Dan whipped his head back and to the side, letting out a long breath as he strolled through the doors. The smell of stale smoke, body odour and alcohol tickled his olfactory senses. The smog floating through the air, which was causing his eyes to water, became a visible shimmering grey as the light from the street lamps filtered into the dimly lit bar. He stepped to the side and rubbed his eyes, adjusting them to the atmosphere as the doors closed and reduced the bar once again to semi-darkness. 'I didn't like it here the first time; why the hell did I come back?' Dan cursed as he ambled his way towards the crowded bar, trying to ignore the faint ripping sound that came every time he lifted his show off the sticky floor.
Of course, he knew why he ended up here again: Zoe's message. He had gotten up when planned and immediately took a shower. When he got out he only had about ten minutes before he had to leave to pick Stephanie up, most of which was spent deciding what to wear. Dan had grabbed the keys and was about to go out the door when he caught sight of the blinking light on his answering machine; a quick glance at his watch showed that he still had a couple of minutes so he hit the play button. He sat down on the couch stunned for a few minutes after hearing the message, trying to figure out what to do. The only thing that he wanted to do was run right over to Zoe's house and … well, you can probably guess.
However, he had a date. He forced himself out of the apartment, went to pick up Stephanie and took her to the restaurant in a daze. Dan had tried his best to focus on Stephanie and what she was saying, but the only thing that kept cycling through his head were Zoe's words: "I love you! But to me, the possibility of this working is worth putting my heart on the line for." Needless to say, the date wasn't going very well. In fact, it was probably the shortest date Dan had ever been on; they didn't even make it past the appetizers before Dan admitted he couldn't go through with it again. So he had driven her home, apologizing profusely -- which she accepted remarkably well -- and did exactly what Zoe said she wanted him to do: go back to the bar and be miserable without her.
He took a seat on the bar stool and waited patiently for the bartender to work his way over. "Two shots of whiskey," he shouted over the din. The barkeep nodded and quickly placed the drinks in front of Dan, pausing only long enough to claim the money Dan had fished from his pockets. He downed the first one quickly, tensing his neck and clicking his tongue at the faint burn the liquid left in his throat. He spun the other shot on the tabletop. After a minute of consideration, he downed that one. He leaned over the bar trying to figure out where that pesky bartender had wandered to; Dan spotted the man down at the other end of the bar, dealing with at least twelve other guys.
Sighing and sitting back on his stool, Dan reached to his belt and retrieved his cell phone. He flipped it open and pressed number one on his speed dial. Zoe's picture popped up on his screen and he pressed the phone to his ear, listening to it ring twice before her melodic voice interrupted the noise, "Hello?"
"Hey, Zoe!" Dan yelled over the noise around him.
"Dan?" she yelled back as if she hadn't seen his name appear on her caller ID.
"Yea!" He stood up from the bar and began to make his way to a quieter section of the bar so that he could hear her better. "I got your message!"
Zoe glanced smugly at her watch and stood up, looking around casually. "Do you check your phone messages in the middle of all your dates?"
He had worked his way to the hall leading to the restrooms where it was considerably quieter. The door that blocked the hall from the main bar was almost completely sound-proof. "You know as well as I do that I'm not on my date anymore," he sounded annoyed, using his normal tone again.
"What?" Zoe shouted into the phone. She began walking around a crowd of people towards her new destination.
"I'm not on my date!" he repeated loudly without a second thought to the silence around him.
"Why not?" someone banged into her and she dropped her phone to the floor.
"I got your message!" Dan replied again. Unfortunately Zoe didn't hear it because she was struggling to find enough room to squat down to retrieve her cell from the dirty, sticky floor. When Zoe had finally picked up the cell phone she held it a few inches from her ear, afraid that some of the unknown substances from the floor might have attached themselves to her phone.
"You're gonna have to speak up Dan, I can barely hear you!"
He glanced around puzzled. The only noise was coming from the cut-off main room, and it was too faint for a cell phone to pick up. "Wait! Where are you?" he demanded into the phone, finally realizing that her end was just as rowdy as his had been. His immediate response was the click of the phone, signalling her end had been cut off. He flipped his phone shut and pushed his back against the wall, intending to wait for her to call him back. Dan slid to the floor, wrapped his arms around his knees and buried his head. He ignored the visible grim on the floor and disorderly racket the flooded the hallway again as the door to the main bar swung open and shut quickly.
"Behind you," Zoe's sweet voice invading the renewed silence made his head shoot up sharply, smacking the back of his head against the wall.
Dan cursed silently and raised his right hand to rub the fresh injury as Zoe approached from his left. Her heels made a muffled click. "What are you doing here?" he asked, clearly puzzled, as she reached down and grabbed his left arm and attempted pull him to his feet again. He resisted and just stared up at her for a minute; she was wearing a long plain trench coat but her hair and make-up was flawless.
"Trying to pick you up," she replied with a smirk and a wink. He chuckled and allowed her to help him up. "I heard you didn't go home alone last time you were here… I thought I'd see if I could test my luck," she continued as he got to his feet and released his arm.
"Oh yea?" he replied with a cheesy grin. He slid the arm she had just let go carefully around her waist, pulling her slightly closer. Her right hand slid up his left arm to rest on his bicep while her other hand reached up to play with the knot of his tie, loosening it slightly.
"Yeah," she mirrored his grin. He dropped his hand from the back of his head and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ears gently. He let his fingers linger there for a minute. "What're you doing?" she returned the question playfully.
"Testing my luck," he cupped the side of her face and dipped his head towards her. As his lips slid slowly and deliberately across hers, she stepped closer and pulled him into a tighter embrace. The hand that had been playing with his tie slipped underneath his right arm and splayed out across his back, while the other hand drifted to the back of his head to play with the hair at the nape of his neck while effectively holding his face to hers… not that he was planning on pulling away anytime soon.
Dan traced her bottom lip with the tip of his tongue, seeking permission to deepen the kiss which she readily granted. They took their time, exploring their partner's mouth; both reaching an unspoken agreement in favour of lingering, loving exchanges rather than frenzied and lustful ones. After all, with the verbal confirmations earlier, they had a all the time in the world… so why rush? Neither knew how long they stood there exchanging passionate, slow, wet kisses before a particularly gruff fellow barged through the door from the bar. The dirty man, who brought some of the bar's lovely stench with him, reminded the pair of their surroundings. A stingy, out-of-the-way bar was not exactly romantic. "What do you say to a change in scenery?" Dan whispered huskily in her ear.
"I don't know if we can find anywhere classier than this place," she teased before she stole one more kiss and took a step back.
"Well let's try anyway," Dan reached over and took Zoe's hand and laced their fingers together. Together they walked out of the bar into the cool night air and towards Dan's car, goofy grins stretched across their faces.