For at least the twentieth time in the last half hour my phone starts to ring. It’s Jessica again. I’m sure after her it’ll be Tara or Hadley or Dawn. Right now I’m just happy Amelia is in New Orleans. I really don’t need her shoulder to cry on. She’s never been the commitment type, plus she warned me when I got involved with Alcide that it was a mistake.
Of course I thought she was crazy. Alcide Herveaux comes from a good family and he’s got a reliable, trusted family business he’s running since his father retired two years ago. I fell for his southern manners and gentlemanly approach to dating. After a string of boyfriends who treated me like shit in one way or another, Alcide seemed like just what I needed. Polite, kind, witty, charming and smart… all qualities that kept my interest.
I knew before he even asked me out about his ex-girlfriend Debbie. I’d met him when he brought her into the patisserie I work at to try out wedding cakes. Lala’s is a popular bakery downtown. I never went to culinary school but I’ve always had a flair for baking and it turns out I’m a bad ass cake decorator too. Duff Goldman ain’t got nothing on me. The day Alcide and Debbie came in they ended up arguing over the type of cake, the shape, the fillings… It was a disaster that ended when Debbie poured hot coffee on him.
A month later Alcide came back to Lala’s for an assortment of donuts, muffins and bagels. I found out that he and Debbie had called off the wedding and she had moved out of the apartment they had been sharing for the last eight years on and off. He came back for some sort of pastry every day for another month before he finally asked me out. Amelia warned me that it was never truly over between Alcide and Debbie but after the things he said and the irrational behavior I’d witnessed with my own two eyes, I figured there was no way in hell that Alcide would ever take her back.
I was wrong.
We only dated for five months but it was long enough for feelings to grow and I really thought we were going somewhere good. It’s been a little more than a week since I found out the hard way that he was giving Debbie another chance. I’ve gone to work, done my errands and that’s about all. I know why the girls are calling but I’m not sure if I’m ready to go out just yet.
My phone goes off again and it’s Hadley. They’re persistent bitches, I’ll give them that. If I don’t answer they’ll just show up here. I grab my phone and send out a group text to let Jess, Tara, Hadley and Dawn know that I’ll be at a bar two blocks from my apartment called the Iron Horse at eight. That should get them off my dick for a few minutes.
While I’m going through my closet in search of my favorite plum colored mini dress the buzzer on my apartment security system goes off. I smile at the pattern of beeps since Jess is the only one who does that. I’ve decided that even if my nincompoop of a brother doesn’t put a ring on it Jess is still my sister from another mister. So I go to the panel and push the button to let her in. I live on the fifth floor of a new condo building less than a mile away from work.
I find the dress and haul ass to the door when Jessica knocks. She has gorgeous red hair and long limbs. At the moment she’s stuffed into skinny jeans and a top that displays her ample cleavage. Not too surprisingly, she’s wearing flats and her hair is curled beautifully. If I’m being honest, I’m a little envious of her flawless skin, pale as it is.
“Hey Red,” I smile and step back to let her in. “I’m guessing you were on your way to kidnap me if I didn’t come willingly?”
“Yep,” she smiles, popping the P. “Looks like my services were not needed, but I’ll be your DD anyway.”
She’s a good friend.
“Awww but I like making Jase earn his paycheck,” I pout. My brother works for the sheriff’s office. He met Jess when he pulled her over for failure to stop and when he “frisked” her; he ended up giving her his number. Leave it to my brother to pull that shit and get a date out of it.
“As fun as that is, I plan on getting you ‘bad life choices’ drunk tonight. He doesn’t need to see that.”
“Oh he’s seen it,” I snicker. “Who do you think was pouring the shots of Crown after Bill?”
Bill Compton, the cheating womanizer who seemed to think that because we were living together and shared a bed that he was entitled to sex anytime he wanted it. He was wrong and there’s a police report in Mississippi that I filed after saying no wasn’t enough to get him to stop. Of course the police claimed they investigated it but after a phone call from Bill’s prosecutor cousin, any charges that may have been filed were thrown out. I still want to slash Portia’s tires for that.
I lead Jessica back to my bedroom and peel off my clothes. I find a thong to wear under my dress and go to the bathroom to finish changing. We’re close but not so close that she wants to see my hooha.
