Game Night


(inspired by “Assassin” by John Mayer)

a short story by Kelsey Kingsley

Which one’s it gonna be tonight?

With my back to the bar, bottle of beer in my hand, I surveyed the dance floor. A bouncing, gyrating gaggle of hormones, hair, and heels. Both men and women, equally horny and equally desperate, rubbing up on each other with hopes of taking home their living stripper pole, or perhaps someone else entirely—it didn’t matter. They all had the same idea in mind: to fill their would-be lonely weekend in the arms and bed of an almost-perfect stranger.

Or maybe that was just me and the twisted thought process that encompassed my brain when in that scenario. It was my typical Saturday night, or as I liked to call it, Game Night.

My eyes shifted from one girl to another, avoiding eye contact with familiar faces and trying to catch the desires of those I didn’t recognize from previous nights. There was more familiarity tonight than usual, and just as I was beginning to regret not choosing a different club, my gaze landed on a thin girl with the shiniest black hair I think I had ever seen. It reflected the lights like patent leather, perfectly matching her strappy heels. Crossing over her calves like lattice and fishnet. Her hips swirled in time with those of her friends while they laughed and shouted at each other over the bumping music.


I made my decision, and I headed over.

Once my presence was known at her side, she turned to the group of girls she was with and giggled before bringing her attention back to me. I met her smile with my own, and I knew she was at the very least interested. No—more than interested, I decided as she dragged her teeth over her bottom lip. Eyeing me from the bottom to the top.

“This might sound corny as hell, but you are the most gorgeous girl here tonight,” I yelled, knowing the music would have brought my tone down to a more acceptable volume.

With a flip of her glossy, black hair and a deeper flush of her already rosy cheeks, I knew she was as good as mine for the night. They always fell for the compliments.

“Can I buy you a drink?” I shouted, resting a hand low on her back, boldly grazing the tips of my fingers along the top of her ass.

She turned to her friends as if to ask their permission. They all shouted at her to “oh my God, just go,” and with that, she smiled and agreed to have a drink with me. I took her hand, making sure our fingers didn’t interlock as that always seemed too intimate, misleading even, and I led her back to where I had been standing at the bar.

She ordered the typical colorful, fruity cocktail of something-or-other, and although my eyes wanted to roll at her play into a stereotype, I resisted the urge. I was there to charm her and get my rocks off, not criticize her lack of self and creativity.

While we waited, she managed to slur some sentences over the music. Her name was Mandy, because of course it was, and she was on Spring Break, because of course she was. She and her friends had decided to go clubbing before heading home to see their respective families.

The bartender put her drink down and took the bills from my hand.
Mandy thanked me before daintily taking a sip through her stir-straw.

“So, Mandy, what do you have planned for the rest of the night?” I asked coyly, gently brushing a strand of her hair out of her face.

“I was going to hang out with my friends at the dorm, but I guess I found something else to do.”

She grinned up at me with playful eyes before taking another gulp of her pink-colored drink. She excused herself a little brashly by telling me she needed to take a piss before we left, and I watched as she teetered away on unsteady legs to what I assumed was the ladies’ room.

I waited for Mandy to return, double-checking my wallet to make sure I had remembered my best friend Trojan but knowing I always did. The night had already felt like a victory, a successful Game Night, and then …

She approached. A honey-haired porcelain dream wearing a slinky, black dress and high heels that could have convinced me that her legs really did go on for miles. The straps of her dress had slid down her arms just a tad, giving her tits the freedom to bop around as she walked towards the bar.

With her forearms leaning against the glass surface, she made eye contact with me. Gemstone eyes the color of emeralds pierced into the dull brown of my own and she flashed me a stunning set of teeth.

“Wow,” she breathed. “There’s a ton of guys here tonight, but you are seriously the sexiest I have seen.”

Her breath was sweet and fresh, and the scent seemed to envelope me away from the heavy smell of cologne and sweat that always soiled the club air. I smiled at the compliment and thanked her for saying so. I had often received compliments from drunken women, but rarely from those as sober and as beautiful as her.

“Can I buy you a drink?”

