The rain hadn't hindered our plans for a night out. Lucy had brought an umbrella that the three of us had crowded under, Zoe opting for a quick sprint ahead to hold the door open. I planted a quick kiss to her cheek in thanks, gratitude for her sacrificing her hair for the good of the group.
"Yeah, yeah. Get in," she playfully scolded.
It was busy in the Black Dog, the pub one of the only establishments in the local area to have proper pool tables and a specific area assigned to the dart players. I favoured the atmosphere rather than some grimy club. There was no expectation to dance and the old fashioned duke box mounted on the far wall had one of the new Arctic Monkey's tracks blaring out.
Charlotte had wrangled us a table in the corner and was furiously beckoning us over before any more of the chairs could be walked away with.
"Uh, uh, uh!" Zoe reprimanded a man in the process of stealing her seat. "That's mine, hunny."
I laughed as he chivalrously slid it out from under the table for her to sit down. She thanked him with a blush almost matching the colour of her hair.
"I'm gunna go get us some drinks," I raised my voice to be heard over the constant chatter.
"Do you want me to come with you?" Lucy offered, readjusting the hair pin clipping her fringe back.
"No thanks, save my seat!"
I received a thumbs up in confirmation before turning to wriggle through compacted bodies. Some people were less than helpful on my way to the bar, blocking me in until I politely tapped them on the shoulder.
Once I'd succeeded in my endeavour, I waited on service pressed up to the wooden counter. The poor bar maid was rushed off her feet, the landlord and herself continually brushing past each other to reach new customers. At that point, I was probably way down the list in priority.
"I think you'll need some higher heels."
I peered to my right to find a bright smile and a pair brown eyes.
"Huh?" I questioned.
His forehead was beaded with sweat, dark hair clinging to the moisture.
"To be seen," he gestured at the length of the bar.
As soon as people received their drinks, they were replaced with more thirsty customers. It was a never ending cycle until the bell for last orders.
"Oh, I don't mind waiting," I smiled.
I returned my interest to the bar staff, leaning on the counter slightly to try and grab someone's attention.
"You have to be more blatant," he voiced before raising his fingers to his mouth and whistling.
The sound barely pierced though the noise in the pub, but it did a good job of shocking me in our close proximity. My body jolted, laughing along with him as the man behind the bar gave us a heads up.
"It worked!" I applauded.
The reply was accompanied with a wink, feeling him press up against me as more people jostled for attention. He ordered before looking to me.
"Let me get you a drink."
"It's alright thanks, I'm with my friends."
I nodded in the direction of the table I'd left a little while before. I hoped Lucy had kept her word and looked after my seat.
"Oh , come on," he encouraged with a playful tone.
I shook my head in dismissal. He handed the money over for a pint, but I wasn't quick enough with my enquiry for a round of drinks before the staff moved on and I was at the bottom of the service list again. I sighed, tapping my purse on the wood between two coasters.
"So," brown eyes continued, "are you dating some Greek god?"
I laughed, frowning at his question in amused confusion.
"You know, tall, muscly, could break me in half with his little finger?"
He sipped on the chunky glass, peering over the rim at me.
"How do you know it's not a Greek goddess?" I leaned in to reply.
"Now, that would be hot. Would you let me watch?"
I snorted a laugh in which he apparently thought was endearing. My elbow was lightly taken as he placed his pint down, tilting his face to my ear. His fingers pressed gently into my bare skin, an act I was unaccustomed to feeling by the opposite sex. The only boy I ever wanted that kind of intimacy with was no longer a part of my life, except for the few instances in which my heart beat a little bit faster and I swore I could sense him with me. Hidden, watching over.
"What's your name?"
The heat from his breath was suddenly making my skin crawl and I was fast becoming repulsed by his press for answers.
"Bo," I divulged a little uneasily.
"I'm going to head back to my friends."
I turned to escape before I could witness the mystification in his features. As far as he was concerned, we were getting on swimmingly.
A clammy hand caught hold of my wrist, twisting me around to face him. My arm was freed when he identified my unease but still was still unrelenting in the interrogation.
"What's wrong, you haven't got your drink yet?"
"I don't think I will, it's a bit busy, I'll come back later," I rushed, eager to get lost in the crowd.
"I said I'd get you one."
Darren had lost his place at the bar as he pursued the conversation. The excuse to get a little closer due to noise levels was growing thin.
"And I declined," I firmly stated.
The touch of his fingers against my shoulder was not desired. He opened his mouth to argue his case further was interrupted before making his plea.
"Hey mate, there's someone outside that wanted a word."
Both Darren and I looked to a man still adorning a wet coat. He'd obviously just entered after fleeing from the British drizzle. I'd have thanked him for his marvellous timing if Darren wasn't still lingering in uncertainty by the side of me.
"Who is it?"
"Dunno," the man shrugged, "he's just outside."
I took the blessed opportunity to duck out of the situation and back to my group of friends. He called my name twice before I covertly watched him follow my saviour to the door.
I'd made it back to the table relatively unscathed, taking my seat and explaining to the girls about the drink status. They weren't too fussed, happy to chat and possibly try our chances at a game of pool. I kept a curious eye on the door, waiting to see when Darren would make his reappearance.
Minutes later the door swung open and someone made a right performance of entering the pub. My face drained pale as I recognised the figure stumbling through the standing groups. I stumbled to my feet, my friends calling after me as I met him hallway. His hair was a little unkempt, left eye already swelling shut and blood trickling from his nose. He was a mess.
"You said you weren't seeing anyone!" Darren shouted at me.
He disregarded my bewilderment as an act, wiping the blood away before it had a chance of infiltrating his mouth.
"Then who the fuck was that?"
I shoved past him, making furious headway towards the door. My left side rammed into the heavy wood, bursting out onto the damp London street. It didn't take long to spot him, the angel over my shoulder. He ran a thumb over the knuckles on his right hand, testing the flexibility of his fingers before curling them into a fist.
I stood just outside the shelter of the pub, watching Harry from the other side of the road before his thunderous eyes set my body ablaze. It was dark and pouring with rain, my skin began to goose-pimple with the cold. But I couldn't find it within myself to care. He was here.
A hood was pulled over wild hair held back with a bandana; not once did his consideration for me stray. After months of elusive signs, and apparently warranted speculation, he was here. My heart rampaged against my ribs, and a small, perhaps not so insignificant part of me, craved the dark he vanished into.
I soon stopped feeling his presence after that night, no longer there to protectively watch.
I had to fight for myself.