Ruby doesn’t let me think about it though. She’s already dragging me to the side of the room to the bar. Not surprising. Ruby loves alcohol.
She orders a giant, fishbowl sized margarita, and I stick to a Long Island iced tea. Within a few sips, she’s feeling lose. “I’m gonna go dance,” she screams in my ear over the music. “Come with me.”
I nod and ask the bartender to hold our bags while we dance. Once they’re behind the counter, Ruby takes my hand, turns around, and leads me to the dance floor, already moving to the beat, and once we’re in the middle of the crowd she goes berserk. She whips her hair back, smacking me in my face, and cuts loose. She turns around and grabs my hands, and before I know it we’re moving our hips and she’s hugging and laughing. Guys that were dancing with other girls blow them off to hang with us. One brave guy dances between us and takes Ruby off to the side, but she’s gone hardly five seconds before there’s a guy I front of me. He’s pretty cute, but nothing extremely special. Short brown hair, brown eyes, jockish face. Worth a little harmless dancing.
At the end of the song, Ruby’s laughing like a madwoman and is pulling me back to our drinks. She takes hers without sitting down and with a jut of her chin gestures for me to take mine. I obey and follow her lead to lift the drink to make a toast. “Cheers to a happy birthday for the best friend any girl could ever have!” she calls over the pounding bass.
I smile and take a long pull from the iced tea, making a face when I’m overcome with the taste of alcohol. I start coughing as the stuff burns my throat, but I hardly have time to soothe my throat before Ruby’s tapping my shoulder like crazy.
“Avery, Avery, Avery!”
“What?!” I sputter out.
“Dude, your six o’clock, freakin’ hottie checking us out.”
I blush slightly and turn around to see just how hot this guy is. I’m sure she’s overreacting. She often does. He may be cute, but-
No, never mind. She’s right. She’s totally and completely right.
I’ve never seen him before, but the mischievous smile he gives me makes me feel like I should have. His black hair is slicked back and hangs at his shoulders, and his eyes are bluer than blue. He’s not dressed for a club though. In fact, I’d expect him to be the kind of guy to be home with the wife at this time of night. But the way he works his suit, it drives me crazy at first glance. White shirt, black tie, black and white scarf, long black coat, black pants, and a cane with a blue light coming from the handle. I guess it’s true what they say about a man in a well-tailored suit.
I turn back to Ruby, sure my mouth is wide open. “Whoa my God.”
“Right?” Ruby squeals. “We should go talk to him.”
I stare at her. “What?”
She tries to turn me around and push me towards him, but I resist. “You heard me! Come on, he’s cute!”
“Yeah, but you know how I am with people.”
“Yeah, you hate them. So do I. But he’s a hot people. Embrace the hot people!”
I cock an eyebrow. “Oh, that’s only a little shallow, Ruby.”
“Shut up, and let’s go.” She grabs my hand and tries to pull me over towards him.
“No no no no no,” I protest as a child would, pulling back on her.
She turns back and raises her eyebrows, and I can almost hear her saying, “Avery, let’s go.”
“If he’s really interested in us, he’ll come talk to us,” I point out.
“Oh God, you’re so old-fashioned!” Ruby sighs exasperatedly, but she lets go of my hand and returns to her barstool. I tilt my head slightly back to the man, debating whether or not to look at him, but I decide against it and follow Ruby back to the bar.
For the next several minutes, I run my fingers around my drink, fighting my urge to look back up at the man. I close my eyes and try to imagine him again, and the picture my brain pulls up forces a shiver up my spine and down my arms. Why can’t my clients look like him? I might actually like my job if they did.
It’s been too long. He must have moved on. I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed at this, but I guess it’s not that surprising. Typical guy.
“Excuse me, but –.”
Oh my God, he has a British accent. I’m done. I’m so done. I’ll be a puddle here in 5 seconds.
Oh my God, Ruby’s talking to him. I’m done. I’m so done. He’s gonna go home with her.
“Oh, hello. And what is your name?”
“Ruby. Ruby Nelson. And you?”
Oh my God, they’re flirting. I’m done. I’m so done. I might as well give up here and now. Of course he’ll be infatuated with Ruby. Everyone is.
There’s a kissing sound. Oh God, are they kissing already? Maybe I should be glad he’s not going after to me. “The pleasure is mine, Miss Nelson. I’m Loki.”
Ruby giggles like crazy.
The barstool next to me slides out, and a dark form fills the seat. My heart is pounding like crazy against my ribs. Why am I so nervous? I’m never nervous. Ever. In fact, I’m usually the one instigating the flirting. Flirting gets me clients, but this guy is different. I don’t want him as a client. I want whatever happens with him to be real. And – And – And what the hell am I saying? I haven’t even spoken two words to this guy, and I’m practically head over heels for him. This never happens.
“Pardon me, Miss,” the man – what was his name? Loki? – calls softly to me. My stomach flips at his accent, but I manage to calmly look at him.
His eyes lock on mine, and I’m instantly hypnotized. His lips curl up into that cute, playful grin I noticed from across the room. “I’m sorry to bother you, but I couldn’t help but notice you earlier. My name is Loki.”
I smile bashfully. “I’m Avery,” I squeak out. I stick my hand out to shake his. “It’s nice to meet you.”
He takes my hand, but, instead of shaking it, turns it so my knuckles are up. He keeps his eyes locked with mine as he brings my hand closer to his lips. “Believe me, the pleasure is all mine.” He pauses between “all” and “mine” as if he’s trying to emphasize how happy he is to know me. It may have worked, too, if he hadn’t said practically the same thing to Ruby. Still, when he draws my hand up and brushes his lips against the knuckle before kissing the back of my hand, I feel my face flush.
Who is this guy? I’ve never met a guy who greets a woman by kissing her hand. Do they still do that in England? Either way, there’s something insanely attractive about a man who acts like a gentleman. Especially one who still manages to look so bad.
He looks at my drink and minimizes his smile to more of a smug grin. “Would you like another?”
It takes me a while to figure out what he means, and when I do I turn even redder. “Oh, um, yeah, but I’ll get it. Don’t worry.”
“No really.” I grab my purse and fumble through it for my wallet. Then a hand rests over my wrist, stunning me.
“Please, allow me,” Loki purrs.
“O-Okay,” I whisper. I look back at him to thank him, but once again, I’m transfixed by his eyes. They’re so blue. So freaking blue. His lips, now void of a smile, thin and smooth and so kissable…
I jump back at Ruby’s voice, just realizing that I had been mere inches from Loki’s lips. I look over my bar stool to see Ruby putting on what I realize as her fake – though convincing – smile. “Come to the bathroom with me?”
“Uh…” I hesitate. Ruby raises her eyebrows just slightly, sending me a silent Now, Avery. “Okay.” I look back at Loki again, smiling faintly. “I’ll be right back.”
“I’ll still be here.”
“You better be.” The words are out of my mouth before I realize it and once I do my eyes widen and my hand flies to cover my mouth.
Loki only laughs, though, and meets my gaze happily. “I swear on my brother’s life, I’ll be here upon your return.”
I lower my hand and smile warmly. “I’m holding you to that.” I slide off the bar stool and allow Ruby to take my hand and guide me to the ladies room, smiling to myself just slightly the entire time.