No Pink Caddy (ACE Book 1) (4 page)

BOOK: No Pink Caddy (ACE Book 1)
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The black and white notebook and yellow mechanical pencil rest in front of him. The drink he’s nursed all evening is still two-thirds full and looks watered down.

Then out of the corner of my eye, I catch Eddy walking towards us. He places a rum and Diet Coke in front of me. I look up with round eyes. I’ve been a regular at this bar since I was twenty-two. Eddy doesn’t bring anyone anything.

I think he attempts a smile. “Thanks for helping the doc out. Hope you’re okay.” Then he rushes off.

“His way of saying he loves me,” I muse as my heart grows for the rough-around-the-edges bartender.

As I reach for my drink, it’s snatched away by Fedora Guy and the
V
crinkles his forehead once again. “Hit your head. Bad idea.”

Although I appreciate that he cares, I also don’t like being told what to do. “Look, guy-who-wears-a-flannel-fedora-in-New-Orleans-because-he-thinks-it’s-cool, Eddy has never brought or bought anyone a drink in the history of owning this bar. I’m the first, and I will drink my celebratory booze, so hand over the glass.” My palm turns and my fingers gesture in a give-it-here move.

His head tilts and he leans back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest. A smile spreads so wide across his face that I swear I can see his molars. “You know, sweetheart, I’ve been called a lot of names in my life but guy-who-wears-a-flannel-fedora-in-New-Orleans-because-he-thinks-it’s-cool is a new one.” He opens his notebook, and I swear he grabs a pencil and writes it down.

While he’s distracted, I snatch my drink back. My mother probably put whiskey in my baby bottle so I’d sleep. Drinking is second nature.

He’s still writing when he says, “I’m not going to fight you, MK. Do as you wish.”

Warning bells go off in my head. “How do you know my name?”

He closes his notebook and pushes his fedora up revealing a glimpse of hair. It looks to be the color of straw, but it could just be the poor bar lighting. I find myself intrigued to find out. “Asked Eddy.”

“How do you know Eddy?”

“Don’t. I was in yesterday.”

“I wasn’t in here yesterday. You haven’t been up to the bar since I came in. How do you know my name?”

He winks. It’s so sexy my face heats. “Checking me out, huh?”

My arms cross defensively over my chest, creating some awesome cleavage. “New-guy-with-the-fedora, welcome back to high school. Nothing has changed. Everyone notices the new kid.”

“Fair enough.” He leans forward and rests his arms on the table as he picks up his glass to take a drink. His Adam’s apple bobs deliciously up and down.

“So you know my name. What’s yours?” Logical question and one that is only fair.

“Guy-wearing-fedora not good enough for you?” He smirks.

“Only on Tuesdays.” I pretend to check my phone. “It’s Wednesday. Day late. Dollar short.”

“What does MK stand for?” The manner in which he asks the question is interesting. Simple question—one I’ve been asked a thousand times. However, when he asks it, it’s as if he’s trying to prove a point to himself.

Condensation drips off the bottom of his glass and forms a water droplet on the wood table.

“How long are you going to nurse that drink? Give it up already. It’s got to be watered down and nasty. Commit, man. Either drink it or not. Don’t half-ass it.”

He rests the highball glass on the table. “I don’t drink anymore.”

But some of the drink is gone. I guess he could have just eaten the ice. Or it could be a soda with no alcohol. The story starts to weave together in my head. He’s here from up north, maybe Ohio. He’s been transferred to New Orleans to fix a problem with one of the offshore rigs. Short-term, really. Maybe only here for a few weeks. He’s scribbling notes in his notebook—ideas on how to fix the problem. He doesn’t drink because he had a bad period in his life with his former lover. He quit drinking as a way to prove to himself that it didn’t define him. Yes . . . I like that story.

He grabs his glass, indicating a toast. “To drinking and not drinking in a bar.”

I clink my glass to his, but it’s not a whole-hearted noise. He’s derailed me from sharing his name. Clearing my throat, I say, “Name, or I slam my drink and stagger home with a potential concussion. I slip into a coma while I lie alone in my bed not to be found for days. By then, it’s way too late and my dear, Catholic mother has to sign papers to turn off life support. And here’s the kicker. It’s all your fault.”

“Geez, MK,” he says as he shakes his head. “You’ve got guilt down to a science.” There’s a bit of awe in his tone.

“I come from a long line of guilters. You know why I didn’t go to the amusement park and ride the rollercoasters when I was twelve?”

