“Dude, I’m not trying to be funny. And I know this is weird because we’re technically on a date, but just ask her out. Write a letter or note to her or something. Girls love that shit. Leave your number in the letter and ask her to call you.”
“You’re pretty cool, you know that?” I shook my head in amazement. “But no, I won’t be doing that.”
“I know, I know. I’m unique.” She laughed loudly. “And now that I’m not a f**king dopehead, I’m about more than just giving my body away.”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
“Though, the offer for tonight is still on. I can rock your world if you want me to.” She leaned towards me and winked. “There are things I can do with an ice cube that will have you wishing you lived in the Sahara Desert.”
“Oh?” I leaned toward her, intrigued. “You’re making it very hard to say no.”
“But I’m not making it easy enough to say yes, am I?”
I shook my head reluctantly. She was right. While my body was interested in finding out the tricks of her trade, mentally I wasn’t interested. There was only one person that I wanted in my bed, rocking my world right now. And until I had her, no one else would satisfy me. I needed to have her before I could exorcise her from my mind. I needed to taste her sweetness on my lips. She was my Eve, and my life couldn’t move past this point without the delight of me experiencing sin with her.
“She’s looking over here, you know.” Sandra laughed. “And if looks could kill, I think I’d be in a cemetery right now.”
“Come on now.” I laughed but my face flushed warm.
“You cannot doubt that she also thinks you’re hot. Seriously?” She sat back and looked at me with disbelieving eyes. “You’re like the hottest guy in Miami, and perhaps the richest one as well.”
“She doesn’t know I’m rich.”
“Well you sure don’t look like a bum.” Sandra ran her eyes over me. “Not at all.”
“Are you undressing me with your eyes?” I flirted back with her, happiness making me lightheaded. If she thought Lucky was interested in me, she had to have noticed something.
“I am, but I don’t think I’m the one that has you so happy.”
“You’re a nice girl, Sandra,” I started, but she held her hand up and stopped me.
“But I’m not the girl. I get it, I get it.” She jumped up. “I think it’s best if I leave, and maybe you can talk to the waitress.”
“No, don’t leave.” I shook my head. I still needed to get some info from Sandra about Braydon. “We should finish our food and get dessert.”
“I could go for an ice cream sundae.”
“You read my mind.” I ran my hands through my hair and knocked my fork onto the ground as I brought my hand down. “Oops.” I bent over to get it, and as my fingers reached it, another hand closed down on the fork and soft fingers grazed against mine. I felt a shock of electricity and looked up slowly. Lucky’s face was mere inches from mine, and her eyes were wide with surprise as she gazed into my darkened irises. I squeezed her fingers briefly, and we both looked at each other in awe as the flow of electricity between us connected us to each other. I’d never felt anything like this before, it was as if our two bodies together made a live circuit. I was almost scared to let go of her. Her touch made me feel powerful, and now that I had felt that jolt of adrenaline, I was loath to go back to my regular self. “I dropped my fork.” I continued staring into her eyes.
“I saw, I was just picking it up for you.” Her voice was soft as she spoke and I watched her lips carefully as she talked. They were so pink and luscious and just waiting on me to nibble on them.
“You didn’t have to do that.”
“I wanted to help.”
“Thank you.” I smiled at her and we both laughed and straightened up. I could feel Sandra smirking at me, and I kept my eyes away from her. I couldn’t believe that she had been able to sense my connection to Lucky. I obviously wasn’t as good at hiding my thoughts and feelings as I had thought.
“Are your salads good?” She turned away from me and looked at Sandra and I noticed that her face looked flushed. It pleased me to see that I affected Lucky as much as she affected me.
“They are great, thanks.” Sandra nodded. “Oh, I love this song.” She started nodding her head to the Bee Gees song that was playing over the speakers.
“I’ll just take the bill when you have time please, Lucky.” I said the only thing I could think of to keep the conversation going.
“Leaving already?” She looked at me with slight disappointment.
“Well, you know. I don’t want to hog up your table all night.”
