(continues from here)
Was he serious right now? As if him flirting with her/me, wasn’t bad enough, now he was asking me/Poppy, about her/me? Did that even make sense? I cast a quick glance around the room and smirked.
“You mean the one at the table in the corner?” I nodded towards a bear who was watching Dulcie closely as I grabbed his money and moved towards the register.
“No,” he said without even turning to look and my steps faltered.
“Well,” I shrugged. “I didn’t see anyone.”
“Oh that’s right.” He tapped a finger on his lower lip as if he was thinking. “You weren’t here. You had to run… home or something.”
Or something. Guilt washed over me at the reminder that I had pretended to be sick so I could test him, Tate. Not that I knew his name, he had never introduced himself to me. But his redhead? She got a drink, his name. But he hadn’t gotten hers.
I set his change down and leaned on the bar with a helpful smile. “Did you catch her name? Maybe I know her.”
“Her name?” He arched a brow and took a drink before he answered. “No. She ran away before I go that. I can describe her though. If you think that would help?”
“She ran away?” I echoed, only a little taunt in my tone. “That happen to you a lot?”
He gave a rough laugh and nodded. “More than I like. I wonder why that is?”
“Could be you scare them,” I said over my shoulder as I went to serve a customer.
He frowned as I walked away, a thoughtful look on his handsome face.
“You’re not scared of me are you Poppy?” he asked as I returned to his orbit, as I always inevitably did.
“Me? Or course not.” And I wasn’t. He didn’t want to destroy Poppy after all. “Tell me about this girl?” I promoted, wanting to hear what he had to say about her/me.
That brow of his went up again and he shook his head the tiniest bit. “You really want to hear this?” At my nod he began. “She’s gorgeous of course. Too smart for her own good. I think…”
He trailed off to smile, such a sweet smile, it made my heart ache.
“I think she has a great sense of humour,” he said with a low laugh.
I couldn’t keep the smile from my face, he thought I was smart and funny! “Well your description is kind of vague,” I chided. “There’s a few gorgeous, smart, what was the other thing?”
“Right. Funny women that come in here.” I crossed my arms over my chest and waited for him to give me something more,
“Well she’s around your height Poppy, similar build too. But her eyes are green with little flecks of gold and her hair is red as a ruby glowing in the moonlight.”
My mouth dropped open at his poetic words.
“We didn’t talk for long but I felt like I already knew her, like I recognized her from a dream.”
“Wow. And yet you didn’t catch her name?” I tried to look casually amused, rather than stunned and bemused. “Careless of you.”
His eyes, gold with flecks of green, held mine as he lifted his glass to sip. “It was wasn’t it,” he agreed. “I’ll try not to let it happen again.”
“You say that as if you think you’ll even see her again.”
“Oh I’m sure I will darlin’.” His eyes flared gold and I saw a flash of teeth.
I laughed nervously. “You know, just the other day you were dancing with me and here you are calling me darling. Yet last night this redheaded woman was so fascinating to you, you’re asking me about her. I’ll just wait a few hours and you will have forgotten all about her and me and you’ll be calling Dulcie darling. Or maybe the next woman who walks in the door.” I shrugged.
“I’d never forget about you Poppy.” He stared at me intently for a long moment and I felt trapped. “You have to know you’re the reason I keep coming back here,” he snapped, looking annoyed at his own words.
Why was he annoyed? I wasn’t the one flirting and exchanging names. I tilted my chin and ignored the voice telling me to be careful. “I’m afraid the feeling isn’t mutual.” Liar, liar! “I wouldn’t notice if you never showed up again, I don’t even know your name.”
His mouth dropped open and surprise washed over his face, followed by confusion before his eyes dropped and I couldn’t read him at all. When he looked up again, his eyes were dark, not a sparkle or a glimmer to be seen, no big teeth or big hands either. He lifted the glass and drank the contents in one gulp then stood up.
“Well Poppy darlin’, it looks like this is goodbye then.” He held out his hand and I responded without thinking, sliding my hand into his, the one with the ring. He winced and cursed under his breath and I tried to pull away but he held tight.
“I’m hurting you,” I protested and he shrugged.
“You always will darlin’,” he said then let go and rubbed his hand against his chest. “If you had even bothered to ask, I would have told you my name.”
I didn’t know what to respond to first, anger welled mixed with dismay that he was leaving. Why should I have to ask? He’d all but thrown his name at Red. As I scrambled to think and find my words he stared at me, like he was memorising my face.
“It was nice knowing you Poppy.” He backed away from the bar and all I could do was stare, too shocked to speak. He lifted the hand I had grasped and I saw streaks of black where my ring had touched him. “The name’s Tate Faolan,” he said with a shrug. “In case you ever want to find me.”
I swear he disappeared when I blinked, when I took a step towards where he had been there was nothing but shadows. Was that it? Was he really gone?
“Poppy? Everything okay?” Dulcie’s hand touched my shoulder lightly and I turned to face her slowly.
Was everything okay? Was it really over? Did I want it to be? I only had one answer. “I don’t know.”
Previous episodes here