Mistakes For Two.
All these women jostling around the mirror. If this line in the powder room doesn’t move he will think that I’ve bailed on him. At least the conversation is interesting. Much more raunchy than when I used to club on a Friday night. I’m too old for this, she thought. She’d even forgotten that powder room visits should be with a girlfriend.
Finally. A stall became available.
When she eventually leaned in to to check herself in the mirror, she wondered why she was renewing her lip gloss and attempting to mask her near forty years. As soon as he walked her to the car she was headed home – alone. So what if it was only eleven. Her days of two in the morning bar hopping with the girls were long past. She’d have the condo to herself. It was Jenny’s weekend with her father and his floozie, in Bedford. She’d have to phone her friends in the morning and make up some excuse for abandoning them. She shouldn’t have come in the first place. And what if this man made a move on her on the way to her car.
* * *
He hoped she was coming back. Maybe she’d returned to her friends. He’d offered to walk her to her car, and perhaps she thought that he was making a move on her. He wasn’t even sure how he arrived at this crowded, noisy club. He’d had a good meal at the restaurant recommended by the secretary in the Halifax office. It seemed too early to go back to his room at the hotel so, on impulse, he’d turned into Richardsons. As soon as he got inside and squeezed his way to the bar for a drink, he knew he’d made a mistake. This was not a crowd in which he felt comfortable. Any remote ideas he had about meeting someone and —- who knows what ,——- quickly disappeared.
I’m entitled to look, he thought. No harm in that. He hoped his wife, back in Brampton, was being discrete in her dates with Aaron. The boys were at an age when they would know that their mother was playing around if she wasn’t careful. Knowing her, she would take every advantage of his long weekend away on business to see the man she had told him she loved. Perhaps this was her opportunity to tell their teenage sons
A couple of abandoned chairs were set in a secluded corner. Like a clubbing amateur he took one, removing himself from the circulating throng of opportunists. To hell with this! One drink and I’m gone! he decided.
She caught his eye as she detached herself from a group of women clustered by the bar. As she pushed her way through the crowd between his quiet nook and the bar he realized she was headed his way. She was about to talk to him. What was happening? He suddenly felt anxious and sweaty.
“Is this chair taken?” she asked. “If not, my feet and I would love to keep you company!”
“Take the weight off!” he responded, looking down at the stiletto heels sinking into the fading carpet. “New shoes?”
“Too new and too dressy and uncomfortable for these hilly Halifax streets.” she continued as she put her drink on the minute table between them. “I even have to take them off to drive.”
The small talk continued as he explained what he was doing there, letting her know that he was in unaccustomed territory and he was pleased that she had come to sit with him while he finished his beer.
The lights, other than those flashing on the dance floor, were not good. Unobtrusively, he tried to take stock of his new companion. He guessed that she was close to him in age, probably a few years younger. She was tall and shapely, with short, dark hair and eyes that he thought were blue behind the fashionable glasses.Her full lips were a little too scarlet for his taste, but what did he know. Her skirt rode up as she sat, to display long, legging-clad legs. He hoped when he stood that she was not taller than him. She was certainly slimmer.
She told him how an old friend had convinced her to join the girl’s night out. She thought it was going to be dinner and then home, but they’d finished up here and it looked like it was going to be a long night. She shared her discomfort with the surroundings and said she’d love to sneak away early.
Apparently embarrassed at that turn of phrase, she blushingly tried to correct any impression that she was looking to escape with him, though she did add that she was in the process of a divorce and that her sixteen year old daughter was with her father from this evening through the weekend. The more she tried to explain, the more uncomfortable she seemed to be. She was now rambling and couldn’t stop.
Sensing her discomfort he told her he was married, neglecting to say that it was a marriage in the process of disintegration. “But!” he added, “I’m enjoying your company, so can I do you two favors?”
“That depends on what they’re going to cost me.” she responded, smiling.
“Favors are free.” He smiled back, hoping that his tightening facial muscles hadn’t turned his smile into a smirk. “Can I buy you a drink so we can talk a little longer, and then I’d like to walk you to your car, if you still want to escape early, like me.”
She accepted both offers. Their conversation became more relaxed and now he was waiting for her to escape the shouting and laughter coming from the ladies room.
The walk to the car was uphill, away from his hotel. She walked, in the cool fall evening, in bare feet, her shoes hanging by straps from the hand he might have been tempted to hold had it been empty. Offering to carry her, even as a joke, might have been open to misinterpretation as well as laughter.
At the car she asked where he was staying and offered to drive him there as it was on her way. By now, he did not want to be separated to return to an impersonal hotel room. As he fastened his seat belt she turned and said, “My name is Kate, by the way. And thanks for rescuing me from what was becoming a painful late night.”
“Glad to have met you, Kate. I’m Brad. And you turned a mistake I made into a pleasant experience. I’m glad I met you.”
The car pulled up to the hotel entrance. An awkward silence was disrupted by a tap on the window. Kate wound it down and the car jockey asked, “Will you be needing the car before morning, ma’am, and can I have your room number, please?’
Kate turned to look at Brad. As he opened his mouth to reply she interjected, loud and clear, “No! We won’t be going anywhere until after breakfast. Brad, what was our room number again?”
Passing the keys to the car jockey she got out of the car and joined the astounded Brad on the hotel steps. Confidently they walked together, into the lobby. Brad carried the shoes in one hand. His other reached out to grasp Kate’s.
* * *
Why was her heart pounding? She didn’t really know him, but these first moves that she’d made at the hotel entrance seemed so right. And Brad must be wondering what’s going on. Then there’s his wife.
No! Don’t go there.
But she should clarify that situation as soon as they reach room 8036.