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Lou is laughing, and it’s kind of infectious. I give her my biggest smile, before glancing down at my empty glass and then up at the bar where my eyes land on a guy. He’s watching me, or maybe not. He might be watching Tallulah. Yeah, he’s probably watching Tallulah. He’s gorgeous. He’s got dark, messy hair. The sort of hair Tallulah would say just screams at you to run your hands through it. His eyes are immense, I feel like they are piercing into my soul from across the room but that’s impossible. He’s not even looking at me. He’s looking at Tallulah or someone behind me, but I can’t help but blush because there is a chance that he’s looking at me.
Historically, if this sort of thing happened, I would ignore it and return to my conversation, completely pretending nothing had happened. But the problem is that I’ve just made that list, and I have to try and change if I’m ever going to break those rules. I glance back at him, and he’s still looking this way. He’s not smiling. He’s looking at me or at least in this general direction with an intense look that makes him look a little cold, intimidating, unapproachable. But underneath that, there is something else. His eyes. They are intent on whatever has his attention; perhaps me. That look is enough to make me silently beg whatever god is listening that he really is looking at me and not some other girl or worse Tallulah. It’s now or never. Do I go for it or not? I want to. I feel like I might need to. I can’t keep being scared to break my rules.
I look back at my empty glass, and in that split-second, I make a decision, “we need more tequila!” I’m on my feet and making my way towards the bar before Lou has time to respond. I’ve never done this before. I’ve never tried chatting a guy up before.
I stop when I’m stood right next to where he’s sat on one of the bar stools. I don’t look at him. I don’t speak. I just wait for the barman. My heart’s racing with excitement. I don’t know what to do next. I wonder if I should introduce myself, or just start up a conversation, or maybe I should just glance his way. Out of the corner of my eye, I can tell his body is leaning towards me, our shoulders touching gently in the crowded space around the bar. I can feel a palpable tension radiating off him, and it affects me in a way I’ve never known before. I need to say something. I can’t let the opportunity pass me by; I won’t waste it. Not this time. Just as I’m about to say something, the barman arrives and asks for my order, “two margaritas and two shots of tequila with lemon and salt.” I’m ridiculously proud of myself when my voice doesn’t screech.
The guy chuckles, “you sure like your tequila.” His laugh is deep and rich, and I like it. It causes me to smile instinctively as if it’s an intrinsic part of me to be happy when he’s happy. But that’s just absurd.
I turn to face him, completely speechless. I didn’t expect him to speak first and I’m nervous, “It's a new preference.” My voice is quiet, timid.
“I see,” he grins, “so before you turned to tequila, what were you?”
“Pardon?” I’m confused, and I’m pretty sure he can see it all over my face, and that embarrasses me.
“A gin girl? A vodka girl?”
“Neither; I’ve never been much of a drinker,” I’m blushing. I can feel it. I can’t decide if it’s from embarrassment or something else, something hotter. It’s most likely both. I’d usually just have a single glass of whatever everyone else was having. I’ve never had a preference.
“Really?” he doesn’t really sound convinced, and in fairness, it is quite unbelievable when I think about the girls that attend my university and even the girls I went to secondary school with.
“Really; this is the first time I’ve ever been drunk.”
“You’re not serious?” his eyebrow raised, a look of barely concealed surprise on his face. I blush as he looks me over thoughtfully. I don’t respond, partly because I don’t know what to say and partly because I think he finds me amusing. I can’t help but be cross that he might be laughing at me.
The barman’s back, “that’s eighteen pounds, love.”
I open my purse, but I’m not quick enough, “put it on my tab.”
I turn towards the guy, “you don’t have to do that.”
“I don’t have to do anything,” he retorts with what I can only describe as barely concealed arrogance, “enjoy your drinks.”
I don’t seem to be able to look away from him, “thanks.” Up close he looks even better than he did from across the room. He’s got broad shoulders, and he’s wearing a white shirt. His shirt sleeves are rolled up to just below the elbow, showing off strong, powerful forearms. His top button is undone. I can see a suit jacket over the back of his bar stool. It looks soft – expensive. His tie is peeking out of the breast pocket of his jacket. It’s a deep, rich emerald green. His eyes are bright with excitement, and they seem to twinkle as he looks me over.
I’m awkward and completely at a loss as to what to do next. I’ve never really known how to flirt. I’ve not ever really tried. I try to think of something, anything to say but nothing comes to mind, so I decide to settle for another slightly over polite thank you but as I open my mouth to speak Tallulah grabs me from behind, taking me by surprise. My eyes are still on the guy beside me as Lou starts nattering about some guy she’s met while I’ve been distracted at the bar with him. I don’t know anything about him. I don’t even know his name. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next. The alcohol in my system is supposed to help with this right? Make me less inhibited or something but no, I’m still just Aurora Stone, the girl who hasn’t got a clue what to do. “I’m going to go dance with him,” Tallulah is saying, “will you be okay for a bit?”
I laugh, “I’m great. Go! Have fun.” For once I was telling the truth. Sort of. Normally I’d have said those words and then proceeded to sit alone bored out of my skull, but this time it was different. I hadn’t told her what I was really thinking, that now I have an excuse to sit here with perhaps the most gorgeous man I have ever met. I just need something to say to him now. If I was a bit more like Tallulah or Aileen starting this conversation would be a lot easier.
Lou looks unsure, but when she sees the guy beside me, she gives me a massive grin and a wink before flouncing off. “Your friend is certainly excitable,” he sounds slightly mocking.
I look up; back into his eyes, “she’s…” it’s hard to describe Lou. I really don’t know what to tell him so instead, I shrug. “She’s Tallulah,” I tell him as if that answers all his questions.
He grins, “and who are you?”
“I’m Aurora. Rory.” I feel like I should be offering my hand for him to shake. That’s what my mother would expect me to do. She always made a fuss about how you should introduce yourself with confidence. I settle for rubbing my neck and giving him a big smile as I lean slightly on the bar before taking a sip from my margarita. It’s delicious. Amazing in fact. I think I’ve found a favourite drink.
“I’m Landon, are you going to drink those shots?” he raises his eyebrow again. I feel like he’s challenging me.
“Well I did get one for Lou, but it doesn’t look like she wants it,” I glance towards where Tallulah is dancing with a blonde man. “Would you like one?” I offer him.
He laughs, “alright.”