The bottle twisted as it flew through the air. Everything moved in slow-motion, Lacy could see the lights dance across its surface, her brain had time to register the brand and she even noticed there was still beer inside. Despite all these things, she could not make her body move to one side, put up a hand to deflect it, or anything to stop serious injury coming her way. When the bottle was only inches from her face, a hand appeared and snatched it from the air. She didn’t understand what had happened, which is why her mouth hung open like a dullard.
His smile was magical. His eyes were crystal blue and filled with fun. He looked up at the balcony where a drunk girl stared down. He tilted the bottle in his hand slightly, asking the question, are you going to say something? The drunk girl waved and vanished. The man placed the bottle on a table as Lacy tried to make the words, Thank You, come out. He just winked and walked away.
As he vanished, Lacy turned to her friend, Tracy, and said, “OMG did you see him!”
"He like, TOTALLY, saved your life!” she said, squealing and yelling over the music in in the club.
“You should so go after him!”
“I don’t even know his name. I can’t,” Lacy said, hiding her blushing face in her hands but she really wanted to rush after him. She would have if she could see him but the club was too packed. God, she had butterflies in her stomach and her heart was racing. He hadn’t even said a word and he had her melting. She’d never felt anything like it before and she was sure she never would again.
“You’re so prissy, if you don’t want him, I’ll have him,” said Tracy, pretending to go after the man. Lacy grabbed her arm and pulled her back.
“Don’t you dare,” she cried, dragging her friend away to get a drink at the bar.
All week, that guy was in her thoughts. The way he smiled, his eyes, the air of adventure that surrounded him, the way he saved her. Every day the feeling grew stronger. One day, she munched dreamily at her lunch and thought of him, of them. Her phone rang and she had to rummage through the junk in her bag to find the damn thing and when she did, it was only, Jason.
“Hi,” she said, not excited, not annoyed. After all, they were dating, of sorts.
"Hi baby, how is your day going?” He sounded bubbly, like a puppy ready to jump up and lick her.
“Same old same old, what about you?”
As he yammered on about some boring work stuff she let her mind wander. She rested her chin in her hand and drifted. At first, she thought she was dreaming him, but there he was, walking down far side of the road. Her savour, carrying four Starbuck’s coffees in those paper containers they give out.
"Jason, I got to run, call you later,” she said cutting cross him mid-sentence and hanging up. She quickly gathered up her belongings and dashed out into the street before she had a chance to change her mind. She had to wait for a break in the traffic to cross the road and by the time she had, she saw her dream man climb into a silver Audi and pull away.
“Fuck it, fuck it, fuck it,” she said stamping her feet and spinning on the spot. She just had to get to know him. Then it hit her. Starbucks! She turned and dashed down the street to that familiar white and green circle floating above the shop on the corner. She ran inside, and thank God, it was nearly empty.
“Hi, what can I get you?” asked the girl behind the counter.
“This is weird, but a guy just left here. A tall guy, floppy hair, blue eyes, really well dressed. Did you see him?”
“Yea, I think I know who you mean,” said the girl stroking her chin. Lacy didn’t think this chick was the sharpest tool in the box.
“Can you tell me his name?” asked Lacy, feeling she was on the verge of a life-changing event.
“Bob,” the clerk said.
Shit. Bob! Not at all what she had in mind.
“Or it might be John, or Simon or Ethan. He always gets four coffees and those are the names. I think he works in a Law Office on the far side of town.”
“Do you know where it is?” Lacy asked.
“Look, lady, they just come and order coffee. Do you want something or not?” asked the girl, clearly losing interest in this game.
“No, thanks,” she said and left the shop. She had a lead on him, of sorts. As the door closed behind her, her phone rang, again, and it was Jason, again. God, what did he want now?
“Hello,” she said and rolled her eyes as she walked away.
Over the next week, Lacy spent every lunchtime sitting in Starbucks, waiting for Bob, John, Simon or Ethan to arrive. On Friday he did. Her heart jumped into her mouth as he opened the door and then looked directly at her. She smiled as he walked toward her but that smile faltered when he continued directly past her to the counter. She followed and stood behind him while he placed his order. When he was done, she tapped him on the shoulder.
“Hello?” he said, clearly with no idea who she was.
“Do you remember me?” she asked.
“You might have to give me a hint,” he said, but flashed her a dazzling smile with an accompanying wink. He was flirting with her.
“You saved me from a bottle in the club the other night,” she said, tilting her head back and giving her hair a flick. She felt herself do it but hadn’t meant to.
“That was you?”
“Yep. I wanted to say thanks,” she said holding out her hand and he took it in his. It was a big hand, but soft. He rolled her fingers in his, as if massaging her, and it was an incredibly intimate feeling.
“I’m Lacy,” she said.
“Ethan,” he said.
“I knew you would be,” she said before she could stop herself.
“Nothing. Its… Well… nothing,” she said getting tongue-tied. Behind them, the girl landed a tray-load with coffees on the counter.
“That will be twelve ninety,” she said and Ethan flipped her a credit card which she tapped against the machine. Lacy could see her chance to make an impression drawing quickly to a close so she panicked.
"Do you want to come to a party?” she asked, and was amazed to hear the words come out of her mouth because she had no party to invite him too.
"Sure, when?” he said surprising her.
“Give me your number and I'll text you the details,” she said. He called out his number and she typed it into her phone. On the way out the door, he stopped and turned.
“Can I bring some friends?”
"The more the merrier,” she said, but felt a shiver of anticipation run through her. As soon as he was out the door, she was on the phone to Tracy.
