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Author note: If you are familiar with my previous submissions, you should know that I tend to leave a lot to the imagination in my stories. This one is no exception. Big thanks to GaiusPetronius for the edits, comments, and eagle eyes.
“Redhead by the bar,” I nudged Michael. He raised his eyes, found her, then winced. “Too sexy for me?”
He nodded, “Too sexy for you,” then slowly sipped his soda.
“I thought so.” She looked again in my direction. I froze, caught staring for the umpteenth time.
The first time I noticed her was earlier that night. I was sweeping the pub with my eyes when they landed straight on hers. She smiled, nodded discreetly, and turned away, leaving me confused and embarrassed, as if I had been the one snooping.
Try as I might, for the next half hour, I couldn’t keep my eyes away from her. I’d force them to look in a different direction; then, the moment I let go of my conscious control, I would find myself doing the very thing I wanted to avoid. The harder I tried, the faster I failed, and she seemed to derive a weird pleasure from it.
Every time my eyes landed on hers, I found her looking at me too, with an amused smirk. She wasn’t trying to hide it while I was struggling to be as subtle as possible. In our twisted game of stares, she had found a way to remove the element of surprise and operate with an obvious home-field advantage. And each one of her looks felt like a dare not to come back, a dare she knew I would lose sooner than later, and repeatedly.
But how could I possibly win? How could I forbid my eyes the pleasure of watching her? Everything, every single thing about her was tempting yet oddly innocent. She kept tilting her head cutely but at just the right angle to make her short red hair shimmer under the pub’s few lights. And her bar stool had no back support so she alternated between leaning slightly forward or back, the first position making me feel like I owned the world because she would focus on me, the second accentuating her chest and superiority. She was also swaying her legs or hooking them back under the stool, all while showing a lot of tanned skin through her mid-thigh shorts, but not enough, not nearly enough to appease my hungry eyes.
Yet despite everything nonchalantly feminine about her, there was something boyish in her looks and demeanor that I couldn’t pinpoint. It was that particular androgynous mix that took my breath away every time I looked at her.
I wanted to be the one she seduced and the one she succumbed to, the one she led and the one she followed, the one she pinned down and the one peering down at her. I wanted to possess the 100% woman in her and be swept off my feet by the 60% man.
“But then again, tonight is all about getting you out of your comfort zone.” I felt something tugging at my wrist, pulling me up. Michael stood in front of me, encouraging. With my hand in tow, he started walking.
It was only then, when I looked at her and noticed the distance between us getting shorter, that I understood that he was guiding me toward her. Her smile quickly transformed into a grin, her eyes darted once to see Michael’s hand pulling mine then returned to me bemusedly, and her fingers tapped excitedly on the scotch glass she was holding.
I would have frozen in place, were I given the chance, but Michael’s pull was tight and determined. I lowered my eyes, willed the ground to crumble beneath my feet and swallow me whole, and prayed that there was another redhead at the bar whom he was taking me to.
Michael stopped and I almost bumped into him, mesmerized as I was by the toned and tanned calves that had now entered my field of vision.
Ah, calves! There is something unassumingly sexy about those back leg muscles that always tickles my imagination. The way they so visibly contract and relax, the sheer power they carry by holding and propelling an entire body forward while it walks, runs, or climbs stairs, and the forgotten delicacy of their form and tone.
While others would stare at asses, abs, thighs, or chests, I can get transfixed by the sight of a woman’s bare or pantyhose-clad calves, imagining what it would feel like to caress them, stretch them, and slowly tickle every single erogenous zone on them, especially the folding juncture on the back of the knee.
“Haaaaaave you met Red?”
Despite all my embarrassment and cluelessness, Michael’s pale attempt at being a wingman caught me off-guard. The difference between my expectations and struggles and his feeble attempt at humor was too absurd not to laugh at. I finally raised my head and eyebrows simultaneously, and asked him while giggling, “Seriously? That’s the line you’ve settled on?”
“You know I’ve been on a How I Met Your Mother binge!” He shrugged at me. “Kidding aside, you have red hair,” he pointed at her, “her name is Red,” he pointed at me, “you two should totally hit it off.”
