Remember Me California

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

When the night falls, the capital welcomes new players onto the field. On Saturday night, an intriguing mysterious man challenges an adorable young woman with the story of her own. Does he get challenged back?

~~Jean was standing outside a bar smoking his first cigarette this day. He had never been an avid smoker, nor had he ever frequented bars the way he had been doing it lately. It had passed some time since he left his home city and it took him a while to adapt in this alien world. Changing a state felt like changing a country, but frankly he hadn’t ever been nostalgic. He was not the one who got nostalgic in a place where girls kept throwing themselves at him, should he privilege them with a look. Jean never felt bad about it because he never made them to. He would never offend any of his numerous girls, and by the way it didn’t always end up with something extremely naughty. Sometimes, they’d just share a kiss, or a couple of drinks, or a nice little chat, where they’d certainly touch his iron muscles, laugh at his fake accent or primitive jokes (which they would find cute anyway) or melt after hearing his voice. He wasn’t vain, no way. Much to that, he was well-aware of his own weaknesses, but the age and experience made it easier to cover them with all of the above mentioned.

The bar kept being entered by half-drunk ladies, some of them glancing at him flirtatiously or openly giving him tipsy crooked smiles. Jean was generously giving out slight smirks, as he was a lady man and had never been ashamed of that. The cigarette ended, and it was time to enter.

It was the bar’s finest hour, and so the place was buzzing with various individuals. Jean took his favorite place right near the entrance, as it gave him a perfect chance to observe all interesting characters behaving in their most impressive drunken manner. He ordered his usual glass of whiskey, took a sip and leaned against the mirror wall.

His eyes could not avoid a peculiar company as they were located straight in his area of vision. There was nothing strange about them; on the contrary, he thought he’d probably be resting on the Bahamas had he been given a penny every time he saw the picture. Two obviously lonely and adventure seeking girls were both excited and embarrassed to stay in the company of a completely wasted couple of jerks. What caught his attention though was how both couples strangely reflected each other. All four of them had obviously had more than a glass and got past the barrier of shyness, which anyone may experience meeting someone for the first time. Yet both couples could be easily divided into a pair of reserved ones, deliberately giving the right of negotiation to a pair of hyperactive ones, who kept teasing each other with words and gestures. Jean actually considered making a bet with himself whether a more arrogant guy would go for a shy girl (if you can say so about a lady dressed in red tights), or would end up with a feisty one (who seemed to have actually forgotten her clothes at home).
However, something made his thoughts suddenly swerve into a completely different direction. He had been observing the girls (naturally, the guys caught a much lesser part of his attention) for quite a while, and only now they started to appear sort of familiar. There was a taller one, the one who seemed more reserved at first glance, before you got to see those flirty dimples on her cheeks and those little devils of her foxy eyes. The outfit she was wearing totally corresponded to a kind of a girl she was: her dress was self-consciously covering even her neckline, and yet it finished somewhere where certain low jeans would hardly start. With a combination of previously mentioned red tights, the girls made a total impression of a proud queen that wouldn’t mind having fun with someone who admired her beauty. The talkative one was really short and could have seemed even underage if not for her incredibly alluring breast (and Jean’s eyes could single out a D-cup in the crowd). She was wearing probably the shortest skirt his eyes had ever landed on and a transparent black shirt, deliberately showing her best weapon against mankind. Despite the image of a sinner she obviously wanted to create, the shorty attracted attention with the cocky style she interacted with both guys. While her friend was sooner silently observing from the side, the girl was keeping the conversation together with the charm of self-confidence and her smile. It was actually her unusual smile that had caught Jean’s eyes. No, it wasn’t the one that awakened the beast inside of him, a hot flirtatious smirk that another panther would throw at him. On the contrary, the beam which covered her face was incredibly overwhelming. She smiled with her lips, her cheeks, her eyes; she would funnily wrinkle her nose and then occasionally bit her lip. It seemed unusual and yet so familiar that Jean knew he’d obviously seen it before.

Meanwhile, the bigger jerk of the two was openly offering a foursome, to which surprisingly the cocky one did not react with an obvious disgust on her face. Jean winced at the thought, as this was definitely not the way he’d deal with a lady, all the more such a petite one. What made him angrier was the impression he got from two girls that they were not protesting much, and so he felt that he needed to clear his head. Leaving the glass on the bar, Jean headed for a man’s room.

