Assertiveness And The Alpha Malebyadam applebiter©
Eyes meet across a crowded room. She smiles hesitantly then turns away, bashful. When she looks at him again her expression is quizzical. For his part there is a vague sense of recognition. He knows that he doesn't know her but he is sure he's seen her before. Where?
He moves through the throng of shoppers, never breaking eye contact, closing the gap between them to just a little more than a counter width.
"Where have I seen you?" He is direct, almost terse, but his smile fills in the polite noises he omits.
Put off balance by his enquiry, she seeks refuge in her professional persona. "I-I don't know, Sir. Here perhaps?"
"Not here. I've never been in here before. A bar maybe? A club? Where do you usually go out?"
"The Bradbury. Sometimes Aquarius."
"That's it! The Brad." He feels his memory resolving. He shuts his eyes, the better to focus his thoughts. A mental picture is forming of her on the dance floor. "The Friday before last. Silver leggings and bra top. You have a pierced belly button and a unicorn tattooed on your left shoulder. You were with a guy. Tall chap; dark hair; crap dancer. You were really into him, grinding up against him, practically screwing on the dance floor-"
"Enough!" She's embarrassed. "You have a good memory. But, yes, it sounds like me: all except being really into him. I dumped him that night."
"And the unicorn?"
"Yep. See." She turns side on to him, sliding a hand over her shoulder so the fabric of her blouse goes taut across her skin. He can see the faint image of her tattoo through the material.
"Had you known the guy long?"
"And I thought it was me you were interested in. If it's him you're after, no way. He's as straight as a ruler. Not very adventurous either: Over a year together and I couldn't even get him to keep the lights on. I used to call him my Missionary Man." She pauses, shocked by what she hears herself telling a total stranger.
"I'm not interested in him. I just wanted to know how serious you'd been about the guy. You're single now though. Yes?"
"Like I said, I dumped him. Good riddance too."
"What's your phone number." Again, he is direct, throwing her off balance.
"Pardon?" Had she heard him correctly?
"Your phone number?"
"So I can call you and tell you where to meet me on Friday - No, you'll be working on Saturday, right? (She nods) - where to meet me on Saturday night."
She's indignant. "Did I miss something? You're supposed to ask a girl out, not just tell her where and when." He's taking far too much for granted.
"If I ask you, you might say no and this ends here. My way, you have until Saturday night to decide. You could just stand me up. You could get a better offer. You could get back together with the Missionary Man. Or you could take a chance and turn up on Saturday, but the only decision you have to make right here, right now, is to give me your phone number."
"But you haven't even told me your name, or asked mine."
"No names. Just your number."
She is caught up in the strangeness of the situation. She tells him her number, scribbling it on a scrap of paper at the same time and handing it to him.
"Thank you." He pockets the paper and turns to go.
"Hang on. What about your number?" What's going on here?
"No need. I'll call you before Saturday and you'll either show up or not. Now I really must get back to my office. Goodbye.
As he walks off through the crowd, her gaze remains firmly fixed on his back. He doesn't look back and soon he is lost from view. She can't believe what has just happened. Its simply too surreal. Why on earth did she give him her number? She still can't figure that out. Oh well, no harm done. He'll probably never call anyway.
That evening she tells her best friend all about the encounter.
"He sounds a right weirdo."
"No. The whole thing was weird, but he didn't come across as a weirdo. Actually, he was quite nice – in a weird way."
"So? What'll you do if he calls?"
"Dunno. I think, probably I'll go. Maybe. Oh, I don't know." There's a long moment's pause. "He was nice though."
"You're weird too!" But her friend doesn't give voice to the thought that her mate will be headline news in the local paper – posthumously.
As the week passes, so too does her recollection of Monday's meeting. That is until Friday, when her phone rings. "Yes?"
"I said I'd call you."
"You did. I didn't think you would." She doesn't say she'd forgotten about him.
"No matter. Do you know The Regal?"
"Opposite the music shop? Yes, I know it."
