Parker sat restlessly in the booth at Pat’s Pub. It was Dixie’s twenty-first birthday. He had ordered a plate of fries, two shots of tequila, and a beer. He was nursing the beer and looking at the shots when the fries arrived.
“Think she’s coming?” He was one of the Collins Clan, the family that owned the pub. He wasn’t sure which one he was, just that he seemed familiar enough that he knew him.
Which made him consider the fact that they may have been noticed more than either of them expected to be. The thing about the Pub was the location, away from both of their lives. “I didn’t think we were that memorable.”
“Two teenagers ordering fries and soda every Tuesday for three years until you graduated then left.” He folded his arms and gave him a pretty stern expression.
“I left for college.” Parker shouldn’t feel like he needed to justify himself to a nosy pub owner, yet he did and he was doing just that.
“I know. I know everything.” He nodded in a convincing manner.
“I don’t really remember you.” Parker was trying to place the guy.
“Oh, she didn’t talk to me, my sister…”
Parker smiled. “I remember her.”
The expression was really unpleasant then. Parker chuckled and admitted, “She was really nice to us. We were kids, remember?”
“Yeah, well. I’ve got a bet going with a few of the staff. For what it’s worth, I’m hoping she does show up. I don’t want to lose twenty bucks.”
Parker wanted to be angry as the guy walked away, but it was quickly replaced with joy and anticipation as Dixie walked into the pub. He smiled uncontrollably. She had pulled her long brown hair up into a ponytail that swung as she walked. The soft pink dress accentuated everything wild and womanly about her. He couldn’t stand up without revealing just how much he was glad to see her.
She slid into the booth and picked up a fry. She ate it before even saying hello. He liked that about her. Dixie had the kind of confidence her entire life he had to find at college and she was still better at it. With a wink and a playful smile she said, “Hey.”
“I ordered shots like we planned.” He turned twenty-one last year and while he celebrated with his college buds, he was thinking about her and today the whole time.
“You ready?” She slid a well-manicured fingernail along the rim of the shot glass.
“Are you?” He mimicked her movement, but it was far less graceful and nowhere near seductive, but it definitely made her laugh. With a nod, they picked up the shots and tipped them back. He followed with the lime and watched her face scrunch up with her bite. “They made a bet on us, by the way.”
“Who did?” She was focused on the fries.
“One of the owners and the staff, apparently.” He sipped the beer. “I wasn’t sure what drink to…”
One of the female wait staff approached with an iced tea and sat it on the table. “I’m sorry about the bet, Sugar. You know some of the regulars were hoping this one wouldn’t show up.”
“It’s okay. I’ll see you next week, right?”
“I can’t wait.”
Parker waited until she was gone before asking, “What’s happening next week?”
“Facial.” Her smile was somewhere between real and fake. He felt his lips pull down in a frown. “I got my esthetician license last year. I’m working on my massage therapy certification now.”
“How many licenses do you need?” Parker knew they came from different worlds. It was what he liked most about her. She wasn’t pretentious.
“Two more.” She was serious and excited about it.
He wanted to ask her to come back with him, but knew better. Dixie was not the kind of girl anyone could force into a settled situation. She made that perfectly clear the first time they met. The first time they entered this pub and split a plate of fries until the rain passed. Over the years and plates of fries he had moments where he thought he could ask her to only see him, but then she would say something about some wild or crazy thing and he would keep the idea to himself.
He knew what was coming next. He knew they would leave the pub and find some place private, yet probably still public, to make-out or have sex.
“Come on, Parker. I got us a room.”