Fri | Jun 2, 2023

Love in the club

Published:Sunday | May 2, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Kristine Atterbury, Contributor

No one is getting hurt. This is what I tell myself as I stare into the bathroom mirror and glide the tiny brush across my lips, leaving a light-pink gloss behind. My turquoise jersey dress is short and cinched around my hips with a broad black belt. My hair is cut boyishly short, exposing a row of four silver studs in each ear, as well as a tattoo of a lopsided heart at the side of my neck, a few inches below my ear. My stomach dips in anticipation, and I ignore it, as usual. These nerves are nothing new.

I step out of the bathroom and find my way to a dark corner of the Little Havana nightclub in New Kingston. There's a good crowd in here, but no one I know really comes here anymore, which is exactly why I am here. Here in the dim lights, with the music blaring, and the strangers all around, it's easy to transport myself to a different reality. One where Dominic and I can be together without having to hide or worry about who might see us. Dominic is not mine, he belongs to someone else. But here, I can pretend otherwise.

During the week, in our regular lives, we are nothing more than co-workers and casual friends. I met Dominic a few months ago when he joined the business analysis department at the company where I work. I found myself more than a little fascinated with his serious demeanor and quiet voice that were strangely coupled with mischievous eyes. I heard that he's engaged to an MP's daughter and that alone should have made me stay away. I have no intention of wrecking anyone's home. I don't believe in getting involved with married or almost-married men. But one Wednesday, when I decided to stay late to work on a proposal, I ran into him unexpectedly in the office file room. He had loosened his tie and unfastened the first three buttons of his shirt. His eyes landed on mine and I forgot about all my rules.

Awaiting the kiss

That night we didn't do anything wrong, not really. He offered to buy me a drink, and I accepted. Co-workers hang out together all the time, don't they? We ended up at Little Havana, drinking and chatting until nearly midnight. I don't remember ordering more drinks than he did, but somehow I was the one teetering on my feet and slurring my words when it was time to leave. He pocketed my car keys and took me home, helping me to the door with a strong arm around my waist. At the door he leaned towards me, his breath sweet with Appleton, and I prepared myself for the kiss, started to close my eyes in anticipation, but he only reached past me to unlock my door before handing me the keys.

"Goodnight, Mia," he said softly. I wobbled on my feet and then drudged up enough shame to step through the door and close it. The next day I called in sick, partly because of my hangover, but mostly because I was afraid to face him. That afternoon, I got a text message. "Have ur keys. Same time, same place?"

Now here I am for the seventh or eighth Wednesday in a row. We don't really do anything, honestly. Just a little harmless dancing to some slow reggae, what's wrong with that? I look around for the umpteenth time, and wonder, like I always do, if he has changed his mind. He's not mine, he belongs to someone else, I keep reminding myself. Then I see him. There is a couple dancing in front of me and blocking my view but every now and then they move and I catch a glimpse of him, coming through the door, glancing around, making his way slowly and deliberately to the back where I am standing. He looks achingly good, his biceps straining against the black T-shirt, his bootleg-cut jeans perfectly slung on his hips and legs, his frame tall and forbidding. When his eyes meet mine, a lump forms in my throat and my stomach gives another nervous dip. There is something different in his eyes tonight, something dark and slightly predatory.

Blood pressure skyrocketing

All too soon he is standing in front of me, his arms going around my back to pull me into a tight squeeze. He kisses the corner of my mouth in greeting, and I can almost feel my blood pressure skyrocketing. I manage to find my voice. "You're late."

He takes a moment to run his eyes down the length of my body and back up to my eyes, where his gaze bores into mine. I get the feeling once again that something is different this time. I lick my lips nervously and realise with a start that he is watching my tongue move across my lips with avid intensity.

He leans down to whisper, "Mia. Let's go somewhere else."

This is it. Deep down I knew this moment was coming. We stare at each other for a long moment, and his body is already half turned towards the door, his fingers holding on to mine, as if he already knows what my answer is and is simply waiting for me to realise it myself. This is where I get to be a better person. He is not mine, he belongs to someone else, someone who is probably at home choosing her wedding colour scheme and deciding what kind of paper to use for the invitations. And why should I want a man who would step out on his fiancé anyway? I'm not desperate, and there are lots of available, unattached men out there. We stand there for what seems like forever while I think about these things and his expression never changes, there isn't even a flicker of impatience in his eyes.

I tighten my grip on his hand, and hear myself speaking. "Let's go." He shows no surprise. His hands slide up my arms and he pulls me too him, leaning down to claim my mouth with his. He smells like expensive cologne and fresh laundry and his kiss is fierce and insistent. When he releases me, his eyes are keen and hungry. We make our way through the crowd, heading somewhere, anywhere.

He's not mine, he belongs to someone else. Unfortunately, I don't care one bit.