“Then your pants came flying off, and those bright pink underwear were flashing the whole gym!” Russ exclaimed with a brilliant laugh that bubbled from his chest. Another piece of high school I never wanted to recall again, Russ on the other hand seemed to delight in reminding me of all my awkward teenage experiences in the loudest possible voice he could manage. Ignorant of the fact we were in a full bar among a sea of people more then willing to listen in on the humorous and embarrassing story. I was sure the group of frat boys sitting to our left had heard the whole thing by the stupid smirks that flashed across their faces when they looked in our direction. This trip was such a bad idea.
"Oh come on Yorkie," Russ laughed slapping my back and nearly sending me off my stool, the use of my nickname he so fondly crafted just added insult to my already injured pride. "You're so up tight. I brought you here to loosen up a little.”
"Forgive me," I growled through clenched teeth. "I'm not really into the bar scene anymore."
It had been nearly eight years since the last time I had seen Russell Dixon, a long eight years that seemed to drag on for a painful stretch of eternity. Not that I spent all those years longing for him or anything. Our relationship had ended on more then just awful terms, but we had promised to be friends no matter what happened between us. Maybe that was why I agreed to fly out to Texas to visit, or it could have been I felt a little bit of pity for him. The poor guy just lost his father last month and now his boyfriend, Matt, had left him. I could relate to his new found loneliness.
Russ snatched up his glass of plan coke from the bar, his jaw tensed as it pressed against his lips. He was on edge and seemed uneasy with a slight fidget, much like the addict he was.
"Why did you want to come to a bar anyways?" I asked looking around the packed place. It was only Thursday and it was filled to capacity. "You've been sober for seven years, why tempt yourself now?"
Russ let out another bubbling laugh as he set his glass down, how I had miss that sound. He was still the same person I remembered from high school, despite a few physical changes. Back then he had a thick fuzzy head of black hair with a stray gray strain or two, and despite the fact he looked very slender and tall he was barely an inch taller then I was. He had put on some weight since then, just enough to appear like a normal person and a slight definition of some muscles on his upper arms from what I could see, that was something he never had before but it suited him.
Those random strains of gray hair had almost completely taken over his head putting some age to his appearance that matched painful long years of experience reflected in those deep green eyes of his.
"I like this environment, doesn't it bring back memories Yorkie?"
"Not any good ones," I replied taking a drink of my rum and coke. "Will you stop calling me that." I growled.
Russ had thought himself so clever when he came up with it, all he did was add an 'ie' to my last name, I failed to see the brilliance. After a week of him running around school calling me Yorkie I finally asked why he was so proud of it. With a beaming smile he replied that the brilliance lie in the simplicity and the match of character traits. After a clear look of confusion on my part he went into a long talk about how I reminded him of a Yorkshire Terror. “A little yippy dog that never knows when to give up” he beamed with pride.
Suddenly the lovely sentiment of having a special nickname fell to pieces. He thought of me like a dog and I asked him never to call me that again. It wasn't long after he started buying me notepads, t-shirts, purses all kinds of different things, each one with a little yorkie on them. The nickname and my new mascot quickly spread throughout the school, there was no escaping it even years later.
"Man, living alone has changed you." his face held a mock expression of shock and disappointment. That was Russ, always joking around. Everything a game to be played, especially people. "I think you need an intervention."
"A humor intervention."
"You're insane. I haven't lost my sense of humor, I just don't feel up to partying right now." I growled at him taking another drink from my glass, welcoming the harsh nip of the rum and the sweet bubble of coke. "I just spent three hours on a plane, and I had to drive over an hour just to get to the airport. Oh, then there's the fact you were late picking me up. So sorry if I don't feel up to recalling embarrassing moments of my past, or joking around with you. I'm a little tired."
I caught the more genie look of shock on his face from the corner of my eye. Yes Russ, I have changed. How do you like your creation?
"It's worse then I thought," he gasped hopping down from his stool. "When I get back we are going to have a serious intervention. You need help and I know just how to handle you." He laughed patting my back softer this time.
The simple gesture sent a thrill through my body, it was more exciting then it should have been. With all these memories flying around of better times how could I hold it against myself that I was still attracted to him.
I turned in my stool watching Russ weave through the thick crowd, slipping between tightly packed tables and bodies that rocked to the beat of an electric guitar until he disappeared under the restroom sign. Letting out a tense breath I started to take in my surroundings for the first time.
The place looked to be in transition, from warehouse to some type of club. I couldn't be sure because everything was still very basic, and showed no signs of being anything more then a large open space with a stage at one end and a bar at the other. A very expensive looking bar, stained with a deep cherry finish and polished to perfection. I couldn't be sure what type of wood it was crafted out of but it gave off a scent that was vaguely familiar, even over the thick pungent air of sweat and alcohol. A complete contrast to the stage on the other end of the massive space.
I had studied it when we first entered, constructed out of cheap splintering plywood poorly nailed together and painted black to hide the lack of investment. They must not have seen the need to spend to much for something shadowed by the poor lighting in that area.
"I just can't see someone like you wearing pink panties." A smooth voice said from behind me.
Was there anyone that didn't hear Russ?
I blew out an annoyed breath thinking back to the drunk drooling frat boys, if they were going to listen in on private conversations could they at least not add their two cents.
Turning on my stool I directed my view towards the college aged boys only to find them talking among themselves farther down the bar.
“You look like a black pantie girl, ” the voice said again as I directed my gaze more to the right just behind the polished wood.
