The Anchor excerpt: “Do I know you?” she asked.
The fellow grinned as he eased himself into the side of the booth opposite her. Jen started to protest, then remained quiet.
After all, he could have taken her query as a vague invitation to join her, and if he tried anything, the bar held more than enough people that he wouldn’t get very far.
“Kind of,” he said, leaning back in the most non-threatening possible posture. “We met a couple of weeks ago, but only for a few minutes.”
Like most news people, Jen had been forced over the years to train her mind until it resembled a filing cabinet. Without willing it, she flicked in her memory back to the approximate time he’d mentioned, and sure enough, the time and place jumped into her head.
“You were at the station. For the Meet the Team night.”
He grinned again, broader this time.
Jen held her hand halfway up, palm out.
“Give me a minute,” she said. “It’s . . . Brian?”
“Pretty close. Brad. But that’s not bad, considering how many people you must meet in a day, let alone a week.”
Jen’s creep meter amped up another notch.
“Well, Brad, thanks for snagging the bar’s attention for me, but if it’s all the same to you, I’ve had a bit of a rough day and would just as rather –”
“Christ,” he said, jerking to the side and out of the booth so abruptly that he sloshed his beer on the table, “give me the award for most clueless guy around.”
“You’re imagining I engineered this, right? That I’m angling for something and just ‘happened’ to run into you to –”
“No way.” Though she had been thinking exactly that. “After all,” she swiveled her gaze around Pascoe’s interior, “it’s not exactly like this place is off the beaten path.”
Creep Management 101. Give them a graceful way to exit.
“Maybe not, but even so, this must look a little stalkerish to you.”
Jen didn’t say anything but smiled and raised her glass to take a sip.
“I did spot who you were,” he continued, “but honestly, all I wanted to do was say hello. You must get that a lot, huh?”
“Not nearly enough,” she said, lying through her teeth. “But nice of you anyway. And I’m sorry, but I don’t remember your last name.”
“Lengley. Brad Lengley.”
“Well, Brad. Thanks again for coming to my rescue, but it really has been a long day.”
The second course of creep management. Worm their full name out of them and make sure they knew that you knew their name.
In other words, you could pass it on to someone if you had to.
“Glad to be of help,” Lengley said. “Have a good evening.”
Jen smiled again, nodded, and the young man walked off.
As far as she knew, the guy could have been sincere. However, Rob Hendricks had stressed to her more than once, no doubt from experience, that it didn’t usually work out too well to get involved with fans. Besides, she thought as she nursed her last drink for the night, she had professional problems to worry about.