Cat hopped off the bus and steadied herself on landing. Luckily for her feet, the agreed meeting spot was only a short walk from the stop. Perhaps the exceptionally high-heeled boots were also not such a wise decision. But then they did go well with the short checked black and white skirt… No, they were a must.
She marched, anxiously, toward the bar. Outside, two men sharing banter and cigarettes gave her pause to consider asking to steal one. God she could use a smoke right now. Her trepidation must have caught their attention as the taller of the two offered a friendly smile.
“Evening, Miss,” greeted a short but sturdy looking man dressed in the standard black uniform so synonymous with pub security. Shit. Shit. Shit. Breathe… was all she could think but managed to fumble out a ‘thanks’ in gratitude as he pushed open a heavy set door. Cat studied herself attempting to fake the illusions of confident and awkwardly sauntered inside.
The place was bustling while the atmosphere buzzed with the hum of chatter. The bar itself was a modern take on a Victorian drinking lodge, kept in keeping with the old building’s original design. The tall ceiling boasted exposed timber and ancient brickwork, while low hanging brass pendants brightened the large room, finished with a cluster of dark wood lumber benches and large flickering pillar candles their central feature. Positioned conveniently at the back were booths for people with more private arrangements.
A saloon-style bar rammed with eager people waiting to be served swarmed to her left. It was busy tonight. Cat stared at the crowd, hoping to catch a glance of Nick before he saw her. And there he was, sat at the corner of the bar; tapping at his phone.
She froze. He was more handsome in real life than his photos gave him credit for. Fuck, what the hell was she doing?
Breathe… breathe… breathe… and compose. Cat readied herself to beat her way through the crowd when he glanced from his phone toward the entrance. It was only a matter of time before he noticed her standing there, motionless; gaping at him. Suddenly, she felt ridiculous. Like when the hot boy at school catches you gazing at him from behind your upside-down text book… and then it happened. Oh fuck. Oh fuck. He’s seen me. Oh fuck.
Somehow, his eyes brightened, watching her standing stupidly still. Glued to the spot. A statue of purest ice. He smiled; a big, welcoming, George Clooney grin, followed by a mouthing of the word ‘hi’. She had to do something. She forced her boots to start walking. Dodging bodies and tables, wading through to the bar, her eyes never left his. His enchanting lips inspired a little confidence in her as he stood off his stool to greet her. Locked in each other’s gaze she never even noticed the barman, or his tray, until it was too late.
It was the briefest of collisions but enough of one to propel the tray and all its empty glasses away from the waiter’s hands. The loud clash of breaking glass caused an uproar of jeers from the crowd and all heads turned—to her sheer fucking horror—toward the source of this audible calamity. And she was right at the epicentre. Ground Zero.
FUCK IT she thought, scrambling for words. “… God… so… sorry….” the almost muted whisper to the waiter was likely too quiet to be received but it was all the oxygen she could spare at this point. Cat bent to help him. More claps and giggles from the thirsty crowd, though it wasn’t long at all before they got bored and carried on amongst themselves. Helping salvage broken glass, she heard the waiter attempting some assurance.
“Thanks love, don’t worry about it. Happens all the time.” His words were kind but did little to lessen her embarrassment or cool her scarlet face. “Honestly, I’ve got this,” he winked, knowingly. Cat muttered another apology and removed herself from the crime scene. When she finally dared to look again at Nick, he was chuckling.
At last, she made it to the bar counter; clearly more flustered now than she had been before waiter-gate. Nick simply looked at her with those cool eyes, that warming grin, and uttered, “You okay?”
“Shit,” she said, before realising that her first word to him would be shit. “I like to make an entrance.”
“Oh, it was legendary,” he smiled. Definitely one way to break the ice.”
“The ice, the glass, my dignity…” she shrugged, smiling nervously, with sheepish glances at Nick; afraid to look at him any longer than that. Her humiliation seemed to tickle him. His laugh was endearing and warm and completely infectious. Cat couldn’t help but join him in this awkwardly tender moment. It felt good to laugh—it steadied her nerves and eased her nausea.
