Fantasy Romance Urban Fantasy

Men can be a real pain in the buttocks. I, Novella Morai, 31, am really sick of living up to my name in the relationship department. I might not be Emma Watson, but I have shoulder length dark brown hair that I get highlights in, a perfect fake tan, and sparkling green eyes, and I have an athletic hour-glass figure. I work out, use whitening toothpaste, and a goddess-like makeup-collection. I’m hot, okie? But looks aren’t everything because not only have my attempted relationships been short-lived but they have also been the short end of the stick.  

That might be a little bit my fault for not realizing that Hallmark men are written not real. But I blame men for not understanding that that’s what women want! We want adventure, romance, and magic moments!  

What I get are inattentive flaky guys who cancel at the last minute or push physical intimacy waaaay too soon. Guys my age come with so much baggage too; ex-wives and kids. They all had some terrible falling out with the person they had kids with, their new ‘relationship’ goals are booty-calls.  

Here are my last four dates.  

Date 1: Canceled as it was supposed to happen; I was parking when the guy texted me ‘something came up. rain check’. I texted if everything was okie and got nothing back. Ever.  

Date 2: Guy wanted to meet at some dive bar (claiming he wanted more chill vibe-red flag). I showed up and sat on the stool next to him. I didn’t even get my drink before he says “So, your place or mine?” and started to rub my thigh. And I mean, look, it’s not like I was only swiping for Chris Hemsworth clones! In fact, this guy had looked like he hadn’t showered or changed his clothes in two days. 

Date 3: Canceled. We were supposed to meet at 7 and at 2 he texted to cancel because ‘he wasn’t really feeling it’. Pfft, yeah. Because he was too busy already feeling up some other girl. At least this time I wasn’t already dressed up and there.  

Date 4: The guy got up from the table every 10 minutes to take a call from one of his two exes or one of his four kids. Then he said he had to go before our food arrived because ‘it wasn’t supposed to be his weekend, but it just be like that sometimes’ and asked me to cancel his food order and left. But he hadn’t made that decision before the food was made and I was stuck paying for both meals. When the manager gave me a free glass of wine and a discount because he saw the guy walk out on me, I couldn’t hide my embarrassment. They had offered to box up both meals immediately, but I said I would eat mine while it was hot and fresh. At least I didn’t have to cook for a couple days.  

That’s what I told myself as I fell face first onto my bed and gave a muffled scream into my mattress. I didn’t worry about the comforter because I hadn’t bothered to re-apply my lipstick after I ate by myself at the table.  

I walked over my balcony door and looked up at the night sky. City life made stars harder to see, but there was one particularly bright one in the sky. I closed my eyes tight and made a wish.  

Then I closed the curtain and headed to the bathroom to start a bubble bath before grabbing an individual mini bottle of wine from my fridge. I was beginning my self-care day.  

And my self-care day had led me to a Barnes and Nobles café. I had my hair in long braided pigtails and my makeup was neutral except for my favorite blue-red lipstick from YSL, I had on a simple fitted black tee tucked into a Burberry-dupe skirt, black leggings, and my favorite black ankle-boots. My jewelry was a fake-but-hard-to-tell yellow-gold tennis bracelet and gold stud earrings. I originally also had a gold ring, but I followed Coco Chanel’s advice and removed the ring before I left my vanity. It made me feel fancy yet practical, fashionable yet comfy.   

I got a toasted hot vanilla latte and was browsing the yoga/meditation section when a well-groomed, slightly taller than me guy with dark hair and hazel-green eyes complimented my outfit.  

Not just any compliment either.  

He said, in a velvet, British accent “Your quilted Chanel bag with gold hardware matches your outfit perfectly.”  

I believed in spending on quality investment bags and no guy had EVER commented on anything but the price.  

I replied with wide eyes "Wow, thank you so much!”  

I looked him over with as much subtly as I could-which I admit wasn’t much. He was wearing a deep blue (my favorite color) suit, light blue button-up shirt, and black dress shoes. No tie or cufflinks that I could see, but he did have on a gold lapel. He was slightly over-dressed for a bookstore café, but maybe he’d had a meeting or something. 

“Know a lot about bags?” I asked.  

Going to be honest the first thing I thought was “This guy is gay and married” 

He gave a small chuckle and said “Uh, kind of. I actually know more about investing and I work with a lot of um upper class women who invest in luxury bags and purses. True luxury fashion items are incredible and amazing assets. Especially, when one knows how to wear them well” he gestured to me with his hand.  

