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“Hey! Bartender! Another gin and vodka martini over here, heavy on the gin. And the vodka for that matter…”
Brittain scanned the area behind the counter, trying to find the bartender, who had apparently decided to pull a disappearing act. “Sweet. Awesome. Phenomenal,” she muttered under her breath, beginning to dig through the glass dish of assorted holiday candy sitting on the bar. “Because my Valentine’s day wasn’t already fucking spectacular enough.” The rifling through sweets in search of anything with peanut butter became more aggressive the longer she was without a drink. “BARTENDER! Think I can get that drink already? You realize that you are, in fact, a BAR TENDER, correct? It is your job to tend the bar. I am at the bar, tend to me!” She vented, still burrowing through the dish. She was giving this skinny, Kate Moss, coke-head looking bar slut one more chance before crawling behind the counter and mixing another herself…
“Sweetheart, you are lucky you’re cute and it’s Valentine’s Day…” Not anticipating a low, smooth, decidedly masculine voice in place of the bar slut’s, Brittain snapped her head up immediately. And then immediately started coughing and pounding her chest, sucking in jagged little wisps of air out of unparalleled surprise when she laid eyes on the previous bartenders replacement for the night. He hurried over to where she sat, reaching out across the counter to touch her, to make sure she was okay. Instantly she drew back, before he could even offer a glass of water, putting an end to the cough fit. Her surprise had been trumped by her anger, her bitterness, her irrational need for one god damn peanut butter cup.
“Well, sweetheart, let’s get a couple things clear here. Number one, I have a name and it is sure as fuck not sweetheart. Two, what kind of a bar do you run in which the strung out staff can disappear as they please?” she countered deliberately. The volume and vehemence in her voice not only startled both of them, but another man and woman sitting just a bit down the bar. She couldn’t even bring herself to look at him as she waited for his response, bracing herself for something equally vile to come out of his mouth. That ridiculously sexy mouth of his…
“Come on now, Sam’s not that bad. Don’t you think maybe you’re being a touch too hard on someone you don’t even know?” There was a kindness and sympathy in his voice that made Brittain feel ashamed of her child-like outburst. For a moment she wanted to be an adult and answer ‘Yes, you’re right’, because she knew he was and normally she would admit that, but tonight the realization that he was right and she was not hit her with extreme force and any chance of her being civil flew out the window.
“No!” she practically yelled. Again, more looks from the pair down the bar, particularly the woman. Good. If my Valentines day is going to suck, yours can do. I hope you choke on your olive. Whore. On the one hand, Brittain was relieved to see wasn’t the only person flying solo, as the couple had clearly just met tonight. On the other, and the other hand was winning out by a long shot, she was pissed off that they had the nerve to find one another and leave her the only miserable person in sight. Misery does love company. The bartender laughed aloud, shaking his head and revealing a grin that inevitably made women turn to red jello around him. Hot, wet, red jello to be more accurate.
“You’re a girl, it’s your job to hate other women, so I’m not going to hold this against you. Plus, I think deep down you know you’re being crazy and you just can’t bring yourself to admit it. I admire a stubborn streak once in a while. Next drink’s on me,” he smiled, taking in the stunning blonde seated before him. He got to work making her another drink and as he did he watched her silently as she somewhat obsessively went back to her peanut butter quest. He wouldn’t have been able to take his eyes of her if he had tried, anyway. On any given day, Brittain looked good. Better than good, and certainly better than most. Tonight, though… Well, there are some nights when everything just comes together for a person. With her hair pulled partially up, bangs managing to fall both innocently and seductively across her right eye, a little black baby doll style dress (he had sisters, he knew such terminology) accentuating her amazing collarbone- one of her best features- and those incredible blue eyes, Brit was having one of those nights. Even angry, she was radiant. She was the very definition of passion and the bartender definitely took notice of this. His own passion was stirred by merely being in her vicinity. He wondered why she had decided to come here on Valentines Day, why she was all dressed up and sitting alone at a bar knocking back martini after martini. Why was she so irate? Something had to have happened to make her so angry, this wasn’t her. Of that he was sure. He could laugh it off to her, but the hatred in her voice stung a bit. Stung a lot. It had been years since anyone got to him like that.
