September 13

 

     I hear the sound of the chain again, and I feel myself being lifted as he pulls it through the eyelet.  The tips of my toes no longer touching the ground, I'm completely vulnerable, but in his hands, I feel safe.  Kissing me, he wraps my legs around his hips and walks us forward until I'm pinned against the wall.  I grip the chain above my cuffs for support as he thrusts into me, my back sliding up and down the smooth, cold concrete as we begin to fuck.

     Blindfolded, my head full of pheromones, and his tongue in my mouth, the sound of the chain is melodic and every stroke of his cock heaven.  His teeth find my neck, nipping at me from ear to shoulder, where he bites down extracting a sharp, rapturous moan, the mix of pleasure and pain exquisite as I dig my heels into his ass like spurs, wanting more.  He gives it to me, harder and deeper, and though weary from the chain, I will my arms to hold out just a little longer as the impending orgasm seizes me...almost there...so close...so...

     No!  My mind and body protest in unison as he stops abruptly, withdrawing from me, and I foolishly make my disappointment known with a whine.  Suffering the loss of him like a phantom limb, I feel the sting of his palm on my thigh, his other hand clutching my throat just tight enough to make his point.  I know what he wants before I hear the command.  He wants me to beg, and trembling with need, I have no shame.

     "Please, Master," I plead.  "Please let me come." 

     Merciful, he returns to me, swiftly taking me back to the precipice, controlling me skillfully, keeping me right on the edge until, in a mind-blowing, white-hot flash, I'm thrown into the chasm below.  I cry out - his name, God's, I don't know - but I scream it into him as his mouth assaults mine, his tongue like his cock, driven into me as I writhe against him, losing my rhythm, my legs aching from the effort of the journey.  I try to steady him, to hold him still through the aftershocks, but he's relentless, using me, spending me, possessing me.  I feel him tighten, growing to his absolute limit inside of me, and though I thought I had reached my own limit, hearing the sweet sound of his ecstasy reawakens the need within me, radiating outward in intense waves, my body a slave to his beautiful, perfect cock.

     "Harder!" I beg, and he slams into me, rigid and smooth as marble.  I arch my back as he fills me, fucking me deeper and faster until I lose control.

"Oh, fuck!  Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck!" I cry, and in one final, devastating thrust, my entire body shudders in a violent release as he crushes me against the wall, his hands in a death grip on the flesh of my hips, his cock slowly grinding into me, throbbing with the accelerated beating of his heart.  Finally, I let go of the chain, collapsing into him, and he folds his arms around me, kissing me softly on the forehead.

     "I love to make you come, Evan," he whispers, his every word more precious to me than the air I breathe...

 

     ...But this almost never happened.

 

August 19

 

     Fuck me, I sigh as I step out of the elevator and see the crowd.  Mondays are supposed to be our slow night at Prometheus when we make up for having half-assed the closing shifts over the weekend, but there is no time for catch-up tonight.  Classes have just started back for the fall semester at the University of San Diego, and now the young, urban, rich assholes from the mansions of La Jolla are joined by a crowd of students coming here for the newfound trendiness since the re-envisioning of the rooftop bar that used to be called Bentley's.  Jumping right in, Nicole picks up a tray, and I begin mixing, hoping no one orders any of the fiery table service concoctions that have become our trademark.

     "I need a Stella, two cosmos and six flamers," Nicole shouts, tying her red apron behind her back as she stands at the waitress station at the end of the bar.  Fortunately, flamers are just shooters served in small, volcano-like beakers with a bit of 151 proof rum floated on top.  I give Nicole a rack of them, set them on fire, and send her on her way.

