The next thirty-six hours fly by and before I know it, I’m decorating the bar to look like a soda shoppe from the fifties. Gina’s helping me and the two of us are running around like crazed people singing Doo-Wop at the top of our lungs. It’s a good thing we’re alone in here.
When we’re done with a particularly bad rendition of It’s In His Kiss, she asks, “Has he called yet?”
Part of me wants to pretend I don’t know who she’s talking about, like I haven’t thought of him at least once an hour since the date. But I know it won’t fool her one bit.
“No, and I don’t expect him to, necessarily. It’s only been two days.”
“You could always call him.”
I consider myself to be a fairly independent woman, all for women’s equality and rights and stuff, but the thought of calling him first makes me cringe. I know. It’s hypocrisy, but it’s still the way I feel. For all my feminist beliefs, I like chivalry.
“Yeah, I could,” I answer noncommittally.
She drops the subject and we go back to hanging cardboard jukeboxes and record covers on the walls. A few songs later, we’re done.
“Not bad.” Gina surveys our handiwork and nods.
I have to agree. If nothing else, the party atmosphere is there. Now, we just wait until the bar opens.
Later that night, the place is hoppin’. Everyone seems to like the new theme, and people sing and dance to the music I grew up on. It’s a blast. I half expected Damon to show up, but it’s midnight and he’s not here, so I’m guessing he won’t come. I tell myself I don’t really mind, but even I don’t believe me.
John and Ashley are handling the bar well, so I sneak into my office, grateful to get off my feet for a few minutes. I’m glad it looks like Ashley will work out because I did not want to train someone else, and it’s obvious I can’t do it all myself, nor can I ask John to pick up all my slack. Not without making him a full partner and I don’t think either of us wants that.
I lean my head back on my chair and put my feet up on the desk, just listening to the music filtering into the room. I’ve always loved the music of the fifties and I’m not sure if it’s because our mother made us listen to it all the time or because it’s just that good. For a moment, I let my body sink into the soft leather cushions of my desk chair.
When was the last time I had a night off when the bar was open? I couldn’t remember.
A knock sounds and I nearly fall on the floor trying to sit up and look like I was doing anything resembling work.
John’s head pokes around the door. “Luce, there’s someone here to see you.”
“I’ll be right there.” Shuffling papers around, I stack and restack until he leaves. I’m not sure why I need him to think I’m in here working. I just do.
I take a deep breath and stand up, brushing my Capri pants free of lint. That’s another thing I love about the fifties–the clothes. Capris, bobby socks and saddle shoes (or in my case tonight, tennis shoes), a button down, short-sleeved shirt, and my hair in a ponytail. Though I know I still look my age, I feel like a teenager again. It’s a good feeling. Maybe I should do themed-parties more often—they’re fun and they seem to bring people in, too. As I step back into the fray, my mind starts working out the different themes I can put on. Decade-related music like tonight, Halloween-themed, various sports themes, the possibilities are endless. And I probably have enough different music to cover each one.
John catches my eye, nodding toward the far corner of the bar. My gaze moves in that direction and my breath catches.
Okay, that teenager feeling I just had from the clothes? Yeah, that washes over me again. I’m over thirty years old and insta-giddy, for cripes’ sake. I’m happy to see him at the same time as berating myself for getting that fluttering in my belly. Act like an adult, for the love of oldies music! Trying to look nonchalant, but pretty sure I’m failing miserably, I walk over.
“Hey, gorgeous,” he says, and then smiles as he looks over me. While his eyes work their way back up from my toes, I ignore the rush of warmth in my limbs and my now-racing pulse. I roll my eyes.
“Does that work on other girls?”
He chuckles. “Usually.”
“Modest, too.” Against my better judgment, I smile. “So, what can I get you?”
“Do you really want me to answer that here?” His expression turns wolfish and the heat in my body sears me from the inside.
Oh, he’s good. I remember my resolve from two days ago. There is no reason I should ignore the attraction I have for him. It’s just sex, and he seems like he’d be good at it. Actually, I think he’d be better than good. Hell, he turned me to mush with a single kiss, so my imagination goes on overdrive. I can flirt with him, turn the tables and get him all hot and bothered, too. There’s nothing stopping me.
Except that little voice in the back of my head suggesting that I can’t keep emotions out of this.
“I’ll just have a beer for now. But later…” he winks and I tamp down the voice in my head.
I have no desire to get hurt, but I’ve been alone for a while. At least Casanova seems to overlook my natural awkwardness in date situations.
That’s it. I’m going to flirt shamelessly. It’s time for me to cause him some difficulty concentrating.
I fill up his glass, and glance at him from under my lashes making sure he sees me doing it.
He raises one eyebrow.
Does he know what I’m doing? Probably. I suppose that makes it fun, too, wondering if I can get him off balance when he knows I’m trying.
When I bring his drink over, I let my hips sway a little more than usual and casually flip my ponytail back over my shoulder.
The corners of his mouth are twitching, but he’s making a valiant effort not to smile.
I lean forward, bending over the bar. “Can you stay until after close?”
“Good. Then I’ll show you my place.” I wink and turn back to my other customers. A few seconds later, I glance at him and he’s watching me with a bemused expression. Seeing that he’s watching, I pretend to drop something and reach for it, bending at the waist instead of crouching down like I normally would. There. Hunger flares in his eyes and I feel triumphant. It feels good to be wanted, and there’s a bonus that the guy doing the wanting is also delicious.
Now, I just have to get rid of my nerves before I take him upstairs.