Copyright © 2012 Corrina Lawson
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Del turned to ring up the sandwich Tammy had made for Jake. When she turned back, Drake was across the bar from her.
He said something, but the new song—something by the Ramones—made it too loud inside to hear very well. Drake shook his head, annoyed, and pointed at the deck. He took her hand.
She snatched it back. “Got a bar to run.”
“It’s important. Please.” He grinned. “C’mon. I’ll let you drive the Charger after.”
“Okay.” The car was excellent incentive and the grin almost as much. Dammit all, she knew that expression. She knew Drake or had known someone who looked a lot like him. She wished she could place him. If she heard him talk more, it might just click.
She unlocked the door to the deck and stepped outside. Drake shut the door behind them. She walked over to the railing and closed her eyes. Water lapped against the wood. Birds chirped overhead. Home, she thought.
She loved that old jukebox but it wasn’t what she needed tonight.
Drake stood next to her. “You dance well,” she told him.
“It’s not that hard to learn. Do you dance?”
“Not much lately,” she admitted. “So what did you want to talk to me about?”
Before she could protest, he had an arm around her waist and his hand closed over hers. “Dance with me, Del.”
He led her in an old-fashioned box step. His moves were fluid and easy. And his body was rock solid.
Her dancing wasn’t quite as fluid. Too much on her mind. “What do you really want?”
“To keep you safe.”
“That’s not the answer I was expecting.” Such a strange comment. She’d expected something sexual, the way they had been flirting.
He hummed bars to a song. Del recognized It Had To Be You. Her parents hadn’t liked any modern music, but they had allowed her to listen to some of the classics. Why a young guy like Drake knew the tune, she had no idea.
“Are you going to tell me what’s so important that you lured me out here to talk?”
“As you may have noticed from the car, I like classic things.”
“I’m older than you.”
“Are you sure?”
He hummed the melody again. This time, she joined him, hearing the rest of the words in her head. They fell into step together.
It felt good, moving with him, an unexpected moment of fun in the midst of all her upheaval. Joy and arousal, being so close to this man. Her face grew warm, and she wondered if the old adage that pregnant women get horny could be true.
She could almost imagine she was having a romantic moment with an attractive man and at the beginnings of a relationship. A dream, a perfect dream.
But she had a bar to run, she was pregnant, he was a stranger, and enough was enough. Magic moments didn’t happen. At least, they didn’t happen to her.
“You’re stalling,” she said. “What’s so important?”
“I’m not stalling. I’m enjoying myself. And it’s important that this seem normal to everyone.”
“Just for your information, it’s not normal for me to dance with a customer while working.”
“Then I’m honored. I don’t usually dance while working either but…” He sighed and stopped, holding her at arm’s length. “Your pregnancy has put you in serious danger. I’m here to help.”
“What? Who are you?”
“I’m investigating some circumstances that affect you.”
Cop, she thought. Her first guess had been right. “That’s a mealy-mouthed sentence if I ever heard one. Get to the point.”
He held out his hand. “Come with me if you want to live?”
With his head tilted to the side and his half-smile, she was tempted to laugh, despite her annoyance. “My life is odd at times but not weird enough to include robots from the future after my unborn baby.”
“Sarah Conner was also a waitress.”
“In a family restaurant. This is a bar and I’m a cynical bartender fast losing patience. Just what is going on?”
Drake stepped closer again. He glanced through the glass doors to the bar. Jessica and Mike had now gotten all the regulars up on their feet. They were all dancing or doing some approximation of it. Del recognized the song as Prince’s 1999.
“The situation is complicated. It’ll take time explain, and I’d rather do it somewhere else. Somewhere less in the open. We need to leave here.”
“You say it’s complicated, that you came looking for me, want me to leave and won’t tell me why. Fat chance that I’m going anywhere.”
“You don’t trust me. I don’t blame you.” Drake paused again as if he was going to say something else and then stopped. “I’m here to help. And to tell you why you’re pregnant.”
“If you’re here for that, you know I’m pregnant because some asshole raped me. Are you FBI? A cop?”
“No, though I used to work for the CIA.”
“That makes me feel so much better.” She took several steps back toward the glass doors. She didn’t want to be trapped out here with him. “So was the Charger some ploy to get everyone, including me, to like you, so you could come in here and ask questions?” The flirting too? Dammit, she had liked him. A lot. It had felt good to be in his arms. She had a good radar for liars. She usually didn’t make mistakes like this.
“No, I’m usually much more subtle and effective when I’m working. I didn’t want deception with you. You’ve been deceived enough.” He sighed. “I’m doing this badly. The car’s mine. I rebuilt it, I like driving it and that’s all there is to that. It’s not a ruse.”
“And the flirting?”
“I wasn’t flirting. I meant everything.”
“And the dance?”
He looked out at the lake. “I wanted to dance with you. I couldn’t resist.”
“I have to admit, as lines go, that’s a good one.”
He put himself between her and the glass doors. “Ideally, I need to get you somewhere safe right now. I’ll settle for going somewhere we can talk privately but public enough so that you feel safe.”
“I’m in one of those places right now. So talk.”
“There are more listeners here than you know. How about meeting me at the Victoria Diner on Route 10 instead?”
More listeners than she knew? Cryptic didn’t begin to describe this guy. “When did you have in mind?”
“Del, it’s very important.”
“Using my first name won’t work to convince me.” That was an old con’s trick, gaining familiarity by using the name of the mark.
He ran his hand through his hair. Around them, she heard the chatter inside the bar. They were probably talking about why she was out on the deck with Drake. He moved out of her way, as if showing he meant her no harm.
“I admit, I’m lousy at being this direct. But you must want to know more about how your child was conceived. And I know you want to keep the child safe.”
“I can’t change the past. The kid’s mine now, end of story. I don’t need your help to protect what’s mine.”
“Yes, you do.” He held up his burned sleeve. “I didn’t get this from the car, I got it from an incident in which someone died. The people who caused this will be here soon and after you. The sooner you know the full story, the safer you are. All I want is one hour at the diner. Hear me out.”
The path was clear to the door. She walked back inside, Drake on her heels.
She turned around. “Let me think about it, okay?”
“Do you have any experience with someone named Edward Genet?”
She froze. “Who the hell are you?”