I tugged at the bottom of my blue sequin dress as the valet offered me his hand. My white heels clicked on the pavement as I stood to the side of the car and waited for Harry. He grinned smugly at me as he waltzed around the front of the car and looked me up and down. He bought me the form-fitting dress for my birthday but purposefully bought it a size too small. When I came out of my room with it on that night, Harry’s eyes immediately went to my chest which was busting out of the top.
“Too small, I need the next size up-“ I had said, hoisting the top of the dress up as much as I could.
Harry had jumped up from the couch and grabbed my hands to stop me. “Trust me, that one fits perfectly.”
I felt less that perfect as we entered The Lock, yet another one of our favorite clubs in the city. My hair didn’t curl right and my face already felt a little bit greasy, which always just made my whole body feel dirty for some reason. Harry knew that I was unhappy with my appearance and wrapped his arm around my waist as we stepped through the heavy crowd. “You look stunning.”
I rolled my eyes at him. Harry chuckled and kissed my forehead before stepping off into the crowd. I watched as he approached a tall, skinny brunette. He slid his arm around her waist and once again I could hear him in my mind. “There are a lot of beautiful women in this club but no one as radiant as you. Are you hear alone, Beautiful?”
I walked to the bar and sat down, pulling on the bottom of my dress as I slid up onto the bar stool. Before I even had time to order a shot of water, a man approached me.
“Let me get you a drink,” he said, and before I could protest he leaned across the bar and signaled for the bartender. As the bartender directed his attention toward the man, the man hesitated, realizing he didn’t really know what to order. I was a little taken aback by the forwardness of the man, but I quickly caught on to the fact that he didn’t usually do this. “You like the fruity stuff? Or are you more of a hard liquor kinda girl?”
“I don’t care,” I mumbled as I studied his appearance. His suit was old and he had a bald head occasionally dotted with a sun spot.
“We’ll have two shots each of straight vodka,” he said to the bartender. The short man behind the counter nodded and then looked to me. I had been here so often that he knew the deal, and without even asking he gave the man beside me two shots of vodka and provided me with two shots of water. The bald man didn’t notice.
“To a great night,” the bald man said, lifting his shot at me and then throwing it back. The vodka didn’t seem to phase him at all; his eye didn’t even twitch as the harsh liquid burned down his throat. I hesitated with my water, still studying the man but soon picked up my water and threw it back like a shot.
“Ahh, I figured you weren’t a fruity drink person,” he said, twirling his second shot between his fingers. That’s when I noticed a tan line around his fourth finger. I looked down at his pants, pulling a little tighter in his legs as he sat himself on a stool. Where his pocket was, I could see a ring pressing into the fabric of the pocket.
When I looked back up at the man, he looked confused. “You certainly like to talk, don’t you?” He chuckled, trying to make light of my awkward silence.
I smiled. “Only when I need to.” I stuck my hand out to him. “I’m Scotlan.”
He grinned, revealing his yellow teeth. “I’m Jason, but you can call me Big Papa.” I grimaced as the older man laughed at himself.
“And how old are you, Jason?”
The man’s laugh turned into a cough and he threw back his second shot quickly. “I’m sorry,” he said, leaning toward me after he swallowed. “I couldn’t hear you over the music! What was that?”
“How old are you?” I repeated, raising my voice.
Apparently his “loud music” lie didn’t give him enough time to think of a good age to pretend to be because he blinked a few times and then said, “37.”
I frowned. “You look a little older than that.”
Jason frowned too. He started to stand up and walk away. “Look, I just wanted to have a good time and if you only like younger guys then-“
“You wanted to have a good time with who?”
Jason looked caught off-guard again. “A- Anyone. Any girl who wants to sleep with me, you know? Why else do people come to clubs?”
I put my hand on my hip and took my second shot of water. “Go home, Jason. Go home to your wife-“
“What?!” Jason laughed. “I’m not marri-“
I reached my hand into his pocket and snatched out the ring. I really shouldn’t have come out tonight. I was in a bitchy mood. I mean, I usually was, but tonight it was just 100 times worse. Jason’s face fell as I held the gold band out to him.