The annoyance that had been bubbling up from my core fled when met by a charming bright smile that angled farther down on the left, and strange captivating gray eyes which stilled me.
“Or perhaps something with lace?” his question bringing me back down to reality. A reminder I should be offended.
“Who asked you.” I growled in reply trying to seem angry, but it was hard looking at someone like him.
There were good looking men in the world, the ones that caused a whisper or two between friends about their toned bodies, perfect ass, bright eyes, or awesome hair. Then in a few moments they were pushed into the back of your mind never to venture a thought about them again.
This man was far strides above them. His lean slender body was wrapped in a black cotton t-shirt sporting the club's name, 'A-Jax', in red letters on the right of his chest. The material hugged at his defined biceps and chest before falling flat, small valleys and peeks in the cloth hinting at the muscles beneath. Hair of ashy brown was tossed about on his head leaving a few unruly strains to sweep across those mysterious gray eyes. No, they were more then just gray. Hints of cerulean blue sparkled back barely catching onto the soft light beaming down from above.
“Sorry,” he said throwing his hands in the air. “force of habit being behind the bar.”
“What? Guessing your customer's underwear preferences?”
He let out a delighted chuckle at my question “I meant butting into conversations,” he corrected grabbing a glass from behind bar and setting it in front of me. “Let me buy you a drink for being such a pervert.”
“I already have one,” I replied gesturing to the glass in front of me.
“Then a shot.” he declared switching out the average sized glass for a smaller one. “What will the lady have?”
My eyes trained on his bicep and the way his shirt pulled and curved around his flexing muscles, contouring to each ripple of his body I started to wonder what I would find under that restricting shirt. My gaze met his face again, a smirk played across his lips. I suddenly became aware that I was running my tongue along my lips. Blood rushed to my cheeks as I turned away from his view, I was caught.
“Anything the lady wants,” his words implied more then just the offer of a free drink. “A chocolate almond? Lemon drop? A buttery nipple?"
His breath played through my short hair warming my ear, when did he move closer? The insult of the girly shot selection should have aroused my anger, instead it only excited the flirtatious woman I had thought was long since dead. Daring a glance out of the corner of my eye I caught his intense gaze that was trained on me.
“Not interested,” I played back. “besides you have customers waiting.”
I motioned to the group of women at the other end of the bar, desperately waving their hands to draw his attention. I couldn't blame them, I am sure at some point in my life I had done the very same thing on a night out.
“I'll do one with you.” he had completely ignored me as he set out a second glass.
“Just one and then I'll stop bothering you.”
It wasn't that he was bothering me, oh no, I could look at him all night, and the flirt inside of me longed to play out our interactions are as long as possible. Then my mind wondered back to the conversation started about my color selection of underwear. I studied him as he leaned against the bar flashing me a smooth smirk, I wonder what he is thinking about. Was he trying to guess yet again what type of panties I was wearing? Studying me for some type of insight into what lay under my small novelty t-shirt and jeans? I started to feel really exposed with him looking at me, it would just be better to get this over with so he would move on.
“Fine,” I agreed in a defeated voice. “Three Wise-men.”
A little bit of shock flashed across his face, the smirk falling as he stood straight. His eyes shifted between my lips that were drawn in a straight line and my eyes like he was trying to fine some uncertainty in my choice. It was an unusual shot to request. One that only experienced drinkers could handle without breathing out flames of agony. Back home it was known as 'my' shot, when I would walk into the bar there would be a small glass of amber liquid waiting beside my typical rum and coke. No sweet flavored shots for me, just the pure straight burn of perfectly crafted whiskey.
“You don't have to prove anything to me.” he said leaning closer. “I already know you would never wear pink panties.”
“Just pour the drink,” I growled at the mention of my underwear yet again. “Unless you can't handle the boys?”
His lips spread into a wide smirk, a flash of intrigue washed over his eyes as he turned to grab the three bottles of whiskey that formed the numbing mixture. Filling each glass with a mix of Jim, Jack, and Johnnie before returning the bottles back to their self, the interested smirk still plastered across his face as he leaned his hands against the bar.
“Ladies first.” he offered with a slight chuckle of doubt.
Taking up the full shot glass I tried to hide the grin that was pulling up on the corners of my lips. I knew he thought I was acting tough, showing off ordering such a thing, and he was waiting for me to fail. To fall victim to the fire like mixed I had asked for.
Placing the glass to my lips I flashed him one last full smirk before dipping my head back and taking the whole of the glass. Warm, numbing amber liquid slide down my throat awaking the old thrill of times I had long since forgotten. Bring me back to a life I had buried away as I slammed the glass down on the bar. No cough or distorted face to accompany the awful burn of whiskey that slide down my throat.
His smirk gone when I made eye contact again. Reaching across I took his full glass in my hand and downed it just as quickly. There was no burn this time my mouth already too numb from the first, but I could still feel it travel down my throat and strike my stomach.
I slammed the second glass down in front of him declaring my victory, tracing my tongue along my lower lip to catch any remaining liquor. He stood there with eyes wide and lips slightly parted in shock. I thought I heard him breath out the word 'sexy' but I couldn't be sure with all the noise around us.
“You should run along to your fan club now.” I flicked a hand in the direction of the women still waving to him.
He lingered there for a long moment, his eyes fixed on me traveling up and down the parts of my body the bar did not hide before reaching for the two empty glasses. He leaned a little farther then he needed to while collecting them, leaving a few inches of space between us. “I was wrong,” he breathed out in a low whisper. “Red is more your color.”
Till Next Time My Fine Fury Friends!