~Saturday Night at the Opal Hotel's Blue Note Bar & Lounge~

"Cock size," Mia said, unflinching as if she had just ordered a Coke.

The guy seated across from her wearing the suede vest and grey tam --what was up with that, by the way?-- sputtered his water back into his glass. Wiping the dribble from the bottom of his lip, he coughed, "I...what? Seriously?"

Mia shrugged her shoulder and popped her eyebrow. "Yeah, of course."

The guy blinked. He asked, "Cock size? Just like that? That's what you have to say is what's most important to you in a life partner?"

"More like ON a life partner," she explained, "Wouldn't make sense if it was IN him now, would it?"

He sat back in his chair, shaking his head slightly, shooing away the fly of disbelief.

Mia leaned forward, poking up her eyeglasses and narrowing her lids around her round, dark eyes. "Look...uh," she squinted at the tag on the guy's vest, "Number 12?"

"Arye," he offered.

"Arye," she nodded, easing herself back in the chair, "That's what all these girls want."

The two of them paused to scan all the women seated in the lounge.

When she was sure their eyes had reconnected, Mia held up her hands about a foot apart. "We all want a big, thick, long, black cock to suck on," she declared, accentuating every adjective through a lurid little sneer on her ruby lips.

"Really?" Arye responded flatly, incredulous.

"Oh yeah. Oh yeah," Mia nodded in the affirmative, taking up her cocktail glass and having a sip.

"Well, I guess I can't really help you with the 'black' part," he sighed, unconsciously giving his pale, pink cheek a little scratch.

Mia arched her left brow sharply high above her eyeglasses. She eyed him and said, "Really? Are you saying you fulfill the other criteria?"

"What?" Arye said, caught off guard again, "No. I mean...look, I'm just a bit surprised you would be so...uh,"

"Shallow?" Mia grinned.

"No," Arye corrected, holding up his hands as he back-pedaled, "I wasn't going to say that."

He was going to say that.

Mia could see a tiny little bead of sweat appear underneath the lid of that silly tam of his.

"I was going to say," he spoke slowly, "I wasn't expecting you to be so upfront about something like that. You don't look like a person who would be so..."



Mia closed her eyes and sighed. She checked her watch, then looked at him like a frontline nurse consoling an injured soldier. She took a deep breath, peered over the rim of her glasses, then said, "Arye, that's the nature of this soiree, isn't? 8 minutes. That's not much time at all. So many guys here, so much potential, but only 8 minutes with each of them. It's all about speed and efficiency." She slapped the back of one hand into the palm of the other. "Speed and efficiency."

After another quick breath she continued, "A girl has to get her priorities in order and out there. You asked me what I want in a...'life partner'. Thank you for getting right down to the nitty-gritty. So for life, Arye? I want a big cock...for life. My life partner may eventually become a wrinkled carcass of a vegetable sucking porridge trough a straw in a hospital bed, but as long as I can spit out my dentures and get my pink gums around his meaty length of Oktoberfest sausage, I will be a happy woman. Oh, and a healthy inheritance, of course. I need to be well kept."

Mia settled once more against the back of her chair. Arye replied by turning into a mannequin.

She took a moment to look behind him, to another couple at a table across the floor of the lounge. The woman at that table didn't break away from her conversation but did manage to make eye contact with Mia and give her a wink and broadened her smile.

Well, at least her friend seemed to be enjoying herself.

Mia returned her attention to Arye, still a flabbergasted mess. She cocked her head. Damn. Maybe she broke him.

As she was about to snap him out of it, the angelic chime of a porter bell interrupted the room.

"Time's up once again, ladies and gentlemen," an energetic, attractive red-head declared as she strode to the center of the room. She spun on her stilettos and clasped her hands together. "Believe it or not, we've reached half-time already. Let's take 20 minutes to reset and refresh. Gentlemen, readjust your collars, and ladies, powder your noses. Grab yourselves another drink. Then it's on to Round 2!"

A gentle but steady murmur rose through the dark cocktail lounge as 12 couples got up, some more readily than others.

Mia brushed the skirt of her black dress back towards her knees and then picked up her purse and her 'dance card'. She held out her hand as she got up. "It was really nice talking with you, Arye," she said.

"Oh, yeah. Me too," he said, still in his chair. They shook hands. His was a bit clammy.

