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Brief Love: part three

Updated on June 19, 2013

His smile grows. "I wanted some Maker's, but for some reason this place refuses to be a real bar tonight."

My face goes deadpan, and every part of me falls in love.

"Don't like bourbon I take it," he says to me.

I smile at him for the first time since I saw him across the room. "Actually I love the stuff. Maker's and 7 is my drink of choice."

He nods. "Mine, too." He leans in and whispers conspiratorially, "I'm not much for wine."

"It’s the worst," I tell him. And then because it's human nature to share anything that tastes bad with another person so we're not the only person suffering, I lift my glass and ask, "Wanna try some?"

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He shrugs his shoulders and takes my glass. As he takes a sip my mind reels. Here is this amazing man whose name I don't even know and he's drinking from my glass of wine. Not from Molly's glass, not from one of the daddy's trust fund girl's glasses, but from my glass.

He makes a face that rivals one induced by bitter beer and hands the glass back to me. "I wonder if the red is any better," he comments.

I shake my head. I don't know if the red is better or not, but I don't want to ruin this moment by talking. I turn around to the bar and wave at Brian, who quickly answers my beckoning. "What can I do for you, darling?" he asks.

"Can I get a glass of white for my friend?"

Brian regards my new "friend" with a skeptical eye. He is looking out for me, which he usually does when I've had a few too many and my judgment is shot. I want to shout that I am not skewed by the horrific tasting wine, but that I am in fact fully operational. No need to judge this one, my inner voice screams. He's way beyond the judgment of mere mortals. Brian doesn't outright reject my find of the night, but as my new companion hands him a large tip Brian gives him a strained glance that must mean something in guy-code.

I turn to this stranger and raise my glass. His glass chinks against mine and we silently taste our wine. He winces. "It’s not much better in my own glass."

I briefly laugh and stop when I hear the staccato tones ringing in my ear. I have a terrible laugh and I’m sure he thinks so, too.

Instead of whipping around and running for the door at the sound of my laugh, he keeps hold of my eyes with his and asks, "So what's your name?"

I hate the getting to know you stuff more than I hate my laugh. On average, I tell half my life story on the first date, which is about twenty times a year. In return, I hear around twenty partial life stories a year, sometimes the whole life story if they're a droll like Heath. Then there's the thing about giving out your name in a bar. I give out far more fake names than my real name. I've been a lot of names with a lot of different occupations and life stories. Stacy, Anna, Danielle, Terri, Gina, Amy, Samantha.

"Claire," I tell this strange and wonderful man before me. That is not a lie. I've just taken my first step in being totally honest with him and it feels pretty okay.

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"My grandmother's name was Claire," he says thoughtfully.

I don't take his revelation as a bad thing, but I really hope he liked his grandmother.

"A beautiful name," he adds with a zinger of a smile.

"Thank you," I say with a gracefulness that doesn't belong to me. "What about you? Do you have a name?"

"Shawn," he answers.

I love it. I think I might love him, too. At least I will.

From over Shawn's shoulder, I see Molly directing a come hither wave at me. She's standing alone, and her motion is frantic. I give Shawn a sheepish smile. "Um, can you wait here for a moment? My best friend, she, uh—" I point at Molly to finish my sentence.

Shawn turns his head to look at my gorgeous friend and turns back to me. "No problem. You're coming back?"

My lips form a genuine smile, the most genuine all night. He didn't run away to be with Molly, as most men do the moment they see her. He only wanted to know if I would be back. "Absolutely," I answer. I hand him my glass as collateral.

I walk around him and start toward Molly, almost grateful for the distraction. These couple of moments away from Shawn will give me time to build up my resolve, strength, and game. This guy likes me. I may never be able to figure out why, but for tonight, this brief moment in the long span of life, that's the way it is.

For tonight. My smile drops with my self-esteem as I push past a group of happy party-goers and continue on my path toward Molly. After tonight, after the terrible wine, things will be different with him. He'll remember that he's absolutely perfect and I'm a lesser creature and he'll snap out of it. There's no way that a man would ever find me attractive in any way, at least not for more than a couple days. After that, once I'm fully in love with this man, he'll realize he made a mistake, he'll remember that he's looking for so much more than what I am, and he'll decide he's not willing to compromise no matter how much I have. And while he'll walk away totally unscathed and with a sparkling new ego created by my foolishness and naivety, I will be on the edge of death.

I reach Molly and her bright eyes told me she had met someone. I’ve seen that expression cross her face more than once. "What's going on?" I ask her.

"Ryan's meeting me at my place. Are you ready to go?"

Ryan must be the man I saw her with earlier. If he isn't, I'm sure he's equally perfect as Molly would never settle.

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I shift my glance toward Shawn. He's talking to Brian, oblivious to the insecurities that are controlling me. His head turns and he sees me. The smile on his lips lights its way across the room and touches my heart. Damn, he's beautiful. I watch Shawn resume conversation with Brian and all my thoughts from earlier return. I look back to Molly.

"Were you talking with that guy over there?" Molly asks with a curious smile.

I shake my head in response to Molly’s question. I don't glance behind me to make sure, but I assume Molly is following me as I make my way out the front door.

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