I finally get the bartender’s attention. He refills my drink, I slap a note on the counter, then turn and lean on the bar. Sipping my drink, I scan the crowded dance floor. She’s not here yet.
I open my eyes. How long did I have them closed? A big guy is standing in front of me. Chest puffed out. He’s on the verge of a fight.
“Move. I need the bar.”
His arms come out in an I-don’t-know gesture. I look around him Quietly, patiently, about five other men are standing behind him. All huge. I nod silently and move away. One of the back-up guys pushes me and I stumble into someone. I manage not to spill my drink on them.
“I’m so sorry,” I say, looking up. That smile. Those lips. The eyes. It’s her.
“That’s all right. Are you okay?”
I’m frozen, staring at the goddess in front of me. She raises her eyebrows and gives an amused smile.
“Oh, ah.” I stumble around her. Always. “Y-yes. Fine. Great. Good.” I let out a breath. She giggles and it sends a shiver down my spine. She starts walking past me.
“Can I – ” She turns. I freeze again under that gaze. She waits patiently for me to find my tongue. “Can I buy you a drink?” I manage to squeak out.
Her face softens and her head tilts in what I call the gay-realisation-and-abort expression. My heart sinks. She opens her mouth but I cut her off.
“Don’t worry. I understand.”
“No, it’s not – ”
“Sophia. What’s going on?” It’s the big guy from the bar again. Complete with his set of groupies. He stares at me. I freeze for another reason.
“She was just – ”
“Wait. She? That’s a girl?” His shocked expression turns into mocking hatred accompanied with a raucous laugh. “You can’t be serious.” He pushes Sophia behind him and advances on me. “Don’t be touching my girl. I won’t have a problem hitting a lady boy.”
“That’s not even – ” I start, but one of his groupies pushes me away again, this time with a sneering look at my chest.
I finish my drink in one gulp and find my way out onto the street to start another long walk home.