I almost bit my lip but then quickly just rubbed them together or I’d get my lipstick on my teeth.  

“Thank you again” I said.  

“Are you feeling stressed about something?” he asked.  

“Um, why do you ask?”  

“You’re looking at meditation and self-help books.” he observed.  

“Oh. Yeah. I’ve just been, I don’t know, in a weird emotional spot lately, I guess” I said. I didn’t want to just emotionally dump my bad-dating history onto this nice guy whose name I didn’t even know.  

“You know what you need? A nice, relaxing steam. I know we’ve just met but would it be too forward for me to invite you to join me in the bathhouse on Trindle Avenue?” He smiled this great movie-star smile at me.  

“Oh wow. I’ve never been there; you have to have two people and my friends are weirded out by the thought but I...” I stopped talking because I started to ramble really fast. “Um, I mean, But I’ve wanted to go, I-I'll join you...you mean, like right now?”  

“Yes. And I’m sure you look just as beautiful without makeup as you do right now” he said.  

He gently took my elbow with one hand and gestured toward the exit with the other.  

We walked out of the door and when he went to open it for me, I quickly pinched my arm to see if I was dreaming.  

We walked out to my car as he told me the specific address.  

“See you in a few minutes” he said with a smile and a wink.  

I watched him longingly as he went around the corner of the building. I pinched myself again, but harder this time. 

“OWW!” I yelled, pulling my arms away from each other so quickly my left hand hit the window.  

I was familiar with the location of the bathhouse. I parked and looked tentatively around without getting out of my car. I also had 911 and my finger hovering over the call button just in case this unbelievably dreamy guy was actually an international human trafficker or something like that. I finally saw the guy get out of a black malibu. Not too fancy, not too shabby. I still had my finger ready to call for help, but I got out of my car with a smile.  

He smiled that glamor smile when he saw me too.  

“Shall we?” he asked, offering me his left arm.  

“Um. Yeah, of course.”  

I carefully tried to move my phone to my left hand without letting him see and then looped my right hand around the crook of his elbow. I had taken a couple self-defense classes and I didn’t want him to be able to twist my arm or lock it in so I couldn’t escape.  

He didn’t seem to care as he gestured toward the door and stepped towards it.  

The door looked heavy and was painted almost black, but the lettering was a peach hue that read ‘Trindle House of Steam and Spa’.  

He opened the door to let me go in first.  

I tried to swallow discreetly and went in with curious fear. There was always a curtain blocking the street window and so I had no idea what it was like inside. It was a white and grey, pretty average lobby area with a basic front desk. There were also some light grey slightly worn leather sofas and matching chairs with some overhead fluorescent lights. Against the back was a wall with three doors. A couple of people came in and out or sat in the chairs. There was a college-age looking girl behind the desk and she smiled as he entered behind me.  

“Hello! What can I get for you both today?” the girl chirped with a service worker smile.  

“Basic Steam Services, nothing fancy today” he said and pulled out his wallet from his back pocket.  

“I-I can pay for myself” I said and lifted my purse.  

“Nonsense. I invited you here, this is my treat and honor. You wouldn’t dishonor me in front of people, would you?” he asked, that accent really sticking out with every ‘r’ sound.  

I smiled and shook my head.  

“There we are.” he said, taking out his card and handing it to the girl. 

We were pointed to the first door, told “Door 4, use the bathrooms to disrobe and you have 35 minutes before you’ll hear the ‘ding’ and you can pay for longer if you want.”  

We got handed some fluffy white towels and what looked like a hotel key card. Through the doors were lines of other doors and steam leaked through the hall.  

“This is the women’s lavatory” he said, pointing to the first door to our left. “They have makeup removal wipes in there, otherwise the steam might mess it up and then you just come out in the towel.” he winked and then went into the men’s room. 

I went inside and cleaned my face. I was having a good skin day today, thank goodness. I was all shaven and not too freshly tanned from my date the night before. I was still nervous; I didn’t like getting...undressed on not even the first date. I mean, I still didn’t even know his name yet! I just took a breath and undressed in the nearest stall. There was a note on the wall that said it recommended wearing a bikini bathing suit or leaving underwear on as a precaution. I took the note’s advice and wrapped the towel around me, holding the top carefully. 

