before lucky-Page 10

“Okay.” She nodded at me vacantly. “So did I get something wrong on the bill or something?”

“I wanted to apologize if I said anything to upset you.” I interrupted her question. “I just hope I didn’t come off as rude.” Don’t hate me.

“Oh no, of course not.” She looked at me in surprise.

“I was raised to treat everyone equally,” I continued, not even sure what I was talking about. I could tell by Lucky’s look of surprise that she had no clue either. I was just making things worse. “I hope you don’t think I was disrespecting you as a waitress!” I took a deep breath.

“Not at all.” She blushed and looked away from me. I had made things worse. So this was how it was going to end. Unless she made it to the party tomorrow, I had officially ruined three months of almost-friendship.

“Good. Well have a pleasant evening, Lucky.” I decided to leave now, before I had her calling the cops on me.

“You, too.” She smiled at me weakly and turned away. I felt my heart dropping as I stared at her, I couldn’t just leave like this, so I ran my hand over her shoulder and rubbed it softly. She looked at me in surprise, and I wondered if she had felt that sweet jolt of electricity as well.

“Oh, I intend to.” I stared at her one more time before I left, trying to memorize her face, in case I never saw her again.

***

I stood in the corner of the room and watched the front door. The party was full of life, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, but I wasn’t having fun. My heart was in my mouth the whole time as I waited to see if Lucky would show up. I’d already experienced one heartache that night when Leeza had arrived by herself. I’d gone to talk to Evan, and he had assured me that Lucky would make it, but she was coming by herself. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I was happy to hear that she was coming, but another part of me, the overprotective part, was mad. Didn’t she have a faulty car? Why would she drive her piece-of-crap car to a party late at night? What if something happened? What would she do? Who would she call? I got mad just thinking about it.

I was talking to Joseph Cruisey, one of the actors I knew from Los Angeles, when my heart starting racing. I looked towards the door quickly, and a huge grin spread across my face. Lucky was finally here. I devoured her with my eyes as she came in: she looked beautiful in the emerald green dress she was wearing, and her hair flowed down her back. She looked back at me with a timid smile, and I felt angry at her and myself. She shouldn’t be here. Not at this party. She was too good a girl for a party like this. I had made a mistake. I didn’t trust that one of the vultures in the room wouldn’t try to make a run for her, as if she were some new desirable prey. I was about to wave to her to come over to me when I saw her turn around and grab a flute of champagne.

“Lucky?” I walked towards her quickly, not wanting to lose her in the crowd, and touched her lightly on the shoulder.

“Hi.” She turned around slowly and tried to avoid eye contact with me as I smiled at her slowly.

“I thought that was you.” I frowned as I looked over her body. The dress was more revealing than I thought. Her body looked amazing, and I was having a hard time keeping my hands off of her. “You look different.”

“Yeah. I’m in a dress,” she quipped back with a small smile, and a twirl of her hair. “And I have on makeup that hasn’t melted off yet.”

“And your hair is down.” I reached over and touched it, allowing my fingers to feel the strands that beckoned to me so wildly. “It’s so soft and silky.” I bet it would feel wonderful against my face.

“Thanks to Chi,” She laughed, and I nodded not wanting her to know I had no idea who Chi was. “I have naturally curly hair, so I use it to calm down the frizz and straighten it,” She continued, and I smiled at her nervous banter. It somehow made me feel better to know that she was nervous as well.

“I see.” I nodded, wanting to tease her, but thinking better of it.

“You should see it when it’s curly. It’s crazy.” She played with her hair and continued talking.

“Well, I can’t tell.” I shrugged as I looked at her straight tresses. They didn’t look very curly to me, but what did I know about girls and their hair?

“I’m like the frizz monster.” She giggled again nervously. I wanted to tell her that it was okay, I felt out of my comfort zone as well. “You’re lucky your hair is always so straight and silky naturally.” She glanced at my head and pointed. “I mean, that’s how it looks now, not in the past. I never noticed in the past.”

“Thanks.” I ran my hand through my hair, glad that she liked it.

“Do you use any special products?”

“No. I use Head and Shoulders shampoo and conditioner, and that’s about it.” I paused feeling like an idiot. Why had I said Head and Shoulders? Wasn’t that the dandruff stuff from TV? To be honest, I had no clue what I used. I bought the first thing I picked up in the aisle.

“Aw.” She looked around the room with a red face and waved her hands. “This is a really cool party, huh?”

“It’s okay.” I shrugged, debating whether I should tell her about my involvement in getting her to the party. I wasn’t sure if it was romantic or stalkerish. I had a feeling that it may seem a bit creepy, so I decided to throw her off of the trail, just in case she had a feeling that I was involved in getting her there. “I didn’t know you knew Mike.”

“Who?” She looked at me in confusion.

“Mike Vegara. The guy throwing this party.” I groaned to myself. I was sounding like an idiot.

“Oh, I don’t.” She bit my lip, and gave me a small secret smile. “My friend invited me. Don’t tell anyone, but I wasn’t really invited. I’m not really part of this crowd.”

“What crowd?” I stifled a laugh.

“The rich and famous crowd.” She smiled and then made a face, as she realized that I was likely a part of the same crowd she was talking about.

“Well, you know that already,” she continued quickly with a weak laugh, “I wouldn’t be working at Lou’s if I was rich and made of money.”

“Then I’m glad you’re not rich.” I beamed at her and moved closer to her. “I feel sorry for anyone who is a part of this crowd.” I spoke honestly, wanting her to know that it didn’t matter to me that she wasn’t rich. That I was interested in her, or getting to know her because of who she was inside.

“Oh?”

“It’s a long story.” I sighed. I didn’t want to get into a long conversation about the evils of having endless amounts of money. “I don’t want to bore you.”

