There were naked breasts everywhere. Literally.
It was Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
So yeah, lots and lots of naked breasts. And naked other things.
And Josh Landry didn’t care.
For possibly the first time in his life.
Okay, that wasn’t one hundred percent true. They were naked breasts. But as he handed yet another woman a strand of beads, Josh was already pushing past her.
A nearly identical strand of plastic beads smacked him in the face a moment later.
What the fuck? He looked up at the balcony where a group of drunk frat boys were throwing beads down to the street. Another one went whizzing past his ear. Jesus, they weren’t supposed to wind up to throw the things. And did he look like he had tits?
Josh took a deep breath. He liked Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras was great. Mardi Gras was a hell of a good time.
Until it had made him a huge sap.
And celibate. He couldn’t forget that.
He hadn’t been with a woman in a year. His friends were past concerned. They were convinced he had a brain tumor.
But that was all about to end. He was going to be with a woman tonight. The woman. The one he’d met last Mardi Gras. The one who he hadn’t even slept with and yet couldn’t stop thinking about. The one who was supposed to be here tonight at the same spot where they’d met last year.
Well, they were if they were both still interested. And single.
And able to get to the fucking bar.
This was his fourth trip down Bourbon on this particular mission and it would be his last, dammit. He was bartending at Trahan’s until one a.m. and he’d taken a twenty-minute break every two hours to walk this path—okay, scratch and crawl his way along this path—to get to Bourbon O’s to see if she was there. Thank God his bosses were good friends of his and gave him a lot of slack. Leaving a bar, any bar, in New Orleans short staffed on Mardi Gras was a dick move.
He emerged from the crowd on Dumaine onto Bourbon. He knew better than to try to walk up the entire length of the most popular street in the city, but there was a point where he had no choice but to join the insane mass of revelers.
He was sure the crowd wasn’t any bigger this year than any other, but he’d never noticed, really. Because he’d never resented them before. He was a bartender. He loved a party. He joined right into all of this usually. He loved New Orleans and seeing new people come and experience the city. Mardi Gras was his favorite time of the year. Until now. Because all of these drunk-off-their-asses revelers were between him and the woman who had occupied his thoughts for nearly twelve full months.
But of course he was going to keep making this trek all night. Until he found her or the clock struck midnight and officially ended Mardi Gras. Because the fact that he had to fight a Mardi-Gras-in-New-Orleans crowd for eight blocks from Trahan’s Tavern on St. Peter to Bourbon O on Bourbon was like a man being willing to swim the Nile, climb Mount Everest, and cross the Sahara for true love. That was fucking romantic as hell. He was finally living up to the Landry name when it came to matters of the heart.
He laughed and shook his head. It had been bound to happen eventually. You couldn’t live with the Landrys and Morelands for twenty-eight years and not become a starry-eyed imbecile.
He just really wanted this story to have a happy ending.
She had to be there.
Josh growled at a group of fifty-somethings that had just stopped in the middle of the street to pose for a selfie.
“Oh, would you take our photo?” one of the women, wearing a Birthday Girl sash and tiara, asked. It had to be her fiftieth birthday, if not sixtieth.
The fact that she’d braved Mardi Gras to celebrate the milestone actually impressed Josh. Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street in New Orleans was not for the faint of heart.
And regardless of the fact that these people were holding him up on his mission, how could he say no? They were hardly the only ones in his way. And he was not just a born-and-bred Louisiana boy who believed that Mardi Gras was an experience everyone should have at some point in their lives. He was also a French Quarter bartender and, well, a big believer in having a hell of a good time whenever he could. How could he not encourage these women with their bright-orange Angie’s Birthday Bash T-shirts? They were all clutching Hand Grenades, the powerful drinks served at the Tropical Isle bar, and he could tell these weren’t their firsts.
He gave the birthday party a big, good-ol’-boy grin. “Okay, girls,” he said. “Let’s do this,” even as someone slammed into him from the back. He gritted his teeth.
