Thanks For Last Night by Lauren Blakely



That, and she’s made a resolution to stop saying her catchphrase, claiming it was going to get her in trouble at work. It’s been a blast trying to trip her up, but she’s a tough one to crack.

Like now, when she shoots me a saucy grin and resists with a shake of her head. “I’m not going to touch that one with a ten-foot pole.”

“Are you sure?” I say, egging her on. “A ten-foot pole might be fun—with the right person.”

“You two and your innuendos,” Bryn puts in. “Grab a table while we snag some beer, okay?”

“Will do,” I say as the lovebirds go place our orders.

Teagan and I snag a high top, while a familiar voice fills the bar with a mostly in-tune warble. On the low stage by the karaoke setup, my teammate Fitz belts out “The Time of My Life” in a duet with Summer, Logan’s twin sister.

Huh.

They’re not too shabby, but still deserve ribbing.

“Way to go, Kenny and Dolly,” I shout.

“Donny and Marie have nothing on you two,” Teagan seconds. Leaning toward me, she echoes my thoughts too, saying, “They’re not half bad.”

“Yeah, I know. Hidden talent, maybe?”

“I’m convinced everyone has one,” she says, and there’s some truth to that. I suppose we all have something we’re good at.

We watch them for a little longer. Fitz pretends he’s singing the love song to Summer, but he keeps making eyes at his fiancé, Dean, who moved here from London last year. Dean’s a few tables away with his friend Leo, laughing. It’s some kind of private joke, I’m guessing, since Dean and Fitz have plenty of those.

Good for them. They’re also ridiculously in love. All around me, every-damn-where, my band of brothers is toppling. Single soldiers have become fallen warriors, losing their minds to the siren call of love, leaving me the last man standing.

Well, I’ve already been there, done that, have the battle scars to prove it. I have no desire to repeat the experience.

But having fun? Bring it on. Light and easy? That fits with one of the top-tier items on my do-and-don’t list. Do be more chill.

“Best karaoke duet ever?” I toss the question to Teagan, staying on the train I like to travel with her.

She stares at the ceiling, brow furrowed, lips pursed. “‘Endless Love’ is pretty good.”

“For the cheese factor, right?”

“Of course. So much cheese, you could make a sandwich.”

“‘Endless Love’ is pure cheddar. But ‘Islands in the Stream’ is a classic duet too. A little schmaltzy, but easy for mere mortals to sing.”

She nods, eagerly agreeing. “Unlike, say, ‘Shallow.’ Why do people even attempt to duet that song?”

I hold up stop-sign palms. “Don’t look at me. I would never attempt to follow Gaga and Cooper.”

“Those are some words to live by.” She snaps her fingers, eyes lighting up. “I’ve got it! ‘Summer Nights.’ That’s the best karaoke duet ever.”

I sing, ask her to “tell me more, tell me more,” and she shimmies her shoulders, providing the harmony.

“We’re a good duo,” she says. “Maybe that’s our hidden talent.”

I narrow my eyes. “Don’t think you can trick me into being your teammate. You and I—we are competitors. And I still have a laser-tag score to settle with you.”

“Good luck with that.”

When the tune ends, Summer and Fitz leave the stage, Summer going to join her husband, Oliver, who’s chatting with Dean, while Fitz makes a beeline for our table, pointing at me, eyes furious. “I heard the news. You choked in the arena,” Fitz says, shaking his head in disappointment. “You brought our team down.”

I shoot him a what gives look. “Dude, you were eliminated in the first round today. You’ve been out here singing ‘Electric Avenue’ for the last thirty minutes.”

He fires off an indignant look. “I did not sing ‘Electric Avenue.’ I would never sing ‘Electric Avenue.’”

“Guys, stop mentioning ‘Electric Avenue,’” Teagan chimes in, covering her ears for a second. “You’re going to give me an earworm.”

“Exactly,” I say to Fitz. “Now you’ll have T’s earworm on your conscience, along with how you did nothing for our team. I was the only reason we lasted that long.”