Daddy's Here(9)By: Lucy Wild
It was the guy who’d been staring at me. He had hold of the two men, one in each crumpled fist. He was shoving them towards the exit, ignoring their protests as I watched in disbelief.
“What’s going on?” I tried to say but what came out was little more than a drunken mumble. I took a step back from the brute as he turned from the door, towering over me. I managed to screw up my backwards step, stumbling into a table. I tried to catch myself on it but my balance went and I was on the floor a second later.
“Oops,” I said, giggling to myself.
“Come on,” he replied. “Let’s get you some water.”
He put his hands under my arms and pulled me upright, leading me back to my stool and not letting go of me until he was sure I wasn’t going to slip back down to the ground. He sat next to me and I got my first proper look at him as he stared back at me in disgust.
He was much older than me, probably by ten or maybe even twenty years. Handsome too, though there were flecks of grey in the corners of his dark brown hair, a couple of wrinkles on his forehead. I was caught by his eyes when I saw them close up, the darkness of them took me by surprise, as if he’d seen a lot of things in his time, most of them bad. His jaw was firm, his mouth unsmiling as he turned to the barman and ordered two mineral waters. He scared me.
“Drink this,” he said, pushing a glass across to me. “You need it.”
“Try my wine first.”
“I’m good, thanks.”
“I’ll drink your water if you drink my wine.”
“Fine,” he sighed, taking a sip. “Happy now?”
“Very,” I replied with a smile. “Who are you?”
A friend, he’d said. What the hell did that mean? Friends weren’t so threatening, so menacing, so scary.
I looked at him and then he turned into two people, then four. I blinked and two of them vanished. With a groan I closed my eyes again, opening them a few seconds later to find him holding my water. “Here,” he said, holding the glass towards my lips. “Drink this.”
I did as he said, opening my mouth just enough to feel the icy cold water run down the back of my throat. It didn’t take the nausea away but it took the edge off it and when I looked at him again, there was only one of him looking back at me.
“You should be more careful,” he said, giving me another sip before putting the glass down on the bar. “On your own with guys like that around, you could get yourself in trouble.”
I shrugged. “I can handle myself.”
“I bet you can.”
We lapsed into silence. He sipped his drink, his eyes fixed on mine. I felt uncomfortable with him staring at me like that, as if I was an experiment he was observing, an experiment that repulsed him.
“What?” I snapped at last. “What’s wrong with me?”
“You need an answer?”
“You look disgusted with me, think women shouldn’t be allowed to drink, is that it? Got a daughter my age, blah, blah, blah.”
“I don’t have children.”
“Come to kill me then? Serial killer on the lookout for your next victim?”
“What would you do if I said yes?”
“Get you to buy me another drink first.”
“Then I’d call my father to come and get me and have you arrested.”
A flicker of a smile crossed his lips. “Go on then.”
“Go on what?”
“Call your father.”
“I will, don’t think I won’t.”
“Go on, then.”
“I’m going to call him right now.”
I dug my phone out and held it so he couldn’t see the screen, wanting to call his bluff, scare him off from whatever he had planned. He didn’t know I couldn’t ring my father. I tapped the screen and then held the phone to my ear. “It’s ringing.”
He reached over and grabbed it before I knew what was happening. “No it isn’t,” he said, putting it on the bar between us. “Why don’t you want to ring him?”
I sighed. “It’s a long story.”
“Care if I take a guess?”
“What are you, a psychic?”
“Nope. I’m just good at noticing things.”
“Like the fact that you’re underdressed for the weather.”
“So that means you’re not great at planning. You’ve only just arrived here, I know that too.”
“Have you been stalking me?”
“You’re in the worst bar in the town. No one from round here would choose this place.” He twisted to face the barman. “No offence.”