(continues from here)
The Void was busy for a Thursday night. There were a few VIPs in with their entourages keeping the bar staff busy serving drinks and the dance floor full of regulars, preening and hoping to catch someone’s eye. I was just grateful that Max and our door people knew who was who in this city because I had no clue why the VIPs were VIPs. I recognized an actor or an athlete now and then but apart from that had had no fucking idea.
Max had tried to educate me but now she just did the meet and greet stuff and left me to the regulars. I was better with them, seeing the same people over and over, you actually got to know them a little, and I can’t tell you how many drunken confessions I’d heard when serving drinks.
“You going down soon?”
I swivelled in my chair to face Max and shrugged. “Wasn’t really planning to.” I hadn’t dressed for it. My jeans and Deadpool tshirt would probably get me in the door, just. “You?”
“Yeah. I’ll go say hello, probably comp a couple of bottles of champagne.”
“Fuck no, they can afford it,” I protested even as she rolled her eyes since we’d had this discussion many times before.
“Yeah and so can we. With what they’ve dropped already tonight, the payroll is covered for the week. It’s good business Zander, trust me. Or ask your friend,” she added with a chin lift at her screen.
I didn’t have the security feed running so I got up to go look at Max’s computer. Of course it was André and the fucker wasn’t alone. I leaned over Max to tap a key to zoom in.
“Why isn’t he at his place?” Max wondered aloud. “Oh wait, is he on a date? I suppose that makes sense, you wouldn’t take a date there.”
“Nope, that’s his friend Jorja,” I said and turned my back on the screen.
“The one who interrupted your lunch date?” Max teased.
“The one and only,” I agreed as I sat back behind my desk.
“No protests about it not being a date?”
“Blah, blah, not a date,” I muttered obligingly as I stared at the spreadsheet that made no sense to me right then. I was thrilled Max was in a great mood. We’d had a little chat about Mitch and the fact that they were having a thing, her words, and I’d wished her luck. I’d told her about going home with Luc and Levi but not about anything else. The situation with them was enough to explain my strange mood apparently.
“You should go be social,” Max said as I resisted the urge to access the camera feed. “You’re fine as you are,” she added before I could protest. “No one will care. One of the perks of owning the place.”
I could have argued the point and probably won, but the truth was I wanted to go down there. I hadn’t heard from André since he’d turned up with pizza and drank my wine over a week ago and I’d expected a call or text, maybe a smoke signal. But there had been nothing and I wondered if he’d changed his mind or if she’d said no. I made my way to the bar first, checking in with our staff and chatting to some of the regulars.
I avoided looking in their direction but I knew André had found a group of seats and he and Jorja both had drinks in hand as they leaned towards each other.
“Just go other there,” I muttered to myself.
“I agree,” Max said from where she’d appeared at my side. She turned to lean against the bar, looking out at the room while I stared at the bar. “Not looking at her wont make her disappear you know.”
“Do you see everything?”
“If it makes you feel any better, she’s not looking at you just as hard.”
“She is not,” I protested instantly and stole a quick glance over my shoulder.
“Well, well.” Max turned to face the bar. “She has you rattled.”
I shrugged. “I barely know her.”
“So go change that. Or did you want to hit the VIP tables with me?”
“Why are you so mean? Do I need to talk to Mitch? Maybe give him some pointers?”
“Oh you do not want to go there,” Max said with a smug smile. “Well, maybe you do. But you had your chance so…” She jabbed her sharp little elbow into my side. “Go talk to them.”
Max left me with the threat of the VIP tables if I was still at the bar when she got back which was more than enough incentive to get me moving.
“Zander! I almost thought you were ignoring us,” André stood up to greet me. “Thought we’d try a casual meeting instead of a date,” he said in my ear as he leaned in and we shook hands.
“You’re an idiot,” I answered in kind with a huge grin and thumped him on the shoulder. “It’s always a pleasure André,” I added louder and looked over at Jorja as we both sat down.
“You remember Jorja?” André reintroduced us and I nodded.
“Of course. What do you think of the club?” I leaned in to ask with what I hoped was a friendly smile.
“It’s great,” she answered with a bright smile but barely glanced at me.
“We were just saying how great the music is,” André sat forward in his chair and touched her knee. “Weren’t we George?” He kept talking and I found myself staring at his hand and feeling ridiculously glad that she was wearing jeans but still wanting to smack his hand away. “…should dance.”
André was looking me as Jorja stood up and took a few steps towards the dance floor but I shook my head and flipped him off when he added a head jerk. He scowled but got up and followed Jorja and I sat and very determinedly did not watch them dance.
