The pub was busy as it always is on a Friday night. A group of men were standing right at the centre, dressed in gold-and-green jerseys, cheering in front of the big screens as the Wallabies scored their first Try of the match, knowing this might be the highlight of the evening. A few couples gathered on the other end around a bottle of champagne, celebrating something which seemed to be rather special. Ben stepped in with a couple of mates from work, and with no hesitation walked straight to the bar.
“Hold on mate, this is my shout” said Dave, “it’s your birthday”.
“Oh, don’t worry about it” Ben replied, but quickly retreated to find a table when he realised Dave was insisting. He sat down on a leather bar stool and released a big sigh, attempting to clear off any thoughts of his working day, his family stress and this new alarming age ‘figure’ flashing in his mind as the end of youth, the beginning of the end. ‘Age is just a number’ he recalled one of the text messages he received earlier that morning from an old friend. However, Ben felt tired, his body all sluggish, struggling with an aching back, stiff neck and sleepy eyes. ‘OMG, I’m getting old’ he cried. He scanned the room around him, and felt jealous as the cheerful voices of complete strangers seem to remind him how unhappy he actually was.
“Any plans for tonight, old man?” said his mate John as the boys came back with a few beers.
“My wife said she’s organising something special, a night out. Said it’s a surprise, so she’d let me know where to meet her. We got time for a few drinks boys, so no rush”.
“Umm surprise ha? something special… ” teased him Dave. “I reckon she’s preparing a special birthday treat for you tonight… someone’s going to get lucky”.
“I don’t think so mate, whatever you mean, or whatever you imagine in your little naughty head, things are not quite happening in our bedroom, I can tell you that”.
“Yeah, I know what you mean” John mumbled and they all laughed out loud.
“That’s why I never got married” Dave smiled and winked at them. “In today’s world, there are just too many women to please out there. Monogamy is old-fashioned”.
“Oh, give me a break Mr Handsome, we’re trying to celebrate our mate’s birthday here, don’t give us this shit about your happy single life again” John protested.
“Well, I really appreciate it mate” Ben smiled. “Honestly, I didn’t think this mid-life crisis would hit me that hard, but you know what? when I woke up this morning, feeling old and grumpy, my kids were waiting downstairs for me with 40 balloons and 2 birthday cards”.
“Oh, so sweet. You’re such a family man. You know what? if I ever get married, it’s going to be with you darling” Dave gave him a cuddle.
All of a sudden, a beautiful young lady entered the bar. Her long blonde hair covered well-tanned shoulders, her big blue eyes were deep and hypnotising. She was wearing a short-cut red dress which highlighted her honey-coloured skin and captured the looks of all bystanders. She stopped by the table next to Ben and his mates, as the three of them were watching each and every move she made.
“Wow, check this out” Dave reported excitedly, swinging both his elbows at his mates.
“A touch of perfection” John quickly agreed.
“Surely you know her” smiled Ben, “assuming you already know all the ladies in town”.
“I’m pretty sure this girl is from out-of-town” he defended. “Looks like she’s checking you out, Ben”.
“Not at all, why would she even bother looking at me, I’m an old guy now”.
“Come on, go and have a chat to her, this is your chance” Dave encouraged him.
“Chance? For what? Ruining my marriage?”
“Oh come on, just have a flirt, it’s not going to hurt anyone”
“As long as your wife doesn’t know” John supported.
“Go on, just tell her it’s your birthday and you wanna buy her a drink” Dave encouraged and slightly pushed Ben with his long muscly arms.
Ben initially resisted, but as the young girl lifted her head and looked at them, she smiled a beautiful smile right at Ben. She was irresistible.
“Well, I guess a quick chat won’t hurt, as long as you don’t say a word to anyone… I’ll be back in two minutes if it even lasts that long”.
Ben finally took a step forward, hesitant, and immediately turned around in regret. “This is not a good idea guys” he whispered.
“Go on mate, if you don’t do it, I’ll have to do it, so please don’t let me break this girl’s heart tonight” Dave giggled.
“Hello there” said Ben as he finally gathered enough courage to open his mouth.
“Hello to you too, stranger” said the beautiful stunning girl.
“How’s things? You clearly don’t chat to women a lot in dodgy bars, do you” she was a little abrupt.
