Come Here Often?
It was the sound of his voice that Megan
noticed. A pleasant, full voice, a baritone if he sang, an
easy laugh as the man next to him said something she couldn’t
She casually leaned forward for a fresh bar napkin to get a better
look without actually staring at the two men. When they
arrived and sat around the curve of the shiny ebony bar she’d
given them a glance to verify they met basic acceptability
Good, the one with the voice was angled toward her as he replied to
his companion. Better than general acceptability now that she
was paying attention. Decent posture, right at six feet, she
assessed. Good shoulders, not quite a football build.
Tanned without being leathery, more color than the techno whizzes
that worked in the office suite next door to her. Full head
of brown hair with a decent cut even if a bit shorter than she
liked. Couldn’t see the eye color – probably
brown, might be green, not likely to be blue. He laughed
again and motioned for another round. Nothing fussy – a
black and tan, straight draft for the man with him. He waved
his left hand toward the television screen mounted above the
bar. No glint of a wedding band. Not married or
divorced? Early thirties, so could be either. She liked
men a few years older although not the silver headed preference of
her best friend Crystal. Guys that old had way too many
complications with ex or current wives.
Megan settled against the teal leather backrest and sipped her rum
and tonic. He was in office casual attire of standard fare of
khaki slacks and a navy blue polo shirt. Not a lawyer then,
couldn’t be investment or banking; if they relaxed their
dress code, it was on Fridays. There were half a dozen office
buildings on the block with a mix of less structured businesses or
perhaps he was visiting. Mr. Not-As-Cute as Mr. Nice Voice
looked familiar. Lyle? Kyle? Dale? Yeah,
Dale Summers from the architect firm across the street. Okay,
she had an in if she wanted to say hello.
“Is this a two-drink afternoon?” Jack asked as he
replaced a partially eaten bowl of snack mix.
“Could even be three – I’m off
tomorrow.” Megan drained the last swallow, leaned
forward and handed the glass to Jack.
He grinned, his angular face softened by the gesture.
“I wondered why you were here on a Thursday. Got big
Megan gave a tiny shrug. “Mostly personal business I
need to take care of.” Ah, was that an inquiry look
sent her way from the other end?
She turned slightly when she took the glass from Jack, but the guy
had tilted his head to Dale again. Had he been checking her
out? She crunched a sesame stick. All the stools
between them were occupied, so she had good cover for observation
and the bathrooms were on that end. She could saunter past
ignoring them and stop on the way back to say hello to Dale.
Without an open spot nearby, she could plead an excuse not to join
them if the up-close perspective wasn’t as appealing as from
On the other hand, if he was both interested and a gentleman, he
would offer her his seat. A table was an option, although
that could be too difficult to extricate from. No, a single
drink at the bar, if they got that far, was the right
introduction. She was past the
meet-someone-get-wasted-have-a-one-night-stand phase of her life
– most were much too disappointing when daylight came.
Another tiny sip. It was important to time her passage.
They needed to be two-thirds of the way through a drink, her almost
empty. She wouldn’t linger before she reappeared, so he
could be debating what to do when she joined them; a perfect
opening for another drink.
“Oh, well, I guess I can have one more. Rum and
tonic – I got hooked on them last spring when I was on St
Croix.” No, no, that sounded pretentious.
Don’t specify. “The regular,
Jack.” Hmmm, did that hint she was too frequent a
customer? Not really and besides, Dale had seen her in here
before. It was a simple segue to work.
“Yes, that’s right, I’m with SYTEX, Inc
– human resources office. Two buildings over,
fourth floor. And you’re with….?
What was she hoping for? An architect like Dale? That
would be okay. Builder, possibly. He had a little of an
outdoor air about him. But from a profession or hobby?
Wait, could be a combination – a coach, perhaps – lots
of schools in the area as well as the college.
Ugh, what if he was a hardcore jock, one of those
all-sports-all-the-time guys? Hardly ever able to carry on
decent conversations and always throwing sports metaphors
around. Megan shuddered as she remembered the soccer coach
her sister had set her up with. What an arrogant ass
he’d been. Jesus, they’d barely gotten through
the appetizer before he made it clear he was expecting plenty of
action later. And he was too gawky for her taste anyway.
“You’re too damn picky,” her sister huffed when
Megan swore off blind dates for what really was absolutely the last
“I don’t see why I should settle for less than I
want.” A phrase she repeated routinely to her sister,
her mother, her married friends who were becoming concerned about
her unattached state as if she’d slid beyond some warning age
threshold. Twenty-eight was hardly cause for worry.
Not that she had anything against marriage. She’d
thought Henry was going to work out and Blake had seemed to have
potential. Granted Niles had been a mistake, but he’d
been so considerate in the beginning and was simply gorgeous.
