And as she leaned her head back and laughed, she noticed his sideways smirk of quiet satisfaction. His hands were around his glass carelessly, finger tips leaving small marks in the condensation. Solid hands with the long, curving fingers of a musician.
In the dim light, she saw him shift slightly, angling himself to her, his knee barely touching hers as he readjusted, still keeping his eyes on his friends across the table. A subtle move, but one that did not go unnoticed. She was not so out of practice that she did not remember this game, this delicate dance of limbs and laughter.
Not sure if she was ready to play the game herself, but not strong enough to resist the temptation, she leaned in slightly, reaching to the bottle at the center of the table, pouring herself a little more of its rich, dark contents. She preferred water, but her water glass was sitting right beside her, requiring no leaning whatsoever. As she placed the bottle back in the center of the table, she smelled him, faintly. A soft, tumbling scent of laundry intermingled with the sharper, cooler scent of aftershave.
She looked around the room, searching for familiar faces in the dim red lighting. She saw two, the only two she recognized in this vast, sprawling city, and she smiled. Did a little wave, hooking her hand underneath her chin, forgetting altogether that she was currently engaged in a game where she was supposed to pretend to be mysterious and sophisticated. She wrinkled her nose. She kind of hated this game.
Turning back to the table, she fingered the stem of her glass, eyeing the golden elephants that lined her wrist on a chain as they moved up and down, slowly, with her movements.
"I like your bracelet."
Her breath caught in her throat as he reached out and touched it, tentative, with one finger. She pulled away, instinctively, just a little. Felt nervous as she realized he was looking at her.
He had noticed her pull away, his smile frozen on his face, unsure. She closed her eyes, briefly. Opened them. Looked right at him and smiled.
She could do this. "It's good luck."
He tilted his head. She leaned forward just a little, not wanting to yell over the din of the bar, but also searching for that soft, cool scent.
She touched the bracelet. Moved the elephants around and around her wrist.
"There are seven elephants, all with their trunks pointing up."
She looked at his face as he watched her fingers, the elephants, the slight curve of her wrist.
"In Indian culture, elephants with their trunks pointing up are considered good luck."
He looked up. Caught her watching him. Smiled that same sideways smile.
One of his friends, who must have been listening, laughed. "And if there are seven, that's a bunch of good luck!" She smiled a small smile, startled at the presence of someone else so close to where they were sitting. Could he not see that they were in the middle of a game? And that she was doing surprisingly well?
He looked up at his friend, not turning his face away from her. "It's not really fair to call them a bunch, when they are clearly a herd."
She smiled, big this time. Nodded her head in approval. Felt his knee against hers, this time more than just barely. He was clearly much better at this game than she was.
He looked at her arm, her wrist, her hand, set on the table, palm up, long fingers slightly bent. After giving her a quick, sideways glance, he reached out and touched an elephant. One finger, two fingers, he pushed it across her wrist gently, skin brushing against skin.
She watched him, barely breathing. She looked at the side of his face, this unfamiliar jaw line, dark hair set against bright eyes, a sideways smile more mischevious than she was used to. She watched him, confused.
But she did not pull away.