Evelyn had outdone herself. The space was elegant and refined, but the atmosphere felt warm and comfortable. Ginny could hardly believe that this was the construction zone she saw a week ago.
“Wow,” her date whispered. “This is amazing.”
“Just wait ‘til you try the food!” Ginny slid her hand into the crook of his elbow to pull him along. “She let me try the sample menu. It’s even better than her first restaurant.”
He let himself be dragged into the party. “Ginny, I never went to her first restaurant.”
Ginny stopped in front of a waiter, snagging a couple of canapés off the tray. “Try this,” she said, practically stuffing the morsel into his mouth. “So good, right?”
It was. So good he practically moaned.
“Hey Blip,” she turned around to give the man a hug. “Look at this place! Evelyn did such a great job.”
“My wife is an amazing woman, Ginny, and she is great at what she does.” Blip grabbed Ginny by the shoulders. “But we can’t let her open a third restaurant. I don’t get to see her enough as it is.”
Ginny laughed. “You don’t think she’ll be busy enough with two?”
“I think she’ll be plenty busy.” He shook his head. “But it’s the off season, and I can’t even enjoy a vacation with her.”
“I’ll take the boys some time soon,” Ginny smacked Blips’ arm. “Give you two a date night.”
Blip’s eyes cut to the man at Ginny’s side. “Date night, huh?”
“Oh! Yeah.” Ginny waved a hand between the two men. “Blip. Jordan. Jordan. Blip. Jordan and I used to play together when we were young. We reconnected recently.”
“Nice to meet you, Blip.” The two shook hands. “Great playoff run. You guys were so close.”
“Definitely better than anyone expected,” Blip shrugged. “Even if we didn’t go all the way. We really wanted to get that ring, let Lawson go out with a bang.” He turned back to Ginny. “You know he’s supposed to be here tonight?”
Ginny popped another canapé in her mouth. “I figured. Can’t wait to find out what he’s doing with his retirement. What do you think - pool hustling, watching endless hours of Ken Burns…?”
“Dunno,” Blip squinted at her. “I haven’t seen him much. I thought maybe he might be busy with something, or someone.”
Ginny shrugged. “Or maybe, you and Evelyn have been busy and he’s been bored.” She smiled at Jordan. “Speaking of, where is Evelyn? We need to say hi.”
Blip pointed toward a crowd on the other side of the room. “With all her admirers.”
“Perfect,” Ginny took Jordan’s arm. “We’ll head over that way. I’ll let her know I’m taking the boys for the night some time soon.”
“Nice to meet you Blip,” Jordan nodded, letting himself be pulled away.
Ginny maneuvered them through the crowd, thrilled that her friend was getting all the attention she deserved tonight. “Evelyn,” she called, finally getting through to the open space in the centre of the group and wrapping the woman in a hug. “Congratulations. Everything looks perfect.”
“Thanks Ginny,” Evelyn squeezed her back. “Hopefully, I get the chance to breathe soon.”
“I already told Blip I’d take the boys for a night soon, and give you some time alone.” Ginny laughed.
“And who’s this?” Evelyn pulled away just far enough to eye the man behind Ginny’s shoulder. “You brought a date?”
“I did!” Ginny stepped to the side to give Jordan some room. “This is Jordan. We used to play together, a long time ago.”
Evelyn pursed her lips. “I thought you had a rule about ballplayers.”
“I haven’t been a ballplayer in years,” Jordan said. “Unless you count coaching my school’s team. I’m a teacher.”
“Oh, so ex-ballplayers are fine then?” Evelyn asked, eyeing Ginny’s shrug. “Well, it’s nice to meet you Jordan. Thank you both for stopping in.”
“Thank you for having us. This place is incredible.”
Evelyn’s smile softened. “Thank you,” she turned to Ginny. “Speaking of ex-ballplayers, you know Mike Lawson’s coming tonight?”
“Is this your first time seeing him since the season ended?” Evelyn asked. “I hope your date doesn’t mind if you take some time to catch up.”
“Oh, not at all,” Jordan smiled. “I’m looking forward to meeting…”
“Ginny!” A shout came from the other side of the room. “‘Scuse me...sorry.” Ginny turned to watch Eliot make his way through the crowded restaurant to her side. “Hey, sorry. Just letting you know that the TMZ guy is outside.”
“I know you wanted to spend time here tonight,” Eliot looked apologetic, “but the plan for if he showed up was…”
“Yes. I know.” Ginny turned to Evelyn. “He’ll just make a scene if I stay, and it’s your big opening.”
“Go, go.” Evelyn began herding them toward the kitchens. “There’s a back exit through here, you may be able to get away without him noticing. I’m assuming Jordan’s going with you.”
“Of course he’s going with me,” Ginny smiled in his direction. “Wanna grab some ice cream and head back to the Omni?”
Jordan grinned. “Absolutely. Thanks for having us, Evelyn. Even if it was only for a short time.”
“Thanks for coming.” Evelyn said, looking between the two of them like they were a puzzle she was trying to solve. “I’ll tell Mike you’re sorry you missed him.”
“Thanks,” Ginny gave her a final hug. “We’ll catch up soon.”
Ginny rinsed the toothpaste from her mouth before turning off the bathroom light and tiptoeing into the bedroom. She padded softly across the floor to the side of the bed, gently lifting the covers to slide in between the body-warmed sheets. She pulled closer to the figure in the middle of the bed, carefully hitching a leg over the other’s hip, and snuggling close.
“Where’s your boyfriend?” He asked, voice rough with sleep.
“Back at the Omni.” She tightened her hold, rubbing her nose along the line of his collarbone.
“Oh great, that’s gonna go over really well with the TMZ asshole.”
Ginny pulled away. “Do I need to remind you that this was your idea, Old Man?”
“No,” he grumbled, tugging her back down. “It’s still a good idea, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
“It’s been two months,” she said, unable to prevent the hint of a whine in her voice.
“Yeah, two months after I retire and we’re practically living together.” Mike jolts a little as she pinches his side. “I’m not complaining, Rookie. I’m just saying give it a bit more time. Otherwise, we’ll have more than just TMZ hounding us.”
Ginny frowned. “If we wait much longer, the news won’t be speculation that we may have dated as teammates, but that we’re definitely dating while you’re my coach.”
“Batting coach, Gin. The fans will love it.” He grinned down at her. “Probably be thrilled that you’ll have so much extra opportunity for private coaching. Maybe you’ll even get your batting average above .200”
She bit his bicep in retaliation, giggling as he yelped, and dropping a kiss over the bite to apologize. “Two more weeks.”
“Deal.” Mike seals it with a kiss. “Evelyn is going to kill you when she finds out.”
“She’s been busy with the opening! I didn’t want to distract her.” Ginny protests. “Besides, it’s definitely your fault.”