While I had seen and heard of the karaoke club, I was not in the least prepared for the experience of being inside. Generally, a bar has a rough clientele base: it’s a classy sit-down pub for the middle aged; it’s a bass-thumping dance club for the newly legal and almost legal to grind and shimmy; it’s a dark, seedy joint for ancient, lost souls to drown their despair.
This was a mixture of all of the above.
Currently, a 40-something brassy blonde with false eyelashes was belting out Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive like it was a church hymn. There was a scraggly eighty-year-old sitting at the bar, using his hands to conduct the music with enthusiasm. Men and women of all ages stood and sat and drank and talked and sang along. I’d never seen anything like it.
The club wasn’t very big, but I still had trouble finding the face that had lured me inside. As I was scanning the crowd Kelly elbowed me.
“Go get us some drinks.”
“What? Why should I buy? It’s your turn, Kell.”
“I’ll pay you back. And for god’s sake, do me a favor and just talk to him.”
My cheeks burned red and I scoffed. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
She grabbed my shoulders and forced me to look into her eyes.
“Don’t insult me. I’m not stupid. He’s standing at the bar, watching you, and has been since we walked in.”
That information made my stomach start doing flips. Still, I tried to lie to my best friend and hide the fact that I was already smitten.
“Maybe he’s a creep or a psychopath.”
She rolled her eyes and turned me around, pushing me toward the bar.
“I don’t for a second think that you believe that. Please put us all out of our misery.”
Sure enough, he was standing at the bar, trying to be sly about watching me. When our eyes met, he blushed a little but didn’t look away. To the contrary, he stood up taller and grinned a little wider.
Damn. I guess I was buying this round.
Not wanting to be too obvious, I didn’t try to squeeze into the space right next to him. I figured that if he was truly interested, he’d travel that extra three feet to me. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long.
“I was hoping I’d get a chance to meet you.”
Goosebumps. Immediately. Keep it together, Alexis.
I looked up at him with a half-smile. “You were?”
“Absolutely.” He held out his hand, even though we were basically pressed against each other in the crowd. “I’m Jamie.”
“Alexis.” When I shook his hand, the contact lasted longer than it should have. It seemed neither one of us wanted to be the first to let go.
“I feel like my whole life has been leading up to this moment, Alexis.”
My eyebrows shot up. “Wow. What a line.”
“Don’t you believe in love at first sight?”
“Is that what you think this is?”
He leaned in close so I could hear him over the noise. He smelled amazing. “I’m struggling to come up with a more feasible explanation for the way I’m feeling.”
“And how is that?”
He wasn’t touching me at all, but his breath on my ear and the side of my neck was oddly intimate.
“My heart is racing, I feel like I’m on fire, I can hardly catch my breath…”
“Maybe you have malaria.”
He cocked his head to the side and gave me a full smile. “Cute.”
“So…you’re telling me you DO believe in such fairy tales as love at first sight.”
Looking down at me, his smile softened. There was so much tenderness in his eyes my knees nearly buckled.
“I never used to.”
Kelly and I did not make it to the final stop that night.