before lucky-Page 6

***

I couldn’t hide my excitement from myself as I got to the diner. My heart was racing, and I was glad that I was a good poker player. My exterior certainly didn’t match the emotions coursing through me. I walked through the diner doors by myself, as I had told my date to meet me there. She had sounded a bit surprised at my request, and normally the chivalrous man inside of me would never let that happen but I wanted an opportunity to see and talk to Lucky without being with someone else the whole time.

“Welcome to Lou’s,” Lucky smiled at me widely, and her eyes looked surprised as she looked behind me to see who I was with.

“She’s meeting me here.” I laughed, wanting her to know that someone was coming eventually.

“Brigetta?” She questioned and she laughed as I shook my head. “Oh, okay, I see.”

I winked at her and shrugged my shoulders. She didn’t really see, but I didn’t want and couldn’t really afford to go into detail as to what was going on. I had convinced myself that it was okay to get to know Lucky, so I could get her off of my mind, but I still couldn’t do anything to compromise the case. I would never forgive myself if something went wrong because I was trying to get a girl into my bed.

“Do you think I’m a player?” I asked her as we walked to a booth.

“I, uh…” Her blush answered my question, and I laughed.

“I personally think it’s better for me to date multiple girls to see which one is right for me, as opposed to leading one girl on.”

“You haven’t found one that is right for you yet?”

“Maybe,” I smiled coyly. “But not really.”

“Maybe you should date outside of the modeling world then, that might help.” Lucky looked slightly embarrassed at her words, but she stared at me defiantly.

“But models are so hot.” I licked my lips and tried not to laugh as her face went red. “Why would I want to date a girl that isn’t hot?”

“If all you care about is them being hot, then I feel sorry for you.” She glared at me then, turned around. “I’ll be back to take your drink order when your date arrives.” And then she walked away. To say I was disappointed at the end of our bantering was an understatement. I loved how she was able to challenge and question me without backing down. I’d never had anyone in my life like that before, well, besides Noah. Noah had told me all sorts of truths about myself that I hadn’t wanted to acknowledge. But I was glad that he had spoken his truth.

“Hi, welcome to Lou’s. Is a booth okay?” I looked up and saw Lucky escorting two college guys to the empty booth next to mine. Lucky avoided my stare as she walked toward me, and I watched as one of the guys studied Lucky’s body with his eyes. He looked up at me before getting into the booth and grinned, and I glared at him. What an asshole. Who did he think he was to objectify Lucky like that?

“Can I start you guys off with drinks or any appetizers?” Lucky went into her reel, but I noticed that she was smiling widely at them. I frowned as I realized how sweet and open she was being to them. Why was she encouraging that guy? Didn’t she realize that he had just been staring her down, and could possibly be a psychopath?

“How about your number?” The guy I had made eye contact with went in for the kill right away, and my breath caught as I waited to see what Lucky would do. He was a handsome guy, too preppy for my taste, but perhaps Lucky would like him.

“Ha ha, funny guys.” She dismissed the question without answering. “I’ll bring two waters while you guys decide.”

“Aw, so I take it that’s a no?” The guy pouted and I rolled my eyes, still listening to the conversation but feeling more at ease.

“I’m sorry, but between work and school, I don’t really have any free time to talk on the phone.”

“Where do you go?” The other guy looked up at her curiously, and I strained my ears to listen as well.

“I’m at the University of Miami,” she smiled. “I’m a history major, so lots of reading, writing, and research.”

“History is boring.” The guy laughed. “We’re both at UM law school.”

“Oh, cool.” She nodded her head and smiled. “I guess I could say I find the law to be a bit boring as well.” ZING! I grinned at her words.

“Oh, so do we.” The guy laughed. “But it’s all about the money, money, money.”

“And making it rain on them hoes.” The other guy laughed and they high-fived. I saw Lucky’s face change from interested to disgusted, and my insides felt lighter than a balloon.

