“Yeah?” Mateo murmurs, close to my ear, his hands landing on my hips.

“This is my new favorite place.” Leaning back into him, I ask, “You don’t own a fedora, do you? ‘Cause I think you could rock a fedora.”

“Maybe next time.”

Mateo takes me over to the empty end of the right bar, where the piano will be at our back. I know I’m not supposed to actually be into this, but man, I wouldn’t hate getting on the dance floor with him.

“This place is awesome,” I state.

“Yeah, I haven’t been here before, but I’ve been wanting to check it out,” he tells me, hand on my back as I climb up on the bar stool.

“Well, I’m glad you waited for me,” I tease. “You know those ‘what would you do on your ideal first date?’ questions that people ask when they’re trying to find a new person to fuck? This. This is what I would do. And if the pianist plays Sinatra all night long, we’re hitting dream date status.”

“Oh, I’m sure that can be arranged,” he tells me, touching my shoulder briefly before walking over to talk to the pianist.

I grin, watching him lean down and talk to the man, handing him some money and securing a nod of understanding.

A girl could get used to this.

When he comes back over, smirking at me like he’s pretty proud of himself, I do something really impulsive. I grab him by the tie, tug him close, and kiss him. I can feel his surprise, but he relaxes into it quickly, spinning my stool so he can stand between my legs, his hands on my hips as our tongues explore each other.

He pulls back after a minute, watching me curiously.

“I hate first kisses,” I tell him. “But I felt like kissing you, so I did.”

“I’m not complaining.” He’s still between my legs, and I’m surprised to find if he wanted to skip the drinks altogether, I’d go home with him right now.

But then, like a thief of joy, I recall why I’m here tonight.

Subtly dropping my legs, I spin my stool back to face the bar. “We should probably order those drinks.”

Chapter Four

“I’m gonna buy this place,” Mateo decides, looking down across the bar.

I laugh, since he must be joking.

“Watch,” he challenges, raising his eyebrows. “I’ll name it after you.”

“Meg’s Place?” I say, beaming at him. “I approve of this plan. If you need a good bookkeeper, give me a call.”

His brow furrows at that. “Receptionist?”

“What?”

“You’re a receptionist, aren’t you?”

My stomach sinks, realizing I fucked up again. “Oh, yeah. Well, yeah. Technically, but…I’m not an official bookkeeper, but I do help out with the books sometimes. I’m good with numbers, but I don’t have a degree or anything.”

Letting me off the hook, he nods and says, “But more importantly, how are you in the kitchen?”

I snort indelicately, shaking my head. “I’m good in there too, actually. Are you that guy? Your lady has to be barefoot and pregnant baking cannoli or some shit?”

“Well, that’s a little far,” he says, his mouth curving up in a smile. “I can’t say I’ve ever had a woman with a career, but it’s more… a hazard of my lifestyle. I like to keep my people protected. Too many variables out in the world. I am pretty traditional, though. Is that a dealbreaker?”

“Oh, I didn’t realize we were making a deal, but… No, I’m totally into the whole… sexist thing. Who isn’t?”

Grinning, he says, “So I can tell you to go make me a sandwich and you won’t get mad?”

Fanning myself, I say, “Ooh, baby.”

He laughs, and even though I shouldn’t, I like the sound of it. “I like you, Meg Milano.”

“Do you? Hmm, jury’s still out on you,” I return playfully, taking a sip of my martini. Pointing to the whiskey he ordered, I point out, “You haven’t touched your drink.”

“So I haven’t,” he agrees.

“Isn’t the point of getting a drink to… I don’t know, drink?”

He smiles slightly, glancing at the glass, but makes no move to sip from it. “I don’t drink in public if I haven’t had eyes on it the whole time.” Indicating the enclave where the bartenders gather, he says, “Bartender was over there before he poured mine. Put it below the counter, out of sight. Then he gave it to me to drink.”

I can’t quite contain my horror that he paid that much attention to his beverage, but I try to dial it down to reasonable disbelief. “Wow, that’s… really observant,” I state, unsure how else to finish that thought.

He shrugs, unconcerned, and watches my mouth. “You should finish that so we can get out of here,” he tells me.

I lick my lips, not because he’s watching, but I’m not sure how to navigate this road. Suddenly I’m uneasy, and it’s not like I was wild about this plan going into it. If he’s suspicious of a random bartender for literally nothing, how am I going to dump anything into his drink?

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