“Oh, it’s okay. I don’t mind. Well, you know what I mean.” She blushed deep red, and I watched as the deep heat caressed her face.
“Not really. What do you mean?” I stared at her curiously, and Sandra slapped my hands.
“Come on now, Zane. Give the girl a break.”
“Sandra,” I shook my head and she rolled her eyes as she mumbled something under her breath that sounded a lot like “sucker.”
“I’ll leave the bill with you then.” Lucky paused. “Have a great night.” She turned around and walked away slowly, and I realized that I was a sucker. All I wanted to do was ask her out. For once, I didn’t want to feel that hollow feeling that she was walking away and that I may never see her again. It was a deep, depressing feeling and it reminded me of how I felt when I realized my mother wasn’t coming back. After she had left, I had waited every morning by top of the stairs before the sun came up. I would wait with my blanket, before everyone had woken up, and pray that that would be the morning that my mother would walk back through the door. I had been able to visualize myself running down the stairs and into her arms. She’d grab me close to her and swing me around, and I’d smell her perfume as I buried my face into her neck and she would take me to McDonald’s for breakfast and I’d show off to Noah when we got back. I had waited for a few months, until one morning my dad had come out of his room and caught me. He’d made it clear that my mother was never coming back and that she didn’t miss me or Noah. There was not going to be a loving reunion, a special rendezvous for an Egg McMuffin and chocolate milk. Not then, and not ever. I can still remember the first morning I had woken up and not rolled out of bed and gone to the landing. I had just laid in bed and stared at the ceiling with tears rolling down my face, and an anxious and sad feeling in my soul.
It was a feeling that had never left me, and it had only grown worse with Noah’s death. It was an emptiness and dread, a loneliness that could never be filled; and a worry that never went away. Every time I left the diner, I felt a twinge of that worry and pure dread. I was scared that I was never going to see Lucky again. I couldn’t control the feeling that consumed me. I didn’t want this dread to control me. My life was becoming governed by the feeling. I didn’t even understand why I felt this way about Lucky. What did I really care if I never saw her again? But I knew I did care. I knew that I cared more than I wanted to admit to myself. And I was scared. I didn’t even recognize myself or my emotions anymore.
“So I’m guessing tonight won’t be the night you ask her out?” Sandra grinned at me. “Instead, it could be the night I show you the night of your life.”
“I’m afraid you’re correct with both of those questions.” I sighed. “But I’d love to hear more about your past.” I needed to get more information on Braydon right now. I’d worry about Lucky later.
Two and a half months later
Fridays were my favorite day of the week. I mean, I wouldn’t acknowledge that to anyone, but Friday night couldn’t come soon enough for me. Seeing Lucky’s face was the highlight of my week and the worry that I used to feel that she wouldn’t be working when I went in had faded tremendously. I still worried that she would be off, or that she would quit, but that was a lesser emotion. I no longer fought the emotions that she brought to the surface in me—I just ignored them instead. I still hadn’t asked her to go on a date, but I had plenty of letters sitting on my desk that I been too chicken to give her. Well, chicken isn’t really the right word. I’m not a chicken in any sense of the word. In other circumstances, I would have asked her out in a minute, but there were certain things holding me back. Primarily, I didn’t want to make things awkward if she said no or if the date didn’t go well. I still wanted to go to Lou’s Burger Joint on my dates: partly to see her, and partly because that was the most comfortable place for me. Okay, so I’m lying. It was pretty much all because I wanted to see Lucky and I didn’t want to ruin the rapport we had going. I didn’t want my asking her on a date to ruin anything.
But every Friday night when I left the restaurant I thought about her and wished I was going home with her. And I told myself that the next week would be the week I would ask her out. I knew that I just needed one night, or a weekend with her. And then she would be out of my system. At least that is what I told myself.