“Take a cab home. On the way there, think about all of the reasons that you married your wife in the first place. What made you love her? Then when you get home, push her up against the fridge and kiss her like you’ve never kissed anyone before. Then put her on the counter and fuck her until you see stars. If I ever see you here again trying to look for some slut to bang while you’re still married, I will tear your balls off and staple them to your chin. Got it?”
I couldn’t really tell what Jason was thinking anymore. He nodded shortly and gently took his wedding band from my fingers, I think suddenly realizing what he was about to do before I stopped him. He turned on his heel and disappeared out the door of the club. I turned back to the bar and sighed, scrunching my eyebrows together to try and alleviate the wicked headache I felt growing in my skull. “Just give me a glass of water, I’m done fucking around,” I told the bartender.
I took a long drink of the water, hoping that maybe I was just a little bit dehydrated and that my headache would soon disappear.
“Soooo, why did you just do that?”
I turned slowly to see a tall and handsome figure hanging over my shoulder. For a split second, I thought it was Harry, but when my vision focused and adjusted to the light a little bit more, I could see it was someone I had never met before. His sandy brown hair was combed back nicely and his suit fit him so perfectly in all the right places. His light brown facial hair was the sexiest thing I had ever seen. Never in my life had I been so speechless in front of someone.
“I- do… do what? What did I do?”
His laughter was the perfect volume and had just the right amount of softness to balance out the rasp. I wanted to just curl up in his chest and die.
“I’ve seen you before. I’ve been watching you. You go from club to club almost every night and order water for yourself, BUT when you see a man approaching, you order alcohol – usually a jager bomb. You then talk for a moment, clearly uninterested in what he has to say, and then ask him to dance in which case he’ll ask you if you want your shot and you reply ‘You can have it.’”
Maybe this Prince Charming was a little more of Prince Stalker. As in Prince NoThankYou. As in Prince GetTheFuckAwayFromMe. But I was stunned. He really had figured out my system. How is it that he watched me for so long but I never noticed his gorgeous face before? It would have been hard to miss, even in the most crowded clubs. I was a people-watcher - I noticed everyone… or at least I thought I did.
When I didn’t say anything, he continued. “You get men drunk and remain completely sober yourself, but then you leave with them, and I assume, sleep with them.” He waited for me to respond, but I could think of nothing else to do but to nod. He kept going: “You could have had old Jason over there in the sack in three minutes flat and you told him to go home to his wife instead. I was asking why?” His blue eyes screened my face, his own expression revealing a strange interest in what I had to say.
I shook my head. “I don’t mind people having sex, it’s just the cheating that really pisses me off.”
“Ahh,” he sighed. “Personal experience? A cheating boyfriend perhaps?”
I shook my head. “I’ve never had a boyfriend.” Did I just say that out loud? My mind must really be jumbled.
“Well with someone like you, I suppose I could understand,” he said, taking a sip of his drink. What the hell did that mean? He continued. “So it was something with your family then? Your father cheated on your mother?”
I tensed up. “Check, please? Can we not talk about this?”
He sat back a little further on his stool and smiled proudly. “So he cheated on her and that’s why you are who you are today.”
I cocked my head at him. “Honestly, what the hell do you want?”
His smile became a little more broad and he stuck his hand out to me. “I’m Zach.”
I remained still.
“Okay,” he said, sitting back in his stool again. “I just wanted to do a little business. I think you’re gorgeous and I want to spend a night with you.”
I laughed. “Most men don’t usually approach it like that…”
He slid toward me and put his hand around my waist, making my insides explode but sending chills down my back. “I’m not like most men. As a matter of fact, I would be willing to pay three times as much if you spend this whole weekend with me.”
Suddenly it hit me. “Someone like you,” “Pay you three times as much,” and “That’s why you are who you are.” It was all coming together.
I turned to him and glared. Lowering my voice, I said, “I am not a prostitute, you arrogant ass.”
