Twist Me(2)

By: Anna Zaires

Next, I pull out my makeup bag and pull down the windshield visor, so I can get access to the mirror.

Familiar features stare back at me. Large brown eyes and clearly defined black eyebrows dominate my small face. Rob once told me that I look exotic, and I can kind of see that. Even though I’m only a quarter Latino, my skin always looks lightly tanned and my eyelashes are unusually long. Fake lashes, Leah calls them, but they’re entirely real.

I don’t have a problem with my looks, although I often wish I were taller. It’s those Mexican genes of mine. My abuela was petite and so am I, even though both of my parents are of average height. I wouldn’t care, except Jake likes tall girls. I don’t think he even sees me in the hallway; I’m literally below his eye level.

Sighing, I put on lip gloss and some eye shadow. I don’t go crazy with makeup because simple works best on me.

Leah cranks up the radio, and the latest pop songs fill the car. I grin and start singing along with Rihanna. Leah joins me, and now we’re both belting out S&M lyrics.

Before I know it, we arrive at the club.

We walk in like we own the place. Leah gives the bouncer a big smile, and we flash our IDs. They let us through, no problem.

We’ve never been to this club before. It’s in an older, slightly rundown part of downtown Chicago.

“How did you find this place?” I yell at Leah, shouting to be heard above the music.

“Ralph told me about it,” she yells back, and I roll my eyes.

Ralph is Leah’s ex-boyfriend. They broke up when he started acting weird, but they still talk for some reason. I think he’s into drugs or something these days. I’m not sure, and Leah won’t tell me out of some misplaced loyalty to him. He’s the king of shady, and the fact that we’re here on his recommendation is not super-comforting.

But whatever. Sure, the area outside is not the best, but the music is good and the crowd is a nice mix of people.

We’re here to party, and that’s exactly what we do for the next hour. Leah gets a couple of guys to buy us shots. We don’t have more than one drink each. Leah—because she has to drive us home. And me—because I don’t metabolize alcohol well. We may be young, but we’re not stupid.

After the shots, we dance. The two guys who bought us drinks dance with us, but we gradually migrate away from them. They’re not that cute. Leah finds a group of college-age hotties, and we sidle up to them. She strikes up a conversation with one of them, and I smile, watching her in action. She’s good at this flirting business.

In the meantime, my bladder tells me I need to visit the ladies’ room. So I leave them and go.

On my way back, I ask the bartender for a glass of water. I am thirsty after all the dancing.

He gives it to me, and I greedily gulp it down. When I’m done, I put down the glass and look up.

Straight into a pair of piercing blue eyes.

He’s sitting on the other side of the bar, about ten feet away. And he’s staring at me.

I stare back. I can’t help it. He’s probably the most handsome man I’ve ever seen.

His hair is dark and curls slightly. His face is hard and masculine, each feature perfectly symmetrical. Straight dark eyebrows over those strikingly pale eyes. A mouth that could belong to a fallen angel.

I suddenly feel warm as I imagine that mouth touching my skin, my lips. If I were prone to blushing, I would’ve been beet-red.

He gets up and walks toward me, still holding me with his gaze. He walks leisurely. Calmly. He’s completely sure of himself. And why not? He’s gorgeous, and he knows it.

As he approaches, I realize that he’s a large man. Tall and well built. I don’t know how old he is, but I’m guessing he’s closer to thirty than twenty. A man, not a boy.

He stands next to me, and I have to remember to breathe.

“What’s your name?” he asks softly. His voice somehow carries above the music, its deeper notes audible even in this noisy environment.

“Nora,” I say quietly, looking up at him. I am absolutely mesmerized, and I’m pretty sure he knows it.

He smiles. His sensuous lips part, revealing even white teeth. “Nora. I like that.”

He doesn’t introduce himself, so I gather my courage and ask, “What’s your name?”

“You can call me Julian,” he says, and I watch his lips moving. I’ve never been so fascinated by a man’s mouth before.

“How old are you, Nora?” he asks next.

I blink. “Twenty-one.”

His expression darkens. “Don’t lie to me.”

“Almost eighteen,” I admit reluctantly. I hope he doesn’t tell the bartender and get me kicked out of here.

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