     As I look out over the crowd, it's obvious that the college kids are back, but these are not the same sort of kids Bentley's attracted.  There used to be wall to wall frat apes getting girls falling down drunk, but thanks to the company Dave hired to turn this place around, we now have a different caliber of frat ape.  Like everyone else, they're here to see and be seen since we implemented a strictly enforced dress code, and our new, less tolerant cutoff point makes it a much better working environment for me.  At twenty-three, having tended bar since well before I was legal, I don't drink much at all anymore, and when I think back on the days when I did, it dredges up the sort of memories that leave me in a cold sweat.  I can't believe some of the choices I made, and though the past that drove me to those choices was beyond my control, I take full responsibility for my actions, letting my mistakes haunt me and mark me.  They've made me cold.

     "A Dos Equis, a Labatt's, and an Asgård gin and tonic," says a guy bulling his way up to the bar in front of me.  "And you can just go ahead and jot your number down on a napkin."  He winks and places a pen on the bar.  This guy's the type who assumes that his looks, expensive clothes, and the hundred dollar bill he flashed for payment will make my panties drop, but I'm not impressed.  He ordered the same round from Nicole half an hour ago and got back plenty of change from the hundred I had to break for her.

     I grab his beers and pull the gin down from the top shelf.  Asgård is a label the old Bentley's crowd could never afford, but with the distillery in North San Diego County and Prometheus geared toward the local trust fund babies, we keep it stocked.  At $23 per shot, I've been amazed at how much we've gone through.

     "That'll be thirty-seven dollars," I say, placing the drinks on the bar.

     "Keep it," he says proudly as he hands me the hundred.  I thank him without looking up as I count his change out of the register, but he clears his throat and taps on the bar with his pen.

     "Go to hell, Frat Boy," I say, shoving his change in my tip jar.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see his astonishment, and I enjoy it as I head to the end of the bar to check Nicole's drink order.

     "What an ass!" I hiss.

     "He sure is pretty, though," she says with a wistful smile.

     "If you're into frat apes with trust funds," I say, rolling my eyes.

     "And his friend is even prettier."  She winks.

     Okay, I get it now.  She wants me to take one for the team so she can have a crack at his friend.  That's not going to happen, but I take a quick look anyway.  I have to lean out over the end of the bar to see where Frat Boy is sitting with two other guys at one of the private tables with the red canvas sails overhead.  I have a clear line of sight to the others, but for the one sitting on the left, I have to stretch a little more, putting my weight on the bar with my toes nearly off the ground because I can't quite see...

     Oh. Fuck. Me.  If I were to build the perfect beast, he would look exactly like the man sitting on the left side of that booth.  Wearing a grey suit jacket over a black, silk shirt, his hair, though a little too long for business, is a dark blonde shade that could easily be streaked with platinum if he spent too much time outside in the California summer, but his skin is only faintly sun-kissed.  He's leaned back in his seat with an air of confidence and detachment, his mannerisms implying more years than his flesh, and though he is an absolute work of art, he's far too expensive a work for me.  Guys like him are interested in girls like me for one reason.

     Already rejected by him in my mind, I'm just about to move on when we lock eyes.  Though embarrassed to be caught, I won't let his eyes chase mine away because I'm not the shy, blushing type.  Well, not usually, but as I look at this magnificent male specimen, I can only hope that his eyes aren't as attuned as mine to filtering out the red, ambient lighting because I can feel that his gaze has turned my cheeks the color of my shirt.  Giving him a last look, I crinkle my nose and slide back down to my feet, feeling vulnerable and exposed, like he has somehow seen through my painstakingly-crafted facade.

     Pretty doesn't even begin to cover it, Nicole, I think as I contemplate the backlog of drink orders this distraction has cost me.  I move as fast as I can to catch up until I feel myself drawn to a soft, masculine voice requesting "an Asgård and tonic, a Dos Equis, and a Labatt's...when you have a moment."  I look up to see Frat Boy's friend, the beautiful one, and I wonder how he managed to discretely get my attention over the relentless cackling of tipsy girls at the bar.  Then I realize the girls aren't cackling anymore.  His presence has silenced them.

     I know just how you feel, ladies, I think as I look up at him to see that he stands over six feet.  Tall, blonde, and hot as fuck - fate isn't playing fair with this godlike amalgamation of recessive traits.

