“Yeah, never ends.” My lips tightened.
He poured me a glass of water. “Here, maybe you’re dehydrated? Drink this.”
I took the water and gulped it. Satisfied, he picked up the glass and refilled it with more. He watched me pound the next glass, his lip turning in the corner, a hint of a smile forming.
“I get off work in the next five minutes. I could take you to get the best soup in the city. It’s guaranteed to make you feel better after a day like yours.”
The day just turned to shit with Richard’s call. The bartender looked at me, waiting for an answer to his invitation. I couldn’t go. I had to call Sylvia Jackson and ask for advice. If I was getting fired, she’d be the first one to know. But here I was staring at this man, interesting, an artist, not a lawyer.
Damn it, this guy was sexy. Going to have soup with this attractive man would be interesting, but I didn’t do things like this. I didn’t have time to start… whatever this would be.
I tried to play it off. He seemed concerned about me, so I’d let him down easy.
“I don’t know your name. How do I know you’re not a serial killer?”
His intense blue eyes gazed at me. He could be a serial killer, I lied to myself.
“You don’t. You will just have to trust your instinct on this.” He shrugged, wiping the bar with a grin so sweet he probably tasted like honey.
“My instinct is saying you’re a nice guy. But it’s also telling me I’d better take it easy tonight and go to bed early.” I lied again. Finding excuses not to go out with this man wasn’t easy.
“My name is Jordan.” He held out his hand. I took it. My face flushed for the third time today. He released me, but the warmth from his hand lingered. I stared at my fingers, lost in dangerous thoughts. ‘What if’ scenarios, gauging the pros and cons of each idea? Soup could just be soup, or it could turn into more. I looked up at Jordan. He was attractive, talented, and something more but I wasn’t ready. I had bigger issues to deal with at the firm, and I didn’t date.
“I’m sorry you’re not feeling well. The drinks are on me. The restaurant upstairs has some great vegetable soup that should help.” He gave me another smile that lit up the bar with that amazing dimple. “It’s not the best in the city, but it will do. They can bring it to your room.”
“Thanks, Jordan.” I let his name settle in my head. A nice name. Solid. Like his build. “The drinks were perfect. I’ll take your advice and get the soup delivered. Good night.” We locked eyes for a second. In that moment, a voice in my head said I was making a mistake. He was kind.
I tapped the top of the bar and gave him a hesitant smile, grabbing my bags.
* * *
The next day, I woke up early. Feeling better, less angsty and more hopeful. I opened the curtains. The view of the Washington Monument was one of the best in this old hotel. Top floor facing the mall. The state flags fluttered in the morning breeze. It was premature, but a spring day on the weekend would bring people outside to enjoy the warmth and the cherry blossoms.
I was glad I stayed at the Willard rather than going back to New York.
I loved this hotel. Abraham Lincoln had lived here before they inaugurated him. Martin Luther King stayed here before his “I Have a Dream” speech. When I stayed here, I felt like I was a part of history. Someday I could be. Not after yesterday, but there’d be other cases, other jobs, other opportunities. On Monday, another case I had helped with would be announced. I was positive we would be awarded the majority opinion. Sylvia Jackson assured me I wasn’t getting fired and that Richard should watch his ass. My job was safe, for now, according to Silvia.
When I came to DC, I liked to take walks from the hotel to the Jefferson Memorial. One of my favorite places to sit and think. Few people walked all the way over to Jefferson’s monument, so I would often walk and stare at the water in solitude. Today I planned to do that after my breakfast. It would be my exercise for the day.
I changed into my workout clothes and trotted downstairs to grab some breakfast. Down to the lobby and up a flight of stairs to the small restaurant. I followed my nose to the bakery items, bacon and coffee. Precious brown liquid of life. It was still early and there was no one in the restaurant except a dark-haired man reading the paper at one table. The restaurant had a small continental buffet I was going to avoid because there were so many carbs. The man pulled the newspaper down, giving me a long appraising look. It was Jordan from last night, and to my surprise, my stomach did a flittering thing.
“Good morning.” He said. “How are you doing today?”
“Jordan?” It took me a moment to register he was eating breakfast at the hotel where he tended bar. “Much better, thanks. You were correct, they have a hearty vegetable soup. I ate that and went right to bed. I’m much better today. I was just tired, tough week. Monday will be better.”
“Yup,” he affirmed and looked at me. The dimple showed even when he wasn’t smiling. During the early morning light, his eyes were a mesmerizing cobalt blue. His skin was tan, as if he spent lots of time outdoors.
“Would you like to join me?” he asked. “Have a seat, eat breakfast with me.”
“Oh no, I didn’t mean to disturb you.” I waved my arm to decline.
“I spied you and said hello. You’re not disturbing me.” He folded the paper and set it next to him on the table. “I enjoy your company. I want to hear more about your case.”
I sighed. I didn’t want to talk about my case. It was frustrating, and I needed to decide about my future with this firm.
“There’s a baseball game at one. Do you have any plans today?” He must’ve sensed my reluctance and changed the topic.
I shook my head. “I’m not really a baseball kind of person. I tend to just drink beer and lose interest in what is happening on the field. I’m afraid I’d be a horrible baseball buddy.”