He was waiting when I got back, his upper body toned but not unrealistically chiseled and nothing but a towel between my eyes and what god gave him. We silently went to the door with a big ‘4’ on it and we were greeted with a blast of blinding and hot steam. Similar to freshly microwaved soup. We went in and it was glorious. We had laughs and I felt so relaxed around him that I completely forgot we were both almost naked. After about 35 minutes there was a ‘ding’ and the steam started being less and the hum had stopped. We were prunes and our hair was flat around our heads. And we were laughing, and I thanked him for the much-needed steam. In the bathroom, I had light racoon eyes from the steam, and I quickly wiped it away. He hadn’t said a word! We left together.  

“I had fun. Would it be possible to...get your number?” he asked, sounding nervous.  

He was nervous when he had just seen me with smeared mascara and almost nude in a public steam room?! I rattled my digits off so quickly I had to say them twice. He sent me a message and then said he had to go to a meeting but hoped he could take me to dinner that night. I accepted as quickly as I’d said my number and then mentally kicked myself for sounding so pathetically desperate. But I was smiling warmly and the warmth in my cheeks wasn’t just from the sauna. I got in my car and sighed contentedly before going back home.  

But once there I got nervous. I realized I STILL didn’t have this guy’s name! I had his number, saw his bare chest, and couldn’t even put a name in my contacts. Unbelievable. Was it too late to ask his name later? Did I tell him my name? I tried to recall our conversations, but he really just asked a lot about me and laughed at my funny slice-of-life stories. It felt so free and so good and yet... 

I then realized I knew less and less about him. I was so excited about a guy seeming to actually care about getting to know me that I just rambled on and on without thinking about the unfair exchange. He knew about the time I accidentally dyed my body blue in high school and about me losing the 5th grade class pet, and I didn’t know his name!  

I tried texting him to ask but I got back an automatic do not disturb message.  

We had agreed to meet at a restaurant on a hotel rooftop (his suggestion and oh my gosh I would have peed myself if I wasn’t so dehydrated when he said it).  

I got ready and went to the hotel a little early, but he was there waiting for me. And geez, he looked like, not just a snack, but the whole meal. He was in a deep blue polo shirt and matching fitted jeans, a belt, and dress shoes. He had his hair a little less moussed, but it still looked great. His hazel-green eyes were nearly as glow-in-the-dark as a cat’s. He looked so great. I dolled up in my best red-slinky dress and killer red heels. He looked astonished and complimented me heavily as we walked inside. We took the elevator to the top floor, and he gave the reservation as his phone number and ordered a glass of their ‘best cab’. He was so distinguished, cultured, sexy, and he was with me! He led me by my arm as he followed the waiter and this time my elbow was fully entwined with his.  

The stars were easier to see here, and they glimmered against the night sky. The moon wasn’t quite full but just as beautiful. The wine was amazing, the table was romantic with fresh roses and candles.  

“This is amazing! So refined and romantic! I didn’t know guys still knew how to date like this! Or dress like that! You look so good” I said gushingly. I couldn’t help it. I was in awe.  

He giggled “Thank you, thank you very much. And yes, I’d say I’m a rare breed” and offered to toast glasses.  

Our food was amazing, the conversation was incredible about deep topics and desires. Best. Date. Ever.  

“I really loved this. I hope we can have more fun dates soon. They Don’t all need to be quite this level but, you are so much fun to talk to and be with.” I gushed again, breathlessly, and took another sip of wine.  

He licked his lips in thought, not seduction. He was looking down at his glass blankly.  

“What? Was I not a good date? Did I do something wrong?” I asked quickly.  

“No. No, you were great and look amazing. But I um need to tell you something”  

“Oh my, I knew it. You’re gay and married, right?” I said. I rolled my eyes and took a gulp of wine. I knew it was too good to be true.  

“What? No. I’m just.... not.” he sighed “I’m just not entirely sure how to tell you...that I’m...not...ah...real”  

“Excuse me?” I said, moving my eyes not my head.  

“You wished for me. Last night. On my star” he pointed into the sky.  

I looked as if it I’d know what I was looking at and then narrowed my eyes at him. Great. He was a loony-bin escapee.  

“It’s true! The universe gives the desires to the ones with true intentions. You wanted a specific lover. I’m here” he explained.  

“So, you have this magically great time with me and now I don’t get to see you again?” I asked with anger lacing my words. I gulped the rest of my wine.  

“Well...not quite. If you are actually in love with me, tell the universe, to my star again. You have until midnight, or I won’t be here after that.” he said sadly.  

“I like you, but I don’t know if I love you! I can’t love someone after one date!” I argued. 

“We had two?” he offered.  

I glared.  

“That’s what it is. Tell me you love me by midnight, or I’m gone forever. We can just enjoy the rest of tonight”  

It was eleven o’clock.  

November 14, 2022 06:58

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