Straightening his holiday red tie and giving his shaggy dark hair a sly brush with his hand, he headed back over to her Mersin Escort with a fresh drink and a handful of Reese’s from his own personal stash, kept just behind the bar. She quickly snatched the drink up and raised it to her lips. She was stopped mid-sip by the sight of four peanut butter cups in all their red tin foil glory on the counter before her, calling her name. With giant eyes showing the first sign of warmth all night, she looked up to the bartender in amazement. She was about to mutter a thank you, or something along those lines, when the man at the other end of the counter raised a hand for service. The bartender’s eye caught hers and he gave her an almost apologetic looking smile and a wink before hurrying off.
She smiled to herself as she watched him laugh with other customers in the bar. Her stomach began to twist and her arms prickled as she observed her charming bartender. It was true that she found him very attractive physically, with that casual and boyish mess of hair and the sweetest brown eyes you could find in another, but that’s not what drew her to him. Normally she would have been turned on by his choice of attire alone- she had a particular weakness for men in dress shirts with rolled up sleeves and ties- but with him it was different. She found she had to readjust herself in her seat she was getting so antsy over the simple sight of this man. She couldn’t focus on anything other than that she just wanted to be near him, to touch him. Not necessarily even in a sexual way, she just longed to have him close by. She imagined him lifting a gentle hand to her face, grazing her cheek, her neck. She could feel the warmth of his breath on her face as he cupped both sides of her neck with his hands, lifting her chin to him, lowering his lips so close to hers she could almost taste them…
A flashback of bare flesh and animalistic moans tore Brittain out of her daydream and back into reality. The churning in her stomach intensified and took on a whole new form. Cupping both hands over her mouth viciously, she tried with every bit of strength she had not to throw up all over the bar. A minute of deep, soothing breaths subdued the sick feelings, but prompted the tears once again. Desperately, she squeezed her eyes shut, but the dark only brought back more flashes of the nights events. Cupping her hands in front of her mouth, she wished she was religious and could pray these images and feelings away.
“At night the ice weasels come…” Brittain whispered to herself , remembering a situationally applicable old Groening quote.
“What was that? I didn’t catch that,” the bartender chimed in, turning his attention away from the sweet and almost feminine looking cocktail he was mixing and directing it toward Brittain. Slightly rattled by being overheard, she whisked a teardrop or two away and shook her head just a touch before responding. She would not let him see her cry. The line had to be drawn somewhere, and this was one she refused to cross.
“It was nothing, just something I remembered, a little quote. Seemed to fit my current mood.”
“And what quote would that be?” His concern with what she had to say not only took her by surprise her, but secretly gave way to a small, internal wave of fondness for the man.
“Again, it’s really nothing. ‘Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra’,” she started, still barely above a whisper. “‘Suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night the ice weasels come.'” She gave half a smile, full of sarcasm and sorrow, and finished off the nights fourth martini. “I swear you are making the weakest martini’s humanly possible.”
“Just looking out for you, kid,” he said with a tender smile that was reflected in his tone. Any momentary hint of fondness Brittain had for the bartender was crushed with that one comment.
“I don’t need you to look out for me, got it? I am a big girl, I can take care of myself. And I sure as shit handle a big girl drink, okay? Don’t be cute with me, don’t be sweet. Don’t even be nice to me right now. Just bring me another drink,” she said, going from pissed off to pleading in just a moments time. She dropped her head into her hands and with a pained sigh managed a “please”, knowing that her repulsive day and mood gave her no right to forget her manners. If nothing else, she did have manners. Either that or all the gin and vodka in her system was finally beginning to take effect. Perfect. Let me get sloppy drunk and make a fool of myself. I will get so belligerent I won’t even remember you’re probably at home fucking my best friend right now. And maybe if I get really drunk, get downright sloshed, I will even forget it was supposed to be me…
“You’re right, I’m sorry. I just want you to be okay, okay? I didn’t mean anything beyond that,” he said, unable to keep up his light, happy demeanor. “Wait,” he began to correct himself, “that’s not what I meant. What I meant was ‘Look bitch, if you want a fucking drink stop being such a whining little prick, got it? You want a big girl drink, act like a big girl.’ Is that better? Can you work with that? I’m not so good at Mersin Escort Bayan this whole not being nice thing,” he laughed, looking for her approval. Oh, you’re better at it than you think you are.
