Come to pub.
"Hey Steph, are you sure you don't want to hit the pub?" I asked, a grin crinkling my eyes.
"I can't stand a pub in this town sober," she looked at me suspiciously. "Is that the new guy?"
"Yeah. He wants to meet up."
"Drop me off at home and go out."
"I'm not pushing you to leave."
"I know, but I should be getting home to Mummy and you could do with the flirt."
I tapped my phone against my leg, contemplating the pros and cons. I'd get to see Graham, perhaps even get a kiss or two, and there was another friend I could call up to be my wing-woman, however she would be bored if I was talking exclusively to Graham and I might not enjoy his company after all.
"I'd have to wash my hair," I winged.
Steph grinned at me.
Half an hour later, a long hug from Steph and a nice hot shower I arrived out front of the pub and parked my car. Walking to the front door I felt exposed and sick. What was I doing? Meeting some guy I barely knew at a pub on my own? What if he tried something or it turned out I didn't even like him, no chemistry between us or his friends would be there and I wouldn't be able to talk?
I took a deep breath and called his phone. Fuck it, I'm here anyway. Two rings and he answered, I couldn't hear anything above the music. "Hello? Come out front," I tried but wasn't sure I was heard.
At the door I stumbled. How was I going to find him if it was this crowded?
Then he was there, phone in hand and a goofy smile in place. "You hung up on me."
"I couldn't hear a thing." Giving him a look up and down I raised an eyebrow. "So this is what you look like."
"How could you forget, you were sober last week?"
"It was dark."
The pulsating music meant we had to yell into each other's ear to be heard, his breath tickling my neck, my hand resting on his chest to give me balance. We moved to the quieter smoker area.
When introducing me to his mates (their names lost on me as they began to refer to each other by nick names) I was asked repeatedly if I was Graham's "missus".
"No, we only met last week," I awkwardly explained.
The girls hanging around, the ones wearing clothes too tight, who laughed too loud and tried to hard to get the attention of the boys, gave me a knowing look, identifying me as one of them.
I stayed on the outside of the group and tried to ignore it all.
Easier said than done. Graham abandoned me for five minutes, leaving me undefended to his mates who all asked excitedly if Graham and I were going to have sex and if so would I dominate him or he I.
"What the fuck?" My brain shorted out.
"You know, is he going to wrap a belt around your neck and fuck you from behind?" One demonstrated the suggestion, thrusting into the air.
"Or is he going to hold onto your ponytail and fuck your mouth?" Another suggested.
"Excuse me?" I took a deep breath. This was worse than anything I had heard in any male dominated job I had worked in. However, they were still just boys, little easily distracted boys. I could handle them. "I'm not wearing a ponytail, I happen to have pigtails. Get your facts right." For emphasis I flicked my hair.
The boys laughed. "Handlebars!"
Graham appeared beside me.
The one who suggested the belt stumbled over. "If you finger Graham's asshole will you do mine at the same time?" He asked me.
"You do realise if you want to take it up the arse then you're gay," I told him.
Graham led me off to the side, away from his friends, a strange smile in place. What did that mean? Was he holding back some sick comment, did he normally act like his mates but wanted to hide it from me?
He lit a cigarette.
"They're just shit stirring." He blew a plume of smoke into the wind away from me.
A pause. "I was like him once, ages ago."
I was about to ask what changed. The look stopped me.
"I could get any of those girls over there. A few sweet words to that one, a drink for the one next to her and they would fall into bed."
"What's stopping you?" My skin crawled. The look he gave the girls was emotionless and cold, calculating the way he would do it with each girl. I felt nauseous.
"I don't want to." He looked back at me. "I'm sick of it being like that and of girls like that."
"You do know the only reason they are over here is because you guys are in the army."
It was my turn to face my own reality and look at the girls. "I can't believe I was like them once; kissing anybody in sight." I felt embarrassed.
"Not as innocent as I thought," his eyes softened and he smiled, he was back to being the guy who made my lips tingle in anticipation.
"I told you I've only had sex once, but I have kissed a lot of frogs."
"It's been seven months for me." He stabbed out the cigarette.
"And you don't want to hook-up with one of those girls?"
"They're more trouble than they're worth. I'm going to have to deal with the drama soon."
"Drama?" I asked.
"The one over there is making out with him to make the other one jealous. She's a psycho. That one's so pissed she's going to be screaming." He pointed at each person. "It's probably best if you leave soon... unless you want to give me a lift."
"I don't drive out to base."
He sighed. "Worth a shot. But really you should go before it gets out of hand."
A feeling of rejection formed in my chest. I'd only been out for an hour and he was sick of me already? A hand slipped along my waist and another was placed on the back of my head and he pulled me forward. Suddenly our lips met.
I pressed my body flush against his and gave it my all. This is what I wanted.
"You guys are totally having sex tonight!" A girl screamed out.
We pulled apart and I snorted. She had no idea.
Graham placed his hands on my shoulders, moving me so I was arm length away. "You should go."
I mimicked him with my hands on his shoulders and tried to look serious. A deep sigh. "Fine."
Graham walked, his fingers threading through mine as we passed his mates. Once inside the pub he let go of my hand, instead slinging his arm over my shoulders and drawing me in close, I wrapped my own arm around his waist and grinned as we moved to the front door.
Once there the security guard gave us an odd look. We faced each other.
"Thanks for coming out tonight," his hand slipped down to rest on my waist. I liked that, a lot.
"It was nice to see you. Hopefully this time I'll remember what you look like," I teased.
Groaning, he leaned down.
My lips tingled first, then the rest of my body as it begged for him to touch me.
But he pulled away, coming in only to plant a chaste kiss on my forehead. "Go."
It has been three days of complete silence; no texts, no calls.
Perhaps he is just like any other guy.