The venue is just like I thought it would be. The pub is quaint enough, retro and vintage feeling without it being too twee. Sadly, the back room the party is in is too bright for me. There are far too many lights for a room where even I can almost touch the ceiling. It’s loud too. Music and laughing and incessant chattering. I’ll survive. This evening will go by quickly. Make my appearance, have a few and meander home. I can Irish goodbye it before 10.
Nodding to myself I make my way to the check in table. I smile when the lovely lady with raven hair and brown eyes I’m envious of hands me my name tag. Name tag. Yeesh, how old am I. How old is the birthday girl? Maybe I should have made up a name I consider for a fleeting moment, which is silly as I know most of the people in the room.
Here we go.
After reintroduction to old friends and new introductions to temporary acquaintances the evening settles in. Groups in booths, laughing and cavorting. Some couples dancing; some definitely dancing not in tune with the genre of music. A group of parents off to the side who brought their littles, many sprawled in coats asleep. They look so peaceful. That sounds nice. Sleep. But it’s not quite 10 yet.
The birthday girl is sloshed pretty good now and has lazily given a kiss as she passed on her way to the biffy. She’s promised to come have a chat when she returns – I know she won’t. She’ll have long forgotten. Don’t blame her, I’m rather forgettable. Not sure how I keep getting invited to these things as it is. At least this birthday I wasn’t relegated to a table with her Aunt Millie who reminded me of when I used to sing choir and my lopsided smile. This birthday Millie was in Florida or Majorca or … somewhere hot is all I remember.
My friend asks if I’ve been introduced to you yet. No, I haven’t. But I needn’t be, everyone has been talking of you since I arrived. You’re the boyfriends best friend so you’re the freshest and newest in this large and boisterous cabal. Plus you’re very good looking. You’ve never missed wherever you go I imagine. Funny thing is you seem rather shy, which is like a homing beacon for me. Another one, my brain has thought. Too bad I’m too shy to talk to you.
Soon I make my way to the back kitchen. Things are winding down a little. Plates and glasses, leftovers and centerpieces are making their way to the kitchen island. I figure since I’ve made all the appearances I’m going to make I should help out.
I find an apron and fill up the sink to ridiculous water to suds ratio and begin washing. To my right the door to the small alleyway is open and there’s a cool breeze, which makes this chore very languid and peaceful. I get to work.
I don’t know how long I’d been standing there before I feel a presence join me, putting itself between me and the outside. Suddenly recalibrated from my daydreams, I turn and see you. Shirtsleeves rolled up to your elbows, waistcoat undid, a smell of … is that lavender?
“Hi,” I croak.
“Hi,” your voice says back.
“Hi.” I’m going to have to do better than ‘hi.’
“Can I help you wash up?”
“Yes, of course,” I whisper.
“Why are you in here on your own?” you ask, plainly. Wow, your eyes sparkle.
“Oh I don’t know, keeps me from making small talk I don’t want to make.”
“Like this now,” you say smiling. Oh no, I think I might expire. This is not good. This man, this very good looking man, who smiles warmly and sounds kind, he might be flirting with me? I don’t know. My stomach feels like it’s been punched. But all of a sudden this seems like all those tv shows where the couple falls in love in this one moment and then spends 9 seasons pretending they don’t like one another and the encounter never happened until one day one of them has a near death experience and one declares their love and the other confirms theirs and then fade to black. Does that happen in real life? Absolutely and definitely not.
“Yes, like right now,” I say confidently, and maybe an octave higher than normal.
“That’s ok. I like quiet too.”
I keep washing. Bubbles softly float around us.
Soon, with nary more than a few other pleasantries and observations, his name is James and he is very very meticulous about washing stemware, we clean up in silence. Our hands touch and caress under the soap. Our fingers entwine grasping the forks and spoons. He turns me once towards him and rolls the cuffs of my dress up less they keep skimming the water. Watching his face as he did that I got to have a look at how soft his eyes were, and how fine the lines around them were. How his Adam’s apple motioned when he said, “there.” I wanted to slip my tongue into his Suprasternal notch, the soft hollow in his neck. Find out what he tasted like.
We kept washing.
The chatter outside the kitchen is less now. The flow of dishes has dwindled. I can hear goodbyes and cheerios. The birthday girl and boyfriend will come looking for my washing up partner soon. I’m sad the best part of my evening will be coming to an end.
“James, where are you?,” we hear from the front room.
Hands underwater, we both stop and look at one another. I search James’ face and before I think to say anything we’re moving through the open door to the alley.
Partway down the alley we stop. We’ve sprinted all of 20 yards or so. I’m giggling. What is happening?
“I can’t leave here without … may I kiss you?”
What? Oh. Wait. We were flirting. All that was teasing. I knew it. My body wasn’t wrong. My brain was correct. Score one for me.
“Yes, yes please kiss me.”
And as if at the end of our imaginary 22 episode, 9 season tv show I get absolutely devoured.
James cups my head between his hands, slightly tilts me aside, and thoroughly owns my mouth. His lips are soft but hungry. I can smell dish soap and taste the last whisky he drank. His mouth kisses then with his tongue traces the seam of my mouth. Over and over he does this until I feel dizzy. Someone hums, I’m sure it’s me. I never want this to end.
Bodies plastered together against the facade of the pub, the night air cocooning us, in the distance music scoring this dance.
We’re sweating. We’re moaning. Our kiss has devolved into a messy feast. Lips and tongue. I can feel how hard he is against me and my pussy wants to feel that too. I’m in real trouble.
James steadies himself against me and rests his forehead against mine. His breathing is heavy and I lay my hand on his slightly damp shirt.
“I’ve wanted to do that since you arrived,” he shyly says. “I’ve wanted to haul you somewhere quiet. Whisper secrets in your hair. Hold you close to me and taste you for a long long time.”
“I’m glad I went to wash the dishes then.”
“I followed you and watched you for a bit. Do you know you hum when you’re doing that? It’s why I didn’t talk when I joined you. I wanted to learn your song.”
I tingle all over. “James, if you’re a figment of my imagination then you best tell me now because this is too good to be true.”
James pulls back and regards me. His eyes search my own and whatever he sees makes him smile.
“I’m not imaginary. I’m very real.”
Excellent, I think.
“Well in that case, would you like to take me home? Maybe get me dirty?”
“Only if you promise to hum while I fuck you and let me clean behind your ears in the bath afterward.”
“Let’s go get our things.”
Minutes later we start down the road. James takes his hand in mine. They’re so soft from our chores. Lopsidedly I smile and cheekily say into the night, “You know, I haven’t a dishwasher at home.”
“Good,” is the reply. “I prefer manual labour anyway.”
I better buy more dish soap.