“I should have told you, and it didn’t occur to me,” Savannah says. “His daughter is very sick. She’s been in the Children’s Hospital for a while, and that’s where he goes every afternoon.”
“Oh, that’s horrible.”
“He’s a nice man. He’s been with our company for longer than a decade.”
“But, if his daughter is so sick, he has medical bills to pay. This doesn’t make him look any more innocent.”
But Savannah shakes her head adamantly. “No, we have excellent insurance, and anything they don’t cover, Eli is picking up. We take care of our own, Kate. Mr. Rudolph’s daughter is getting excellent care, and he has no out of pocket expenses for it. It wouldn’t make sense for him to skim money. He’s still making the same salary, despite needing to be gone so much.”
“Geez, remind me to work for you guys from now on,” I say with some surprise. “That’s very generous.”
“If you’re loyal to your employees, they’ll be loyal to you. That’s what Daddy always used to say.”
“Makes sense,” I reply, and chew my lip as I think over this new information. It still doesn’t add up.
“Oh, hello, Kate.”
I glance up in surprise to find Hilary standing by our table, a wide grin on her face. She’s looking between me and Van, and I cringe inwardly.
Crap. How am I going to play this off?
“Hi, Hilary. Do you know Savannah?”
“Of course. Hello, Ms. Boudreaux.”
“When we’re not in the office, I’m Savannah,” she replies, and smiles at Hilary.
“Van and I went to college together,” I say, hoping that Hilary won’t ask any questions, and wondering just how long she was standing nearby, listening to our conversation.
“I see. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know, right?”
I tilt my head, but before I can say anything further, the others return from the dance floor.
“Hi, I’m Lila.” Lila holds her hand out to Hilary, who shakes it and continues to smile.
Introductions are made, and Hilary is invited to join us, and rather than decline, like I was hoping she’d do, she takes a seat and settles in across from me.
Another round of drinks is delivered, and suddenly a tall, handsome man is standing next to Charly, inviting her to dance.
“Darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream. Trust me, you don’t want a piece of this.” She pats him on the cheek and the man walks away, a look of pure confusion on his face.
“I wonder if he’s confused because he got shot down, or if he’s never listened to Taylor Swift before?” I ask.
“To Taylor Swift,” Gabby says, holding her glass high. “For giving us fantastic one-liners for years.”
“The girl writes some great ones,” Lila agrees. “Oh! Fun drinking game. Every time someone uses a Taylor line in conversation, we take a drink.”
“You’re on!” Gabby says.
“This is so fun!” Cindy agrees, and we all drink in honor of the daydream line.
“Let’s dance some more,” Gabby says.
“Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we’re twenty-two,” Cindy says, we all drink, and then hit the dance floor while Pitbull and Ke$ha sing about Timber.
Charly and Van stay behind and are approached several times by cute men, and when the men leave after being shot down, they drink.
I wonder what lyrics they just used.
When we’re all back at the table, our minds a little fuzzier, Hilary sits back in her seat and nudges her head to the side, indicating that I should look. “Three o’clock,” she says.
“Which one? The bald one?” I ask.
“Fuck no, the one with the tattoo sleeve,” she replies.
“Ah, I see him. Is that Mr. Starbucks?” I ask. “Louis?”
“Yes.” She grins when Louis cocks his brow at her and shrugs a shoulder like, you wanna? “Looks like I’m getting lucky tonight, ladies.”
“Lucky bitch,” Gabby says with a frown, just as a waitress sets a basket of peanuts right in front of me, which Van quickly picks up and places at the other end of the table.
“You don’t like peanuts?” Gabby asks.
“I’m allergic,” I reply and shrug.
“Remember that time in college when you accidentally ate some and your face got all swollen? It was horrific,” Van says with a dramatic shiver.
“Okay, back to me,” Gabby says impatiently. “Do you know how long it’s been since I got laid? Years.”
“Good Lord,” Lila says in sympathy. “Honey, we can fix that. Like, right now.”
“Oops! I’m out! Thanks for the drinks, guys.” Hilary jumps up and scrambles over to Louis, who has just stood and paid his own tab, then they leave together with his tongue down her throat.
“She seems kind of fun,” Charly says thoughtfully and sips her drink.
“I don’t like her,” Lila says with a shake of the head.
“Why?” I ask.
“I don’t know. Just something about her.”
“Anyway, back to me,” Gabby says primly. “I haven’t gotten laid in forever.”
Just as the words leave her mouth, a shorter man, in his mid-thirties approaches her, leans in and says, “Why don’t you let me help you out with that, sugar?”
Gabby blinks at him for a moment, then says, “I knew you were trouble when you walked in.”
“Huh?” he asks in confusion as we all laugh, raise our glasses in salute, and drink.
“That means no,” Van says helpfully, and the guy saunters away, shaking his head.
“Come on, Gabby,” Lila says, “Why you gotta be so mean?”
“That was creepy,” Gabby says.
“It’s okay, I’m not getting laid either,” Charly says. “It’s been longer than a minute.”
“You could always call Ryan,” Van says with a smug smile. “He’d do you in a hot second.”
“We are never, ever getting back together. Like, ever,” Charly says, and we all laugh and drink.
Damn, these drinks are good. And strong. Am I still drinking lemon drops? I don’t even know.
“But he was good in the sack,” Charly clarifies. “And he did this thing with his tongue—”