"Well, if you want to have some real fun, let me help, " he said into his phone as he made a quarter turn away. "You girls shouldn't be wandering around town alone anyway. It's just not safe. Let me meet you." It felt a bit too aggressive really, but the blonde's stare was ramping him up and he felt this strange need to assert himself in her presence. Plus, he didn't want to lose the chance to see Olivia again.
"Umm, okay, what did you have in mind?" Olivia answered gently and with curiosity. Despite a faltering cell phone connection, T had her full attention now. "We are on our way to Frenchman Street now, to see some antique stores. Carly knows the owner of one and my hotel is nearby."
"Okay. Just hang loose. I'll find you." He clicked his phone off, locked it, and slipped in into his pocket, making a point not to look at the blonde. But he definitely felt her watching him still and after a few seconds couldn't resist. He squared his considerable shoulders once more and made deliberate eye contact.
"Hi," she opened. "I'm Heather." Her voice was sticky sweet and decidedly Southern, unlikely to ever give utterance to a stray word or an uncalculated invitation.
"Hey. I'm T." He noted the vivid difference he already felt with this woman compared to Olivia. With Heather, he already wasn't sure who was in charge. Or whether he could trust himself.
"So where are you rushing off to? And no lunch?" She teased him a little and continued to eat her paper-wrapped meal.
"Yeah, no lunch after all. I'm meeting some friends across town." T was surprised by his choice of the words friends and waited for her response.
"Girl friends? How many do you have?" She pulsed one shoulder up and winked playfully. The fact that she was eavesdropping didn't surprise him, but the fact that she admitted it freely did. She wiped hot sauce from the corner of her mouth, still made up with lipstick, and took a sip from her drink.
T had spent so much time digesting the small interactions with Olivia and deciding what to do, and felt so confident with her, that this was really confusing. He just scowled at Heather, trying to not let her hear him breathing harder.
"It's okay, You don't have to answer," Heather teased again and feigned injury. "But if this city isn't safe for two women, it sure can't be safe for one. Walk me back to my office? I'm sure your friends won't mind." She grinned and nodded toward a chromed sky scraper behind them. Of course, it was in the opposite direction of Frenchman Street, where music and antiques and a soft, mysterious brunette waited for him.
"Yeah, sure, of course." T had chivalry built into his DNA, protectiveness programmed into every aspect of his character, so no matter the circumstances he was powerless against the needful requests of women. They didn't even have to be attractive women to enslave him to their service, but Heather certainly was. And she seemed to know it.
"Good! Let's go." Heather pitched what remained of her po' boy into a nearby trash can and twirled the straw of her drink with her tongue, chewing on it a little. She slid one arm through his crooked, muscular elbow and spun him around like they were dancing.
He had created a small, delicious mess for himself. With less than an hour and a half before his downtown meeting with the journalist, he had promised to find Olivia and Carly on the opposite end of the Quarter and show them a good time. And for what? He really had to idea where it would lead. The sweet, funny, slightly awkward but beautiful brunette was going home soon. Now this tall blonde woman, clearly flirting and leaving no room for doubt about what she wanted, was imposing herself into his day.