The clock chimed midnight and Lore stepped into familiar shadows. The lines outside the clubs didn’t give her a second glance as she walked by in her black tank and jeans. She was glad. It wasn’t the crush of the dance floor she wanted tonight. A street down, she slid into the comfortable noise of a friendly bar. Ordering a beer, she glanced at the patrons, assessing. A dark haired man, a cop, raised his glass. “To Caleb Skyll, Congratulations on beating Carter to Detective.”
Caleb flushed a little at the bar wide announcement. He handled the ribbing and camaraderie, but started to look a little uncomfortable when the guys started dredging up the embarrassing stories. She chuckled a little at his well meaning friends and checked her texts. Her brother, asking where she was. She sent him the street and the bar name. He’d take his time, but if he was ready to go home this early, she’d take it as a good sign. She slipped her phone away.
“This seat taken?” someone asked. She looked up. Detective Skyll wore a lopsided smile as he gestured at the seat next to her.
“Not yet,” she said and took a long sip of her beer.
As he sat down he breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you.”
“Thank you?” She tilted her head with a slight laugh. “For what?”
“For providing me a way out of an uncomfortable situation. They’re great guys, and they mean well-”
“But they’ve had a little to drink and don’t mind embarrassing you.” She finished for him. “In that case, congratulations on your escape and your badge, Detective.”
He ran a nervous hand through his hair. “ Thanks. It’s Caleb, though I guess you heard that already.”
Lore tucked her tongue into her cheek. “Well, Detective Skyll did have a nice ring to it. I’m Lore.”
“Nice to meet you Lore. You ever been here before?”
The way he said it killed the remaining doubts Lorelai had about him. He wasn’t looking to take her home, he was just glad to be talking to her and to have a graceful exit from his own party. Polite, endearing, and with the shoulders of a football player. Yeah, she’d had much worse nights. “This bar, no, but I’ll probably be back if its always this friendly.”
“Its a good place, especially if you don’t mind the occasional table of cops.”
“I don’t mind cops,” she said as the door opened and her brother darted in. He pulled up short when he saw she had company and they engaged in the quick exchange of glances that told him, yes he should come over, did she know that was a cop, yes she did, and everything was fine. Caleb followed her glance as Leon strolled up.
“Caleb, this is my brother Leon.”
“Nice to meet you,” Caleb said and held out his hand.
Leon clasped it. “Nice to meet you too. Sorry if I’m interrupting…”
“You’re not interrupting, your sister was just saving me from embarrassment.” Caleb smiled and stood.
Lore rose as well. “Anytime, Detective. Maybe I’ll see you around.”
“I’d like that. Have a good evening.”
Lore took her brother’s elbow and steered him out of the bar as Caleb’s friends greeted him with friendly ribbing. She was not going to hear the end of this.