It was part of his calling in life to make sure people left New Orleans and the great state of Louisiana with huge smiles, fond memories, and commitments to get back as soon as they could.
Just like the woman he’d sent back to Iowa a year ago with a huge smile and a commitment to get her pretty ass back here as soon as possible.
She should be just down the block, in fact.
That sent a shot of adrenaline through him, and he hurried to get the women positioned for the photo. Four phones were thrust into his hands and Josh sighed.
The women giggled and the five friends gathered around birthday girl. He made sure to angle the photo so that the Bourbon Street sign over their heads showed up in the photo. “Okay, one-two-three.” He shot three photos on each of the first three phones.
But as he finished the countdown on the fourth phone, the six women—who were old enough to be his mother—lifted their shirts and flashed him their breasts. Their naked breasts.
He blew out a breath. But took the photo. He’d spent Mardi Gras in New Orleans every year since he’d turned eighteen. This wasn’t the first—or last—time he’d see breasts he didn’t mean to see.
Josh handed them all beads. “Looks like you girls know what you’re doin’ down here,” he said honestly.
They all laughed again and Angie took her phone back from him. She checked the photo and showed the other girls. They all grinned and nodded. Josh shook his head.
“I gotta go,” he told them. “But…be good, okay?”
“Good?” One of the women wrinkled her nose. “Really?”
“I didn’t say to behave,” he told her with a wink. “I said be good. At whatever you’re doin’ tonight.”
She nodded her head with a big grin. “Got it.”
He laughed and turned to continue working his way through the crowds to Bourbon O, the bar where he’d met Tori last year. He’d been working there at the time. Over the past few years, he’d poured drinks in six of the bars along Bourbon, but Bourbon O was his favorite. And it was by far the nicest. If a bar had strong liquor and live music, they could get away with being just this side of nasty on Bourbon. Tourists didn’t care. In fact, the “dive bar” ambiance seemed to be almost expected. But Bourbon O was a step—or ten—above most on the street. Not that Josh hadn’t had fun and made really good money at those “dive” bars. He’d just worked his way up the street as his reputation for being great at the important combination of bartender, bouncer and bring-’em-back guy grew. He flirted when that was called for. He talked sports, or fishing and hunting, or any other topic that was appropriate if that was called for. He could also listen to anyone cry over nearly anything as long as they had a drink in their hand. He was great for business, period.
And he was now working for two of his best friends. Gabe and Logan Trahan owned Trahan’s Tavern over on St. Peter. It was off Bourbon—several blocks off Bourbon, in fact—but they did very good business. The tavern sat on a corner just across from Jackson Square and had more than their fair share of tourist traffic and local regulars. Of course, Logan and Gabe were like Josh—good at flirting, having intellectual conversations, or sympathizing, depending on the situation. And until they’d met their wives, they’d done their part in “entertaining” the female tourists in the Quarter too.
Now, though, it all fell to Josh.
He grinned. Okay, maybe not all to him, but he did his best to “help out.”
At least until he’d met Tori.
Josh picked up his pace down the street as images of the gorgeous brunette who’d sat at the bar at Bourbon O for nearly four hours last Mardi Gras flashed through his mind.
Please be there.
He was one block away and finally allowed himself to acknowledge the fact that Tori might not be there.
One year, two weeks, and six days ago…
“I want to see you again.” His hands cupped her face and he took her mouth in a slow, deep kiss. “Tell me I can see you again,” he said against her lips.
“I live in Iowa.”
But the way she melted into him like she was a pat of butter and he was a hot piece of cornbread told him that she wouldn’t mind doing…all of this again.
“Yep. And there are roads in between here and there, Tori.”
She moaned softly, the sound he’d imagine she’d make when presented with a huge slice of chocolate cake she didn’t think she should have. But wanted.
“It’s really hard for me to get away. It’s really hard for you to get away,” she reminded him.
