I’m saved from further conversation with Emmalee by a boisterous group of girls filing in. Dressed to kill in stilettos and short skirts, they surround a tall, slim girl with a veil on her head. The addition of condoms to the veil is a nice touch. They remind me of my best friend’s bachelorette party. It seems like a lifetime ago, but it was only last year. One of them begins squealing and taking pictures. I’m no longer reminded of my friends. Why do girls do that screechy thing? Don’t they realize it’s annoying?
Single Ladies. This can go one of two ways. Either the girls will keep to themselves, drinking and reminiscing or they’ll get drunk and want to turn the bar into a dance floor. I really hope they’re the first type.
Casanova catches my eye again and smiles, sending little flutters through my belly. What the hell? I am getting annoyed with myself; I haven’t acted this idiotic about a guy since high school. I’ve been around good-looking guys before. Hell, there’s a new one in here almost every night. So what is it about this one?
I tentatively smile back, if nothing else, to be polite to a customer. He notices the bachelorette party and a quick rush of jealousy hits me. Well, it didn’t take him long to move his interest elsewhere. Thank heavens for men with short attention spans. Mentally kicking myself for caring, I start to wipe down the bar. I don’t even know the guy! Why should I care whom he looks at for his next conquest? It won’t be me.
Hands close over my eyes and a whisper rustles the hair near my ear.
I elbow John playfully. “Finally, you’re here. Go get the Single Ladies’ orders, would ya?”
“Yes, ma’am.” He salutes me, used to my reference to customers by song titles. “Geez. I just walked in and already you’re ordering me around.”
“That’s because I’m older than you. And I’m the boss.” He’s only five years younger than me, but I lord it over him as though I’m older by decades.
“Yeah, I know. I like it that way.” His dimples show when he grins. He’s a good-looking guy and should do really well with the girls – and some of the guys, too – tonight. It never fails. Between his dark hair, blue eyes, and dimpled smile, they swoon—whether they’ve been drinking or not.
I snort. “Just go.”
New customers trickle in as the hour grows later. Adam’s on his fifth JD and Coke, and pretty soon I’m going to have to cut him off. I hate doing that.
Emmalee is drinking slowly, probably because she’s been out of her seat more than she’s been in it. It’s more difficult to sip a cocktail when you’re constantly talking on the phone, I suppose.
The busy atmosphere helps me regain some sort of composure around Casanova. This is my territory. I own this bar. My confidence builds as I take orders and mix drinks. I don’t know why I let him get to me in the first place. He’s just a guy. I handle guys all the time. I even flirt with them, usually. Maybe that’s the problem. I’m too on guard with this one.
Of course, it helps that John has been taking his orders while he hangs around the Single Ladies. It’s for the best, as it keeps both of them out of my hair.
A middle-aged woman comes to the bar, sliding onto the barstool in a practiced maneuver. Her hair is dark, maybe a chestnut or auburn. It’s hard to tell in the low lighting. She’s fit and dressed in tight jeans and a wrap-around, sleeveless top. If she leans over just a bit more, she’ll spill right out. I fight the urge to check my own shirt. She makes eye contact with me briefly, but looks away.
“What can I get you?”
She doesn’t answer me, but starts licking her lips. I follow her gaze and see John wiping down a table. His white t-shirt stretches over his flexing biceps, contrasting with his tanned skin. He’s definitely sexy, but it’s not just his looks. His personality enhances his sexy quotient. Luckily for me, I’ve been able to file him into the younger brother category. Things could get dicey otherwise. Still, he’s my sunshine, my No Rain. He has a knack for pulling my mood out of a funk and I can never stay mad at him.
I walk over to him to whisper, “You’ve got an admirer.”
Looking up, he grins. “Yeah, I know. She asked me for my number already. I was a little surprised, considering she’s getting married next week.”
“Oh, I’m not talking about the bachelorette.”
A wink is my only answer.
“You’ll find out soon enough. Just come back to the bar when you’re done.”
I serve a few more drinks and when I get the chance, I wander over to Adam. The drinks he’s been downing seem to be accelerating his descent into melancholy.
“It’s busy in here, tonight, huh?”
“Well, you’re usually in here for happy hour after work. Saturdays are a tad busier.”
He chuckles, but it’s rueful. “Yeah, I s’pose so.”
“So what are you in here on a Saturday for, anyway?” I ask, trying to keep my tone light.
Unfortunately, my tone does not keep his face from falling again. He stares into his empty glass, and the silence grows until I think he’s forgotten the question. Or chosen not to answer.
I don’t want to stand there and hover, so I look down the bar to see if anyone else needs a drink.
“I think my wife is cheating on me.”