I was about to smile at his unfailing logic when I heard a throaty casino oyna laugh. I turned in her direction and felt the ground beneath me shake. She had thrown her head back and was chuckling heartily, her neck expanding and vibrating, her chest rising and falling, her teeth and lipstick glowing with the same intensity.
I gulped and willed my body to stay steady, forcing my knees to hold me up and my hands to remain by my side.
“Excellent,” Michael grinned. “The ice has been broken and although I need some with my soda refill, I will go ask the bartender for it.” He seemed too happy with his joke that he didn’t wait for our reaction, laughed by himself, and walked away.
I glared at him, angry at his shenanigans, partly thankful for his prompt retreat, and mostly terrified to be left alone with her. He leaned at the bar a few feet away, gestured to her, me, his hair, and then encouraged us to talk before turning back to the bartender.
“Worst. Wingman. Ever.” I finally said, bringing my eyes back to her.
“Oh no, he totally sold me on you,” she smiled.
I tried not to let her husky tone impress me, erase my words, or steal my wits. “You have red hair, my name is Red. What better reason could there be for you to talk to me?” I chuckled and applauded myself internally for remaining cool and casual.
“Well, there’s the fact that you are gorgeous,” came the immediate reply, followed by a suggestive stare.
Cool and casual? Right. My breath caught in my chest and I felt my lips transform into an O. No sound came out.
“You must have noticed that I’ve been looking at you all night, and honestly, I was about to go talk to you. You just saved me the walk,” she paused and pointed to Michael, “and the embarrassment of not having a wingman as awesome as yours.”
“Really?” I could barely believe her admission.
“Oh yes. Us redheads, we never lie,” she winked then leaned forward a bit, focused her eyes on mine, and shifted to a more serious tone and expression. “Except about our hair. I’ll let you in on a secret, it’s almost never naturally red,” she continued then leaned further, this time brushing her chest against my arm, stopping her head next to mine, with an uncanny mix of solemnity and playfulness in her eyes. I stood motionless, glancing at her hair and cheek, and heard her whisper in my right ear, “and I have a very small dark patch of hair that would attest to that.”
My breath caught again in my throat, the air finding it impossible to pass through the dryness of my mouth and lungs. My mind wandered to the vision she had created, one of her small patch of dark hair and all the things I would give up for the privilege of seeing it, touching it, smelling it, and tasting it.
I finally let out a loud sigh, which suddenly made her realize what she had just said. She straightened quickly, widened her eyes, and slapped her palms over her mouth, equally embarrassed and bemused. I couldn’t but laugh.
“Too much information for the first minutes of a chat with a stranger?” She asked, after letting her hands fall.
I nodded and feigned a horrified expression, “Shit got real!”
“OK, let’s start over. Hi, I’m Linda,” she stopped. “What’s that face?”
“You winced when I said I’m Linda.”
I couldn’t tell if she was seriously offended or just poking fun. “I… I just expected you to have a sexier name,” I stuttered and looked away.
“Are you saying my name isn’t sexy?” This time, I could hear the playfulness in her tone. I had to hold up my end of the game.
“I’m saying you are sexier than your name, Linda.” Her eyes reflected her surprise. She dropped her head back and her throaty laugh returned to enchant my senses.
“Good save!” She finally let out. “Let me buy you a drink, Red,” she tapped with a hand on her empty glass and with the other on the bar stool next to her. “You know, not all of us were blessed with parents who took the time to pick out a unique name for them. But you can call me Lin, if that better matches your standards of name sexiness.”
I raised myself next to her and watched as she swiveled back toward the bar and got the bartender’s attention. She ordered us two glasses of scotch, without even bothering to ask if that was what I preferred.
“Cheers, Red,” she raised her glass.
I followed suite, sipped, and swirled the whisky slowly in my mouth before swallowing. When I put my glass down, I noticed her grinning at me. I furrowed my eyebrows questioningly.
“I like a woman who can appreciate her liquor.” I blushed and lowered my head. “So, why Red?” I sighed. “I’m sorry. I guess you get that question all the time.”
“No, no. It’s just that my mother had such a terrible experience with her pregnancy that she wished she would go back to regular menstruations. Hence, she wished for Red.” I shook my head almost desperately and laughed internally at the horrified look on her face. When I knew I had stunned her into complete and awkward canlı casino silence, I broke into laughter and felt my heart bounce when she joined me. I would do anything to hear that laugh again and again.
