Her broken-in jeans and threadbare shirt, through which he could make out a dark bra, clashed delightfully with his antiseptic decor. “Fancy,” she said.
“Yeah,” he replied, “fancy.”
“Must be nice being rich.”
She glanced around the apartment and asked, “Somebody actually lives here?”
He slung his jacket onto his easy chair, threw himself onto its matching slate gray sofa, loosened his tie, and kicked off his wingtips. “I fully intend to ignore your vague insult.”
“Nothing vague about it,” she told him. “Thanks for letting me stay over.”
“Think nothing of it. It’s a long cab ride to your place of residence.”
“I wish you wouldn’t use that kind of language around me.”
He pointed to a hallway. “The bedroom is through there. As I am, if anything, a gentleman, I will sleep out here.”
“And if I don’t want you to sleep out here?”
“Then you are welcome to use the sofa.”
“You are such a doofus.” She rolled her eyes. “Got anything to drink here?”
“If you’ll recall, I’ve been sober longer than you’ve known of me.”
“People have been known to change,” she said. “You did.”
“Not as much as you think.” He popped out his gold-plated cufflinks, tossed them into an empty ashtray, and rolled up his sleeves. “Besides, alcohol was responsible for these.”
It had been years since she’d seen the scars that ran down the underside of his forearms, and their presence almost seemed to comfort her. “You think it was the liquor that did that?”
“I’ve chosen to believe so.”
“Fair enough,” she sighed. “Mind if I have one?”
“Perhaps I should have been more clear regarding the absence of potables in this place.”
“I brought my own.” Sure enough, there was a stainless-steel flask in her purse. “Got any place to put this?”
“There are highball glasses in the cabinet near the refrigerator.”
“I thought you told me you still don’t drink.”
He shrugged. “I pretend.”
“You are so weird.” After pouring herself a few fingers of whiskey, she leaned on the counter, as casually as if it belonged to her, and took a long swallow, locking stares with him. They said nothing for what could have been hours until she asked, “Miss it?”
“Still? It’s been, what, seven years?”
“In my defense, I enjoyed alcohol a great deal.”
“Fair enough.” She studied him for a moment. “Remember what it tastes like?”
He frowned in concentration. “No,” he replied sadly.
She strutted over to him, taking her time doing so. “Want a reminder?”
“Perhaps I should have been more clear regarding my sobriety.”
Propping her knee on the sofa next to him and steadying herself with a hand on his shoulder, she took a deep drink of the whiskey. Her lips brushed against his, and instantly he recognized the sour sting of the rye. He leaned hungrily toward her, but she backed away.
Without a word, she dipped a finger in the glass, traced her lip with it, and kissed him again. Eager for the flavor of the drink and of her, he licked and nibbled, causing her to moan.
“More,” he whispered when she pulled away again.
But when she raised the glass, he snatched it from her hand and placed it on the end table behind him, not caring that there was no coaster. Her hand, now free, stroked his cheek, drawing him in.
He brushed a lock of hair from her face. “More,” he told her again.