I have to admit, I was a bit taken aback by her offer and I suppose my expression had suggested as much. She laughed and asked if something was wrong.

“W-well, um, it’s just that I’m not used to women asking,” I stammered, surprised by my sudden lack of charisma.

She leaned in to my ear, lips just barely touching the sensitive flesh of my lobe. “Well, I’m not like most women.”

Chills trickled down the length of my spine, branching out through every nerve in my body. She took a step back, a smile playing across her glossy lips. God, she was sexy in every definition of the word, far more than any other woman I had ever seen in that club or any other. Confident. Self-assured. I had to wonder if I stood a chance, if the challenge was worth the possible hit to my ego.

But, I reminded myself, she approached me. She showed an interest first.

With a quick nod of my head, I accepted her offer to buy me a beer. “Why the hell not?”

Just as the bartender handed me my second drink, I spotted out of the corner of my eye a very disheveled Mandy being led by a friend towards the door. I had to breathe a sigh of relief that I dodged that close call.

“I could run after her if you want,” She shouted, fighting back a teasing grin. “You can help wash the puke from her hair.”

Before tipping the bottle into my mouth, I mumbled a “no, thank you.” Placing the amber glass on the bar’s surface, I looked down at its neck and reminisced on nights where I would have been disappointed by an escaped drunken prospect. All of that work for naught. A wasted Saturday, a blown Game Night. But there I was, feeling alive with a sense of relief. I wondered if I was bored. I had never stopped long enough to ask myself the question. Was I too old for this crap? I was after all approaching my late-30s at an ever-increasing speed and I had spent nearly every weekend for the better part of fifteen years doing more or less the same thing. Different girl, different bed, but all said and done, it had become redundant.

“You don’t seem too disappointed.”

She was still there, pulling me from my momentary mental hiatus. I turned to look into her jewel-toned eyes, finding myself lost in the sea of green. If I had a nickel for every woman that ever made me feel so entranced, I would be an incredibly poor man with a single nickel to his name, but dammit, how lucky was I to be standing there with her.

And I decided to go for it. Make my move. Go in for the kill.

“Well,” I said, straightening my spine and gathering every iota of confidence I possessed, “I might have been if you hadn’t come over here and shown me who I would rather spend my night with.”

Her eyes widened, impressed with my straight-forward approach, but there wasn’t the noticeable flush to her cheeks that I had grown accustomed to over the years. No, she simply smiled, and reached towards the bar to take my hand. Her fingers went to intertwine with mine, but not ready to take that step, I nimbly averted my digits to wrap around her palm. My feet seemed to have a mind of their own as she began to pull me away from the bar.

Before I had the chance to ask where we were going, she shouted over the music, “Let’s get out of here.”

We pushed past the bouncer and onto the sidewalk. Cars whizzed by, taxis honked their horns, passers-by talked amongst themselves and on their phones, and I wondered if it was much quieter out on the street than in the club.

“So,” she said, teasing the buttons on my shirt with the tips of her fingers. “Where would you like to go?”

My lips stretched into a smile. “Did you have somewhere in mind?”

I loved playing the game, but like all games, there were rules. Number one on that list was that they were never to see where I lived. Nobody was ever allowed to get that close to me, move that far into my center of vulnerability. Number two was to never stay overnight, and number three was to never get attached. I kept my distance at all costs, and I never got hurt. They never knew my name, and I never knew theirs. No way to trace me back to them or them back to me.

“There’s a coffee shop right around the corner from here if you wanted to sit and talk for a while. Unless …” Her fingers left the buttons and nimbly moved their way down to the belt loops of my jeans. She took me by surprise by pulling me forward, nearly knocking me off my feet as she pressed her pillow-plump lips against mine. Her tongue darted out and engulfed my mouth with the length. She was bold and brazen, not at all what I was used to, but she breathed an excitement into me that I felt myself growing intoxicated with.

I had to break my rules and get to know her a little better.

Just a little. Just this once.

We walked to the coffee shop, her arm coiled around mine, ensuring that I was hers for the evening. We laughed about my close-call with the drunk college girl, whose name already escaped me. I didn’t dare mention to her that I had slept with what could have been hundreds of drunk college girls, but something told me she already knew. A silent understanding, and a possible acceptance of something I couldn’t even begin to imagine explaining to anybody else.

