To Live Again

By: L. A. Witt

“I’m fine. I’m…” I started to stand. “Sorry. I…guess I didn’t realize I was leaning on a door.”

Chuckling, he moved onto his knees and reached for one of the boxes he’d dropped. “It’s okay.”

“Here, can I give you a hand?” I reached for the second box, which had landed on its side. “None of this is breakable, is it?” Oh God, please tell me it’s not.

“No, it’s not breakable.” He rose. “Just a bunch of T-shirts.”

“Oh good. Do you, um, want some help taking them out?”

He seemed to ponder it for a moment, then shrugged. “Sure, if you really don’t mind.”

“It’s fine.” I chuckled. “I think I kind of owe you.”

The guy laughed, which did funny things to my blood pressure. “It’s okay. I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often, actually.”

“Well, that’s encouraging.” I picked up one of the boxes. “So, where do these go?”

“This way.” He picked up the other and led me out into the hallway.

As he walked ahead of me, I couldn’t help staring. He was roughly my height and looked like he spent a good chunk of his time at the gym. Maybe he was one of the bouncers. They were well-dressed just like the bartenders, though, not clad in skintight T-shirts and jeans that held on to that ass like…

I shook myself and tore my gaze away before I wound up on my own ass. Again.

At the end of the hall, the guy pushed open the door with his hip, and held it with his foot so I could step out. Around the corner, Evan stood beside a van with its back doors wide open.

“Just put them in here,” the other guy said, and we tucked the boxes in amongst some crates and electronic equipment.

Evan bristled at my presence but kept his mouth shut. He handed the keys back and then went inside, leaving me alone with…

This guy.

He didn’t even have the lights and ambiance of Wilde’s to bolster his looks. Out here in the blanched glow of the streetlights, even with harsh shadows on his face, he was jaw-dropping.

After he’d shut the van and pocketed his keys, he extended his hand. “I didn’t catch your name.”

Probably because I didn’t make the greatest first impression.

“Greg.” I cleared my throat as I shook his hand. “Greg Douglas.”

He smiled. “Sailo Isaia.”

“Interesting name.”

“In a good way, or a bad way?” He narrowed his eyes slightly, but the effect was playful, not irritated.

“Good, of course. Just…not a name I’ve heard before.” And I realized my hand was still clasped in his. We both glanced down and quickly let go.

“It’s, um…” He muffled a cough, shifting his weight. “Samoan. Not very common around here, I guess.”

“I suppose not.” I paused. This was the point where we were supposed to go back inside and disappear into the crowd, wasn’t it? Now or never, sink or swim, nothing to lose but a little bit of dignity…

I swallowed. “Listen, I feel terrible for what happened in there. I don’t suppose I could buy you a drink to make up for it?”

“Much as I’d love to take you up on it”—he grimaced apologetically—“I’m on the clock.”

“Oh. Right.” My face was on fire now. “You’re…” I gestured at his shirt. “Right. Anyway…”

The grimace softened to a smile, which did nothing to help my disappointment over his understandable rejection. “I’m off at midnight, though. If the offer’s still open…” His eyebrows rose.

“Yeah, sure!” Way to sound cool and not the least bit eager, idiot. I schooled my expression and my tone. “I mean, I’m just here with some friends. I’d be happy to wait for you.”

“Sweet.” He motioned toward the doorway. “I’ll see you around midnight, then.”

“Great. See you then.”

Chapter Three

“There you are!” Rhett chuckled as I slid back into the booth. “Thought you might’ve gotten lost back there.”

I laughed. “No, I didn’t get lost. I was, um, giving somebody a hand with…”

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