After Angel left I was at the club before opening. I didn’t need to be Drew could handle Devlin and the guys. But I wanted to be there he was my friend and it brought back memories and old dreams. Dreams I didn’t even want anymore. Sure the whole being rich and famous was always appealing. But life on the road I wasn’t sure I wanted anymore. I had a safe life, I liked my life. I didn’t regret giving up my music. I could have been right there with Devlin if I hadn’t gone to college instead. But we do what we do, I did it mostly for a girl, but also to make my dad happy. It’s funny how naive I was back then. Everything had been about Very. I was in love. And I wasn’t about to let Angel make that same mistake.
He was leaving in a few weeks. I already knew I was going to be miserable without him. I felt it in my bones. Even being behind the bar reminded me that my guy was going away for 6 weeks without me. It wasn’t his fault, and I wasn’t going to hold him back. He’d done anything and everything to stay, I pushed him away. Typical me.
Drew came up behind me and drapped an arm over my shoulder while I stood surveying the bar’s stocks. “He’ll be back, you know?”
I shrugged his arm off my shoulder. “I know. I sent him away.”
“He’s not like me and Mandy or Veronica and Tristian.”
I laughed. “No he’s worse. He’s charismatic, draws people in to like him without ever talking to him. They see a pretty face, a hot body and they know they want that. He’ll be cooking for people with money and people who are looking for some fast times in a fast place. ” I turned to Drew, “No I’m not worried at all.”
Drew laughed, “You know he’s a regular here right? I’ve seen him here every Friday night for two years. I’ve seen him pick up girls, take them to the back, come back without them and never even look back. I’ve seen it happen right here on the dance floor. Never the same girl twice. I’ve seen them try, he’s polite and says ‘not this time duckling’. Since he’s been with you, the dance floor almost seems empty. When he’s here, he’s staring at you. There’s a crowded room full of people who would give him anything he asks for and he’s only got eyes for you.”
I shoved Drew out of my way with my shoulder and he laughed. “Are you saying I wouldn’t give him anything he asks for?” I knew that wasn’t the point of the whole thing, but I mocked my offense none-the-less.
“I know you would. He knows it. I mean there are prettier men out there. Men bigger and stronger than you that he might like. But he seems to fancy you for some reason. I can’t fathom why, you aren’t that good in bed and Finn says I’m the better kisser anyway.”
My smirk turned to smile at the familiar banter. “You could only wish to be as good as I am.” If I were a different man I might brag to Drew about my prowess in bed, but Drew knew my strengths and my weaknesses already. It may have been a while since we shared a bed, but it wasn’t that long ago to forget. And he had enough stories that he didn’t need to know how easy Angel really was in the right situations. The morning in the grocery store had made an appearance in my dreams on a number of nights.
Drew laughed. “I wish I could be a fly on the inside of those walls, Zane. That smile, I’ve not seen it in years. Don’t worry about Angel. I doubt he’ll even see the half naked women standing in front of him in Vegas for the blinders he’s got for you.”
I rolled my eyes. I was grateful for Drew’s reassurances but it wasn’t going to change things. I was going to fucking be miserable. Thankfully I had Zion to take up my time while my pretty boy was off playing chef in Vegas. Devlin and the guys were setting up by the time I finished restocking the bar. Dev had been a good friend in highschool. I think about all the time I spent chasing after Veronica. I missed the boat with Devlin. It wasn’t a big regret, not considering Devlin made me rich.
I wasn’t rolling in dough because of Zion. But Zion kept me busy. It made me money and I was happy doing this. I was…
House of Crowly started their warm up sets and Drew called all his bar tenders behind the bar and gave them a pep talk. There was a lot of talk about how tonight was going to be busy. How tips would be good, but they were going to have to keep things flowing – he called it hard work. Zack rolled his eyes and made a comment to Brandy. They giggled – I had watched that romance bloom over the past few years, it still hadn’t gone anywhere, but Zack wasn’t in a hurry. And Brandy had a four year old at home. So it was a difficult situation.
