and Aaron see us, they smile. Henry gives me a peck on the cheek. “Hey, Sweets. How are you?”
Dammit again. I think I’m blushing even more when he calls me that. I’m not sure when that started, and neither am I sure since when this sends a sudden tingling through my body. I try to shake it off and think of something else. I point to my friend. “Have you met Amy?”
Henry stretches out his hand. “Not officially, I don’t think. Nice to meet you, Amy.”
She takes his hand. “You too.”
That’s when Aaron turns to her and engages her in conversation. I look over to Ben and smile. Yup, plan is working; the look on his face says it all.
“What are you smiling at?” Henry interrupts my thoughts.
I look at him and shake my head. “Nothing. So, how are you? Your gig last week was awesome, by the way.”
Henry laughs. “Thanks. I didn’t realize you were there.”
“I – uh – left early.” I don’t have to tell him I left with a guy.
“Okay, I understand.” He winks at me.
I narrow my eyes. Does he? Is it weird that it’s bothering me? Time for a subject change. “Are you playing again next week?”
He nods. “We only missed this week because I was out of town for work.”
For some reason, we never talk about his work. I think he’s a junior manager at some firm, but he usually doesn’t talk about anything work-related. We only ever talk about his real passion – music. But that’s okay because I like talking to him – about anything. It always feels easy and comfortable. There’s no denying that he’s one charming guy.
Okay, no! I need to stop this. I’m not going to let people talk me into liking him more than a friend. No more thinking about how charming and good-looking he is. I finish my drink and look over to Amy, who is going outside for some fresh air. Ben looks after her and follows her outside some minutes later. I grin. Very good.
Just then the DJ plays my favorite song. I clap my hands and walk to the dancefloor. “Time for some more dancing. You coming?” I look at Henry expectantly.
He laughs and follows me.
Soon we’re in the middle of the crowd again. Due to the many people, Henry dances close to me. I let the rhythm of the song guide my movements and try not to think about his scent, which suddenly fills my nose. Damn, he smells good. I close my eyes for a second. That’s when I feel a hand on my lower back. His hand, judging from the heat that spreads through my whole body. I open my eyes and look at him. I raise my eyebrow questioningly as he smiles at me. His face comes closer to mine, and his mouth is next to my ear, which makes it close to impossible to concentrate on what he’s saying as his breath tickles my neck.
“How much have you had to drink tonight? You’re staggering a little.”
Ah, that must be it; I’m drunk. That’s why I’m feeling all these weird things. I laugh. “Good thing you’re here to catch me then. Now shut up and dance.”
My eyes look everywhere but at him as we continue to dance. He removes his hand from my back, but I can still sense his presence next to me. I try to concentrate on the music and my movements. And luckily, shortly after, Amy turns up next to me. We dance and dance until I need another drink. I look around for Henry, but he’s gone.
We go back to our table, where I sit down next to Isaac, another colleague. He’s talking to Ben, and I turn to them. “Guys, would you get us something to drink?” They nod and ask around who else needs another drink.
Then I turn to Amy to ask her what was going on outside earlier. She tells me how Ben still acts like an idiot. I try to focus on her and give her my full attention, but somehow my gaze wanders through the whole club – looking for Henry.
Fuck, Lauren. Stop!
Luckily, the guys are back with our drinks. But then some weird and intense eye-contact happens between Amy and Ben, and Aaron comes over and drags Amy to the dancefloor. Good things will happen tonight; I can feel it.
Once Amy is gone, I turn my head. And yep, there he is: Henry stands in the far corner of the club, talking to a pretty brunette. Their faces are inches apart and not only because the music is too loud.
I shake my head and avert my gaze. Time for more alcohol. Face it, Lauren, you shouldn’t want to be more to him than a friend.