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This is a bit of a different story than I usually write, so I’m stretching a bit here. I hope it’s worth it. It’s far more character-based and told from multiple perspectives. I tried to give each character a unique voice. It didn’t always work, but it’s a start. Character perspectives changes (chapters) are noted with the Character’s name underlined.
The end of the story contains text from DMs between two characters. The character’s perspective telling that story has unformatted DM message text. The DMs from the character responding are in italics to help differentiate between the two. I hope this gets preserved.
This story is much more “vanilla” and real (vs. fantastic). Genre-wise, this has far less of the fetish aspect of my first stories, and is more of a slow build and tease, so don’t complain that there’s no bodies slapping in the first few pages. But it does get going. I promise.
Parts of this are taken from a real story I heard, but obvious liberties have been taken in this retelling.
This is a standalone story but clearly calls for more chapters. I’ll see what I can do to put something together.
A guy walks into a bar… I’m sure there’s a joke in there, but it’s most likely on me.
I should give some background. Cindy and I have been together for a bit over two years, and living together for the last nine months. We met while I was in grad school. I was bartending at night to help pay for the school, and was on a more … relaxed graduation schedule. So I’m 27, and two years older than Cindy, but she’s been working longer than I have. She’s got a good job in a PR firm and has been on some good local projects. I’m really happy for her.
I just took a job downtown and was finally getting my feet under me, financially. I owed Cindy in many ways for putting up with me. I know women take pride in men who are achievers, and I felt like a burden while I was still unemployed.
Anyways, it was Friday, the weather was great and Cin asked me to meet her at a bar midway between her office and mine. If you’ve been working in food service, once you get out, you tend to try and stay away. Not that I didn’t enjoy my time behind the bar; I really liked it for a bunch of reasons, which I’ll get to. I was trying to put that life behind me though, so after many offers to meet her office colleagues, I ran out of excuses and we set plans.
I dragged three guys from my team and we left. Traffic was tough, but we got lucky and made it there before six. Cin and her crew weren’t there, so we grabbed some beers, and saw they had a pool table.
Well, all right.
I finally got Danny to agree to meet the girls from my project team for drinks. He’s such a sweetie, but I was gonna seriously start withholding sex if he didn’t man up for this. It’s not like meeting after work should be a punishment. I totally told him he could bring some of his friends. The more the merrier, right? Some of the girls in my team are young and single, and a couple are pretty hot.
I really just wanted to show off Danny. He’s mine and he just makes me so happy. He was so down when he couldn’t get work, and this new job just changed everything for him. It’s not like he was unemployed – he had the bartending gig whenever he wanted, and it was good money, but he never regarded that as honest work. His friend Mark had called him and said that his department was hiring and that he’d put in a good word. Sure enough, my Danny got it. It was like it was meant to be.
He was always confident, but he’s such a man, he needs to provide. I love that about him. He wants a family. I think he’d be a great dad when it happens.
When he was bartending, he still made enough money to pay for school, his apartment and everything. He acted like I was bailing him out. I mean I paid for one or two dates a month, that was about it. But that was enough to make him sulk sometimes that he wasn’t doing enough for me. As if.
We went to separate schools in the same area. I was outside the city, he was at a downtown campus. I met him at the bar he worked at and flirted shamelessly with him. I was, like, one of dozens throwing themselves at him during a weekend. It was bad enough that my friends threatened to ban me from the place for my own good. Whenever I it was my turn to pick where we were going, my friends just defaulted that we would go to his bar and I would stare at him the whole time. My friends all got endless dates, I got to look at him and ignored everyone else. I dated, sure. But it was a few weeks here and there. These were college guys. They’re the definition of short shelf life. I just knew Danny was different.
Danny is not a pretty boy, but he’s handsome, manly. Broad shoulders and square jaw. He’s a great talker when he wants to be and he’s got the cutest smile; if he shows it, the room lights up. He even smells great!
But when he was working, he Bursa Escort was all business. Nothing fancy. I love that he could separate the two. He lights up for me and for his friends, but is serious around people he doesn’t know. He just does it for me. And about a thousand other girls before me, if the rumors were true.
