Not Quite Forever Page 2

From the corner of her eye, she spotted Mary talking with several officers.

So far . . . the Florida conference was sucking ass!

The Lakers cap caught his attention when she walked into the room and settled at the bar. As if knowing she wasn’t anywhere near Lakerland, the brunette removed the cap almost the moment her butt hit the cushioned seat. Her sleek, dark hair wore a kink where the hat had creased it and she didn’t wear a stitch of makeup. She was beautiful.

Walt sipped his whiskey and glanced at the never-ending pamphlets of patient care that were in constant need of revising, made a note, and glanced back to the bar.

From where he was sitting, he didn’t hear what she ordered, but the bartender brought a short glass with a few cubes of ice and a nice amber liquid. Walt stared into his own drink and grinned.

Kink-haired Laker Girl tilted the drink back, taking half of it down with one swallow.

Nice!

The bar was busy for a Wednesday due to the conventions hosted by the Miami Morrison. The question was, what convention was Laker Girl attending? Walt had arrived at the hotel earlier in the day to find massive banners and the entire second floor of the conference hall filling up with pictures of half-naked men and women embracing. At first, he thought the competing conference had something to do with adult film. When he asked, he was told a writers convention was dominating the hotel for the weekend. By comparison, the number of people at the conference he was attending was a drop of water in the ocean. Soon the hotel would be filled with writers, readers, publishers, and agents. The genre of choice . . . romance. Books written with nothing but happily-ever-after in mind.

Walt had a hard time picturing any conference featuring romance books filling the hotel. Time would tell.

He glanced up to find Laker Girl pushing earbuds into her lobes and fishing a notebook from her overly large purse. Nothing said don’t try to pick me up more than earbuds.

Yet Walt kept watching her. She sipped on her second drink as men and women made their way to and from the bar. Her shoulders folded in and she started to laugh quietly. She made a note and then held perfectly still, only to laugh again.

Walt pushed his attention back to his work and tried to concentrate. He doodled on the edge of the paper, found his eyes drawn away from his work.

She was laughing again, this time with her head in her hand as if she was trying hard to keep her mirth in. Walt had no idea what amused her, he found a smile on his lips and wanted to laugh along.

He folded the binder together and moved from the booth to one of the available stools at the bar. From his perch, he ordered another drink and discreetly watched as Laker Girl tucked her hair behind her ear and made another note. On impulse, Walt glanced at her left hand and found it bare.

Not that it meant anything . . . he’d met plenty of women in bars who were married but didn’t wear rings when they were attending conferences. More than one woman, or man for that matter, used time away from home to troll.

If he had to guess, laughing Laker Girl didn’t fall into that category simply because she wasn’t making eye contact with the bartender.

Two seats down, an attractive blonde parked her shapely butt into a seat and ordered a glass of wine.

Laker Girl noticed the woman and twisted her way. Within seconds, a man moved to the space between the two women and struck up a conversation with the blonde. Beside them, Laker Girl wrote frantically and sucked in her bottom lip. Though she was trying to keep her laughter to herself, she captured the attention of more than one set of eyes.

She met Walt’s gaze from across the bar, briefly, then returned her attention to her notepad. Nearly as quickly as she turned away from him, she looked again.

Even in the dim light of the bar, Walt could see the exotic gold spark in her brown eyes. He imagined her with a little bit of makeup accenting those eyes, maybe a ruby red lipstick. The room grew hot. He noticed the laughter inside her spread to her eyes, making her even more attractive. He knew he was staring, and didn’t care.

She kept his stare as she lifted her glass to her lips and finished her drink.

Walt couldn’t remember the last time he’d picked up a woman in a bar. Probably in college. Pickups in bars left a bitter taste in his mouth, but he was half tempted to do so now. Bitter be damned.

“There you are!”

A familiar voice redirected his attention and brought a smile to his lips.

Monica Fairchild, newly minted nurse practitioner, stood beside her husband, Trent, her arms open in greeting.

“Mo!” He accepted her hug and stood back to shake Trent’s hand. “You’re early!”

Monica nudged her husband’s shoulder. “On-time flights are easier when you’re behind the controls.” Trent Fairchild and his two brothers owned and operated Fairchild Charters. A private air charter company with a fleet of jets, big and small, not to mention more helicopters than one could count, which was why they were attending the conference of International Emergency Medicine . . . a conference where professionals worked to improve the emergency response to natural disasters all over the world. “Is Glen with you?” Glen was Trent’s brother and liaison to the fixed-wing portion of air travel for the sick and injured.

“He’s flying in later,” Trent told him.

Monica glanced around the bar and motioned to an empty table that would hold all of them.

After they settled, Trent flagged the waiter.

“Looks like this place is gearing up for quite a week.” Monica’s words mimicked Walt’s thoughts.

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