“No, not much. You got me…”. Ben felt how his body was forcing him to turn around and crawl back to his seat.
“Oh wait, don’t go, you seem like a sweet guy. That’s pretty rare in this neighbourhood”. Her voice was so confident.
“I’m sweet?” Ben giggled, pretending to look around and point at himself. “Are you talking to me?”
“Oh, hell you are. I haven’t seen such deep and honest green eyes in a long while”, she gave him a perfect smile.
“Well, we are a very rare breed” Ben started to gain some confidence…
“Yes, it’s hard to find a man in this city. An honest man. Everybody’s so fake these days” she argued.
“Interesting” he mumbled as he sat down next to her. Out of habit, he laid his hands on the table, exposing his thick golden wedding ring. “Well, I’m not fake like others. What you see is what you get”.
The girl looked at the shiny ring and seem even more engaged in this interaction.
“So, did you wanna buy me a drink?”. The way she said it implied that it wasn’t the first time she used that phrase.
“Only if you tell me your name” he tried to be charming.
“I didn’t know angels drink”
“Well, they only do when there are other angels around the table”
Ben smiled at her. Wow. Angel was not only stunning, she was sharp-minded. He wondered whether this angel would turn out to be his demon…
“What would you like then?”
“Gin and Tonic would do, sweetheart”.
He halted for a moment. “Gin and Tonic? Is that what you drink?” he seemed to be surprised.
“With a bit of lemon” she added.
“Right away my angel”. He turned around to go to the bar, when he noticed his mates were looking at him, with their thumbs up, cheering. “This is going well, Romeo” whispered Dave.
Ben shook his head in disbelief, giving away that he did not expect that to go well at all. As he walked to the bar he heard little voices inside his head.’OMG, is this for real? Look at her, she’s so hot!’. ‘Are you mad? What are you doing? You’re married, you got kids, what are you thinking?!’
Ben came back with a couple of drinks and as he was just about to sit down next to Angel, he realised his phone was ringing. It was Sarah, his wife. ‘Oh, I almost forgot we’re meant to meet later tonight’. He apologised, saying he has to take the call, then walked a few steps away from their table.
“Hi Ben, how are you going with the boys? Having fun so far?”
“Yeah, it’s not too bad. You know, just ordinary, nothing special”
“Oh well, I’m sure you guys are having fun. Hey listen love, Amy is not feeling well. Looks like she caught something at school, she’s coughing quite heavily and she really looks miserable”.
“Oh, that doesn’t sound good at all. Does she have any fever?”
“Not high fever. Maybe just a bit. I’m not sure what to do darling.”
“Do you want me to come back home and take her to the Medical Centre?”
“No dear, it’s your birthday, stay there and have fun. It’s OK. I’m just thinking, maybe we shouldn’t go out tonight, I don’t wanna leave her like that”
“Sure, of course”
“But it’s your birthday darling, are you sure that’s alright? I made plans for us, I’m so sorry”
“No that’s OK, we can just do it another day”
“But I promised something special for you tonight…”
“Oh, we can do it some other time” he smiled. “I can’t wait to find out what that something special is, baby”.
“You’ll have to wait and see” she said promptly.
“Are you sure?” she checked again.
“Yes, that’s fine, take care of the kids first”
“I will. Always. Our kids are always the highest priority, right?”
“Always” he replied.
“So where are you guys now Ben?”
“Oh, just at the pub next to work. It’s only a few mates here, pretty quiet.”
“Sure, you just stay and have fun. Have one drink for me, will you?”
“My favourite, you know”
“Yes, I know”
“Gin and Tonic darling, with a bit of lemon. Just like in the good old days”
They hung up and Ben came back to Angel’s table. She suddenly looked so young, and the whole scene seemed so inappropriate to him.
“Is everything alright?” she asked.
“Yeah, well, I might have to leave soon”.
“Not before you have at least one drink with me” she said in a decisive voice and pulled a wooden chair right next to her, inviting him to sit close, very close.
Ben immediately obliged. Angel took a little sip from her drink and said:
“I must be the luckiest girl in this place. Look around, I’m sitting next to the most handsome man in the room.”
“Funny you said that” Ben giggled. “I feel the same way”. He played along, thinking he should ask whether her taste was always in ‘older man’, but he wouldn’t dare.