“I don’t think you have a boring bone in your body.” She blushed and looked down, and I felt a warmness fill me.

“There are many girls who would beg to differ with you there.” I laughed.

“So who’s your date tonight?” She changed the subject and looked around the room.

“No date tonight.” I laughed, wanting to tell her that I considered this our first date. But I didn’t want her to run away from me.

She wiggled her eyebrows at me, and I wanted to pull her towards me and kiss her. “That’s got to be a first.”

“I usually reserve Fridays for my dates.” I stared deeply into her eyes, wondering what she would do if I pulled her towards me. “I think you’ve met every woman I’ve taken out in the last few months.” I said honestly.

“A different one every week.” She laughed and shook her head in amazement.

“Well, I have to get what I need.” I cleared my throat, why had I said that? It made me sound like a jackass again. “More importantly, don’t ever take Friday nights off. I’m not sure my dates would go as well if you weren’t there.” And I wouldn’t want to go to the diner if you weren’t there. I tried to forget that I wouldn’t be taking any more dates to the diner. I didn’t want to think that this could be the last time I ever got to talk to Lucky.

“I’m not sure I’m a good luck charm. I never see you with the same girl more than once.” She looked at me searchingly, and I knew she wanted to ask me why I went on so many different dates. And a part of me really wanted to tell her, but I knew that I couldn’t. I didn’t want to bring up Noah, and I didn’t want to jeopardize the case.

“What about you? You here with your boyfriend?” I changed the subject and looked straight into her eyes to see if I could see what she was thinking. I was almost positive that she was still single, but I wanted to make sure.

“No.” She didn’t elaborate on her answer, and I was frustrated that I still didn’t know what the no was in response to.

“I’m surprised he let you come out by yourself,” I continued, trying to fish the answer out of her.

“I’m here with friends.”

“So what does he do?” I persisted, and I knew I sounded like a pest.

“Who?” She frowned, and I could tell she had no idea what I was going on about.

“Your boyfriend.” I sighed as I just let it out. Do you have a boyfriend?

“Oh, well, I don’t exactly have one right now.” YES!

“Aw, you’re rocking the single life?” I felt a huge grin take over my face, and I moved in even closer to her, enjoying the feel of her body warmth close to me.

“You could say that.” She rolled her eyes, and I wasn’t sure why.

“You’re a beautiful girl, I’m sure there has to be someone you’re interested in.” Stop being nosey, Zane. Be smooth!

“Not really.” I was a little upset at her response but I guess there was no way she could have said me.

“This isn’t the sort of party to meet a good guy, though.” I whispered at her harshly, just in case she was looking to meet a guy here at the party that wasn’t me. “I mean, a lot of the guys here aren’t the sort I would recommend to a girl like you.”

“Well, I will try and remember that.”

“I’m sure you’ll meet a Mr. Wonderful soon.” I paused. “I guess that’s what you women want, right? A Mr. Wonderful to sweep you off your feet and promise you a forever?” I knew I could sweep her off of her feet, but I didn’t do forever.

“You could say that,” She nodded. “Though I’m waiting patiently. I know the right guy is out there somewhere.” She looked so sweet as she spoke, and a part of me ached at her words. There was a Mr. Right out there for her somewhere and it ate me up inside. I didn’t want to think about her being with someone else.

“So, Lucky. What else do you do aside from working at Lou’s?” I decided to go in for the kill. It was now or never. I needed her to come with me to Los Angeles with a passion.

“I’m studying history at UM. I know it sounds a bit boring, but I love it.” She made a face, and I laughed.

“History, huh?” My eyes glowed, as I pretended this was the first time I was finding out about her love of the subject. “Know anything about the Civil Rights Era?”

“It’s my specialty, actually.” She nodded eagerly. “I’m actually focusing on that period of time for my thesis.”

“I can tell you enjoy it.” I reached out and touched her cheek gently, no longer able to stop myself from having some skin to skin contact with her. “There’s something wonderful about a woman who is passionate about something.” I want you to be passionate about me as well.

“I’m a …” She looked up at me with wide eyes.

“Lucky, there you are.” Leeza ran up to us squealing as she interrupted Lucky. I was furious at the interruption, but also worried that she would say something about seeing me before. “I was so worried you weren’t going to come.”

“I’m here.” Lucky smiled and did a little twirl. I laughed at her movements—she was so free and capricious. I loved that about Lucky: she was the sort of girl that would dance with me in the rain, without worrying about getting wet.

“I want you to meet this guy.” Leeza grabbed her arm enthusiastically, while ignoring me. I sent her mental signals to back off, while keeping a pleasant look on my face.

“I’m actually talking to someone.” Lucky smiled at me apologetically, and I grinned back at her. She was enjoying the conversation as much as I was, I was pretty sure of that.

“Oh?” Leeza turned around and stared at me, her blue eyes nearly popping out as she looked me up and down. I saw the recognition in her eyes before they glazed over. “Hi, I’m Leeza, Lucky’s best friend. And you are?” She flung her blonde hair over her shoulders, and flirted with me again. I wasn’t sure if she was pretending she didn’t know who I was, for my benefit or hers.

“Zane.” I said briefly. “I’m a friend of Lucky’s.”

“You never told me about any Zane.” Leeza looked at Lucky with narrowed eyes.

“Well, we’ve just been getting to know each other recently,” Lucky started, but I interrupted her, as I didn’t want the conversation to continue.

“Now, now, Lucky.” I slid my arm around her waist. “What do you consider the last three months? The honeymoon period?” I whispered in her ear as I pressed into her, enjoying the feel of her body next to mine.

“Well, you know.” She breathed quickly, as I allowed my hand to run up and down her back.