door. She and Zach were the closest in age, with Danny just eleven months older than he was. They'd been inseparable as kids, and Zach was the only one in her family who hadn't given her a ton of shit when Danny came out. They'd just gone girl-watching together. It was hard having him stationed so far away.
"Nah, not in this weather," Danny said, although she was still buzzing with energy from her meeting with Lucy earlier. "Think I'll just go downstairs. I've got a few things left to do to get ready for tomorrow."
"Yeah?" Zach sat down at the kitchen table. "This job is a pretty big deal, then?"
Oh, you don't even know. "Yeah," Danny said. "Pretty big. I want it to go well."
"I get that." He looked at her for a long moment. "You okay?" he asked finally, his voice low enough that it couldn't be heard over the television. "You've been a little jumpy all week."
"I know," Danny admitted. "Sorry if it's been annoying."
"I'm not annoyed, I'm just wondering if I've gotta go beat someone up for you."
The thought of her brother going and confronting Lucy, prim and proper and gorgeous Lucy with her accent and those heels and the crop in her hand … it made Danny smile. "Nah, it's nothing bad. I'm just—actually, I'm kind of excited. I feel like I've got …" a chance at something I didn't even know I wanted , "… a real opportunity here, and I don't want to blow it."
"You won't blow it," Zach said confidently. "You're great at this stuff. All the guys in my unit bought your car calendar, and trust me, they agree."
"Oh my god, what ?"
"Hey, I didn't buy one for me!" Zach defended himself. "They figured out who you were all on their own! I just showed them your Facebook page."
Danny stared at her brother for a second, then started laughing. "Thanks for the publicity," she managed between chuckles. "Watch, this is gonna lead to my big break. I'll be the face of one of those guys' companies someday."
"I hope you are." Zach stood up and went over to the fridge. "You want a beer?"
"No, thanks," Danny said. She could still conjure up the taste of Lucy's Earl Grey on her tongue, and the thought of eradicating the memory with cheap beer just didn't appeal at all. "I think I'll have some tea instead."
"You on some kind of health kick? That's all you've drunk all week."
"Maybe it's a weight loss plan?" Clint added loudly.
"Maybe I'd rather lose weight kicking your sorry ass up and down these stairs ten times, what do you think?" Danny yelled back. She stood up and kissed Zach on the cheek. "I'm going downstairs."
"Don't study too hard."
Danny gave him a little wave as she made her way downstairs to the basement that had been transformed into her room. Well, it'd been hers since she was a teenager, actually, but now it was quite a bit more grown up than it had been when she'd first claimed the large, wood-paneled space as her own. She had her own mini fridge, a microwave, a brand new electric kettle, and a bathroom that was all hers—a real blessing once she realized how messy her brothers were sharing one bathroom upstairs. She'd practically begged to be moved into the basement as soon as the bathroom had been remodeled, allowing a standing shower to be added where before there had only been a large, mostly useless, closet.
She shucked off her jacket, then her boots, before flopping down on her belly over her bed. Her comforter, a gift from one of her brothers last year, had a sleek black and white pinstripe motif, something Clint had derided as "white collar prison style" but which Danny loved. It was a far cry from the set she'd had as a teen featuring a pop icon who she'd secretly had a crush on. Artwork she used as inspiration for her tattoos hung around her room, mostly Asian with koi, Fu Dogs, and some eastern dragons, but with a few other pieces mixed in as well. Danny had always loved the permanency of her body art, and seeing her tattoos felt like going to a gallery and exploring each time she looked in the mirror.