I pined for him through my senior year and after graduation, I stayed in town and got my job. I would still go to his bar, but not so often. I was trying to shake the college thing and, you know, be an adult. But I still went back to see him. I dunno what it was, but I finally got to talk to him a few times. My stars must’ve aligned, cuz when I asked him out, he said yes. That was the best thing anyone ever did for me.
Danny didn’t owe me, I owed him.
One of the nice things about bartending is you get to meet a ton of girls, if that’s your thing. I worked in a popular club, which did great business with the college crowd. Which meant I had access to a constantly refreshed pool of beautiful college girls. It honestly gets to be a bit much after a while; you need to disregard the pretty faces who are there for a one-nighter and a hook up for free drinks. It just wears thin.
Most nights I kept to myself. Working in a high-volume place, you’re busting ass all night anyways. It’s not like I have time to hit on every hardbody that’s buying a round. Sure, I smile. But there’s a line. Girls don’t tip that much. Smile nice and they may throw you the coins. Guys, on the other hand, tip. But if they see you smiling too much at the women, they know the deal and they won’t tip. So, you gotta walk a line – do you want to chase girls? Or pay rent?
I’m good with faces. It helped in that job. I remembered Cin. Always wide-eyed. Always staring. I can tell. It’s an awareness thing. Scan the crowd to find customers waiting. When you keep seeing the same face, it registers. See someone constantly looking at you? It sticks after a while.
She hung around for years, through her school and then after once she got a job in town. She went to that nice suburban college, which cost her folks a pretty penny. But it’s not like they noticed. She was loaded, but never showed it. It wasn’t until we were dating that I found that out. But money’s not why I dated her.
Before her, I had been dating the same girl for three years before I even met Cin. She went to my school, and she was … She was my ‘one who got away’. Stevie was fire to my gasoline. Impulsive. Breathtaking. A body like a statue. Always moving forward, looking for her next fix. We couldn’t keep our hands off each other, and we got along even better when we weren’t fucking each other’s brains out. She was whip smart and just had that spark.
Of course, it didn’t work out, for a bunch of reasons. I wouldn’t be telling this story if it did, right? But after she left town and left me, I just … I dunno. I never heard from her again. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t talk to her again.
After being with, and losing, someone like her, I had to change. So, I moped and asked for advice. The best I got was that I bury all of that. Have a nice funeral, honor your relationship but acknowledge that it was dead, and that I was still living. I kept no reminders other than my memories and started over. I even changed my name. I had gone through school with my nickname of JR, for “junior” (I was Daniel Preston Jr.), and went back to Dan. It seemed time for that. A grown-up thing.
I reassessed. I needed someone more grounded and someone who would stay around after the party. I eventually found Cin. Or she tells me she waited for me. Cin is great. Balanced. Passionate in her own way. Thoughtful but still independent. I took it slow with her. And it worked. And here we are. There is hope for each one of us.
I DM’d Danny that we were close. He and his guys had beaten us to the bar. I had four of my girls in tow and once we made it in, we found the bar was really busy. We made our way around the bar and I was looking for Danny, but I didn’t see him. I found Mark at the pool table and he told me Danny had just gone to the men’s room. I made introductions and as the two groups began to mingle, I tried to flag a waitress to take our order. The guys moved a few small tables together for our larger group
“Oh, here he comes,” Mark said, pointing. I saw Danny make his way through the crowd. I felt so happy to see him.
I met him and gave him a big hug. “It’s about time I got you out.”
“Hi sweetie. Tell me about it. You finally made it yourself.”
“Honey, it’s downtown on a Friday. There’s no going anywhere fast. Here, come meet the girls.” We walked over to the joined tables. “Hey ladies. It’s about time you finally met the mystery guy.” They turned. “Danny, this is Emily, Jen, Carrie and Stephanie.” Danny waved and opened his mouth to speak, but seemed to freeze for a second. He had a look that I’d Bursa Bayan never seen before. It was like he didn’t know what to do. I felt one of the tables jostle, and a beer mug hit the ground behind me and shattered.
