Rule #1: No real names
Sadie Van Der Zee stood outside the bar, inhaling the cold air and steeling herself. She felt this every time. The excitement that verged on anxiety. The butterflies that started in her stomach, then fluttered lower and lower. The sense that she shouldn’t go in and the knowledge that she would anyway. She took a final deep breath, patted the dark brown curls that were normally dead straight and stepped in through the street-facing entrance.
Inside it was dark and crowded. The only lights were on the walls at intervals that meant they didn’t illuminate much. The effect was a muted feeling; long shadows fell from the patrons who were standing and over those who were sitting. It made it hard to distinguish features – one dark-haired man looked a lot like the next. But Sadie found the dark-haired man she was looking for on her first scan.
He was standing at the far end nearest the other entryway to the bar, the one that led into the reception of the adjoining hotel. He looked a little different from his photograph – broader shoulders, clean shaven, better dressed – which surprised her a little. Usually, the reality couldn’t live up to the promise. Even Sadie looked better in her online profile than she did in real life. She felt those butterflies again as she thought about peeling his shirt from his shoulders and seeing if they matched what she was imagining.