“Yeah, that works. Way to give it the old college try there, Champ.” She allowed herself to crack a smile small and when she looked up from her still uneaten peanut butter cups, she found herself easily lost in his eyes. They held each others gaze for long enough to take Brittain back to her daydream. A warm and familiar feeling began to grow within her, making her feel awkward and self conscious. She was certain he could tell what she was thinking, could tell how desperately she wanted him to just ignore her snapping comments and protests and wrap his arms around her, pull her close, force her to lose herself in him. She wanted to ask him what was on his mind, she wanted to be inside his head. She needed to know if he felt at all the same way. Her mouth opened a bit, preparing to ask, but stopped itself. He reached out for her a second time that night, hoping like hell she didn’t pull away this time, knowing he wouldn’t be able to handle it if she did. Their hands found each other with a sharp inhale on Brittain’s end and slight stiffening on his end. How was it that this woman could make him feel so much, feel so alive, from so little? He wanted nothing more in the world than to grab hold of her tightly, breath in her intoxicating scent, wrap his fingers in that golden hair, and bury himself so far within her that he lost himself and all ties to reality. The soft flesh of her tiny hands inside his was enough to make him harden a bit. Had someone not interrupted the embrace with a bellowing laugh and the calling of his name, he undoubtedly would have taken her right there, right on that very counter, without any regard for the other patrons in the bar. Unfortunately, the embrace had been interrupted and his name was being called. With a gentle brush of his thumb across the palm of her hand and a squeeze, he excused himself and became once again the charming bartender Brittain had witnessed earlier, shaking hands and exchanging the man version of a hug with a guy who had just walked into the place.
The pair talked for a while, exchanging laughs and nods and shoulder punches. Brittain couldn’t make out exactly what they were saying over the music and talking in the bar, but at one point the new guy seemed to be commenting on the looks of the place. Brittain herself had noticed how nice this place was these days, even compared to just a few years ago. Nauseating red and white holiday decorations aside, Brittain was almost in awe of what the Green Door had become. The lighting was kept low as always, coming primarily from gorgeous hanging lamps of green and blue blown glass, and all the shelves were lined with equally eye catching glass bottles, half of which most people had never even heard of before, the wine selection being particularly amazing. Judging by the Bob Dylan she heard coming from above, the bar still held itself to a high expectation as far as music went as well. My god, it’s been so long. Too long. What am I doing here?
She was deprived of an opportunity to answer her own question by a familiar voice over a microphone. She shook herself out of her own thoughts and turned her attention to the miniature stage portion of the bar. Oh no. In front of a giant screen stood her bartender and the same stranger, smiles wide and eyes full child-like laughter.
“Okay kids, here’s the thing- I know it’s Valentines day and all, and you lovely people just want to sit and enjoy your dinner and drinks, but my dear friend Kevin here has requested we pull out the old karaoke machine. The man does have a point, it is Thursday and Thursday is, after all, karaoke night. What do you say? Do all you incredible, amazing, beautiful ladies out there want to hear your men serenade you with an after dinner love song? Can I get a show of hands?” The hands of all women in attendance shot up, and who could blame them? One look at him up there in his dark washed jeans, casually wrinkled and untucked white button up shirt with the red tie and even a rational woman would sign her soul away if he asked sweetly enough- and let’s face it, most women aren’t even that rational. His laughter rang out across the establishment and he continued on. “Aww, you guys are fantastic. I knew I had a winning crowd in here tonight. Who wants to start the night off? Guy in the blue shirt?? Come on, you know you want to… No? Okay. Fine. I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll start the night off and maybe then you guys won’t be quite so shy.” Turning his eyes away from the crowd and resting them intently on Brittain, he cued up his song of choice. Ohhhh really, really no. No. No. No.
“Oh yes. This song is going out to someone I think could use a little pick me up tonight. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, but I know I’d like to find out. Maybe she’ll take pity on me for embarrassing myself so thoroughly up here tonight and let me in a little bit. Here’s hoping…” With a sad smile and a shrug, he turned to Kevin, who Escort Mersin apparently was in charge of the music. All Brittain could do was stare on, mouth ever so slightly agape, when The Cars “My Best Friends Girl” started to play.