One of other nice things about bartending is that you learn to speak when your brain shuts off. It’s like multitasking in a way. Bartenders have hundreds of little conversations every shift. The practice and repetition burn the social routine into your brain about how to behave, even if your mind is doing five other things at once. It really helps with public speaking too; actors and bartenders tend to be two working groups who can get up in front of a crowd and not want to faint from stage fright. It’s weird but true.
I needed every bit of that autopilot at that introduction.
Stevie was standing in front on me for the first time in over four years. My Stevie. Stephanie.
She saw me and knocked a glass mug off the table. I saw it all, like it was in slow motion. Starting off the fall in one piece, spinning, only to shatter into a thousand pieces. Just like me.
I didn’t even hear it break. In fact, I heard nothing but a high-pitched whine in my ears. My heart was pounding a staccato thumping. Urgent and insistent, pouring adrenaline into my arteries. Run! I actually felt like that was my best option.
I felt flushed, as if the room was suddenly ten degrees hotter. My eyes went blank with tunnel vision before feeling an almost vertiginous spinning. All moisture left my mouth. I stuck my hand awkwardly across to her.
I was in panic mode. I had stage fright.
“Hi. I’m Dan.” I grinned, my face like porcelain and ready to crack.
She was impossibly beautiful. I had done my best to not think about her since she left me, but of course I did from time to time. In all the times that I thought about her, those dreams paled in comparison to this person in front of me.
I cannot begin to describe her. The tunnel vision gave her a glow. I mean, she had an honest-to-god aura. Her hair, her clothes. She was somehow occupying more than three dimensions. It was as if she projected out into some sublime direction that science hasn’t yet found but which poets had discovered long ago.
This was not happening. This was the last thing I wanted. This was dead and buried, funeral and all. And I couldn’t say anything to anyone about it. You never talk about the dead.
Stevie, for her part, reacted similarly. No one else would pick it up, but I knew. Her mouth was open for a beat too long, before she looked at the floor at the broken glass and realized she was responsible. That was one of her tells. But in her own charming and practiced way, she closed it, grinned an easy and gorgeous smile and shook my hand, ignoring the mess.
“Stephanie. Hi! Dan. Nice to meet you.”
A quick shake and release. I think only about 100,000 volts went through me at her touch. Letting go of her hand at that moment may have been the most difficult thing I had done in years.
I had a million questions. I had even more emotions. I felt the overwhelming desire to pick her up and mash my mouth against hers. To cry. To laugh. To just look at her. I ached.
“You too. Stephanie.” I nodded, and she gave a quick shy nod and a smile. My heart was broken worse than that glass.
I turned away and introduced myself to the rest of the girls, Carrie, Emily and Jen. Handshakes and introductions, but that bartender’s sense that two sets of eyes were staring at me. Cindy, beaming with pride on my right. Stevie, inscrutable and intense on my right. I felt as though I were vibrating like a plucked string and might snap at any second.
I turned to my right, and the world slowly started moving again. “Wow!” I felt a lunatic grin plastered to my face. “So, this is everybody?”
Cindy, for her part, and bless her for it, playfully swatted my shoulder. “Look what you made Stephanie do?” I froze. What did she know? What did I give away? I don’t think I ever even spoke about Stevie with her. Not even her name. Before I could think about it, she redirected me to the broken glass and puddle now on the floor.
“Oh, did I do that?” I looked up to Cindy. “Let me go get a mop.” Seeing my chance to begin breathing again away from Stevie and away from the mess, I began to move.
Cindy grabbed my arm “What? The cleaners will get it!”
“Let me just go tell them about it, they may not have heard.”
“They heard. Listen, just go get a round for the table,” she said, laughing at my ditzy behavior. “I’ll take a cider.” Ignoring Stevie, I got Jen, Carrie and Emily’s orders.
Finally turning to her, I spoke softly enough only for her to hear “Whiskey coke?” The smile she gave me made me feel like I was floating. She nodded. I disappeared into the crowd, grateful to escape.
I felt a bit like a hostess, making sure that everyone was properly Escort Bursa introduced. It just feels better when everyone gets along. Danny’s coworkers were nice. Mark chatted with me and Jen. The other two guys, Kenny and Tom hovered around Stephanie like dogs in heat.
