The CEO’s Favorite Episode 4

This day can’t get any worse.
I decide to get a drink. I don’t go with any of my friends because they’re not as miserable as I am at the moment and because it’s a weekday. Every normal adult has a job.

For the first night in a long while, I leave Lucas in the care of a babysitter and I go to a club. I’m still putting on my attire from earlier, the black and white outfit. But immediately after I step into the club, I bump into an intoxicated girl who spills her drink all over my white shirt.

As if that’s not bad enough, she gets frantic trying to clean off the stain. I end up pleading with her to stop apologizing since she’s not helping.

That should deter me, but it doesn’t. I really need that drink. I need to drown out my situation in alcohol. I need to forget about everything for a night, so it doesn’t come crashing on me full force later on.

So, I just swallow all I’m feeling, visit the ladies’ room, remove my shirt and try to wash out the drink stain from it. Since I have no way to dry it out, I just put it back on, a wet patch now being an accessory on the plain white shirt.

At this point, I don’t even care if I look like a crazy person. I’m too desperate for that drink. I take a seat at the bar, blocking out the happy people dancing around me. I’m sure they have problems of their own, but for a fleeting moment, I wish my life was more like theirs; happy and carefree.

“Scotch on the rocks,” I tell the bartender and he gestures for the cash. I go to dip my hand in my pockets before realizing that my clothing was pocket free. “Fucking hell.” Embarrassed, I pat myself down, hoping to find a clutch of some sort. I don’t. I knew I wouldn’t. I don’t remember carrying a clutch with me. Why didn’t I think of this before entering the club?

I’m about to cancel the order and go on my not-so-merry way back to my house when a stranger speaks. “Put it on my tab.”

The bartender nods and immediately starts making my drink. I’m not in the mood to socialize today, but I can’t be rude. He just paid for my drink. “Thanks,” I tell him. He doesn’t reply. I sneak a glance at him and he’s staring at me. I clear my throat and blurt, “I don’t usually do this.”

“Do what?” His deep voice draws my attention to his appearance. His hair is a mixture of dirty blonde and light brown. His eyes are bright blue. When I look more closely, I realize there are gold rings around his irises and his eyes change color with the angle and shade of the lighting. Right now, his eyes look green. “Show up to clubs with a half-wet shirt in hopes a man will buy you a drink?”

My whole body flushes; my face, my ears, even my neck. I’ve never been this embarrassed in my life. I’ve never been this vulnerable to embarrassment. Damn you, Shawn. You just have to ruin my life, don’t you?

Maybe, I’m overreacting. Maybe, he hasn’t ruined my life, but it sure feels like it. I now find myself doing things I haven’t done before. Experiencing things I’d never experienced before getting fired.

“Hey, hey, I’m joking.” He assures me just as the bartender drops my drink in front of me. I finish it all in one go. The man beside me gestures for the bartender to make another one. “Or maybe, I’m not.” I narrow my eyes at him and he laughs. “Okay, fine, I am joking. What’d you mean though?”

What do I say? That I’m not usually unemployed and end up in bars because I can’t find a job? My cheeks heat up again. “Nothing.” I dismiss, not wanting to embarrass myself even further.

“Why won’t you tell?”

It’s a silly question, especially for someone I’ve known for two minutes. I don’t even know his name. I can tell he’s sincere though. He actually wants to know what I was talking about. “I’m not drunk enough.”

“If you want me to buy you more drinks, just say it.” He teases, managing to embarrass me with every word that exits his mouth. Is it a talent? I shouldn’t feel like this. I’m a strong independent woman. I’m a mother of an amazing boy. A few words from an unknown man shouldn’t change my body color to the color of red wine. Okay, is the first drink already kicking in?

“I’ll pay you back,” I assure him and I mean it. “I’ll pay you back every penny.”

He seems even more amused by this statement, watches as the bartender drops the next drink before me, and stares, entranced as I drink every last drop of it. “That’ll mean you’ll see me again. Are you hoping I ask for your number?”

I groan in frustration. “You’re getting it all wrong.”

“Am I?” He asks. “Tell me what’s right then.”

“I came here to forget about my day. The past month rather, not pour it all to a stranger.”

I’m starting to feel the effects of the alcohol. My words are a little more slurred. And I don’t even get mad thinking about my past messy month. Hell, I don’t even think about the details of the month. I just know that it was messy. Still is.

“Will you tell me if I’m not a stranger?”

“Huh?” He seems strangely interested in my life. It’s been a long I had that. After Lucas’ dad, I’ve never been interested in anyone. I’ve never had the time to meet someone and have them interested in me or my life. It’s kind of a new feeling. It’s quite refreshing.

“I’m Gabriel.”

I blink stupidly, repeating the word, “Huh?”

Gabriel smiles. “You’re sure you aren’t drunk enough yet? Because from the looks of things…” He trails off, leaving me to fill in the blanks in the sentence. How can I have forgotten that I’m a lightweight? That’s also another reason why I barely drink. I have a few bottles of wine in the cabinet, but I only take half a glass a day.

“Why are you interested?” I think out loud. Despite the fact that it’s nice for someone to be interested in my life, I’m still curious.

For the first time, his smile falters. I watch him as it falls, but he picks it right back, keeping it in place so fast I begin to wonder if the frown I saw is a figment of my imagination. “I think it’s more exciting to hear about someone else’s life than to think about mine.”

My heart aches for him. I’m probably in the worst place of my life at the moment, but even if he tried to avoid it, he just sounded so… sad and broken. I nip at my lip before asking a deep yet vague question. “Bad day or bad month?”

Gabriel laughs. His laugh is anything but happy. It’s like I’m forcing him to relieve all the things he’s gone through. “Bad life.”

My eyes snap to his at the harshness of his voice and the intensity of his eyes hold me there. The color of his eyes keeps changing, I can’t keep up.

I can see myself in his eyes. My hair is frazzled, but that’s probably because I’ve run my hand through it one too many times today. I remember my own problems. I remember we were both trying not to think about our lives. That’s why we’re both here. In a club on a weekday. I wonder if he works a nine-to-five job. I wonder if he has job opportunities.

How desperate have I become? Hoping the handsome stranger I just met will have a connection that’ll somehow provide me with a job.

It’s not all that far-fetched though. He looks like he has a good status with the way he carries himself with elegance and gracefulness. His teasing is careful and he doesn’t cross the line. His suit looks expensive and he just seems sophisticated. Maybe, he came here straight from work?

“So, I was just a distraction?”

Gabriel appreciates my subject change. I don’t do it for him though. Well, I don’t do it just for him, but for me as well. “I’m also distracting you from your problems right now, aren’t I?”

I chuckled. He is right. I guess we’re both distracting each other from the truth of our realities. “Touche.”

“We can distract each other a lot this night.” Gabriel winks. I know he isn’t talking about anything sexual, but I still blush. This is what I suffer for getting a pale complexion. Any tiny reaction is visible. “What’s your name?” He asks like he’s surprised we’ve been talking all this while and he still doesn’t know my name.

“Aria,” I tell him. “Aria Jennings.”

“Okay, Aria Jennings.” Gabriel smiles. “Will you like to play a game?”


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