Once we entered the dimly lit shop, we ordered our coffee from the beret-wearing, body-modified young lady behind the counter. Her eyes judged me as if she knew what the night was originally all about, as if she knew I had never done this before.

Coffee. Conversation.

It was all new. All foreign.

Finally escaping the scrutinizing stare of the bereted barista, we took our steaming mugs of overpriced coffee to a table in the corner, and I pulled her chair out. That enticing enigma deserved all of the politeness I could muster, even if it was a dance along uncharted territory. She smoothed her dress down before sitting herself back, and I waited for her to get situated before rounding the table and sitting myself down in front of her.

My intention was never to ignore the cup of coffee or to watch the pucker of her lips every time she took a sip of hers. I didn’t mean to trip and fall into every word she spoke or drown out the ticking of the clock with the sound of her voice, but every touch of her slender hand on my arm brought me further under her spell. Every gaze into my eyes sent me further into whatever the hell it was I was feeling. A sorceress of the modern kind and I was bewitched in every sense of the word.

By the time my coffee was cold and hers had disappeared, I’d learned that we both found our favorite band in Dave Matthews Band. We both enjoyed the character development and surprise of Breaking Bad, but we preferred Better Call Saul as a whole. We were both middle children, sandwiched between an older sister and a younger brother. Both victims of divorced parents. Both stuck in the rat race, both unsure of what we really wanted from our lives, while feeling too old to start fresh. The similarities were uncanny, and the more we talked, the more I found myself convinced that this meeting was perhaps written in the stars. Two lost souls destined to find each other in the frenzied entanglement of life, if only for a night.

But … was it only for a night? I caught myself wondering after I revealed my favorite movie only to find it was also hers, but I could only allow it to be a fleeting thought and it was forced from my mind as quickly as it had entered. While I was perhaps growing tired of the usual weekend activities, I was also fairly certain I couldn’t possibly be a monogamous man, tied to one woman for all of eternity. No matter how many similarities, no matter how beautiful.

But, my reluctant brain told me, there was a first time for everything.

“Should we go back to your place?”

The question snapped back at me unexpectedly and I sat there, stunned, like a mouse in a spring-loaded trap. The cheese had been too good to notice that it was all a set-up, all a ploy to catch me off-guard. A single finger traced circles along my forearm, back and forth from elbow to wrist. She curved her bottom lip into something close to being a pout and her eyes pleaded with me, just begging me to show her the most private parts of my life. My willpower trembled under the weight of her confessions and beauty, and I caved.

“My place isn’t far from here,” I said with what I hoped was an undetectable touch of unwillingness. I stood on unsteady legs and took her hand, easing her out of her chair and onto her heeled feet. “Maybe we should take a cab. Those look uncomfortable.”

The gesture was worthy of a small kiss on the cheek. We walked outside, and I hailed a taxi. When one finally pulled up to the curb, after a moment of torturous second-guessing, we climbed inside, and I gave the driver my address. All the while my inner voice screamed expletives at me, demanding to know what the fuck I was doing and where the hell my senses went. He yelled for me to stop, think about it, get the fuck out of that cab and into the comforts of my solitude. But … it was too late to turn back now, as the driver began the four block journey to my apartment. She held onto my arm and leaned into my body with her head on my shoulder. One of her hands found mine and before I realized what was happening, our fingers interlaced. My breath caught in the confines of my throat. The act was more intimate than I had remembered. They ran together like puzzle pieces sliding into place, and I cringed uncomfortably at the sudden fullness in my chest cavity.

The cab came to an abrupt stop outside of my place. I paid the man, thanking him for his services, and we exited the car. My hand fished for my keys, silently begging for them to have gone suddenly missing, but they were found exactly where I had left them. I pulled them from my pocket and fumbled through the ring for the one that would open the door to the stairs that would lead up to my apartment. She didn’t waste one impatient second as she wrapped her arms around my waist. Her lips went for my ear lobe, nibbling gently until my reluctant stumbling gradually turned into frenzied desperation.