“So Tara found a sitter for the terrors?” Her twins are six and they’re terrible little shits. I shouldn’t hate children but I can’t stand Robbie and Sarah. They’re just awful and it’s all Tara’s fault. She doesn’t believe in saying no to her children.
I hope she believes in saving bail money.
“Yeah, her neighbor reluctantly agreed,” Jess snickers.
“She’s gotta do something about those beasts. Losing JB wasn’t enough, apparently, but I told her I don’t want them in my home anymore,” I tell Jessica. That was an awkward conversation but one of the twins managed to break the heel on a pair of $350 pumps. I was livid when I found the shoe poorly hidden under my dresser.
“Now you know why I’ve never invited them over,” she sighs. “I’d murder them if they broke any of my things.”
“She’s lucky I agreed to be their godmother before I knew they were going to grow up to be demons.” I take off my bra and panties before putting on the thong and the dress.
“You can’t revoke that now?” she snorts.
“I wish,” I snort. I open the bathroom door. “Hair up or down?”
“Down. Bring a hair tie in case you get hot though.”
“Or someone slips me vodka,” I snicker. Vodka and I aren’t friends ever since my twenty-ninth birthday.
“I’ll make sure no vodka.”
“That’s what friends are for,” she smiles. “I’ll also make sure I get the hottest guy in the bar to buy your drinks all night,” she laughs.
“I’m not even worried about it. I don’t need a new man right now. Seriously, I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up a crazy cat lady.”
“Oh, I’m sure you are too. I just think it’ll be fun,” she shrugs.
I put on some makeup for a change and make sure I have an elastic band around my wrist for my hair. More often than not it’s wound up in a knot or a bun, hiding under a kerchief that belonged to my Gran. In my ginormous walk-in closet I locate my thigh high boots and Jessica gives me the hairy eyeball when I walk out of the closet wearing them. My dress is short enough that three inches of thigh is showing between the skirt and the boots.
“What?” I ask as I put in my diamond hoop earrings.
“You’re like… over six foot right now. I hate it when you do that,” she tells me. Jess is five-foot-seven and rarely wears heels.
“So borrow shoes,” I shrug. Finally someone else I know wears an eleven.
“No, I don’t want to fall on my ass,” she says.
“Then quit your bitchin’, Shortstack.” I grab a few silver bangles from my jewelry box and layer them on my left wrist.
“Just hurry up. I’m sure the girls are already there, two drinks in by now.”
“Well in Tara’s defense it’s amazing she’s not constantly drunk.” I grab my purse and phone off my bed. Jessica follows me out of the bedroom and down the hall to the front door.
I lock up behind us and we ride down in the elevator together to get to the underground garage. We find her pretty, pearly white SUV parked in the visitor’s area and I get in on the passenger’s side. Normally I’d walk to the Iron Horse but I don’t know if I’ll be in any kind of condition for that. Besides, Jess will make sure I get home. Hadley and Tara have kids so there are dozens of reasons for them to take off without warning. Dawn is easily distracted by anything in a popped collar and drowning in Axe bodyspray.
The bar is busy when we get there but not so busy we can’t get in. They only play country music until about an hour before closing time and the switch to LMFAO is a signal to the regulars to GTFO.
It’s not a surprise when I spot Dawn already dancing with some scrawny guy. He’s got strawberry blonde hair, heavier on the blonde than the strawberry. He’s wearing jeans and a flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. There’s something kind about him though; I can see it as we pass by.
“You go find the girls and I’ll get us drinks!” I yell over Florida Georgia Line’s newest hit.
“Okay!” she yells back.
I watch her disappear into the crowd and make my way to the bar. The line is easily two deep but nice tits will get me faster service and through the line faster. It takes a few minutes but I finally make my way to the bar just as the song changes to an old Conway Twitty song starts that I’m sure causes Jessica to ovulate. Just thinking of that makes me laugh, seeing as she was only five when he died.
Regardless of that, I’m not really paying attention to what’s going on behind the bar until a vaguely familiar voice gets my attention. I look straight ahead into a pair of gorgeous blue eyes with a ring of gold around the irises. I’d know those eyes anywhere. I haven’t seen them in about fifteen years.
“I’ll take four double shots of tequila,” I reply. “Whichever you think is the smoothest, Midnight Rider.”
A wide smile spreads across his face as he leans over the bar. “What’s a pretty girl like you doing in a dive like this?” he flirts.
