‘Because.’ I shoot them both a look they know better than to argue with. ‘Now, can we please talk about something else?’
I sip my drink, crossing my legs in the other direction, and most definitely not looking towards the bar again.
I listen to their responses, relieved as all hell that they’ve let the matter of the smoking hot rock god drop. At least for now...
‘Drinks are empty. It’s your turn, Ally.’
I blink, drawn back into the conversation by Eliza, who is handing her glass to me. I frown. ‘Isn’t it table service?’
‘Nah. Not on a Friday.’
I grimace. ‘Remind me why we chose this place again?’
Cassie points to the sign overhead and I know what it says without even reading it: Happy Hour—9-9!
As the only one of our little trio who can afford full-price drinks in decent bars with professional wait staff, I resist the urge to complain. Besides, the place is obviously good enough for Ethan Ash. Which begs the question: what’s he doing here? He’s alone, and has been since I got here an hour earlier. Is he waiting for someone? Has he been stood up? That doesn’t make sense. Who’d stand him up?
I’m two cocktails in, so I know I have a bit of an alcohol-confident swagger as I make my way to the bar. But I’m immune to tall, dark and handsome men now—Jeremy cured me of that habit for life—so I determinedly move past him—way past, like other-planet past—choosing to prop my elbows on a spot that’s practically in the kitchen it’s so far away from him.
Despite the fact there are at least seven people serving behind the bar, I’m kept waiting for several minutes. Slowing down is probably a good thing, so I don’t make a fuss. I pull my phone out instead, flicking through Instagram and checking my emails, humming along without realising to the song overhead. It’s only when the song begins to surround, envelop and roll over me, with an oddly perfect surround-sound quality, that I look up and realise he’s right beside me.
He of the thick brown hair and ocean-green eyes. He of the tanned skin and gazillion-pack abs. He of the torn jeans and loose grey shirt—designer dishevelled. And the way he smells—delicious. My gut twists in enthusiastic acknowledgement of all of the above and my knees tremble as if they’re conspiring to pull me closer to him.
But my face is still following orders and thankfully stays resolutely unimpressed.
A smile flicks his lips as he continues to croon—yes, he’s actually crooning—the words to a pop song, for God’s sake—and I desperately don’t want him to stop.
‘How’s it going?’
It’s so completely not what I expect he of the stubbled jaw to say that I laugh softly. ‘How’s what going?’
His grin is disarming and he obviously knows it. How could he not? His accent is huskier in real life—broad British that is more Midlands than Eton. It’s sexy AF.
‘Life. The universe. Your place in it.’
‘Ah. That sounds like a conversation more suited to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s living room.’
‘Want me to give him a call? See if he’s free?’
I roll my eyes. ‘Sure. You got him on speed dial or something?’
He lifts his phone out of his pocket. It’s an iPhone, I think, but it looks to be pure gold. Catching me looking, he seems almost embarrassed as he clarifies, ‘I get given them.’
At that moment, thank God, a waiter appears behind the bar. ‘What’ll it be?’
‘Vodka gimlet, gin and tonic and Prosecco.’
He nods and moves away, picking up where he of the smooth as caramel voice left off, singing the song softly as he mixes our drinks.
Ethan calls me back to him and he’s holding his phone so I can see the world’s most famous astrophysicist staring back at me.
‘You seriously know him?’
‘Sure. We did a charity thing together a year ago. Nice guy.’
I arch a brow. Am I really standing in a bar in SoHo talking to a veritable rock god superstar about a world-famous scientist?
‘So am I. I think you’re the first girl I’ve met in a bar who outed herself as a science nerd.’