The deluge of rainwater beat him into submission forcing him to seek shelter inside the bar. He pulled up a chair at the last table and surveyed the dark room. Bars weren’t his usual scene and this one looked beyond seedy. Empty bar stools sat collecting dust and a waitress well past her prime sprinted past him, a cloud of smoke trailing behind her.
He smothered a chuckle and hung his dripping coat on the chair next to him. He tossed his soaked newspaper on the table and a movement caught his eye. An old man slumped at the table by the door, but no one seemed to notice. At any moment he expected to see Patrick Swayze come in to clean up this dive. But then, that was a movie and this was real life. There aren’t miracle-workers in real life, just under-paid-over-worked peons.
Lou wiped his damp forehead with the edge of his sleeve and attempted to flag down the waitress. But she was busy smoking at the bar and chatting up the bartender. He leaned back and smiled to himself, well the service is definitely lacking in this joint. He waited a few more minutes before deciding to brave the rain. Perhaps he could find a cab.
Then the door swung open and the most amazing girl walked in. It wasn’t that she was exotic or even particularly pretty. But there was something interesting about her. The way she swept her hair over her shoulder and wrung the rainwater out captivated him. She looked around the room and spoke to the waitress for a moment. Lou leaned closer, trying to hear what she was saying. But she was too far away, so he relaxed in his chair and watched her over the edge of his ruined newspaper.
She seemed dissatisfied with whatever the waitress said and looked around the bar again. Her eyes narrowed on Lou’s face and she marched over to him. “Can you believe they don’t have a payphone here? Do you have a cell I could borrow?” She sat next to him, moving his drenched coat out of her way without being invited, but he didn’t mind. He tried to focus on her face, tried not to notice the way her red dress clung to her chest, or how her breasts rose and fell with each breath. He cleared his throat, “Ahem…no, I’m sorry, I don’t have a cell phone.”
She swirled in the chair, openly frustrated. “Great!” She took a calming breath and smiled sheepishly at him. “Sorry, it’s just that my boss will be livid if I don’t get in touch with him. I was supposed to check back over an hour ago, but I was detained…” Her words trailed off and Lou got the impression that whatever had detained her hadn’t been pleasant. He started to offer words of comfort, but she perked up, as suddenly as if she’d flipped a switch. “Oh well! Looks like we’ll be stuck here until the rain clears—however long that’ll be.”
She laughed cheerily and patted his hand affectionately. “Cara,” she said and stuck her hand out to shake his. He returned her smile and shook her hand, “Lou.” She squeezed his hand and he felt a thrill run through him. It was obvious that she was younger and more enthusiastic than himself, but her joy was contagious.
“Well, Lou, how about a cup of Joe? I bet you take yours black.” She jumped from her seat and placed the order at the bar without waiting for his response. She bypassed the useless waitress and carried their coffee back to the table. “I wonder how long that dragon’s been here? She looks as faded as the wallpaper.” Cara handed Lou his cup. “Here’s to hoping it tastes better than sludge.” He smiled at her sweet face and sniffed the suspicious looking brew. Yeah, here’s to hoping, he thought, and he bravely took a sip.
Cara stretched her legs out in front of her, resting them against his own. She seemed capable of making herself at home anywhere. That was a knack that Lou had never mastered. She hummed a tune under her breath and leaned in close to Lou. “Do you dance? I’d love to dance. Wonder if this crap-hole has a jukebox?”
Lou chuckled and winked at her, “If there’s a jukebox it’ll be as rusted as everything else. And no, I don’t dance.” Cara crinkled her little nose at him, “Pity. It’s a great way to kill the time.” She leaned back and quieted down for a minute before popping up again. “What if I teach you? Would you dance with me then, Lou?” He considered her offer and thought of the miserable day he’d had. He thought of the papers in his office waiting to be graded. “Why not? Sure, teach away, Cara.”
She lit up like Christmas as she led him to the center of the bar. “We don’t have any music, but that’s okay.” She smiled up at his face and she took one of his hands in hers and placed the other at the small of her back. “I’ll sing, you just sway and do what feels natural, okay?” Lou nodded and pulled her closely against his body. He liked the way she felt, warm and soft in his arms.
Her voice was clear and sweet as she sang an old Billie Holiday song about a woman wishing for her lover. They swayed into each other, gently brushing together, thighs touching, fingers entwined. Her breath felt like a caress against his chest. He felt his stomach clench and he knew that he was feeling things that he shouldn’t be feeling for this strange girl.
She pressed in closer and laid her cheek on his chest. It was divine. It was way too familiar. He pulled back and startled her. She looked up at him with warm brown eyes. “What’s wrong, Lou?” He released her hand and stepped away, needing space between them. “Nothing,” he assured her, “I just need to use the restroom.” She smiled at him. “Oh. Well don’t touch anything. God only knows what you’d pick up.” She laughed deep and sexy in her throat and Lou swallowed hard.
He escaped to the restroom and splashed cold water on his face. His clothes were mostly dry now and he could hear the rain dying down outside. He could be on his way and not have to worry about the little vixen in the bar. But the thought of bailing on her brought a pang of sadness. How had she weaseled her way in so quickly? They were strangers after all.
Lou returned to the barroom and felt some indefinable emotion wash over him as he watched her sitting at their table. Her legs were crossed and her chin resting on her hand as she waited for him to come back. He slid into his seat, “Sorry about that.”
