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Beautiful Mistake(5)

By:Vi Keeland

Professor West looked at my beat-up old Subaru. “You’re parked in a spot reserved for the Provost. You got a parking ticket.” He squinted. “Actually, it looks like you have two parking tickets. Was your inspection expired or something?”

Crap. “Umm…no. I keep an extra ticket in the glove compartment and stick it on my windshield when I’m forced to park illegally.”

His brows shot up. “Inventive.”

“Obviously it doesn’t always work.”


“They need more parking. When you’re late, it’s impossible to find a spot.”

He studied me. “Lateness is a frequent occurrence for you, I take it?”

“Unfortunately, it is.”

“Then I should clarify something I said earlier.”

“Oh, no, that’s not necessary. I won’t be late for your class.”

He took a step closer and leaned in. “I’m glad to hear that, Ms. Martin. But that’s not what needs clarification.”

I swallowed. God, he smells good.

“Earlier I told you I didn’t bite students.” He smiled, and I felt the wickedness from it shoot down to some interesting places. “I don’t. But I make no promises about not biting feisty TAs.”

Some girls had dads who cleaned their shotguns when boys came to pick their daughters up at the house. I had Charlie.

Even though the City of New York had banned smoking in eating establishments at least ten years earlier, Charlie still lit up behind the bar. Filterless Benson & Hedges. Who was going to tell a burly ex-cop otherwise?

“So who’s this man you’re meeting tonight?” He pulled out the bat he kept behind the bar and placed it on top. “I’m gonna leave this right here for when he comes in.”

I laughed as I lifted my drink tray. “I’m good, Charlie. He’s a thirty-two-year-old accountant from the Upper East Side.”

“Don’t let that fool you. Looks can be deceiving. Salt looks a hell of a lot like sugar, sweetheart.”

I wasn’t even sure why I was attempting to date now. Ever since things ended with Davis eight months ago, I’d been on a self-imposed dating hiatus. I didn’t have the time or energy to put into a relationship. Not to mention I didn’t have a great track record with men, in general. I’d mostly done it to cheer up Ava. Last winter, she and her boyfriend of seven years broke up on her twenty-fifth birthday. They’d been together since their senior year in high school. After months of watching her pout, I finally talked her into signing up for one of those dating websites. I’d signed up in solidarity, too, although I never really had intentions of going out with anyone. Great job I’d done—the dating website was where she met married Owen. With friends like me to cheer her up, she’d be on Prozac in no time.#p#分页标题#e#

I delivered the drinks to my table and took an order from table eight, even though my shift was over. Basically, I was stalling to avoid going to change and get ready for my date. Table service at O’Leary’s ended any time we felt like it after eight, and Charlie’s motto was ‘There’s a burger joint down the street. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out’, for anyone who didn’t like it.

After I changed out of my uniform, I washed up in the bathroom, swiped some mascara on my lashes, glossed my full lips, and looked in the mirror. I was lucky I had my mother’s naturally clear porcelain skin, so I never had to wear much makeup. I considered highlighting my green eyes with some black liner, but then changed my mind. Good enough, I thought. Which was probably not the effort I should have been putting into a first date.

After our initial email exchange, Mason had seemed nice enough that I continued to chat with him over the last few weeks. He checked all the boxes of the right guy for me to go out with: Gainfully employed—check. Polite—check. Over thirty, but not knocking on forty’s door—check. Didn’t use phrases like fo-shizzle and my bad in our message exchanges—check. Nice looking. Well groomed. Check, check. I should have been more excited. It had been a long time since Davis—time to move on.

I noticed him before he noticed me. I’d gone to the stock room to grab a few bottles of tequila for Charlie and saw Mason looking around. He looked like his pictures, so that was a plus. Maybe a little thinner than I’d expected, but nothing drastic enough to surprise me. He was medium height, medium build, and handsome, but not quite the type of looks you felt in your belly. Mason was also wearing a blue shirt. Which reminded me of Professor West last night. Oddly, that made me feel a little fire in my belly.