Speaking with a genuine and softer voice, Mia added, "I think you're a nice guy, Arye. Well, from what I can tell in 8 minutes, anyway. I hope you'll find a nice 'life partner'. Good luck. Oh, but lose the cap."

Those were the only truthful words she had said to him in the 8 minutes they shared. What stunned her was how straight a face she had maintained while doing so. She was sure she was pushing it when she quickly tacked on the old 'inheritance' schtick. Yet after six 8-minute 'speed dates' so far, it wasn't surprising to her how easily the lies came to keep herself amused.

She walked directly to the bar, polished off her cocktail, then promptly asked for another. God bless half-off ladies night.

As she leaned against the bar rail, another bare arm brushed up against hers. It was Sylvie, her sometimes good friend. Right now, she had a tickling urge to dunk her freckled, pixie face into a toilet.

"Hello Number 7," she said, tilting her chin towards her name tag.

"Hey! How's it going?" Sylvie asked, so giddy she was almost breathless.

Mia took a hard swig from her glass, gulped and replied, "Oh Lord! I am having the BEST time. I just can't stand it. Bartender, keep them coming!"

Sylvie, the decidedly shorter of the two, rolled her eyes. "Oh, dear," she exclaimed, slightly deflated, "It's not going well, is it? I'm sorry I dragged you along."

Mia shook her head. "This night's not about me, it's about you. I'm here for you."

Sylvie smiled and gave her a hug, pressing her cheek against Mia's smooth shoulder. "Thanks, Mia," she cooed.

Giving Sylvie a reassuring pat on her head, Mia said, "I'm here for you...and dinner at Portabello's next Friday."

Sylvie gave her an extra squeeze and the two of them shared a laugh.

"So, any potential Mr.Right's?" Mia asked.

"Maybe. I don't know." Sylvie's face twisted into a frown. "It's so hard. Only 8 minutes to talk to a guy. It's crazy."

"Tell me about it," Mia concurred, "How's a girl supposed to get a guy's bank account number in that time?"

It was the first time either them had tried a speed dating night. Really, it was Sylvie's idea. Mia came to support her and for the half-price drinks.

Mia picked up Sylvie's 'dance card' from the counter. Each person marked down the numbers of people with whom they would like to continue contact. At the end of the night, the host --the red-head-- collected the cards, matched up the numbers, then gave the contact info to the corresponding guests. It seemed simple, but even that was a grueling a process for Mia.

"You marked down three numbers already?" Mia said, "Batting .500. You're doing well."

"Doesn't mean they wrote down my number on their cards," Sylvie shrugged.

"Every man should be writing down your number," Mia said.

Sylvie smiled. "I knew there was a reason I brought you along. You're the best!"

"I am."

"But, I don't have to treat you if I get you hooked up tonight, though."

"Fat chance," Mia puffed, but then she smiled at her friend, "Thanks for the thought, but just worry about yourself, m'kay?"

Mia always felt protective of her. Small, cute, eager and earnest like a puppy, Sylvie sometimes seemed a bit too naïve and innocent.

"So how about you?" Sylvie asked as she snatched up her card from the bar counter. She was disappointed to see it was still blank. "Nothing?"

"I told you, I'm not here for myself," Mia noted.

"I know, but come on, Mia," Sylvie encouraged, "There's actually a lot of good-looking guys here, surprisingly. And you're looking so fine tonight! I'm sure several of them have written your number down on their cards."

"Oh, I don't know about that." Mia bit her lower lip and looked aside sheepishly. Her penchant all night for "little white lies" had possibly prevented her Number 13 from appearing on any potential suitor's cards. In one case, she was fortunate the guy didn't call 911.

"I'm not really interested in finding a Mr.Right, Sylvie," Mia said, "I just don't have much time for that these days."

Sylvie grinned and offered Mia a leery glance of her emerald eyes. "Okay fine," she said teased, "So how about a little Mr.Right Now?"

Mia paused for a moment before replying, refusing to be baited. "No," she said, deliberately forming her lips as she spoke, "I'm not here for that either." She gazed at the swirling liquor in her glass.

Sylvie eased back and softened her grin. "I know," she said, "I'm just kidding. I just want you to have some fun. You should relax."

"I'm relaxed."

"Just let go once in a while," Sylvie added, "Sometimes I worry about you."

"Hey. Who's here to support who?" Mia remarked. "Just do your thing here tonight, okay? Find a guy. Get married. Have some kids. See you same time next week."

"Okay. Don't blame me for trying," Sylvie sighed.

