I finished my first glass of wine and almost instantly it was replaced with another. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew I needed to stop at two. Any more and I’d end up doing something I’d regret.
“Since I know you’re not a gambler like Wasden, what is it you do with your time?”
I felt my cheeks flame, the reminder of all I hadn’t known about Ray rushing to the surface. My eyes found the table. “To be honest, I didn’t even know he gambled as badly as he obviously does. I thought he was in a weekly poker game with his friends. When he asked me to come with him tonight, I had no idea we were going to a club with a secret back room.”
He reached over and covered my hand with his. “Let’s not worry about him. Let’s talk about you.”
The way his fingers caressed the top of my hand scrambled my brain. I couldn’t put a sentence together if I tried. I even wanted to blame the sudden heat racing through me on the wine, but deep down I knew that wasn’t true.
“I’m taking classes in nursing. And I work at one of the clothing boutiques in town. The money isn’t great, but it pays for my books and rent.” I sighed. I didn’t want to think about the mess I was now in. Stuck living with Ray. I’d need to find a way to get him out.
Miller watched me with narrowed eyes. “What’s wrong?”
I shook my head. “I was just thinking how I’ll have to find a new roommate. No way am I letting that asshole back into the apartment.”
“I’m sure you’ll be able to find someone. If not call me and I’ll help you.” For a moment he looked shocked that the words had left his lips but to his credit, he didn’t try and take them back.
“I’m sure there is someone in the program who needs a place to live. I’ll stick a notice up on the board on campus tomorrow.”
“You like nursing?”
“I do.” I took another sip of my drink, surprised at the ease with which I was about to share information about myself. Not normally one to run my mouth, I liked to play my cards close to my chest—poker pun unintentional—but the dialogue seemed to fall effortlessly from my lips. “I like the idea of helping people. There’s no better time then when people are at their most vulnerable. If I can do something to make them less afraid, then all the school and time was worth it.”
He smiled. “Noble. It’s not often you meet people in the world whose sole purpose is to improve the lives of others. Don’t take this the wrong way, but you seem much older than your typical college student.”
His hand remained on mine. It made me feel safe, protected; an emotion that seemed silly under the circumstances. That didn’t stop me from continuing to open up to him about my life, or most of it at least. No one, not even Ray, knew exactly why I’d left home after graduation. And no one needed to. “I am. It took me a few years to decide exactly what I wanted to do. Plus, I needed to save up the money to pay for school.”
“Good. I was afraid I’d robbed the cradle.” He laughed, the sound warm and rich, pulling me in even further.
“No cradle robbing here. I’m twenty-five. What about you? You own the club, right?”
He fidgeted in his seat, but kept his gaze on me. “I do. I actually own two different bars. Orbit, the one we were at tonight and a sports bar across town. I also work for my dad at his car dealership.”
I was about to ask more questions when Ashton returned to the table with two plates, wearing a typical chef jacket and pants. He set a plate down in front of each of us.
I couldn’t hide my surprise. “I completely forgot, we never ordered.” I’d been so wrapped up in the easygoing Miller and his willingness to talk to me, I’d forgotten all about it.