32. At bar
Sure enough, Gray decided to come to the bar that night to watch Revel and her band. Martin also accompanied them which was a bit annoying as it meant Marcy had to keep a bit of distance from Gray. Martin wasn’t supposed to know they were together on any other level than colleagues at theatre group and staff and students at school.
The town was buzzing this Friday evening. Even though the nights had really drawn in and winter wasn’t far off, it was still pleasant to walk in. Cool, of course, but not yet cold. Not that chill-to-the-bones feeling with a mean wind.
Marcy wondered how the four of them appeared. They possibly looked like two dating couples. There was every chance that someone from school might see them, though it wasn’t far from the theatre to the bar.
At least no one would be inside, because you couldn’t get in without ID or being on the list, as Marcy was.
Revel left them to take her place. She had quickly changed at the theatre into a different outfit and fixed her make up, but it wasn’t a huge change. The band was pretty casual.
They found a bar table to stand around near the front. "What are you drinking?" Martin asked, offering to get the first ones for them all.
Marcy was keen for Gray to get a little bit tipsy so his better judgement would dissolve and he would invite her back. But he was very serious and steady all night, sipping his beer agonisingly slowly in Marcy’s opinion.
He was obviously lost in thought: even though he was watching the band he looked distant and barely spoke to Martin or her.
Maybe it was time for a more provocative tactic. As usual there were more men than women in the venue, so it wasn’t hard for Marcy to return someone’s gaze as there were plenty of guys eyeing her up.
She knew it would drive Gray wild if someone actually approached her.
So that was exactly what she planned to encourage.
When the band took a break and it was easier to hold a conversation, Gray turned to Marcy. "It’s getting late. You should probably be getting home."
"It’s not that late. And there’s no school tomorrow."
"That’s not the point."
They couldn’t continue the discussion as Martin had just returned with more drinks. Marcy hoped he didn’t pick up the tension in the air.
She was feeling a kind of déjà vu anyway. it was like that earlier night in the bar when she’d bumped into Gray and he hadn’t been able to keep his hands off her. But Martin hadn’t been there that night as he was now, and his presence was a huge obstacle.
So what was a girl to do?
Let Gray figure it out!
When the music started up again, Marcy deliberately returned the look of a guy at the bar with as alluring a smile as possible. He had curly hair and looked about the age of a college student. No surprises, he soon came over and started to chat to her. She felt a twinge of guilt, but she was careful to keep the conversation light and not be overly flirty with him.
Just talking to the other guy was enough, of course. She could practically feel Gray’s eyes boring into her, even though she wasn’t looking at him.
They had been chatting about the usual kinds of introductory things when Marcy felt a hand at her elbow.
"Excuse me." This was addressed to the curly-haired guy. "I think it’s time we left." This was directed at Marcy.
The guy looked annoyed. "Is this your boyfriend?"
Marcy was about to try and respond when Gray cut in. "I’m a friend, and we need to go." He was as polite as he could be given the abruptness.
Marcy shot the guy an apologetic look and let Gray usher her towards the exit. She should have been furious, of course, at someone interrupting her conversation and herding her out.
But since it was her plan, she was delighted.
"I’m just escorting Marcy to her car," Gray told Martin as he left. Martin nodded, he didn’t seem to find it remarkable in any way. After all they had all become friends through the theatre group and had given one another lifts here and there. Or if he did suspect anything, he kept it to himself.
As they left the bar the coolness of the night air made Marcy’s skin tingle.
"I didn’t drive, by the way."
"What?" Gray was still too wound up to process this.
"Revel and I walked here. So I really don’t need an escort."
"Then I’ll drive you home."
The hell he would, Marcy thought. Unless he meant to his home. No way was she going home alone, returned to her doorstep like some kid with an early curfew.
She said nothing, but walked with him to his car. As ever, Gray held the door open for her and waited for her to get in before closing it. It was one of those habit of old fashioned courtesy that she loved about him.
Marcy sat back in Gray’s car, enjoying the familiarity of it. She could sense he was still furious - with himself, more so than with her - and that he was wrestling with himself over what to do.
She made it easier for him.
"You’re not actually going to drive me home, are you?"
"It’s what I should do." His eyes were fixed on the road ahead, he was concentrating on not even looking at her.
"You know that my parents aren’t expecting me home tonight? I was supposed to be staying with Revel."
"I’m sure they won’t mind the change of plans."
Actually, Marcy thought, though they probably wouldn’t, there was every reason why they should. They might have planned their own quiet dinner-and-date night. While she shrank from the thought of her parents doing THAT - for she had surely been delivered by the stork, anything else was unthinkable of one’s own parents - it was possible they might be enjoying a night alone.
She mentioned this to Gray. "It might interrupt their evening."
It was enough to tip him past pushing point. "OK. We’ll go back to mine. I’ll take the couch."
Marcy smiled to herself. They both knew that wasn’t going to happen.