“You almost had me!”
“Not almost, Lin,” I corrected with a lower tone and a subliminal message about the different ways that I had her. “I’m Red because my parents own a vineyard in rural France, and they are quite passionate about their bottles of red.”
“So you’re a fine product of love and not a nauseating result of cramps?”
“It still has to be proven,” she paused to sip and savor her scotch, “your greatness compared to red wine, I mean. You do look just as inviting, just as rich, ripe, and full-bodied,” she smiled as I blushed again, “but I can’t say anything about the actual taste,” she winked, “yet.”
I gulped again and turned to my glass. As I buried my tongue in its contents, I tried not to think of the experiment she would perform to prove that theory. When I finally felt some semblance of control over my mind had been restored, I turned to see her fluff her hair with her raised hand.
Her loose shirt sleeve hung down, revealing her upper arm and a hint of her shoulder. If calves were my Achilles Heel, upper arms and shoulders were my kryptonite. I didn’t like them excessively muscular or exceptionally thin, but just meaty enough with a visible muscle tone, exactly like hers. I could spend hours just strolling my fingers up and down, bringing my lips to kiss every inch of them, getting tickled by each contact with the incredibly smooth skin there.
I wanted to bite them and feel them tighten below my teeth, awaken a rage in them that would grab me and push me against the bar, and watch as they contracted just enough to hold me imprisoned below them. What higher purpose in life was there than to be possessed by those arms?
She caught me staring again. I had to seem smart, say something witty about the situation but my battle, just like my common sense, was lost to her arms.
“I thought about dyeing mine, but decided against it,” I finally blurted.
It took her a second to understand that I was talking about her red hair. “Too obvious I suppose?”
She nodded. “Besides, when someone calls you Red, you wouldn’t be able to tell if they really know you or they are referring to your hair.”
“Exactly! You get it.” When I noticed that my palm had instinctively reached out to tap her playfully on the arm, that same arm I had been fantasizing about, it was already too late to stop the movement. I watched, slightly entranced, as my fingers made contact with her, and my goosebumps rose while my arousal leaked.
“So you did not dye your hair,” she quietly murmured while lowering her eyes toward the newly formed contact between us.
“I did not dye my hair.” I quickly retrieved my hand. My fingers felt naked now without her skin beneath them.
“That’s hardly a secret though.”
“It wasn’t meant to be.”
“Oh, so you won’t reciprocate my wildly inappropriate information-sharing incident?” She smiled again, devilishly.
“I fully intend to avoid that hairy debate.” I tried to keep a serious attitude but my joy over the brilliant wordplay was too obvious to contain. My lips curled up into a smile.
She threw her head back and laughed again. I basked in the glory of the moment. It was the fourth time, I counted, and the third one triggered by me. If I kept trying, I may have enough in me to earn a dozen more of those priceless gifts.
“Your ability to spin words doesn’t get you out of this, Red.” She shook her index finger. “You owe me a secret and I fully intend to collect it.”
“Alright. But I can’t think of anything now,” I lied. “We’ll circle back to it later.”
“Oh I’ll make sure we do,” she partially caved. “So France, eh? I knew there was something different about your accent.”
Her eyes shone instantly. “I have a thing for French,” she admitted. “The language, the accent, the attitude, they get to me.”
“Really?” I asked while rolling my R like it was my life’s mission.
“This is not fair!” She tapped her hand on the bar, faking outrage in a desperate attempt to conceal her blush.
“Mais pourquoi?” If my perfect French was my chance to win her over, I was dead set on seizing every advantage.
She fixed her eyes on mine and started fanning her face with her hand. I smiled proudly and waited for her to find her words again. “You have no idea what you’re doing to me.”
My grin widened in an inaudible admission that, in fact, I knew exactly what I was doing to her and I planned on doing more of it. But I stayed silent this time, teasingly.
When she realized that I wasn’t going to say anything, she straightened her back and called my bluff. “Alright, I’ll play the game. Can you please say something in French? Anything really. You can tell me that you forgot and left your dishwasher on for kaçak casino all I care, I won’t understand a word.”
