Harry Clears the Air
It was obvious that the foursome who sat down to dine back at the corner table were not here to have a good time. Harry hovered nearby, a worried expression on his handsome face.
“Miss DuVal, may I suggest—”
“You may not, Harry, but thank you,” Lolly said in an awkwardly cheerful voice while eyeing Laidey Bartholomew and her fiancé Xavier Wright.
“I just think—” Harry stopped speaking abruptly as a dangerous expression crossed Lolly’s features and landed on him.
Harry backed away like a pup with his tail between his legs.
“So you wanted to meet,” Xavier announced, his booming voice getting right to the point.
“I tried to tell Lolly—” Brooks was silenced by Lolly laying a hand on his arm.
After smiling at her beloved, Lolly turned her attention to the man seated across from her. “Xavier.”
“I don’t like you.”
Xavier pointed to himself. “Thick skin. Fine with that.”
“Oh good Lord,” Laidey mumbled. She and Brooks shared a look.
“The reason I don’t like you”—Lolly went on undaunted by any of it—“is that your history with Brooks is one of mayhem and violence.”
“I have tried to explain all this,” Brooks told Xavier.
Lolly shut him up with another hand to his arm.
“However, since I’m spending time with Laidey designing her wedding gown, she has encouraged me to try to get to know you. So, I’m here. Trying.”
Xavier cleared his throat, throwing Laidey a look that said, Really? You’re to blame for this? He sat forward and eyed Lolly. “Not gonna lie, I can see where you might have concerns about me, being as you’re all tangled up with the Golden Boy and all. But like I tell everybody who has concerns like yours, that was high school bullshit. Best left in the past.”
“Except you brought it into the present by bruising his jaw the first time you had a chance.”
“Yeah, I did that.” Xavier tried to hide his grin. “But that was what you might consider closure. Putting punctuation on the end of an era.”
“The end of an era?” Lolly questioned with a raised brow.
“Yes. And a new era has begun for this town and Xavier Wright. I’ve got my Tweets here keepin’ an eye on me, and I’ve got Brooks over there welcoming me onto Team Henderson, and I’ve got Harry right here bringing over those tequila shots you refused earlier, knowing that their magical powers will make all of this nonsense simply fall away.”
Harry set a tray on the table and began doling out shot glasses, lime slices, salt shakers, and in the end, left an entire bottle on the center of the table. Xavier looked it over and said, “Apparently he thinks this is a bigger deal than I do.”
“It is a big deal,” Lolly insisted. “You’re a bully. I don’t trust you. And I don’t want to like you.”
“But you do, don’t ya?” Xavier grinned, reaching for the bottle. “Admit it.” He took Lolly’s shot glass and filled it to the brim. Then he filled his own. “Come on. Just you and me on this first one. You were all of about twelve when I left town, so the fact that we are sitting here drinking together is something to celebrate right? You, me, back in Henderson because of this one.” He motioned his shot glass toward Brooks. “We’re all on the same side here now. Come on. Let’s do this, Lolly Pop.”
“No one calls me Lolly Pop.”
“Everyone calls you Lolly Pop.”
“Not to my face they don’t,” she grumbled. But she picked up her shot and a lime wedge. “I see this is turning into an ‘if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em’ type thing.”
“For me,” Xavier insisted. “I’m the one learning to play nice around here, and believe me, you Henderson Holy Rollers don’t make it easy.”
“Henderson Holy Rollers?” Lolly held up her glass and Xavier knocked his against hers. Together they drank them down. Lolly immediately poured two more.
“You rah-rah Henderson banshees,” Xavier went on.
“Banshees?” Lolly questioned as they both took another shot.
Laidey slid her shocked gaze over to Brooks who returned her look of wonder.
“Zealots,” Xavier insisted as he poured he and Lolly two more shots.
Lolly laughed. “Yeah. We are that. It’s … ya know, come to that,” she said, taking up the third shot in less than a minute.
“Laura Leigh,” Brooks said. “You headin’ for a bender tonight?”
“What?” she asked. “Oh,” she seemed to notice the shot of tequila in her hand. “What number is this?”
She shot it down and licked her lips. “Three’s good.”
“Three’s good if you want to start shedding your clothes.”
“Mmm,” she said grinning. “I am feeling a little hot.” She started pulling off the cardigan sweater she had on over her sleeveless dress.
“Uh-oh.” Brooks chuckled. He turned his head, putting his hand up to call for Harry but stopped because Harry was just arriving with a huge burger that he placed in front of Lolly.
“There ya go, Miss DuVal. Now, what can I get the rest of you?”