Chapter 1 (part 1)Mature

Ash is a pick-up artist who is worried that he's lost his touch. Liberty is an ex-escort who knows every trick in the game.

The sound of the bass hit Ash as soon as he stepped into the club. It was loud enough to cause everything to tremor and fill those inside with the urge to grind against each other.

Women at nightclubs are easy game, he thought. Most are relatively drunk and up for a good time, so the chances of being rejected are considerably less.
"It's almost as if the dry ice that the smoke machines billow out clogs up their common sense," Ash remembered telling some of his students. "And the bad lighting serves as a way to conceal your... less attractive facial features."

But Ash wasn't here to teach. Tonight was personal; there was something he needed to prove to himself.

He sauntered confidently up to the bar, casually aware that female eyes had already attached themselves onto him.
"A vodka and coke," he said to the barman.
As the barman turned away to make the drink, he felt someone lightly tap on his shoulder. He glanced around to see a young woman standing behind him, smiling at him sheepishly. She was rather pretty, wearing a tight-fitting lilac dress and long brown hair that fell in waves past her shoulders. Perhaps a little too much make-up for his liking.

"Aren't you going to buy us a drink then?" she asked. Her eyes were predatory, taking in Ash's clean-shaven face, high cheekbones and sandy hair which was boyishly messy.
"I'm sorry," he said, leaning in towards her. "I didn't quite catch that over the music." It wasn't true, he had heard her perfectly. This was just one of the many tricks he had accumulated and refined over the years.
She came up close, so that their lips were almost touching, and repeated the request. He turned back round to the barman an ordered another drink, handing her the one he had just ordered.

"You didn't ask what I want," she said, staring at the vodka and coke in her hand.
"Didn't need to," he replied. "I could smell it on your breath. Along with the ten a day that you smoke." He took his drink and walked away, knowing exactly what she would be thinking as soon as she had managed to pick her jaw up off the club's tiled floor - what a jerk!

Ash wanted a challenge, not some floozy who staggered up to you half-drunk at the bar demanding a drink. Someone unobtainable which only he could obtain. And that someone, Ash noticed, was sitting over at a table several paces from the bar.

Without a second thought - second thoughts often led to doubt and doubt was a one-way ticket to rejection - he strolled over. Never start with a pick-up line, he would have told his students at this point, women can see one coming even before you open your mouth and say it.

"Is this seat taken?" he asked, indicating to the chair next to her. He knew what her answer would be even before he had asked the question. She was waiting for someone.
"Sorry, I'm waiting for someone," she spoke plainly, turning away immediately as if he was never there.
Ash tried not to feel slightly discouraged at her lack of interest. It had been a long time since his charms had failed to win a girl over at first glance, especially in the salacious atmosphere of a nightclub.

"Oh... It's just that there's nowhere else to sit," he said, flustered. Flustered was good; some girls found it a turn-on. He ruffled his hair for affect. "You know how busy clubs get on a Saturday night."
"Well this seat is taken," she reiterated.
He smiled. Ignoring what she had just said he sat down in the seat next to her. She glared at him, blue eyes burning like ice.

From the corner of his eye, he saw her reach for handbag and realised he'd blown it. He watched her walk away, but didn't go after her like someone less experienced and possibly more desperate would have done. The night was still young and there were plenty more girls who needed a little Ash in their lives.

The End

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