The unlit cigarette’s back. That’s the first thing I notice when I see Damien lounging in a booth at Flannagan’s staring at his cell phone. He looks up when I enter. Unlike Dominic, he doesn’t stand as I approach, he just watches, and I feel very much like a Porterhouse steak served medium rare with peppercorn jus.
I changed from the shorts and T I’d worn to the park to something only a tad more stylish, jeans and a black v-neck T. He stands when I’m just a few feet away, places his palm in the small of my back, and kisses the corner of my mouth.
“You smell nice,” he says, his voice soft and low.
My abdomen clenches. “And you don’t smell like cigarettes. What’s up with that?”
He holds up the unlit cigarette and looks at it likes it’s an extension of his fingers. “Trying to quit. I haven’t lit one in a month and three weeks.”
I raise an eyebrow and nod. “Good for you.”
“Yeah, that’s what I keep telling myself.”
He waits for me to slide onto the bench seat and then follows. We’re thigh to thigh. His arm moves onto the back of the booth, his fingers tickle under my ear.
A waitress in extremely short Daisy Dukes appears. She smiles at Damien and glares at me. “What can I get you, Rossi?”
“The Goose IPA and Red here will have whatever pumpkin beer you have on tap,” Damien says.
“None. But I could get you a lager and toss some pumpkin spice in it. It’s about the same thing,” the waitress says and snaps her gum. Ah, the epitome of charm.
“I’ll have the scotch ale,” I say.
She rolls her eyes. Why? Because I exist? I don’t know and, oddly, don’t care.
“I’m surprised you remembered about the beer,” I say.
Damien grins. “I don’t actually know anyone else who drinks that sh….style so it was kind of memorable.”
“Uh-huh.” He’s caressing my earlobe, an action that I had never considered sensual before now.
The waitress brings our beer, sloshes mine (surprised?), and then looks at me like she wants me to complain. “Are you ordering dinner?” she asks Damien.
“Yeah, just a few minutes. Thanks, hon.”
“Everyone’s ‘hon’ to you,” I say.
Pin meet balloon.
“The first time you groped me and kissed me, you went into a whole other category.”
“That was an accident. And I never groped,”
“I know a grope when I feel one. It was fate. Which is why I’m sitting here with you and Dominic’s history.” He grins and then does the worst thing possible: he removes my glasses.
“You know I can barely see,” I say, reach out for them, and then instantly forget the moment his lips are on mine. It’s like a live wire sparks and surges through me. Wrong place, wrong time. I pull back.
I hear the loud stomp of heavy soled shoes. “Well, lookie here, what’s this?”
The voice of hell and demons. Tansy.
Damien kisses my ear and then slides my glasses back on. Standing next to our table is Tansy and hovering slightly behind, his lips compressed and white, Dominic. If glowers could kill, our bodies would be prone.
“Aren’t they just as cute as all get-out?” Tansy asks and then nuzzles Dominic’s neck, her pale as ice blue eyes never leaving my face.
I roll my eyes. Damien’s hand squeezes my thigh. I’m sure he thinks he’s being supportive, but then maybe he knows he’s not.
“Join us,” he suggests.
I kick him. I am not going to apologize.
Dominic is shaking his head and opening his mouth to form some excuse, but Tansy nods, her eyes gleaming and wide, an insincere smile draped on her lips. “I don’t mind if we do.”
Grabbing my mug, I take a long draught of beer. Damien’s fingers stroke the seam at my inner thigh and I almost burst from the booth. My cheeks suffuse with heat. I’m sure that I look like a tomato. Tansy grins while Dominic frowns. I look at Damien who’s chuckling softly.
“’Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.’”¹
¹All About Eve, Joseph L. Mankiewicz