“But not impossible.”
Okay, it was close to impossible. He had two jobs, one for a business he was a partial owner in, and a big, overly involved family that expected a lot from him. She was a veterinarian. The only one in the little farm town in Iowa where she lived. A lot of people depended on her not just to keep their pets healthy, but also to care for the animals that were their livelihood. This weekend away was her first in two years. And it was only three days.
She blew out a breath, running her hands up the sides of his neck and into his hair. “I wasn’t expecting any of this.”
“Me either.” That was a huge understatement. He’d certainly noticed her the moment she took the stool across the bar from him, but there was no way he could have expected the connection, the way she made him laugh, the way he wanted to make her laugh.
It had been two days. They hadn’t even gotten naked. They’d just sat and talked and flirted and laughed. For hours. And he wanted a hundred more days with her now.
She sighed as he kissed the side of her neck. “This is just the romance of New Orleans,” she said.
“And I was the first Southern boy who grinned at you?”
She laughed. “You’ve been the first a lot of things but no, not that.”
He gave her one of those Southern-boy grins. Southern boys couldn’t help flirting with pretty Yankees. And pretty Southerners, for that matter. But it was especially fun to give the girls who spent their time above the Mason-Dixon line a taste of Southern charm.
“I just think maybe I’m getting…swept up in things. This is all so different from my usual weekend.” She laughed softly. “My usual life. I’m probably going to get off the plane in Des Moines and realize that this was all just…like a dream. And I’m guessing the second another girl takes that stool and asks for your specialty, you’ll forget my name.”
That made his gut clench. No way would he forget her.
He blew out a breath. “At least tell me you’re going to give me your phone number so we can keep in touch. And I can work on talking you into coming back down here.”
She looked at him for a long moment, then rose on tiptoe, and pressed her lips to his. Then she stepped back. “I think the spell will wear off, Josh. I really do. And I don’t want to be sitting at home, waiting for you to call, and then be heartbroken when you don’t.”
She gave him a little smile. “And if you do, I won’t know what to do with it. With you.”
“I can give you a very long list of things you can do with me.”
There was a flicker of heat in her eyes even as she shook her head. “I know you will want to call. I believe you. It might last for a while. But, I think that…” She sighed. “We both have lives. Very different lives. It’s probably better to leave it at that.”
Maybe that would be better. But he didn’t want to do that. At all.
He probably shouldn’t say what had just come to his mind. But he was going to. Because he came from a long line of very passionate, romantic, slightly crazy people. And this idea was all of those things.
“Meet me next year.”
She frowned, clearly puzzled. “What?”
He nodded. “We’ll give it a year. And then, if we’re still thinking about each other and want to see each other again, we’ll both show up at Bourbon O on Mardi Gras. If we’re both there, we’ll know.”
She stared at him. It was a wild suggestion. But it was…safe. If one of them showed up and the other didn’t, no harm, no foul. If neither showed up, the world would go on. There were four million things that could keep them from getting together again. But there was the…possibility of it.
He wanted at least that much.
That was extremely romantic. His dad would be very proud. So would his mom. And his grandma, grandpa, aunts and uncles… yeah, the family was going to love this story.
They would, of course, also all be the assholes giving him shit if she didn’t show up next year. But that was a risk he was willing to take. The Landry family lived by the motto that the only things worth doing were the things that made your heart pound.
“That’s—” Tori shook her head.
“Come on. At least agree to that much. Give me this crumb,” he said, grinning and stepped close to her again. “Let me cling to this for now. If it really does fade as soon as your plane takes off, then so be it. But at least this way there’s a chance if it doesn’t fade.”
She laughed. “Okay. Fine. Next year. Mardi Gras. Bourbon O.”
He kissed her long and deep. Then said, “I’ll be there.”
She’d just smiled.
She hadn’t believed him. But she’d played along. He’d realized that even at the moment.
