Chapter 1 - Dance like no one's watching

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A dance floor, the Spice Girls and Penny, my best friend. That was all I needed to make me happy.

This mini-epiphany hit me as I belted out the chorus to 'Spice up your life' in a darkened community hall in Newtown, Sydney. It was the latest dance craze to hit the city - 'Dance like no one's watching.' Basically, you paid $7 to jump around in the dark for an hour while dance tunes pumped out of the speakers.

I could just make out Penny doing some sort of exaggerated salsa move in front of me. To my right, a woman whipped her big curly hair back and forth - I could tell because her hair had whipped against my shoulder a few times - and to my left ...

To my left, the figure of a man was dancing closer. And closer. His hand brushed my arm and I expected him to dance away. Instead, the hand stayed, stroking my elbow.

'Hi ci ya, hold tight!' cried the Spice Girls. The crowd whooped and clapped, anticipating the next song. This guy's hand didn't clap - it moved up my arm. I shivered despite the fact that I felt hot. I didn't know why I wasn't moving away. Who was this guy and why hadn't I told him where to go already?

'Ole ole, ole ole ...' People cheered as the song 'Hot, hot, hot' began. Was this DJ telepathic or something? The heat I felt rose from my belly to my neck and spread to my ears - and this hand kept right on stroking my arm. Was there even a DJ here? Where the hell was this music coming from, anyway?

I also wondered why I'd let this guy's hand make its way to the small of my back. I turned and looked at his silhouette. He was tall, that much I could tell. He was also standing still. I stepped in time to the music as he leaned in to shout something in my ear.

'I can't hear you!' I shouted back.

He laughed and stood back to look at me. Could he see anything? If the lights were on, he would see me in my gym pants, tank top and trainers, my blonde hair scraped back into a lumpy ponytail.

Maybe it was the nightclub-like atmosphere or maybe it was the fact that I was all worked up from the dancing, but something possessed me to reach out and grip his arm. I felt muscles. My fingers stroked his bicep for a few seconds and he just stood there and let it happen. This was wild.

The guy snaked his arm around my waist and I didn't mind. I worked hard to maintain my body, after all. I put my hand on his and our fingers intertwined.

As he led me threw the throngs of faceless bodies dancing with abandon, I wondered if I was making a mistake. What if he was a weirdo? What if he was only 19 or something? Then again, it's not like it was the first time I'd snogged a much younger guy. I was 33, but I could pass for about 25 with the right concealer. Oh god, what if he had me confused with his girlfriend?

But you only live once, right? As my older sister always reminded me, it's better to regret the things you have done than regret the things you haven't done - and she was a day time soap star living in LA. If anything, I would get a story out of this. Not the type that you'd tell at a dinner party, but certainly a good tale for a boozy lunch with the girls.

In the pursuit of a good story, I let him back me up against the wall. I took his hips and pulled his body towards me. A joke ending with the punchline "...or are you just happy to see me?" came into my mind as he kissed me.

'Hot, hot, hot,' chanted the ridiculous song from the speakers.

His tongue swirled slowly around in my mouth and my whole body relaxed.

'Hot, hot, hot.'

His hands squeezed my arse.

'I'm hot, you're hot.'

I grasped his thick hair, which was damp with sweat.

'He's hot, she's hot.'

He lowered his head and glided his tongue up my neck. I moaned. It was exciting to know that I could be as loud as I wanted in a room full of people and no one would hear. I looked around and saw the outlines of moving bodies everywhere.

I closed my eyes and let my body give in to all the sensations. The drumming of the music in my ears, the hardness of his muscles under my hands, the heat from his breath, the roughness of his stubble scratching my skin, the warmth and softness of his tongue.

How far would I take it? I was already desperate for his hand to be under my sports bra, for his mouth to be on my nipple.

I'd never had sex in a public place before. Sure, I'd fantasised about it and even come close to doing it once about five years ago. It was with an ex in a laneway outside of a club, classy woman that I was. I'd pulled away the moment I'd heard footsteps. The thought of getting caught had made me feel embarrassed and like I was 15 again - and who wanted to be 15 again? Not me, that's for sure.

My ugly duckling awkwardness was something I'd left behind a long time ago and I rarely thought about it these days. It was only in fleeting moments, like when I caught a whiff of something that smelt like Elizabeth Arden's Sunflowers perfume or Waterberry Impulse deodorant that the sense of embarrassment I perennially felt as a shy teenager came over me.

Then I realised - I had no idea who this guy was. True, he was a particularly skilled kisser, he was tall and he must frequent the gym, but that's about all I knew. My body instinctively stiffened and he must have sensed my hesitation, because he pulled away abruptly.

A disembodied voice announced that the last song of the night was about to drop. Nirvana's 'Smells like teen spirit' began and there was nothing for us to do but dance awkwardly next to each other.

There was no way I'd be able to find Penny in the dark at this stage and I was guessing he had come to a similar conclusion - leaving to find his friends would be a hopeless mission. We were stuck dancing here for at least the next three minutes. At least we didn't have to talk. Boy, would I have a tale to tell Penny.

I decided to channel my sexual frustration into screaming the lyrics and jumping up and down. It had been a tough day and while snogging the face off a random stranger for all of two minutes had been fun, now we were apart and I needed to do something to take the edge off. I could've sworn that my mystery man was playing air guitar and that made me smile.

'Dance like no one's watching' had been my new 'thing' for the past three weeks. Before that it was kick boxing and before that it was yoga. If this guy turned out to be semi-decent, maybe my new thing would be casual sex? I hardly had any time during the week, so maybe the stress buster I'd been looking for was a friend with benefits.

A bead of sweat trickled down my forehead as the song ended. I desperately wanted to get a look at this guy's face. I grabbed his hand before he had a chance to disappear into the crowd and led him towards the exit. As the doors opened and let a dull light in, I saw high cheekbones and a chiselled jaw. Thankfully, he didn't look like he'd just graduated from high school. So far, so good.

Should I say something? No, I'd wait for him to talk first. If he said anything that even hinted that he was a serial killer or a moron, I'd hightail it down the street without a word.

Goosebumps covered my arms the moment the cool night air hit my skin. I turned around to see what my potential new friend with benefits looked like.

'Faaaaark, Sammy Day!' Blair Bradley spoke first. Well, he shouted first. People turned their heads in our direction. 'How crazy is this?!'

'Yeah, so crazy.' My voice sounded oddly calm.

'I'm surprised I even recognise you.' He shook his head in disbelief.

If I'd known that I was dry humping Blair Bradley in there, I would have got him all worked up and then used my kickboxing prowess to hit him hard in the groin.


Thanks for checking out chapter one. If you like what you just read, please vote!

Chapter two will take you all the way back to 1995...

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