Jack was serving martinis to the couple near her and the timing was
right to stroll past Dale and Mr. Broad Shoulders.
She gracefully slid off the stool and checked the front of her sage
green skirt for clinging crumbs. All clear and she knew the
fit was perfect; skirt just at the top of the knee, unbuttoned
jacket opened to show the tailored, yet feminine cream silk
blouse. She smiled vaguely at the martini drinkers and walked
a wide enough path to where Dale would register it was her, but not
be able to stop her without raising his voice or flagging her
down. Perfect, she would be facing him as she returned.
“Hey, the girl who went by – that’s Megan
– works up the street.”
“She’s cut. Is she single?”
“Yeah and nice. I’ll say hi when she comes out
and introduce you.”
The conversation ought to be along those
lines except perhaps a crude phrase used instead of cute. She felt appreciative stares at her ass and
pushed through the ladies room door without a hint that she knew.
Okay, five or six minutes in the bathroom – a couple of
minutes for them to have exchanged comments, a minute or two to
peak the interest, another pause to heighten the suspense.
A quick inventory in the mirror. She needed a touch of powder
across the nose and on the forehead. Green eyes clear, no
mascara smudges. Megan loved the new, no-bangs cut her
stylist talked her into. It set her oval face off better than
the pageboy she’d worn for years and the coppery highlights
enhanced her chestnut color. Might as well freshen the
lipstick. She was ready, a little smile in place.
Shit! A barrel-chested, balding man was wedged between the
men, one hand clutching a short glass, the other gesturing in broad
sweeps – a raspy tone driving home a point. Dale and
Mr. Wonder-What-He’s-Like radiated unenthused body
language. What now? It’s not as if she could
break in for a rescue – hell, the intruder had a boss sort of
air about him.
The crowd had swelled even if it wasn’t to the cacophonous
Friday night level. Megan slipped through and resumed her
perch, barely missing the shoulder of a fleshy, round-faced man who
had taken the seat to her right. He smiled at identifying the
absent occupant. Oh God, the Hi-there, come-here-often
expression she had no use for.
She grabbed her glass as he turned his head to respond to the
slender Indian man who was pointing to a handheld computer.
Well, damn. It looked as if Mr. Butt-Right-In was going to be
long-winded and neither Dale nor Mr.
Why-Don’t-You-Tell-Him-To-Shut Up was trying to escape.
What kind of deal was that? Maybe he wasn’t assertive
after all; maybe he was one of these guys who looked like he could
hold his own and then let people walk all over him. Or worse,
what if he was a suck-up and would encourage the motor-mouth in
order to score points? Maybe that why he wasn’t wearing
a ring. Maybe he was either divorced or never married because
getting ahead at work was his priority. Oh God, not the kind
that took extra tasks to get attention, who would break a date at
the last minute or leave a wife alone for dinner if the boss needed
something. What if his outdoors look came from being the kind
of guy who golfed with the big boys – always willing to miss
a putt so the top dogs could win? Or tennis, easy to throw a
match and grin ruefully. Well, she certainly didn’t
need a man like that.
Jack held up a clean glass. “Megan, you want another
one or you calling it quits?”
She hesitated. The threesome around the corner was nodding in
“I’m sure she will and let me get that for you,”
said Mr. Who-The-Hell-Asked-You-To, as he broadcast a silly grin.
Megan covered a snap with a half-smile. “No thanks,
I’ve got to run,” she said quickly, finished her drink
and set it on the bar before her hopeful neighbor could try to
convince her to stay.
“See you later, Jack,” and a polite, but not
encouraging nod to the rejected offerer.
She slung her purse over her shoulder, strode across the thick
carpet to the atrium- entrance and exited into the twilight.
There was a milder breeze now that the sun had set behind the
skyline. Oh, the hell with it. He probably
wouldn’t have been worth the trouble after all.
Superficially attractive, yet probably ultimately disappointing in
some way or another.
Dale Summers exhaled a long breath when his boss’s cell phone
rang and he stepped away from them with a wave of his pudgy hand.
“Sorry about that,” he said with a grin to
Justin. “I had to fill him in before the meeting
tomorrow morning and he runs on when he gets on a roll.”
“No big deal,” his cousin said and twisted toward the
spot vacated by Megan. “Oh, I think she’s
gone. The hot brunette who walked by before, the one you said
Dale craned his neck and motioned for another round.
“Megan? Yeah, you’re right. I guess we must
have missed her. She’s pretty cool from what I know
about her and she might be your type.”
Justin shrugged. “Too bad, but I may be in town again
in the fall. I don’t know what my schedule will
“What a life,” Dale laughed. “Design boats,
test run them all over the place, and get to be your own
boss. No wonder you’ve never gotten married.”
“Just haven’t met the right one yet,” he said and
grinned. “My timing always seems to be off.”