"I'll be there tomorrow night from 8."
"I'm not sure this –"
"No decisions now. You know when. You know where. You have until then to decide to be there." There was that self–assured tone again. "For now though, I've got to go. Goodnight."
"Er...Goodnight." There's a click and the line goes dead. For a moment she's too stunned to notice she's still holding the phone to her ear. When she does notice, she feels embarrassed and fumbles to put it away. This guy is just unreal. He takes so much for granted. She really has no idea what she should do.
Later, in the pub, she tells her best friend about the call.
"Don't go." Her friend is adamant this time. "This guy's too weird. You'll end up naked and dead in a ditch somewhere. If he calls again, go to the police and report him as a stalker."
"That's an awful thing to say. Anyway, he's not a stalker. I gave him my number. Remember?"
"How d'you know he's not a stalker who'd followed you to work? He'd been watching you pretty closely at the Brad, right?"
"So if a guy notices me when I'm dressed in not very much then bumps into me again and asks me out, that makes him a stalker? Thanks a lot! It couldn't just be that he fancies me?"
"You know what I mean. I'm just worried for you is all."
"I know, and thanks, but I'm sure this guy's not dangerous, just horny."
"You're going to go, aren't you?"
"Probably, yes. Unless Brad Pitt turns up tonight and whisks me away to L.A. Look, I've been single again for a fortnight and it sucks. This guy is interested in me, he's quite cute and at least he's got an original approach. And-"
"-The best way to get over one man is under another." Her friend offers her some sage advice on the subject.
"-And tomorrow night's options are him or you. What d'you say girlfriend? Gonna be my bitch?" She camps it up, coming onto her friend mockingly.
"Ok, you win. Go and meet your weirdo, but promise me one thing."
"Make sure you two are seen together so the police can identify him afterwards."
"What are you like?"
"I'm serious. Promise me."
"Ok. I'll make sure someone can recognize him – I promise. Now put your happy face on, the girls are here. Another Breezer?"
"Back in a sec. And cheer up!"
So Saturday night, at 8.30, she walks into The Regal, excitement and trepidation vying for supremacy in her head: What if he's not here? What if he is? Is this the dumbest thing she's ever done? Is it too late to turn and go? Does she really –
"Hi." A voice close to her ear and a hand flat against the small of her back snap her out of her reverie. Startled, she jumps. The merest hint of a shriek catches on her lips. He moves round into view, smiling reassuringly. Yep, he's as cute as she remembers. "You're shaking like a leaf. Did I startle you?"
"A – A little, Yes. Do you always sneak up on people like that?"
"Only when they walk straight past me. I was on that bar stool." He nods toward a seat about 5 feet behind her. "But you were in your own little world I guess. Drink?"
"A Bud. Thanks."
He steers her closer to the bar and catches a barmaid's eye, holds up two fingers and mouths the words "Two Buds", then his attention returns to her. "Nice outfit. Very Bauhaus."
"Bauhaus? A school of designers and architects founded by Paul Gropius, in Weimar, Germany, just after the 1st World War. Their philosophy of design was ‘less is more'."
"Is that a compliment?" She hasn't a clue what he's going on about and it shows in her face.
"Yes it is."
"For giving me your phone number. For taking a chance and turning up tonight. For making an effort to look, quite frankly, drop dead gorgeous. For everything so far and everything to come. Thank you."
"Do you rehearse these lines?"
"Lord no! Life is the real deal, there's no time for rehearsals."
"There you go again. My friend was right, you are weird."
"Your friend? Have I been the subject of much debate?"
"Girls talk. Don't tell me you didn't know that!"
"I knew. So what else did your friend say when she was handing down judgment on me?" His eyes twinkle. He obviously enjoys his notoriety.
"She reckons you're a stalker and that I'll end up naked and dead in a ditch."
"Naked? Ok, maybe. Dead? Barring accidents, definitely not. Both together? In a ditch? Only if you dump me and go off with a serial killer. Sorry if I don't live up to your friend's expectations but I'm just a guy who saw a girl dancing and thought ‘Wow!'"
