He lays his arm on the bar and swivels his chair until he’s facing me full-on. I do the same, but the chairs are really close together and our knees end up overlapping. He adjusts himself until one of my knees is between both of his, and one of his is between both of mine. We aren’t too close and it’s not as though we’re rubbing our legs together, but they’re definitely touching and it’s kind of an intimate way to be seated with someone I barely know. He looks down at our legs.
“Are we flirting?”
Now we’re looking at each other again and we’re both still grinning and it hits me that I don’t think either of us has stopped grinning since we left his studio.
I shake my head. “I don’t know how to flirt.”
He looks back down at our legs and is about to comment when Harrison approaches us. He leans forward and casually rests his arms on the bar, placing his attention on Owen.
“How’d it go?”
Harrison is definitely Irish. I almost can’t even understand him, his accent is so thick.
Owen smiles in my direction. “Pretty damn good.”
Harrison nods and then focuses on me. “You must be Hannah.” He reaches his hand out to me. “I’m Harrison.”
I don’t look at Owen, but I can hear him clearing his throat. I take Harrison’s hand and shake it. “Nice to meet you, Harrison, but I’m actually Auburn.”
Harrison’s eyes grow wide and he slowly turns back to Owen. “Shit, man,” he says, laughing apologetically. “I can’t keep up with you.”
Owen waves it off. “It’s fine,” he says. “Auburn knows about Hannah.”
I don’t really. I’m assuming Hannah is the girl who just dumped him. The only thing I do know is that Owen told me coming to this bar after a showing was tradition. So I’m curious how Harrison has never met Hannah if she’s worked shows for Owen before. Owen looks at me and can see the confusion on my face.
“I never brought her here.”
“Owen has never brought anyone here,” Harrison offers. He looks back at Owen. “What happened to Hannah?”
Owen shakes his head like he doesn’t really want to talk about it. “The usual.”
Harrison doesn’t ask what “the usual” is, so I’m assuming he understands exactly what happened to Hannah. I just wish I knew what “the usual” meant.
“What can I get you to drink, Auburn?” Harrison asks.
I look at Owen a little wide-eyed, because I have no idea what to order. I’ve never ordered a drink before, considering I’m not yet old enough to do so. He understands my expression and immediately turns back to Harrison. “Bring us two Jack and Cokes,” he says. “And an order of cheese sticks.”
Harrison taps the bar with his fist and says, “Coming right up.” He begins to turn around but quickly faces Owen again. “Oh, we’re all out of cheese sticks. Travesty. Cheese fries okay?”
I try not to frown, but I was really looking forward to cheese sticks. Owen looks at me and I nod. “Sounds good,” I say.
Harrison smiles and begins to turn around but then faces me yet again. “You’re over twenty-one, right?”
I quickly nod, and for a second I see doubt appear in his expression, but he turns and walks away without asking for my identification.
“You’re a horrible liar,” Owen laughs.
I expel a breath. “I don’t normally lie.”
“I can see why,” he says.
He adjusts his position on the stool, and our legs brush together again. He smiles. “What’s your story, Auburn?”
Here we go. The moment when I usually call it a night before the night even gets started.
“Whoa,” he says. “What’s the look for?”
I realize I must be frowning when he says this. “My story is that I have a very private life and I don’t like to talk about it.”
He smiles, which isn’t the reaction I was expecting. “Sounds a lot like my story.”
Harrison is back with the drinks, saving us from what was about to become a failed conversation. We both take a drink at the same time, but his goes down a whole lot smoother than mine does. Despite being underage, I’ve had a few drinks in the past with friends back in Portland, but this is a tad strong for my taste. I cover my mouth to cough and Owen, of course, smiles again.
“Well, since neither of us feels like talking at all, do you at least dance?” He glances over my shoulder at the small, empty dance floor on the opposite side of the room.
I immediately shake my head.
“How did I know that would be your answer?” He stands up. “Come on.”
I shake my head again and almost instantly, my mood changes. There’s no way I’m dancing with him, especially to whatever slow song just started playing. He grabs my hand and tries to pull me up, but I’m gripping my chair with my other hand, ready to fight him off if I have to.
“You really don’t want to dance?” he asks.
“I really don’t want to dance.”
He stares at me for a few quiet seconds and then takes a seat back in his chair. He leans forward and motions for me to come closer. He still has hold of my hand, and I feel his thumb brush slightly over mine. He continues to lean toward me until his mouth is close to my ear. “Ten seconds,” he whispers. “Just give me ten seconds on the dance floor. If you still don’t want to dance with me after my time is up, you can walk away.”
There are chills on my arms and legs and neck, and his voice is so soothing and convincing, I can feel myself nodding before I even know what I’m agreeing to.
But ten seconds is simple. Ten seconds I can do. Ten seconds isn’t enough time to embarrass myself. And after his time is up, I’ll come back and sit down and he’ll leave me alone about dancing, hopefully.
He’s standing again, pulling me toward the dance floor. I’m relieved the place is relatively empty. Even though we’ll be the only ones dancing, the place is deserted enough that I won’t feel like I’m the center of attention.
We reach the dance floor and he slips a hand to my lower back.
“One,” I whisper.
He smiles when he realizes I’m actually counting. He uses his other hand to position my hands around his neck. I’ve seen couples dance enough to know how to stand, at least.