Each of them took another sip from their glasses.

"I'm going to go to the ladies' room," Sylvie said, "You want to come?"

Mia shook her head. "I'm good."

With Sylvie gone, Mia had a moment to collect herself. She didn't know why this whole idea of dating made her neck hairs bristle. Her sometimes snarky, sometimes aloof, sometimes bitchy attitude towards relationships she put on display this night was really just a reflection of how she had been feeling in general lately.

She gazed into the mirror across the bar behind all the colourful bottles. Staring back at her was a young woman, clearly not unattractive but something not quite right. She stood up straight and flicked and crimped some wave back into her long raven hair, brushing one side of it back over her bare white shoulder. She adjusted her glasses, the top of the rims just above her eye-line for that intellectually suggestive look. A quick inspection of her short, black cocktail dress reaffirmed that it was the right choice to show off her yoga enhanced physique.

She was dressed for an evening of man-hunting, and this particular game park appeared to be well-stocked. So why did she feel like she'd rather be at home eating a bowl of cold cereal?

The carousel nature of the speed dating event definitely didn't help things. She felt like she was at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, except she wasn't sure who was the raw fish going around in circles: the men or her. She was sure that if she could get past that plodding visual, she would find some of the guys to be rather attractive.

But then there was that notion of actually dating. What if she did end up matched up with a guy? The thought of having to go through the rigors of dating --the phone calls, the meet ups, the obligatory hugs and kisses, the "okay, now is a good time" sex-- just didn't appeal to her at all. Not at this point in her life, anyway. So when, poor Number 12, Arye, brought up the notion of "life partners", she couldn't help but feel like her powder keg had been lit.

Mia leaned against the bar once more and looked towards the ladies' washrooms. Sylvie was still in there. What was taking her so long?

She smirked to herself. "Maybe she's right," she mused. Maybe she really could just use a Mr.Right Now, though she was a little shocked her sweet and innocent friend would suggest something like a One Night Stand.

Still, the idea of it undeniably kindled a small spark in her otherwise cold heart and belly. No way she was going to even joke about that with Sylvie -- the poor girl would likely go into shock. She was also certain that there wouldn't be a man in the lounge this night who could even stir that pot within her.

She looked upwards contemplatively for a moment, the grinned and snickered, "Nope, Mia. Your panties are still as dry as a desert."

"Whose panties are what?" Sylvie asked, sidling up to her at the bar.

Mia shirked aside slightly, unaware her friend had returned. "What? Oh...ah..."

The little porter bell dinged again. The hostess returned to the center of the floor and clapped her hands.

"Alright, ladies and gents," she announced, "I hope you've recharged and refocused. It's time for the second half of tonight's event! Still lots of people to meet, so I hope you haven't completely filled up your cards yet!"

No worries about that, Mia thought.

"Ladies take your seats," the hostess directed, "Men, you're rotating to your left, counter-clockwise."

"And the carousel continues," Mia muttered.

"Okay, back to the mines," Sylvie chirped.

"Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho," Mia joked, "Oh, don't lean in too close to Number 16. He smells like an Old Spice truck rolled over him."

Sylvie pawed at her arm. "And you try not to scare too many of the guys permanently off women," she scolded playfully.

The men and women moved through the lounge like football players taking to the field. Mia resumed her seat and steeled herself for what was to come during the next hour. She tried to settle herself into the suede bucket chair, but just couldn't find a perfectly comfortable position. Finally she just settled with the standard demure pose: legs crossed, one hand on her lap, the other perched on the armrest. Another deep breath and she was as ready as she could be. Bring it on.

A tall, lanky, blonde-haired man wearing tan pants and a blue dress-shirt -- I.T. Chic-- stepped up to the chair across from her. He flashed a very wide, toothy smile and said, "Hi, I think I'm at the right place."

"That makes one of us," Mia replied.

The man chuckled hesitantly.

Inwardly, Mia scolded herself. Snarky-bitch mode was not a good way to begin. She didn't want to believe she could be such a cruel person. She managed a warmer smile and said, "Sorry. I mean, I think you're also supposed to start here, as well. Please, have a seat."

That seemed to relax him a bit. "Great," he replied, "My name's Brad."

As he pulled the chair back, though, another man came up and also put his hand on the chair and on Brad's back. "I am very sorry, my friend. I believe this is where I'm supposed to be," he said.

