looks like a fish out of water when they first step in here." As far as I saw, she'd never even glanced over her shoulder. Did her magic allow her to see me? My senses were still too muddled to get a read on her. Anyhow, maybe it wasn't magic, maybe she was just good at her job. I wondered if I was supposed to tip her. She stopped at a low wall that divided the regular tables from the bar area and handed me a menu. "Have a seat anywhere you like. The serve r will be along to take your order in a moment."
"Much appreciated ," I said, but she was already gone. "Hostesses are strange creatures."
"Yes, they are," said a low, smoky voice.
I turned to search out its source and met the eyes of my target. Owen looked different than his picture. Less... predatory, but still a little douchey. When he gave me a lazy grin that weakened my knees, I amended my earlier thought about him looking less predatory. He was trying to look innocent before he swooped in for the kill. He wore his black, tight leather jacket open. A buckle collar swayed around his neck when he moved. The button-down shirt was a dark gray, and it probably would have looked good on anyone. His hair was rumpled in a careless way that must have taken him an hour in front of a mirror to achieve. It went with the overall look he was going for—sexy, but laid back. The scruff on his face was the perfect example. He was too well put together for it to simply be a well-timed accident, but he wanted me to believe he was the kind of guy who unintentionally looked that sexy. If I hadn't already disliked him based on Ava's tone, or the club I had to come to in order to find him, the well portrayed look he was putting on would have earned my glower. Anyone putting on that much of an act was someone I didn't want to spend my time puzzling out.
Of course, that was exactly what I was there to do.
I took a seat a couple stools down from him. "Any recommendations?" I asked, holding up the menu.
"Try the bacon cheeseburger," he said, taking a sip of his beer and making no secret of the fact he was checking me out.
"Well, at least the place has that much going for it." And the guy, for that matter. Anyone who recommended cheeseburgers couldn't be all bad.
"That didn't sound like a glowing review," he said, a crease between his brow. "Not your kind of place?"
The waitress came around and I placed an order for the bacon cheeseburger and a Coke. "Have you been out there?" I scoffed. "The smell alone was almost enough to make me turn around and walk out the door."
"I like the mingling of all the magic scents ," he said defensively.
"Then why are you hiding in here?" My senses were still overloaded from the crowd in the restaurant proper, but it was a cozy respite from the bedlam of the club.
"I was hungry. I'll be going back out there after I eat. You should join me." He turned my way and presented a cheesy smile. "I know a few tricks to help you get the most out of the experience."
I almost rolled my eyes, and then I remembered that this was exactly what I was there for. "That would be nice," I said. The waitress stopped by and put my Coke unobtrusively on the bar. I took a sip. "Aaaah."
"You don't want anything stronger than that?" asked Owen, eyeing my soda.
"Not with my food. A good burger deserves to be savored. Pairing it with alcohol would dull my senses and lessen the experience."
He laughed, a rumbling sound that made my stomach do an involuntary flip-flop. I blamed it on the hunger. "I like that you take eating so seriously."
"Mostly just burgers. They're like sandwiches, but elevated until they're a wholly unique experience. "
Owen held down his smile, his eyes wide like he wanted to laugh. "You like your burgers."
"I like my burgers," I agreed. Like magic—which it could have been—the waitress appeared and set down both of our meals .
"Enjoy," said Owen, and tucked into his burger.
I frowned at the poor presentation. The top bun was sliding off to reveal a