When the doors opened we were indeed busy. I was behind the bar most of the night. We’d gone through enough whiskey that night I had to restock again half way through. And I didn’t want to have to sell top shelf whiskey for bottom shelf prices so I made my way to the stock room. I hadn’t flipped on the lights when I walked in, I knew where everything was. And the light from the hall was enough to find the bottles I was looking for.
A shadow stood tall in the door way and I could tell who it was just by the shilouete. “All right pretty boy, out of my way this box is heavy.”
I was sure he grinned as he stepped out of the way. He was dressed exactly how he’d left for work except his hair was mussed. It wasn’t something you’d know just by looking at him, it always went every which way, but he had been running his fingers through his hair – a nervous habit – and the ruts were visible to me. He followed me to the edge of the bar and waited at the corner like a good customer.
I could feel his eyes on my back as I knelt down to restock the whiskey bottles. It was then that I noticed we were short a bar tender. I caught Drew’s attention and mouthed, “Where’s Brandy?”
He pointd out back towards the bathroom. I had wanted to say hi at least but the bar was too busy and by the time I looked back to see my pretty boy, he’d disappeared. House of Crowley was still playing old sets, they hadn’t started any of the new ones. I was surprised that Devlin hadn’t started with the new stuff. But then he had invited Angel to come see him play. But I couldn’t find Angel on the dance floor, or around the bar.
Drew was fixing a whiskey sour next to me. “He’s behind the bar.”
“What?” I said without looking up.
“You are looking for Angel?”
I looked at him and his shit eating grin. He nodded down towards the other end of the bar. “Brandy’s throwing up in the bathroom. He offered.” I looked down where Drew had nodded and there he was. Still in his khaki’s but sporting one of the black Zion shirts. Drew leaned closer to speak over the music. “He’s pretty good.”
I laughed. “He should be, he’s been doing this his whole life.” He may not have been tending bar, but he’s been in the food and beverage business. I watched him flirt with a few customers. Even the guys were responding to his smiles and the gentle brush against their hands when they took their drinks. I didn’t have time to watch him, he was helping me make money and the bar was hoping. So we moved drinks. Four of us pushing drinks up and down the bar, for the wait staff who were bringing drinks around the room.
House of Crowly played in loud and strong and I got to watch my pretty boy work out of the corner of my eye. We’d catch each other looking and smile. But that was about the extent of our interactions.
Then the lights dimmed a little as the spotlight took to the band and Devlin spoke in his clear booming voice. “I’d like to thank Zion for letting us in at the last moment. And to honor or gracious hosts, we are going to offer you a first time listen to some new songs on our next album. This first one goes out to a good friend of mine.” Devlin held up the mike in a toast, “Let it last brother.”
The line cued the music and the first song started to play. I recognized it immediately and was grateful all eyes were on the band and not trying to get drinks. I hadn’t been ready to hear the song played by Devlin. I had never meant for Devlin to even have the song, but it had been on the reel when he came into the studio. He asked and I had a problem saying no to Devlin. It was validation of my work. If Devlin liked it I felt it could make it one day. But he had liked it so much he had bought it without any finishing touches. Even though I told him repeatedly it wasn’t done.
The audience was rapt with attention but I turned to look at Angel and he was staring at me. I crooked a finger at him and he walked across the floor to me and stopped before me. He wasn’t smiling, he wasn’t giving me anything, he was just looking at me. Devlin sang the words, “no more running away.” The band played but in that moment there was nothing but Angel. His chocolate eyes staring at me through long lashes as he listened to the song he knew every word to. We’d lived it. The song was winding down and Angel took a handful of my Zion shirt and pulled me close and pressed his lips to mine in a soft tender kiss that soon was hungry with lust and desire. Zack hip checked us and tapped the bar, “Coming right up.” The next song had started but so had the drink requests.
Angel grinned at me. And picked up the first drink order and started with a little more flash and flair then he had been earlier. Mine, was my only thought even as he flirted with the girl in front of him who’s drink he was making.