When Whiskey Stops Working #6
“This one’s on me.” The man who’s been trying to catch my eye for the past twenty minutes covers my hand with his and waves down the bartender.
“Thanks, but I’ve got it.”
“No, really.” He gently squeezes my fingers for a second then releases his grip. “I insist.”
When the cute bartender with a black ponytail and bright baby blues appears in front of me, I roll my eyes and give him a slight nod. He glances at the dude next to me and winks before sliding another glass of Jameson across the bar. “Here ya go.”
I almost wink back before catching myself. This guy is just working for his next tip. With a tip of my glass to the man beside me, I force a smile then take a long swallow. Tonight, I can be normal. I can pretend my life isn’t crumbling around me. I can be a regular customer in a bar, half-heartedly watching the Broncos get their asses whooped.
“Thanks,” I say after setting the glass down on the shiny bar.
“Sure.” He takes a draw from his beer without turning away from me. I can feel his stare burning a hole into the side of my face and it’s getting real old, real fast. “So, what’s your name?”
“Cooper.” No one ever accused me of being loquacious. And if they did, that was a long time ago.
Despite the heat from his gaze on my stubbled cheek, I don’t bother turning toward him. After another thirty seconds of silence, he holds his hand out in front of me. “I’m Ted.”
“Look.” I huff out a breath and lean back from the bar. “It’s good to meet you, Ted, but I’ve had a long day and I just want to sit here and watch the game.”
“Yeah, yeah.” He nods and shoves a plate of nachos toward me. “Of course. You just looked like you could use a friend.”
Yeah, that’s the understatement of the year. Drake is my best friend in the world, but he’s busy saving our company and rebuilding his own damn life. He doesn’t have time for me. Not that I want him to make time. Whenever he reaches out, I find excuses to avoid him.
It’s too hard to watch him put his life back together so easily while mine is cracking and splintering at every end.
I chuckle under my breath. “Yeah, well, that's part of the reason I just want a quiet night, you know.”
I look him in the eye, imploring him to understand what I'm saying.
“Yeah, of course, man.” He turns to his own beer, and I'm grateful for the peace. Unfortunately, that only lasts for a few more minutes. As soon as the Niners get another touchdown, he turns to me. “Looks like tonight isn’t the night to be drowning yourself in a game.”
I pretend not to hear him and keep my eyes locked on the screen mounted high on the wall.
“I don't know if they're just cocky from last year's championship or what, but those guys look like a bunch of idiots out there.”
The bartender appears, saving me from saying what I want to say to Ted. “Anything else?”
I spin around on the barstool and look out at the tables. Most have groups sitting at them but a few just have a single guy staring at the TV or his phone. Nowhere for me to escape. “Yeah, I'll have one more.”
The hot burn of my liquid best friend helps to cool my annoyance at the bothersome dude sitting beside me. He continues with his one liners and annoying groans throughout the game…but it’s easy to ignore him with my mind starting to fog. The only thing I know for sure is my bartender, Jet, according to the customers that have approached him by name, seems to be amused by Ted’s interest in me.
I’m not amused in the least, but if it makes Jet smile wide enough for that dimple under his eye to appear, then I can tolerate him for another few minutes.
The Broncos lose as expected, and I lift my arms up above my shoulder to stretch. My back is killing me from the tension I'm carrying all the time.
“Can I close out?” I ask Jet when he walks past me. I try to keep my eyes on his dimple, but I can’t stop from glancing at his mouth now and then.
“Sure thing.” He turns to the register and my eyes immediately lock on his round ass. He’s wearing tiny booty shorts that display his perfectly shaped muscles. The kind of muscles that could milk me dry without any effort at all.
My gaze is still locked below his waist when he turns around. It takes me a second to realize I’m now staring at his crotch…and he’s watching me stare at his crotch. With a casual shake of my head, I redirect my eyes to the receipt he’s placed in front of me. Fifty-six bucks in whiskey and that’s not counting whatever Ted bought. How many does that make?
Five? Six? More?
Doesn’t matter. All that matters is the guilt is at bay and my smile is less forced as I do finally wink at the gorgeous bartender before standing up. “I’ll see ya around.”
“Hey, can I call you a cab?”
I shake my head and wave without turning back. “I’m good.”
Once my Uber has been ordered, I stand at the corner and breathe in the fresh air. Denver is beautiful in late spring and the cool breeze feels good on my flushed skin. Fortunately, Cedric, my driver, arrives in a white Malibu before the crisp air kills my buzz. I’m gonna need a foggy head if I have any hope of sleeping tonight.