To read part one, click here
Club Schwartz was a dark and crowded mish mash of sweat and pheromones. Electro music blasted so loudly from the speakers that Chloe felt like it would shatter her bones. She looked around her at the people jumping around spastically, everyone clad in tight black leather, women — and some men — wearing four-inch heels, sticky red lipstick everywhere. Groups of people were draped over deep leather chairs, others standing around smoking, yet others dancing wildly on the dance floor. The place smelled of sex and expectation. She was intimidated by the crowd but exhilarated by the touch of Mark’s hand as he guided her through to the bar.
When they got there, a gorgeous redhead with striking cheekbones ignored her other patrons and came right over. She obviously knew Mark, touching him lightly on the hand as he gave her a wink. Chloe felt the woman’s eyes trail slowly over her from head to toe and back again and clocked the smirk on her face once she’d finished her assessment.
“Yeah! She’ll do,” she shouted over the music, as she prepped three rose red drinks.
“What did she say?” asked Chloe.
“What?” yelled Mark.
“DID SHE SAY ‘I’LL DO’?“
But Mark just pointed to his ear, shrugged his shoulders and shook his head before turning his face towards the crowd. Chloe leaned back against the bar, confused, and sipped her drink. What did she mean “I’ll do”? she thought as she watched the crowd.
They’d only just arrived but she was already beginning to regret that she had come at all. Her couch, her big, comfy sofa whose dips and dents fit her own perfectly, was at home, alone while she was here in this club that was out of her league with a man she couldn’t talk to over the bass, who was studiously ignoring her anyway.
Now that they were here, his whole demeanor had changed – he was busy scanning the crowd like he was looking out for something better, while Chloe just stood there awkwardly. She could hear her mother in her head: “You’ll never catch a man if you hang there like a limp noodle. Flirt a little!” But she didn’t know how to flirt without coming off all desperate. Clearly she’d made the wrong choice. I’ll just finish this drink, she thought, and then I’ll make my excuses. She drunk deep from her cocktail, eager to get on with it and say her goodbyes.
Beside her, Mark turned around, glanced at her almost empty glass and nodded to the redhead, who passed him a bundle of cash. He flashed Chloe a brilliant smile and said ‘See ya!” before turning away and disappearing into the fray.
She tried to see where he was off to – the men’s room, maybe? He couldn’t possibly have left her alone at the bar. But he’d been swallowed up by the crowd and it hadn’t sounded like he was taking a bathroom break; it’d sounded like he’d said a definitive ‘goodbye.’
“…tha fack? Seriously?”
She shook her head in disbelief, drained the rest of her drink and turned to slam her glass on the bar, only to find Redhead openly laughing at her misfortune. Chloe exhaled sharply and stalked off, pushing her way through the crowd, embarrassment burning like alcohol in her stomach. She wound her way towards the entrance, but something weird was happening: no matter how much she walked towards the door, it seemed to be further and further away.
She stopped for a second to catch her bearings, swaying gently from side to side as she tried to focus on the door. She felt nauseous. She blinked slowly and took a deep breath. The blood red lighting in the club was suddenly too bright. Something was wrong. She couldn’t have been drugged – she might be awkward but she wasn’t a fool: she’d watched the bartender poor her drink. Unless…
She turned around, her vision a blur but clear enough to see Redhead staring at her. The bartender gave her a sarcastic wave goodbye, as if to a child, and Chloe furrowed her brow in confusion before her legs gave way and she fainted on the dance floor.
to be continued…