I can do this.
Daisy does it. She does it all the time. I mean, I don’t want to insinuate that my sister is the slutty one, but she’s the slutty one.
I flick my eyes back across the hotel bar and hold the stranger’s gaze. Three seconds. For three long agonizing seconds I lock eyes with him, then I smile and glance away. I got this tip from a women’s magazine. The article was titled something like ‘How to Snag Any Man You Want in Twenty Minutes or Less.’ The three-second gaze and smile was tip number two. Tip number three is holding his gaze while licking my lips. I think that’s beyond my capabilities though. That’s mid-level seduction stuff and I’m definitely a beginner.
Tip number one was a glance while I touched my hair. So dumb.
I did it anyway.
Desperate times and all that.
But if tip number two fails I’m heading back to my room. Alone. Wait, I wonder if those tips were meant to be used simultaneously? Like, was I supposed to hold his gaze for three seconds, smile and touch my hair at the same time? I might have fucked this up. Which, whatever. I mean, how could this possibly work? As if all it would take to get a hot stranger to have sex with me is three seconds of eye contact across a hotel bar? How does that even work?
Daisy would know.
Sometimes I hate the way she always knows, as if she’s lived a lot longer than I have when she most certainly has not.
I sigh as I eye the maraschino cherry sunk in the last half-inch of my drink. I wonder if I tip the glass back if I can get to it, or if it’ll just cling to the bottom and make me feel like an idiot.
Idiot, I decide.
I should get the check and go. I have a big week ahead of me. A great, big, almost-certain-to-be-disastrous week. I should be getting a good night’s sleep, not practicing seduction techniques I picked up from an old magazine I found under my sister’s couch. But as I lift my head to ask for the check a fresh drink is placed in front of me.
“From the guy in the blue shirt,” the bartender tells me with a look back in his direction. She smiles at me and raises her brow in approval before bouncing off to someone calling for a refill.
Holy shit, that worked? The three-second gaze and smile actually worked? My eyes widen and I peek across the bar at the man and then down to the drink. What the hell was I thinking? What am I supposed to do now? I really should have read the rest of that article.
“Mind if I join you?”
I look up and he’s standing beside my seat, a drink in his hand that he uses to signal towards the empty seat beside me. And what was that? Did I detect an accent? I think I did, but I can’t be that lucky. I swallow my nerves and quickly run my eyes over him. Tall. Fit. Oxford shirt untucked, paired with a worn pair of jeans. Leather loafers on his feet and the hint of end-of-day scruff on his jaw. Thick, neatly cut, well-styled dark hair and expressive brown eyes watching me with interest.
“I hope the drink is to your satisfaction.” He dips his head towards my beverage. “I asked the bartender to refresh you, but if you wanted something different…” He trails off with a small frown at my glass.
Accent confirmed. I have just hit the holy grail of potential one-night stands.
“You’re British,” I say, fighting the grin from my face.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” he replies and sets his own drink on the bar top while resting on the stool beside me, his long legs bent slightly at the knees in order for his feet to rest on the floor. “Unless you have a problem with my country?” he inquires, brow raised and a small smile on his lips.
Do you know what’s great about British men?
I mean, I’ve never met one before this and they’re likely no different than American men, but the accent. It’s everything, right? You can say it’s a cliché or whatever, but come on. It’s panty-meltingly good. I know he’s speaking the same language but the words just sound so much better falling from his lips.
“I’m Jennings,” he says, extending a hand, and I almost laugh. Jennings? It’s obviously fake. This guy is too old to have a trendy millennial name like Jennings. Also, it sounds British for ‘I’m giving you a fake name.’ But fine, I’m game.
“Rose,” I tell him and slip my hand into his. His hand engulfs mine and he’s not quick to withdraw, instead running his thumb gently over the back of my hand. I like the feeling a lot, the texture and warmth of his skin creating an immediate spark of interest in touching a whole lot more of him.
“Rose,” he repeats, pausing and tilting his head a fraction as if he doesn’t believe me. He shouldn’t, it’s not my name. But it’s close enough and he didn’t give me his real name, so it’s all he’s getting. I’m not supposed to be here right now anyway, so Rose it is.
“Rose,” I confirm. “And no, I don’t have any issues with your country.” I smile and linger on his face for a moment. I’m actually a bit of an Anglophile, truth be told. When Will and Kate got married I woke up early to watch the wedding live and I’ve binge-watched all six seasons of Downton Abbey. Twice. And while I’ve never had afternoon tea I’m positive it’d be just my thing. “Thank you for the drink,” I add, picking my glass up.
“You’re welcome. What exactly is it that you’re drinking?” he asks, eyeing my glass again as he takes a sip from his own. I’d guess he’s drinking bourbon, the amber liquid swaying in his glass over a single ice cube. It looks expensive, if I could judge the cost of his drink based on seeing an inch of it swirling in a glass. It must be the British accent that makes him seem posh inside of a nondescript Sheraton by the airport.
“A champagne cocktail,” I reply with a blush. It’s a stupid drink, but I like it.
“Ahh,” he replies, and even that half a word sounds better in his accent. “Is that a popular drink in this country?”
But wait, he doesn’t know that, does he?
“Very.” I nod. Wow. Who knew I was such a great liar? This week might be easier than I thought. “So what brings you to Washington?” I ask, changing the subject. I run my fingertip around the rim of my glass and wonder if I can really do this. It’s a great opportunity though, isn’t it? He’s perfect, appears interested and I’ll never see him again. If I’m going to get back on the horse I couldn’t ask for a better scenario. Or a better horse. Like a totally-out-of-my-league thoroughbred kind of horse I’d most definitely like to ride.
“Business,” he replies. “You?”
“Same,” I reply quickly and wave the question off with my hand. “Dull,” I add with a smile and a roll of my eyes.
“It was dull, yes,” he says in agreement, his gaze direct before dropping his eyes to my lips.
I feel a flush moving down my neck and I swallow.
“So you’re in town for a fortnight or something?”
“Have you any idea what a fortnight is, Rose?” He laughs and takes a sip from his glass as he watches me.
“Um, four nights?” I guess. I don’t actually have a clue what a fortnight is but I like the way it sounds and I’ve never had the opportunity to use it in conversation.
“A fortnight is two weeks, and no, I won’t be in America quite that long.”
I smile and drop my eyes to look for a ring. I may be willing to use him to get my groove back, but I’m not willing to enable a cheater.
“And what about you, Rose? Where is home for you when you’re not staying at this hotel?”
Sore subject. “Here and there.” My sister’s couch, but I don’t say that. I’m way too old to be in between apartments. And jobs. So I definitely don’t tell him any of that. Instead I smile before taking a large gulp of my drink. This week is all about bluffing anyway.
“Here and there?” he questions with a raised brow and tilt of his head. Great. He probably thinks I’m not stable enough for a one-night stand. I need to redirect this conversation.
“Where did you say you lived?” I ask. “London?” I add as a guess because, yes, my geography skills are so stellar that London is the only city in England that I can come up with quickly.
“London, yes,” he agrees while watching me. “In Mayfair. Hertford Street,” he adds. I’m fairly certain he’s being specific to make a point about me being so vague. Too bad.
“Does it?” He smiles at me like I’m amusing him. I take another sip of my drink and eye the cherry at the bottom of my glass. The last one got away from me when the waitress replaced my drink with the one Jennings sent.
“I like your shirt,” I offer. Subject change, take two. “Is it bespoke?”
“Shall I ask if you know what ‘bespoke’ means or is it just another British term you’ve been anxious to use?” He shakes his head this time when he laughs.
“It means fancy?” I ask, because he’s correct. I don’t know what that word means either.