“Heads up, people!” shouted the dance instructor. “Look into your partner’s eyes, not your feet! Looking at your feet is no sexy!”

Chloe’s head snapped up and she locked eyes with Mark briefly before they slid away in embarrassment. She was beginning to silently curse her mother. The woman was on such a crusade for the procurement of grandchildren that she was gifting Chloe a series of experiences that put her in direct proximity to men. She’d already done a painting course, a bungee jump, a kite surfing lesson, a go-kart racing tutorial and a cooking class; now she was at a salsa workshop.

She was neither a thrill seeker nor an artist and she used the oven in the kitchen to store her shoes, but, secretly, she’d been a little excited about learning salsa. She’d had visions of leaving the four-hour workshop with the proficiency of a Latina vixen, taut body dripping with sweat in the sexiest way possible.

Instead, she was trampling Mark’s toes to death. Poor tall, handsome Mark, with his Slavic cheekbones and his broad chest and deep, sultry voice, like chocolate. He had politely asked her to be his partner at the beginning of the class but he was surely plotting her murder to avenge his toes by now. He winced as she trod on his feet once again. “I’m so sorry!” she said for the millionth time, shouting over the bass of the music. “It’s okay,” he yelled back. “I wasn’t using those toes anyway.”

Chloe laughed and he swung her around and she stomped on his foot once again.

**

A few hours later, after she’d ensured Mark would never walk without a limp again, Chloe shrugged on her brown leather jacket and headed for the door. After the final number, he’d given her a quick peck on the cheek and headed to the coat room to grab his jacket without a backwards glance. Chloe’s shoulders had sagged – clearly he wasn’t interested in the woman who’d maimed his feet.

What a disappointment, she thought. She knew her mother meant well but this ‘Catch-a-man’ campaign just set her expectations too high and brought them crashing down each time. She would just have to start telling her mother ‘no’ – easier said than done.

“Hey Chloe, wait up!”

She turned and her stomach did a little flutter.

“Hey, it’s still pretty early, do you have plans?” said Mark. “I’m kind of in the mood to keep dancing.”

“Seriously? Can you even feel your toes right now?”

“Hehe, come on, you weren’t that bad. You just need practice – so, let’s practice! Do you know Club Schwartz?”

“Ah, yes, and I am definitely not their target customer.”

The people who went to Club Schwartz were like vampires – cold as ice, gorgeous and sleek. People you wanted to know. People you wanted to be. Chloe was pretty, with her wild curly brown hair and her green eyes, but she was by no means what she would call “cool” or “hot” or any of the requisite adjectives one needed to be to get into that establishment. She was awkward. Her clothes were always two seasons behind. There was no way the bouncers, who thoroughly exploited that little bit of power they had on a Friday night , would let her in.

“What are you talking about, of course you are,” said Mark. “Anyway, I’m a regular, I know the guys at the door, so if you’re worried about getting in, don’t worry about it. So what do you say?”

Chloe inhaled deeply and looked away. She should be jumping at the chance to go with him, of course – he was good looking and he’d survived her dancing and still wanted to hang out with her. But if she said yes, would she seem too eager? Or what if she went and he realized how out of place she was with ‘the cool people.’ She weighed her options: spend her Friday night curled up on her couch, Netflix and Chillin’ with her own damn self (which was very tempting), or maybe taking a chance and seeing what happened.

Then she heard her mother’s voice in her head. “You’ll never catch a man with your head buried in your computer doing your little eye-tee business! Go out! Put yourself out there!”  So she took a deep breath and said “Alright. Let’s go.”

And that was her big mistake.

**

to be continued…

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