By the time New Year’s Eve arrived, I’d be itching for human contact. So I’d do what I always did when I craved a connection. I’d walk to Lobby, my favourite club.
On New Year’s Eve it was difficult to get in. But on this particular evening, as on most nights since I became a club VIP, I was welcomed by the bouncer, who directed me to skirt the long line and enter the building.
I approached the bar and ordered my favourite drink – a double shot of Laphroaig, neat, with a side of spring water.
Within five minutes, I was sitting on a banquette near the wall, sipping Scotch and scanning the room.
My criteria for female companionship were simple. I preferred tall, leggy blondes but would occasional approach a red head or a brunette. I liked women who were attractive, confident, and intelligent. I avoided those whose mannerisms hinted at self-esteem issues or overt aggression. I also steered clear of women who arrived at Lobby in packs, since I found it tiresome to have to disengage them from their friends.
Halfway thru my Laphroaig, I saw her.
She had long hair the colour of corn silk and was dressed in a backless black dress. Her legs were encased in sheer stockings and she wore extravagantly high red-soled black heels.
I adjusted myself at the sight of her legs alone.
She sat at the bar with another woman, who was striking but not as attractive as her companion. They were involved in a relaxed conversation, their eyes occasionally darting to the men nearby.
As time wore on, I watched a few men send over drinks, or try to gain the women’s attention. Both the drinks and the men were rebuffed.
I found myself smiling. Few of the women at Lobby presented a challenge for me. This would be a rare delight.
I tipped back the last of my drink and approached the bar slowly, my eyes locked on hers. Her lovely red lips parted as I approached and it seemed she was holding her breath.
At the last minute, however, I made eye contact with the bartender and ordered another drink.
Then I waited.
I kept my posture straight, not bothering to lean against the bar. When I pursued a woman I liked to be the aggressor and I had no wish to appear as anything other than focused.
But first I had to get her attention.
I waited just long enough for her to wonder if I was going to approach her. Then I turned in her direction.
We made eye contact and I smiled at her briefly, before turning away as the bartender served my drink. I took a sip, then placed the glass on the bar.
“Hello.” Her throaty voice cut through the music of the club like a sword slicing silk.
I gazed at her face appraisingly. She was even more beautiful up close – high cheekbones, large expressive eyes, and a mouth made for the first of the seven deadly sins.
My trousers grew even more snug at the thought.
“Can I buy you a drink?” she asked.
I lifted her hand, kissing the back of it. “No.”
Her green eyes grew wide.
She tried to withdraw her hand but I held it, stroking her palm with my thumb.
“I’ll buy you a drink and one for your friend. And then, I’ll ask you to dance.”
She lifted her eyebrows. “What makes you so sure I’ll say yes?”
I leaned over to bring my lips to her ear, dropping my voice to a whisper. “You’re the only woman I’ve spoken to this evening because you’re the only one I’m interested in. And you deserve to be a man’s first choice.”
I felt her shiver at my nearness and I restrained a smile.
“I’m your first choice?” She whispered back.
I traced the side of her neck with a single finger. “Yes.”
When I heard her breathing pause, I knew she was mine.
At least for New Year’s Eve.
-Professor Gabriel O. Emerson,
Associate Professor of Italian Studies
University of Toronto
Gabriel & Julia
Gabriel & Julia