"Tracy, we have to have a party tomorrow!” she yelled. The girl behind the counter to glared across at her. The squeals of delight on the end of the line were all the encouragement she needed. This plan was going to work.
The following day was a whirlwind of preparation. Lacy all but emptied her bank account buying drink, food, and decorations for the party, her first party as it happened. She called friends and extended invitations. When anyone asked the reason for the get-together, she said, for the crack. At six she was stringing fairy lights around the sitting room when someone knocked on the door. Tracy went to answer it and came back with Jason following at her heel. Tracy gave a lip-biting grimace at the awkward situation that was about to unfold.
"Hi Lace, what's are the lights for?
"Jason... I meant to give you a call. You see, there is a bit of a thing happening tonight."
"Cool, a party."
"It's not a party."
"Oh?" he said and clearly not believing her.
"Just the girls over for drinks."
"Sounds great," he said not giving up.
"Only the girls," she said feeling like a bitch.
"Oh. I see," he said, rejection written all over his face. "I better leave you at it so," he said walking toward the door. Lacy watched him go as she stood with fairy light strung over her hands. Before leving he said, "Enjoy the night. I'll call you tomorrow."
"Ok," was all she could say.
When he was gone Tracy turned to her and said, "Well, that was crushing."
"And what was I supposed to say?"
"I don't know but I don't think you should keep stringing him along."
"I'm not stringing him along. We're not exclusive or anything."
"Whatever, girl. Just saying," said Tracy tottering away with more beer to squeeze into the fridge.
The party had been going for two hours and the flat was full of people but no sign of Ethan. Lacy was wearing her slinkiest outfit, the one with the slit up to the hip and everyone said how hot she looked but she was miserable. Every time the doorbell rang she rushed to answer it but it was never him. When she given up hope, he arrived. She pulled the door open and those blue eyes made her knees go weak.
"Sorry we're late," he said and Lacy noticed the three others standing behind him, two were stunning girls.
"No problem, it's only starting," she said standing to one side. She watched with horror as Ethan placed a hand very low on one of the girl’s backs to guide her in. It was like being stabbed in the heart.
She watched the two couples make their way into the flat but she couldn't make herself let go of the door. Tracy appeared beside her and asked, "Are you ok?"
"No I'm not, nothing is ok," she said and slammed the door. For the rest of the night, she stayed in the kitchen and swilled wine. Ethan appeared a few times and glanced in her direction but his lady was never far away. By the time the party was winding up Lacy was plastered and in a foul mood. Ethan appeared and said, "We're heading. Thanks so much for the invite."
"No problem. I'll let you out," slurred Lacy walking to the front door and opening it. Ethan's friends left but he lingered.
"Sorry we didn't get to talk more. I really wanted to," he said.
"Yea, whatever," she said and watched him take a step out but he stopped and leaned into her ear.
"Meet me tomorrow," he said breathing huskuly as he said the words.
"What about your girlfriend?"
"Don't mind her. Come on, meet me tomorrow."
Inside, her heart lept in her chest and before she knew what she was doing she agreed. With a wink he was gone, so was her bad mood, her drunken state and every dire thought she had entertained during the night. He wanted her, he really wanted her.
The morning came, but not half fast enough and eventually she did meet him. They sat and shared drink after drink while he explained how much of a cow his girlfriend was. Afternoon turned to evening and before that turned into night, they found themselves in bed. Lacy gave Ethan every inch of her body and would have done so twice if she could. It was magical. The only tiny distraction were the dozens of messages from Jason, none of which she answered. Ethan was the man for her, filling her mind and her body in all ways that counted.
The days passed and Ethan was a constant presence. He whispered everything she ever wanted to hear, he fulfilled every desire she ever held, he was the man she always wanted to have. Nothing would ever be the same for her again. A week turned into two, and lust turned into love but things don't always go to plan.
Meetings had to be cancelled, outings abandoned, and long leisurely nights in bed cut short by work commitments. True to his word, Ethan did abandon his girlfriend but he always seemed to have so many demands placed on him by work and social commitments that Lacy was beginning to spend as much time alone as she ever did with him.
Weeks turned into months and Lacy started to realise that something was wrong. Ethan never took her to his place, he never introduced her to his friends, the only time they spent together was alone and in bed. She got used to the calls before dates, before nights out, before anything, saying he couldn’t make it. She got used to the excuses to leave early before the sweat on her body had even dried, and although she denied it to herself, she knew he was leaving her. She never saw Tracy anymore, or any of her girlfriends, Ethan didn’t like them. She was alone, she was his and she was drifting further from herself every day.
One night she was sitting in the club, in the same spot Ethan had saved her, waiting for him to arrive and she knew he wasn’t coming. The call had not come and he was not even that late but in her heart she knew he was somewhere else, with someone else, doing what she wished he was doing with her. Across the room, she saw a figure standing at the bar, stoic, distant, and aloof. It was Jason. She had never seen him so proud before, so regal. How had she never seen that side to him before? She picked up her drink and walked across to him, to spend a few minutes catching up, to share a few moments.
As she neared, he saw her, and his face morphed into a mask of dread. It was like she were a monster closing in on him. He held up his hand as if warding her off and started to put down his bottle. His eyes held a lifetime of hurt, a sea of anguish and a universe of pain: and she knew all of that was her fault. He turned from her and walked away, abandoning her as she had abandoned him. The bottle teetered on the edge of the counter before falling outward, twisting in mid-air, reflecting the light of the club off its surface before smashing on the ground, smashing like all her dreams had been smashed. Smashed at the hands of Ethan and more disastrously smashed by her own callousness.