Riot Boy

Katey Hawthorne
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He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a little black card, which he put on the table between us. "Think you dropped this."

My MasterCard.

Sure, I could've just dropped it somewhere, and in the writhing crush of the late-night zombie horde, he might've just happened to be the one to pick it up. And someone who knew me might've just happened to tell him who I was and how to find me.

But all I could think of was his hand in my back pocket. The one where I kept my wallet.

He leaned back, crossing his arms over his chest and tossing his head as if to get his hair out of his eyes. Absurd, seeing as his hair probably wouldn't have moved in a hurricane. "No, don't thank me, really."

"Thanks," I said automatically.

That same grin.

Now I remembered the taste of his tongue, the feeling of his heavy belt buckle clinking against the button of my fly. I shifted in my seat. "How --"

"Found it."

"How'd you know it was mine?"

"Because you left it right where you were sitting. I asked the bartender if it belonged to the Abercrombie and Fitch brunet. He knew exactly who I meant."

I stuttered, first trying to find a reason to believe him. Then, once I realized I was only doing so because I was flattered, trying to find a reason not to believe him. Even if I had, in my near stupor, gotten out my card while talking to Susanne, what kind of bartender wouldn't have just assumed I'd come back for it? Why would he let some random punk ass walk out with it?

But if said random punk ass really had stolen it, why the hell would he bring it back to me? In person?

Finally I said, "Oh. Right. I mean, thanks."

He smirked yet again. His lips were pale pink in the sunlight through the picture window, bowed with that sensitive plumpness that had made kissing him so damn delicious. His eyes crinkled at the corners, just the faintest hint of lines to come. "Who'd you leave with last night?"

I was surprised into telling the absolute truth. "Um, no one. What's your name again?"

"I never told you."

"What?" "I know it's kinda trite, but you can't ask for my name again when I never told you what it was in the first place."

My mouth fell open but not because I had anything to say.

He held out one hand, grinning again. "Brady Sinclair."

I took it. It was long-fingered and strong and cold -- I remembered that from last night too. "What kind of name is that?"

"Always thought it was kinda hot, myself."

Caught off guard, I laughed. This guy was either completely insane or completely fascinating. Not that the two were mutually exclusive. Just that one was always dangerous, the other only mostly dangerous.

Bearing that in mind, I declined to rise to the bait. I slipped my card into my wallet and asked, "You here for coffee or...?"

"Or to bother you while you try to read your paper? Some from column A, some from column B. So who'd you leave with, really?"

"Does my sister count?"

His eyes narrowed.

Beyond weird. The guy had probably picked my pocket, and here I was asking, "Why? Who'd you leave with?"

"No one. Guy I wanted to leave with left early. Walked right out the door with a couple a rug-munchers and left me high and dry. Motherfucker had a body to die for too."

I didn't bother wondering why he'd asked me with whom I'd left if he'd seen me walk out with Suse and Lucy. Just like that, I knew exactly why I was still having this idiotic conversation: it was the most sustained attention I'd had from a man since that last god-awful night with Paul.

The night when we'd had the most incredible sex ever. Right before he told me he'd been cheating on me.

Brady asked, "You got a job?"

"Yeah. Manager at Henderson's." I nodded out the window.

"Books, that's cool. What you got there?" He pointed at my coffee.

"Americano. Uh, want some?"

"Thanks." He took it, sipped, and smiled. "Black, huh? I think I like you, Etienne."

"I'm flattered." But I had reached my threshold. It had been a bizarre twenty-four hours, and I couldn't handle much more before my head finally exploded. "I should probably get to the store, though."

"Okay." He leaned back again, eyeing me over my own coffee. "But I'm only gonna track you down once, Etienne Fletcher. Twice would just be creepy and desperate."

Don't do it, don't do it, don't -- "You...want my number?"

Yep. I did it.

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