“Oh, a challenge!”
I watched him mix my cocktail with the fast, impressive moves of a showman. Despite only having one arm, Randy’s skill as a bartender outdid his two-armed rivals.
He slid a dirty martini across the bar to me.
“I’m impressed,” I said. “You got the moves there, Randy.”
He winked. “Baby, you have no idea.”
As I took a sip, Deep Purple’s “Woman From Tokyo” bled through the speakers.
“Goddamn, that’s good!” I said, smacking my lips together.
“Drink up, little lady. I got a whole bunch of panty-dropping cocktails up my sleeve.” He held up his one hand and winked. “Imagine if I had two of them.”
I took another sip, this time a big one, and a sweet warmth spread out from my chest. My body instantly heated and I began to relax. I noticed Randy watching me. “What?”
He smiled. “Just thinking how strange it is seeing Indy Parrish sitting at the end of my bar.”
“You and me both.” I took another sip of my martini and reminded myself to take it easy. Too many of these and I’d be on my ass.
“Be careful, girl. You might actually start to enjoy yourself.”
I gave him a pointed look. “This isn’t my scene anymore.”
“Oh, really? Let me guess, your scene involves those fancy cocktail bars in the city with some suit in a fancy label, and not a cut in sight.”
“One out of three ain’t bad,” I said, taking another sip of my drink and almost finishing it.
“You want another?”
“Sure. Why the hell not.” I watched him mix another drink. “You look like you’re in your element.”
“You could say that. I love it here.” He winked. He nodded wistfully and then gestured around us. “This place, its family. We’re lucky to be a part of it.”
“I’m only visiting.” I reminded him.
He slid the second cocktail across the bar to me, and then leaned down on his one arm. “So you keep saying, beautiful lady. Funny thing is . . .”
I raised one eyebrow at him. “What?”
“I just don’t believe you.”
He winked at me before making his way down to the other end of the bar to serve Vader and a girl in a PVC dress that left little to the imagination.
As Deep Purple became Clapton’s “Layla” I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Mirabella, the beautiful girl Isaac had pointed out to me earlier. Up close, she was even more stunning.
“Indy? Hi, I’m Mirabella. I just wanted to come over and say I’m sorry about your daddy.”
She offered me a smile and it was breathtaking.
“If there’s anything I can do, please just let me know.”
Mirabella had a comforting presence about her, and I had a sudden desire to open up to her. About what, I wasn’t sure.
“I appreciate that. But really, there’s no need.” Keen to change the subject because I didn’t want to talk about my daddy or his funeral, I added, “I hear you’re getting married soon.”
Mirabella’s face beamed at the mention of her wedding. “Yes . . .well, we were due to be married this weekend.”
“Due to be married?” I asked.
“I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing . . . the timing is just awful. We thought we might postpone it—”
“Postpone? No way.”
“It’s a horrible thing . . . a funeral one day and then a wedding three days later.”
Mirabella was as sweet as she was beautiful. There was no way I was letting her postpone her wedding.
“Seems like perfect timing to me. A sad event followed by a happy one.” I gave her a warm smile. “Don’t postpone your wedding. Not because of this.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course.” I looked around the clubhouse. Vader was now making out with the girl in the PVC dress, while the girl on the pole was busy making out with the pole. “Although, personally I think you’re crazy marrying into all of this.”
Mirabella’s smile faltered for just a moment. But then she smiled brightly, obviously too polite to question what I had just said.
“I appreciate you being so kind about this,” she said. “Are you sure your mom won’t mind?”
“Of course, she won’t. Mom would insist—”
“What would I insist?” Mom asked, swooping in and plunking a box of serviettes and paper plates onto the bar behind us.
“Mirabella was talking about postponing the wedding,” I said.
“Postponing? Hell no!” Mom turned around and put her hands on her hips. “I’ve already started the wedding cake!”
I was wearing a tie. And I looked like a goddamn idiot. But Indy said that you have to look respectable when you get married. She said the woman always wears a pretty white dress and the man always wears a suit and tie. I don’t have a suit, so we settled for the tie. Anyway, I’m not sure Indy was right about the whole dress and suit thing. Because last month, when Viper married a girl called Cinnamon—Daddy said she worked at a club in town—she didn’t wear a pretty dress. And it wasn’t white either. It was bright red, tight, and very short. Daddy said the color suited her on her wedding day, on account of her lifestyle. I didn’t know what that meant. Maybe she was a firefighter or a Redwings fan, or something. I don’t know. But that dress made me feel weird. Mr. Mason, the old guy who owns the mechanics garage just out of town, I don’t think he liked the dress either, because a few hours later I saw him trying to wrestle it off her. I had been playing in the cellar with Indy when they had stumbled down the stairs, giggling and kissing. I was kinda confused on account that she had just married Viper, and yet here she was, kissing Mr. Mason. But then I didn’t rightly understand a lot of what adults did. It seemed to me they overcomplicated an awful lot of things. So, I didn’t try to work out what was happening. I just knew I had to protect Indy, because if they knew we were watching them, they would get angry and we would get in trouble.