Toward the end of the shift, when the orders from the waitresses had slowed to a trickle and the cleaning up of the kitchen had begun, J.T. picked a CD and slipped it into the CD player the cooks kept on top of a reach-in refrigerator.
He cranked the volume to seven and hit Play. Offspring doing "Bad Habit." It was one of the kitchen staff standards. They favored seriously hard-edged rock at the end of a tough night. The worse the night, the wilder the music.
Skeet, one of the other cooks, heard the opening bars and gave J.T. a wink. "It wasn't that bad of a night," she said.
"Oh, Skeet, you think every night is a Melissa Etheridge night," J.T. teased. He waltzed over, took Skeet by the waist, and drew her into a completely incongruous dance, as if they were keeping time to a different piece of music. "First time you've danced with a guy, Skeet?"
"No, only I prefer guys with some idea of rhythm," Skeet said.
J.T. released her, laughing. "Come on, Tom," he said, inviting the fry cook to dance. "Let's go."
"Yeah, when pigs fly," Tom said.
"No one wants to dance," J.T. complained. Then he spotted Lianne coming through the swinging doors. "Lianne! Dance with me." He snapped his fingers. "I got dancin' feet."
"Dance to this?" Lianne said, turning up her nose.
"Skeet! Stick in Rihanna," J.T. ordered. Seconds later Rihanna came on. But still Lianne refused.
"J.T., you're at work," she said. She gave him a peck on the cheek and went back to the dining room just as Marquez passed through the door.
J.T. retreated a bit, stepping back behind the line and pretending to go back to work. Marquez started to do side work, dipping tartar sauce into little plastic cups, but J.T. knew her too well to think she could ignore the music. Within seconds he could see the effect-- a motion beginning with her head, swaying just slightly at first, translated down her neck to her shoulders, her bottom, her legs, topped off by a little twirl with the tartar sauce spoon still in her hand.
J.T. smiled ruefully. The future Harvard girl. The future corporate lawyer.
There wasn't anything wrong in dancing with his former girlfriend, was there? After all, a moment earlier he'd been dancing with Skeet. He'd even asked Tom, although the fry cook was unlikely to be seen as a threat by Lianne. No, he should stick to his work.
Marquez was now dancing far more than she was filling cups of tartar sauce.
J.T. whipped off his apron. Screw it. He had dancin' feet. What was he supposed to do?
He took the spoon from Marquez and set it down.
"Crank it, Skeet," he said.
By the time Lianne reappeared in the kitchen, Marquez was up on the stainless steel counter, hands in the air over her head, hips thrusting, hair loose and flying, doing death-defying moves. J.T. was dancing more sedately below her, choosing to keep his feet on the ground.
"Is this really--" Lianne began, but the music drowned her out.
She caught J.T.'s eye. He gave her a wan grin and tried to draw her into the moment. But Lianne just looked angry and hurt.
Katherine Applegate (Beach Blondes: June Dreams / July's Promise / August Magic (Summer, #1-3))