He was just about to exit the area of common entrance for both washrooms when he heard a familiar voice. Smiling at the irony of the situation, he allowed himself to observe the two closer. The girls had obviously excused themselves from their douche suitors, and were having their most secretive discussion about a potential continuation of the night. Somehow, the taller one seemed even more self-conscious than before, when the shorty was obviously being at her most persuasive hour. Jean couldn’t but notice that despite her appearance she seemed to dominate every corner of this small area, so he wasn’t really astonished much when her eye caught the glimpse of him. Letting herself brush her own memory attic, she addressed the best line he’d ever heard, “Oh, I remember you, California.”

Jean couldn’t help himself from smiling. The fact the girl obviously knew where he was from but didn’t appear to have a clue about his name proved that they’d met before. However, their conversation couldn’t have gotten really far, as all he could remember of these two was the smile. Leaving his speculations about a weird duo, he successfully returned to his favored place and ordered another glass, expecting someone else to catch his eye. If not, then he kept a good alternative of a club which he would get down in a night or so.

Nevertheless, the perfect plan did not seem to work. The duo of the night had successfully returned to the bar; but instead of joining their potential men of the night, they chose to approach him.
“Hi”, naturally the shorter one spoke first, “Have you been enjoying the night?” Her accent seemed different from what he was used to hearing, and he somehow liked it.
“Yes, entirely”, Jean smiled politely, as he did in his most gentlemanly manner. “And you?”
“Totally,” she radiated her smile and exchanged looks with her silent friend. The friend smiled back with dimples playing on her cheeks, and turned to him.
“You do like this bar”, she remarked, “It’s the second time we have seen you here”.
“It’s a good place with nice music, fun bar tenders and pretty girls”, he tried to set one of his charming smirks in motion, but was totally blinded by the beam of light given by the shorty.
“By the way, California where?” she blurted out suddenly. “Sorry?” “Where are you from in California?” the shortyexplained with the patience of a teacher. “Oh, San Francisco”, he replied totally lying. He knew that San Francisco and California were synonymousto the western hotness, unlike his real home city, even though it was the capital of the state.
“Right, we know San Francisco”, the tall one totally confirmed his expectations. “Yeah, I know, The Charmed were there,” nodded the shorty. Jean almost choked on his drink. “The who?” “The Charmed,” she repeated, making him almost 100% sure that she was a teacher, “The TV show”. “Oh right, it was… Yes, I know it”. He pulled himself together again and smiled.
The taller one suddenly looked back and saw something that Jean had noticed before her. Their drunken suitors were sitting at the table with some newly found girls. She whispered the news quickly to her talkative friend’s ear, but the latter surprised him with a total indifference. Her reaction couldn’t but flatter the man, as it showed that this owner of a blinding smile and deadly exposed weapons was clearly interested in him. The taller one looked disappointed to some extent.

“Is there anything wrong?” he intruded carefully. “No”, they replied simultaneously, which was sort of adorable. “Just a guy problem”, added the shorty. “A guy problem?” he tried to express disbelief. “How would you get a guy problem? The guy might get a problem”. He didn’t even have to try. His standard lines from a pick-upper’s textbook were totally making both of them blush and present him with such genuine smiles that he almost felt ashamed of himself. “When you feel stressed,” he continued the scenario anyway, “I’ve got a song you can use.” He took out his iPod and pressed on the first slow song he’d found, giving both his headphones to listen. The taller actually tried to, struggling through deafening sounds of the music being played in the bar, whereas the shorter barely paid attention, only constantly smiling, as if she was somehow having an emotional tap leak and couldn’t stop it. Jean caught himself gazing upon her and tried to change the subject.

“I never asked you about your names”, he looked at the taller. “Jo”, she replied. “I’m Charlie”, added the shorty. “And you?” “I’m Jean”, he said accentuating his French pronunciation. “Ron is it?” immediately asked the short one again. “Jean”, he repeated slightly annoyed, as he obviously lacked her patience. “Are you a Francophone?” she followed as if not having even noticed her offensive mistake. “My mother is French”, he replied, slightly surprised by her usage of the term, watching the girls exchange predictable looks. “So yes, I am a Francophone”. “Je parle le francais un peu”, the shorty reacted immediately, her accent being close to outrageous. “Votrefrancaisesttresbien”, he responded courteously. “Non, cen’est pas”, she laughed, and he felt himself smiling almost as radiantly as her.

