When they got to the edge of the room it became very easy to find Luke's booth. It was, as Ivan predicted, in a corner of the room, and Luke had clearly paid for two spaces instead of one. He'd brought in portable walls that were sturdy and not just sheets or curtains hung from a support system, but were actual constructed pieces with shelving.
"Wow." Ashlyn stopped moving and folded her arms across her middle. "That's impressive looking, isn't it?"
"It's a store, all right." There was a clear line of sight into the shop, and Steve could see a young woman pulling items from boxes and filling the last of the shelf space. "He's got a lot more clothes at his real store," Steve added, spotting only one clothing rack.
"Clothes eat available space, and he's got to maximize for his target clientele at conventions." Ashlyn was using her work voice. Then she shook her head and laughed, apparently at herself. "Where is he?"
"I'm right here, assuming you're looking for the proprietor." Luke walked up behind them, holding three paper cups in a neat stack. He was smiling and wearing his hat, along with a leather vest over his shirt and dark trousers that were exceedingly full in the leg -- all the better for hiding small items in. He looked positively roguish and startlingly like any one of many characters from TV and movies who turned out to be both charming and bad news. "Lucas Pickett, at your service," he said to Ashlyn, then gave Steve a broad wink and a leer. "Hello, luv."
Steve grinned, unable to help himself. His belly got warm and fluttery just looking at Luke. Lucas. He liked them both. "Hello, yourself. This is my friend Ashlyn. She's going to keep me company while you're busy here this weekend."
"But only not when you're free, I can already tell." Ashlyn offered her hand to Luke and made an appreciative sound when he kissed her fingers instead of shaking. "Oh, very nice."
"I try." Luke gave her a boyish grin and let her go. "Please, feel free to look around. We're running late, but we're very nearly done with setting up. That's Eleanor in there; she can help you find any little whimsy you might be looking for."
Ashlyn nodded and left them, plunging into the shop like she was prepared to blow her budget. Steve thought she was at least going to try to adhere to the no spending money on the first night rule, but that never stopped anyone from extensive window shopping and list making. Luke certainly had the widest variety of items, and it was well worth the time to browse before the next day's crowds.
"Oh, hang on," Luke said to Steve. "Don't move." He followed Ashlyn, handed one of the cups to Eleanor, put a second under a table where it wouldn't be knocked over and came back out, taking the lid off the third. "Conventions mean a lot of tea. Hi." He stood close to Steve, their arms brushing.
"Hi." Steve smiled at him, unable not to. "I missed you this week."
"Aw." Luke grinned at him, though, looking pleased. "True Con season will be worse -- my time gets tangled."
"That's okay -- I have busy times at work, I get it. At least with conventions I can show up and see you long enough to say hello."
Luke turned to fully face him and gave him a look that was very nearly smoldering. "I'm hoping for a lot more than a hello, honestly." ENDEXCERPT