I felt alive.
The alternating flashes of dark and soft lights, the throbbing pulse from an Ellie Goulding club mix, the movement of sweaty bodies dancing, grinding, enjoying each other—The Sky Launch Nightclub got into my blood and turned me on in a way that I hadn’t let anyone or anything else do in quite some time. When I was there—working the bar, assisting the wait staff, attending to the DJs—I felt more free than at any other time of my day. The club held magic.
And, for me, healing.
For all its vibrancy and life, the club was a safe haven for me. It was a place I could attach myself without worry of going overboard. No one was going to sue me for focusing too hard or long on my job. But rumor was The Sky Launch, which had been up for sale for quite some time, was about to be sold. A new owner could change everything.
“Laynie.” Sasha, the waitress working the upper floor, pulled me from my thoughts and back to my job. “I need a vodka tonic, a White Russian, and two Butterballs.”
“Got it.” I pulled the vodka from the shelf behind me.
“I can’t believe how busy we are for a Thursday,” she said as I worked on her order.
“It’s the summer crowd. Give it a week, and the place will explode.” I couldn’t wait. Summer at the club was a total blast.
“That’s when things around here get fun.” David Lindt, the club manager, joined our conversation, a sparkle showing in his eyes as the bright white light that lit the bar illuminated his face.
“Real fun.” I gave David a wide smile and winked while I placed the drinks on Sasha’s tray, my stomach tensing with a flicker of desire.
He answered my wink with one of his own, stirring the flicker in my belly to a low flame.
David wasn’t the love of my life—not even the love of the moment—but his shared passion for the club sparked something in me. My interest in learning more and moving up from bartending had seemed to interest him as well. More than one late night of showing me the ropes had ended in heavy make-out sessions. Though I hadn’t been instantly attracted to him, his small stature, curly blonde hair and blue eyes had grown on me. Also, his keen business sense and exceptional management style were qualities I required in a man. And, truthfully, the lack of effect he had on my emotions provided half the draw. We had decent chemistry, but he didn’t have me freaking out all over him like I had over other guys. He was safe and solid and that was my definition of the perfect man.
I rang up Sasha’s order while David filled shot glasses—Todd’s order, I suspected, another waiter standing next to Sasha. David rarely stepped behind the bar anymore, but we were short-staffed for the night and I welcomed his help. Especially with the way we were picking up. A regular and his friends had leaned against the bar waiting for my attention, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a suit taking a spot at the far end of the counter.
I handed Sasha her ticket, but David stopped her before she could take off. “Hold on. While there’s at least a few of us here, I think we should toast to Laynie.” He passed around the shots he’d been filling. Tequila—my liquor of choice.
I peered at him suspiciously. While it wasn’t unusual to have a shot or two while working a shift, it was always kept on the down-low, never in front of our manager and certainly not at his encouragement.
“No worries,” David said, bumping my shoulder with his. “It’s a special occasion.”
With a shrug, I smiled and took the shot he offered me. “You’re the boss.”
“We’re too busy for a proper toast, so let’s just say this is to Laynie. We’re proud of you, girl.”
I blushed and clinked glasses as everyone around, including the regular customer and his friends, shouted out “hear, hear” and “cheers.”
“Woo hoo!” I screamed my own excitement. I’d worked hard to get my degree. I was proud of myself too. I slammed the shot back, enjoying the burn as it lined my throat and spread through my veins. “Goddamn, that’s nice!”
Aware that the crowd was getting antsy, Sasha took off with her order while David filled Todd’s. I turned my attention first to the regular, a guy whose name deserted me. He leaned in to give me a hug, which I returned. I might not remember him, but I knew how to earn my tips.
“Four of whatever’s on tap,” he said, raising his voice over the music which seemed to have gotten louder in the last few minutes. “Where’s Liesl?”
I handed him his first two mugs and began work on the next two. “Since she’s covering all my shifts next week she has tonight off.” That’s right—this was the guy that usually flirted with Liesl, another bartender.
“That’s cool. So what are you doing on your vacation?” With Liesl not around, Regular turned his charm on me. His eyes travelled to my br**sts that were admittedly hard to miss. Especially with my low-cut neckline. I had some nice girls, who could blame me for showing them off?
“Absolutely nothing.” I hoped my delivery sounded like I was looking forward to my vacation. Truth was I’d taken the time off so I could go home and spend time with my older brother. But only that morning, Brian had called the trip off, saying that he was too swamped with work. He wouldn’t even be able to make it to my graduation.
I swallowed the emotions that threatened to show on my face. On top of being disappointed, I was terrified. Me with nothing to occupy my time was not an attractive me. I’d almost told David several times to go ahead and put me on the schedule, but every time I started, I felt like a total loser. Maybe a week off would be good for me. I could handle it. Right?
Now wasn’t the time to fret about the week to come. I finished the transaction with Regular and slid down the bar to take care of the suit at the end of the counter.
“Now what can I get…you…?” My words trailed off as my eyes met the suit’s, the air leaving my lungs, suddenly sucked out by the sight that met me. The man…he was…gorgeous.
I couldn’t look away, his appearance magnetizing. Which meant he was exactly the type of man I should avoid.
After the numerous heartaches that had dotted my past, I’d discovered that I could divide the men I was attracted to into two categories. The first category could be described as f**k and forget. These were the men that got me going in the bedroom, but were easy to leave behind if necessary. It was the only group I bothered with anymore. They were the safe ones. David fell into this category.