“I remember,” she replied, an almost dreamy beam on her lips. Hunter gave me a glass, not nearly as full as Queenie’s and he brought out the charcuterie board to set on the coffee table for all of us to eat.
I realized I was famished and I reached forward to snatch a piece of cheese and pop it in my mouth.
“This is nice, right?” Hunter said, settling into the warped winged chair across from Queenie. “It’s not trick or treating but it has its charms.”
Queenie said nothing and I saw that she’d almost finished her drink. She held up her glass and Hunter jumped up to refill it.
She better slow down.
Of course I said nothing aloud and a part of me relished the silence emanating from her for once.
Oddly, she wore a serene, almost peaceful expression and I almost couldn’t reconcile that she was the same woman who had terrorized me at work for the past two years. She seemed more innocent, as if the liquor was a magic potion, erasing all her evilness.
Note to self: Keep Queenie drunk.
Hunter handed her the refill and she accepted it, bringing it to her lips instantly.
“Are you going to have something to eat?” Hunter asked her but she shook her head.
“I’m good,” she purred in a breathless voice which made me arch my eyebrows. “This was a really good idea.”
Hunter seemed to swallow a smile.
“I thought you might like it,” he replied. We exchanged a look but Queenie was floating away somewhere and I could see that her eyes were growing heavier. She downed her drink again.
“Hit me again, Sam!” she giggled. I’d barely taken one sip out of my drink. I had no idea how she had managed to chug back all that but one thing I was certain of—she was going to be feeling the aftereffects in the morning.
I just hoped she didn’t take it out on me. It was a foolish wish—of course she would but I’d take the night of peace while I had it.
“You better catch up,” Hunter teased me and I wrenched my eyes away from the train wreck my boss was becoming. I put the glass to my mouth, more to keep my disbelief inside than because I wanted to feel the burn of the alcohol down my throat. Yet as the scotch made its way down my esophagus and into my stomach, the warmth was very pleasing. I could feel the tense muscles in my neck relaxing and I permitted my body to sink back against the loveseat.
“There you go,” Hunter murmured. “Isn’t that better?”
I nodded in agreement, a lazy smile touching my mouth.
“My hat is off to you,” I said lightly. “I didn’t think to bring any party favors.”
Hunter chuckled lightly and rose from his chair toward me. He sat at my side and I shot a nervous look toward Queenie but to my absolute shock, she had passed out.
“Woah,” I muttered in disbelief. “That didn’t take long.”
Hunter laughed and the sound filled my ears deliciously.
“I have a confession to make,” he whispered, bringing his face close to my ear. The heat of his breath sent goosebumps over my skin.
“What’s that?” My voice was barely audible in my nervousness. He couldn’t kiss me right there, could he? Not when Queenie was five feet away.
Then why did I want him to so badly?
“Amanda is a binge-drinker. I’ve known that for a couple years.”
I pulled my head back to look at him, stunned.
“She’s an alcoholic?” I demanded, my jaw almost on the floor.
“Not exactly. She doesn’t drink at work or anything but she can’t say no if you offer it to her and she won’t stop once she’s started. She hits it hard and fast.”
I didn’t know if that information was useful or tragic but I didn’t have much of a chance to ponder it because Hunter was cupping my face with the palms of his hands. My nervousness sprouted into anxiety and I tried to pull away, my eyes fixed on Queenie.
He chortled softly and rubbed his nose against mine.
“She’s out for the night,” he promised. “But if you’d rather be safe than sorry, let’s take this into my room. If she wakes up, I can tell her you went out for a walk.”
I bit on my lower lip, knowing that it was wrong but I couldn’t go another month of waiting, not when I’d had such a crush on this guy since the first time I’d laid eyes on his handsome face.
He sensed my reluctance and decided to take the lead, rising and taking my hand into his as he did.
“We’ll be very quiet,” he promised, winking coyly and my gut fluttered. Who was I kidding? I wasn’t refusing this. It was a golden opportunity and I wasn’t going to waste it.
We slipped into his bedroom and closed the door without bothering to flick on the lights. Through one of the high utility windows, a zillion stars glimmered in the sky and I couldn’t help but feel like I was being caught up in a dream.