From the moment he laid eyes on her, he knew she was more than he could handle. After all, it wasn’t like he was the hottest thing on two legs from the beginning. Mid-thirties, starting to bald, and the six pack sagging a bit meant most women just waked right on by, barely even noticing he was there.
But she had sent him the drink, hadn’t she? And then she looked at him and winked. There was no one else in the vicinity, he had checked. He had also asked the waiter to make sure she wasn’t a “professional.”
The waiter’s response had been, “No, she’s real, but don’t go there if you have high blood pressure or an existing heart condition.”
Now, he was walking over to her. Him. Lawrence J. Abernathy. His feet were actually moving. Even more surprising was when his mouth open and he managed to speak without stuttering. “Hi, my name is Larry.”
She smiled. “Hi, Larry. Which convention brings you to town?”
He wondered how she knew. He had been careful to take off his badge, just as he’d been told. He wondered what other conventions were in town. His wasn’t the most glamorous. “C’mon, Larry, answer the lady,” he scolded himself. “I’m here with the plumbing convention,” he said, then, he lied. “I own a pipe-fitting company in Milwaukee.”
She laughed. “There must be a lot of pipes without fitting up there. I think you’re the fourth pipe fitter from Milwaukee I’ve met this week.”
Larry blushed, mentally kicking himself for saying anything at all. He should have just taken the drink and stayed in his seat.
“You don’t get out a lot, do you, Larry?” she asked, then continued without waiting for a reply. ”That’s okay. I’m not anyone you have to impress. We’re both just here to put a little spice into our otherwise drab, weary lives, right?”
“By the way,” she continued, leaning in close so he could hear her over the blaring juke box. “See that guy over there on the other side of the bar? That’s my boyfriend. Don’t worry, he’s cool. Just … don’t be too stupid, okay?”
Larry looked over at the tall, well-muscled twenty-something standing at the bar. He nodded. Larry felt his throat grow tight.
She ran her well-manicured fingernail along the inseam of his brown polyester slacks. “You know, right now, every guy in this bar is jealous of you. They want to know what makes you so special that I would pick you over them.”
Larry looked around the bar. She was right. They had everyone’s attention. Couples were looking at them and whispering to each other. A couple of girls were pointing and giggling. The guys looked jealous and angry. He was beginning to feel very uncomfortable.
She reached into her purse and pulled out a plastic card and slid it across the bar toward him. “Right now, everyone thinks I’m giving you my motel key.” She laughed. “This is really a discount card for a restaurant I want you to go to. It’s just down the street. My brother owns it and he’s having some trouble getting started. You’ll do that for me, won’t ya’, Larry?”
Larry felt his mouth go dry. “Sh-sh-sh-sure,” he stammered. “What’s his specialty?”
“The linguine is to die for,” she purred. “And his pasta cavatorri will leave you as breathless as one of my kisses.”
Larry felt his breath catch in his throat at the very thought of her kiss. “Will they ask where I got the card?” he asked, beginning to feel a bit scared.
She laughed. “Probably won’t, but in case they do just tell them Spice gave it to you.”
He picked up the card and slipped it into his shirt pocket. He could feel the eyes staring at him. “Thank you,” he said. “I’ll head on over there now.”
She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “Thanks so much, dear. We all really appreciate it.”
Larry blushed again, slipped off the bar stool and out the door.
From across the bar, the young bartender came over and set another drink in front of Spice. “How long you plan on playing this game?” he asked.
“Just long enough to get that lazy-assed brother of mine off my couch,” she answered. “He can’t seem to keep a job working for anyone else. He’d damn well better make this work.”
The bartender laughed. “You’re a great sister, Spice.”
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I guess we all have our faults.”