“No… way…” she uttered in stunned disbelief, biting her lower to keep from smiling too big and giving him the upper hand.
When you bite your lip, it’s a reaction to love uh-ove uh-ove. Here she comes again…
Her hands clasped her mouth for a second time tonight, but this time it was to keep from bursting out laughing. He’s good alright, I’ll give him that… She watched him intensely as he carried on with the music, illiciting cheers from the bars more drunken inhabitants. Watching his head bob to the music and take his whole body with it, she felt an overwhelming urge to run to him and force her lips upon his. She wanted to breath him in, suck in all she could of his soul, his life, the very essence that made him so damn cute. Inside her, tender and lovely feelings fought with feelings of intense desire and a sexual urgency she hadn’t experienced in a very, very long time. Oh how she longed to claw away that shirt of his, to expose his bare chest below, run her hands over it, kiss it, feel it against her own naked flesh. She shut her eyes in an attempt to make the image even more clear in her mind. Rubbing one leg slowly and deliberately along the other, she envisioned him bending down over her to take a bare shoulder into his warm, wet mouth. She tilted her head a bit to accommodate the image of his head and began to curl her toes, tensing her thighs and squeezing tightly the treasure that lie between them. A low, deep breath escaped her lips. In her head he was…
“Falling asleep on me over there? Was I really that terrible?” A teasing voice. Brittain opened her eyes with regret and an embarrassed chuckle. Shaking her head, she explained otherwise.
“No, not exactly, just… thinking,” she laughed.
“Really? You laugh? I’m shocked…” he poked fun at her, again exposing her to that energetic grin of his. She laughed again and shook her head, reaching down to toy with the Reese’s that still sat before her. She was not good at being put on the spot, not good at being called out. “This is good. This is progress. I was hoping maybe a little song or two would help to lighten the mood. Now you wanna tell me what has you in this mood at all?” he urged gently, not wanting to press her for too much too soon. She was just starting to warm up to him again and he was not going to throw that out the window just to appease his own curiosity. It was clear her mood changed at the very mention of the nights events, though. The smile erased itself quickly from her delicate lips and that same old look of pain entered her eyes. So pained he could barely stand to look at her and not throw his arms around her. She twirled a finger around the edge of her glass and brought the drink to her lips.
“What is there to talk about, really? Just another brilliant Valentine’s Day, can’t we leave it at that?”
“Well, I guess we could, but really is that what you want?”
“Do you know what I want, Benjamin?” she questioned accusingly. “I want to have not seen my boyfriend fucking my best friend today, that’s what I what. I want to go back in time and arrive at Perry’s place after a THREE HOUR DRIVE to surprise him with a Valentines day dinner and not walk in on him screwing Kate. My Kate. My. Fucking. Best. Friend. I want the sound of it to go away. I want to be able to close my eyes and not see the two of them, okay? Does that make you happy? Is that what you wanted to hear?” she answered, the anger intensifying with each question. “FUCK!” she cried out, the burning hot tears pooling in the corners of her eyes and spilling down over her now blood red cheeks. Ben, not knowing how to respond or console in this situation, just knowing he wanted to tear out this other guys throat, attempted to place a kind hand on her arm in a gesture of support and comfort.
“DON’T TOUCH ME!” Brittain practically screamed at him, jerking her arm away with such force that she took her glass with it, shattering it into pieces and leaving its liquid remnants to spill about the counter. Ben stiffened and sucked in a jagged breath, completely taken aback by the recent outburst. The two had effectively commanded the attention of every last guest in the joint, a fact which he was slowly becoming more and more aware of. Feeling overwhelmed by the stares of strangers and the crumpling of this broken woman in front of him, he did the only think he could think to do. Slapping a towel down on the spilled drink, he made a brief, to-the-point announcement that he was closing the bar down early and that to make it up to them their last drink was going to be on the house. Quickly and efficiently, he and the only other person on duty checked out the remaining customers and after all had been sent home and the doors had been locked, he made his way back to Brittain at the counter. She was hunched over in her stool, still crying weakly and playing with those stupid damn peanut butter cups when he walked up behind her. She didn’t even move when he placed a hand on her back and began to rub in a gentle, ideally soothing, circular motion. That’s when he noticed he noticed the gash in her wrist and the droplets of blood forming a fitting Valentines day red pool on the counter top.
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