“Wait do you know him?” I ask Rowan with a touch of hope in my voice. He looks at me incredulously.
“I wish.” He says dreamily. “I’ve asked around the bar before, apparently his name is Damien. But I’ve never had the guts to talk to him.” He says ruefully.
“But he’s gay?” I prompt desperate for vindication. Rowan looks at me like I just grew a second head.
“Why? You trying to cut my grass?” He ask indignantly. I look at him with a furrowed brow. Then I let my gaze fall back very deliberately on the goddess. “Oh.” Rowan says as realization dawns on him. “You want to goddess.” I nod weakly at him. But I can’t take my eyes off her.
“He’s gay.” Rowan whispers into my ear and the sheer force of happiness that hits me nearly pushes me off my stool. Rowan starts laughing as he slides a shot in front of me. I down it hopping it will help settle the strange feeling pulsing underneath my skin. I feel like there is too much static in the room suddenly.
“So shall we divide and conquer?” Rowan asks me boldly.
“What are you talking about?” I ask him incredulously.
“Simple math, you want her, I want him. Two against two, seems like good odds.” I shake my head at him incredulous.
“Look at her.” I say in awe as I watch her dance. Her eyes are still too far away to see but everything else is permanently scarred into my mind. Rowan makes a deep dramatic sigh next to as he leans his head on his elbow and watches them dance with a glazed over look in his eyes.
“Why haven’t you talked to him before?” I ask suddenly curious about his hesitation. “I’ve been watching men hit on you all night, why would you hesitate to go after something you want?”
“You’re one to talk.” He snaps defensively. “The guys you’ve seen tonight are…How shall I put this for you to understand? They’re like firecrackers, you can get them in bulk pretty cheaply. While they’re a lot of fun, they fizzle out quickly. Where as he.” Rowan says looking at his Adonis.
“Is a heat seeking missile?” I offer helpfully and he beams with pride at me.
“And your edu-gay-cation is complete. Drink.” He announces proudly as we take another shot.
“What do you know about her?” I ask searching for information. He shrugs ruefully.
“Not much, she’s always here with him. Sometimes other gay guys as well. And the girl can shake it.” He informs me with a wink. I look back at her now dancing alone again. “Now’s your chance, go ask her to dance.” He says in sing song voice. I shake my head violently at him. He shrugs. He stands up from the table. Downs a shot. “Chicken shit.” He fires at me before darting off to the dance floor.
I watch on in horror as my brother prances over to the goddess and grabs her by the hands. He smiles his most devastating smile, I’ve seen him use to get things he wants. She beams back at him as he spins her around a few times before he dips her low. She screams with excitement at the sudden drop.
I’m instantly overcome by an irrational jealousy at my brother’s hands on the goddess’s body. I watch him twirl her and lead her with his strong skills. He even lifts her at one point during the song. Her laughter pulls at something deep inside of me causing a strange ache.
The song finishes and I watch my brother in a hurried conversation with her before he kisses her on the cheek and tips his head towards me. I watch her nod as Rowan grabs her by the hand and pulls her at a run towards me. Dear God, don’t let this go as badly as I fear. Rowan is beaming with pride over his catch. I must keep this technique in mind for the future. Gay men make great fishing companions.
Rowan jumps the last few feet towards our table. He grabs a shot off the table and hands it to the goddess. Her smile is heart stopping up close. But her eyes, are a sparkling hazel collaboration. I was right, I was right to fear looking into them. “This is my brother, Link.” He announces and I have to blink as I realize I’m staring. Her smile is turned directly towards me now, between that and her eyes I have to physically remind myself to breathe.
“Hey.” She says with a smile. I tip my hat respectfully, but remain silent. Rowan rolls his eyes and hands me a shot, then takes one for himself.
“Cheers.” He says and the three of us drink. We finish the shots and I’m still in awe of the perfect being standing a mere two feet away from me.
“Baby doll, I need you.” A deep male voice says coming out of nowhere, he grabs the goddesses arm before dragging her back to the dance floor. I watch helplessly as the missile drags my goddess away from me. Then her head turns back to look at me over her shoulder and she smiles. My heart thumps hard in my chest, returning her smile before she starts dancing again. Suddenly the whole situation of what just went down registers in my brain. I reach out and slap Rowan upside the head.
“Ow, what was that for?” He demands.
“You know damn well what, asshole.”
“Hey don’t blame me because you morphed from chicken shit into the great silent blob.” He’s laughing at me. I let my eyes fall back to the dance floor.
“Did you happen to catch her name?” I ask him still pissed.
“That was weird actually. I introduced myself when I started dancing with her but she gave up nothing. After the dance I offered her a shot to thank her for the dance. When we came over I introduced her to you and still nothing.” He explains and my chest deflates a little.
He slides another shot in front of me. “I still can’t believe you just sat there like a lump. You didn’t even say hello.” His incredulous tone is covered with laughter. I down the shot. “I mean the fish was in the boat, I still had the net in my hands. Then you just watched her flop back into the water.” He continues. I glare at him.
