She lets out a low whistle. “Wow, how come I didn’t see him earlier?”
“He’s been keeping a low profile,” I tell her.
“It looks like he wants to go back to that,” she remarks. “That girl is barking up the wrong tree. He’s probably gay.”
“Sandra, you say that about every guy that isn’t falling for you,” Angie says.
“Hey, I’m not over there. I’m just saying that blondie is drunk and looking for a good time and he couldn’t be less interested.” She looks at me. “Are you thinking about going over there?”
I let out a sharp laugh. “Are you kidding me?”
She shrugs. “Why not? He’s hot. You’re hot.”
“So is that girl. And no. I can just look from afar.”
“But what’s the worst that could happen?”
“Uh, he could say no.”
“Val, that girl isn’t asking him a question, she’s just talking, and I’m sure you’d be quick to pick up on the signals.”
“Yeah, and I’d be picking up on signals that I shouldn’t be talking to him.”
“Sandra,” Angie warns. “Leave Val alone. You should be telling me to go talk to him.”
“Yeah right,” Sandra says through a snort. “Mr. Beard with that hair and I’m pretty sure he’s got tattoos and piercings. He couldn’t be more not your type.”
“And we all know how my type turned out to be.”
Luckily, Sandra drops it after that, and as the evening wears on and the bar gets even more crowded and we’ve had even more cider, I keep watching him. Eventually the blonde girl gives up and moves on to someone else, but then it’s just girl after girl coming up to him. After a while, as everyone inside gets more drunk and the band gets louder and things are really starting to party, guys are coming up to him too.
“How’s Mr. Unattainable doing?” Sandra asks as she looks over at him. “You know he’s someone.”
“I know those looks, the way people are acting around him. He’s someone famous.”
“I don’t recognize him,” Angie says.
“You wouldn’t recognize Colin Farrell if he stood right here in front of you and gave you a beer and a copy of Total Recall.”
Angie frowns. “He was in Total Recall?”
“He’s probably a sports guy,” I say, my gaze coasting over the wide, broad planes of his shoulders, the strength in his large hands as they grasp his beer. I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a good-looking man but this guy is on another level. He’s handsome, even with a slightly crooked nose and a scar above his eyebrow, but it’s more than that. Maybe I’m just drawn to men who seem to have a lot going on deep inside. Maybe it’s rare that I see a man who looks like he could pick me up with just his pinky finger.
“Probably,” she says. “Considering the amount of men who are looking his way and not in a ‘get the fuck away from my woman’ kind of way. It’s almost as if they’re getting their girlfriends to go talk to him.” She pauses, taking a long swig of her cider. “So you should go talk to him.”
I shake my head. “Not this again. No.”
Sandra puts her hand on my shoulder and gives it a hard squeeze. “Please. Do it. You need it.”
“I need for my self-esteem to be even more pulverized? After everything with Cole, and then being with Mom for a few days, my self-esteem is practically in the gutter and getting rejected isn’t going to help.”
“What? When did I promise that?”
“You said you would say yes to new adventures.”
My eyes widen. “Going over there and talking to some hot, burly, famous Irish guy isn’t a new adventure.”
“Technically though,” Angie muses, “it kind of is. And you said your resolution was to say yes, period. You don’t get to pick and choose what you say yes to.”
“Actually, I do. It’s my resolution.”
“Fine,” Sandra says with a sigh. “Throw in the towel before you even get started.”
I look over at Angie, expecting her to tell Sandra to leave me alone again but she’s had quite a bit of cider, her cheeks are bright red, and she’s nodding. “Just go for it.”
I exhale noisily, putting my face in my hands for a moment. The rock music is blaring from the stage, people are cheering and being happy and drunk. I’m fairly drunk myself. I’m not quite happy but I’m not crying or feeling sorry for myself, so that’s a plus. It’s not a big deal to just get up and say hello to the guy. Maybe I’d regret it if I didn’t. Maybe there’s something to be said about saying yes if you just put your faith in the universe.
But it’s kind of hard to do when you don’t have faith in anything. You have to start somewhere, though.
I lift my head and look at them. “How do I look?”
“Lipstick,” Sandra says immediately. “And some powder. You’re shiny.”