As I got ready for my date of the evening, I couldn’t stop myself from being excited. Every week felt like the first week, and when I saw Lucky’s face in the diner I felt like I was home. I knew she and the other waitresses didn’t think much of me, though. I saw them laughing and whispering every time I came in with a new date. I knew that they tried to be quiet and hide in the back, but Maria’s voice carried across the room easily and Shayla wasn’t scared to look right at me with a disapproving stare when I arrived. Even Lucky had a giveaway sign when they were talking about me. Her face would turn bright red and she would turn away quickly. I didn’t mind though, I know that I looked shady and like a player. I was glad they didn’t judge me too much for it, though. Lucky always gave me a wide, bright smile and there were several times that we had engaged in conversations about our lives that were more than just polite exchanges. Still, I wanted to learn more about her and what she enjoyed doing. I looked down at the little magnetic notepad I had gotten for Lucky at a gift shop: it was a small black notepad, with the words “You Gotta Love It! Miami” on the front, and I was excited to give it to her. I wanted to give her one of the notes I had written for her as well, but I figured that would be too much. I didn’t want to show her my full hand too early.
“You’ve got a call, you’ve got a call, don’t drop the ball, don’t drop the ball.” My phone’s new ringer sang to me and I grabbed it quickly just to shut up the annoying voice of one of the chipmunks.
“Hello, Zane here,” I answered without looking at who was calling.
“Zane, it’s Special Agent Waldron.”
“Oh, hi.” I frowned, not sure why he was calling me right before a date. Had something happened?
“I wanted to tell you that I think you need to leave Miami for a bit.”
“What?” My voice was louder that normal and I cleared my throat before talking. “Why?”
“I don’t think this line of questioning is going well and we think that Braydon is onto the fact that you are dating his exes. From what we can tell, he doesn’t know that he is under suspicion, but we think that it’s better for the case if you take a breather for a bit.”
“How does Braydon know?” My voice was raspy, and I clenched my fists. I didn’t want to leave Miami, not yet.
“We think Brigetta has been stalking you.” He sighed. “I’m sorry, but I think she had sour grapes after your date and has been following you. It seems like she made some sort of connection and informed Braydon. He’s been overheard telling people you’re dating all of his leftovers.”
“So he doesn’t know we suspect him of drugs?” I sighed, glad for some good news.
“We don’t think so. But I think after tonight, you need to abort the current plan of dating these girls. It is my suggestion and advice that you leave Miami as soon as possible and go to Los Angeles.”
“As soon as possible.”
“I see.” I bit my lip. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to stop seeing Lucky. It was too soon. I hadn’t even gotten to take her on a date yet.
“We think you should leave tomorrow if possible.”
“No.” There was no hesitation in my voice. “I can’t leave tomorrow.”
“Zane, for the sake of the case and your brother’s memory, we really think it is best…”
“I can’t leave tomorrow.” I interrupted him, as my brain worked furiously. “I have some loose ends I need to tie up.”
“If it’s about the diner…” Special Agent Waldron’s voice was soft. “I know you’ve been going there a lot, and I’m not going to ask you why. But I want to warn you that getting involved with anyone right now is not advisable.”
“I’ll go to Los Angeles in the next couple of weeks.” My voice was even and brusque. “I have some things to take care of before I leave.”
“You have to be careful, Zane. Remember why you’re doing this. Think about Noah. These drug lords, they don’t care about innocent lives.”
“Everything I do is for Noah. I haven’t forgotten. I have to go.” I hung up quickly, annoyed that he had questioned me like that. I was so annoyed that I could almost ignore the yearning and worry that rested around my heart. I wasn’t going to see Lucky again, not for a long time. Not unless I somehow got her to agree to come to Los Angeles with me. I just didn’t see how it would work, though. I’d already spoken to the Johnsons and they were more than happy for me to continue working on the documentary, but I didn’t have any idea how to get Lucky there. I didn’t think I could just say, “Hey wanna come to Los Angeles with me and work on a history documentary? You don’t know me and you think I’m a player, but hey.” I sighed to myself and rubbed my forehead. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. My initial plan of slowly getting to know Lucky and becoming friends before I went in for the kill, wasn’t going to work. The timeline I thought I had was gone. I needed to fast-forward everything and I had no idea how to do that without looking like a weirdo and her turning me down point-blank. I couldn’t afford that.