It was one of those late summer days where the heat felt dangerous. The sky was stripped of any color, the birds were no where in sight. We swam, slow-motion, from air-conditioned cars to air-conditioned buildings; drowning on the thick, humid air.
We arrived at ‘Branded’ just before 6:00 pm for happy hour. I had taken the time to change out of my work clothes into some tight jeans, a white tank top and my favorite pair of well-worn cowboy boots. It was hump day and my co-worker and I were both in need of a little R&R. She was the designated driver and I planned on taking advantage – it was my turn.
He was the only diner brave enough to sit outside; the table partially shaded by a lonely sapling planted in the sidewalk on the West side of 5th Avenue. On the shady side of the street, another patio was jammed with early revelers enjoying a folky singer-songwriter’s rendition of the Avett Brothers’ “I and Love and You”. I took notice and thought it was nice, but we were in the mood for some boot stomping country music and the band that night was all over the radio (plus I kind of had a crush on the lead singer).
I first noticed his facial hair, thinking how hot he must be with a full beard in Texas…in late August. At least it was nicely trimmed and he looked good vs. the ragged, homeless look some guys are sporting these days. I let the metal gate slam behind me and he looked up from his menu. His ice blue eyes caught my gaze and held on the way a good book won’t let you put it down when you’re finished. We traded quick smiles before Rainey dragged me inside. Continue reading