“So where is he?” Eva asked Janey when their paths crossed in the industrial-sized gilt-and-marble ladies’ room of the swanky hotel where the reception was.
Janey smudged an edge of her freshly applied lipstick with a delicate swipe of her pinky. “Who?”
“The hunky nice guy you promised me a dance with. Who isn’t Alec. A guarantee, you said.”
“I’m working on it,” Janey answered, her tone breezy.
“It’s been three hours.” Eva eyed her hair in the mirror. The French twist was slipping, damn it. Why couldn’t her hair behave itself? She tried to repair it and only made things worse. “This party won’t last much longer.”
“Hey. Cinderella didn’t dance with Prince Charming until just before midnight.”
That made Eva laugh. “I don’t need Prince Charming. Just one dance. So far I haven’t found a likely partner unclaimed.”
Janey patted her shoulder. “The night’s not over yet.”
It was before long, though. All too soon the band played their last number and started packing up, while servers cleared cake plates and coffee cups from the linen-swathed tables that ringed the dance floor and the last remaining guests straggled toward the coatroom. Eva felt a sharp pang of disappointment and told herself to quit being such a baby. Dance or no dance, she’d had an okay time, hadn’t she? She drifted over to the dessert table, where a few miniature cupcakes lingered on near-empty platters. That was a thing these days, she gathered—having a wedding “cake” that was actually a giant cupcake pyramid. “Chocolate,” she muttered. “There has to be a chocolate one left…”
“The one with the yellow rose is devil’s food, I think,” a voice said, close by. Warm, friendly. Male. “You won’t hold it against me if I’m wrong, will you?”
She looked up. And up. The man next to her was easily six feet, likely around her own age, wearing dress blacks and holding an instrument case. Shaggy dark hair sprang back from his forehead, framing a face with an interesting touch of cragginess to it, and the look in his gray eyes told her he liked what he saw. A hint of shyness came with that look, as if he wasn’t entirely sure of himself. Or of her, maybe.
She liked him for that, and smiled to put him at ease. “Depends. Boring old white cake, yes. Lemon or something else with flavor, no. I guess I’ll take a chance.” Those last words brought to mind Janey’s comment in the thrift store, and she felt a blush creep up her cheeks.
He reached for a cupcake with a red rose on it, then snagged two napkins and handed her one. “I’ve been watching you all night,” he said, coloring faintly himself. “Not in a stalker kind of way, though. The way you do when you’re wondering if the knockout in the gorgeous dress will talk to you.” He grinned at her. “I’m Daniel.”
“Eva,” she said. She eyed his instrument case. “You’re with the band?”
He nodded, and they chatted awhile about music and weddings and how hard it was to make a living as a performer. He was easy to talk to, with a dry humor and no compulsion to fill every conversational space. Not like Brandon at all. She finished her cupcake—it was devil’s food—licked frosting off one finger, and realized she was enjoying herself more now than she had all evening. And just when things were ending, she thought wistfully.
“So, um…” Daniel dusted crumbs off his hands. He was looking shy again, but determined. “Would you like to dance?”
“There’s no music,” she said, just as the hotel’s sound system kicked in. They must have turned it off for the reception. Faint but definite, she recognized the opening notes of “Brown-Eyed Girl”.
“Great song.” Daniel held out a hand. “May I?”
Shut up and take a chance floated through her mind. She smiled and laid her palm across his. Okay, then.
He clasped her fingers, and together they moved out onto the dance floor.