One song bled into two and I knew I should go. I’d said hello, done the social thing, I could leave. Max was back at the bar, she had things under control, I’d put in enough hours for the day too. But while I’d sat there the club had gotten busier and I realised I was sitting on prime real estate. If I left, André and Jorja would lose their seats and André had left his jacket on his seat… so I was stuck. No, I’d leave his jacket behind the bar then let him know. As for the seats, they would just have to fend for themselves.
I put my plan into action, the seat I left didn’t even have the chance to get cold before it was filled. André’s jacket was left safely with my staff which left me with one task, letting him know. The dance floor was packed and I considered just sending André a message but something made me seek them out. I could blame the good manners I was raised with or be honest and admit I wanted to see her one last time. I had no doubt that after tonight she’d let André know she wasn’t interested.
Thanks to his height, the man was easy to spot and I made my way to them easily enough. He stopped moving when I touched his shoulder and leaned in to speak close to his ear.
“My day’s done. I’ll see you next time. I left your jacket behind the bar and drinks are on me.”
“What?” His eyes went wide but he kept a smile in place. “You can’t go yet, you and George-”
“It’s not going to happen,” I interrupted with a quick glance that wanted to turn into a stare. She was moving to the music, her hips grinding, shoulders moving, her head tilted down, avoiding my gaze?
“But- hang on.” He clamped a hand to my shoulder as he pulled his phone from his back pocket. “I have to take this.” He showed me the screen that had the name of one of our suppliers on it. “Wait here with George,” he added and left me standing there.
Jorja watched him go with a frown, her body going still so we stood in the middle of the dance floor like statues for a moment. She pointed in the direction André had gone and I moved closer so I could talk to her the same way I had to André, my mouth close to her ear. But he hadn’t smelled as good as she did and he hadn’t tilted his head like he was offering his throat to my mouth. “He had to take a call.” I explained.
She nodded and her lips brushed my ear when she spoke. “I can wait by the bar. You don’t have to wait with me.”
“He said to wait here,” I disagreed and slid an arm around her waist. “Dance with me Sugar.” Her hands lifted, maybe to push me away, but I didn’t give her the chance. I captured her right hand in my left and pulled her against me. “Just one dance,” I whispered and she rested her free hand on my shoulder and we started to sway.
As Prince sung his apology, I made my own. “I’m sorry this is so difficult for you. André wont be long I’m sure.”
“I’m the one who’s sorry.” Her hand patted my shoulder. “Seems I can’t do any of this right,” she said with a sigh.
“This?” I frowned as she tilted her head back and her eyes locked with mine.
She smiled and rolled her eyes. “You know. The whole one night stand thing. I wasn’t meant to ever see you again and yet here you keep tripping over me.”
“Oh,” I said as if I understood but I was baffled. “I honestly don’t mind. I did give you my card so you could contact me if you wanted.” She hadn’t wanted it I remembered but I had insisted. “Not that you used it.” My voice was faintly accusing and she turned her head away but then my heart stuttered as she pressed her cheek to my chest.
I could have stayed there all night, holding her as we danced. I wanted to, but as the song neared its end she slid her hand from my shoulder to my neck and tugged so I lowered my head so she could speak into my ear.
We stopped moving as she said, “I didn’t come to your building to make sure you had kept our secret.”
“No. I wanted to make sure you knew I wasn’t stalking you and that I hadn’t asked André about you.”
“I wouldn’t care if you had,” I said but she kept talking as if she hadn’t heard me.
“I didn’t want you to think I was looking for more either.”
My heart sunk at her words but I shouldn’t have been surprised.
“It’s not true though.”
“What’s not true?” I wished I could see her face but she had a firm grip on my neck and I couldn’t move.
“I do want more but I’m afraid,” she admitted as her breath puffed out in a sigh. “I don’t want to be hurt again Zander.”
I didn’t know what to say that. André had told me she had bad taste in men, that the last boyfriend had been controlling. The night she’d spent with me it was obvious that he’d been something more than that but she hadn’t wanted to talk about it.
“There are no guarantees in this life Jorja.” My hands tightened on her, holding her to me for a few moments more. “I can’t promise you anything besides honesty Sugar, same as last time.” I paused and felt her head move in a slight nod.
It was my turn to sigh. “If you want more, you know how to contact me.”
She nodded again and I hoped for a second chance. I shuddered as her lips brushed my ear as she said, “I’m going to grab a drink, I’ll text André. Thanks for the dance.”
My hands dropped to my sides as I watched her walk away. She didn’t look back and I couldn’t look away until she disappeared into the crowd…