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At the George Hotel

It was good sitting at a bar again on a Sunday night. The George Hotel had only re-opened its doors in April, and until three weeks ago, the bar had been a no-go. She had waited longer than necessary to resume her Sunday nights. She hadn’t wanted to stand out in any memories of the grand re-opening. The George was just a short walk from her current sublease, so this was her one evening to savor. So far, it had been peaceful and quiet, the room third full of colleagues reacquainting themselves with each other fully clothed, and only her at the bar with the socially distant bartender preoccupied with his phone and an ice-filled glass of vodka meant to look like water.

She did not like it when a sweaty manling came in through the hotel doors, rolling a battered suitcase in one hand, the other in a forced grip on his phone at his ear, ruining her moment by yelling as if the phone was just for show. Her head darted around to stare her anger at him. As if such social cues wouldn’t pass right over the head of a short idiot like that.

But as her head turned, she saw the man. He was waiting for the vertical challenge with the cardboard phone. He didn’t notice her because she took care to be unnoticeable. He didn’t know she was entering his details into her mental database. Six feet plus, toned, tanned, hazel eyes, brown hair with a little curl, cheekbones chiseled, good-looking but to her luck not handsome. Mark two-hundred-and-thirty-four was his entry ID.

Because it was meant to be, Mark and the sidekick walked towards the bar. Not to her; he didn’t know she was there yet. She saw his face in the bar mirror as he looked for a seat, saw that he would beg and plead.

Because it was meant to be, they chose to sit at the bar next to her. From old habit and common sense, she had placed herself on the third of five bar stools set three feet apart. That had yet to fail her.

Because it was meant to be, it was he and not Turdy Smalls, who sat down next to her.

“Is it okay if I sit here?” he said in a soft but considerate voice, “We are fully vaccinated.”

She nodded as if that had been a concern of hers. When the bartender came to take their order, she motioned for a refill of her glass. She had all but emptied it by taking one sip every three minutes for the past half an hour to pace herself for the prowl.

Getting his drink, he put both hands around it, and she noticed the wedding band. She smiled, a small smile. Married men were her favorite. So much more at stake than the single ones. So much harder to get to rise to the bait. So much sweeter when they fell from grace. This could turn out to be a good night after all.

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