"Wow. What's wrong with that?"
"It's just, after so much eloquence, wow's a bit of a let down."
"Ok, I'll rephrase it." He shuts his eyes and his voice drops to little more than a whisper close to her ear. "There is this girl, barely dressed, moving like a cat, dancing like she wants John the Baptist's head. Her hands and occasionally her body moving over her boyfriend like he's some sort of musical instrument – the source of the music that moves her. Her skin has a sheen of glitter spray or perspiration. Her hair is chaotic. A change in tempo brings her down. She closes her eyes, rocking rhythmically against her man. Her breasts heave as she catches her breath. She draws his hands round until he encircles her waist. Her head tilts back and they share a kiss. Her tongue flicks out, touching his upper lip as she twists free of him, gathering up the threads of the music once more and weaving them into ecstatic movement. I am transfixed. Like Herod before me, at that moment I'd give half my kingdom for her, such is my desire. My will is chained to the ring in her navel, my thoughts are smothered by her sweat moist cleavage and the veil of her hair fogs my vision. What little of me that is still my own is base lust and one word burns on my tongue – Wow!" He opens his eyes again. "Is that better?"
"Are you surprised? I've never seen myself dance before. Was I really all that?"
"Great word isn't it?" He smirks. " Another Bud?"
"Not here. Lets go somewhere less packed and a bit quieter."
"Suits. Any preference?" He finishes the last of his beer and takes her hand. As they walk toward the exit she points to the CCTV camera by the cloakroom. "I promised my friend I'd make sure you could be identified. D'you mind?"
"A sensible precaution. Sure, lets give them a good shot for Crimewatch. C'mon." He draws her nearer the camera, putting his arm around her and pulling her close to his side. His fingers brush the side of her breast but it seems accidental so she doesn't mind this little liberty. After all, this guy's been taking liberties from the start so what's one more? "Smile for the Jury." he quips as he looks straight at the camera. "You know? I suppose this is as good a time and place as any."
"Our first kiss. We can catch that moment on film too."
"Who said I was going to kiss you at all?"
"Nobody, but if you are planning to at some point, now is the time. Then we'll know if there's any chemistry and where, if anywhere, this may be leading. That way we can leave all the unresolved sexual tension here and just get on with having a great night out, secure in the knowledge there'll be no embarrassing misunderstandings later."
She laughs, "Crazy man! Come here then." She draws him close and buzzes him full on the lips. When he tries to prolong the moment, she pulls back just a fraction and he stops. "So?" she asks.
He looks whimsical, "I think we can relax now. That felt like ‘just good friends' to me. You?"
"Just good friends." She nods. "Now can we go and get another drink?"
"How about that olde worlde little pub behind the church? The Tudor Rose. It should be quite quiet."
"C'mon then." She takes his hand this time, practically dragging him to the door.
"Hang on, I've got to collect my coat. Didn't you bring one?"
"No, I'm not planning on being outside a lot."
It's bitterly cold out and she ends up wearing a coat after all – his.
They get a corner to themselves, next to the inglenook. As he returns from the bar with a drink in each hand, she giggles.
"Its just – no, its silly. I can't"
"Ok. It's your nipples. They've gone really hard and I could see them sticking through your shirt. I told you it was silly." She's giggling again.
"Its cold out there. I should have kept my coat. Then I'd have somewhere to hang it."
"The main difference between your nipples and mine - apart from size - is the fact that the guys in here wouldn't notice mine in a month of Sundays but wouldn't be able to take their eyes off yours so I'd have to wrap my coat round you to stop all these men from drooling into their beer. So you see I wasn't being rude, just practical."
She reaches out and strokes two fingers over his shirt. "It does feel... When I was about 9, before my breasts started growing, mine felt like that. They used to tingle too."
"Whereas mine are numb with cold."
"So you can't feel this?" She pinches him.
"Ow! They're not that numb!"