“Bet you need a drink about now,” he said through his subsiding chuckle.
“More than you know.” Cat began undoing her jacket. Nick, still standing, helped her out of the Mac, hanging it beside his at the side of the bar. It was a very gentlemanly gesture and, apparently, one she appreciated. She felt his eyes on her; he had taken advantage of a fleeting opportunity to check her out. Pretending not to notice his approving expression as the corners of his mouth twitched ever so slightly, she actually felt some relief.
“It’s quite busy in here, eh,” a gallant change of subject. “It took ages to get served the first time so I ordered a bottle of Prosecco. Hope that’s okay.” He handed her an empty glass. She accepted, graciously. His grin re-emerged. “Just don’t break it.”
“Oh Great, is that how it is?” Cat rolled her eyes in fake annoyance. “I’m going to be taunted with broken glass jibes all night, now!”
“Sorry, I couldn’t resist,” he chuckled. “That really was an exceptional entrance.”
“Well, I’m glad I managed to amuse you so much,” she retorted as Nick poured cold bubbles into her flute. Hastily, Cat took an indulgent sip. She needed it; especially now.
“I like this place. I’ve been here a few times, actually,” he changed the subject again. Cat wondered for a moment if this was where he brought all his conquests. As if knowingly offering some comfort, he continued: “work lunches mostly.”
This town was local for both of them so it shouldn’t have been a surprise that he’d come here before. Cat had too, in fact; several times with the girls.
“They do the best burgers on the planet, here. The onion ring tower is fantastic!” Great, she thought. She sounded like a ‘burger bird’ and wished she could have been more sophisticated. ‘Yes, they have a splendid rustic menu; the Sole is simply divine!’ Too late.
“The loaded chips are bloody amazing,” he chimed in. “Even better than a Pot Noodle!” Remembering their first online exchange about super-noodles, she welcomed the reference. “Do you fancy grabbing a bite? We can if you’re hungry.”
“Thanks, I’m good. Had a little something before I left,” she lied. She sensed some disappointment. Was he hungry? “Well, maybe some loaded chips later?”
“Great so that means you’re staying and not running out on me like that other guy?”
“I didn’t say that,” it was her turn to tease. “I’m still sitting near the fire escape just in case. To be honest, I’m surprised you’re still here after that carnage.
“Honestly, it was perfect. I’m not going anywhere.” No chuckles this time. Just that grin. “Not until we’ve finished this bottle anyway,” he joked. He had an agreeable sense of humour and, despite the rocky start, seemed to like her. This might actually be going well. “You look great by the way.”
It was a simple compliment but as he said it, Cat gazed into those piercing eyes and her cheeks flushed again.
“Thank you! Not too shabby yourself.” Cat was playing it down; he was seriously attractive. His eyes were a sharp, crystal blue; his lips full and pink. God, how many times had she imagined what it would be like to kiss them. Now he was so close she could almost taste them. She wanted desperately to taste them… FFS, stop thinking about kissing him! Her thoughts were only making her blush more and yet, she was utterly helpless to stop them.
“That’s the second time tonight and we’ve only been here five minutes,” Nick’s face gleaned with sweet amusement.
“You’re blushing. It’s kinda hot.” He was NOT helping. Yet again, she felt completely ridiculous. “Do you blush a lot?”
“Actually, no. Never!” She giggled, sipping from her glass of liquid confidence.
“I’m pleased to see I have that effect of you then.” He said. Shit. She felt she had to say something to regain a little composure.
“Must still be recovering from the carnage earlier… and the bubbles.”
“Well, if the bubbles are to blame maybe you should have some more.” He lifted the bottle to pour her another drink but instead of just pouring into the glass as it sat in her hand, he steadied the rim of her flute with his gentle fingers. There was the slightest brush of skin.