“Gettin’ fucked up. Drinkin’ away bad life choices,” I explain.
Eric looks good. His long hair is gone and he doesn’t reek of marijuana or cigarettes like he used to. My dad hated him. Eric treated me well and once upon a time we were madly in love, but we were also young and our relationship had run its course. We went our separate ways two weeks after my eighteenth birthday and I haven’t seen him since.
“First round’s on me,” he offers. “In celebration of getting past those bad choices.” Eric turns to grab four double shot glasses and lines them on the bar in front of me. He reaches back for a bottle of Patrón silver and pours the shots. “Need a tray to take them to your friends, or are all of these for you?”
“A tray would be great, thanks,” I answer. I’m curious about how he’s been all these years but I’m not here to reminisce and he’s busy anyway.
Eric pulls a small tray from under the bar and places all the shots on in.
“Good seeing you, Sookie,” he smiles again. “I hope you enjoy yourself tonight.”
“Oh I’m sure I will. My friend intends to make sure of it. I’m sure I’ll be seein’ you plenty tonight,” I laugh. I have no doubt I’ll be taking way more shots before the night is through. I’m also sure his shirt is the same shade of blue as his eyes.
“Lookin’ forward to it,” he winks.
He’s always been a charming little shit.
“Thanks for the drinks,” I say before I turn and carefully make my way through the crowd to the table the girls are at.
When I glance back at the bar I see Eric watching me. It’s not fair that he’s better looking now than he was fifteen years ago. He’s probably married with nine kids by now. I shake off his stare and start passing out the shots. I want to dance.
Damn. Sookie Stackhouse. She looks good. She’s a little heavier than she was the last time I saw her, but she looks healthy and happy. That’s all that really matters. I’ve thought about her a few times over the years.
I did like I said I wanted to do and moved to Europe after high school. That’s where I met Callie, my ex-wife and mother of my ten-year-old son. We moved back to the states when my mom got sick. I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible and I wanted EJ to get to know her before she passed. He was six months when we moved back and two and a half when Mom passed away. Her battle with breast cancer was long and hard.
Ultimately, her illness caused a lot of bad fights between Callie and me. It got to be too much for her when I started spending more and more time with EJ at my parents’ house. They didn’t get along with my wife so she never went with me. Callie finally decided she wanted to move back to the UK and I wasn’t going with her. We should’ve never gotten married in the first place. Our relationship was fun in the beginning. EJ was an accident, but pushed me to propose to her. I loved Callie, but not like I should’ve. I didn’t try as hard as I should have to keep her happy. Now we’re friends. We have to be for EJ’s sake. Initially when she moved back to London she left him with me until she found a place to live. Now he goes back and forth between us. He goes to school in London and spends summers and holidays with me. It fucking sucks, but it is what it is. I talk to him every other day and for now, that’s how it has to be unless he decides he wants to move here permanently.
Now I’m the new owner of Iron Horse. I found out the owner was ready to retire and I’d been the GM at The Office for four years. I was ready to move on to my own bar. I made an offer, he accepted, and voila, here I am. I didn’t change anything. The bar runs perfectly fine as is and as the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I catch Sookie dancing once the bar clears up for a moment. She moves better than she did in high school, not that she was bad then, she’s clearly had practice though. I’m sure she needs a refresher on her drink, but I can wait for her to come back.
I still think about her. Some days I wonder what would’ve happened if she’d said she would come to Europe with me. I highly doubt I’d have EJ, but I could’ve had a kid or two with her. Sookie Stackhouse was my first love. She was my first for a lot of things, and she will always hold a special place in my heart.
I’m pulled from my musings when a hippy brunette sashays up to the bar. She leans on it, trying to flash her minimal cleavage.
“How may I help you?” I smile.
“Can I get an Alabama Slammer, sugar?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I wink. Flirting with the girls gets me more tips. Although, I recall Sookie telling me I’m a charmer. My mom said the same thing.
I turn to grab a glass and start mixing the drink. When I’m done I set it on the bar in front of her.
“Six-fifty,” I say as a flushed Sookie makes her way toward the bar.
The woman drops a ten on the bar.
“Keep the change, darlin’,” she says before wiggling away.
I turn to ring out the drink and drop the change in the tip jar. When I return to the bar Sookie is standing there. I want to pull her into my office to catch up, but she’s not here for catch up. She’s here to get drunk.
