An hour later…
We landed at a hotel bar on the busiest street in the city’s historic district. It was similar to the last one we had been to in WoodPine City Market, and the one before that in Atwood Stadium, from what I could see; but according to Amir, they each had something special that set them apart from the others, and kept people coming back week-after-week. So our objective for the night was to figure out what that ‘special thing’ was.
This game of Bar Night Investigator was research for his newest business venture, an industrial themed cocktail bar in East Atwood, but doubled as date night for us too—part of it anyway. And since the grand opening was only weeks away, he was working overtime, all the time, on the business side of things—including market research—even when we were together.
“What you think about those lights over there?” He pointed at the gold-plated sconces layering the wall near the entrance.
But I didn’t mind. I loved hearing all about this thing he was so passionate about—especially since getting him to talk about anything outside of us, especially family stuff, was like trying to ride the escalator’s railing at the mall, backwards, with nothing but leggings and flip flops on, without breaking so much as a fingernail—not something I’d recommend, by the way.
On top of that, I had fun playing his consultant on these things, and seeing my input influence his decisions, especially when they made the final cut.
“I like the gold. They remind me of fairy lights; the way they’re lining the wall like that.” I traced the air with my finger, following their pattern. “Gives me a backyard patio feel.”
“Fairy lights…” He nodded, staring off into space, like he was visualizing the same set-up I was. “I like that.”
Besides, he always made up for his busyness with little surprises like last week’s rose bouquet for when he canceled on me last minute, and sometimes bigger, more expensive ones like this tennis bracelet for something he did before that, and then there were the… other things where… he…
He was just… really, really good at making up for stuff.
“Let’s play a game,” he said, giving us a small break from work.
And getting me to do things I usually wouldn’t with all these games he always had up his sleeve.
“What kind of game?”
Things that were definitely worthy of a few side-eyes, especially when done in places like… his car at the drive-in movie theater or the balcony of his fourth floor condo, but us being seated across from each other, in this tiny booth, with full-visibility to everyone, didn’t leave a whole lot of options for his usual brand of trouble, so what was he up to?
“Observations,” he said, directing my attention to a couple near the bar across from us. “Tryna guess what they talking ’bout.”
People watching? That’s… not what I would’ve guessed, but okay.
“How would we decide who won though?”
“By whoever’s right ’bout what they do when they done.”
That sounded easy enough, but I knew better than to fall for that, especially since his hand had been under the table, caressing my thigh since we sat down, possible witnesses and all. There had to be more to it than that.
“So what do I get if I win?”
“Whatever you want.”
But those words—such beautiful words, especially coming from his mouth—were hard to turn down. Getting me everything on my Sephora Loves list though, was a pretty big prize for such a simple objective, and only furthered my suspicion.
“And what do you get if you win?”
He sipped his drink, that one smirk that preceded every questionable thing we’ve ever gotten into, seated on the rim of his glass. “Everything I want.”
And those words were dangerous, especially coming from his mouth.
But a year’s worth of body wash, lotion, and lip gloss was on the line, so I was playing and winning. He could smirk all he wanted.
“I’ll go first.”
I zeroed in on the couple, taking stock of the entire scene, from their body language to their facial expressions to whatever else I could see. And the first thing I noticed was how they were standing, even though there was ample seating nearby. Next was his face, his super cheesy smile specifically. Then her and her constant hair twirling. Even from where I was sitting, I could tell he was doing most of the talking, but it wasn’t boring her; her eyes were just over his shoulder because the group of women at the end of the bar were watching them.
Based on this evidence, I’d say they weren’t a couple at all, and that the drink sitting next to her was his treat in exchange for getting to know her. That’s why they weren’t sitting; she didn’t know if she liked him or not—not yet, but all the bragging he was doing was going to win her over. So in a few minutes, she’d probably give her friends over there, some kind of I’m-okay signal, and either follow him to one of the empty booths where the real conversation would take place, or if his game was that good, up to his pre-booked hotel room.
