The One Real Thing Page 33

He nodded at her as she said good night to Old Archie and Riley. All the while Tom followed, scowling at her back.

Ah, the joys of being in a relationship.

Cooper pushed drinks over the bar to Lily and headed back to Jessica, who was sipping her Long Island while she played with her phone.

Her drink was almost finished.


She scrunched her nose, looking adorable. “I don’t know if I should. I feel pretty buzzed.”

“Up to you, Doc.”

Jessica thought about it a second. “I better change to a chardonnay.”

When he placed the drink in front of her a minute or so later she took a sip and then sighed. “I love Bailey.”

Cooper grinned. “Yeah, she’s pretty great.”

“No, like, I love her. She’s so kind. And so pretty. She could be a fairy.”

This made him stop for a second. Had he been wrong all along about the connection between them? Was Doc . . . Did Doc play for the other team?

Disappointment started to build . . .

Jessica laughed. “Oh, you should see your face. I’m not gay. Women are allowed to show appreciation for one another without it being about sex.”

Relieved, he grinned at her. “Not gay, but you are drunk, Doc.”

“Tipsy, not drunk. I’m okay with that.” She shrugged. “And I’m not gay,” she repeated. “I’ve just never met anyone like Bailey before. She says what she means and how she feels, no matter what.”

“And you don’t?” He leaned on the bar, drawing closer to her, and her eyes flicked down to his mouth.

Heat stirred in his gut at the way she was looking at his lips.

Jessica dragged her eyes back up to his. Up close he could see the flecks of gold and green in her huge brown eyes. Gorgeous fucking eyes. “Sometimes,” she answered and leaned in closer to him to whisper, “For instance, I’m not sure Tom is right for Bailey.”

He raised an eyebrow. “What makes you say that?”

She shrugged, dropping her gaze to her drink. “Just a feeling. I can’t explain it.”

“Well, your secret is safe with me.”

She looked up at him again and gave him a soft smile. “You have really blue eyes.”

Cooper grinned. “So I’ve been told.”

“You going to flirt with that pretty woman all night and keep her to yourself or you going to introduce her to your friends?” Old Archie called down the bar.

Sighing at the interruption, Cooper stood tall and threw his regular a look. Old Archie was grinning from ear to ear, the devious old bastard.

“Hi.” Jessica waved at him.

Old Archie nodded at her. “I’m Archibald Brown, but everyone calls me Old Archie.”

Doc frowned at this. “Why would they call you Old Archie when you have such a distinguished name like Archibald Brown? If it were my name, I would insist on being called Archibald Brown all the time. Not Archie, not Archibald, but Archibald Brown.”

Cooper’s grin matched Archie’s. “Well, I might do that. And to whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?”

“Archibald Brown, I am Jessica Huntington.”

“Doctor Jessica Huntington,” Cooper said.

Old Archie raised an eyebrow. “Impressive, Doctor. You a surgeon?”

“I was,” she said, surprising the hell out of Cooper. “I was a surgical resident—general surgery.”

Jesus, a surgeon. Surgeons were their own kind of rock star.

It was hot.

“Was?” Old Archie cocked his head in curiosity.

“I decided it wasn’t for me. I was good at it,” she said, but it wasn’t said with arrogance, just honesty. “But . . .” She shrugged. “Not for me.”

Cooper wanted to know more, but he wasn’t going to push for that information in front of an audience. He shot Old Archie a look, silently telling him not to, either. Old Archie got the message.

He grinned over at Jessica. “Smart and beautiful. You’re double the trouble, honey.”

Doc narrowed her eyes on him, but she was smiling. “You’re a charmer, Archibald Brown. I bet you say that to all the girls.”

“No, some of them around here are as dumb as a post.”

Her jaw dropped. “That’s a terrible thing to say.”

“Hey, there are a lot of men around here dumb as a post, too. I wasn’t being sexist.”

“Just insulting.”

“Honest,” he argued.

“I can tell I’m going to need another drink if we’re to continue getting to know each other,” Jessica said, making Old Archie laugh.

Cooper took in her empty glass. “You sure you got another in you, Doc?”

She wrinkled her nose. “I hate hangovers. I’ll have a water.”

“You got it.”

By the time an hour had passed, Old Archie was on the stool next to Jessica. The two of them kept Cooper entertained all night.

Finally, Anita called and, judging from the look on Old Archie’s face, told him to get his ass back home. Cooper disappeared to take out some trash at the back of the bar and when he came back Jessica’s stool was empty.

“Is Doc in the restroom?” He nodded his head to her stool.

Riley gave him a knowing smile. “Nah. She paid her tab, told me to tell you good night, and left.”

“Fuck,” he muttered, disappointed. And then just as quickly determination replaced the disappointment. “Watch the bar.”

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