Now he was dodging beads and boobs, making his way down Bourbon, on his way to see her.
And there was a very good chance she wouldn’t be there.
His family was going to give him so much shit about this.
Thirty minutes earlier, two blocks away…
Tori was supposed to be the Best Man.
If she was, she would be having drinks at some place called Trahan’s right now. Tori didn’t even care what they served there, only that it would be off Bourbon Street. And she’d be talking to Andrew and his friends. And not babysitting Paisley and her friends. All of whom made Tori want to stab her eardrums with the tiny colored plastic swords that were skewered through the pineapple chunks at the top of their drinks.
Correction—all of whom made her feel like someone was stabbing her eardrums with tiny plastic swords.
The subjects of their conversations were bad enough—how could anyone talk this much about shoes?—but the talking also never stopped. And then there was the giggling. And the squealing. Holy shit, the squealing.
It got louder and more frequent the more of the icy, pink and green drinks the girls consumed.
Andrew owed her big time.
It was interesting that the guy from out of town was celebrating off Bourbon, while the girl who had grown up in New Orleans was the one getting shit-faced on the infamous party street. Paisley struck Tori as more the mint-juleps-on-the-front-porch type than the doing-shots-and-flashing-her-boobs-for-beads type.
But she’d become that second type tonight. On Tori’s watch.
Thanks, Andrew. At least he was going to be the one dealing with Paisley’s puking later. And her hangover tomorrow. Tori couldn’t imagine the Southern princess hungover. Yikes.
Tori took a tiny sip of the pink concoction she held. And grimaced. She was a beer girl, when she drank at all. This was, obviously, meant to be consumed quickly and after several other drinks.
But this was one of those places on Bourbon. It had the neon-on-steroids lights, the crowds of people, the overpriced-but-loaded-with-liquor drinks in collectible glasses that you’d never want to see again after spending the early morning hours kneeling next to the toilet.
What the hell were they doing here? Paisley was a rich girl. Classy.
A loud, screeching squeal went up from the herd of girls standing a few feet away and Tori rolled her eyes. Classy-ish. Apparently Paisley didn’t go out partying like this with her friends on a regular basis, and the rum and lights and festive atmosphere were getting to her. And, of course, the fact that people kept pinning dollar bills to her chest. It was a tradition, apparently, that if you saw a bride during her bachelorette party in the Quarter, you pinned money to the little clip she wore on her shirt. Or, in Paisley’s case, the very low-cut, tightly fit, strapless dress she wore.
Oh, and then there were the masks. The masks were such a huge part of Mardi Gras that Paisley’s girlfriends had insisted they all wear them tonight. They were meant to obscure your identity and make it easier to just let go and revel in everything crazy and sinful.
Paisley’s was a bright pink, glittery thing that matched her dress—including the sequins—and covered everything but her mouth. No one would know she was the daughter of Robert Darbonne, the past and very beloved Mayor of New Orleans and a current United States Senator. It was the main reason that Paisley’s father had agreed to let her take the bachelorette party down to Bourbon tonight. Her mother thought a tasteful cocktail party would be more appropriate. So they were doing that. Too. Tomorrow night. But Paisley’s bridesmaids—minus Tori—had insisted on taking her to Bourbon for a traditional bachelorette party. For better or worse.
Paisley had grown up in the Garden District of New Orleans in a real, honest-to-God mansion on St. Charles Street, the only child of her politician father and nationally renowned neurosurgeon mother. Paisley was a princess. At least as far as Tori could tell. She dressed the part with lots of designer labels and flashy styles. She certainly acted the part too, making lots of demands and clearly expecting people to ask “how high” even before she said to jump. She was the most spoiled person Tori had ever met.
And she was marrying Tori’s best friend, Andrew.
In four days.
Tori was in New Orleans, a part of the bridal party for a woman she barely knew and didn’t like, for an entire week-long wedding extravaganza.