I reported my findings to Amir, and we agreed on everything, but since I went first, that made me the provisional winner—so long as the ‘couple’s’ interaction ended in one of the two ways I predicted.
And since I knew it would, I had the dollar amount of my Sephora order ready to present, but for absolutely no reason he said, “Why you think he’s bragging though?”
Opening the ‘winner’ title back up for discussion.
I was over this game at this point, and more concerned with getting an ETA on my skincare stuff than discussing the why behind men only being able to impress women with money, status, dick—and yes, I do realize the irony in this statement, but it was different with us—so I said, “‘Cause y’all are always bragging.”
Which only opened up a new can of worms because he said, “I didn’t brag with you.”
And while that was technically true, his jewelry was loud enough to do it for him. Besides, he was too busy committing other crimes that were way worse than flaunting his money in my face.
“That’s ’cause you were hitting me with all those corny ass lines instead.” I said, recounting the aforementioned crimes from that night.
The night in question, when all this law-breaking took place, was a few months ago when we first met, at a bar, just like this one—sans the hotel rooms. I noticed him as soon as we walked in the door, and my immediate impression was that he liked attention, and had no trouble getting it. I was used to those types, and a long-term relationship with one of them made me an expert at scoping out those traits.
“Nah.” He laughed at my impression of him. “That was just research.”
“So now it’s research?”
When he sat down at my table, I thought for sure he’d tell me about his job, or his car, or the price of his watch—like every other guy who tried to hit—but he didn’t. And he was cute, and I was kind of drunk, and kind of horny, so I gave him a pass for all those outdated pick-up lines he dropped on me.
“That’s what it’s always been,” he said. “Me tryna see what you like.”
“And what do I like then?”
Okay, I know I said I wanted out of this game, and asking him that was like hitting a U-turn at the exit, but I couldn’t help it. I was curious.
“A few things,” he said. “Touches for sure.” With that under-the-table hand sliding up just enough to make my leg twitch, proving his point. “Compliments and shit like that too. But those the small ones. Your big thing…” He reclined in his seat, his favorite I-know-something-you-don’t-know smile taunting me. “Nah. Never mind.”
Never mind? What do you mean never mind? You can’t just drop some top-secret sounding words on me then dismiss it with a never mind!
“What?” I said, all anxious-like as if whatever he was about to say was imperative to my well-being.
It wasn’t, of course, but I wanted to know!
He shook his head, completely ignoring the legitimate urgency in my voice. “Nothing.”
“What?” I said again, my curiosity growing into frustration. “Tell me!”
“Nah. You not ready to hear it.”
Not ready to hear it? Here we go with that again…
He was always doing stuff like this—and I fucking hated it. It’s like he would let me get close to things, just to keep them from me. And by things, I didn’t mean in the physical sense like the Sephora stuff, the jewelry, the dinners, the flowers, and all the other ways he spent money on me. Those things he’d give me, easily—with no problem. Stuff I didn’t even ask for or expect in any kind of way; he was always giving those to me, completely unprompted. But the things I’m talking about, things like… feelings… specifically in the form of words—the stuff I actually did ask for? That shit was off-the-table.
My questions were always off-the-table.
“Whatever. I don’t even care anymore.”
And I knew this situation wasn’t that big of a deal; probably just another level in this stupid game or something, but him choosing not to tell me yet another thing… just reminded me of all the other things he wouldn’t tell me.
“You mad now?” he said as if my frowned-up face, tightly folded arms, and refusal to look at him wasn’t proof enough.
“No,” I said, despite my demeanor.
I was, obviously. And even though I knew why I was, I still felt kind of… conflicted for being mad in the first place. I mean, it’s not like none of this was new. He had been like this since the beginning. But I guess I just thought… it was because of the rules and stuff we had in place back then, and that he would… change once we got… together-together.
But I guess I was wrong about that.
He reached across the table, his hand extended for mine. “Come here.”
“I don’t want to,” I said, keeping my arms, especially my hands, close to my chest.
“You can’t sit with me for two minutes?”