     "Thirty-seven dollars," I say a few minutes later when I deliver his drinks.

     "Keep it," he says, handing me a fifty.  I thank him, and he nods, turns gracefully, and walks away, the crowd parting for him as if it were all choreographed.  Like all the other women, I'm transfixed, time standing still as I watch him from behind in his perfectly-fitted, charcoal, pinstripe suit.

     You're playing with fire, I warn myself, but I can't help it, even though I know damn well if his looks were stripped away, all that would be left is another overindulged, egotistical playboy who thinks he can snap his fingers and walk out of here with any girl he wants.  The difference is, this one actually can walk out of here with any girl he wants...any girl but me.

 

   Disgusted with myself, I focus only on my work, glad it's overwhelmingly busy because it puts the pretty playboy right out of my mind until I look up about thirty minutes later to find his friend standing there with another hundred.  He reminds me that I never gave him my number, and I remind him that I never intended to.  Then I begin counting the minutes I'll have to wait until they're ready for refills.

     "Another round?" I ask about half an hour after that, carrying a bottle of beer between every two fingers as I pass Tall, Blonde, and Gorgeous.

 

     "Please," he says, and I grab his friends' bottles from the cooler before mixing his gin and tonic.

 

     "By the way, I'm sorry about Steph."  He indicates the direction of his table with a motion of his head as I return to him.  Steph must be Frat Boy's name.

 

     "Someone should be," I snipe, setting his drinks on the bar.

 

     "Keep it,"  he says, sliding me another fifty, mouthing the words as if he has realized that making a show of tipping me is not something I like.  I know that's how it works, and until I finish my degree, it's my best option shy of stripping.  I still don't like it.

 

     "Thanks," I say.

 

   "You're welcome...uh..." he pauses and looks at my shirt where a nametag would be if I had one.

 

     "Not interested, Playboy," I snap at him out of habit.

 

     "Playboy," he says, raising an eyebrow, then he dips his head slightly and simply carries the drinks away.  No argument.  No comeback.  Nothing.

 

     "It's Evan.  My name's Evan," I call out without even thinking.

 

     God, how desperate did that sound?! I chide myself, cringing, but as he stops in his tracks, I'm suddenly on pins and needles, praying for him to turn around and come back to me.  He doesn't, but a few minutes later Nicole comes to the bar with an order for a tableside service for them.

     I do the prep work to make three Fire Goddesses, carefully layering the liqueurs into the shot glasses in neat bands, then I slip into my stiletto heels and put on red, pleather opera gloves that will allow me to spill a narrow flow of 151 rum down one arm to trickle the flammable proof into shot glasses.  I carry a mini fire extinguisher in my apron pocket just in case, and though I've never had to use it, as I head toward the table with the Norse god, I'm sure if I ever screw up and need to pull it out, it will be tonight.

 

     Leaving Nicole to tend the bar, I approach their table to find that walking all this way in my fuck-me pumps was for naught as they have been joined by three girls, and Playboy isn't even here.  I had assumed ordering these specialty drinks was a ploy to get me to their table, but seeing these other women with them, I suddenly feel very small and plain...like nothing more than the insignificant barmaid I probably am to these men.

     "Before you get started," Steph says as I set the shot glasses on the table.  "Can you add three more for our lovely guests?"  

 

     Irritated, I head off to set up the additional drinks, and though I'm too busy for it and know I shouldn't do it, I take the long way to the bar to give Playboy time to get back to his seat before I return.  I walk around the lava-red waters of the reflecting pool, trying not to be obvious as I scan the crowd for him when someone bumps me, and with one wrong step, I become swiftly and painfully aware that I am about to fall in the pool! 

Mortified, just before I suffer complete humiliation in front of everyone, someone comes out of nowhere and scoops me up like a super hero.  I look up warily and see Playboy's eyes inches from my own, our faces so close we could kiss, and oh, fuck me!  I don't know whether to blame the fact that his scent has set the entire surface of my skin ablaze or that everyone nearby starts clapping at my dramatic rescue, but I blush in his arms.  That's twice now.  I need get away from him with what little dignity I have left.