With the key found and the door opened, we ascended the dark stairwell to the heavy door of my abode. I had wisely held that key aside, as to not waste any more time, and I slid it into the lock with ease. A smooth glide, metal against metal. There was something strangely erotic about it, a taste of things to come, and I pushed the door open to give her a full view of what I had been hiding from countless others. Of course she didn’t realize it was a cavern of secrets, but I knew all too well and my heart thudded with every step she took into the darkness of the room.

I flipped a switch and seemed to watch in slow motion as the room was flooded with light. Every one of my belongings, illuminated in the warm glow radiating from the bulb. I prayed that we could just take our evening to my bedroom and close the door behind us, to guard all my records and pictures and books from her prying eyes. But she had other plans as she gave herself the tour, making sure to touch the edges of frames and album covers. Making her mark, leaving her scent. Never once did the smile leave her face, and never once did the nauseating excitement leave the pit of my stomach.

Her trip around the room had been completed and she eased herself back on the couch, crossing her long legs, one over the other. I took that as an invitation to sit beside her and I walked over from my position at the door. She stopped me before I had the chance to lower myself and asked for a drink, wine if I had it. Not being much of a wine drinker, I started to tell her that I didn’t think I had any, but I stopped myself, remembering the bottle on top of the fridge.

“My mom sent this home with me on Christmas. My step-father is a bit of a drinker and she doesn’t like to keep alcohol in the house.” The words just poured out of my mouth against my will as I hurried into the kitchen and reached for the bottle of Pinot, blowing any dust from the bottle. To add to the list of mind-fucking coincidences, she confessed that her step-father was an alcoholic in and out of AA meetings.

Not owning any wine glasses, myself, I regretfully settled for a couple plastic Solo cups. We laughed warmly at the amount of class my apartment possessed as we toasted to the night and our serendipitous meeting before gulping back the lightly sweetened drink.

Placing her cup down on the curbside coffee table, she stood and slowly curled her fingers under the hem of her dress, gracefully pulling it over her body in one swift movement. She cast the garment aside, and I watched as it drifted to the floor, mesmerized by the fluttering black material, suddenly too shy to look directly at the breasts that stood directly in front of me. The dress landed in a heap near the door, the only exit to ending it all, and I turned to her and thought about asking her to leave. But then I saw her, really saw her, standing before me in nothing but a little black thong. My hands, suddenly working against my better judgment, reached forward and around her, gripping her from behind and pulling her towards me. My mouth aimed directly for one of her nipples, but her finger under my chin stopped me from meeting my destination.

“Let’s take this slow, okay?”

She spoke a language I hardly understood but I nodded my willingness to learn. With her finger still hooked under my chin, she lured me to my feet and led me like a puppy on a leash to my room.

The door was kept open, streaming a dim light across the bed. She dropped to her knees on the blanketed surface and crawled her way toward the pillows. When she reached the headboard, she turned, leaning against the cushioned surface, and spread her legs. With a hand extended towards me, she motioned for me to come hither, as if I needed an invitation to nestle between those thighs.

Without wasting a single moment of precious time, I stripped of my clothes, tossing them aside with the remainder of my senses and self-control. I clambered to her, easing my weight onto her smaller frame, finding my place there more comfortable than I had expected. Pressed against her soft, paper-smooth skin, surrounded by the aroma of her hair, I felt the foreign but familiar sensation of belonging.

With a display of surprising strength, she pushed me off and onto my back, my body completely exposed to the stagnant air of the room and whatever she had planned. She leaned over, her nipples grazing mine, and she kissed me. A continuation of the one we shared outside of the club hours before. Her fingers travelled further and further downward until they brushed the length of the appendage ever making its presence known to me. I groaned involuntarily, and she giggled into my mouth, a devilish little laugh that suggested she had no intentions of satisfying my hunger.

My suspicions were proven accurate and her fingers flitted away, back over my stomach and my chest. Her hand settled on my cheek, holding my face as lovers would do. She broke the kiss, her lips smiling against mine. I had to open my eyes, to see her perfect smile in the glow of the living room light. The thought entered my mind that she had to be an angel. It was the only explanation for why I would be feeling this way, why I would allow her back to my home, why I felt a strange comfort in her arms, why I hadn’t the slightest problem with her taking the reins. She giggled again, looking down at me with her emerald eyes, and I asked what was so funny.