“More accurately I was admiring the beauty of the fish when another boat crashed into mine and stole it from me.” I tell him ruefully.
“No that was my fish. Just because I helped with your catch doesn’t mean I didn’t have my own line in the water.” He tells me with a wicked gleam in his eye.
“You brought her over here hoping to attract his attention.” I say accusingly. He shrugs and feign innocence.
“And to help you of course.” He defends taking another shot.
“Of course.” I smile taking another shot as well. “Maybe it was a wasted expedition. I mean what if she’s not into men.” I say as I remember where I am.
“Are you kidding me?” He exclaims. Then reaches over and slaps me up the side of the head. “Don’t think I didn’t see that smile she sent over her shoulder at you.” He justifies. I smile broadly at him forgetting the attack as I remember that smile as well.
“You caught that huh?” I ask proudly. He rolls his eyes at me shaking his head. We have a couple more drinks as I try to fight the urge to rip the missile from her body. Then he finally leaves her to dance alone again, I want desperately to ask her to dance. But I am well intoxicated now and I don’t trust that I won’t make a fool of myself. The chance is gone anyway. I watch as another guy approaches her from the edge of the dance floor.
He seems to be leering at her as he approaches her space. He’s also stumbling a little like he’s drunk. He puts his hands on her and her shock is obvious. I watch as she smiles sweetly then shakes her head at him. She steps away from him and starts dancing on her own again. Undeterred by her rejections he grabs her again more forcefully this time. She physically rips his hands from her and I clearly see her mouth the word no as she tries to get away from him again. He’s about to try a third time and I’m off my bar stool.
A strong arm comes around my chest. “No Link, stay here. I’ll deal with it.” Rowan says urgently before he runs out onto the floor. I stand by the table staring daggers at the drunken fool who doesn’t understand the word ‘no’. Rowan reaches them just as the goddess is swatting his hands away again. Rowans arms go around her like a choreographed dance move and he starts dancing her towards the edge of the floor.
That man doesn’t know it but my brother just saved his life. My fists are balled so tightly I’m sure no blood is getting to them. The music has slowed and I watch the goddess lean slightly against Rowans chest. She seems rattled by what just happened, and like she’s trying to hide herself from the world.
They’ve almost reached the edge of the floor when the missile makes his way towards them. Then past them as he connects his fist with the drunk who’d started to give chase. The goddess turns on the missile and pushes him hard in the chest before she offers a quick kiss to my brother’s cheek. I want to go and shake the missiles hand. I watch as the goddess turns and storms off from the dancefloor. The missile is about to go after her when Rowan catches him by the arm.
I watch Rowan whisper something quickly into the missiles ear. His eyebrows raise in surprise before he responds. Then he pulls a card from his pocket handing it to Rowan. The two exchange a quick smile before the missile leaves in the direction after the goddess. I watch as my brother saunters back towards me wearing his trademark shit eating grin. Fanning his face with the small white business card between his fingers.
He sits back down at the table casually. It’s then I realize that I’m still in battle ready stance with my fists balled. I exhale and take a seat. We each take a shot before we resume any conversation.
“I got digits.” Rowan announces proudly flicking the card between his fingers. He looks at the card. “He’s a lawyer. Not what I imagined, but hey.” He says with a triumphant smile.
“Well I have a new respect for your lawyer.” I tell him nodding to the corner where the drunk guy— now sporting a bloody nose— is huddled with his mates. Rowan looks over at the sight.
“Yeah well he’s lucky.” He spits distastefully. “If I’d let you go out there, he’d probably be dead.” Rowan says matter-of-factly.
“You know that the army trained up that brawling buffoon from college. Now I have restraint.” I say with a laugh. He looks at me deadpan.
“Link, I remember high school and college. Nobody dared mess with me because I was your brother. I never realized how grateful I was for that until recent years.” He says sadly.
“What are you talking about?” I ask him seriously. He just smiles a half smile.
“Let’s just say that Dad’s reaction to me was a lot more common than I anticipated.” His solemn tone caused my throat to tighten.
“Has someone hurt you?” I demand angrily. “Tell me who. I’m ready to start kicking ass and taking names.” He bursts out laughing,
“I’ve missed you man.” He smiles. “During the college bar fights I always thought I had your back. But after you left, I found out that most of those fights were about me.”
“I didn’t want you to know. I figured you had enough to deal with.” I explain regretfully.
“It’s okay Link, I’m not mad. It just made me realize how unlucky some are, ones who don’t have you for a brother.” He confesses. I smile a proud smile at him as we down our last shots.
“Ro, I think I’m hammered.” I laugh. He bursts out laughing.
“I know, that’s why I didn’t let you go after that guy. Drunk Link has no restraint no matter how much the army trained you.”
“We should probably go.” I tell him and he nods. I stumble a little as I get of my stool and so does he. We lean against each other for support to exit the bar. Out the front I sigh as I remember how far we are away from my hotel. Rowan must have the same thought because he pulls his cell phone from his pocket and calls a taxi.