Bar Crawl
Author:Andrea Randall

He leaned in closer, and I could feel his breath on my neck. “I’d find something you were passionate about.”

 

Swallowing hard, I fought the words on my tongue. I wanted to spit back the things I knew about him. CJ Kane, drummed his way up and down the Cape and across most of New England since he’d been able to work a pair of sticks into something magical. I guessed we were roughly the same age, but from what I could find, he hadn’t gone to college for music, if he even went at all. Really, that was all I knew about him. I couldn’t say for sure if he had a paying job other than the gigs at local bars. Frankly, there was more information on the internet about his wildly successful cousin, Regan. Regan was a professional musician, a violinist—one with a contract with Grounded Sound Entertainment. He’d been raised in Cape Cod, as well, but had professional music training which he was clearly using to his advantage.

 

I thought maybe it was best to not mention his cousin, though. In case it was a sore spot. I didn’t want him to think I cared, though, because I didn’t know what he would do with such information. I wasn’t his type, and I was fairly certain he wasn’t mine, though I didn’t really know what mine was.

 

With a deep breath, I thought back to the last time I saw him at that Finnegan’s place. “I figured you spent most Saturday mornings exhausted from your Friday night activities.” I paused and raised my eyebrows slightly.

 

“I work out.” He grinned in an almost instigating sort of way.

 

“I’m working,” was the only thing I could manage to say.

 

“Okay,” he conceded. “Meet me for lunch sometime. Next week?”

 

I rolled my eyes. “Sure. Next week. Now, apparently, you know where to find me.”

 

What did I just agree to?

 

Without another word, he turned on his heels and walked awkwardly through the long row of shelves, nearly having to turn sideways as they were quite narrow and he was anything but. Once he was out of sight, I lowered my head and exhaled loudly, wondering how a relative stranger I’d seen only a handful of times over the past year could weasel his way into my most private thoughts.

 

Three hours later I was through with my shift and ready to head for home. I had a long afternoon of grading essays ahead of me and was looking forward to dialing up my ‘90s internet station, drinking some Diet Dr. Pepper, and getting to it.

 

As I opened the back door of the library, I was greeted with gorgeous sunlight. And the sight of CJ resting against the hood of his car, arms crossed and facing the door.

 

“What the hell are you doing here?” I asked as I carefully made my way down the stairs.

 

“You said you’d meet me for lunch.” He had sunglasses on, but the tone of his voice revealed all of this playful mischief.

 

I cocked my head to the side. “And you said next week.”

 

He shrugged and gave me a Cheshire Cat-like grin. “I was late last time. Now I’m early.”

 

 

 

 

 

CJ

 

 

 

 

I kept my eyes on Frankie’s face as we sat across from each other, waiting for our orders to be called. I knew she’d expect me to be looking anywhere else, and I expected that of myself, too. But she’d turned me down twice already, and I wanted to avoid having lunch thrown in my face as she screamed “Pig!” if she caught me looking at her curves. I’ve had enough of girls’ lunches on my clothes for one lifetime.

 

The bitch of it was she did have some banging curves. Those hips were a siren’s call for my hands, but there was more to her than that. Much more. When I’d tried to put the moves on her in a bar in Falmouth a couple of months before, it was like she didn’t take me seriously—the way she sarcastically said “Okay” before rolling her eyes and returning to conversation with her friends. I knew I’d try again, but I had to bide my time.

 

“So,” Frankie said somewhat impatiently, “what’s up?”

 

I realized that, while I hadn’t been staring at her body, I’d been staring at her face for what must have been an uncomfortably long time.

 

“What’s your deal?” I chuckled and leaned back in my chair.

 

“My deal?” She scrunched her forehead, causing her freckles to fold in on each other. “You stalked me on the internet, tracked me down at my weekend job, and dragged me to lunch to ask why my deal is?”

 

The freckles scattered across her cheeks were soon highlighted red as she seemingly grew flustered. I grinned. I couldn’t help myself.

 

“What’s so funny?” she demanded softly.

 

I shrugged. “Look, I just thought it would be nice to get to know you…”

 

“Ha!” Her laugh was so sharp and loud, it caused the people next to us to look up from whatever they were doing. “Get to know me, that’s rich.”

 

I pressed my forearms into the table and leaned forward. “What is that supposed to mean?”