With my face still in her hands, she kissed me softly with lips crafted from the finest of cotton, and she whispered, “Nothing.”

Oh God, the moment was romantic. My thoughts faltered, teetering away from the act at hand, and I questioned again what exactly was happening. Once more I toyed with the idea of asking her to leave. My hands were quite skilled on their own and I was more than capable of pleasing myself. I lingered on the thought for only a second before she wrapped her hand around my erection, and I remembered I wasn’t in charge of making decisions.

As if she could read the process of my mind, there wasn’t any teasing. There wasn’t any taunting. There was only an ambitious need to bring me to the edge as she tightened her grip and rubbed vigorously. Feeling the need to reciprocate, I inched my fingers towards the crotch of her thong, seeking out that special little spot I knew she wanted touched, but she moved away. I groaned, she giggled, and she continued to stroke. All I could do was close my eyes and enjoy the building passion in my loins.

She had hurled me towards the cliff, and then slowed her momentum to a complete stop, leaving me dangling by my fingertips on the rocky crag. I snapped my eyes open, ready to ask her in my desperation if something was wrong, but I found there was no need. She had turned around, her perfectly molded ass facing me. Her thumbs had hooked under the skinny sides of the thong and she slowly pulled them down, bending as she went, revealing everything to my watching eyes. Turning again to face me, I discovered that the playful romance in her eyes had been wiped clean to make way for an intensity that made me throb with anticipation.

Lying back against the pillows beside me, she took one of my hands, bringing the pointer finger to her mouth. She sucked deeply, moaning, before bringing the finger to her nipple. I felt the hard pebble-sized nubbin under the pad of my wet fingertip as she manipulated my hand to trace circles around it, round and round, before bringing it back to her mouth. This time I groaned, only guessing where it would go next. She brought it down to the opposite nipple and performed the same treatment. That time I boldly took my chances on craning my neck to the nipple my finger had just been on, and I was pleased to find she didn’t push me away when I slipped it between my lips, rolling it around on my tongue. My ego rose a notch when she arched her back, and again when she moaned expletives into the air, but nothing inflated my head quite as much as when she slipped that same finger between her legs. I discovered then just how ready she was for me to seal the deal, to win the game.

I pulled my hand from her, prying the control from her grasp as I clambered to my position between her thighs. I knelt before her, looking down upon her splayed out body. The rise and fall of her heaving breasts, the fanned-out honey hair on my pillows, the long legs spread on either side of my body. Her pouty lips were parted, moist from the lick of her tongue, while her eyes gazed up at me, as feverish as my own.

I reached into the drawer of my night table and pulled out a condom, hastily ripping it open. I readied it, and just as I was about to roll it down, she sat and did the deed for me. Slowly, taking her time to rub over the entire length of my erection as she covered me. My eyes closed, groaning at a sensation that had always felt so mundane, and I could only imagine how incredible it would feel to be inside her.

She found her place on the bed again, making herself comfortable. My eagerness had turned into impatience and I took my aim, positioning myself directly at her entrance. I steadied myself with my arms on either side of her, prepared to make a well-practiced plunge to fill her entirely, and just as the tip entered her, she squeezed her knees against my hips.

“Remember, baby, slow,” she whispered but her voice seemed to echo throughout the room. A commanding boom of a hushed voice, and I had no choice but to listen.

Inch by painful inch, I lowered myself into her and backed myself out, teasing us both with my length, until our bodies finally met. With the entirety buried, she wrapped her legs around my waist, holding me against her. I had never felt something so warm, so complete, before in my life. Her body shuddered against me, moaning her satisfaction.

And suddenly, in that moment, it was no longer about the pleasure. It was no longer about my needs. It was no longer about the game. It was about us and the flame that flickered between us, growing into something rivaling a brush fire.

She was everything I never realized I could ever want, but there she was.