He smiles, and it’s adorable. “Why?”

“It’s because a kid once was waiting in line for a ride and fell from the raised platform and died. I couldn’t bring that kind of worry on my mother and grandmother. I would’ve spent the whole trip to the amusement park feeling sick to my stomach that they were home saying their rosaries so I would be safe.”

He shakes his head laughing in an
I kind of believe the stuff that’s coming from your mouth
sort of way. “No guilt. I promise. Name’s Aaron.” There’s a slight hesitation before he says
Aaron.
I register it, but don’t have time to dwell on why someone would pause before their own name.

“I’m breaking the guilt cycle. Ending it for the Landry family. Nice to meet you, Aaron.” I like his name.
Aaron.
It sorta fits him. I couldn’t see him with a name like Butch. Too masculine. He’s an Aaron. There’s an artsy quality to him, but those callused hands are throwing me off. “So what do you do for a living?”

I’ve never been right regarding the stories I’ve made up about strangers, but there’s always a first time for everything.

“What’s with the star tattoo on your wrist?” He motions toward my arm and instinctively I pull my jacket sleeve to my palm. Another interesting thing about Aaron—he asked about my star. It’s a simple thick line design in black ink. It’s important to me but doesn’t look like it holds a whole lot of meaning. It could easily be a tattoo gotten by a drunk nineteen-year-old who just wanted to prove she was an adult. He noticed it and asked about it. Does he sense there’s something more to my star?

Leaning back in my chair, I decide to deflect. “See, there you go again. I ask you a question and you don’t give me the courtesy of a response, and then further insult me by asking a question of your own. Coma and death, Aaron. Coma and death. On your shoulders.”

“I thought you were breaking the guilt cycle, MK.” His eyes don’t leave the point of my star, still somewhat visible.

“Old habits die hard.” I laugh as I catch his eyes, directing them away from my tattoo.

“Speaking of deflecting one’s questions, what does MK stand for?” He crosses his right leg over his left knee and leans towards me. He’s handsome, don’t get me wrong, but he’s more than that. There’s a magnetism that hangs around his body like an aura. I’m drawn to him—just sitting here in his presence is making me feel a rainbow of emotions. I don’t understand it, but I rest my arms on the table, wanting to be closer to him.

I’ve been around charismatic men. Even though not all of them have been traditionally good-looking, there’s still some sort of primal energy I find so attractive. Aaron has that but in spades.

“My Christian name is Mary Kay Landry. My mother is Mary Kate Landry, and my grandmother is Mary Katherine. You can see how it would be confusing in my family. I started going by MK in first grade. Now, the only time I’m called Mary Kay is when my mother is particularly annoyed with me or if it’s written on a wedding invitation.”

“MK . . . MK . . . It has a nice ring to it.” My name rolls over his tongue like a song and as he says it, his thumb moves back and forth over the pad of his pointer finger as if it’s a trick for name recognition.

“When I have children, I’m supposed to keep the tradition going. That’s why I pray for boys.” I pick up my drink and take a sip. Alcohol is going down way too easily tonight. That’s probably not a good thing.

“You have gorgeous eyes.” He smiles.

“Are you going to ask me if I invented the airplane?”

His eyes crinkle, and he tilts his head. “What?”

“’Cause you seem Wright for me.” I hold up my glass in a toast.

He chuckles. “That wasn’t a line, MK. You do have very pretty eyes.” He points at me. “You need to learn to take a compliment. If you didn’t have gorgeous eyes, I would’ve kept my mouth shut. You come off as self-confident and self-sufficient, but your aversion to saying thank you and instead making a joke tells me that’s a defense mechanism.”

Wow. Didn’t he just hit the nail on the head. My shoulders want to roll inward and my body to shrink in this chair. He doesn’t know me at all and just revealed my biggest self-preservation tactic—my quick tongue.

“How’s your head?”

He reaches across the table and runs his fingers over my tender spot. If it was anyone but him, I would probably yelp. Instead, I lean in to his touch. His hand lingers a bit longer than necessary, and I don’t pull away. A peaceful feeling settles in my soul—one I haven’t felt in so long and I pray it stays.

Running my tongue over my bottom lip, I question what this pull is between us. His eyes, the color of the Caribbean Ocean, cause me to feel naked and exposed. But instead of pulling my jacket tighter over my chest, I shrug it off, wanting him to know who I am. My head feels so light that it might float away and bumblebees fight for dominance in my stomach.

