The Strangers We Know by Pip Drysdale Read Online (FREE)
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We all have a wound so deep the air can’t get to it, a wound that explains everything.
SATURDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 2017 (9.07 PM)
It was a Saturday night at Electric House and my life was about to change forever. I didn’t know it yet, of course, just like how Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman didn’t expect Richard Gere to pull up in that Lotus Esprit. Or, you know, how Marvin in Pulp Fiction didn’t expect to get his face blown off. It can always go either way, right?
It was raining and cold that night, so the heating was on and the windows had misted up. I was supposed to be meeting my best friend Tess for a drink; I hadn’t been out much since ‘The Breakup’ and she’d said if I didn’t practise doing my eye makeup and flirting with someone soon I’d probably forget how. So I’d strapped myself into my prettiest dress, highlighted the shit out of my cheekbones, and forced myself to go. But now here I was, alone at the bar, staring down at her text message: Work emergency. 20 mins. Sorry. xxxx
I looked up and around, searching for my bartender: My drink, I need my drink.
That’s when I first saw him: Oliver.
He had thick, dark hair, a chiselled face, broad shoulders and was wearing a white t-shirt under a dark dinner jacket. He was leaning on the bar. Alone. And I remember thinking: very James Dean. Our eyes met and I thought he’d do what people usually do when you catch them looking at you: look away. Stare down at his phone. Pretend it hadn’t happened. But he didn’t. Instead he smiled this big, perfect smile. And, for a split second, I awkwardly smiled back.
But then insecurity hit: Shit. He’s probably smiling at someone behind me.
My face grew hot, my blood raced – how embarrassing – and I quickly stared back down at my phone, frowning at the screen like something very important had just come in.
Ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom.
It’s okay, Charlie. Just pretend it didn’t happen. You’re an actress – you can do this.
Calmly, I looked up again, my face set to neutral as I watched the slowest bartender in the world fiddle around with lemons and limes near the far wall. I refused to look back at Oliver – that would just make it worse – but there he was in my peripheral vision, right where I’d left him. He shifted his weight. Cocked his head. Instinctively the movement drew my eye. And do you know what he did next?
He poked his tongue out at me.
There, amid all the ripped jean wannabes living on their credit cards and acting cool and superior, was this incredibly handsome man sticking his tongue out at me. You couldn’t have scripted a better ‘meet-cute’. I burst out laughing – it was ridiculous. But that was always the thing with Oliver. He was anything but predictable. No. He was the closest thing to magic I’d ever seen: it was as if he’d stepped straight out of a rom com. Like the cast of Friends might be trailing close behind.