My c**k processes this information by straining against my jeans, hoping for a peek of his own.
Dee stands up on the business side of the bar and quickly mixes her drink, explaining every move to the unperturbed bartender. She tosses an olive into the air and catches it expertly with her mouth, before sinking the two-olived toothpick into the clear-liquid-filled glass.
She places it on the bar and motions to it with an open palm. “And there you have it—the perfect Dirty Martini.”
I’ve always believed you can tell a lot about a person by what they drink. Beer is laid back, easy-going, or cheap, depending on the brand. Wine coolers tend to be immature or nostalgic. Cristal and Dom Pérignon imbibers are flashy and try too hard to impress—there are many champagnes that are just as expensive and exquisite, but lesser known.
What does Dee’s choice of beverage tell me about her? She’s complicated, with very specific, but refined, tastes. And she’s outspoken, bold without being bitchy. The kind of girl who can send back her steak to the kitchen if it’s cooked wrong, in a way that doesn’t make the waiter want to spit in her food.
The bartender raises his brows and gives me a friendly look. “You got a live one here, buddy.”
Dee swings back over the bar as I say, “So it seems.”
Once Delores is seated back on the stool, I comment, “That was impressive. So, I guess you’re big on the micromanaging, huh?”
She sips her drink. “I bartended through college—it made me very particular about my poison.”
I take a drag off my beer and move into the small talk portion of the evening. “Kate tells me you’re a chemist. What’s that like?”
She nods. “It’s like playing with a chemistry set every day and getting paid to do it. I enjoy analyzing things—breaking them down to their smallest components—then f**king with them a little. Seeing what other substances they play nice with . . . or don’t. The don’t part can get pretty exciting. Sort of makes me feel like I’m on a bomb squad.”
She stirs her olives in the glass. “And you’re a banker?”
I nod. “More or less.”
“That sounds very unexciting.”
My head tilts left to right as I consider her comment. “Depends on your outlook. Some deals are a high-stakes gamble. Making money is never boring.”
Dee turns in her chair, facing me.
Body language is important. Typically, a person’s movements are subconscious, but understanding the feelings behind them can either guide you to the Promised Land or get your ass locked outside heaven’s door. If a girl folds her arms or leans back, that generally means you’re coming on too strong or she’s just not interested in what you’re selling. Eye contact, open arms, full frontal attention are all sure signs she’s feeling you—and is hungry for more.
Her eyes quickly trail my body, head to toe. “You don’t look like a banker.”
I grin. “What does a banker look like?”
She scans the other patrons at the bar and in the lounge. Her gaze settles on a middle-aged, balding dude in a cheap suit, hunkered down over a double scotch, whose expression implies he’s lost his life savings in a stock market crash.
Dee points at him with her crimson-nail-painted pinkie finger. “Him.”
“He looks like a mortician. Or a pedophile.”
She giggles and downs the rest of her martini.
Leaning close to her, I ask, “If not a banker, what do I look like?”
She smiles slowly and scrapes the olives off the toothpick with her teeth.
“You look like a Chippendales dancer.”
Fabulous answer. I don’t really need to explain to you why, do I?
In a low, seductive voice I say, “I do have some great moves. If banking doesn’t work out, Chippendales is Plan B.”
I motion to the bartender for another round. Delores watches him work closely, and he must not screw it up too badly, because she smiles when he places the drink before her.
Then, she says to me, “So . . . your buddy Drew—he’s been giving my girl a hard time. Not a smart thing to do.”
“Drew has a weird relationship with competition. He thrives on it, but it also pisses him off. Kate hasn’t exactly been taking it easy on him, either. She brings her A-game to the office—I think she can hold her own.”
“Well, you feel free to let him know he should watch his step. I’m very protective of Katie—we Ohioans stick together.”
“But you’re in New York now. We’re ‘Every Man for His-Fucking-Self.’ It’s the second state motto—right after ‘The City That Never Sleeps.’?”
Her eyes shine as she laughs. And I think the first drink might be hitting her hard.
“You’re cute,” she tells me.
My head leans back in exasperation. “Great. Cute. The adjective every man wants to hear.”
She laughs again, and I’m struck by how much I’m enjoying myself. Dee Warren is a cool girl—unreserved, quick-witted, funny. Even if I don’t end up nailing her, the night won’t be a total loss.
That’s not to say I’m not dying to get her out of here and see what’s—or, preferably, what’s not—under those tiny shorts. But, it’d be like rich icing on an already f**k-awesome cake.
I veer back toward small talk. “You’re from Ohio?”
She tastes her drink and nods. “Yes, the original Podunk, USA.”