An hour ago, if someone had told me I would be sitting in a bar tonight, I would have laughed in their face. Now? Well, I just hoped no one paid attention to me long enough to notice how much I nervously fiddled with the napkin under my watered-down jack and coke. Let's just say going to a bar had never been a fun idea to me, let alone by myself.

Why was I here? I did not know.

Fine…I did know. I was just too embarrassed to admit it to myself. Something pushed me to come here though…well, actually someone kind of did.

If I really listened to myself like I should have, I would be happily snuggled in my bed right now, reading a book and wearing my favorite oversized sweatshirt…probably on the fifth episode of some new show on Netflix. But nope…I just had to go on social media and see a photo of my sister out with her friends at a club. Which was nothing new, but just enough to remind me of how lonely I had been the past week being holed up in my apartment every night. While I did enjoy time to myself, it started to pull you into a depressive, anti-social funk after a while.

Seeing her having fun with friends had kickstarted me to get out of bed and throw on something that made me look half-decent and not like the homebody I usually was. My hair was another situation though. I had tried my best to brush it out of the bun it had been in the last two days and make it look somewhat presentable.

I still was not fully committed to going out though. Yeah, I felt like it now, but I knew once I got there, I would want to go right back home. And it was not like I had a group of friends there just waiting to distract me for the night.

I sat down at my desk chair trying to decide if I really wanted to do something tonight. My eyes drifted to some post-it notes stuck on my desk with words scribbled on them.

Then I had an idea.

Maybe it might be a good opportunity to get some research for my novel. I had been trying to write a bar scene in the book, and I was already having trouble describing the atmosphere since I was not one to spend my time at bars. I could just focus on that and observing people if it really just did not seem like my thing.

But where was I even planning on going? It had been five years since I had lived in Oakheart, and I sure as hell did not go out back then or even know where to start now. The only "cool" hangout spot I remembered was the McDonald's parking lot down the street, and I did not hangout there either. And that was in high school.

I then remembered seeing a bar on the way home from work yesterday that looked fairly new, just a couple of miles outside the main strip. It seemed like maybe a place people my age would hang out at, but what did I know.

Before I could dwell more on whether I should stay home or not, I grabbed my keys and headed for the door.

I tried my best to not make too much eye contact so that it would not be obvious that I was a newcomer. But I could still feel eyes burning into my skin when I walked in and sat at the bar. Even the bartender asked if I was new in town. I told him no, and he did not try to make any more small talk.

The bar was new like I thought it was. You could just tell since the decor was not outdated and worn like most of the places in this town. It was a little more crowded than I thought it would be, but there were still a couple of empty seats at the bar. I guess I should not have been surprised about how many people were there since it was a Friday night. But the people were more diverse than I thought they would be. A good mix of young and old, and luckily I did not recognize anyone yet.

It took me a little bit to finally decide what to order to drink. I figured a glass of wine would just be another big sign over my head that said did not belong, so I went with a jack and coke to play it safe.

Maybe this was not my ideal solution to my loneliness, but I guess it was better than staying at home again. You could only watch Netflix for so long before you started to question whether that was what you were going to be doing every night for the rest of your life.

I carefully turned my body a little without being too noticeable to watch the growing crowd near a small dance floor in the back corner. Most of the people my age seemed to be the ones dancing and surrounding a high-tech looking Jukebox. I had never seen one like that before, so I took note to try adding that into my story when I got home. What really caught my eye was a couple dancing together to the music playing.

The girl looked to be about my age while the man she was with looked much older than her, maybe even my dad's age. He was dressed in a nice dress shirt and pants as if he just got off work. She looked more like she just walked out of the club and forgot to look in the mirror on the way out.

She was pretty behind her full face of makeup, definitely out of the guy's league. He was on the chubbier side, and looked like he was a stock broker or something. He just looked out of place with someone as young as her.

I carefully took the damp napkin out from underneath my drink and pulled a pen out of my purse. I scribbled the words 'sugar baby idea? gold digger?' on the napkin thinking it might be interesting to add a similar scene in my novel. I was very forgetful if I did not write it down, so I was always having to jot down little words or phrases to remind me later.

"Hmm..that's interesting." Someone whispered hovering over me.

Startled, I gasped a little before dropping my pen and crumpling the used napkin into my hand. My eyes quickly looked up to the unexpected voice and widened a little when I saw a once familiar face.

"Uh..just notes for…something. It's nothing." I spluttered, my voice finally finding itself. I shoved the crumpled napkin into my purse and put my hands in my lap hoping he would just forget about my scribbled notes.

I could not believe that Graham Woods was here. Not just here at this bar, but back in Oakheart. If there was one person that would be doing bigger and better things, it was him. Everyone knew Graham, and that he never really belonged in Oakheart. He seemed almost too good for it.

"Must be something important. You looked pretty focused." He claimed with a half-grin before taking the empty seat next to mine.

"I'm just writing a book and looking for ideas. Just jotting down some random thoughts." I finally admitted sheepishly so he would not think I was as weird as I looked. My eyes unintentionally glanced over at the couple and his gaze followed mine. He chuckled a little seeing the interesting pair still dancing together, the man slowly shuffling back and forth while she danced around him.

"I can see why that might be an interesting idea." He stated bringing his eyes back to me. I gave him a soft smile before taking a sip of my drink to give me something to do and hoping he did not bring up my embarrassing notes again.