“Excuse me please, Lucky.” I called out to her, and she smiled at me gratefully.

“Excuse me, guys, I need to take care of my other customer, but I’ll be back with your waters and to take your order in a few minutes.” She walked over to me without waiting for an answer. “How can I help you, Zane?”

“I thought you might want an excuse to get away from those wannabe rap artists.” My breath caught as Lucky’s eyes lit up in laughter and her obvious struggle to keep it in.

“Thanks.” She rolled her eyes. “It’s not every day I get to meet winners like that.”

“Thank God for that.” I played with my fingers before I spoke again. “So, you go to UM?”

“Yes,” She nodded. “I even hope to graduate some day.”

“That’s cool.” I smiled, trying to contain the excitement that was bubbling up in me. I couldn’t believe she was a history major. I had an idea, but I wasn’t sure if it would work, and I didn’t want her to know that I knew what she was studying. “Do you like movies?”

“Movies?” She looked confused. “That was a random topic change. I guess I do enjoy movies.”

“Sorry, I’m a bit all over the place today. I’ve just found that many people who like history like movies, and you know, documentaries.”

“I can’t say I’ve watched too many documentaries, but that’s mainly because I don’t have much time, or cable.” She pulled out her pad. “And now I better get your drink order before I get in trouble for chatting with the customers all night.”

I want to be more than your customer. The words were spoken in my head, but as soon as I thought them, I knew they were true. I also knew I had to call the Johnsons back. As soon as possible. Maybe there was a way for me to get to know Lucky and to continue Noah’s work. It had seemed highly impossible when I had spoken to them earlier. How was I going to make a historical documentary on their lives? I’d told them that I would try to work my magic and see what I could make happen. I knew that if Noah were alive, he would want me to continue making the documentary on the Johnsons. And now that I knew Lucky was interested in history, it seemed like a sign. Maybe this was Noah’s way of helping to bring Lucky into my life. It seemed like fate that she was also interested in history, and this documentary was on the history of the Johnsons’ life and segregation. It was almost like a sign. And I would do anything I could to make sure that it came true. I needed to bring Lucky into my life, if I wanted to stop my constant thoughts about her. I knew that once I’d had my fill, she would be forgotten like all the rest.

***

Sandra, my date for the night, arrived about ten minutes later, and I was surprised at how laid-back and smart she was. I wasn’t sure why Braydon had dated her. Yes, she was pretty, but she wasn’t beautiful, and she didn’t seem the sort to care about Hollywood and fame. In fact, it was refreshing talking to someone who wasn’t an airhead or self-centered.

“Here are your two salads.” Lucky dropped the plates off at the table, and this time I didn’t look over at her and smile my thanks. I kept up my eye contact with Sandra and smiled. I couldn’t afford for another date to think my attention wasn’t 100% on her.

“I hope this will be the most delicious salad you have ever had.” I smiled seductively at Sandra, hoping to get Lucky a little jealous.

“Anything else?” Lucky questioned, and I shook my head without looking at her again. A part of me felt bad for ignoring her, but I knew that I would be too distracted by her if I made eye contact with her, and I needed to focus on Sandra. I had a gut feeling that Sandra knew something about Braydon, and I wasn’t going to allow myself to fail at getting that information out of her.

“I’m sure it will be good. Though, I really wanted a juicy burger and fries.” She laughed.

“So why didn’t you get one?”

“I had a burger for lunch. I try to eat one healthy meal a day. Otherwise I will blow up like a balloon.”

“That’s unlikely,” I looked over at her trim body and smiled.

“I recently lost about 50 pounds.” She grinned at me. “And I think my body is missing it.”

“Fifty pounds? Really?” I was shocked for two reasons. One, I couldn’t imagine her being overweight, and two, I couldn’t imagine Braydon dating an overweight girl.

“Yeah,” She sighed. “I lost the weight at rehab.”

“Rehab?” I tried not to be nosey, but I had a gut instinct that the information I was after was tied up in this story.

