Grabbing my purse and keys, I headed out to where my Lexus was parked and made my way to Lowe’s. Before I headed in, I texted Syd a quick rundown of my plans and then found myself standing in front of a million and one paint choices.
Probably should’ve decided on a color. It took a God-awful amount of time before I settled on a charcoal gray and even longer to find someone to mix the damn paint. Two hours had passed by the time I’d made it back to my car and into the grocery store down the street.
It wasn’t until after I picked up the yummy summer sausage dish that I realized I hadn’t heard my phone ding. Sitting in the parking lot, I dug my phone out of my bag and saw that Syd had texted me back.
Not 2night. Maybe this weekend.
Disappointment rose so swiftly, it was like being caught in a summer storm. I stared for so long at the text, the words blurred. I tossed the phone back in my purse and I sat there, staring at the empty car across from me.
Now what in the hell was I supposed to do with the summer sausage? Probably should’ve checked my texts before I’d bought the stuff. I rolled my eyes. God, that was stupid.
Anger flashed through me like a strike of heat lightning. It was irrational. I had no reason to be mad at Syd. Wasn’t like this was planned. Wasn’t like she had a need to hang out with me after this weekend. Wasn’t like—
I cut those thoughts off, dug my phone out of my bag, and then sent her a quick okay. My attention wandered back to the vacant truck. I couldn’t go home. I’d go crazy if I went back to my apartment.
I didn’t even remember driving to the bar that we usually hung out at together. With college not back in yet and being the middle of the week, the place was pretty dull. As I crossed the floor I’d danced on more times than I could remember, I grabbed one of the many empty stools at the bar.
“Hey there,” the bartender moseyed on up, smiling. He was cute. Older. I think he recognized me. “What can I get you?”
As I played with my phone, I considered a beer. “How about a Long Island?”
“Coming up.” He wiped his hands on the towel. “Tab or pay as you go?”
“Pay,” I mumbled as I dug out my wallet. Seemed ridiculous to run a tab on a Wednesday night.
My eyes watered when I took the first drink of the Long Island Iced Tea. Goodness, it was strong, but I slurped it up, welcoming the burn as it blazed down my throat and chest.
I finished off the drink and then ordered a beer as I glanced around the bar. A few guys were by one of the two pool tables. One of them looked vaguely familiar. My gaze moved on as I drank. At the other end of the bar were two middle-aged men. They looked…tired.
Surprised, I glanced up at the bartender. “Excuse me?”
“Drink.” He gestured at the bottle with his hand. “Do you want another? You’re out.”
My brows furrowed as I glanced down. Holy crap, I was. When in the world did that happen? “Sure,” I said. “Just one more.”
The words seemed to laugh at me, because when he showed up with the drink, he also placed a glass of water in front of me.
Wednesday night and I was at a bar. Alone. At least my tummy was warm.
I glanced down at my phone as I thumbed through my contacts. I stopped when I got to Tanner. Was he working?
I bit down on my lip. He’d told me to call him when I was ready to talk, but that was a big question. Was I ready? Because talking….
The sounds of the bar increased around me as I stared at his name. Talking went beyond him and me, didn’t it? Talking meant being honest about more than just us. I mean, after all, I was sitting—
I jolted at the sound of a male voice and looked up. A guy around my age stood beside me. He was kind of cute, I thought as I stared up at him, and he’d been one of the guys over by the pool table. I glanced around. He was talking to me. “Hi.”
He leaned against the bar, grinning. “It’s been a while.”
Reaching out with one arm, he tapped mine. “I haven’t seen you around.”
Oh crap. Did I know this guy? I knew knew this guy, didn’t I?
He cocked his head to the side and then laughed under his breath. “You don’t remember me, do you?” He laughed again, and I felt my cheeks start to heat. “Man, wow.”
I winced. “I’m sorry…”
“Ah, it’s okay. It was a wild night. Lots of tequila.” He winked, and my stomach dropped so fast, I thought it fell out of me. “You drinking tonight? I can get you a drink.”
Oh my God.
Understanding smacked me in the face with the force of a baseball bat. Vague and wispy memories surfaced of him… and his truck—his truck that smelled like fast food, and I had—
I averted my gaze, suddenly sick to my stomach. An ugly tide of embarrassment washed over me, suffocating with its severity. I should’ve stayed home, stuffed my face with summer sausage and cheese, and painted the damn walls myself.
Except the walls…the walls weren’t the problem.
I didn’t need a change, I realized. Rearranging my living room wasn’t going to change anything. Painting my apartment wasn’t going to do it. Getting a pet wasn’t going to make me any happier. I needed to change.
“Babe,” he cooed, reaching out and brushing the back of his hand across my cheek. “You still here?”
Jerking back from his touch, I grabbed my phone and shoved it into my bag. I slipped off the barstool. “Sorry. I have to go.”