He was there, sitting at the same table we'd sat at the night before. He looked up when I walked in, smiled, and waved me over to his table as if we were old friends and he'd been expecting me.
"Hey, Bob," he said. His grin was wide, and seemed earnest to me, as if he were actually happy to see me. The thought reawakened parts of me that I'd just gotten to behave a few hours before.
"It's Robert. Bob is something you do for apples," I replied, with a tentative smile of my own. "Nice to see you again, Joseph. I didn't think you'd be here."
"Of course you did, or at least you were hoping. You drinking vodka again, or do you want a beer this time?"
What an ego! I thought. Even though I knew he was right, I wasn't about to admit it. I cleared my throat, wondering if he could see the blush I felt crawling up my cheeks. "I most certainly did not come in here looking for you--"
"Okay, okay," he said, holding up his hands as if in surrender. "Whatever you say. What will it be? Beer or vodka?"
I decided to be magnanimous and overlook his arrogance. At least, that's what I told myself. Deep down inside, I knew I was fortunate he was even speaking to me, considering what an asshole I'd been the night before. I was determined not to repeat my mistakes, and forced a smile to my lips. "Beer, please. Dos Equis, if they have it."
Joseph rolled his eyes. "They won't. It's Bud or Miller on tap, Guinness or Sam Adams in bottles. If you're lucky, they might have a few bottles of Corona, but I wouldn't count on it."
"Bud, then." I tried to remember the last time I'd ordered anything as mundane as a Budweiser. Not recently, probably not since I graduated college. The men I associated with didn't drink Bud. They drank imported beer, when they drank it at all. Blue sapphire martinis with two olives were their usual drink of choice. Shaken, not stirred, thank you very much, James Bond. I pushed the thought aside, determined to drink whatever piss water they put in front of me, and to do so without complaint. "Listen, Joseph... I want to apologize for last night."
He looked genuinely puzzled. "For what?"
"For behaving like a real jerk. I said a lot of very rude things, none of which you deserved. I'm sorry."
He waved a tanned, callused hand at me. "Forget it. You came back. That alone tells me you didn't mean what you said. Oh, and for the record, I do find you attractive, whether or not you care about my opinion, and I came here tonight hoping you'd show up."
"You do? You did?" I was sure the guys over by the billiards table could hear the thud as my jaw hit the floor. I was amazed that he'd given me a second thought after the way I'd behaved, never mind think enough of me to want to see me again.
He shrugged one of his broad shoulders. "Yeah. You're cute and sexy in a corporate, stick-stuck-up-your-ass sort of way."
Unbelievable. I was torn between being incredibly insulted and extremely aroused.
"Well, thanks... I think."
"It was definitely a compliment," he said with a grin.
"Really? Because it almost sounded like an insult."
"Nah. You're imagining things." He was playing with my head and enjoying it immensely. I could tell by the glint of humor in his dark eyes.
Amazingly, I wasn't irritated... well, not very, anyway. I smiled. "Yeah, well, that stick has been wedged in there for a lot of years. It may take some time before I can get it out. I'm trying, though."
"Maybe it just takes positive thinking. Well, that and lube. You'd be surprised at how easily things move when they're lubed."
Whoa. Was that a sexual innuendo, or was I so severely out of practice that I no longer knew flirting when I heard it? I must have looked shell-shocked, because he chuckled again and signaled the waitress to order our beer.