 

     "You can put me down now," I snap.

 

     "I don't even get a thank you?" he asks with a smug grin.

 

     "Thank you," I say grudgingly.  "Now put me down." 

 

     "Yes, ma'am," he says, setting me gently on my feet, and as I straighten my clothes and adjust the shoe on the foot that tripped, he leans over to whisper in my ear.

 

     "You should really be more careful playing in mommy's shoes, little girl."

 

 

     I know he did not just say that to me!  I stand frozen, not sure what to do next as my mind rages and my body struggles to expel the ghost of his sweet, gin-laced breath against my neck.  Part of me wants to shove him in the reflecting pool, but another part wants to take him home and tie him to my bed - a thought that has never crossed my mind before.

As he disappears into the crowd, I return to the bar to set up the other three drinks and get my shit together because I don't want him to see the slightest glimmer of what he has stirred inside me.  I just can't get him out of my head - his voice, his scent, his eyes...even in his arms, I couldn't tell if they were blue or green, but they're so pale and hypnotic, so beautiful.

 

     When I catch Nicole watching me with amusement, my defenses kick in, and I become myself again.  I take the shots to the table to find Playboy back in his seat, and though I glare at him, pissed about his comment - mommy's shoes! - I still find myself hoping he isn't planning on taking any of these girls home.  The one next to him is trying like hell to get his attention, batting her eyes up at him like she's starstruck, but he doesn't seem interested in the least as he leans back in his seat, one leg squared atop the other, watching me like I'm auditioning for him.

 

     I arrange the shot glasses to stream the fire into them, release the rum, and touch the spark to the headwaters.  The flaming liquor rolls into the first set of three, and I let it trail across the sealed pumice table to ignite the other.  As is typical, everyone at the table vocalizes their approval, the tramp beside Playboy perking up and clapping like a schoolgirl.  He shifts his eyes to her then rolls them back to me with a smirk before he throws the flaming shot back, swallowing without even wincing as a fleeting, purple flame dances on his lips, eliciting an atypical response beneath my apron.  It's time to get the hell away from this table.

For the remainder of the night, Playboy doesn't return to the bar, and though Steph does, he only comes for the two bottles of beer.  It makes for a heavy tip night, but I really can't stand the sight of him as his attempts to get my phone number have become more persistent.  Playboy probably made a bet with him to punish me for not falling all over myself for him.

     Oh, well.  At least I'll walk out of here several hundred dollars closer to saving the money I need for graduate school.  Taking courses online for my bachelor's degree, I have my future mapped out, and the last thing I need is a man complicating my life.

 

     I don't notice Playboy again until he and his friends are leaving.  It's almost closing time when I look up and see him standing by the elevator in the corner of the rooftop, scanning the bar until his eyes find mine.  Our gazes locked, he mouths something to me, punctuating it with a satisfied smile, but I suck at reading lips.  It isn't until later when everyone is gone and Nicole and I are cleaning up that I remember it and ask her if she caught what he said.

 

     "Yes," she says, always helpful in that regard.  Her little sister was born deaf, and Nicole's proficient at signing and lip reading as a result.  "He said 'You are mine.'" 

 

     Excuse me?

 

     I know one sign - the one I flip at Nicole because she's just now getting around to telling me.  If I had known at the time, I might have followed that cocky son-of-a-bitch into the parking lot to set him straight...assuming she read it right.  I hope she got it wrong.  Well, at least I choose to try to convince myself that I hope she got it wrong.

 

August 20

 

 

     Things at work are back to normal on Tuesday until I look up and see Playboy standing there with his smug grin.  My mind flashes back to his mouthed words at the door last night.  Even though Nicole probably misread it, part of me is a little excited at the prospect of it being true.  This man is impossibly sexy, and though I try to pretend not to notice him, when I smell his cologne delicately in the air as I breeze by him, I think vaguely that it must be what the air smells like in heaven.