“I need to leave soon”, he suddenly said enjoying a disappointed look on their faces. “But I want to buy you a drink”. “Oh no, thanks”, Charlie suddenly refused, and even Jo glanced at her with surprise and disapproval. “We’re leading a feminist lifestyle”, she explained. “We don’t want to but we have to”. Jean apparently seemed really lost, and her professional look spotted the confusion. “You saw the guys we were talking to. In the times like these, the girls like us do not expect much from the guys. That is why we learnt to rely on ourselves. And each other”, she added half hugging her friend. “You seem to have a really strong connection, you two”, Jean remarked sincerely. “She’s like a sister to me”, the shorty was definitely determined to do all the talking. “We both have brothers, but we found a sister in each other”. “I think that’s great”, reacted the man. “And I still insist on buying you a drink”.

Jo shrugged agreeably, and Charlie didn’t seem to protest anymore. “They told me I’m old, can you believe it?”, suddenly grinned the shorty, and Jean silently wondered what her real age was. Judging by Jo, it must have been something in the mid-twenties. “Did they?”, her friend didn’t seem to have much recognition of the situation. “They were surprised to hear I am actually twenty-four”, Charlie explained trying to sound deeply offended, which Jean could tell she wasn’t. “Is it supposed to be old?” “It’s not”, he answered honestly, “And you look no more than twenty-one”. Charlie granted him another portion of sunlight, and Jo quietly joined her. “She looks like a flower, but she stings like a bee, like every girl in history”, he quoted one of his favorites. The musical ear of Jo’spositively evaluated Jean’s manly timbre, but her cocky friend looked puzzled. “Ricky Martin is quite a guy”, he remarked. “And quite a gay”, she added, destroying his musical world with a one-liner. “Really?” he was caught off guard with this piece of information, not that he was a homophobe. “It’s alright,” Jo quickly tried to reassure him, “we’re quite tolerant, especially having watched every episode of Queer as Folk.” Jean read Charlie’s question in her eyes about whether he was one. “Yes, we appreciate your attitude”, he responded trying to sound as glamorous as possible, and the girls laughed again. Jo was quite a smiler herself, and she would make a really cute sound when she laughed, and in a few moments of a conversation Jean finally started to notice it.

“The drink, right,” he suddenly remembered and turned away to call the bar tender. He had found a strange allure in both of them. Jo was somewhat mysterious; she seemed to have more than she allowed you to know about her. Charlie was cocky and challenging, and they both could use one more drink to fully open up their potential.
Jean suddenly felt someone touching his left sleeve. From the level of height it was done, he could tell the identity of the intruder. “Wait,” Charlie said without pausing once he faced her, “so is your actual name Ronald? Like Ronald Weasley?” Jean rolled his eyes in disbelief. Was she teasing him? “Yes, exactly like that,” he replied. “Charlie,” Jo interrupted her abruptly, “it’s Jean! His name is Jean!” An absolutely horrified look on Charlie’s face hinted that she had genuinely forgotten the previous minutes of their conversation. For a second, Jean actually imagined that his name was Ron Weasley and could hardly keep himself from bursting out with laughter, which would have ruined the image of a perfect gentleman his mother had been struggling so hard for. So, he allowed himself to grin and returned to the girls with two glasses of beer.

The man noticed that Jo was feeling slightly embarrassed for her friend, and therefore she decided to move aside hiding behind Charlie’s back (or perhaps she had a different reason to step aside). The shorty however expressed not a slightest pinch of awkwardness having just called him a red-headed clumsy teenager, which he found absolutely adorable. The girls both greedily took a sip, and the conversation seemed to come to a halt. Jean was starting to consider his duty fulfilled and was about to speculate his actual visit to the club when he noticed a sign of apprehension on Jo’s face.

