Finn grabbed his beer bottle and glanced at Chelsea. “I don’t know about you, but I need some Dutch courage.”
“I’m with you.” She took several swallows. “Okay, let’s do this thing.”
Finn didn’t feel ready, but Chelsea was on her feet. He pushed back his chair. “I don’t know a lot about dancing, but that looks like what they call country swing. It’s fairly popular around here.”
“Whatever you say. I’m pretty much clueless.” Chelsea studied the participants. “Lots of twirling and fancy footwork. But we might be able to fake it.”
“My specialty is standing in one spot and shuffling around.”
“That’s not going to work, Finn. They’ll run you over.”
“Should we reconsider? After all, you do have on sandals. If I don’t squash your toes I’m liable to place you in serious danger from somebody else. We could sit and drink beer, instead.”
“No, we need to try it. Maybe if we spin around a lot nobody will notice we don’t know what we’re doing.”
Finn sucked in a breath. “All right. Let’s go.” At the edge of the dance floor he grabbed Chelsea and began madly twirling her around the perimeter. He stepped on her a couple of times, but she didn’t yell so it must not have hurt too much.
On his second circuit, Jack showed up beside them and grabbed his shoulder hard enough to stop the twirling. “What the hell is that you’re doing?”
Finn decided to brave it out. “The same thing you’re doing.”
“I think not.” He gently set Chelsea aside. “Stay right here, sweetheart. I’ll bring him back in a few minutes.”
“Hang on.” Finn stepped back, both hands raised. “Whatever you have in mind, I’m not doing it.”
“Work with me, O’Roarke.” Jack grasped his hand.
Finn pulled free. “I’m not dancing with you, Jack.”
“You weren’t dancing with Chelsea, either. You have two choices. You can continue to look like an idiot out on the floor or you can let me give you a quick lesson.”
“Three choices. I can head back to the table and drink.”
“You’re a quitter? Is that what you’re saying? I didn’t peg you for a quitter.”
Those were the magic words. Finn sighed. “Tell me what to do.”
“That’s better. Put your hand around my waist. Pretend I’m Chelsea.”
“She doesn’t have a five o’clock shadow.”
“And she has way fancier hair and I’m sure she smells better, too. Just focus on what I’m telling you. The idea is to describe a box with your feet and turn at the same time. Now go.”
“You do realize this will look ridiculous.”
“It’s no worse than the hot mess you were a bit ago. Come on, now, you built your own business. That takes cojones. This is just a little dancing.”
Finn could have used more beer, but if Jack was willing to make a fool of himself, then, what the hell? Might as well go along. Good thing nobody he knew was here except Chelsea. Having her watch was bad enough, but at least she’d admitted that she wasn’t very good, either.
Then he caught movement on the far side of the dance floor and realized Josie was dancing with Chelsea. “Hey! Your wife is dancing with my…” He trailed off, unable to come up with a proper title for her.
“Your what?” Jack exerted pressure on Finn’s shoulder to keep him moving in the right direction. “I’m no expert, but I feel a vibe between you two.”
“She’s my business associate.”
“Yeah, and I’m Elvis. Tell me another one. And lead with your other foot. There. That’s better. Good.”
“I can’t believe I’m doing this.”
“Anybody who owns a hat like yours should be able to dance the two-step. I think you have the basics. Josie’s coming around again with your business associate. We’ll trade partners.”
And just like that, Jack thrust him into Chelsea’s arms and the momentum kept them moving around the floor. Miraculously, they were even doing it in a synchronized fashion. “I’m not sure what just happened.”
“I think it was the fastest dancing lesson in history.”
“Embarrassing as it is to admit, Jack’s a good teacher.”
“Josie said he’s considered the dancing master at the Last Chance. He’s working with the kids now so that they’ll grow up knowing how.”
“You were right that it’s an important skill around here. And believe it or not, we might be actually doing it. More or less. Sort of.”
“We might.” She smiled as she gazed up at him. “I can’t remember the last time I’ve had so much fun.”
“You know what? Me, either.” He wanted to tell her that she was the most beautiful woman in the world, but instead he twirled her around one more time and the music ended.
He was comforted knowing that she wasn’t any more accomplished than he was, but that wasn’t the only reason he liked dancing with her. He’d discovered how much he loved holding her.
She felt so right cradled in his arms. He should have guessed that she would. The warmth in her eyes told him she felt the same way. This trip was designed to deliver a Hail Mary pass that would clinch the Kickstarter project and save the ranch. No small potatoes, there. But already it felt as if even more was at stake.