Anthony brought me a can of Dr. Pepper when he got up to refill his wine, and I stared at the aluminum logo. Peyton hated Dr. Pepper, and I'd never seen his father drink it either, which led me to believe, the case was always in the garage for me.
"Riley, can I ask you something?"
"I've never heard you talk about your dad."
"Probably because there's nothing to say. I never met him."
"Is he still alive?"
I shrugged. "Maybe."
"I'm sorry I brought it up. I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable. It's just, we've known each other for a while, and I always wondered."
"My dad left as soon as he found out my mom was pregnant, and she hasn't heard from him since."
My voice started to crack as I looked up at him. "He didn't give a shit about either of us, so I make sure to return the favor whenever I can."
After watching TV for a few hours, I looked at the clock and realized how late it was.
"It's getting late."
Anthony's arms were wrapped around me. "Mm-hmm. You should stay."
We both knew I couldn't.
He stared at me while I pulled on my clothes, simply smiling.
"You. You're so beautiful."
"I'm off next weekend and Peyton's going to Virginia on Wednesday.""
I forgot about Peyton's upcoming visit to his mom's for two weeks. It would make it easier to see Anthony, but what was he suggesting?
"In case you wanted to get caught up on watching old man movies with me."
God, his smile was so intoxicating. How in the hell could I say no? "Sure. I'd like that."
It was almost one in the morning when I left. I had to rush to get home for curfew. Although my mom was usually lax about stuff, I could have texted her telling her I'd be late but it was already so late, what kind of excuse would I give her?
"Sorry, Mom. I'm hanging out in Dr. Lowery's bed and he just banged my brains out."
I was sitting in the bar with my best friend as she stared at me over the top of her half-empty pint of beer.
"So... you're dating Dr. Daddy now?"
"Umm no. I don't think..." I couldn't "date" Anthony. First of all, where would we go? Tampa was a big city, but the suburb we lived in had a small-town vibe. He ran into patients and clients a lot whenever he and Peyton went anywhere. "Honestly, I have no idea what we're doing."
"Other than fucking."
"Right. Just fucking."
She took a long sip of her drink and chuckled to herself as she set it down on the tabletop. "I swear, Riley, this thing keeps getting better every time we talk. I can't wait until you're telling me you're going to be Peyton's stepmom."
"Oh my God, stop!"
"Girl, I'm teasing. But seriously. He's hot and a doctor. Well done. You need to teach me your ways."
Me, teach her? Jasmine was the sexually confident woman I wanted to be. "Yeah, right. And how many guys have I been with, again?"
"You mean outside of the Lowery family?" she grinned.
"Ouch. That one hurt."
"I know, I'm sorry. Couldn't help it."
She propped her elbows on the round table and rested her chin on her hands. "Your number doesn't matter, because it's not a contest. Guys can fuck several women and still not even know shit about sex." she lifted her eyebrows. "Believe me."
"Well, Anthony is umm... not clueless."
"Glad to hear it. You deserve a fresh burst of energy, Ri."
"Oh shut up."
"You want to know who else is hot and probably gives good energy?" Jasmine said loudly, just as more customers were leaving the bar. "Ray Simpson."
"My new neighbor. I saw him moving in last week, and he's gorgeous. I went over to welcome him to the neighborhood right away... you know... because I'm friendly like that." Her expression was devious, and I imagined her putting on her most seductive outfit before running in her heels to his doorstep. "Not married, no girlfriend... or boyfriend... in sight. He's some tech guy. I think he sells software? I can't remember. It was hard to hear over how fucking hot he was."
"God, I hope he never puts up curtains."
"Don't I know it."
Our server carrying our dinners, aimed a huge smile at Jasmine. He was practically drooling over our meals, but she didn't notice. Perhaps she was used to guys falling over themselves around her.
He dropped off my fajitas with a loud thud, and slowly slid her salad in front of her like it was a present. "Thanks." Just as she shoved a mouthful of food in her mouth, she said "Dinner's on me tonight."
"Jasmine, you don't have to do that."
She was already on her second beer so I knew she would need some assistance there. "I don't mind driving you home tonight."
"I'm not buying you dinner for being my designated driver Riley, I'm buying it to piss me off less about not being able to go to the Luke Bryan concert."
"What?" We bought tickets months ago, and I was dying to see him live.
"I fucked up. I thought my cousin's wedding was this weekend, but it's not and my mom's being an asshole about me bailing out. I can't get out of it. I'm really sorry. Do you want to try to sell our tickets? Or I can still pay for mine if you want to go with someone else."
I was disappointed she couldn't go, but I still really wanted to. Did I know anyone else who liked Luke Bryan?
I did. He caught me dancing and singing in my bathing suit to his music in his garage. Plus, he wasn't on-call that weekend.
"Riley? Your face is weird. What are you thinking about?"
"Doing something crazy," I said. "Like, maybe asking Anthony if he wants to go."
"Oh my God! Riley! Do it!"