“The guys are returning,” she remarked to her friend, who to Jean’s astonishment just shrugged her shoulders. “What should I say to them?” Charlie didn’t get the chance to answer, as she was interrupted by a small bald guy with a ridiculous look, who tried to get past her to a seat that he fancied. At that moment, the less jerky suitor came to his tall acquaintance expressing his pure offence by the girls’ actions. “We have been waiting for you for an hour”, Jean heard a fragment of his drunk but surprisingly consistent and non-aggressive talk.The bigger douche was keeping further from the conversation, looking let down by the total lack of interest that both Charlie and Jo displayed towards his persona. The man also noted that he had lost a bet to himself, and obviously a quieter and more reserved guy was into mysterious Jo. Charlie, in her turn, all excited and easily distracted, focused her attention on a newly-arrived guy, who was speaking English really fast and with an annoying accent.
Jean suddenly felt an urge to clear his head, him being so overwhelmed with controversial emotions. On the one hand, it couldn’t have slipped from him that Jo totally lost her interest in the interaction the three of them had been having and looked quite favorable towards a lesser douche, apparently bearing the name Kyle. The realization made him feel slightly disappointed, as he had to give up his darkest plans that he had imagined in his head about these two. On the other hand, he felt that the jealousy which Charlie’s ingenious behavior provoked in him was stronger than any other emotion he caught himself experiencing. He suddenly blurted, “I dare you to ask him where he is from”, and quickly left the barfor the man’s room.
On his return he noticed that Jo kept arguing with a bigger douche (Stan was it?) and keeping closer to Kyle, who observed her with a disclosed amazement. Jean knew what exactly he had seen in her: the cold grace with which Jo would say another of her few phrases, slightly diluted with warmth in intonation and flirt in her cunning eyes towards the one that she had picked. She was hot and secretive, with a shade of slight insecurity that Jean had noticed once before.

Surprisingly, Charlie wasn’t a part of the conversation. She looked bored and was obviously waiting for him to entertain her. Once he showed up in the area of her sight, the lights suddenly turned on in her cute brown eyes, as if she had switched off the light bulbs for the time he was gone.
“Would you still like me to ask him?” she double checked defiantly. “Oh no, don’t do that.” Fresh air helped him collect his senses, but he forgot who he was dealing with. Smirking challenged, Charlie approached an ugly bald guy with her sweetest voice, “Excuse me, where are you from?” “I am from Syria.” “Incredible,” she replied not really knowing what to say. Jean kept staring at the Syrian man, feeling sudden uncontrollable anger gathering inside him. Although Charlie stopped the conversation, she managed to attract his attention (though Heavens know why only now). The Syrian acquisitively estimated the lady in front of him, and asked the question back. “I am from here,” politely replied Charlie, feeling rather insecure. By the time, she was sitting on a stool, and her scanty skirt jumped up even higher on her laps. “I hate English,” he suddenly claimed. Charlie glanced at Jean looking for apparent protection, but he didn’t bother to interrupt. Gathering all her feminist spirit, the shorty decided to fight the battle on her own. “Do you speak German?”  the Syrian demanded; and to Jean’s surprise Charlie replied, “Ja, ichspreche Deutsch sehr gut.” Remembering her mediocre French, Jean skeptically reacted to her boast. However, they continued talking, and he found out that “siehat Deutschland im 2009 besucht”. A fascinated Syrian took her hand and kissed it, which suddenly made Jean want to hit him, but he held his temper.

Charlie immediately changed in her face. The feeling of her own exposure to the greedy glances that an ugly bold Syrian guy had been giving her all this time, finally reached her understanding. She brusquely grabbed her jacket and attempted to zip it, but the emotions and several glasses of beer could not allow her to accomplish that. “Jo,” she pleaded turning to her friend. Jo was half listening to the conversation, half flirting with Kyle (they both wisely eliminated Stan from the picture), but she immediately gave a hand. Her jacket was white and made her appear quite innocent. Charlie finally looked up at him and smiled with her radiant beam. That was when Jean understood several things: first, he was feeling guilty for totally pushing her to talk to a terrible old man. Secondly, he admitted he had missed her smile; and thirdly, Jean realized that he found her unprecedentedly adorable, combining exceptional silliness with obvious intellect.

Jo returned her attention to Kyle, who obviously came back to his hints about the rest of the night. The girl seemed torn between a need to discuss her decision with Charlie, and a wish to make vital decisions for herself. Jean smiled to the word “vital” which appeared in his head. Choosing a guy for a night (and he knew it was bound to be one night) is not a vital decision, just as it was for choosing a girl. At least it wasn’t supposed to be.