With mirroring confused looks, Mia and Brad paused and frowned at the man. He looked much more reassured than either of them, a confident look in his dark eyes and a steady smile on his full lips.

Brad looked toward Mia but all she could offer were raised eyebrows and a telepathic response of "Don't look at me. I have no idea."

"Uh...no, I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to start here," Brad said, his hand still on the chair.

The other man also kept his hand on the chair, his expression unfazed and calm, dark black brows settling over the cool whites of his eyes. "I believe you are wrong, my friend," he said, simply.

Mia sat frozen, only her eye shifting between the two men.

Brad released the chair first and stood tall, obviously trying to use his height to press his point. It didn't work. Not only was the man almost his equal in height, it was obvious he was built more solidly beneath his burgundy shirt and grey blazer. And he continued to regard him stoically, like a big dog staring down a puppy.

"We're supposed to go counter-clockwise," Brad said, motioning his finger in circles.

"Ah well, there you are," the other man exclaimed. He pointed to his wrist. "I'm not wearing a watch."

Brad frowned. Mia couldn't stop the edge of her lip from curling up into an impish smile.

"No. Look you have to..." Brad started to say but was interrupted by the dinging porter bell.

"The gentlemen at table 6," the hostess called out, "Can you please find your seats so we may get started?"

While Brad looked over to the hostess, Mia and the other man took the opportunity to make eye contact. He winked at her. That simple gesture definitely flicked at something deep down inside of her but she couldn't say that it didn't make her feel uneasy.

Brad turned back to the man and opened his mouth to say something, but instead the man spoke, "Alright, the thing is that my time tonight is short and I may be leaving very soon. I would just like the opportunity to meet with this young lady before I go. I believe you will be staying here for the entire night, yes?"

Brad hesitantly nodded.

"Then, my friend, I'm sure you will eventually...'counter-clockwise'...back into this chair, yes?" the man remarked, "All I am asking for is my moment with her, a fair chance. Can you begrudge me that?"

"Gentlemen?" the hostess called to them again.

Brad was already teetering. Mia decided to give him a little push. "He's right, Brad," she said, "We'll get a chance to speak. Everyone has spends time together, right?"

While unable to hide his annoyance, Brad finally relented. "Okay...if you're alright with that."

"I'm okay with it," she replied, hoping Brad hadn't noticed her eyes remained on the other man the entire time.

The man offered his hand to Brad which was accepted begrudgingly. He even patted him on the back as he walked away. Then he took his seat across from Mia, leaning forward elbows on his lap, hands clasped together beneath his chin. Mia almost could hear the mental sound of a "click" as his eyes locked onto hers. Dark ebony skinned and handsome, and exuding confidence, her own eyes, though looking less assured, were also fixed upon him. Her lips ebbed into a smile, belying the nerves in her belly evoked by him.

The porter bell rang again. Time to begin.

Mia still hadn't moved much, stuck in that ridiculous pose she has assumed since taking her seat. As the man continued to hold her in his cool, calm, undeniably magnetic gaze, she felt like a deer in headlights. 10 seconds ticked by and neither had said anything. She finally opened her mouth, still unsure of what she was actually going to say.

"My suite number is 3208," he spoke first.

Mia stopped, her mouth hanging ajar. For a few precious seconds, it felt like a small rock was caught in her throat, but she finally managed to jump-start her brain enough to blurt, "What?" "In the hotel above us," he said, lifting his eyes upwards for a moment, "Suite number 3208."

Mia scrunched her trimmed brows sharply down towards her nose. "Yes, I heard you the first time. Why would...?"

"Because you don't want to be here."

Mia was speechless.

"So you will be in my room in....let's say 20 minutes," he said.

Was that a request or a command? His voice, laced with an Hispanic accent, was as steady and intense as the rain. It was impossible for Mia to read the man beyond the words he spoke to her, and those were so stark in blunt, she couldn't believe what she thought he was suggesting.

She swallowed then said, "To do what?" She hoped he was kidding, and decided to play along.

Shadows appeared on the man's dark face accentuating strong, sharp features on his smooth, dark caramel skin. "So many things come to mind," he replied.

Mia tilted her chin away slightly, but didn't take her eyes off of him. They stayed on the man as she quickly readjusted her glasses which had slipped down her nose and then brushed back her hair over her shoulder with one deft motion. Truthfully, according to the rules of the event, she should have screamed "foul!" and had the man kicked out for such a proposal.

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