Did he just say his wife is cheating on him? I’m not sure, so I just look attentive and say nothing. I learned long ago, when people want to talk about something, it’s best to just listen.
“She’s been going out more often with her friends and staying out real late. I guess I can’t blame her, when I spend most days here, but by the time I get home, there’s a note telling me that she’s gone out again.” He shakes his head as though trying to clear it. “Can I get some water?”
“Sure, hon.” I nod in empathy and pick up the soda gun to fill a tall glass with water. “Anything else I can get you?”
He laughs, a short bark, and stands. “Nah. Thanks, Luce. I’ll be right back.”
I lean against the bar, watching him make his way to the restrooms. Poor guy.
“Do you stay until the bar closes?” A deep voice to my left. It’s him. How did I miss him wandering away from the girls getting plastered in the corner?
“Every night.” Short, to the point. Make this conversation end.
“Every night? Don’t you get a day off?”
“I do when the bar is closed, on Sundays.”
“Wow, your boss must be a hardass.”
I barely keep from smiling and nod toward his empty glass. “Do you need another beer?”
It’s an excuse to get away from him, and a transparent one at that. He knows it. I know it. But I’m still gonna use it. Lucky for me, the tap is at the other end of the bar.
There’s no time for me to stay and chat after I hand him his drink. More customers have filed in and need to be taken care of. My relief is damn near palpable.
John stays to help with the influx of orders. I love it when this place gets packed. Not just because I’ll make more money, but because it’s invigorating. Some people use drugs, some people go skydiving, some people even cut themselves—all to feel alive. But me? This is all I need. A packed house. Strange, I’m sure, but there it is.
I’m a people person, and I know how to work a crowd. A wink here, a smile there…but efficiency is key. Wink all you want, but if he doesn’t get his drink fast, you’re not getting a good tip. I’m in my element. Except tonight, when Casanova came in. When he looks at me, I get clumsy, which affects my confidence. Turning my attention back to all the hot guys at the bar waiting for their drinks, I banish Casanova from my mind.
The next hour is a blur, filled with drink orders, harmless flirting, and jockeying over bar space with John.
“Hey, what’s with that guy?”
I shake the Margarita in my hand. “What guy?”
He looks over to the pool table and I follow his gaze. Oh. That guy. Casanova, again. Why can’t I get away from him tonight? I’ve never seen him before and I’m never going to see him again.
“He was asking about you before. I think one of the girls in the bachelorette party was miffed about it.”
“What was he asking?”
“Your name, relationship status, astrological sign…”
I roll my eyes and he trots off to hand the middle-aged woman her change. Her eyes devour him and he’s oblivious. Hello, Mrs. Robinson. He’ll figure it out, eventually. It should be fun to watch.
“Seriously, he was pretty subtle, but I could tell he’s interested.” John stops before me. “Are you?”
“Am I what?”
“Are you interested in him?”
“What are we, in high school?” Brushing past him, I walk to the wine cooler under the bar to pull out a bottle of chardonnay. “Will you bring him a note in study hall?” My eyelashes flutter and I paste a hopeful expression on my face.
John’s not amused and hurls a wet dishrag at my head. After I catch it and casually toss it into the sink, I turn serious. “Casanova will have to find some other chick to pick up. I’m not into one-night stands.”
Now John really isn’t amused. “Did he suggest you were?”
“Down, boy. He didn’t say anything like that. I can just tell his type. Besides, you have your own secret admirer to worry about.”
I walk away before John’s face gets redder, but I don’t get far. A hand reaches out and grabs my elbow.