Shaken after her sudden attack of self-consciousness, Charlie wasn’t much into talking, and Jean again considered leaving. Now, however, he wasn’t sure if he should because Jo was presumably leaving with Kyle any time soon, and he so didn’t want to abandon his sweet flower on her own. Staying in two minds about what was the right thing to do,Jean noticed that the tall one set out to leave with Kyle. She handed her handbag to absent-minded Charlie, which showed that they weren’t going far. This change of the setting stirred the shorty up, and Jean was happy to observe the sparks back in her eyes.
“Where does she think they are going?” she demanded bossily. “Leave her alone,” Jean protested lazily, eager to know what this spontaneous girl was up to next. “Oh no, I must warn him that I’m not going to let anything happened to her!” “This is very noble of you,” he admitted, “but you shouldn’t intrude.” “Oh, trust me, I won’t. I’ll just tell him a couple of words.” Charlie jumped off her stool and strategically headed for the stairs outside.

Jean sighed gazing admiringly, as her tiny figure ran up the stairs to save the day. He imagined Kyle receiving threats from a creature hardly reaching his shoulders; then he tried to picture how Charlie’s most dangerous voice would sound like. The idea of it made him smile the way he didn’t use to do when thinking about a girl.
His little flower returned quickly, taking back the stool beside him. “They’re fine,” she said, looking reassured. “He’s a nice guy. I liked him better than the other one when we talked to them.” “Glad to hear that”, replied Jean, “It’s adorable how protective you are of each other. Still Jo is a big girl, so you can leave her making her own decisions.” Charlie slightly smirked to herself, but Jean noticed the uncharacteristic twitch of her lips. “I know what is to be hurt, and I would give anything not to let that happen to her.” “Has someone left you broken-hearted?” Jean wondered. Clearly, such tiny creatures like Charlie, overwhelmed with emotions and excitement were bound to have experienced unrequited or tragic love. “Hearted? No. Broken? Yes.” Jean looked puzzled, and Charlie knew how to read confusion on people’s faces. “People don’t just get assaulted emotionally. They can get assaulted. Period.”

All of a sudden, a destructive sense of her words reached Jean’s understanding fully, and his image of a delicate butterfly warming her wings in gentle sunlight collapsed like a broken mirror, with hundreds of debris pricking his heart, too small to kill him, but sharp enough to give him annoying hits of pain. He was suddenly swayed with a deluge of emotions again, like this girl’s life mission was to test his entire potential spectrum.  Sympathy mixed up with anger, annoyance and disgust, letting their way to confusion of why she would confide in him, and disturbance of not knowing how to act. For a second, he hated anyone who called themselves men, because they had the power and strength and were able to ruin gentle flowers, like the one who was sitting by his side tonight. Did that guy actually looked at her face? Was he blinded by her unprecedented radiant smile, too? Or did he just examine her like an item on a display, like a mannequin with a tempting body, similar to their Syrian acquaintance? Did he get to enjoy her wit and laugh at her jokes? Did he notice that excitement and determination which would light up her face whenever she got challenged? Obviously, he did not. He couldn’t have.

When Jean returned from the world of his thoughts, he spotted deep regret on Charlie’s face. Clearly, the girl was having second thoughts about telling him, which proved that the part of her biography was shared with him unintentionally. “Don’t worry,” she quickly added, “I learnt to deal with it. I’ve lived through it, and I’m not a tragically suicidal individual anymore.” The frowning expression on his face apparently made her curse herself for a wrong choice of words. “I mean, I’m a happy person now. And I love to share happiness with anyone who spends time around me.” Charlie smiled again, demonstrating how exactly she does that, and Jean could hear the sweet scent of the flower back. “But I’ll never let anyone do this to her”, she concluded seriously and changed the subject to her favorite TV show.

Jean remarked that the one who mentioned Charmed as the main association with his so-called home city astonishingly turned out a fan of a British sci-fi. This was not the first time Charlie exceeded his expectations of herself.  “’Doctor Who’ makes me think about the universe, and how we are tiniest creatures, but then we have so much power exceptionally bearing life on the area so vast,” she started thinking out loud. “In reality, we underestimate the importance of who we actually are, and this TV show often focuses on that. It made me think about it, and it made be proud of being a human being. So, I’m a proud human being,” she adorably concluded, “And you?”
Jean found it hard to respond at once. It made him wonder how this little person managed to carry so much life in what she was saying. Minutes ago, he was ashamed of his own gender having simply heard her life story, and she was claiming to be proud of belonging to the race of humans. “I’ve never given it much thought. It’s a complicated question,” he answered vaguely; “There is a lot to like and to hate about humans.” “I guess,” she nodded, “But there’s always humanity. And that is what makes us the only survivors.”