It’s amazing how sometimes a simple touch from another person can attack your nerve endings, sending sparks of electricity shooting through your body. If Cat was previously unsure of how tonight was going to play out, she was starting to get an idea. Their eyes met again as he finished topping her up. The earlier banter had dropped away; an un-awkward silence emerging between them as each tried to read the other’s intentions. Had the rooms temperature suddenly risen to that of volcanic larva.
“Do you want to sit down?” he asked, breaking the silence and gesturing toward the bar stool.
“There’s only one stool.”
“Shall we try and grab a table, then?”
They scoured the room for an option. Nick nodded toward a cosy booth where a coupled were preparing to leave.
He grabbed their coats and as Cat passed, heading for the table, his hand momentarily rested on the small of her back. Again with the miniature lightning bolts! Her mind wandered to their innuendo heavy messages; she was thrilled the chemistry they’d felt online was ever so prominent now. Something was awakening inside her, making her dizzy again… Or maybe it really was the bubbles.
Cat slid onto the bench in the tiny booth expecting Nick to take the opposing seat. Instead, he slid in beside her, close enough for their legs to brush every time either of them moved. Was it actually get and hotter in here…? Conversation flowed easily, naturally. Two hours of chat about nothing in particular. She was delighted to discover that his quick wit wasn’t just text trickery. Nick was fascinating to listen to. Well-travelled, passionate about his work, voted the correct side of Brexit and more importantly they even agreed on Netflix boxsets.
The conversation wasn’t one sided either, he seemed genuinely interested in her life and opinions. The occasional bush of leg action became more frequent filling her with a little confidence that things were indeed going well; and as the drinks flowed Cat found his charming company completely intoxicating. Her mind was wandering to places best left for at least date three with agreeably less of an audience.
“So, it’s my round,” Nick announced. “Another bottle?”
“Jeez, are you trying to get me drunk?” Cat was well on her way.
Nick chuckled again. “Maybe I am…” he said as he slid out from table, scrunching his face in mock contemplation as he continued: “not brazen harlot drunk but the kind of drunk that will help you make bad decisions.”
“I don’t need any help making bad decisions, thanks,” a quick flashback to waiter-gate gave her internal shivers. “Although, maybe one last cocktail for the road?”
“Same as before?” He asked. She was nodding before he’d finished the question. “Back in a minute. I’ll get some shots in too.”
“Great. Wait… what?” her senses were slowing down. Did he say ‘shots’? “Are we doing shots?”
“Just the one,” he said, innocently enough. Cat gave it at least a second’s thought.
“OK,” she began with finality, “one shot, one cocktail and then its home time before I accidentally get shit-faced and kill another waiter.”
Nick chuckled as he left for the bar. It was 10.30 already. Seizing the opportunity, the slightly tipsy Cat whipped out her phone. Half a dozen missed WhatsApp messages:
21:04 Mel: Oi Cat hozit going 😛
Lee: Did you get Catfished again or is he as hot in real life?
Mel: Well let us know if you need saving, I’ll call you and say someone died or something
Lee: Bit drastic Mel, how about I call you and just say baby sitter had to leave
Emma: Ladies don’t think she’s answering that means either its going well or she met a serial killer 😬
Lee: I’m going with 💦
Chrissy: Why is Cat meeting a serial killer?
Several GIFs followed, varying from sex to axe murders. In fact, they appeared to be having a Giffy argument. She skimmed through the rest of the thread that included a brief explanation from Emma that Cats wasn’t in fact meeting a murdered; and immediately hit the GIF search button.
She found one of a burning flame and sent it to the girls with a note,
Cat: all good. bit pissed tho. Will tell all TMRW
Another message from Insomnia pinged through:
Jay: Sooooooo Lady, is it going well and have you got laid yet?
Cat: Will you fuck off with the being laid shit, no I haven’t….well not yet anyway 🤔
Jay: (almost instantly) – Well what you doing messaging me, get cracking. Bout bloody time you got some. You must be seriously horny right now, no?? 😝
Cat: He’s at the bar getting drinks, and again Fuck Off lol. Honestly J, I’m a bit pissed and he’s seriously hot and you know how nervous I’ve been.
