The champagne arrived, and I made a toast. “To old friends.”
“To old friends,” she repeated and clinked her glass against mine. “I probably shouldn’t be drinking this.”
“Why is that?”
Then she told me about the scrutiny she was under from the cheerleading director of the Scorpions.
“I hear you. I don’t drink much during the season myself, but tonight seems like a special occasion.”
“Oh, it is. I agree with you! And I am having the fish.”
“You are. What a good girl.” I wanted to offer to help her work off some of the calories later, but I behaved myself and only thought it.
She giggled. “Okay, so I have a question.”
She smiled before continuing. “I heard these girls talking about how you have bunnies… What does that mean?”
It was my turn to smile. “It’s like saying someone has hops—like they can jump.”
Her face lit up. “Oh, so it’s like how Charles Barkley calls you Air Apparent because you can dunk so well.”
“Yes, exactly like that.”
“How do you do it—dunk I mean?”
I shrugged. “Practice. Lots of practice.”
“Well, that’s a relief. I was afraid they were talking about Playboy bunnies.”
We both laughed.
“Not quite. I steer clear of that place.”
“The Playboy Mansion?”
“Yeah. That scene is a trap for guys like me.”
“In what way? Seems like guys like you would love that sort of, ahem, environment.”
“Nah. Maybe if we could stay incognito, but once people recognize you, know you’ve got money, they all want one thing from you.”
“And I’m guessing it’s not your hops?”
“Nope. Everybody wants a payday, a piece of you. When you’ve got money you can’t trust anyone.”
She shook her head. “Especially if you’re famous. I do well with my medical business, but it’s not the same.”
I stood corrected. Damn, I needed this girl. She brought me back down to Earth.
Taking her hand across the table, I held it, the warmth of her skin felt so good in my hand that for a moment I forgot all the outside pressures, the untrustworthy people and the users in the world. Everything else melted away and it was just me and Eden, who’d known me when I was a boy. The girl who was my friend before I became a household name or signed my first contract for millions. When it was just us blowing bubbles during the hot summer days and chasing fireflies at night.