She gives a one-shouldered shrug. “Suit yourself. I’ll be over there by myself, if anyone wants to join me.” She looks pointedly at Rhett. With a sway of her hips, she saunters away.
“Uh, yep.” Rhett slaps down a wad of bills on the table. “That should cover the drinks. Order me a plate of mozzarella sticks. I’m going to dance.” He wags his eyebrows at us before he follows my best friend.
I throw my hand in the air to flag down our waiter and place an order, a double order of boneless buffalo wings and an order of mozzarella sticks, and turn to Nathan with a sip of my drink. After I swallow, I lick my lips.
I don’t miss the way his eyes darken and follow my tongue across my lower lip. Crap. That wasn’t my intention at all.
“What do you think the chances are they don’t come back?”
His eyes shoot back to mine. He grins and takes a sip of the gin and tonic the waiter just delivered to him. “Hell if I care. Free motzy sticks.”
Besides his subtle flirting, I’m happy he keeps the conversation light. We laugh a lot and joke over drinks. I end up with one more Moscow mule before ladies’ hour is over.
By ten o’clock, after devouring a half a plate of wings, I’m officially drunk.
Drunk, not sloshed. Definitely not hammered.
“I’m going to the restroom and then to find Kiersten.”
Vodka always does me in. There’s always that moment between sucking down drinks and standing for the first time where everything is fine. I feel tingly and numb, but my limbs still move like I want them to.
Until I stand.
Drunk skips toward wasted.
As past excursions would predict, the second my feet hit the floor and I push myself out of the booth, I stumble on my skinny heels. Nathan’s hand catches me by the inside of my elbow, and he uses his grip to make room to follow me out of the booth.
His lips find my ear. “Be careful.”
I smile uncomfortably and politely free my arm from his grasp under the guise of adjusting my skirt. The only problem is the movement draws his attention to my hemline.
This is so not working.
“I’m fine. Thank you for stopping me from crashing on my face.”
He tucks his hands into his pockets and nods.
As I turn to go do as I said, he makes no move to slide back into the booth and watches me as I walk away.
Sadness creeps back in. I don’t want this to be the relationship I have with Nathan. I want things to go back to how they were. The easy friendship and entertainment on long shifts at work. I don’t want to be responsible for turning him down until he turns bitter with resentment. I also don’t want to make him think he has a chance when I’m not sure that he does.
My thoughts slam to a halt as forcefully as if I’d run into a wall. The air knocks out of my lungs.
It appears I can’t go anywhere in this town without running into Law.
In the last booth before the hallway that leads to the bathrooms, he sits with a woman. This one different from the last, a brunette instead of a blonde. I swallow down the bit of happiness I feel that he isn’t squished up beside her in the booth. His back is to me, arm resting along the backrest, but even from this angle, I’d know that messy hair anywhere.
Okay, I can do this. Just walk by without looking at him. Easy.
Straightening my shoulders, I adjust my dress and do just that.
If he notices me, I have no idea. When I push through to the women’s restroom, I feel near a panic attack. I flip the faucet as cold as it goes and dip my wrists beneath the water. The paper towel holder clanks loudly as I rip a few pieces off and get them damp, dabbing them against my neck.
New plan. Find Kiersten, hope she’s drunk enough to go home with Rhett, fake a headache, and call a cab.
I inhale a calming breath and open the door to the restroom. Loud music assaults me, and I use it like a lifeline. The tempo gives me something to focus on as I attempt to walk by Law again without tripping on my heels.