Tommy realized the audience had fallen below that safety threshold of quiet. If he didn't say something in the next two seconds, he would lose them. What was wrong with him, letting his thoughts wander? Usually he was able to send his mind in multiple directions at once without the slightest difficulty or flub. Maybe he was more worried about Claire than he thought? Or nervous about the handicap awareness campaign? Or his upcoming interview with a major magazine? Or maybe all three combined?
The tall, slim Amazon sitting at the front table on the far right end of the curve of tables caught his gaze again. Tommy had been watching her, trying to figure out what she was up to. If she was trying to steal his routine for another comedian, she wouldn't have that notepad on the table in front of her in full view -- she would have a microphone aimed at him, to record every nuance, and it wouldn't be visible. Other than the fact she was a good head taller than most of the people around her, she didn't really stand out. Dressed casually: jeans, lacy blouse and blazer. Not that he knew much about fashion, but he thought the blazer was just a little too warm for mid-September. Every time Tommy met her gaze, she smiled at him, and sometimes even winked. He was used to girls flirting with him, but that usually stopped when they got close enough to see over or around the table or half-wall that hid him, and they saw his wheelchair. Sitting up on stage where everybody could see his natural four-wheel drive, except maybe for people in the last two rows, there was no way she couldn't notice. So what was she up to?
"Hey, babe." He winked and leaned in her direction, waggling his eyebrows. The best way to deal with fear was to attack it head-on. The little follow spot that the manager rarely used when Tommy was on stage, just because he didn't harass the audience like most comedians, slid over to light up the girl in profile. She flushed red. His equilibrium slid back into place. "Whaddaya say we go drag-racing after I get finished with this set?"Everyone roared, including the girl. She shook her head and made a shooing motion with the hand not holding the pen. Tommy considered making a quip about her taking notes, but tossed it before the thought was solid in his mind.