“Yeah,” she ate some salad and paused. “I was addicted to co**ine and weed.”

“Cocaine and weed?”

“My last boyfriend got me hooked.”

“Oh?” BINGO!

“Yeah, he liked to snort a lot of coke.” She shook her head. “I should have known I was walking into trouble. You always hear that Hollywood types are druggies, but I guess I didn’t really expect it.”

“He did a lot of drugs as well?” I was surprised. From everything I had heard, Braydon wasn’t really a drug abuser, more of a drug pusher and casual user.

“Yeah, coke, heroin, molly. You name it, he was doing it.”

“Huh.” I frowned. This didn’t sound right.

“Yeah, so I dumped him and dated his friend.” She laughed. “Though, I started dating his friend ’cos he got it cheaper for me.”

“Oh? So you dated two actors then?”

“Yeah, yeah, I know you’re thinking, why date two drug addicts?” She laughed. “Honestly, the second guy wasn’t an addict, he just had access to a lot of drugs.”

“I see.” I was betting the second guy was Braydon.

“I mean, if I am being honest, I still preferred the first guy but he became too much of a downer. Braydon was fun and had the hookup.”

“So Braydon helped you score?”

“Well,” Her face went white. “I don’t really want to talk about it. I’ve been clean for a few months now.”

“Good for you.”

“But yeah, I lost weight in rehab. So I try to eat lots of salads to keep the fat off.”

“Interesting.” I didn’t want to tell her that I’d never really heard of an overweight drug addict before. But I didn’t think that it was a really relevant part of the conversation.

“But I’m clean now.” She leaned towards me. “I hope I haven’t turned you off by being too honest about everything. I know that’s a flaw that I have.”

“Of course not, I love honesty.”

“Is everything tasting okay? Is there anything else you guys need?” Lucky stopped by the table again, and this time I turned to her, but she looked over my head and didn’t make eye contact with me.

“It’s great, thanks, Lucky.” My voice was soft and I willed her to look at me but my nonexistent magical powers didn’t work. I sighed inside and realized that she was probably upset at me for ignoring her earlier. My stomach lurched as I realized that she might not easily forgive me. I knew that I was already in an awkward position, trying to get to know her while bringing a different date to the diner every week. She probably thought I was a player, or a jackass, or both. And she wouldn’t be far from the truth. But I couldn’t allow her to just dismiss me. She had wheedled her way into my subconscious, and her smile was indelibly ingrained in my mind.

“She seems nice.” Sandra raised an eyebrow at me.

“Who?”

“Your crush.”

“Sorry what?” I looked at her on confusion.

“The waitress.” She nodded towards Lucky. “Lucy, or whatever her name is.”

“It’s Lucky, and she’s not my crush.”

“If you like her, you should ask her out.”

“I’m on a date with you.”

“Hey, I don’t mind, honestly. I’m just trying to get by, day by day. And frankly, I was surprised when you asked me on a date.” Sandra shook her short, dark brown hair. “I thought you were going to be a jerk, based on what Braydon used to say about you. But you’re cool. I just don’t think we have any sexual chemistry, you know?”

“Oh, really?” I made a face, surprised at her remark. It was true that I wasn’t particularly attracted to her, but I was shocked that she wasn’t attracted to me. I mean, most women were, and I felt slightly dissed that she had dated Braydon but didn’t think I was good enough.

“Don’t get me wrong, I could ride you all f**king night.” She winked at me. “But I don’t think that’s what you want.”

“Well,” I laughed, slightly blown away at her words. This girl didn’t play. “I can f**k with the best of them.” I laughed out loud, and then groaned as I realized Lucky was at the next table. I had a feeling that she had heard what I’d said because she gave me a shocked look before turning away from me. Fuck it! I was making everything worse for myself. “Though, I’m not the sort of guy that just sleeps around.” I spoke loudly so that Lucky could hear, and Sandra gave me a funny look.