“Want me to help you look for them?”
His offer catches me off guard. I don’t know why he’s so insisting. Usually, guys can sense when you’re not interested and most of them leave you alone. This one, however, isn’t giving up, so more serious measures are obviously needed.
“Listen - “
“Sven?” I repeat, with a smile that threatens to give him more hope.
“Nordic parents,” he shrugs, and that leather jacket follows suit.
“Of course, Sven,” I continue, “you seem like a nice guy and everything, but I’ve had a super busy week, and I just want to find my friends, so I can say goodbye and head on home.”
I’ve lost all desire for that drink that still stared at me from the bar. I just want to cuddle in my new bed and read my book before bedtime.
“You put it very nicely,” he replies with a smile that shows no threat, but those fangs still seem longer than before, and that dizziness inside my head isn’t letting go. “So, I won’t bother you. Just wanted to help you out, in case you needed it. But, you obviously don’t.”
I don’t say anything to that, but I’m glad this won’t end in drama. Hopefully, I’ll be home, locking the doors to my new place in less than half an hour.
“Can I just… no, sorry… it’s stupid.”
“What is it?” I ask, feeling a little guilty. He did back down immediately when I asked him to.
“I just wanted to give you a hug.”
I think about it for a moment or two, but I already see him leaning in with open arms, so I give in. The hug lasts a little longer than I would have liked it to, but once he lets go, I smile, wave awkwardly, and disappear in the crowd, thanking my lucky stars I got out of that one so easily.
I find Nicky all over her new guy, and I have to poke her on the shoulder. She turns and is surprised to see me. I lean in to tell her I’m heading home.
“Home?” she shouts. “No! Stay!”
I shake my head, patting my watch, pretending it’s already too late. I give her a peck on the cheek.
“You’ll be fine?” she shouts again, and I just nod once more.
I do the same with Tina, only she’s even more reluctant to let me go home alone, but I see that she also found some entertainment for tonight, and I don’t want to ruin anyone’s good time. I hug her as well, and head on out.
Once feeling the fresh air around me again, I inhale deeply. I slide my purse from my right shoulder, and open it easily. Nicky has mentioned it a few times that the clasp is too loose and it can be opened way too easily, even by someone who isn’t trying all that hard. But, it’s a bag that belonged to my mother, so I’m not changing it. Not like I don’t have several expensive ones gathering dust in my closet. But, they’re nowhere near as valuable as this one.
I fumble inside, trying to find my phone. After a few scoops with my hand, I still end up with nothing apart from my wallet and keys. My bags and purses are never full of shit, like it’s the case with Nicky’s bags, where you can even find living breathing things in there. Mine are usually light and with just a few basic necessities. On this particular night, I made sure not to take anything, apart from those 3. Now, I realize I have only two.
Confused, I take out my wallet and check the insides. Everything’s there. Some cash, my cards, a few notes. Nothing is missing. I hear my keys jangle inside, so I take those out, too. I look inside, and see only emptiness. My phone is gone. I put the keys and the wallet inside, and rake my fingers through my hair, breathing in deeply.
Did I leave it anywhere? Did I even take it with me? I have a vague recollection of putting it inside with the other things, but that’s as reliable as being sure I locked the front door every time I went out. It’s an instinctual action, one I rarely do focused, so it’s difficult to remember if I really did it this time. But, one is sure. My phone isn’t on me. I’ll go home and check if it’s there. If it’s not, I’ll just remotely swit
ch it off and try to find it. However, I still have to get home, and with a dozen people outside, waiting for a cab, it’ll be tricky getting one.
With the corner of my eye, I see someone’s cigarette light up in the opposite alleyway, so I look up. I see Sven, who isn’t looking my way, or at least seems like he isn’t. A moment later, and our eyes meet. He smiles, hesitates, and then walks over to me.
“I’m really not stalking you,” he tells me.
I’m not sure if I believe that. “Oh really?” I smile.
“Just went out for a smoke. My friends are back in, found some girls. You know how it goes.”
“Mhm,” I nod.
“Everything OK? You look… I don’t know. A little freaked out. Is it me?” he takes a step back. “If it is, I’ll just leave you alone. I know how this looks. First we talked, you blew me off, and now I’m here, outside, at the same time you are.”