And the Darbonne family didn’t do “nontraditional” things like letting a woman be the groom’s first attendant. So Tori was the ninth bridesmaid—the last bridesmaid—standing up on Paisley’s side of the aisle.
Tori took a bigger drink of the strawberry slush in her hand—and instantly regretted it—as Paisley stuck her chest out for a group of guys to pin bills to her dress and give her congratulations. Though “congratulations” really sounded a lot like “how about I make you wish you were staying single.”
Tori wished Paisley was staying single. That was for sure.
Not that anyone—especially Andrew—knew that. As far as he knew, Tori was happy for him and his bride-to-be. That was mostly thanks to the fact that Tori and Andrew didn’t often see each other in person. He’d been living in Louisiana and she’d been in Iowa for the past six years.
Tori sighed as she thought about how things had changed between them. That was why she’d been so happy that he’d wanted her to be a part of his wedding. “You’re my oldest friend, Tori. You know me in a way no one else does. Of course you need to be a part of my wedding.” Those words were why she’d said yes to standing up at a wedding she didn’t really want to happen. She didn’t have a lot of close friends and none like Andrew, who she’d known since kindergarten and who had always liked her in spite of her weirdness.
She missed him. Andrew had grown up next door to her, literally, and she couldn’t remember a time when she’d gone more than a day without talking to him even when they were both at Iowa State. It wasn’t until he’d gone to law school at Tulane that they started to talk less. She’d been in vet school, so they’d both been working hard and the time between phone calls had stretched, sometimes to a couple of weeks at a time.
But it had been okay. Mostly. They had texting and Snapchat and Skype.
Until he’d met Paisley.
She’d swept him off his feet. A political science major, Andrew knew all about Paisley’s father, and the promise of a dinner with the famous, mostly-beloved Louisiana politician who they’d been courting to run for President—yes, of the United States—had been more than enough to get Andrew wrapped around Paisley’s dainty, perfectly manicured finger.
He hadn’t come back from that first dinner as the Andrew Tori knew.
“Oh my God, Paisley!” Jenna, one of Paisley’s bridesmaids, exclaimed as she finished her drink. “This is the most fun ever!”
Tori felt her eye twitching.
The girls were loving this because of the attention they were getting.
Tori guessed that bachelorette parties always got a lot of attention from the men on Bourbon. Where else could you find entire herds of young, beautiful, tipsy women who were out for nothing but a good time?
Oh yeah, pretty much anywhere else in New Orleans on any other day of any other week.
Tori almost took another sip of her drink, but then remembered that she hated everything about the slushy pink mix of…whatever. She lowered it and sighed as she watched Paisley look at her phone, grin widely, and then show it to her friends.
Andrew had just texted her a photo of him making a kissy face.
What the hell had happened to Tori’s best friend?
Paisley was exactly the opposite of everything Tori would have expected Andrew to fall for. She spent more time on her hair than Tori spent going from waking up to walking out the door. Paisley had studied early childhood development in college but had no intention of teaching. Or working with kids at all. She was clearly trained and intent on being a politician’s wife. And, maybe worst of all—no, definitely worst of all—Paisley didn’t like animals. She said she was allergic to both dogs and cats, but Tori thought it was really more that she was a terrible person.
Tori again lifted her glass, thought for a second about just chugging it so she’d at least have some liquor in her system, opened her mouth, and then thought better of it. She lowered the glass again. Dammit, she wanted a beer.
She never thought people were terrible. She didn’t like every person she’d ever met, of course, but mostly she gave people the benefit of the doubt and…avoided them as much as possible.
Animals really were superior to people, in almost every sense, and spending her days taking care of everything from cats to cows, and even one alpaca, made Tori exceedingly happy.
She watched Paisley’s friends gather around her for a selfie. They didn’t ask her to join in and she had no desire to. She knew that Paisley was putting up with her because of Andrew.
No, scratch that. She knew that Paisley absolutely did not want her here.