Her philosophical side made Jean feel slightly uneasy, as it was much simpler to deal with a gentle creature, a slightly silly cocky person with a nice smile, than to dispute with a woman with a burden on her heart, complexity of her brains and a deep belief in humanity in her soul. Altogether, Charlie comprised a labyrinth with so many exits and entries that no Theseus would actually dare to challenge. That is why he was glad that Jo eventually returned with Kyle by her side.
Unlike her friend, Jo bore pure excitement and an adventure strike on her face, which made Jean regret he hadn’t actually paid her enough attention. The girl whispered something to her friend’s ear, and that made his companion’s face burst with disbelief. “Alright,” she said, “but I’ll hold to my phone, and you call me any time you feel like it.” “Have you got cash for a cab?” Jo checked. “No,” Charlie replied light-heartedly, “but I’ll withdraw it from a cash machine. It’s not far from here.” “Are you sure?” Jo insisted, and Jean felt that she might have been holding to the only thread which would excuse her from leaving. Yet Charlie did not get that. “Totally. You take care,” the shorty planted a kiss on her friend’s cheek, and Jo left the bar with Kyle by her side.

In a second, Jean traced the wish of his impulsive companion to run after them and take Jo back, and felt compelled to hold her on her seat. “Let them go. She is a big girl and she sure can protect herself.” “She is like my little sister,” Charlie made a little pause, “though actually she is older.” Her humor was returning, and Jean sighed with reassurance. The night may actually not be a bust, after all. “Don’t get depressed when I’m gone,” he told her and excused himself out.
On his re-entrance to the bar, Jean noticed one of his recent acquaintances. Adam was a smart guy and a musician, like himself; therefore, he could make a perfect argument for remaining in the bar rather than escaping to his beloved night club, where everything was a lot simpler. “Hey, man”, Adam greeted him enthusiastically and immediately ordered a glass of beer. He politely exchanged a greeting with Charlie, but didn’t seem to be much interested. Jean thanked an old Syrian guy incident, which made the shorty put on her jacket and saved him from occasional pinches of jealousy.

His friend spoke enthusiastically on the prognosis of changes in country’s economy and the appropriateness of social programs, and Jean joyfully joined him. Adam was younger than him, and his extraverted personality and manly charm made him very popular among ladies. The only thing that apparently embarrassed Charlie was his constant usage of swear words, which he was generously seasoning his arguments with. “Is it appropriate to use the F-word in a conversation like that?” she was incredibly cute avoiding the actual term. “Are you a teacher?” Adam wondered. “Is it so obvious?” Charlie didn’t even try to protest, and Jean praised himself for his deductive skills. “Your judgmental tone and bossy attitude give you away,” his friend admitted. Charlie hemmed angrily but held her tongue.

Adam went on and on about the possibility of universal destruction according to the rules of quantum mechanics. Jean enjoyed such types of conversations where he could put to use the knowledge he received getting degrees in three colleges. He remembered Charlie being largely impressed with this fact and immediately glanced at her. She was sitting silently, just eagerly staring at Adam, probably fascinated with the confidence he used in his speech. The Syrian bald guy entered the bar again, but Jean was sitting on his previous spot. His first impulse told him that he should block the guy’s way to the seat, and Charlie’s legs were probably the perfect tool to do that. He grabbed her and turnedeasily on her stool, but she quickly shook his hand off and glanced at him annoyed. “You do not want anyone to get through here,” he told her, not even intending to apologize. “And why is that?” she enquired. “Look over there.” The shorty noticed her German-speaking acquaintance, frowned and moved closer to the bar stand. The Syrian, however, didn’t seem satisfied with having to leave the place he had really liked, so he attempted to express his dissatisfaction to Jean. “Excuse me,” Jean responded angrily, “This is what polite people say when they interrupt someone’s conversation.” “My English is not so good,” the Syrian defended himself in his high-pitched voice. “It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be polite,” insisted Jean. Adam and Charlie looked anxiously at him. “Let it go, man,” the musician said, “Anyway, I need to leave soon. It was nice seeing you again. Good to meet you, Charlie.”