Cara smiled at him, “Oh, no worries, hon.” She tweaked his nose and leaned back in her seat. “You’re awfully cute, you know,” she said decisively. He choked on his coffee and looked at her in surprise. “Ah...thank you.” She cocked her head to the side and studied him. “You disagree? Well, it’s true. You’re very interesting, Louis. Tell me something about yourself.”
Lou set his coffee down. “Well, there isn’t much to tell. I come from an average family. Live an average life. I’m quite boring, really.” She seemed to process this and reject it. “Bull, everyone has a story. That you’d sum up your whole life like that means there’s much more to your story. But I won’t pry.” She took a sip of her coffee and grimaced. “Sludge. Well, my story is a bit sordid and not at all pleasant. So maybe it’s best that we just skip stories, Lou. We’ll be two strangers who met in a bar one rainy night and fell in love. But it’s a tragedy, because we’ll never see each other again. What do you think? Romantic?”
He laughed and pulled her hand across the table. He turned it over and traced the delicate lines of her wrist. “You’ve got it all figured out then? What if it has a happy ending and this is just a funny story we tell our grandkids?” She scoffed and jerked her hand away. “Where’s the fun in that? Tell our grandkids? Please, as if those snot-nosed brats would care!” Lou grinned at her vivid imagination and feigned indignation. “Okay, it’ll be a tragedy then.”
Cara smiled and came over to him. She sat on his lap, facing him, her legs swinging at either side of his hips. “Seal it with a kiss?” His mouth went dry as she licked her lips in anticipation. She kissed the corners of his mouth, tasting and teasing him. She stroked his tongue and opened her mouth wider to lure his tongue inside her parted lips.
He hardened under her weight and she moaned against his mouth as she felt him growing, she ground her hips instinctively. Lou pushed her back gently. His hands gripped her shoulders and he whispered sharply. “Cara! We’re in public. Maybe we should go somewhere?” She looked at him through dazed, heavy-lidded eyes. “Go somewhere? Oh, you mean we should get a room.” She shook her head to clear it, lust still burning her eyes. “No, Baby, that’s not how the story goes.”
Lou looked at her in confusion and squirmed uncomfortably. “What do you mean?” She stroked his cheek with her hand and answered quietly.”The fantasy only exists here, Sweetie. If we leave then the real world will come rushing in. If you want me—and I can tell that you do—then you’ll have to take me here.” He considered her words and countered, “That’s crazy. There’s no reason we can’t go to your place or mine or see each other again. I like you. I’d like to see you again.”
She stood up and drug him to his feet. “No, Baby. This is it. After we leave here, I’ll just be a memory. One day you’ll look back and wonder if I ever existed at all.” Without waiting for his opinion she led him to the restroom. She closed and locked the door behind them. He eyed the green peeling paint with disdain. “You can’t seriously want me to take you in here?”
But she was already pulling her dress over her head. Her breasts filled her bra nicely and she guided his hands over them. She closed her eyes, enjoying the sensation. His breath deepened and he buried his face in the crook of her neck kissing her, nipping at her tender skin. Her hands freed his erection and he forgot all of his objections as she stroked him. He set her up on the sink and groaned when she parted her thighs and pulled his hips between them. Her hands tugged urgently at his ass, and she begged him to push inside.
The rain picked up again as Lou lost himself in the rhythm of rocking in and out of her body, the hum of the downpour muffling her gasps. She felt like heaven wrapped around him. She felt like home. He gritted his teeth willing his body to hold off until she came. But she wasn’t trying to orgasm. She was just enjoying the feel of him sliding against her wet flesh. He kissed her lush mouth and pressed his forehead against hers, “Cara, I can’t last much longer…”
She kissed him again and pushed a hand between their bodies. She stroked herself and inched her fingers down to feel him pushing inside her. The feel of him was intense and erotic; it sent her spiraling out of control. She screamed out her pleasure and he covered her cries with his mouth. He kissed her and kissed her as she climaxed around him and he spilled himself inside her. They clung to each other, petting and stroking their backs and shoulders until they had to disengage themselves. They cleaned up and dressed in silence. The fantasy dissipated and they were strangers once more.
She smiled at him awkwardly and didn’t argue when he led her back to the table. She gathered her coat and shook his hand, unable to look him in the eye as she said goodbye. He watched her walk out the door and he tried not to cry.
Months had passed since his strange encounter with Cara. Sometimes when he closed his eyes he could still see her face—hear her laugh. He tried to forget her, to push her out of his mind. But her charm had enveloped him in ways he hadn’t expected. He went to the University and taught the students; he maintained his yard; he did everything he was supposed to do. But he woke up to twisted sheets, his body hungry for hers. He even went back to bar to see if she’d turn up there, but it was useless.
He stood in front of the new batch of juniors. He pulled up the slides and prepared to take roll call. The first day of the new semester was already wearing on him. He hadn’t realized how predictable his life had become until Cara had turned it upside down. He started to tell the boy at the end of the aisle to close the door, but was interrupted by a late-comer. “Can you squeeze me into your class, Mr. Thompson?”
He froze. He knew that voice. It had haunted him for countless nights. He turned to face the student and he recognized her instantly. There were new lines around her mouth and her eyes looked tired. She winked at him and ran a hand over her swollen belly. He turned white as a ghost and took a step back as realization dawned.