Why Andrew had told Tori that, she had no idea. Why he thought that she and Paisley should hang out tonight, she had no idea. Didn’t Andrew know Tori better than this?
The two women had absolutely nothing—other than Andrew, she supposed—in common. That had been painfully clear when Tori had come to visit Andrew for Mardi Gras last year. Things had been tense and cool between the women, and Tori had ended up spending a lot of time alone while Paisley monopolized Andrew as if they didn’t see each other every single day.
Of course, that had led Tori to Bourbon Street on Fat Tuesday last March, which had led her to Bourbon O, the bar five blocks from where she was right now, which had led her to Josh Landry.
So she should probably be grateful to Paisley.
Tori sighed again, but happily—maybe wistfully—this time.
Tonight was Mardi Gras. The night. The only night she really cared about being in New Orleans. The night she was supposed to meet Josh Landry back at Bourbon O. If she wanted to. If he wanted to. If they were still thinking of each other.
And dammit, she wanted to.
She was definitely still thinking of him, and when Andrew had announced that he and Paisley were getting married the weekend after Mardi Gras and asked her to come, Tori had immediately decided to come for the festival and stay for the week-long extravaganza that was going to be Paisley Darbonne’s wedding. Not Andrew and Paisley’s wedding. This thing was all about the bride.
Most women had one day. Maybe a weekend. Not Princess Paisley. The week before the wedding was filled with activities and meals and tours all designed to make the wedding in her hometown into something of a destination wedding for all of the Iowa guests.
Tori hadn’t gotten to New Orleans until today, but she would have waited and shown up on Friday if it wasn’t for Josh Landry.
And now she was five blocks away from the place they’d agreed to meet up.
Just the fact that Josh had suggested this had been making her heart pound for nearly a year. Whenever she thought of it, anyway. It wasn’t like she thought about him constantly. Just once or twice. Every day.
But this kind of stuff didn’t happen in her life. Her life was very…normal. Other than the occasional set of bovine twins or an injured mare, there were very few dramatic flares in Tori’s life.
So what the hell was she doing even thinking about running down Bourbon Street to the bar where she’d first met Josh? They’d only spent about six hours together total and that hadn’t even been all at once. She’d sat across the bar from him as he worked for two nights. The first had only been for about an hour. The second had been for five hours. Five hours that had flown by. They’d only talked. And laughed.
But, as she was leaving each night, he’d come after her. And kissed her.
The best kisses of her life.
Seriously. They were easily the best four out of the twenty-three she’d had.
And then he’d asked her to come back a year later. After two nights of just talking. And four amazing kisses.
That had all been enough to get him to ask her to come back.
That was just…wow.
And she was right here, after all. On Bourbon Street. On Mardi Gras. She could just pop in and see if he was there. He was maybe even working tonight.
She cringed as Paisley called to her across the bar. Paisley refused to call her Tori, no matter how many times Tori told her to.
“You have to go and stall Andrew, okay?”
It wasn’t a big place. Why did the girl think she needed to yell like that? Tori moved around the group of people between her and the perky blonde socialite with the hope that if she was standing closer to her, Paisley would lower her voice a little.
“Stall him?” Tori asked.
“Yeah, the girls and I are heading to the Hustler store,” Paisley said. Loudly. “But we’re supposed to meet them in like ten minutes. I need a little more time.” She winked from behind her pink sequined mask with the tiny bit of tulle attached like a veil to one corner.
Well, helping Paisley pick out sex toys or lingerie for her and Andrew was not on Tori’s To-Do list tonight and hell yes, she’d love an excuse to meet up with the guys somewhere besides the craziness of Bourbon Street.
She’d enjoyed it last year. It had been a part of the whole I’m-so-not-in-Iowa-anymore whirlwind she’d experienced. But Paisley had insisted that Andrew needed to attend her grandmother’s family dinner. Family only. Left out and pissed off that she’d nearly had to sell a kidney to afford her hotel room on Canal Street, Tori had stubbornly headed to the French Quarter on her own. It was freaking Mardi Gras. She wasn’t going to sit in her hotel room alone.