That’s when the ten o’clock alarm on my phone sounds. Our moment is over.

Aaron leans away, shaking his head as if he’s experiencing the same strange magnetic pull and light-headedness I am. No one’s touch has made me feel that—whatever that was.

My lovesick subconscious is wearing a cheerleader costume and doing herkies, screaming
this is the chemistry you’ve been looking for.
My ever-practical conscious is dressed in a black turtleneck with black pants and peering over her cat-eye glasses, reminding me I was in a bad place when I arrived at Eddy’s Bar tonight and am vulnerable right now. I’m inventing imaginary feelings.

“Well, Aaron, that’s my cue to go. Time to be an adult and get home at a decent hour so I can be a productive member of society tomorrow.” I extend my hand, but he doesn’t take it.

His features grow serious as his teeth catch the inside of his cheek. “Look, I’m sorry I made you feel uncomfortable.” His fingers tap a confused beat on the closed notebook in front of him. It’s as if they can’t seem to find their rhythm. “I was trying to pay you a compliment.”

Feeling completely out-of-sorts, I pull my hand back with the excuse of silencing the annoying chime on my phone.

“Boyfriend?” he asks. I can’t read what he’s thinking, and I find his abrupt change of subject nerve-wracking.

Relying once again on my sharp tongue—defense mechanisms be damned—I reply, “Not that it’s any of your business . . .”

“Oh, but it is.” A playful glint distracts me for a moment from my confused emotions. “I need to know if someone’s going to make sure you don’t slip into a coma.” The smirk is back, and I find myself loving it and hoping to see it again.

Standing up, my hand goes to my hip. “I did tell you earlier I was going home to an empty bed. Pay attention, Aaron. You have to be quick to keep up with me.”

“Give me your number.” He grabs his phone, holding it as if he’s ready to record my digits.

I shake my head, hating that I made this rule for myself a couple of years ago after I had a guy who wouldn’t take
no
for an answer. “I don’t hand out my number, but you can find me on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I’m
NoPinkCaddy
. It’s my website also.”

“I’m not on social media,” he replies expectantly, as if he’s waiting for me to change my mind. I won’t. If he’s interested, he’ll message me through my accounts and as an added bonus, get to know me better by perusing my site. This rule has weeded out a lot of bar hookups who just wanted a one-night stand, preventing them from ever asking me out.

As I bolt for the front door, not bothering to put my jacket on, I turn over my right shoulder, catching his confused expression.

“Your loss.”

Chapter Two

MK Landry
@NoPinkCaddy

What a night! Fashion tips from strippers, literally falling for a boy, and frying oysters at midnight. #MyLifeIsNeverBoring

 

 

“MK . . . MK . . .” Sandra snaps in front of my eyes to stop me from staring. I was lost in a world of piercing blue eyes, unrecognized emotions, Bella’s harsh words, and my worries over hurting Tripp.

“These oysters are awfully tasty, sweet girl.” Sandra is one of the seven post-menopausal women I work with. They’re awesome. Imagine having seven grandmotherly-type ladies you got to spend nine hours a day with, five days a week, who loved you like their own.

I shake my head to break the stare. I’m not myself today, too unsettled over my evening. “Thanks. I bought them to make a cooking video, and then Bella bailed on me. Couldn’t let them go to waste. I fried them when I got home last night.”

“Darlin’, you really have a talent. These are as tasty as mine. And I don’t pass that compliment out lightly.” I try my best to give her a big cheery smile, but I feel like a faker.

The company occupies one-eighth of the seventeenth floor in the Bank of America building. My college ex-boyfriend’s father, who owns an off-shore staffing company, works out of his house, so his quite large corner office sits empty. My ex-boyfriend, Michael, is the COO. One would think he would come in once in a while and check on his staff. Nope. We only see him at Christmas—not that I’m complaining. It’s just me and the girls in about two thousand square feet. I quit wearing makeup to work when I was twenty-three. No point in wasting expensive cosmetics on ladies who think my natural glow is fabulous.

“Want to see the newest picture of my grandbaby?” Jill asks. We all crowd around her computer as she fumbles with Facebook, trying to find the pic. About three years ago, I gave my co-workers a lesson on how to use the more popular social media websites. Now, all of them are on Facebook. It’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, they think I’m the most technically advanced chick ever and brag on my skills, but on the other hand, I’m constantly answering their questions, denying their game requests, and being tagged in how much Monday sucks memes.

BOOK: No Pink Caddy (ACE Book 1)
8.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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