“Another round, pretty girl?” I offer, calling her by the pet name I used all those years ago. To me, she’ll always be beautiful.
“I’d love one. And a glass of water. I haven’t gotten drunk since I turned thirty.”
“Coming right up.” I start by filling a glass of ice water for her. “If I remember, I keep a bottle of Tylenol in my office. I’ll give you some to end the night,” I chuckle. I’ve only seen Sookie drunk a few times. This promises to be interesting. I get another double shot glass out to fill it with more Patrón and slide both glasses across the bar.
“Thanks,” she says. “What do I owe you?”
I lean over the bar and say with my most charming smile, “A dance before you leave tonight.”
“Seriously?” She looks surprised.
“Seriously,” I answer.
“If that’s the price, that’s the price.” Sookie shoots the tequila like it’s her fuckin’ job and sets her glass back on the bar.
“Should I cash in now?” I ask. Clancy can watch the bar while I go out for one dance.
“I didn’t eat lunch and I’ve had four shots of tequila in less than an hour. Your call, Stretch,” she giggles.
“I better cash in before you don’t remember you owe it to me,” I chuckle as I walk around the bar.
When I get to her side I don’t hesitate to wrap her in a tight hug. As soon as my arms close around her and that scent that is unmistakably Sookie hits my nose I’m transported back fifteen years. It’s surreal to have my arms around this girl. She was my everything at one point in time.
“I couldn’t forget you. You’re responsible for the best worst thirty-seven seconds of my life in the back of that old Falcon,” she says.
I laugh and kiss her cheek as is pull back from the hug. “It truly was an amazing thirty-seven seconds. For me anyway.” Our first time was… Let’s just say my stamina has improved greatly.
“Well yeah, for you,” Sookie laughs. “I’m sure you got better.” She reaches for the glass of water I poured for her and takes a long drink.
“Oh, I definitely got better,” I snort. As soon as she’s done with the water I tug her hand. “You owe me a dance, pretty girl.”
“I know, I know. Lucky for you it’s a slow one.”
“My rhythm has improved as well,” I snicker as she follows me onto the floor. George Strait’s You Look So Good In Love is on. I wasn’t a huge fan of country music until I start coming here to negotiate with Vic about buying the place. It’s definitely growing on me.
I spin Sookie before wrapping my arms around her waist as we start to sway from side to side. In the boots she has on she’s close to my height, which is impressive seeing at I’m six-foot-five.
“See, better,” I tell her as we move together.
“It’s only been eight seconds,” she points out. “So how long have you been working here? I’ve never seen you in here before.”
“Just over a month. I bought it from the old owner,” I tell her. “I was ready to have something of my own.”
“You bought this place from Vic the Prick? That dirty old man grabbed my ass every time I came in here. He liked to say if I wanted a real stiff one in me I’d meet him out back.”
Without missing a beat I ask, “Should we keep up tradition?” My hand drifts down her back to settle right above her ass. It’s still really fuckin’ sexy.
The sassy little minx replies, “From what I remember you couldn’t keep it up for long so I think I’ll pass.”
“I’ve had a lot of practice in the last fifteen years,” I tease and give her a light smack on her ass. What the hell am I doing?
Sookie pulls back from me, clearly unimpressed. Her eyebrow lifts and she asks, “What the hell was that?”
“I don’t even know,” I sigh, shaking my head. It has to be the comfort and the memories coming back to me. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you. It’s just… seeing you has brought a lot of old memories back.”
“Yeah,” she agrees. “I think I’ll pay for the rest of my drinks in cash, if you don’t mind.”
“I really didn’t mean anything by it, Sookie. I’m sorry.” The last thing I need is a customer filing a damn sexual harassment complaint. “That definitely won’t be happening again.”
“Okay.” I can’t tell if she believes me or not but it doesn’t matter since the redhead she came in with walks up and whispers something in Sookie’s ear that makes her smile. “Nice seein’ you, Eric. I gotta go back to my friends now.”
“Have fun, Sookie,” I smile and watch as she walks away.
I watch until she disappears into the crowd. I decide the bar is slow enough I can go back to the office for a while. The last thing I need to do is offend Sookie again. Apparently, I can’t keep my fuckin’ hands to myself with her, even though more than a decade had passed. I don’t know if I’ll see her again, but the more I think about it, the more I want to.