Cat had officially read the same line three times. She realized that at some point, she was going to have to give up on her client and probably stop staring at tall, dark handsome seated at the end of the bar. She found the former easier to do than latter. She’d only taken this job for extra money and for an excuse to leave her apartment. The last deal cost her a faint scar on the side of her stomach but it also gave her enough income for the next few months. She stifled a shudder as she remembered the details of it. She’d almost had to break one of her hard rules but the payout was too big to pass it up.
“Dead dealers don’t collect.” Her grandfather’s words floated through her head after every less than savory job. She never heard them before the jobs which might have been the problem.
She took a big sigh and started on the line again. Her attention, however, kept wandering in his direction. He was the only other person in the bar with a book. She usually kept something to read on her and enjoyed the physical contact of an old fashioned paperback. They fit in her hoodie perfectly and were made to bend. Reading in bars gave her something to do when Brice refused to come out. Nevertheless, it was doing nothing for her at the moment. She took another sip of her Moscow Mule and made an executive decision.
“I also enjoy reading in bars.” She said in lieu of hello. She meant to say hello. She desperately wished for the coolness that came over her when conducting deals. She sat down in the empty seat next to him and prayed for confidence.
“That’s nice.” He set his drink down and looked in her eyes, not seeming annoyed by her intrusion at all. She tried to return his stare but couldn’t hold it. She didn’t want to read him and she knew that the temptation would come if she continued looking directly at him. Instead, she focused on cheeks. There was nothing special about his cheeks.
“All right then. Well, this was good. Good talk. If you’re interested I’ll be down there with my book. It’s not the history textbook you decided to bring tonight but what is? Right?” Cat didn’t bother to even fake leaving her seat. He continue to look at her with interest. It felt as though he were trying to make up his mind about her.
“Did you just flirt with me by insulting my book?” He closed his book and now turned his whole body to her. The smile spread wide and slow across his face and she struggled to keep her focus. It was the type of smile she could tell, without reading him, that he didn’t do often. It also added to his attractiveness which she already found distracting. He was tall and solid. His skin reminded her of the dark wood on Lace’s cane. He had facial hair but it was well kept. She felt the urge to play with his beard and tapped her fingers instead. She bet he used top of the line products. She took a sniff and found her assessment was correct.
“No. I mean, you’re the type of guy who reads history textbooks and some find that sexy. I’m sure.” She smiled and forced herself to continue looking at his cheeks. Cat wasn’t sure how much longer she could keep up without touching him.
“I don’t know that I want to be judged by someone reading “Valley of the Dolls” while drinking gin.” He chuckled and poked at the cover of her book.
“Well, I can’t promise I won’t judge you. But I can promise I won’t ruin the ending of the Second World War.” She raised her eyebrows and pinned him with her best flirty smirk.
“Deal.” He placed his hand on hers quickly. It wasn’t something he meant to do and she could see that clearly. She could also see his whole thought process on his face and felt his satisfaction with the impromptu action when he squeezed her hand lightly before returning to his own personal space.
“My name is Cat. I figured you should know.” She smiled as she sipped her drink. She was already wording the text she’d send to Brice about this later.
“Luke.” He responded and brushed her thigh with his as he returned to his book.