I rolled my eyes at him acting like we were on opposite sides of the room. “I’m literally sitting across from you.”
When he realized I was serious about not coming over to him, he pulled himself up from the table, letting out a loud-enough-for-me-to-hear sigh before joining me on my side.
He’s really gonna act like I’m getting on his nerves?
“Why you always mad with me?” he said, trying to squeeze into the small one-seater; exaggerating as usual.
I wasn’t mad nearly as much as he made it seem, but if that was how he felt, maybe he shouldn’t have always been doing things that always gave me reasons to be mad all the time.
“Why are you always being so dramatic?”
Despite him trying all kinds of ways to get in my seat, I remained in my spot, my body as stiff as my dad’s overly-starched jeans. But one unexpected nudge on his part knocked me right out of place, allowing him to slide in—barely.
I swear I hate him so much.
We may have been squished together like sardines or whatever, but my arms were staying folded, and my eyes nowhere near his direction.
“I’m dramatic?” he said, his words all stressed out like there was some mistruth to what I said. “But you the one sitting over here pouting and shit like somebody did something to you.”
Forget what I said earlier. I wasn’t conflicted anymore. He definitely deserved this attitude.
And by this attitude, I meant me ignoring his ass—and if his response to me not answering his calls, or texts the minute they came through were any indication of how he felt about that kind of stuff—he wouldn’t be able to handle it.
I lifted my glass, my eyes straight ahead, as I took the longest, quietest, most ignoring-the-man-sitting-next-to-you-ist sip of my drink. I didn’t even like vodka like that, and only ordered it because tequila takes me out, and I was not trying to fall asleep on our date, but knowing he was losing his shit was worth a mouthful of spicy grapefruit water.
Right around the two-minute mark, he broke his silence, saying something, whispering it directly in my ear, but my ability to comprehend any of his words was disabled until he said something worthy of hearing; something along the lines of… I was wrong, or I’m dumb— I’d even settle for I need to do better as a boyfriend by not closing you out and being honest about my feelings and the other things going on in my life. So until then, I was officially non-fluent in the Language of Amir.
I swallowed back the first disgusting sip, and as I tilted my glass for another round of Silent Treatment Sipping, he gave in, the floodgates of much-deserved apologies flying wide open, drenching my side of the seat in a non-stop stream of I’m sorrys.
“I’m sorry. Okay?” he said for like the thirtieth time, unloosening my arms like they were the keepers of my anger or something.
I wasn’t ready to forgive him yet, but I let them fall to my sides anyway—a decision he wasted no time taking advantage of. He played his apology tune in my ear, once again, slipping an arm around me, pulling me in for one of those please-stop-being-mad-at-me hugs I had been receiving a lot of lately.
“What exactly are you sorry for?” I tested the sincerity of his words.
And he responded quickly and accurately. “For not answering your question. Right?”
I guess he really was listening last time.
I gave a slow but affirming nod. “Right.” Looking up at him for the first time since he said those God-forsaken words, my head rested against his chest as my arms wrapped a little tighter around him.
He looked back at me, a hopeful smile on his face. “So you forgive me now?”
And it made me realize that… I was being too hard on him. I mean, it’s not like we were talking about anything important anyway. And he did apologize on top of acknowledging why he was apologizing in the first place.
He had never done that before.
So that meant there was some kind of understanding there—progress even, right? Which meant it would only get better, right?
So I was just being too pushy, impatient— I know I could be impatient sometimes… most times… all the time; when all he really needed was time.
And since everything else was good— no, amazing, I could give him time… and tonight, forgiveness.
Noticed the change in format? More words, less pics? This is how the story will be posted from this point on. Long story short, I love this story and all the time I’ve spent working on it and everything else I’ve done for the sims, but I have a lot of other writing projects (and corresponding goals) planned for the future that I’d also like to give my attention to. Spending less time doing things in game for pics means more time writing, more story content for y’all, AND more practice with my prose and all the other stuff that goes into making good stories. I hope y’all still enjoy it, changes and all, and as always, thank you for your support!
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