If we were playing that game, I definitely had to throw a few more cards on the table. In that brief moment, all of my shyness and insecurities were gone, and I was in complete control of every muscle in my body. I leaned toward her, placed my hand on her thigh, brought my lips to her ear, and whispered with my most French and husky tone, “J’ai envie de toi.”
A shudder coursed through her. It reverberated in her spine, slightly shaking her head, and descended to her feet, making the hand that I had on her thigh tremble. My heart stopped beating, my breath caught, and every single organ in my body took a hiatus from its regular function to enjoy this rare moment of superiority, this brief instant where I owned every single cell and atom of her.
Then, encouraged by its success thus far, my hand traveled higher and inwardly on her thigh, almost reaching the juncture with her lower abdomen. “J’ai vraiment envie de toi,” I repeated in her ear then, finally succumbing to my cowardly nature, I retreated.
My hand went directly to the scotch glass, anxious to hold anything, to not feel useless now that it wasn’t on her anymore. The cold of the glass shook my senses, contrasting with my adrenaline rush and the warmth of her touch. I tried not to look at her, not to agonize over her reaction. I had to stay serene, pretend that this hadn’t just happened, that I hadn’t admitted my attraction to her in such an overt move, that I hadn’t basically assaulted her without her consent.
“I will give you back this paper, which I hope you won’t need anymore, and bid you adieu.” Michael was standing behind us, arm outstretched, waiting for me to take the paper back.
I had almost forgotten all about that. My eyes darted to hers, then we both looked at the folded white A4, and back at each other. My hands were faster, as they flew and grabbed it before she even had time to raise hers.
I saw Michael curtsey awkwardly from the corner of my eye. “I believe I am leaving you in very gentle and friendly hands,” were his last words before walking away. I was so busy panicking while making the paper disappear as fast as possible that I didn’t say goodbye.
Suddenly a new hand entered my exponentially narrowing field of vision. She placed it on top of mine, which was folding the paper further and shoving it into my clutch in one swift and clumsy movement. “What’s the paper for?”
“Nothing important,” I lied.
“Oh no. No no no. You are not getting away with this,” she gently tapped on my hand.
“Nope. Not going to play this game.” My answer was brutal and unequivocal, cut and dried.
“I recall you owing me a secret. I want that paper.” She tugged gently and plastered a devilishly cute smile on her face.
Realizing that she wasn’t going to let it go, literally or figuratively, I tried to dissuade her through deflection, by downplaying the paper’s importance. I took it out of my clutch, placed it on the bar in front of us, and said nonchalantly, “You’re wasting your secret on this paper?”
“Yes,” came the very firm affirmative.
“I’m telling you, there’s nothing important there. Pick something else,” I took my hand away and left the paper unattended. This was my last bluff, and I barely stopped myself before caving, grabbing it, and running away.
“I want this,” she kept her hand near it but didn’t make a move yet. “If it’s nothing then it’s too bad for me and you’ll be free.”
“Alright,” I pushed once more, hoping against all hope that it would work this time. “But trust me, you’re wasting your secret on nothing.”
She smiled, finally back to her regular assertive self. My few seconds of superiority were long since forgotten, the vibrations in the air around us only caused by the music and crowd, and no longer by the shudder I had provoked in her.
She reached out her hand, eyes fixed on me, observing my every reaction. I struggled not to flinch, although internally, I was trembling like a leaf on a windy day. She finally grabbed it and unfolded it. I looked away, embarrassed and terrified. Why did I let her have it?
“I’ve never kissed a girl before.” She read the words that betrayed my deepest secret. “Will you,” she stammered, “be,” her voice caught in her throat, “my first?”
I looked at the dancefloor but saw nothing beyond the glassy dark filter that had now imbued my eyes. All of my insecurities came rushing inside me in an avalanche of unspoken words and denied feelings, a tornado of confused years and unresolved fears.
You know how the most obvious solution is sometimes the hardest to find? That was my life’s story. Actually, I hadn’t been asking the right question to begin with, and when I did and finally found the answer, it all made sense in a terrifyingly clear way. Had I spent my entire teenage life and the first years of my adult one in blissful ignorance or in subconscious denial? I don’t know. What I knew was that despite growing up as the one person who had the curiosity to explain and understand everything and everyone, I had inexplicably failed to understand myself until my late twenties.
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