So though I wanted Jonathan to treat me like his own personal toy for a few hours, I had to get Gabby home and stay there until the next morning, when Darren would show up.
The lights kept me from seeing any of the diners. I smiled at a bunch of silhouettes because even though I couldn’t see them, they could see me.
Gabrielle hit the first song, Someone To Watch Over Me, then went to Stormy Weather. I had my groove on then. I sang with the feeling she and I had practiced, but as I got to the middle of Cheek to Cheek, I caught a whiff of cologne I recognized: Jonathan’s. Someone was wearing his cologne, and the weight between my legs came back from the memory of the afternoon. I sang about his cheek on mine, about the scent and feel of him. Under My Skin came out like a seduction. I sang the words, but all I could feel was sex, the need for it. I begged for it with the lyrics, the snappy little Sinatra tune gone, replaced by a moan for gratification.
When my voice fell off the last note, I was ready for that hotel room.
They applauded, quiet but earnest. You weren’t supposed to clap at all at these types of gigs, and I said, “thank you” with an embarrassed smile. I was convinced they could see my arousal like a dark patch soaking through my dress. I looked back at Gabby, and she gave me a thumbs up. I think I must have been a hundred shades of blush. I put the mike down and the spotlights went out. The diners started up their conversations again, and I headed back to the shitty dressing room.
Jonathan was in a booth, staring at me.
Of course that was where the cologne smell had come from. The source. It wasn’t like he’d gotten it at Barney’s. If it wasn’t a handmade scent, I’d eat my shoe. But I hadn’t even thought of that until I saw him in a booth at Frontage with a gorgeous redhead sipping a cosmopolitan. He tipped his glass to me.
He leaned toward the redhead and whispered something to her. Right into her ear. Like tipping his glass to me and breathing on her in any ten second interval was perfectly okay.
I was going to run and get as far from him as possible. I couldn’t believe what I’d almost done. I wasn’t kidding myself into thinking monogamy was on the table, but I’d think a day would pass before he’d put his hand up someone else’s skirt, or that he’d take the trouble to not shove it right in my face.
But instead of running away like a sensible person, I walked up to the booth. “Hi, Jonathan.”
“Monica,” he said. “This is Teresa.”
I nodded and smiled, and she held her glass up to me. “That was beautiful.”
“You were incredible,” Jonathan said. “I’ve never heard anything like that.” I stared at him. Something had changed in his face. I couldn’t pin it down. Softer? Was he tired? Or did Teresa have a relaxing effect on him? His happiness made me feel evil and sharp.
“I’ve never heard of a man trying to sandwich another woman between fingering me and f**king me in the same day.”
Teresa, who looked as though she was one hundred percent lady, almost spit out a mouthful of her cosmopolitan. Jonathan laughed too. I personally didn’t find any of this funny. I stepped back, and Theresa stood as well. Maybe she was pissed. Maybe her laugh was the nervous kind or maybe I’d just shocked her. But she was as composed as possible as she turned to Jonathan and said, “I’m going to the ladies’.”
He nodded, then scooted over once she was gone. “Would you like to sit?”
“For someone who doesn’t want to get involved, you have a way of being involved.”
“Even I have limits.”
“She’s a natural redhead.” His look was full deadpan, and though what he said had a hundred filthy connotations, the one non- p**n ographic one became apparent with the straight-faced look.
“She’s your sister,” I said.
“Two years between us. She’d appreciate it if you assumed I was older.”
“I’m so embarrassed,” I said. “I have to apologize to her.”
“Are you going to sit? Or am I just going to stare at your body without touching you?”
I slid in next to him, and he put his arm around me, his fingertips brushing my neck.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“I was having dinner with my sister. No, I was not stalking you, though I have to say again, I think you have a gift. I think I felt a half a tear, right here.” He touched the inside corner of his eye.
“Are you making fun of me?”
“No. I promise you. You were…I don’t have a word big enough.” He looked at my face, and I noticed his eyelashes were copper, like his hair. I was overcome by his presence. “Now I know what you’re protecting by not getting entangled.”
“Thank you,” I said. “I appreciate that. I really do.”
He ran his finger over my collarbone with just enough pressure to make me breathe a little more deeply. “Am I seeing you tonight?”
I tried to stay cool, but I wanted him all over again. “I don’t think I can. I’m not avoiding you. I have something else going on. Tomorrow?”
He shrugged. He must have thought I was playing games with him, which he’d probably be exquisitely sensitive about after the cheating wife. But I wasn’t playing a game. Not at all.
“I have a flight out at five tomorrow. After two weeks, you might forget me.”
“I should do to you what you did to me this afternoon,” I said.
He let out a short snort of a laugh into his whiskey. “You don’t have the self-control.”
“You heard me.”
“Yeah. I wanna bet.”
He pulled me close and spoke so softly I could barely hear him. “You get me to beg for it, and tomorrow I will take you to Tiffany on Rodeo Drive where you can pick out anything you want.”
“And what if I don’t? Which I won’t, but just for argument’s sake.”
“Then you cancel whatever it is you’re doing, and I take you back to my house, where you will obey my every command until the sun comes up.”
“I am not scrubbing your kitchen floor.”
He smirked. “That’s not what I had in mind.”
I hadn’t noticed the piano had stopped until I mentioned the kitchen floor.
“I’ll be right back,” I said, getting out of the booth before I had a chance to explain that I wasn’t ditching him or manipulating him. I’d let Gabby go off by herself, and I didn’t know if she’d seen me with him and taken a cab home.