She shook his hand, still giving Jean apprehensive glances. “I’m sorry that he’s left,” she told him. “Did you like the guy? Want to have his phone number?”, he once again noticed irritating sounds of unreasonable jealousy in his voice. “No,” she smiled. “I think you’ll be bored. I can’t really talk about quantum mechanics, but if you ask me, I’d say that the universe will never be destroyed.”
Jean had no intention to ask her why she is so sure, instead preferring to wonder about something dramatically different. “Are you in love, Charlie?” “No,” she answered quickly, which made him cast an inquiring look. “I’m not,” she repeated, convincingly this time, but decided to fight back, “Have you been in love?” “Yes,” he said without hesitation. He never made a secret of that, a classic story of a femme fatale and a romantic man. “She broke my heart.” “Do you still love her?”, the girl wondered. “I care for her,” he heard himself saying, “But I don’t love her anymore.”

The prospect of discussing his heart matter didn’t inspire Jean at all, so he braced himself and said, “I need to go to that place where I was supposed to be like three hours ago. Will you be okay?” “Oh, I’m leaving as well,” she answered. “I’ll just need to withdraw some money to pay for my taxi.” “Would you like me to give you some?” His question wasn’t out of the ordinary. He didn’t mind paying for her, but her look and her tone when she answered, “No, thanks” told him she didn’t want to owe him anything. “Would you like me to help you with the bill?” she asked in return. Jean knew that the shorty was ready to split it because she opened her handbag and took her credit card out. “I’ve got that”, he quickly stopped her. She shrugged her shoulders and excused herself.

Having paid the bill, Jean went out and took another cigarette. He had never been an avid smoker, but this one was the second. He was far from entertained, as he had expected to be when he actually came to the bar, but he wasn’t disappointed. Charlie came out, and her unsteady walk made him regret he’d let her drink so much. “Would you like me to walk you to the ATM?”, he offered, never losing his gentlemanly manner. “I’d love that,” she replied, hardly looking at him.
They made a funny couple, as the shorty barely reached his shoulder. “I could still offer you some cash,” he reminded her, but immediately bit his tongue. “Stop trying to give me money!” she snapped. “I don’t need money from you, I have enough myself.” This made him smile, as he was smiling watching her walk determinately to the cash point, entering keys and hiding a bill into her bag. “I wonder how Jo is,” she suddenly uttered. “I’m sure she’s not thinking about you right now,” Jean replied. "I don’t want to go home,” the girl suddenly said. “What would you tell me to do?”, she was again and again leaving him stunned with her directness. “I want you at my place without any clothes on,” he quickly said, and Charlie burst with laughter.

Jean caught a cab and asked her to name her address, showing that she’d actually go home tonight. At the backseat, she looked tired and extremely vulnerable. He told a cabbie to leave him at the club and drive her home safely. When they stopped, Jean once again gazed on the girl who was sitting beside him. There was hardly anything left from the Charlie he met at the beginning of the night. This Charlie was shattered and frustrated in her zipped white jacket and an extremely short skirt, but he knew he had to let her go home. “I’m expecting to see you again, flower,” he told her. “Sure,” she replied shortly. “Could you leave me your Facebook?” She nodded and struggled through typing “Charlie Stephenson” on her own phone. “Alright,” he copied that to his one, “I’m adding you and I want to see you very soon.” “You’ve been incredible, Jean,” she said suddenly. “You are truly the best thing that has happened to me this month.” He remarked once again her utter inability to make any good compliments. “Remember I told you this whenever you feel down. And remember me, California.”

Jean slightly leaned towards her, and she kissed him impulsively but briefly. Her lips tasted sweet, and her perfume was delicately tempting. He pulled away and exited the cab. The club’s guard recognized him and smiled politely, letting him in. Immediately, Jean noticed a lonely gorgeous blonde at a bar stand (he had a really good eye for that) and gave her his best of looks; her lips twitched in a flirtatious smirk. The man checked his phone, clicked “save” on the note with Charlie Stephenson’s name and headed to the hottie. This night was never meant to be a bust.



Submitted: June 19, 2015

© Copyright 2021 Katia Stepanova. All rights reserved.

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