I knew then that I had to make an attempt at being a monogamous man. I suppose I had known earlier that night, when I had bravely acknowledged the old repetition that had become my life, but I hadn’t known it would all be because of her. This beauty that encouraged me to reveal the depths of my soul. I knew I had to hold onto her with every ounce of my being, and there was no time like the present.


The sun poured into the room I had left dark when I’d closed my eyes. I hardly recognized where I was for a split second, disoriented by the woman sleeping against me, but then I remembered. How could I not remember the woman who had changed something in me? I smiled, feeling her hair, taking in the softness as I brushed with my fingers. I felt her face twitch against my chest, a smile forming across her lips.

“Good morning,” she whispered, gazing up at me through her stained-glass eyes.

Her beauty was amplified in the morning light, I realized, and as cliché as it may be, she pulled the breath from my lungs. I pressed my lips against the smooth skin of her forehead, looking forward to the rest of the mornings I could spend doing the same. I asked if she was hungry, if she’d like to get breakfast, if she wanted to just spend the rest of the day in bed. I hoped she would jump at option number three, but she just laughed and told me she needed to use the bathroom.

I watched her crawl out of the bed and I watched some more as she slid her thong up her legs, captivated by the way the sunlight danced over her milky skin. My eyes followed her toward the door of the bedroom and before she could leave, I stopped her.

“Wait,” I said, sitting upright.

She turned, her eyes wide and startled, as though I had just caught her doing something naughty. I smiled at her innocent appearance, knowing just how misleading it was. She asked if something was wrong, and I shook my head, unable to wipe the grin from my face.

“No, I just realized you don’t know my name. It’s Jackson.”

“Jackson,” she repeated. It sounded so much better passing through her lips. So right, as though it were always meant to be there. She smiled sweetly in the sunlight. “It was nice to meet you.”

With a flip of her hair, she walked out of the room and I laid back, feeling weightless as I floated down to the mattress’s surface. I closed my eyes, basking in the new leaf I had turned over. The excitement of potential commitment and the possibilities that it brought along with it. Perhaps getting way too ahead of myself, like a teenage girl lusting over today’s hottest pop star, I envisioned years of monogamy, and dare I say it, marriage. I pictured a potential family I never thought I’d ever see, but there they were in my mind’s eye. Children, beautiful hybrids of her and me. Boys with honey hair, girls with chocolate eyes. I smiled, feeling absolutely absurd with my fantasies but also so happy I hadn’t found someone else. So happy we hadn’t gone back to her place, where I would have left her once she had drifted off to sleep. So happy I got to know her.

So happy she knew my name.

All at once it dawned on me that I never got hers before she padded out of the room, and I eagerly awaited her return to find out. I couldn’t imagine what name could possibly suit someone as beautiful as her, and to pass the time until she crossed the threshold again, I ran through a list of potential names in my mind.

Katherine, Natalie, Elizabeth, Sandra …

Minutes passed. I thought about asking if she was okay, if she needed anything, but I thought better of it.

Hannah, Jessica, Holly, Kelly …

I heard the faintest click from somewhere in the apartment and my anticipation built, certain that what I heard was the sound of the bathroom door closing behind her. I knew she would walk into the room at any moment, and I would ask for her name and for so much more. A date, her number, her hand in marriage.

Lilly, Brianna, Zoe, Sophia …

I sat up in bed and peered out into the apartment to discover it empty. Concerned that something was wrong, I pulled myself from the comforts of my room and my fantasies, and I headed through the apartment to the bathroom. The door had been left wide open, blaringly obvious that the room was vacant. I turned, frantically looking around the space for her, for any sign of her, but it was as though she had vanished.

I ran to the door leading into the hallway, throwing it open. I stepped outside, looking around in an urgent panic. My neighbor, an elderly woman I seldom talked to, gasped, shielding her old eyes with a wrinkled hand. Realizing I had somehow forgotten I was still in the nude, I apologized profusely, cupping myself with a hand, and I asked if she had seen a girl with honey-colored hair and green eyes.

“I only just opened my door, so no, I haven’t seen any girl,” she sputtered through her embarrassment and irritation at seeing my naked body first thing in the morning.

