“You look awesome,” I say, and offer her a fist to bump.
“We’re hot bitches,” she agrees, just as the front door opens and Charly yells, “We’re here!”
“It was a good idea to meet here,” Gabby says, and holds a bottle of liquor up. “We’ll have shots before we leave.”
“Why do I feel like I’m back in college?” Van asks and hugs Lila tight, still careful of her shoulder. “Hi, sugar.”
“You all look amazing,” I announce and find shot glasses. Charly pours us each a shot of Patron.
“Should Van be drinking with pain meds?” Gabby asks.
“I haven’t taken a pain med in a week,” she says with a roll of the eyes. “But maybe I should try it. It could be fun.”
“Hey, Karen used to swirl her meds in her martini for a reason on Will & Grace,” Lila reminds us.
“Bingo,” Van agrees with a laugh, and we all take a shot, then another.
“Are we ready to go?” I ask. “We have a reservation at Café Amalie in fifteen minutes.”
“Let’s go wreak havoc on the streets of New Orleans, ladies,” Charly says, and leads us out the door and to the sidewalk. “Lila, honey, those shoes are gonna be a bitch when you’re drunk and walking through the Quarter.”
“Told you,” I say and smirk.
“They’re pretty,” Lila says.
“Oh, they are that,” Charly agrees. “Trust me, I know good shoes. But you’ll need to be careful.”
“I’ll hold onto you,” I tell Lila, and loop my arm through hers.
“Oh, good, we’ll both be on our asses,” she laughs.
“Are you saying I’m clumsy?”
“Yes,” they all say at once, making me laugh. The walk to Café Amalie is short, and we’re seated quickly.
“Ladies,” hot waiter Joe says, as he approaches the table. “Welcome.”
“Hi, Joe,” I say with a smile. “Ladies, this is Joe.”
“Well, hello, Joe,” Charly says, blatantly looking Joe up and down. “You’re delicious.”
“As is the food,” Joe says without missing a beat, and I mentally high-five him.
“You’re going to get along with us just fine,” Gabby says with a laugh.
“What can I bring you to drink?” he asks, and lays his hand on my shoulder.
His very big, very firm hand.
“Lemon drop?” he asks with a wink.
“I really love you, Joe.” He laughs and takes all of our drink orders, and when he’s gone, Charly lets out a low whistle.
“Dear, sweet God, the things I could teach that man.”
“I don’t know, I think Joe looks like he already knows his way around a woman,” Lila says, and watches Joe unabashedly at the bar.
“He’s good with his hands,” I agree.
“He touched your shoulder,” Van reminds me with a grin.
“Exactly. And that woke my girl parts up, so there you have it.”
Joe delivers our drinks, and Gabby keeps craning her neck to see the iron entrance.
“Who are you looking for?” I ask.
“Cindy is going to join us, but she didn’t know if she’d be able to make it here, or if she’d meet up with us later for dancing.”
“So, who is this Cindy?” I ask and glance toward the bar, just in time to see a woman walking away toward the rest room. I’d swear it was Hilary from work, but she’s gone before I can tell for sure. “I remember you mentioned her before.”
“She’s been a friend of mine for a long time,” Gabby says, and smiles at Joe as he sets her mojito in front of her. “You’ll like her. She’s fun.”
“Are you having dinner tonight, ladies?” Joe asks.
“Maybe just appetizers?” Charly asks.
“I don’t know, we’re going to be drinking. A lot,” I remind her. I glance back toward the bar, hoping to see the woman again, but she’s not there. I must have been mistaken.
“May I suggest then that you put something on your stomachs?” Joe asks seriously.
“I’m starving, so yes,” Lila says, and orders her entrée. The rest of us follow suit, then clink glasses when Joe leaves. “These drinks are strong!”
“I know. I’m only allowed to have one,” I reply. Dinner is full of laughs, awesome food, and lots of flirting with Joe, who takes it all in stride. When it’s time to leave, night has fallen over New Orleans. The air has cooled comfortably, and the walk over to Bourbon Street is lovely. We find a fun club with a DJ, claim a large table, and settle in for a night of dancing and laughter.
And lots of drinks.
“To good friends and shenanigans!” Charly announces, as we all hold our drinks in the air and take a sip. “Let’s dance!”
Gabby and Lila join her, just as a beautiful young woman approaches the table. Gabby hugs her, tosses her purse on the chair next to mine, and pulls her with them to the floor.
“That must be Cindy,” I say to Van, as we watch the girls dance on the mostly empty dance floor.
“Yep,” Van says with a nod. “She’s a nice girl. Kind of slutty, but nice.”
That makes me smirk, just as I’ve taken a drink of my lemon drop, and I clamp my hand over my mouth so I don’t spew it everywhere. “Van!”
“It’s true,” she says with a laugh. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
“Me too. How are you feeling? Really?”
“Much better.” She smiles, and when I would question her further, she shakes her head. “Let’s not talk about it tonight, okay? Let’s just have fun.”
“Okay,” I agree. She deserves this fun night. “Although, now that I have you alone, can we talk business for a minute?”
“I have the PI looking into some things, but he still hasn’t gotten back to me. I’m a bit concerned about Mr. Rudolph.”
“Why? Has something happened?”
“It’s all circumstantial,” I reply with frustration and sip my drink. “I discovered that all of the transfers were made at about the same time of day. Less than an hour before he typically leaves for the day. And Van? He leaves super early, like around 1:30, almost every day. I do the majority of the work he should be doing. What’s up with that?”