"Sorry. Did I hurt you?"
"A bit, but I'll get over it. Surely though, this can't be the first time you've felt a guy's nipple."
"Well, Missionary Man didn't like me to touch his. He was paranoid about them."
"So? There must have been others."
"Oh yeah? And just what sort of girl d'you think I am? No. Don't answer that – you'd probably tell the truth and make it sound like another compliment. Ok, yes, there have been others but I'm not telling you how many and, if you're a gentleman, you won't speculate about it."
"I wouldn't dream of it. Far be it from me to judge you for who you bestow your affections upon. So anyway, changing the subject, what do you...?"
And they talk and flirt and drink and learn a lot about each other – but no names. They stick to that rule. He is a sales manager, which figures. She is a shop assistant, which he already knew. He is ambitious and wants to start his own business. She is bored and wants a different job. He is 24. She is 18. He has his own place. She shares a flat with her best friend. Etcetera ad nauseum.
Close to eleven, well fuelled on Buds and Bacardi Breezers, They move on to the Bradbury Club. This is where he first saw her dancing. This time she's dancing with him and he's certainly a better mover than her ex. She teases him relentlessly, moving close only to twirl away as he tries to catch hold of her. She is like a dolphin returned to the wild after long captivity, obviously in her element. He revels in her performance but still he remembers that first kiss and knows that all the flirting is baseless and that when the dancing is over, so too will be their date.
The music slows toward its inevitable end. She moves close, her arms around him, her head resting on his shoulder. As they dance his senses are assailed by the fragrance of her hair and the musk of her exertions until his libido reacts in defiance of his willpower. It doesn't go unnoticed. She's close enough to feel how aroused he is.
He whispers "Sorry."
"‘S ok." She mumbles against his shoulder. They dance on.
The dance ends. The music ends. The evening ends with the two of them waiting by the local taxi rank. She's wearing his coat again. He's keeping as warm as possible by holding her close but it really isn't working and he's shivering.
"What now?" she asks as they finally get into a minicab.
"Now? Now I'll drop you off then go home and have a cold shower, or I'll get no sleep at all tonight."
"You don't have to."
"Have a cold shower? Yes I do. Well, there is an alternative but -"
"No. I meant you don't have to drop me off. That first kiss? I faked it. I didn't want you taking anything more for granted. This is what you missed." She cups his face in her palms and kisses him again. This time there is passion, there is fire, there is definitely chemistry, there is a mutual exchange of body fluids and finally there is an interruption by an impatient cabby wanting to know "Where to?"
"His place." She tells the driver. Turning back to the guy, she adds in a whisper "And you won't be getting any sleep tonight."
Woken by her mobile with the morning still in single figures, she answers it. "Yes?"
"You're alive then? Where are you?" Her friend's relieved to have reached her.
She looks down at the guy, still fast asleep, drooling onto his pillow. "In bed with my new boyfriend. I'll be home later."
"The weirdo? Tell me it's not the weirdo. It is, isn't it? It's the-"
"He's not a weirdo but, yes, him. Listen, we'll talk when I get home, when I'm actually awake. Bye"
She hangs up on her flatmate. There'll be time enough to gossip.
As she snuggles back down beside him, she realizes that this is the first time she's slept with a guy without knowing his name. Well, it didn't seem to matter last night so why should it this morning? Nothing so trivial seemed to matter last night. To quote her new boyfriend, "Wow!"
I showed this to a rather feminist friend in San francisco.
Her first response was "Do you men really see women the way you described? I mean the part when she was dancing? I can't imagine myself looking at a man and having this sort of thoughts....".
The next day, she rather sheepishly owned up to a night of lurid dreams. "What regards my fantasies, they were about ME dancing in that club, Me wearing all those clothes (or not wearing them at all), feeling men's glances, being as desirable as you described that girl. I wanted to smell in the most exciting way, to feel my own power over men who lose their minds... "
She's subsequently stopped being unduly critical of my attitude to women so I consider this story a success.