She was so sweet. Whenever we went out, she had no lack of offers of companionship. But she was far from a slut. She was engaged for one thing. Some doctor. She didn’t talk about him that much but there was a big ol’ rock on her finger. With her, though, guys just saw that as a challenge. As if.
But I could see why guys would be gaga for her. First of all, she was gorgeous. Most days, she wouldn’t wear much more than some foundation and a little liner. She didn’t even need that. High cheekbones and almond-shaped green eyes gave her a sultry look. She wore her blonde hair in a ponytail most times, but it was shoulder length when she let it down. When she was made up, she was simply stunning. Like, you felt like a candle sitting next to a lighthouse.
Her figure, curves and skin, just made guys not only look twice, but to not even stop looking. She could wear anything and have it look like she was on a fashion runway. Heels, flats or sneakers, she just moved like a cat. Graceful and fluid.
Thankfully, if you just talked with her, she was down to earth. Otherwise, I think any woman would feel jealous. She would tolerate the attention she got from men (and more than a few women) and politely deflect it. Emily and Carrie had happily gone home with castoffs that Stephanie had politely turned down. And even when she turned guys down, they were, like, happy. She was so sweet about it.
She was not dumb, by any means. She could carry a conversation, but always listened too. I got the feeling she had a lot going on under the surface. Get a few drinks in her, and there was something else. A little sadness, like she was waiting for something. If I asked her about it, she would shake it off, like a little rain had gotten on her and she would just change the subject and ask about me. I could take the hint.
By the time Danny got back with the drinks, Kenny and Tom had gotten her to the pool table. Good. I hope she had fun. Danny unloaded the drinks, and realizing Stephanie was gone. He looked up and around for her. “Stevie… Stephanie?” I pointed to the pool table. He sighed and left the drink on the table.
Danny tried to engage with Mark, me and Jen. We talked about the upcoming weekend and did some people watching. The bar was full, and now that we were all here, the drinks started flowing. Danny told me he would drive, so he stopped after two drinks. We ordered some food when the pool players returned. Danny excused himself to go outside.
Stephanie sat next to me, clinking glasses in a quick toast. Looking around, she asked “Where’s your man?”
“Oh he stepped out.” Looking out the window, I could see him pacing outside. He looked like he was smoking. Which was impossible since he quit after we started dating. I would have to give him shit. No way was he staying with me stinking of cigarettes.
She nodded and took a sip. “Looks like a good idea. I could use a smoke myself.”
“Tell him he better not stink like an ashtray.” She smiled. Thank god she was a good person. I could see a girl like her being just Danny’s type.
Well, that could not have gone worse if the whole bar caught fire and trapped us inside. I might have preferred that to the conversation I was about to have, which was four years overdue.
JR stood back to me, looking out at the street. He was always still and cool, but I could see the tension in him. He bounced slightly on the balls of his feet. He only did that when he was agitated, like before a big exam. Christ, I was tense too. But for the first time in a long time, I felt something else, too.
“Bum a smoke?” I asked. He didn’t even turn.
“I quit,” he said.
“But you’re smoking.”
“Am I?” He turned and looked at me. And then his hand. And then at me again. “Huh.” He took a drag.
He looked good. Really good. I wanted to run to him and climb up to his mouth and … We were standing in the middle of a big goddamn fish bowl where his girlfriend and our work colleagues were a few feet away. So, what I wanted wasn’t going to happen. But we could talk.
I walked to some guy smoking a few feet away and got a smoke from him, and a light.
I came back and he turned to me.
“You look amazing, Stevie” he said, with a little hitch in his voice. “Stephanie.”
“Stevie,” I thought out loud. I haven’t heard that name in ages. I had to convince myself that this was real, that this was happening. “Stevie.”
“I’ve been back. A few years now.”
“How was California?” he asked, taking a drag.
“It’s still there. How’s your life?”
“Look, do you really wanna go there?” He didn’t have to raise his voice for the pain to be crystal clear.
“Hey,” I held my hands up. “I’m just trying to make some conversation.” It was a lie. I was trying to control myself from telling him I wanted to fuck his brains out right there, not caring who saw us.
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