I shook my head. “It’s only eleven-thirty, it’ll be open for another hour or so.”
“Then why is everyone leaving?”
Was this a hint? Did he want to leave and follow the party to the next pub or nightclub? I felt my defensive walls coming back up. “They just came for the band, for most of them this is only the start of their night and since this place,” I waved my hand around the open space with high ceilings and glass French doors lining one wall leading out to the veranda. “Doesn’t offer a dj after a band they leave in order to dance. It’s more of a chilled establishment rather than a rave house.” I kept my eyes fixed on the bartender pulling beer. He nodded to me but gave no other indication he was on his way over.
A few seconds lapsed of awkward silence. Come on, say something interesting, he hasn’t run away nor has he made a sleazy come on. So try not to scare this one off.
“Did you like the set?”
Lame. I am lame.
He grinned. “Loved it. And you? Are you a fan?”
“Not a die-hard one who follows their tours or stalks their every move. But, yeah, I like them. I just don’t like the crowds.”
“I noticed that.” He bit his bottom lip.
I sighed in defeat. “I know I’m short, I openly admit that. It’s just annoying when people jump right on top of you, or block your view or,” giving him a cheeky grin to let him know I’m not going on a crazy rant and so I am not (entirely) insane. “Being called a munchkin by a stranger. All that gets to me.”
“But everything is fine now?”
“Cool, then let’s fix one of those problems.”
I frowned. “Huh?”
“You don’t like being called a munchkin by strangers, the solution then is not to be a stranger anymore.”
“I still don’t like munchkin.”
“How about hobbit?”
It was hard not to smile back or to chuckle at the absurdity. Somehow I wasn’t absolutely pissed at this conversation. “First, before you can decide on how to continue insulting me, tell me about yourself.”
“What do you want to know?” He leaned his forearms against the bar and stared at me intently.
“Let’s start with star sign.”
“A fire element.”
“What about you?”
“I’m on the cusp of Aries and Taurus. Depending on who you’re talking to, depends on what I am on the day.”
“That explains the stubbornness and the anger.”
“Hey, stop insulting.”
He laughed and bumped his shoulder playfully into mine.
“Employed?” I asked.
I waited for him to elaborate. He didn’t. Before I was going to ask, the bartender arrived and served us.
“Are you sure you don’t want something a little stronger than water?” He sipped his cider.
“Driving,” I tried hard not to gulp the liquid down and demand more. First fighting for space and not to be crushed, then dancing and now talking was making my throat scream for moisture.
We shuffled away from the bar, unsure where to go. Suddenly he yelled across the room and took strides to the pool table occupied by a couple of other guys.
I stood dumb and alone. What the?
“Cecelia,” he waved his hand for me to follow. I did. “Want to play a game?”
I shrugged. “Only if you’re not afraid of losing to a girl.”
The two guys on the other side of the green lined table laughed.
Jai’s eyes twinkled. “We could be on the same team. Then you won’t be losing to me.”
“But it’s not as fun.” My God. I really need to work on my flirting technique.
One of the other guys interrupted. “Play against each other, but if he wins then you have to give him a kiss.”
I could feel my face flaming up. “What if I win?”
The three boys shared a look. “Lady’s choice,” Jai offered, looking hopeful.
Now I could’ve gone really flirtatious and demand that he kisses me instead. However, I’m mean. And hungry. “If I win then I demand cheesecake.”
Jai took a step back. “And where am I meant to get this cheesecake from?” He looked disappointed though he tried to hide it with a laugh. “Are there any shops open at this time?”
I cheekily grinned. “Let’s play pool and see what happens.”
He considered momentarily before nodding. “Show me what you’ve got.”