 

     "When you have a chance..." he says, and I acknowledge him with a dismissive wave of my hand, trying to pretend he's no different than any other customer.

 

     "What'll it be, Playboy?" I ask when I'm finished making him wait.  He's wearing a suit again, light grey with no tie and a navy shirt that brings out more blue in his eyes.  Dozens of men come through here in tailored suits every night, but I have never undressed a single one of them with my eyes before.  I know it would be an exercise in futility, but I can't stop thinking about it.

 

     "Same round as last night," he says as if I would remember what he and his friends drank out of hundreds of other customers.  I do.  I just don't want him to know it.

     "Remind me again what beer Steph drinks," I say.

 

     "So you call Steph by name, but I'm still just Playboy?"

 

     "Steph tips me sixty dollars a round.  Playboy's the best you get for thirteen bucks," I snip, immediately regretting it.  His tips are already more than generous, and I certainly don't mean for him to tip me like his asshole friend, whose excessive tips are a degrading, thinly-veiled attempt to get me into bed.

 

     "I see," Playboy says with mock indignation as I walk away to fill his drink order.  When I return, he has his hand over a stack of bills on the bar.  He pushes them toward me.

 

     "Keep the change," he whispers and walks away.  There are over ten bills here, and the top one is a $5.  Nice.  He has probably cleaned the small bills out of his wallet.

 

     At the cash register, I count it and find that the second bill is a twenty, then a ten, then two ones for the whole $37 total, and...

     If he and Steph have a bet, he just really upped the ante, I think as I count the crisp, new one hundred dollar bills.  There are ten, and on the top one in the marker I use to redline the drinks on the waitresses' order pads is the word Mine.  A dreamy smile spreads across my face as I examine the other bills for more writing, wondering what it would be like to be his...to hold him...to kiss him...to...

     What the fuck are you doing?  I snap myself out of it.  This was no valentine!  "Be mine" is not the message a $1,000 tip is meant to convey, and I get the message loud and clear:  "Name your price, Evan."

     Furious, I stalk out from behind the bar to return his offensive tip along with a piece of my mind, but I can't find him or his friends anywhere.  Then I notice the drinks he bought sitting on a table near the elevator untouched.

     How dare he do that and just leave! I think as I return to the bar in a rage, but a few seconds later, Nicole brings a tray of empties to the waitress station, handing me a disposable coaster that changes my mood entirely.

     "From the gorgeous guy in the Tom Ford suit," she announces, knowing that name means nothing to me.  "You know, the hot, blonde guy you're so in love with."  I scowl at her as I read the note on the coaster.  It says "My name is Cain," and I laugh because pissing me off was all part of his plan.

     "I think he likes you, too," Nicole says.

 

     "I think he's a rich asshole."  A really hot, rich asshole.

 

 

August 21

 

     Wednesday is my first day off this week, and when Syndi from work picks Nicole up around 5:00 pm, I have the house to myself.  I settle in for a long, hot bath with a book, but I can't stay focused enough to read.  My mind keeps wandering back to work...to last night...to Cain.  He's so infuriating with his smug grin, his cocky attitude, his hair too long for nine-to-five with that damn strand of lighter blonde just a bit too short to stay tucked behind his ear, his eyes that look blue and green at the same time, his intoxicating cologne, his grin that curves a little more on one side, his confident attitude, his gorgeous dark blonde hair with that sexy strand that won't stay...

     Oh my God, Evan!  Stop it!  I scold myself.  The only thing that man has in mind for me is a starring role in the backseat of his Porsche, or fucking Lamborghini, or whatever pretentious-assed car he drives, and even if I wasn't certain he only wants me for his momentary sex toy, what's the point?  There is no reason to believe that he would be any different than all the other guys I've ever been with, and none of them could ever make it worth my effort.  Hell, maybe it's all me.  Maybe I really am frigid like I tell guys in bars to get them leave me alone, but if I am, then there is just no point in dragging myself through the motions with someone like Cain.  I'd be better off to stay celibate until I can figure out how to fix myself.  I do get aroused....well, sometimes I get a little bit aroused, and though I am loath to admit it, the thought of being with Cain excites me more than anything has in a very long time, maybe ever.  But my problem is not so much the journey as the destination.

