“So, Tig, huh?
“Yes, ma’am.” He waited a few beats while he twirled her around, and then said, “There’s not many appropriate nicknames for Antigone.”
“Your legal name is Antigone?” Charlotte’s brow furrowed and Tig threw his head back and laughed.
“No, that’s not my given name. The name on my birth certificate is Trevor, but no one calls me that except my mama.”
Charlotte swatted him lightly. “You are a goof.”
Tig spun her again and when he had her back in his arms, he held her a little bit firmer, a little bit closer to him, and Charlotte did not mind at all.
“I prefer to think of myself as a goober.”
“So why ‘Tig’?”
Tig cleared his throat and licked his lips. “Because I have a tendency to bounce.”
Charlotte frowned again, and Tig’s face softened as he touched a piece of hair that had escaped from her ponytail. That small change of expression made him seem much younger, but his light blue eyes still seemed to belong on a much older man.
“How old are you?”
Tig looked uncomfortable. “How old do you think I am?”
“I honestly have no idea. When I first saw you, I thought you were really young, like barely out of high school.”
“Well, thank you for the ego boost, sweetheart,” he grinned. “I’m twenty-nine.”
“Oh.” Oh God.
“And how old are you, Miss Charlotte?”
Charlotte squirmed a bit in his embrace, prompting Tig to loosen his hold on her just a bit.
“Oh, no, don’t let me go.” Charlotte’s eyes widened at her blurted confession. Tig huffed a small laugh, but pulled her closer again. “I’m thirty-five, almost thirty-six, by the way.”
“Like within twelve hours almost. Tomorrow’s my birthday.”
“Well, happy birthday, Charlotte,” Tig whispered in her ear as he dipped her low, one strong arm holding her securely behind her back, the other hand hovering above her thigh as if he wanted to grab at it.
He did not, but he did squeeze her the tiniest bit as he pulled her back to standing. Tig spun her again as the song ended, and Charlotte used her birthday wish for at least one more slow song.
The strains of Buddy Holly began playing over the sound system. Tig held Charlotte firmly but gently in his arms and she had an insane urge to pull him down to her and kiss him for all she was worth.
That lopsided grin appeared on his lips again, and he asked, “What in the world are you thinking?”
Charlotte flushed and cursed her lack of poker face, which made Tig smile even wider as they waltzed around the dance floor.
“Winnie the Pooh. That’s where I got my nickname. When I was little and driving my mama nuts, she enrolled me in a tumbling class because I was always climbing on shit and rolling around. One day during class, I was watching some of the older kids, and got it in my head that I could do an aerial from the top of a big balance beam.”
“An aerial? Like one of those cartwheels with no hands?” Charlotte interrupted.
“Exactly. And from the full size beam, which is four feet off the floor.”
“Oh my Lord, Tig.”
“Yeah. Of course, it wasn’t successful, and I’m lucky I didn’t break my neck. Afterwards, the coach compared me to Tigger–you know, ‘top made of rubber, bottom made of springs’–because I essentially bounced off my head and landed on my feet and was off again. The name just stuck.”
“I bet you were constantly giving your mother fits, weren’t you?”
Tig shrugged a shoulder, but his little grin told Charlotte the truth.
He cocked his head to the side and looked like he was getting ready to ask her something when the band returned to the stage and started in with another fast paced song. Tig quirked an eyebrow at Charlotte and she grinned and grasped his hand.
The two of them danced until the band finished for the night and then continued when a DJ took over, only stopping once to each down a bottle of water before beginning again. At one point, the two garnered such attention as to have a dancers’ circle form around them and a round of applause when the song finished.
And when the lights came on at the end of the evening, they stood and looked at each other, both breathing heavily and grinning.