“And your mascara has smudged,” Angie adds.
I sigh and take my little makeup bag out of my purse, powdering my t-zone, wiping away the dark smudges under my eyes, and putting on a touch of red matte lipstick. “Better?” I ask them.
Sandra beams and gives me a thumbs up. “Go get ‘em, tiger.”
I roll my eyes, get off the stool, and take in a deep breath before making my way around the alcove and over to the bar.
I should feel self-conscious about all this, but other than my sisters, I know no one in here is paying me any attention. Everyone is worrying about themselves, as is usually the case with the world.
I quickly glance down at my outfit to make sure everything is in the right place. I’m curvy and I have boobs, so it’s always an epic struggle between wanting to show off my figure and wanting to keep things as modest as possible. Because it’s New Year’s Eve, I shimmied myself into a rainbow sequined dress that always fit too small, but was too lazy to return, plus leggings and my dependable boots. My dark red hair is pulled back into a high ponytail, and gold leaf earrings hang from my ears. I think I look appropriately festive and nice but I don’t know if it’s going to be enough for this guy.
Once I’m near him though, my second thoughts are getting more powerful. He’s even more magnetic close up, coupled with this intensity that’s rather intimidating. A gorgeous girl is currently shrugging at him and walking away, and he doesn’t even watch her leave.
Instead, his eyes are now locked on mine.
Now his intensity is both pulling me in like a tractor beam and repelling me like some warning system.
This guy ain’t a happy camper, and whatever I’m about to say to him isn’t going to go well.
It’s too late to look over my shoulder at my sisters, but I know they’re watching me, and for some reason I also think it’s too late to abort the mission.
So I just keep walking until I’m squeezed in between some drunk guys and I’m facing him.
“Hi,” I say to him, my mouth wide in a shaking smile, and I just hope I don’t have lipstick on my teeth. “I just wanted to let you know that I made a New Year’s resolution to say yes to new adventures and I thought I’d come over here and test that out.”
The guy blinks at me, and even in all the noise and chaos and dark light of the bar, I’m mesmerized by the darkness of his eyes. I almost don’t notice that he hasn’t said anything and I’m still standing in front of him like an idiot.
“So,” I go on, trying to keep my smile from faltering, “I figured I would come over here and see if I could buy you a drink.”
His eyes narrow, just a touch, and for a moment I feel like he’s only now seeing me, like he was somewhere else before. Maybe I’m no better than the other girls and his inner turmoil is only visible from far away, or maybe it’s not even there at all. Maybe this guy just isn’t interested and any painful narrative I saw before was just something I made up.
Then he licks his lips, those gorgeous full lips, his head tilts slightly, his eyes soften, and I can already feel the blow before he says it.
“Thanks for the offer,” he says in a very gruff, very deep, very Irish accent. “But I’m all set.”
“Oh, okay,” I say, a little too cheerfully because I am absolutely dying from embarrassment and I know my cheeks are turning the shade of my lipstick and hair. “Sorry to bother you.”
I’ve never turned around so fast in my life and I’m walking back to my sisters, wincing and cringing the whole way.
Sandra’s own cringing face looks like a Chrissy Teigen meme. “Uh oh,” she says as I approach the table.
“Sorry,” Angie says. “What a dick.”
“What did he say?”
I plop down on the stool and lay my forehead on the edge of the table. “I offered to buy him a drink and he said no.”
“But what did he say,” Sandra says again.
“He said, thanks for the offer but I’m all set,” I tell her, looking up with a groan.
“That doesn’t sound too bad,” Angie says softly. “If it makes you feel better, he was watching you walk over here. His eyes never left you.”
“Probably realizing what a freak I am,” I grumble.
“And he’s still watching,” Angie adds.
“I should wave him over,” Sandra says, and with lightning quick reflexes I reach out and grab her arm before she can do any such thing.
“No,” I tell her. “Let’s just forget him. Okay? Please? I did the thing. I went over there and talked to him. He turned me down like he’s been doing to everyone else all night. It’s fine.”
Sandra gives me a sympathetic look. “I feel bad we made you do that.”
“Well, I didn’t have to and it was my resolution. So there you go. I said yes and a no came out of it, and well, at least now I know.”