     Feeling sorry for myself, I pull the plug, and as I'm wrapping the towel around my long, dark hair, I hear my cell phone alert me to a new message.

 

     Your friend is here asking about you, Nicole texts, and I feel a jolt of excitement.

 

     Tell him I am offended by his garish tip, I will absolutely not keep it, and I'm sure whomever is tending bar tonight is perfectly capable of mixing a suitable Asgård and tonic.  There.  I send it.

     As I towel-dry my hair, I catch myself looking expectantly at the phone, waiting for his reply, and finally, when I have already relented and turned on the hair dryer, it comes through.

     He said to tell you to buy yourself something pretty.

     God, he's exasperating!  I think as I grab my phone and begin furiously tapping out a response.

     Tell him that I hope to see him there tomorrow night so I can return his money as I do not intend to render whatever service would call for a tip of that obscene amount.  I hit send, and go back to blow drying my hair as I await his response, watching the phone as time ticks away.  It usually takes me about half an hour to get it completely dry, but when I finish, there is still no response.  I text again.

     Everything ok?  I ask, and about a minute later, Nicole responds.

 

    Yeah.  Got busy.  Cain left before I got a chance to deliver your last message.  Sorry.  :-( 

Oh, he would do that, wouldn't he?

 

August 22

 

     Thursday at 6:00 pm, I clock in at Prometheus.  It's our busiest week night, and I'm thankful because I need the distraction.  Nicole is already convinced that I am interested in Cain, and I don't want the hassle of having to argue the point with her when I know I barely have a leg to stand on.

     About an hour into my shift, I look up from the cash register to see him stepping out of the elevator.  I have been keeping my anger well-stoked as I waited for him, and how dare he come in here looking so hot!  He's wearing a black dress shirt and suit jacket, and when he rests his arms on the bar, platinum cuff links with the initial B catch the light.  He's too perfect, like he stepped out of an ad or off the cover of a magazine...or out of the sexual fantasies of the collective female consciousness.

     "There you are," I snap, fishing an envelope out of my apron pocket as I stalk toward him.  It contains the same ten $100 dollar bills he gave me.  I thrust it into his hand, feeling raw electricity as his fingers graze mine in passing.

     "What's this?" he asks.

     "You marked it 'mine,'" I say.  "If it's yours, you should keep it."

     "It isn't mine.  It's yours," Cain says.

     "That is not open for discussion."

     "As you wish," he says with no hint at how he's taking this beyond his clear amusement with his ability to piss me off.

     "Good," I say, thinking that we have come to an understanding.  "Can I get you a drink?"

     "No, thank you.  I won't be staying.  It was...interesting to meet you."  Cain turns away from me and disappears into the growing Thursday crowd.

     Well, Evan, I guess you got what you wanted - certainly what you deserved, I think as he walks out of my life.

     Though I know it's for the best, I'm still hopeful every time the elevator doors open for the rest of the night, but Cain does not return.  At closing time when everything has been cleaned, counted and put away, Nicole and I head down to the parking lot, and as I dig for the keys to my ten-year-old black Honda, I find something unexpected at the bottom of my purse.

     You've got to be fucking kidding me! I think as I pull out the same white #10 envelope I gave Cain earlier.  I don't know how he managed this, but here it is.  Warily, I peel back the tape, and inside I find ten $100 bills with "Yours" written on the top one.  It makes me laugh at first, but then I remember the way he left things between us.  He made it sound like I will never see him again to have another chance to give it back.  "It was interesting to meet you?"  That sure sounds like a goodbye to me, and in spite of everything, the thought of never seeing him again is profoundly bleak.

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