She had the natural ability of holding a smile inside a smile. That was the first thing he immediately noticed in her and hoped to be the first one to ever tell her that. For that, he would have to get to know her. As easy as that. He would have to walk up to her and introduce himself. Not that he was a shy person, but the conditions weren’t the best ones, considering they worked in the same triple-A commercial building in the middle of the huge metropolis in the west part of the Earth. He did not know which company she worked for just as she didn’t know about his existence (yet). This was now the third time he encountered her and there she was again: concealing the second smile (or was it the first?). Apparently she was coming back from lunch with 4 other girlfriends from work. He was on his out to eat, but quick on his mind and feet, he turned around and also pretended to be heading towards the elevators to go up. Then his breath was suddenly suspended as she looked at him. They sustained a three-second stare which was ruptured by her, what!, third smile and a charming direction of her chin to her right shoulder. Adrenaline now took over his vein and it made him grow even taller than he already was (we are talking a very tall lad here). He stepped into the elevator with the five talkative young women, except her. She was quiet, observing and glimpsing him. He would not move his eyes, he wanted to make absolutely sure she was getting him right: he was interested and fully flirting inside an elevator. She normally thought herself to be a slow person to catch flirting actions towards her but this guy was not giving her any doubt. Oh my, could she be blushing now? The elevator stopped and one by one the ladies stepped out – she was the one closest to the door, so she made way to them by making sure the door would remain safely open with her right arm sticking out and also assuring she would be the last one to leave. Was she now being foolish? The answer came as fast as her thought through a male, strong and attractive voice: “hi, would you have lunch with me one of these days?” Silence in the corridor. All five girls were now staring at each other swallowing their giggles as if fifth graders. She bit her lip to also hide her first reaction of laughing out of nervousness and looked at him timidly (whereas he wasn’t, she kind of was shy) nodding her head in agreement. He sighed, she stepped out and was already catching up to her friends when he held the elevator door with half of his tall, well built body – one foot inside the elevator, one on the corridor.
-“Sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”
(commotion amongst the her co-workers)
– “Erm, right… Emma.”
– “Pleasure, Peter.”
– “Oh, yes, sorry… extension number?”
– “May I call you?”
(by this time there was just one way too curious friend eavesdropping while pretending to wait for her by the office door)
– “Sure… unless you tell me now where and when to meet you.”
(his turn to smile and face down in a bit of embarrassment)
– “See you then”, she said turning her back to him while opening the widest smile and eyes in awe to her friend, who had to keep a solid expression not to give it all in.
She sat down to work feeling uplifted. Her boyfriend had broken up with her 2 weeks ago and she was still recovering from it when suddenly, in that moment, all seemed healed. The rest of the day passed by smiling at her and she to all the others.
On the next day, she woke up thinking it was too good to be true, that he must have someone and was just checking out how he was doing “in the market” and went back to resent the end of her previous relationship, remembering all the nice moments they were still to have.
At five to noon her phone rang.
“This is Emma, good morning.”
“Hi Emma. Peter. How about a sudden change of plans and, instead of lunch, a nice dinner?”
“As long as there is music and you don’t mind me dancing my troubles and aches away.”
(what! she could not believe she had just said that. a lunatic, that’s what he would surely think she was, damn!)
“You just made it more interesting. Tonight?”
“Sure, why delay fun?”
(I mean, seriously, how desperate or depressed was she sounding to the guy?!)
“Deal. Erm… how about a happy hour followed by a happy, trouble-free dinner?”
“Deal. Say… 7pm?”
“See you downstairs.”
It was Thursday and all bars around the busy commercial neighbourhood were either lively or simply packed with all those seeking some escape.
They managed to find a rather cosy table and when the waiter came, she smiled what seemed to be her second smile and let out her wish for a double dose of Jameson. Peter didn’t move his head but his eyes went from the waiter to her and his eyebrows went up in either surprise or approval. His beer order seemed so dull that he just threw both hands up in the air and said to the waiter: “man, the same… no beer after this, right?” The waiter’s friendly expression seemed to agree with him.
“Do you like whiskey then?”, he asked, not really knowing what else to say.
“No, only when it’s cold and raining.”
“It’s not raining… nor cold.”
“It is inside me, so I may have my whiskey… and it will rain later” and she blinked while admitting she was being foolish with a giggle that she hid behind her left hand.
He moved her hand and said, without thinking, that she possibly was one of the most charming women he had ever met. He then continued saying there might be others but that, at that moment, he just couldn’t remember any (except Diane Lane – yes, he admitted his movie crush). What he hadn’t noticed was that he was still holding her left hand.
“Thank you… if I am charming now, wait till you see me after my second lovely Jameson. As long as you accompany me in drinking, of course, otherwise it won’t work.”
They both laughed and the night passed by in a very natural, informal and friendly way. They were both secretly happy the bar was getting full so he would move his chair closer to hers. A live band started playing songs from the 80s and the 90s and by then, she was ready to order her third glass of whiskey. The waiter brought it and said: “hope you are planning on staying a little longer.. it’s pouring outside.”
They stared at each other in a most welcoming complicity and that called for a big “cheers!” with the fourth glass. She was indeed becoming charmer by the glass. So was him. Alcohol, the greatest invention after cheese, in her opinion. Hard liquor would make anyone feel beautiful and happy. She then reminded him she wanted to dance her sadness away, not just drink it. And so they got up, danced, tried to talk, smiled, held hands, felt each other’s heartbeat while trying to say something in each other’s ears, but the best was to notice how both were so free, unworried and somehow connected. The more they danced, the more attractive the night got.
When they shared the bill (she just wouldn’t allow him to pay, stubborn), they stepped outside to a heavy rain indeed. He offered his jacket but she was already facing up, staring at the sky with her eyes closed letting the large drops fall on her pretty face. She suddenly looked older.
He approached her and when she felt his breath, she decided to keep her eyes shut while gently opening up her lips. He took her by the hip, involving her entirely with his right arm while holding her neck with his left hand. The kiss was so soft, yet manly that she felt her inner rain be taken by a fire. There, right there she let her sorrow be washed down to a place she didn’t care where it was as long as it would be gone. And it was. It was gone.
A car stopped at the lights beside them and they could hear Brandon Flowers singing to them from inside the car loudspeakers:
“(…) I want to breathe that fire again / I don’t mind if you don’t mind, cause I don’t shine if you don’t shine / Can you read my mind?”
They smiled at each other and went on kissing under the rain.