She stepped behind her friend to intercept me. My arms were folded across my chest because of the cold wind. She clasped the frame they made across my body with both hands, looked at me directly in the eyes and said something in Russian.
"Girl approaches you in the street ... red flag." was my first thought. I stood firm and evaluated her. She was not drunk. She was probably not a prostitute, although that would need to be tested. I did not need to brutally reject her just yet.
"English?" I asked.
"Yes yes I speak English" She replied. I looked at her in the eyes unsure of whether or not she was beautiful. She was, by night club standards, beautiful. Tall, made up and dressed in a tight short blue dress. This doesn't translate to genuine beauty though. She was heavy on the makeup but perhaps she had the natural beauty to support it.
"I'm Margot" She offered her hand.
"I'm Sam" I offer a high five and our hands clasped and lingered together. "Is that your boyfriend?" I figured I might as well just start screening her since she made such an obvious pass at me. The guy she had stepped around stood a few metres away from us and stood waiting impatiently.
"No no, just a friend" She told me. "How old are you?"
Well, this was moving fast. I hesitated for a moment deciding if I should flirt or be direct.
"35" I decided on directness, but kept her at bay. "You're very confident". It was an accusation, a demand for an explanation of her behaviour.
"I hope so." She was probably not used to having to defend herself. "I'm a painter."
"A painter? Now you have my attention."
I moved into her personal space and touched her face and her hips. She looked around nervously at her friends. Evidently she couldn't keep them waiting all night.
"Where do you live? Do you have a phone number? Whatsapp?" She asked.
"I'm living here, in Arbatskaya but I don't have a local number or whatsapp." I wasn't really interested enough yet to chase her over text. I searched for an excuse to turn our chance meeting into an instant date.
In the distance, fireworks sounded and lit the skies.
"Let's go see the fireworks" I suggested. She skipped back to her friends to present my suggestion. They weren't unhappy with her, but obviously the guy was going to have the last say. Was he like mafia or something? He started enumerating some sort of list in Russian which made Margot sulk a little. She turned to me with a sad look on her face.
"Sorry, but I have to go home." She turned back to her friends. They took her away and she complied without looking back. It was too late to get her phone number. We had been given our opportunity.
"Margot!" I called for her to come to me, but her Russian friends had linked arms with her, saving her from any possible escape.
"Margot!" It was useless. One of her friends waved goodbye sarcastically over her head.
I shrugged and continued on my route to the shops.
I probably would have forgotten all about her if she hadn't mentioned she was a painter.Margot