“Nate.” It comes out sharp and my tongue emphasizes the T. I don’t seem to be blinking either.
“Melanie.” He returns the tone.
We both have an almost vacant look as we stare at each other.
He subtly grabs my arm as his eyes scan the room. “You have some explaining to do,” he mutters through clenched teeth.
“Me?” I look at him, surprised and slightly irritated. “What the hell do I need to explain?”
“For starters, how did you not mention who you were?”
“Again. Me? Why should I have?”
Geez, this guy has some nerve.
“Fuck. This is why I should have looked at your ID.” He seems to be talking more to himself than me as he rubs his temples.
“Your idiot move, not mine. Aren’t you supposed to be checking IDs if someone looks under 35?” I throw some facts his way.
“How old are you?” He shoots me a gaze.
“23, and something tells me that it hasn’t stopped you before.”
His eyes bug out and he almost forms a grimace on his mouth from my ability to challenge his bullshit ego.
“I mean, how did you not know I was Leo’s sister? Doesn’t he show photos of me or something?” Now I’m at a loss of how we found ourselves in this quandary.
Nate adjusts his jaw. “Do I look like the friend that everyone shows family photos to?”
He has a point.
I tilt my head to the side in acknowledgement. “Listen, for someone who’s in their 30s and seems to play the game, you need to get it together. What my brother doesn’t know won’t kill him, and to be honest, we are still trying to figure out our sibling relationship, so I’m not sure he and I are close enough that I actually care if he finds out about this,” I explain as my eyes glance around the room.
My attention returns to Nate who laughs an almost bitter laugh and touches my arm again.
“Oh, he most definitely will not find out about this. We go way back, and not just that, but I need him on my side.”
I have no idea what he means, but I’ll roll with it. “You make it sound like you would never go near me again.” I don’t sound hurt; I sound skeptical as I look at him. The corners of my mouth even slant up.
His touch on my arm tightens and his eyes change when they meet mine. A swirling want floats down under my belly.
“I know I’m not easy to forget—”
I interrupt his arrogance with a huffed laugh. “Please. Let’s just cut to the chase. Your policy, not mine, remember? You probably wondered all day if you would see me again, and if there wasn’t this minor issue, then you would probably ask for round two.”