The smug look fell from Zach’s face, but it returned in less than a second. His grip on my waist tightened as he pulled me away from the bar. “It’s okay if you don’t want to admit it. It must be hard to live with yourself for doing such a dirty job. But don’t get me wrong, it’s a good job. Must pay well.”
I tried to shove him away from me but he was surprisingly strong with just his hand around my waist. I turned my head in all directions as we passed through the dance floor, searching desperately for Harry. I was about to shout his name over the music when suddenly, I felt his hand around my wrist. He yanked me hard, pulling me from Zach’s arms.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing, mate?” He spat, slinging me directly behind his body and shielding me with one arm.
Zach looked annoyingly calm as he stuck his hands in his pockets and shrugged. “I thought she and I could go party elsewhere.”
I grabbed Harry’s arm as he stepped forward into Zach’s face. “It sure as hell didn’t look like she wanted to party elsewhere.”
Zach’s whole body seemed to darken as he tensed. “This is none of your business, mate.”
Harry yanked his arm from my grip and stepped forward again. Harry was taller than Zach by just a few inches but I praised the lord for those inches. Otherwise, he probably wouldn’t have been too intimidating. “Oh, it’s my fucking business alright.”
Zach relaxed again. It was so strange to see him act so casually about this. Harry was in his face fuming and Zach seemed to want to shrug the whole thing off like it was nothing. “Look, I’m a guy, you’re a guy… she’s a hot prostitute. What would you have done?” He smiled like there was an obvious answer. A crowd was gathering and I wanted to leave, but the last thing I wanted to happen was us being forced to leave because Harry killed a man with his fists. Before I could pull Harry away, he started swinging.
He threw his fist hard and fast directly into Zach’s face. I was torn for a moment; For as much as I hated Zach and all the things he said for me, he was stunningly beautiful. “Not the face!” the romantic part of me wanted to scream, but after the first hit, I knew it was too late and the sensible part of me was satisfied. The rings along Harry’s knuckles glistened in the flashing lights with blood as he punched Zach over and over. He even went so far as to drop to his knees and punch Zach on the floor a few times before deciding it was enough.
Zach’s white collared shirt was stained with his own blood beneath his suit. He struggled to move his body and slowly lifted his hands to cover his face as he moaned in pain.
“You’re a guy, I’m a guy…” Harry mimicked. I almost giggled until Harry kicked Zach between the legs as hard as he possibly could. “YOU’RE NOT A GUY FOR LONG, YOU BASTARD.”
I looked away as Zach flipped over onto his stomach and began to cough up blood, no doubt. The crowd around us stopped dancing and backed up to give both Harry and Zach room, even though there wasn’t a fight anymore. I grabbed Harry’s arm and tugged on it as people stared from Zach to Harry to myself. “Harry, we have to go. We have to go now.”
He turned with me and we pushed through the crowd, me leading him to the door. We stepped into the cool air of the night, but the bouncer at the door held out his hand in front of us before we could get anywhere. He looked at Harry’s blood-splattered face and then at me. “Don’t come back,” he said flatly, shaking his head. Harry and I both nodded, and Harry surprised both myself and the bouncer by sticking out his hand.
“Sorry, my man. I gotta stick up for my girl.” He shook the bouncer’s hand casually and thanked him for the night. The valet drove the Celica up in front of us and Harry opened the door for me. Moments later, we were on our way home. I shut my eyes and held my head in my hands the whole way to the apartment. I couldn’t remember the last time that Harry got into a fight. In high school, he got into fights every week; it was his way of expressing his feelings. His mother and his father spent so much time focused on his suicidal older brother that the only way Harry felt he could get attention was through fighting. That, and a lot of other guys just hated him for being able to lure so many girls into bed with him.
Harry opened both the car door and the front door for me. I kicked off my shoes as I walked into the kitchen and grabbed a plastic cup from the cabinet above the sink. I poured some water into the cup from my wine glass but nearly dropped the glass bottle when I heard something slam behind me. I whipped around and braced myself against the counter before opening my eyes to see what the commotion was. Harry had put his fist through the wall.