Disheartened, I apologized again, quickly stepping back into the apartment, closing the door behind me. My eyes scanned the room once more, convinced that either she was still there or that I had just imagined her. It would have been possible that I had too much to drink at the bar after my failed rendezvous with the college girl, went home alone, and spent the night with the fantasy of the perfect woman. But, considering that I hadn’t been drunk nor was the mystery woman there, the only reasonable explanation was that I was crazy, and lonely.

God, I had never realized how lonely I was until she entered my life for a fragment of time.

On my way back to my room, determined to continue my dream and find out just who she was, I spotted the Solo cups sitting on the coffee table. There were two of them and I drilled that piece of evidence of her existence into my brain as I dropped my naked ass into the couch. I picked it up, knowing it was hers by the tell-tale lipstick stain on the edge. I turned it over and over in my hands, as though it could whisper to me the secrets of her identity. A name, an address, anything.

In my desperation, it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, she might come back. She knew where I lived, after all. I had suggested breakfast, so maybe she went to pick up bagels. A box of donuts from the bakery down the street. A surprise like that would certainly be nice, a little romantic gesture after the night we had spent together.

I decided that had to be the case. I saw no reason why she would just leave without so much as a “I had a great time” or a “thanks for the wine,” and goddammit, we were perfect together. All of our similarities—they had to mean something.

And so, I allowed my mind to settle with the knowledge that she was coming back. I showered, insisting that she would be knocking on the door at any moment. I brushed my teeth with visions of her tousled, honey hair and her mile-long legs clouding my view of the medicine cabinet mirror. I tossed out the Solo cups, allowing my thumb to rub against the lipstick stain before dropping it into the garbage can, and I waited for her to return with coffee, donuts, bagels. I got dressed, made the bed, returned the bottle of Pinot to the top of the fridge and finally turned on the TV, still waiting for her to grace my door with her silhouette.

Four and a half hours later, I’d consumed two old movies and a six-pack of beer. With glassy eyes, I turned my gaze from the television to the window, taking note that the sun was beginning its descent upon the busy city. My wishful thinking had taken a hit and I began to accept the reality of the situation: she wasn’t coming back.

It all seemed so unfair at first. I had found the woman. The woman to spend my life with. Someone to take home and meet my family. The woman to finally give my mother the inspiration to get the fuck off my case about “settling down.” I had found the other half to my soul, the one to finally grant me with the comforting sense of completion. I had finally met my match.

And with that, my futile thought process stopped in its tracks.

I had met my match.

It all suddenly seemed so clear to me as my jaw hung slack and my eyes watered, looking out into what seemed to be the most symbolic sunset of my life.

It had all been nothing more than a ruse, and I knew exactly how it all went:
She had seen me with that girl—Mandy was her name. She knew I had been on the prowl, and she had turned the tables on me, seducing me with her unearthly beauty and unexpected confidence just as Mandy was no longer within my grasp. She knew I wouldn’t be able to pass her up for a girl who could barely stand on her own two feet, let alone one who couldn’t hold her liquor, and she’d been right.

All the similarities had never been similarities. She lured my answers out with innocent questions, and she feigned her surprise as she exclaimed, “Oh my God, me too!” Not once had she confessed something first, not once had I asked her a question and not once did I pick up on the “too good to be true” reality of it all.

After she had gotten me excited and convinced that our meeting must have been written in the stars, she caught me off guard with the request to come back to my place. My inner voice knew I was in over my head, but I declined to listen.

Christ, why hadn’t I listened?

A tear rolled through the stubble on my cheek while thoughts of the countless women I had slept with filled my head. How many of them had spent their day wondering when I was coming back with bagels and coffee? How many of them had allowed for fantasies of our unborn children to flutter through their minds? How many of them had laid awake in bed on all those Sunday mornings, running through all of the possible names, wondering if they had landed on the one that was mine?

How many of them woke up alone, wondering how they could have been so goddamn stupid?

Sitting there on my couch, where she had sat the night before, I knew then exactly who she had been. She was karma, my karma. The woman to give me a taste of my own medicine. She was to me what I had been to the dreams and emotions of so many women; a killer.

I no longer wondered what her name had been because I already knew.

Her name was Assassin, and it took one to know one.

© 2018 Kelsey Kingsley