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Tout Noir Press Posts

Directions

I’m not sure what possessed me. My normal haunts were well-lit bistros with perky waitresses, wine lists, and menus filled with intermittent French. The Daily Grind was a dark, the bartender had more tattoos than skin, and the bottles across the back of the bar served as a menu. I was out of my element and didn’t even know who to expect. All I had was the note I’d found on the bedside table that morning:
“Wear the red dress, sit at the bar, and smile at whoever sits next to you.”
So there I sat. I chose the center seat at the bar so I could see both the door and the dance floor. I ordered a beer instead of my beloved rose so I wouldn’t get ahead of myself and hoped it would help me blend in, though my dress seemed likely to erase any hope of being seen as a regular. My husband had an interesting sense of humor and I was waiting to be let in on this newest joke.
The door opened and the dark room was momentarily flooded with a light bright enough for it to obscure my furtive attempts to catch a glimpse of the people entering. As the shadowed people added themselves to the press of bodies in the space I gave myself permission to do more people watching. The bar was a decent size and seemed to attract an eclectic crowd. My eyes passed over the people on the dance floor and took in the variety of gender expressions and dance styles as they all moved in their own ways to the thumping base that dominated the music. The tables that ringed the dance floor were filled with people older and younger than me if I judged them on looks alone. Dates, hook ups, and groups of friends — this bar was, apparently, for everyone.
“That’s quite a dress.”
I pasted a smile on my face and looked to find the body that went with the rich voice. My eyes fell on a tall, beautiful, human with a broad smile and eyes that sparkled with mischief. I felt my false smile melt into a genuine one as I straightened up in my seat. While volumes of witty responses bounced around my head, “Thank you,” was all I managed to get out into the room.
“My name is Ari, I use he/him pronouns, and I don’t bite. Mind if I take this seat?”
My mute wave towards the stool next to me elicited another grin as he settled in at the bar. A decade of marriage had clearly robbed me of my bar chat skills, especially when confronted with someone so very much my “type.” His frame was slight and strong, with muscles hinting at their presence when he waved to get the bartender’s attention. His skin was a warm brown that begged to be touched. The only hair I could see on him was his close-cropped chin strap. Those eyes, though, and that he seemed to be just a touch taller than me so it would be easy to get lost in them, were it. My husband knew me well.
He was almost as charming as he was handsome and I eventually settled into conversation that was tantalisingly close to flirtation. The rest of the bar faded into the background and, while we talked, I watched as he sipped his cocktail, thinking about what it would be like to feel his lips on my neck. I found myself leaning forward, placing my hand on the bar within reach, touching my hair – anything to get closer to him and to encourage him to do more than just talk.
“Are you going to get that?”
Ari gestured to my purse hanging from the hook beneath the bar, dragging my attention away from thoughts of his lips on my skin. I fumbled for my phone and felt a wave of warmth pass over me when I saw my husband’s name on the screen.
“Where are you?” I asked without preamble, fighting to bring myself fully into the conversation.
All Benjamin said was, “check your messages,” before he ended the call. I noticed Ari’s smirk as I tapped at my phone to reveal whatever was waiting for me there. “BRING HIM HOME”
I traded my phone for my wallet and waved the bartender over. Emboldened by my husband’s directive, I faced Ari and said, “Can we continue this at my place?” He looked me up and down, slowly, before answering with a simple, “yes.”
The cab ride home was silent. Sitting on either side of the back seat we didn’t touch but the looks that passed between us did all the talking necessary. He stood close behind me as I slid my key into the lock, wondering what we’d find on the other side. The entryway was dark but there was a warm glow of candlelight coming from the living room with music to match. Purse dropped, shoes discarded, overcoats hung, and only then did I take his hand.
His heat and strength wrapped around me as his fingers wrapped around mine and I stood there, just feeling him, before leading him to where I imagined my husband to be. Ari didn’t pause or pull when we found Benjamin, naked, draped across the couch.

Wait

My first thoughts of the day were of you, of your breath on the back of my neck when you whispered “Wait for me.” I reached over to your side of the bed, knowing it was empty, and smiled knowing you’d be there soon enough. I caressed your pillow with one hand and my breast with the other, stopping when my nipple rose up to meet my fingertips.