"You've never been here before." He stated before taking a sip of his beer. It was no surprise that he did not know me. Most people did not. But in his case, it was hard not to know him in this small town.

"Is it that obvious?" I questioned casting my eyes down hoping he was the only one that noticed. I really did not think that I stood out that much with how many people were here.

"No, I just would have recognized you." He answered with a friendly smile, and he looked exactly how I remembered, but better. You could tell from his strong jaw and light scruff that his face had matured over the last five years making him look more like a man rather than the pretty boy he once was.

And you could not forget a face like his. His warm brown eyes and full lips were very evident to the girls at my school. He had thick tousled brown hair that girls dreamed about. His tall frame was also appealing when most of the guys at our school were barely 5'9.

But his looks were not the only attributes girls talked about. He was also decently nice and from what I had heard, a gentleman. My sister used to hang out with him and swoon over him even in the presence of her own boyfriend. She got away with most things, so her boyfriend did not really care.

"Are you new in town?" He asked curiously before sliding his empty beer bottle toward the bartender.

"Kind of?" I answered with a scrunched face. I did not really know how to answer since I am technically not new to Oakheart. "I used to live here and just moved back." I explained.

"Wow, one of the few." He replied raising his eyebrows. "What's your name?" He finally asked.

"Joelle." I responded meekly. I knew even giving my name would not spark any recognition.

He extended his hand to me with a friendly smile.

"I'm Graham." He replied with a confident voice, and I shook his outstretched hand. It was warm and engulfed most of my hand.

It was weird being introduced to someone I already knew, but I guess I really did not know him personally. I knew what most of the town knew about him, and nothing very personal.

Except one thing that always played in the back of my mind when I thought about Graham Woods. A memory that I could not forget even if I tried. One that usually brought on guilt and regret.

"Would you like a new drink?" He asked pointing to my jack and coke. I looked over at the full glass, and most of the ice had melted making it more opaque than it should have been. I kind of forgot about it. I pulled out my cellphone and saw it was only 9:30.

"Um…sure." I finally decided after looking at the time. While I already felt like heading back home, I needed to make this spontaneous trip worth it and at least stay out past 10.

He signaled the bartender over and ordered me a fresh jack and coke and luckily in a smaller glass. Graham handed it to me, and I kindly thanked him with a smile.

"So why did you come back to Oakheart?" He questioned turning towards me.

That was exactly what I wanted to ask him, but if I did, it would just be creepy since he did not know that I already knew him.

"I didn't have much of a choice really." I admitted with a shrug. "I had a publishing internship in New York, and it ended. I thought I would be working up there permanently, but things didn't work out." I cast my eyes down feeling discouraged. "New York is too expensive, so my next option was to come back to Oakheart until I figured out what to do next." I explained.

It was more like I had a boss that constantly praised me for how well I was doing, but as soon as they discussed full-time positions, I was naturally overlooked. Just the story of my life.

I also did not mention to him about my new editing job at the newspaper because if it bored me when I talked about it then he would definitely not find it very interesting.

"That sucks. Oakheart isn't that bad though. It's actually gotten better the past couple of years. They have been trying to update the town with places like this, and so far, it's definitely made a difference." He explained gesturing to the bar and the growing crowd.

He had a point though. Adding anything new in this town made a huge difference, and when I lived here, there was rarely any change.

I started to wonder again why Graham was here, and from the way he made it sound, he had been back in Oakheart for a couple of years now. The last I had heard, he was playing football for a big university in Alabama.

When Graham Woods was mentioned, football was always brought up. A year above me, he was one of the best players on the high school team. By his sophomore year, scouts were already looking at him for college football.

While I was never a huge fan of football, I was forced to go to most of the games for the school newspaper. Most of our stories were about the 'up and coming football player', and I had written my fair share of articles on Graham without even interacting with him.

"So what are you doing in Oakheart?" I finally asked innocently knowing he would not know why I was really asking. I really wanted to know why he was not off playing football for an NFL team or something.

"I'm a photographer." He answered casually.

I tried not to show my surprise, but I could not help it. It was just the last thing I expected him to say. I think if he had said he was a model, I would have been less shocked. Photography was just the furthest thing on my mind when I thought of him.

"That must be a fun and interesting job." I responded trying to feign my disbelief.

"It is. It's always nice to get to do what you love." He smiled genuinely.

I was going to have to do some creeping…I meant researching when I got home because I had not heard a thing about him becoming a photographer. It almost just did not make sense with what he was doing last I heard.

"Graham, we're leaving!" A voice yelled behind him. I looked over his shoulder towards the front entrance and saw a group of guys heading outside. I recognized his cousin Zander as the voice calling him. Graham looked at his group of friends and back to me with an apologetic smile.

"I guess that's my cue to get going. I would stay if I could, but they're my ride." He admitted sheepishly before standing up from his bar stool. "It was nice meeting you Joelle." He said with soft smile.

"You too." I responded back quietly. He headed towards his friends before turning back to me.

"Good luck with your book!" He exclaimed one last time before pushing the entrance door open.

I could not help but blush and mentally kick myself thinking back to the notes he read. Next time, I needed to remember to write that stuff in private in my phone or something. I could only imagine what he was thinking when he read that.

And with that last thought, I finished my drink and headed back home to my warm bed.