A Valentine’s Short Story: The Singles Ball.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Here’s a little something for all you romance lovers out there, I hope you enjoy it.

The Singles ball:

I looked over at Sally. She was laughing and flirting with a tall blonde. At least somebody was having a good time. I looked up at Greg, the man I was slow dancing with, and he was smirking down at me. I smiled back through clenched teeth. When was this song going to end?

Greg’s hand kept sliding down to my backside even though I pushed it back up every time. I was going to kill Sally when we got home! Why did I let her talk me into coming to a singles ball? Sally had said it was time I started dating again, but I wasn’t sure I was ready. It had only been a year since I broke it off with my cheating ex-fiancé. She had begged, pleaded and then promised it would be fun, but the whole night so far had been horrible. I closed my eyes and prayed the night would end.

The music finally stopped. I pushed Greg’s arms from around me and took a step back. “Would you like to get a drink from the bar?” he asked.

Not even if he paid me a million dollars. “I have to go to the ladies room, excuse me.” I elbowed my way through the crowd before he could say another word.

I spied a balcony and made my way outside. I needed some fresh air. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply.

“You don’t look like you’re having much fun.”

I turned around and saw the attractive waiter I had noticed earlier in the night. He was by far the best looking guy here. “Were you watching me?” My heart picked up a little at the thought.

He took a step forward. “Every man in that room was watching you.”

I rolled my eyes. “I find that hard to believe.”

He smiled and held out his hand. “I’m Ben.”

“Bianca.”

“You have a beautiful name.”

“Thank you. Are you on a break?”

“I am.”

I nodded and turned back to lean against the railing, looking up at the night sky. The moon was full and shining bright. Ben moved beside me.

“So, Bianca, what brings you here? I wouldn’t think that a beautiful girl like you would need to come to a singles ball.”

“My friend, Sally, forced me. She didn’t want to come alone.”

“But you are single?” The question made me look at him. He was gazing down at me, his eyes sparkling.

Oh, yes!”

“Was that a oh, yes I’m single and don’t want to be or, oh, yes I’m single and happy to be?” He shifted closer to me, our faces just inches apart. This one wasn’t shy.

“Undecided,” I told him truthfully. “So, are you single?” I asked, trying to sound casual.

Oh, yes!” he replied, and we both laughed.

“Excuse me,” he said suddenly, and slipped back into the restaurant. I wasn’t sure if he was coming back, perhaps his break was over? To my surprise I felt a little disappointed.

The next minute he was back and holding two glasses of wine. He handed one to me and I raised an eyebrow.

“Should you be drinking at work?” I didn’t want him to get into trouble.

“It’s OK”

I wasn’t convinced but took a sip of the wine. He settled back close to me. I could smell his after shave, he smelt really good.

“So what do you do for a living?” he asked.

“I am an event organiser.”

Interesting.” The one word seemed to have subtext I didn’t understand. I wanted to ask him about it, but we were interrupted. Ben spun around before I even realised we weren’t alone. I turned to see a waiter placing a small table near the wooden bench by the doors.

The waiter left and returned a moment later carrying a platter of food. He placed it on the table he had just set down. “Will that be all, Sir?” The waiter asked.

I raised an eyebrow, sir?

“Yes, thank you,” Ben replied, and the waiter scampered inside. Ben went and sat at the table. “Would you like to sit?”

I nodded. I hadn’t managed to eat yet and I realised I was starved. I slid in next to him and placed my wine glass on the table. “You’re not just a waiter are you?”

He smiled. “No. I actually own the restaurant.”

Wow.

“Don’t you think it’s interesting that you organise events and I own a restaurant, maybe one day we could work together?”

So that’s what he found interesting when I told him my line of work. “Maybe.” I seized my chance and took my first bite of the food, and Ben followed my lead.

The air was getting cooler and I found myself unwittingly rubbing my arms.

“Are you cold?” Ben asked.

“No,” I lied. I wasn’t ready to go back inside yet. He pulled his jacket off and rested it over my shoulders. “You’ll be cold,” I objected, and went to take the jacket off.

“I’m fine. I was sweltering in there.” With that I slipped my arms into his jacket.

“How long have you owned the restaurant?” I asked.