Jay: I know babe—only J gets away with calling her ‘babe’—Jokes aside, just have some fun, you really deserve it. Don’t overthink it. But (big brother hat on) if it doesn’t feel right then just go home.
Cat: I’m more worried that it DOES feel right because I’m pissed and my inhibitions are slowly flying out the window.
Jay: Then don’t overthink it. You’re a single hot lady with a single hot guy so just enjoy… besides, it’s about time I got some juicy sex stories from you seeing as you’ve heard all of mine.
Cat: that’s not by choice hun. you just like bragging and need your ego stroking
Jay: Well you could be stroking someone else’s “ego” in a bit 😅 At least it’s taken your mind off Tony 😡
Cat: again will you FUCK OFF 😚
She looked up from her phone to see Nick heading her way with a tray of drinks.
Cat: OH shit, he’s coming back with a fecking tray full or booze. Its gonna get messy. Catch ya TMRW x
“Only been gone 5 minutes and your back online!” He shook his head in faux disgust.
“Yep!” Cat laughed out loud, noting that she’d done that a lot tonight; it was obviously due to Nick’s great company and humour. That and the constant stream of booze. “You were taking too long! A girl doesn’t like to be kept waiting, you know.”
“I’ll remember that. The lady has a diva-streak. Better give her highness a drink!”
Giggles again. The shots were probably another very bad decision. But what the hell! Bring it on!
“So, what have you brought me?” She asked, semi-regally.
“That hideously sweet cocktail you ordered earlier, two tequilas and two sambucas. No idea what your favoured shot is so take your pick.”
“Why, thank you. How very considerate of you,” she said, still trying to sound regal. “‘Let’s do one shot now before cocktails and save the other for after.”
“Sounds good to me,” he approved. And with that, Cat picked up her tequila as Nick passed her the salt and lemon. “If we’re gonna do this, we’re doing it properly.”
Cat took the salt shaker. She tipped her head and gazed at him; her smile wiped from her lips as she opened her mouth and delicately, suggestively, licked the back of her hand. She sprinkled the salt, playfully locking Nick in her seductive gaze. She knocked back the shot. As the liquid burned its way down her throat, she bit into her lemon wedge and ended the routine by licking her lips and smiling, sweetly.
Nick chuckled again. “Impressive. Expertly done. Do you wanna do mine too?” He was referring to the tequila but Cat took his hand instead. Brought on by the adrenaline fix that came with tequila, or perhaps it was the exchange with Insomnia just now, Cat lifted Nicks hand to her mouth and pushed out her tongue. Slowly, firmly and without hesitation her tongue pressed the back of his hand and she licked a patch for salt. Cats eyes never left his, making her completely aware of the changing expression on his face. His long dark lashes fluttered slightly; his smile faded, becoming something hungrier.
“Fuuuck…” was all he could think of to say as Cat took her tongue away, tapped salt onto his hand and steered it towards his own tongue, still holding his fingers softly as he licked; still locked in each other’s eyes. As if taking a plunge, he knocked back the drink, bit into the lemon and grimaced. “Cat, I have a confession to make.”
The second those words left his beautifully shaped mouth, her heart sank. This is where he tells her he’s married, or was once a women or even worse: he has a macro penis… Her breath lodged in her throat…
“I’m actually a smoker. Not a big one but—” he paused, probably replaying what had just happened in his head. “…after that I think I need a cigarette.”
Cat’s relief must have been very apparent: a heavy sigh followed by nervous chuckles that escaped her uncontrollably. “Thank fuck for that!” She bursted. “I’m not a smoker either but I would bloody love one right now.”
Relief washed over him. “Well how about we nip outside then?”
Cat nodded in agreement as the pair slid off the bench and headed outside. Jackets left at the table to ensure that the scurrying waiters didn’t think they’d abandoned their drinks.
Thanks for reading and if you fancy catching up with the story so far here’s the link. Adventures with Cat