Sandcastle Kisses(2)

By: Krista Lakes & Mel Finefrock

“Glasses filled. Got it,” I replied.

“If they give you any trouble, just let me know.” The dark-haired woman smiled at me and handed me a form to sign. “This is a standard non-disclosure agreement. Your boss said you'd be fine with it.”

I quickly scrolled through the form. It seemed pretty straight forward. Don't tell people who you met here or what they said. I could understand that famous people wouldn't want to be outed on their vacations or have their drunken ramblings posted across the internet. Signing was easy enough. I handed her back the papers.

Rachel tucked my form behind several others. “Besides that, I'll pay you at the end of the night. Any questions?”

“Just where the 'Man Cave' is,” I answered. Rachel's smiled broadened.

“Down that hallway, and then you'll see stairs on your left. Follow the sounds of the boys from there, and you'll find the bar. Remember, have fun. Just tell the guy in the Hawaiian shirt that you're the bartender,” she said as a smirk passed over her face at mentioning the Hawaiian shirt.

“Okay, thanks!” I said, but she was already back to her clipboard and chasing after a man wearing a catering uniform. I shook my head. She reminded me of my mom chasing after my little brother and his friends at a birthday party.

I followed Rachel's directions, easily found the stairs, and descended down. “Man Cave” was an excellent term for the room. A tattered but comfortable-looking couch sat in front of a TV big enough to fit in a theater. I could see all sorts of game consoles plugged in and neatly arranged in a massive entertainment system. There was a much-loved pinball machine in the corner and cozy chairs were scattered through the room. The bar took up the far wall, all wooden and shiny with various neon signs overhead. I could see another adjacent room where the DJ equipment was set up. Two men, one blonde and one with sandy hair, were the only party guests I could see so far.

When I stepped from the bottom stair, a large man stepped directly into my path, his arms crossed and an unhappy look on his face. I gulped hard and looked up at his piercing blue eyes. He looked like a sword: thin, limber, and deadly as hell. Then I noticed the brightly patterned shirt with red parrots and blue drinks. It didn't look right on him. It was like a tiger wearing a tutu.

“Um, I'm the bartender,” I squeaked. Somehow the man grew taller. Scarier. He was the big bad wolf from the fairytales and he was going to eat me alive. “The woman upstairs told me to tell the guy wearing the Hawaiian shirt...” my voice faltered.

“Quit scaring the poor girl,” someone from the party said, putting a hand on Hawaiian-shirt's shoulder. Hawaiian-shirt winked at me, allowing a hint of a smile peek through his tough facade. I nearly giggled with relief.

“Don't mind Dean. He's just mad that we made him dress up for the occasion,” my savior said. “I'm Jack. The bar's this way.”

“Izzy,” I replied. “Nice to meet you.”

I slipped behind the bar and promptly ran into a solid mass of man muscle. I watched in horror as our collision spilled the glass of ice in his hand down the front of his shirt.

“Oh crap! I'm so sorry,” I apologized, reaching for some napkins. I found a dry bar towel and held it out to him. He dabbed at his black t-shirt and laughed.

“Don't worry about it. At least it was just ice,” he said and handed me back the towel. “I'm Noah. I'm going to be helping you out tonight.”

He held out his hand to shake mine. It was warm and strong. My eyes traced from his hand, up perfectly sculpted biceps to a strong jaw and dark hair. His eyes were what made me lose my train of thought, though. They were robin’s egg blue and held depths that made my knees weak. Words left my brain. He was flipping gorgeous.

He picked up a new glass and put fresh ice in it to finish making his drink. Vodka, Sprite, some grenadine, and a cherry on top. A bit girly, I thought, keeping my face straight.

“A Naughty Shirley for the man of the hour,” he said, handing the completed drink across the bar to Jack. Jack took a big sip and let out a sigh of happiness.

“Best bartender ever,” he said, winking at me.

“The woman upstairs didn't say anything about having someone else,” I said. The bar was barely big enough to hold both of us. We were going to be running into one another all night. Taking another look at him, though, I didn't really mind that idea.

“The guys brought me in special. I used to be their bartender when we were in college.” Noah grinned at me.

“All right.” I grinned back and pulled out an empty beer pitcher. I had a couple of crumpled ones in my pocket that I threw in it and set it out on the counter. “What side of the bar do you want?”