But as soon as she’d stepped out onto the crazy, loud, crowded, holy-crap-there’s-nothing-in-Iowa-like-this street, she’d had a mini panic attack. It wasn’t safe. What the hell was she doing? So she’d ducked into the first place that had no neon in its windows. Bourbon O. She’d taken a seat at the bar and ordered a drink as she pulled her phone out to search for a local taxi company. Then she’d looked up and met Josh Landry’s gaze. He’d grinned at her. And she’d put her phone away.
And now, here she was in New Orleans on Mardi Gras again…and irritated on Bourbon because of Paisley again.
But if she went and found Josh, he’d make her grateful for the turn of events all over again. She couldn’t help that thought. Her trip to New Orleans had turned out to be amazing last time. Maybe it could be again.
“I will definitely go find Andrew,” Tori said, setting her glass down and pulling her phone out to find out where Andrew was.
“Oh, they’re on their way to Bourbon O,” Paisley said. “It’s just up the street.”
Tori lifted her head and stared at her. She would have had Paisley repeat the name of the bar if the other girl wasn’t completely incapable of talking softly. Tori had not misheard her. Andrew was on his way to the very place Tori wanted to be.
“Great. I’ll meet them there.” She tucked her phone into her back jeans pocket, her heart thundering.
This was a great chance for a little time with her best friend. She’d come in that morning and had been promptly caught up in getting settled at the plantation—of course Paisley was having her wedding at a plantation—and then heading for Bourbon.
Tori and Andrew hadn’t had any alone time just to talk in over a year. Even when they got on the phone together, Paisley was there in the background.
So yeah, she and Andrew needed some time alone to catch up and talk. And, yes, Tori needed to hear and see in his eyes that he really wanted to marry Paisley.
But she was going to be meeting him at Bourbon O. Where Josh Landry might be working behind the bar. And if he was, and she walked in, he’d think she was there for him.
And she would be.
She definitely would be.
Would he be happy to see her? Shocked? Would he remember her?
Suddenly her stomach plummeted down to somewhere around her pinky toe. Why had it never occurred to her that Josh might not even remember her? But that was very possible. The guy met hundreds of people every single weekend. And the guy was obviously a player. What were the chances she was the only out-of-towner that he’d charmed and laughed with? How many times had he used that suggestion to send a woman off with a soft smile and thoughts of how romantic and amazing he was?
But dammit…now she couldn’t not go to Bourbon O. Andrew would be there. And even if Paisley hadn’t sent Tori to meet him, she wanted the chance for a few minutes alone with him. In the chaotic sea of people on Bourbon Street.
“How long do you think it will take Andrew to get to Bourbon O?” Tori asked Paisley.
She shrugged. “Trahan’s is several blocks over, and with this crowd? It could be a while.” She giggled. “But getting up to Hustler is going to take us some time too.”
Okay, so it might take Andrew a while. Whereas Tori was just five blocks away. Sure, she’d have to get through the crowd too, but she had a few blocks head start. Which meant, she could pop in there, see if Josh was working, see if he recognized her and if he acted thrilled…or like a serial killer stalker had just shown up…and then duck back out if it was the latter. She could catch Andrew on the sidewalk and talk him into another bar instead.
With a deep breath, she stepped out onto the sidewalk and started down Bourbon without another glance at Paisley.
It was slow going for sure. Tori scowled as she jerked back to avoid a guy’s elbow and a set of beads flying from somewhere overhead. Then she was hit right in the cheek with a strand of pink beads the color of Paisley’s dress and mask tonight. Tori frowned up at the balcony full of drunk frat guys. No, she wasn’t going to show them her boobs. Or anyone else her boobs.
Unless it was Josh Landry.