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Beach Read by Emily Henry

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Author:Emily Henry [Henry, Emily]
Language: eng
Format: epub, azw3
Publisher: Penguin Books (UK)
Published: 2020-04-24T00:00:00+00:00


17

The Dance

TUX TONIGHT? GUS wrote at noon on Saturday.

Anxiety crept up every time I thought about being alone in the car with him, but I’d also had tonight planned since last Saturday, and I wasn’t ready to bow out of our deal, not when I was finally writing for the first time in months. OH, DEFINITELY, I wrote back.

SERIOUSLY? Gus asked.

NO, I wrote. DO YOU HAVE COWBOY BOOTS?

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Gus said. FROM EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT ME, TAKE A WILD GUESS WHETHER I OWN COWBOY BOOTS.

I stared at the blank page then went for it: YOU’RE A MAN OF MANY SECRETS. YOU COULD HAVE A WHOLE CLOSET FULL OF TEN-GALLON HATS. AND IF YOU DO, WEAR ONE. 6 PM.

When Gus appeared at my door that night, he was wearing his usual uniform, plus a wrinkly black button-up. His hair was swept up his forehead in a way that suggested it had been forced there via him anxiously running his hand through it while he wrote. “No hat?” I said.

“No hat.” He pulled his other hand from behind his back. He was holding two flasks, the thin, foldable kind you could tuck under your clothes. “But I brought these in case you’re taking me to a Texan church service.”

I crouched by the front door, tugging my embroidered ankle boots on. “And once again, you reveal that you know much more about romance than you’ve previously let on.”

Even as I said it, my stomach clenched.

Gus has been married.

Gus is divorced.

That was why he was so sure love could never last, and he’d told me none of these key details, because he hadn’t really let me in.

If my comment reminded him of any of that, he didn’t let on. “Just so you know,” he said, “if I actually have to wear a cowboy hat at some point tonight, I will probably die.”

“Cowboy hat allergy.” I grabbed my keys from the table. “Got it. Let’s go.”

This date would’ve been perfect, if it had been a date.

The parking lot of the Black Cat Saloon was jammed and the rough-hewn interior was just as packed. “A lot of flannel,” Gus mused as we made our way in.

“What do you expect on line-dancing night, Gus?”

“You’re kidding, right?” Gus said, freezing. I shook my head. “This has been an exact recurring nightmare I’m only just realizing was actually a premonition.”

On the low stage at the front of the barnlike room, the band picked up again, and a crush of bodies moved past on our left, knocking me into him. He caught me around the rib cage and righted me as the group pushed toward the dance floor. “You good?” he shouted over the music, his hands still on my ribs.

My face was hot, my stomach flipping traitorously. “Fine.”

He leaned in so I could hear him. “This seems like a dangerous environment for someone your size. Maybe we should leave and go … literally anywhere else.”

As he eased back to look me in the face, I grinned and shook my head.



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