I stood with my mouth hanging open and my eyes wide as I watched him kick his shoe furiously across the room and whip a pillow from the couch across the room and into the sink next to me. When I flinched, Harry seemed to notice and stood still in the center of the room. His hands hung by his sides, his fists uncurled, his hair drooped across his face, and his suit was all twisted on his body. As he stood in the light, I noticed that Zach’s blood was still splattered across Harry’s white shirt and partially on his face. Harry’s fist was bleeding from his sending it through the wall.
“Can you just stay there for a moment?” I asked. Harry took a few deep breaths and nodded. I turned quickly and ran down the hallway. When I returned to the living room, I was holding my camera. I stood on the couch and looked down at Harry through the lens, making sure the blood on his shirt and his fist were easily seen in the shot. His hair covered enough of his face to where no one would have known it was Harry unless they had taken the picture themselves. After a few snaps, I set my camera down and walked to Harry, pulling at the shoulders of his tux jacket and unknotting his tie. He looked down at me as I helped him remove the bloody clothes. “You’re not a prostitute…”
I laughed and looked up into Harry’s eyes. “I know that.”
Harry grabbed my shoulders and stopped me from unbuttoning his shirt. He looked me in the eyes. “You know what I meant. You don’t look like one.”
I rolled my eyes and continued to unbutton his shirt. After I pulled it carefully over his hand, I pulled him to the island and sat him down. I ran a washcloth under the cold water in the sink and began to pat the back of his hand where it was bleeding. He flinched and inhaled sharply through his teeth.
I shook my head at him. “That’s what you get for punching the damn wall.”
We both turned to look at the hole in the middle of the white next to the television.
“That guy just pissed me off…” Harry said through his teeth. I chuckled.
“He pissed me off too, but now that I think of it, he almost complimented me. He thought I was a high-end prostitute.”
Harry looked confused as I laughed again, thinking about how Zach asked me to stay with him for a few days.
“Well he’s also a shitbag,” Harry said, taking his hand from me and observing the gash along his knuckles.
“Oh lord, I didn’t say he wasn’t.”
“He called you hot.”
“You hate that.”
“I hate that.”
“You should hate it,” Harry said firmly.
I shook my head. “Sometimes I don’t care. He was a douche so it was appropriate language for him.” I washed out the washcloth and then turned back to Harry to wipe Zach’s blood off of his face.
“Can I see that photo you just snapped?”
I laughed and walked to my camera. Our relationship was so weird. Just a moment ago, Harry was smashing holes in faces and walls and now he was back to normal because I basically ignored his rage and took a picture of him instead. He grinned at the photo, probably thinking to himself that he looked tough and sexy – which I won’t lie, he definitely did.
“Is that going in your portfolio? There is a shit-ton of emotion in that,” Harry argued as I put my camera away.
“I don’t know,” I called from my room. “We’ll have to wait and see.”
Harry appeared in the door and watched me change into a baggy shirt. I crawled into bed without turning the light off and plugged my phone into my charger. I read a text from Anna about the time we were supposed to arrive the next afternoon for the wedding and then set my phone down. I started to close my eyes, but they fluttered back open when I realized that Harry was still standing in the door. I knew exactly what he wanted but I was hoping that if I ignored him long enough he would leave. He didn’t.
I sighed. “You want to spoon.”
Harry looked at me seductively and jokingly bit his lip while he nodded. I blinked slowly and tiredly but lifted one side of the sheets up. He shimmied out of his black pants and shut off the light before climbing into my bed next to me. We both flipped around until I was comfortably fit against his curved and warm body. He wrapped his arm around my stomach and pulled me into him. He loved to cuddle after he got in a fight. I suppose it made him feel better about what he did.
His breath tickled the back of my neck as I began to fall asleep. “Oh,” he whispered, making me jump just the slightest. “And just for the record, you’re not hot - you are stunningly beautiful.”