The party was only one day away… and the nerves were getting to you.
You'd spent most of the day emailing back and forth with attendees, trying your best to accommodate their individual needs for the event. Some were slow to reply, and a few had declined your invitation altogether. The thoughts of no one showing up to the party, of letting down the RFA, bombarded your mind. You'd worked so hard for this, and more than anything wanted to be liked and appreciated by your new friends. Even if the party was a success, though, what if you embarrassed yourself when meeting them for the first time? It was so much easier to be charming and witty through a messenger where you had time to consider your responses…
Out of habit, you checked the app again but no one was online. You groaned and tossed your phone across the bed, feeling bored and stir-crazy. It was still too early to go to sleep but if you sat there alone with your thoughts for another minute you would go insane.
You needed to get out of that goddamn apartment.
You needed a drink.
The red dress was your favorite. You looked in the mirror feeling much more confident and sure of yourself than a few hours before. Maybe going out would help clear your head and release your nerves. You grabbed your phone and headed out the door, searching for a nearby bar. The screen flickered a few times and you cursed until the search results finally loaded, revealing the closest option, less than a block away.
Within minutes you found yourself stepping into the strange establishment. It was fairly crowded and the music was loud enough to envelop you, muffling your thoughts. By the time you finished your first drink, you could already feel yourself unwinding. You leaned your head back and sighed contentedly at the warm fuzzy feeling running through you, eyes closed and a smile on your lips.
“Vodka cranberry,” you opened your eyes to see the cocktail waitress setting a replica of your last drink on the table. “Courtesy of that guy with the white hair.” She pointed and you turned to follow her gaze. He wasn’t hard to spot. Leaning against the wall, away from the crowd, was a young man with white fringe hair and a leather jacket… staring at you. He smiled, so subtly that you could have missed it, then walked a few steps forward to the side exit, pausing to tilt his head as an invitation, before stepping outside.
Did he… want you to follow him? All things considered, that was a little strange and probably not the wisest option, but the curiosity was biting at you… and the alcohol was weakening your inhibitions. You picked up the drink and crossed the bar to the side exit, stepping out into the cool darkness. The side of the building was lit only by remnants of street light and the clouded moon.
“You came.” His voice came from your left. You turned to see him sitting on a set of concrete steps a little ways down from the door.
“Yeah, I uh-” you walked closer to join him. “I was curious… how did you know my favorite drink?” You sat next to him - not too close, this was still a stranger after all - and took in the rest of his appearance, most notably his tattoo, the soft pink streaks in his hair, and his intriguing eyes… an unnatural mint color.
“I’m good at reading people, you could say.” The man looked up and down your face, as if he were reading it right now, and self-consciously you looked down. “Also vodka cranberry is the only red drink they serve here in that kind of glass.” He chuckled and you breathed out a soft laugh, meeting his eyes again. "I'm Ray," he offered.
You raised your drink a little as if to toast him. "MC," you said, smiling shyly over your glass. There was something so intriguing about him… maybe it was his steady and calming voice, or the way his gaze lured you in... Talking with Ray made your heart race in a way it never had with the RFA boys. But maybe that was just the thrill of flirting in person rather than over an app.
“What about you? What’s your favorite drink?” You asked, hoping to get to know him better.
“Well...” You took another sip of your drink as he considered your question. “My poison of choice isn’t exactly something you’d find in a bar.”
You wondered for a moment what he meant and then realized something. “Wait, then why are you here in the first place?”
Ray smiled. “For the people watching, of course. Although, tonight, one person in particular stole away most of my attention,” he said with a smirk that made you blush. “You see... alcohol does funny things to people. It gives them permission to embrace their true nature… to break free from society’s training and do whatever the hell they feel like.”
You’re not sure when or how he had moved closer but suddenly you became very aware of it. You could smell his cologne… see his individual eyelashes as his eyes held to yours.
"And I like to see what people choose to do... with that freedom." His eyes strayed downward for a moment. He wet his lips before returning your gaze and smiling.
Maybe it was his words or the drinks or both, but something in you said “fuck it” and pushed you forward. Ray met your kiss expectantly and eagerly returned it, sending a wave of blissful feelings throughout your chest and into your stomach. The rush of being noticed, being chosen, being wanted by a stranger filled such a deep part of you that you'd scarcely ever noticed it. You felt his hand come up to cradle the side of your head, pulling you closer. You were getting lost in the kiss, the world around you fading from existence - until it suddenly came screaming back as a sharp pain entered your neck.
You gasped in discomfort as Ray pulled a syringe from your skin, his fingers on the opposite side of your head digging in aggressively.
You forced your eyes open in a panic to see him smiling far more wickedly than before. “Alcohol also tends to make people do incredibly stupid things.”
As the world went dark, the last thing you heard was the drink glass shattering on concrete.