While the ambiance of smoke and red lights fills my senses, the smell of alcohol and sweat clouds them as I walk into the small club.

I feel my sneakers clinging to the sticky floor as I dodge through the crowd that has filled this place on a Friday night, trying to get to the bar so I can get something to drink.

       I’ve been here before, well, not exactly this place, but this situation is very well known to me: my best friend has been trying to get me out of my bubble this last few months, she says it’s for the best, that I should take more risks and maybe live a love like those I read about (minus the mafia). So that’s why every Friday of the last two months has a “Jade’s and Clara’s date night” written on my Google calendar since we’ve been going to different bars and clubs to see different types of people.

As I finally reach the bartop I start my search for the bartender so I can get some drinks in me before Jade arrives. She is one of those people that is naturally extroverted, while I can only function appropriately in extremely social situations if I have at least two drinks in my system. 

The bartender ignores me while he flirts with some blonde at the other side of the bar and when I’m almost giving up a figure behind me whistles and finally gets his attention, “Hey Dean, stop flirting while on the job and come get me a whisky” he says loudly and shortly after the bartender comes to be in front of me.                        

I turn around to see who could have finally gotten the attention that I wasted the last three minutes trying to get, and that’s when I’m met with brunette curls that reach leather jacket-clad shoulders. I realize I must be staring when the man himself turns to look at me with a face of annoyance, that quickly transforms into a smirk. 

“And what are you ordering tonight?” he says while looking me up and down. I know I’m attractive, and for the last  years of my life I’ve been anything but insecure about the way I look, but for some reason I feel small under the looks of this strangely handsome man, which I’m yet to decide if I like or not. “Well, I’ve been trying to get a Manhattan, so thanks for bringing him over here” I chuckle under my breath as he starts telling who I would assume is his friend to make me one. 

As I reach for my purse he immediately says with a smile on his face “No please, it’s on me, it’s the least I can do for giving such a worst first impression to a customer”. 

“That’s not necessary, really. And how do you know it’s my first time here?” I question while still trying to give him my card.

The beautiful guy checks me out once again while passing me my drink “I insist, and because I own the place I’m here every day, therefore I would’ve remembered if I saw you”

“But thousands of people must come here every week, I doubt you remember them all” deciding to stop trying to pay for the drinking and just sipping it lightly while I question him.

“Yours is not a face I would forget that easily. Also, you don’t really fit the vibe of most people that come here” he drinks his whisky while smiling.

Well, I can’t say I didn’t try, at least I wore the little black dress that Jade borrowed me. I think what gave me away was the cardigan that I crocheted myself… 

As he sees my inner debate happening he rushes “Not that you look bad, but I can’t say I’ve seen many cardigans around here” and that responds to my question.

“Indeed, it is my first time here, I’m just waiting for my friend to get here. trying new things and all,” I say while picking up my phone to see if my best friend has blessed me with a message that she’s arrived. Instead, I see a simple “I’m so sorryyyyy, I can’t make it tonight, got stuck at a meeting 🙁 love youuu” that has my stomach dropping to the floor.

As if he can sense the change in my demeanor he affirms “That by the look on your face just bailed on you”.

“Yeah, she just texted that she’s stuck at a meeting and can’t come” I put my phone face down as I finish my drink in one go. Geez, this is a strong one.

He looks down at me with a puzzled look, that in a few seconds transforms into a side smile. “Well, lucky for you I’m free tonight, I can be your companion if you want.”

Maybe that’s not such a bad idea. Why not spend the night talking to a sexy stranger that owns a sketchy club? I did promise Jade that I would meet new people… 

Before I can start overthinking I say “Why not? But first I’m going to need two things”, he smiles with a suspicious glimmer in his eyes “Shoot”

“First I’m going to need some names, and…” 

“I’m Alex” he interrupts me with a chuckle 

“I’m Clara, nice to meet you, Alex”

“So what’s the second thing, Miss Clara?” 

“A whole lot of drinks,” I say with a smile that is returned to me 

“I really like the way you think, I think this night has just officially started and I can’t wait o see where it goes”

*one hour and a MANY drinks later*

“What do you mean you’ve never read any romance novel??? I mean how is it possible that this happened??” I say laughing but with absolute outrage while hitting the table in front of me, which shortly after has me clutching my drink so it doesn’t spill all over the table.