Suddenly the expression on her face completely changed. The young lady who seemed so calm and confident, suddenly looked inconveniently terrified.
“Is something wrong Angel?”
“Yes, I just saw someone”
Ben noticed a big muscled bloke who stepped into the pub. Angel was now holding Ben’s arm, tightening her grip. “OMG what is he doing here?” she whispered.
“Someone who’s been stalking me. He’s dangerous”
“An old boyfriend?”
“Something like that…”
They went silent as the man got closer and closer.
“We have to get out of here” she said, her eyes filled with fear.
“Anywhere… he’s coming over here, please tell him you’re my boyfriend so he’d leave me alone” she was begging.
“Please Ben, you have to save me, that’s the only way. He will back off if I’m with someone, don’t worry, I know him. But if he sees me alone, then I’m in deep trouble” she was nearly in tears.
Ben was now getting angrier and angrier. “What has he done to you? This is not right. Don’t worry babe, I will protect you” he said in a knightly fashion.
The man approached, he got closer, and as he came within a few steps from them, Angel grabbed Ben’s neck and put her thick red lips on top of his dry ones. He felt her tongue touching his, and while he initially froze in complete surprise, he eventually committed and kissed her back, feeling the passion coming from her end. ‘OMG’, he thought, ‘I haven’t kissed like that in many years’…
A moment later, as they both realised the danger was over, Angel smiled and whispered “let’s get out of here”. Ben was so hypnotized by the overwhelming moment, that he didn’t respond and simply followed her as she grabbed his hand tightly. They left the bar quicky. Ben realised he didn’t even say goodbye to his mates, who were busy chatting to other people next to the bar.
“Wait, where are we going?” he tried to gather his thoughts.
“Somewhere safe” she replied. “I live close by” she pulled him behind her.
A couple of blocks from the bar, they both raced down the road, looking around to make sure the bloke from the bar is not following their trail. Suddenly Angel led them into an apartment building and he followed her up the stairs. When they got to the doorstep, Ben hesitated. “Look Angel, it’s a little complicated. I’m not sure about this. You’re safe now, so I better get going. I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to come in”.
Angel looked at him with her big deep blue eyes. She leaned her body towards his, and gave him a big hug. “How can I ever thank you, my hero, for saving me tonight” she said. He felt her breast against his beating heart, her smell was sweet, her touch was soft, though he couldn’t make up his mind between ‘lust’ and ‘danger’. It was tempting, when would he ever have a chance to be with such an amazing lady ever again. Remember what Dave always says, ‘Monogamy is old-fashioned’.
“Why don’t you come in for a bit and I’ll organise something special for your birthday”
“Something special?” he froze. “What did you have in mind?”
“It’s a surprise baby” she said and unlocked the door.
They got into a dark apartment. She turned on a fade red light in the kitchen, and asked him to help himself with a drink. Then she disappeared to her bedroom. Ben was so tense, those voices inside his head kept screaming at him ‘this is wrong Ben, turn around and leave now before it’s too late’. He fixed himself with an apple cider, the only drink he could find in the fridge, and walked around the living room, trying to find more clues about this mystery girl. ‘Nothing happened yet, it was just a kiss, just one little kiss. You can still turn around and go. Or maybe right after you see her, dressed in a sexy black lingerie’. Time stood still, until she called out from the bedroom.
“Honey, I’m waiting for you. Come here bad boy”.
He took his shoes off, but felt cold sweat going through his whole body. ‘Go for it’, he heard his naughty mate’s voice. ‘Just have a flirt, it’s not going to hurt anyone’.
‘Oh, what the hell’, he mumbled to himself and stepped into the bedroom.
To his surprise, Angel wasn’t there. It was another woman. She was sitting on the double bed, wearing a long red evening dress, highlighting the beautiful body she had worked hard to maintain after giving birth twice.
Ben froze as he saw her.
“What are you doing here?”
“Me? Well… what are YOU doing here?”
“I thought we could trust you Ben. Me and the kids”
“You’ve set this all up…”
“And you fell into the trap, like a typical man”
“You tested me?”
“You failed me, you failed your family”
“But you said Amy is not well”
“I didn’t want to disappoint you Ben, I promised you something special tonight”