Finally, my busy night was winding down. I looked at the clock with relief as it told me that the bar was going to be locked up in thirty minutes. Usually, I loved having my Tuesday nights all to myself behind the main bar, but tonight I got hit with one of the craziness shifts of my ten year career at The Saloon. The only people left in my joint were my best friend Kyle, making out in a darkened corner with his flavor of the week, I think her name is Veronica, and my co-owner Rodney.
I really loved the gig Rodney and I had worked out here, we both shared the ownership, he handled the paperwork, and I ran our bar. We never fought and rarely disagreed, it was perfect. His wife and I grew up together and I introduced them when he had just started out with me as a bar back. When the former owners decided retiring was in their best interest, Rodney, Candice, and I jumped on the best opportunity ever.
I hummed along to the James Taylor song playing softly from the juke box, wiping down all of the liquor bottles on the back wall. The end of the nights were always my favorites; quiet, peaceful, relaxing. The line I was swaying to was interrupted by a low, husky voice that sent chills down my spine, I never wanted to hear its seductiveness again, “Hey there, Pretty Girl. It’s been too long.” I froze for a second, bottle clutched in my hand, yielded as a weapon from the past threatening to assault my dreams again.
Before turning around, I seethed, “Ryan, you promised to stay the fuck away from me and my damn bar.” I turned around, fire smolder in my eyes, my entire body ridged.
His eyes dove to the bar, as he nervously rubbed the back of his neck, showing off this tattoo under his bicep, the one he got for me. The sight of it made my heart sting and my fury flare, “Do you have nothing else to say? Just come in here, pissed me off to high heaven and then be fucking quiet.” I hoped he couldn’t see that my hands and knees were shaking. “What they fuck is wrong with you?”
“I just had to see you again…” His voice trailed off, weak and desperate. I could not let him play with my emotions again, I had to stay steadfast.
“I really don’t care what the hell you want, Ryan. You played with my heart, you don’t get the privilege of ever seeing me again. Now don’t let the door hit you in the ass as you leave.”
I let my voice get overly loud that last sentence, sending a ridged signal over to Kyle, who already had a death stare going into the back of Ryan’s head. Within seconds, Kyle was sitting next to Ryan, glaring at him, the blonde bimbo pouting about his sudden lack of attention to her enormous fake tits that were practically out of his tight leather top.
“Can I get a beer to break over this joker’s skull, Kori?” I shook my head no at Kyle’s ridiculous request, crossing my arms, never loosing eye contact with my ex-from-hell’s gorgeous light hazel eyes. I soaked in his chiseled jawline and overly tight black Vneck that was showing the perfect amount of muscle definition. The husky sound of his voice brought me back to my hatred, and my blood boiled again.
“Look, I didn’t mean to barge in here and piss you off. I just really need to talk to you, Kor. Please?” There was a brokenness behind his words that made me think about breaking my rule about never being nice to him again.
“What is it, Ryan? You owe another bookie?” He shook his head, denying my allegation. All I could do was shrug, “It was a good guess. I mean the last time I saw you, you had a broken arm and black eye from a debt. That bookie broke the back door a week after I fired your ass.” My words were bitter and harsh and felt so great coming out.
“I need somewhere to hide, Kor. I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t know it would be last place anyone would look for me. The whole town knows how you feel about me.”
I could see Kyle’s entire body tense up, ready to throw Ryan out on the streets, but for some reason I knew he was right, this was the last place anyone would look for him and if he was coming here, he was in tough shit.
I leaned in close, staring my worst nightmare in the face, letting my voice be as mean and heartless as I could get it, “You have some fucking balls to come in here after everything and ask for my help.”
His expression fell, twisting into almost physical pain, he nodded and got up from his stool, “Yeah, I know. I had to give it a shot though. Honestly, I don’t mean any harm. I’ll become that ghost again, Kori. Don’t worry. Like I promised before, I’m going to stay out of your life.”
As Ryan started to walk towards the door, all new emotions flooded in, my girly-softer side betrayed me completely. Before I could rethink what I was saying, the words were floating in midair, “Wait, Ryan. Sit. You have one night, on one condition.”
He spun on his heels, his face filled with relief, “Name it…”
My strength came back into my voice, “You tell me everything.”