It was almost dawn when Zander locked the door behind the last employee to leave then went back to join Max at the bar.
“Next time I say we can fill in, remind me I’m an idiot would you,” Max said without lifting her head from where it rested on her crossed arms.
“Pretty sure I said that. Want me to find the text?” Zander offered and reached into his back pocket for his phone. “Oh hey. This is for you,” he said with a smirk as he tapped the business card that had been with his phone in front of Max.
“Just file it with the rest of my collection,” she responded waving a hand towards the rubbish bin.
“Do you want the message it came with first?”
“Let me guess…” Max sat up with a groan then dropped her voice to say, “I love those pants but they’d look better around your ankles.”
“What?” Zander tilted his head back and laughed. “No one said that!” Max nodded sadly and he laughed harder.
“Careful there princess, you’ll smear your eye liner,” Max said and pushed her shoulder against his as his laughter died. “Come on then, do better than that,” she challenged.
“No chance,” Zander said with a grin. “I told Mitch, the stout drinker, that you’d eat him alive and he said he was sure he’d enjoy the experience.”
“Oh really?” Max tilted her head from one side then back the other way stretching her neck. “He was cute. Okay gorgeous,” she amended at Zander’s snort. “I thought he was checking you out though,” she added as she reached for the card.
“Not as much as he was checking you out obviously.”
Max took the card and flipped it over. “Personal trainer,” she read aloud then flicked it up between her index and middle finger and got lined up her shot. “Bye random hot guy.”
Zander’s, “He’s not random,” had her pausing.
“That’s my gym.” He pointed at the card. “He’s a decent guy but not into relationships. Well that’s the talk anyway.”
“Is that why I got this card and not you? Don’t want it to be awkward after?”
“Nope.” Zander stood up and stretched, more than ready to go home and avoid this conversation.
“There was a definite vibe between you two so…” she drew the last word out as she followed Zander’s lead. “You’re not into men this week?”
“Maxine Ashling Kelly, I love you but you’re an idiot,” Zander said with a sigh as he slung an arm around her shoulder and headed for the exit.
“Oh I know you’re all no labels, you want who you want.” Max stepped through the door and waited while Zander set the alarm and walked out to join her. “I don’t know how it works in your head, maybe you wake up feeling like a girl for a change,” she teased.
“No babe, I think like most people I wake up feeling like coffee,” he said dryly as they started walking.
“And a hot guy to bring it to you,” Max added with a wistful sigh.
“Call him.” Zander tapped the card she still held. “Maybe he’ll deliver.”
“Mmm, maybe.” Max slid the card into her pocket. “What about you? What about that guy with the blue tipped hair that was in last week?”
“Who?” Zander frowned, sure Max hadn’t been in that night.
“What? You thought I didn’t know? Hah!” She snorted. “You getting hot and heavy with a patron in the back passage, pun intended, was never going to be a secret sweetie.”
“Fucking gossips,” Zander swore. “And very funny but nothing happened. Much,” he added at her laugh of disbelief.
“Yeah I heard he left alone and hasn’t been back since. So what’s the story there then?”
Zander hesitated to answer since this was the very conversation he’d wanted to avoid. But maybe he should talk it out… “He has a boyfriend and they want a threesome,” he admitted.
“Oh! So what, scheduling issues?”
Zander shrugged. “I’m not sure I want to.”
Max frowned. “Really? Is the boyfriend horrible?”
“Not at all. Nice guy, easy on the eyes.”
“Oh my,” Max breathed softly and stopped walking, drawing Zander to a halt with her.
“What?” He looked around in concern until her pointy elbow shoved into his ribs.
“You care. You have like, feelings for them,” she accused, her eyes wide.
“Max!” Zander said her name with a laugh. “Like I said before babe, you’re an idiot.”
“You care,” she said it again as they resumed walking.
“Nope. They’re in love, you can see it on them. And I don’t want to… you know how it is? They think they want this then they do it and it changes things, then I’m the bad guy.”
“So?” Max shrugged. “You’re not looking for a relationship with them Z. You have your fun, they have theirs, you never have to see them again. Their relationship is their business.”
“You know you sound a lot like Mitch,” Zander grumped as they came to a stop before Max’s building.
“What did he say?”
“That if it’s not me it’ll be someone else.”
“He has a point,” Max said, unaware of how those words stabbed at Zander.
They shouldn’t, but they did, and that was the real reason why he shouldn’t even be thinking about it. “Hey, Mitch had one last message for you,” Zander said as Max took a step towards the building entrance. She arched her brows in question as he started to walk back the way they’d come. “He said to tell you he’s easy,” he said with a grin and a wave.
He walked on alone, intending to go home but when his building neared he kept walking, He walked to a diner he frequented and went inside, sat in a booth by the window and ordered breakfast then he stared at the building across the road. The apartment he’d visited a couple of times didn’t have a window overlooking the street but he knew it was in there. Probably empty now since Luc had all but moved in with his boyfriend. He’d been to that house once also, one memorable night.
They wanted him to go back. He wanted to go back. No, he wanted to stay, not just be an extra body in a scene they wanted to try. And that was the complicated part, the thing holding him back. Knowing he’d be alone afterwards. He finished his food and sipped his coffee as he stared up at the building thinking… he was alone anyway. He’d been alone before, would be alone again, but in between… he didn’t have to be if he didn’t want to.
The sun was up by the time Max had showered and was laying down in bed. She held the business card Mitch had left for her, staring at it as she remembered meeting him… well if you could call him staring and holding her hand a meeting. The man was seriously good looking with his stubbled jaw, dark eyes and blonde hair. His body hadn’t been on display in what he was wearing but being a personal trainer he would have to be in good shape.
She’d felt his eyes on her as she worked her end of the bar but had avoided looking over not wanting to be tempted by the sexy stranger at the bar. It was just too cliché. Except he wasn’t a stranger, Zander knew him, said good things about him and he’d left his card and with no crude compliments. It really would be rude not to respond… right?
It took a few attempts before Max was gave a frustrated groan and hit send.
Me: I hear you are easy?
She held her breath as it sent then waited. And waited. “Oh you idiot,” she muttered. “It’s literally the crack of dawn.” She shoved the phone under her pillow then dug it out to place on her bedside table and shoved her head under the pillow. The buzz of a new message had her freezing. Should she ignore it? It was probably going to be an irate ‘who the hell is this!’
Mitch: Only for sexy redheaded business partners
Me: Really? Sounds promising then. Important question now… are you good?
Mitch: I got a 5 star review on Yelp and airbnb recently 😛
Me: How’s your waiting list?
Mitch: I have a vacancy anytime you need it Max 😛 Hate to cut this short but I have a client to yell at. Can I call you later?
Me: Later is good. Just sliding into bed, need a good solid 8 (that’s hours not inches) to be human again 😛
Mitch: You’re killing me here Max 😀
Me: Night Mitch 😀