Flight (Page 9)
“Nothing,” I said quickly. “Are you ready?”
“Definitely. You look awesome.”
“Thanks.” It didn’t take long to discover that lightweight sundresses were the best wardrobe choice for the climate. Wearing a pink halter dress, I slipped into a pair of black flip-flops as we headed out the door.
Levi, Jared, and Owen were waiting for us when we got off the elevator.
“Hey there Allison.” Levi blatantly checked me out. He didn’t look too bad himself, dressed once again in a fitted Lacoste shirt and dark jeans.
“Oh yeah, I forgot.”
“Are you girls ready to see uptown?” Owen asked.
“Sure, should we follow you, or get an address for my GPS?”
“Neither.” Levi ushered us towards the door. “We’re taking the streetcar. That way you don’t have to worry about a designated driver.”
“Will it still be running when we need to get home?” I asked.
“This is New Orleans, it runs all night,” Jared said. I could practically hear him rolling his eyes.
We walked two blocks to the corner of Canal and St. Charles and hopped on the streetcar just as it got ready to pull away. Levi pushed my money aside as I tried to figure out how to insert it into the machine. “I’ve got this.”
As I prepared to argue, the car jerked forward, propelling me backwards into Levi’s arms. “Easy does it, darling.”
Carefully walking down the aisle, I slid into an empty seat and of course, Levi slipped in next to me.
“So where are we going exactly?” I asked after glancing across the aisle to see Jess unabashedly flirting with Jared.
“The Maple Leaf. It’s a bar that always has great live music. You’re going to like it.”
“Glad to know you are now an expert on what I like.”
“I’m an expert on a lot of things.”
Levi’s thigh brushed against mine as he stretched out his legs, and I couldn’t ignore the way it affected me. Leaning against the side of the car, I moved as far away from him as possible. With the windows open, the breeze cooled me off as we continued uptown. I watched the city go by, all too aware of Levi’s proximity. As hard as I tried to fight it, there was no denying my attraction to him, and I had a feeling he knew it.
“Beautiful, aren’t they?”
I felt goosebumps from where Levi’s breath tickled my skin. His closeness was killing me. “The homes? Yeah, they’re gorgeous. Is this the Garden district?”
“Yes. Home sweet home.”
“Have you always lived here?” I asked.
“Born and raised, and I never want to move anywhere else.”
“Really?” My interest was piqued enough that I turned toward him. His face was only inches from mine.
“Does that really surprise you?”
“I mean you told me you were from here, but don’t most people our age want to explore new places?”
“Why explore when you have everything you need right here?” His intense gaze implied he was talking about me rather than the city.
“Yeah. Whatever.” If he thought his corny lines were going to work on me, he was going to be sorely disappointed.
I looked back outside, watching the beautiful large homes lining the street while trying to ignore the electricity that clearly ran between us.
A half-hour later, I turned toward Levi when I felt his hand on my leg. “This is us.” He pulled the cord to request a stop and we jumped off. “It’s only a few blocks from here.”
“Have a nice ride?” Jess asked, grabbing my hand.
“It looked like you were enjoying yourself.” Her impish grin matched her tone of voice.
I heard Levi laugh but ignored it.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t have thought you noticed. You looked pretty distracted yourself.”
“Unlike you, I’m not going to pretend otherwise.” Jess picked up the pace, virtually skipping as she towed me along behind the guys.
With neon signs advertising beers I’d never heard of, the Maple Leaf was located in an unassuming two story building. Loud music hit me as soon as we walked into the bar. Still holding Jess’s hand, we followed the guys through the crowd onto the patio out back.
“Owen!” a gorgeous redhead yelled out as she wrapped her arms around him in a hug.
Unraveling himself from her embrace Owen snapped at her. “Aww, damn it Hailey. I should have known you would be here.”
“Don’t bother hiding it, Owen; you know you’re glad to see your favorite sister.” She grinned.
“You mean my only sister.”
Hailey ignored Owen’s last comment, holding out her hand to shake ours. “Hi, I don’t think we’ve met.”
It took me a moment to process that her focus was on us. “I’m Allie.”
“Nice to meet you. So you’re friends with my brother then?”
“Enough of the twenty questions. We met them down at the hotel. Allie’s dad owns the place now,” Owen explained.
“Oh!” I watched as Hailey tried to compose her face into a smile but the look of shock was undeniable.
“Watch it, Hailey,” Jared warned.
I opened my mouth to ask what the heck Hailey’s reaction was about, but she didn’t give me the chance. “It’s really nice to meet you both. My best friends deserted me to spend the summer abroad, and I could really use some other girls around.”
“Wait, Beth and Jill both left already? Who are you here with?” Owen asked. It was funny watching him go all big brother protector on her.
“I came by myself to meet up with Jamie. Not a big deal.”
“Oh, okay, but don’t leave by yourself.”
“Like I can’t take care of myself?” she said incredulously.
“Just humor me, Hailey.”
“Sure.” Hailey rolled her eyes. “God, older brothers can be annoying. Do you have any siblings, Allie?”
“Nope, I’m an only child.”
“So lucky.” Jess broke in. “I have four younger brothers and sisters.”
“Four? Wow,” Hailey said with surprise.
“Yeah, I know. Thankfully, I was always able to escape the chaos by crashing at Allie’s because her mom is cool. She’s so lucky.”
“My mom is pretty cool,” I admitted. Mom more than made up for Dad’s absence. It’s part of why I knew I had to go to Princeton. My mom went there too and she wanted us to have the shared experience. “And my house is quiet. But I wouldn’t have minded a sibling.”