c/w: implied date rape
The bar was really getting crowded. I’d gotten here an hour ago and was lucky to get a table, but now, people were standing shoulder to shoulder trying to get a drink. I was nursing my second glass of white wine, but even that was hard to do at this point. I literally had one more sip before it was gone.
SunsetLover89 seemed nice enough from his profile. I sat up a little taller as a man approached my table. Could this be him? It looked like him. Tall, dark brown hair, black shirt. He said he’d be wearing a black shirt. I was beginning to realize that a lot of guys wore black. The attractive man walked by without even giving me a second look. I slumped down in my seat. It was approaching ten o’clock and I had to face facts that he just might not be coming. I wasn’t going to wait much longer.
The waitress came by and set down a new glass of wine in front of me.
“Oh, no, sorry. I didn’t want a refill. I’m actually going to close out my tab,” I told her.
She looked over her shoulder at a man sitting at the bar and told me, “He sent this over. Do you want me to take it back?”
I looked him over. He was cute enough. He smiled and tipped his drink at me.
“No, that’s okay,” I picked up my third glass of wine. “I’ll drink it.”
When he saw that I’d accepted his drink, he got up from the bar and walked towards me. I instantly got nervous. What had I done? I was looking to meet someone, but now, two, almost three glasses of wine in, I wasn’t sure I’d made the right choice. He was wearing a black shirt, so maybe it was kismet after all. Then again, so were a quarter of the guys in here.
He flashed me a smile with bright white teeth. “Hi, he reached out his hand. I’m Max.”
I smiled nervously. “I’m Casey.”
“Mind if I join you?”
“No, please,” I gestured towards the empty chair across from me.
“Thanks,” he sat down and took a sip of his drink. Scotch maybe? I don’t know. I’m not much of a drinker. I usually stick to my wine.
“So, what’s a gorgeous woman like you doing alone in a place like this?” he asked me a little too confidently.
Gag. I subconsciously rolled my eyes. Could he get any cheesier?
“Oh, you know. Just out for a drink.” I couldn’t tell him I’d been stood up. Again. It was too embarrassing.
He leaned forward and said as if it were a secret, “You know, a woman like you should be careful out alone. There are weirdos everywhere.”
Something about the way he said that made my skin crawl. “Yeah,” I pushed out a fake laugh and took a sip of my wine. Maybe I shouldn’t have done that. Who knows what might be in it. I swirled it around suspiciously looking for any evidence of tampering.
He sat back, seeming more relaxed. “You like it? I asked for their best white wine.”
I nodded and swallowed hard. “Yep, it’s really good. Thanks. Look I’d better be going. It’s getting late.” I scooted my chair back and stood up. “It was really nice to meet you.”
“Tsk Tsk Tsk…” he shook his head. “Such manners. You’re not going anywhere.”
My heart dropped. This was definitely a mistake.
Max cracked a smile. “We are just getting to know each other.”
I let out a sigh of relief. He wasn’t a creep. Okay, maybe he was, but just a run of the mill creep, the kind that wanted to get in my pants, not slit my throat.
“Maybe next time,” I forced a smile. “I’m really tired.”
“Please,” he put his hand on my arm. “Just one drink. That’s all I ask.”
I narrowed my eyes. I really didn’t want to stay, but I hated to be rude. He did buy me this expensive glass of wine, after all, and it was really good. It was way better than anything I’d buy for myself.
“Well, maybe just one,” I gave in and lowered back down to my seat. I took another sip of the wine.
“Good,” he clapped his hands together. “So, tell me about yourself. Why are you still single?”
“What makes you think I’m single?” Was I seriously flirting. That was not like me. At all.
Everything was getting blurry and I had to hold myself steady. Wow, the wine must really be getting to me.
“Where did you say you were from again?” I asked him. I could detect just the slightest accent in his voice.
“I didn’t,” he replied.
That was true. In fact, he hadn’t really told me anything about him yet.
With every blink, my eyes got heavier and heavier. Somehow, I managed to stumble out of the bar with Max and I’d hoped he’d put me in a cab and send me home safely.
“You’re a good guy, right?” I slurred to him as my heels dragged along the asphalt. “You seem like a good guy.”
He didn’t answer, but just pulled me along through the rows of parked cars. My blinks got slower and slower and I must have drifted off.
When my eyes opened again, everything was hazy. I was kind of dazed like waking up right in the middle of a vivid dream. Where was I? The beach? I could hear the ocean’s waves crashing and smell that unmistakable salty air.
“Oh, good, you’re awake,” he said.
Max put his arm around my shoulders.
“What’s going on?” I tried to move away from him, but my gestures were slow, as if I was under water.
Max pulled me tighter towards him.
“Watching the sunset, of course,” he said with an unnerving expression. “You know how much I love to watch the sunset.”
Jennifer Novotney’s work has appeared in Buddhist Poetry Review, Young Ravens Literary Review, and The Vignette Review, the latter for which she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her debut novel, Winter in the Soul, won a Moonbeam Children's Book Award. She lives in North East Pennsylvania with her family. Twitter: @JLNovotney