“Two years.”

“How old are you?” I asked, he didn’t look older then my twenty six years.

He had just taken a bite of food and needed to swallow before answering. “I’m twenty four.”

I was impressed. “I know a lot of twenty four years olds who still don’t know what they want to do with their life, let alone own a restaurant.”

He shifted so that his whole body was facing mine and our knees touched. “When I know what I want, I do what I need to get it.”

I gulped; I had never met anyone like Ben before. “Does that included women?” I asked.

He smiled but didn’t answer.

The platter was empty and I was full. The food was delicious. I stood and walked back over to the railing. Ben followed me. “How many singles balls do you host?” I asked.

“One today, on Valentine’s Day, and one in December, just before Christmas.”

“Am I special or is this how you meet all your women?” I asked.

Ben laughed. “I’ve never met a woman this way before. I try to stay out of the guests’ way.”

“You haven’t done a very good job staying out of my way.”

“I don’t want to stay out of your way.” I felt a strand of my dark hair fall onto my face. Ben leaned in and carefully placed it behind my ear, his warm breath brushing against my cheek. We looked into each other’s eyes, and the intensity in his made me gulp.

“Do you want me to stay away from you?” he asked.

“No,” I whispered, feeling my breath escape from me. I was suddenly filled with butterflies and turned my head away, my gaze falling to the ground below.

Ben placed his finger under my chin and lifted my face so I was looking at him. “Would you like to dance?” he asked, holding out his hand.

“Here?”

“Why not? It’s less crowded, more intimate.”

I stepped forward and he slipped one hand into mine, wrapping his other arm around my waist, pulling me close. We started to sway to the music drifting out through the balcony doors, spinning around in slow circles. My body became hyper aware of his, and my heart beat frantically against his broad chest.

My mobile beeped loudly, making me jump, and Ben let me go. I apologised as I dug it out of my bag. Sally had sent me a message.

“It’s from my friend,” I told him. “We came in her car and she is ready to go.” I slowly put my phone back in my purse, sadness washing over me. Half an hour ago I couldn’t wait to leave, now all I wanted to do was stay.
“Thank you for dinner. The food here is excellent.” I should have walked away then, but I couldn’t move, Ben was looking down at me, trapping me in his soft brown eyes.

“Will you go out with me tomorrow night?”

My heart felt like it stopped. It wasn’t what I had expected. This whole night was not what I had expected. I never once thought I would want to say yes to anyone I met tonight.

“If you’re busy tomorrow we can make it another night,” he said, reaching over to play with a button on his jacket.

I forgot I was wearing it and went to slip it off. He stopped me. “Keep it on. I’ll get it off you tomorrow night.”

“I haven’t said yes.”

“Is that a no?”

“No.”

“Then you can give it to me tomorrow night.” He pulled out his mobile and I gave him my number, my stomach fluttering the whole time. What if he didn’t call? But then again, if he wanted his jacket he’d have to.

He held out his bent arm to me, like a true gentleman, and I slipped my hand through it. He walked me down stairs to the doorway. Sally was waiting right out front, ignoring the no parking sign.

I let his arm go and turned toward him. “I guess this is goodbye.”

“Goodnight, Bianca, it was a pleasure to meet you. I’m glad Sally made you come.”

So was I.

He leaned in and placed a small, soft kiss on my lips. Desire spread through me and I sunk into him, sliding my hand around his neck to pull him closer, kissing him deeper. When he pulled away, I kept my eyes closed, savouring the moment. It had been a long time since I had been kissed, and I had never been kissed like that, had never been left so breathless.

Ben was smiling at me when I opened my eyes and I smiled back, biting my lip. We said goodbye and then I practically bounced to the car, my feet feeling light.

Sally had a huge smile on her face when I hopped into the front seat. “You’re finally getting back on the horse.” My smile mirrored hers as I held down a sequel. “Just make sure you give him a good ride,” she added, waggling her eyebrows.

I gasped with half-hearted horror and slapped her arm. She just laughed and I shook my head at her. As she started the car, I snuggled into Ben’s jacket and his scent surrounded me. I leaned my head against the window and closed my eyes, drifting back into the memory of Ben’s lips.

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