By: Kim Karr

This one is super cute. He’s a tall, broad-shouldered guy clad in a tight gray T-shirt and worn jeans. His eyes are dark. And one of his ears boosts a small gold hoop. His head is shaved close to his scalp all over, and although it isn’t a look I normally like, it works on him.

He smiles at me and I smile back. I know he is paid to flirt as much as to mix drinks, but his smile still floods me with warmth. With my own smile remaining falsely in place, I order a glass of water. Time to lighten up on the liquor and sober up.

“Going for the heavy stuff,” he laughs.

“Wait,” I call out as he turns to grab a glass. “On second thought, make it a whiskey.”

Why bother sobering up?

The bartender grins. “Sure thing, baby doll.”

I suppose if I wait around until closing, I could have him, but he is not who I want. Tapping my fingers on the bar, I look around again. Still no sign of Keen anywhere.

Very unlike me, I rushed off to the ladies’ room after he left me standing all alone instead of just moving on, and I haven’t seen him since.

And yes, admittedly I have been looking.

A man sits beside me. He, like the bartender, is attractive. This one is more clean-cut, much more my type—suit, tie, square jaw, and good hair.

The tan line of his wedding finger is not telling of his marital status, but again, I’m not interested in him enough to even find out. Before he has a chance to make small talk, I turn a little in my seat and start to eavesdrop on the couple beside me. I try not to laugh out loud at the line this guy is feeding the girl.

Here’s a little secret—girls say they hate pickup lines, but privately most girls love them. Me included. Of course there is a fine line between a good conversation starter and comically bad introductions.

Tonight Keen’s pickup line rated between a nine and a ten, and I don’t think I’ve ever given a guy a score over a five.

This guy next to me just used one of the worst lines ever on the poor girl beside him. It went something like this: “Hey, excuse me but do you know this fabric?” He grabs his own shirt. She shakes her head. “It’s boyfriend material,” he says.

No wonder she’s walking away.

Speaking of which, I’d better hurry away too before he uses that line on me. I finish my drink and conveniently decide to make my way around the bar. Yes, perhaps to look for Keen, but also because parties for one aren’t much fun.

In a matter of moments, purple lights turn to white, but all I can see is green.

There he is, leaning against the railing with a drink in one hand, his attention on the redhead with the flapper haircut in front of him that was in Brooklyn’s pack of women earlier. She’s fit and pretty, if you’re into vintage whores with red lips, I guess.

In slow motion, I push through the crowd.

Like a voyeur, I watch as he leans closer to say something in her ear that makes her tip her head back in laughter. He lingers that close for a little too long for my liking, especially since her trampy hair hides his face. Then he touches her bare shoulder, and I want to scream.

I hate him.

I want him.

I hate him.

I want him.

Just then he looks up and spots me. The fire is there, but something else too—I’m not sure what. He blinks rapidly and licks his bottom lip.

I draw in a breath, mind racing as my heart thumps faster.

Keen doesn’t smile or beckon me closer, though. Instead, he averts his gaze and lets his fingertips graze the pinup girl’s naked skin from the curve of her neck all the way down to her wrist. If he takes hold of her hand, I am so going to stomp over there and slap him at my own reaction to him.

Alarm bells go off.

Walk away.

Right now.

He is nothing but trouble.

But I like trouble, so I don’t move.

People come between us, blocking my view. Still, I stay right where I am. To be honest, I’m not sure I can move my feet away from him, but I can’t stay here all night, either.

The cold splash and tangy scent of someone’s beer drips down my back. I jerk around to see a hulk of a man with sweat on his brow staring down at me. Now, I’m tall, but he is way taller. Six foot six, seven, I’d say. Basketball player material for certain. And not half bad-looking. In fact, I’m going to hazard a guess that he’s a Knicks player, and that could be kind of hot. Right?

Gleaming at him, I wait for the spark to strike.

“Sorry, hot legs,” he says, moving closer, putting his hand on my bare back.

He smells of stale beer and sex, and I’m instantly repulsed.

Ummm . . . no thank you. “No problem,” I reply politely.

And then needing to get his hands off me, I wheel around to find Keen staring at me, nothing faltering in his gaze this time.

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