Alex is a fascinating person. We’ve been sitting at this booth for a while now and I discovered several things about him, like that he has a cat named Noodles because he spilled some on his first night at his house, he is a photographer in his spare time and he loves art, music, and books, although he’s never touched a romance one, which is the most absurd thing I have ever seen on life.

While he laughs out loud about my reaction he responds “I don’t know honestly, I guess I just never had the curiosity of reading one. But if a certain someone with pretty red hair and blue eyes recommended one to me, I guess I could give it a try”. Another thing I’ve noticed, he finds me attractive or he is a really flirty person, but judging by the way that he is sitting really close to me in this relatively big round booth and keeps looking at my mouth while liking his lips every time I talk one would assume its the first option. You won’t see me complaining about it tho. His green eyes, cologne, and laugh could get me drunk if the drinks hadn’t already.

“Yeah? I guess I could do a little list for you” I say while looking at him through my drink and he asks “But what do you see in these books anyway, are you one of those girls that believe in happy endings and shit?”. I don’t hear any judgment in his voice tho, it’s an honest question “Not at all actually, I like to say that I’m a hopeless romantic that doesn’t believe in love”.

He looks a little surprised at first but gives an understanding look right after “Hey, do you mind if we go out really quick? I could really use a smoke” I nod dismissively and as we go to exit he offers me his hand to walk me through the crowd, which has become more agitated for the time we’ve been here, and I can’t say it doesn’t warm my insides up a little.

As we finally reach the exit door that leads to the alleyway right next to the bar he opens it up for me, “Thank you”

“Not a problem” he responds as he takes one cigarette and offers another one to me, which I accept and thank him again.

When he comes to light it for me he spends some good seconds eyeing my mouth, which almost makes me squirm but I hold it in. The darkness of this alley hits his tall and lean frame  just right, and when he lits his own I can say that he looks extremely attractive.

“But anyways, why would you say that you don’t believe in love? Even I that don’t really like to read about it believe it” he asks while blowing out some smoke and passing his big hands through his hair. I wish it were my hands.

I blow out my own and I shruggle  “I think people that are in love don’t think clearly”

“I mean, falling in love is intoxicating. It feels like drowning, in honey, and even tho you might want to drown -don’t get me wrong, it could be amazing, feeling the honey high- but it can burn, like breathing underwater” 

He pays attention intensely as I explain my metaphor and starts walking towards me slowly. “Darling, you must’ve known by now… I’m a sucker for the high”.

I try and keep my composure as I continue talking and ignoring the way his presence is getting closer by the second. “I know that, but sometimes it’s better to learn how to swim. Some people spend their whole lives borderline dying just for that, most of the time false, feeling of high.”

He disposes of his cig and comes to a stop right in front of me “In this case sweetheart…” he leans supporting his weight in his hand that is against the wall behind me “Dying sounds beautifully terrifying to me”

From where we stand so close I can smell his breath of whisky and tobacco, and the tension is so thick you could cut it with a knife. We both look intensely at each other, both wanting to make the first move but can’t seem to.

“Want to test your theory?” he says almost in a whisper, for only me to hear as his nose rests against mine.

“Yes, please” and quickly after his lips are against mine forcefully, exploding with want that has been there since the first time we saw each other at the beginning of the night.

He holds me with his hands on my face, that soon after go to squeeze my waist and pull me closer to him, and I take that as my chance to rest my arms against his shoulders and tangle my fingers through his long, and surprisingly soft, curls. With that he lets out a satisfied groan and deepens the kiss, as if that’s possible

Out of nowhere, a loud sound breaks us apart, only to see that it was a group of drunk people laughing because they knocked down a trash can. We let out a breathy laugh as we restore our breaths and rest our foreheads together. 

“Well, that was something” I say trying to break the comfortable silence that has been set between us.

“Yeah” he chuckles “Miss Clara, I think I might need your number from now on. I think I’m addicted and will need my next fix soon” he passes his thumb through my lip and continues “I just learned that honey gets me messed up”

I smile and take his phone as he offers to me and for a few moments, I think I might just be addicted too.