“What can I get for you, sweetie?” I asked a tall redheaded patron dressed like an Arthurian knight. He lifted the shield on his metal helmet and leaned across the shiny surface of the silver bar. I couldn’t tell if it was a trick of the lighting or if the baby blues gazing my way were truly that rich in color.
“Could I trouble the lady for some mead, for I am quite parched?” He asked in an exaggerated English accent.
I gave him a quick nod and my biggest smile. He was a larper and most of the customers who came here to use the live action role playing room refused to come out of character, even to place their drink orders. After working at Nerdvana, Cascade Falls’s hottest geek-themed bar for the past three months, I’d gotten used to the quirky—and sometimes downright odd—habits of our patrons. The men that came here might be a tad dorky and have unconventional hobbies, but none of them were ever rude or tried to grab my ass or tits. A relief compared to some of the other bars I’d worked at.
“I hope the mead is to your liking, good sir.” I said and put a beaker full of draft beer in front of him.
When he picked up the glass vial and put it to his lips, I grabbed the ends of my short plaid skirt and did a small curtsey. I found that when I played along and humored the guys they tended to be much more generous with their tips. Leaning forward, I squeezed my arms toward my center and pushed my D cups together, causing cleavage to pop out of the top of my white t-shirt. Showing the customers a little something-something always helped line my pockets, too. I watched as the redhead’s gaze traveled from my face to my chest.
“Honey, your face is the same color as your hair. I’m Jamie. What’s your name?”
I stuck my hand out. After a couple seconds he seemed to snap out of his daze and he brought his stare back up to my face. He clasped my hand and somehow turned an even darker hue of scarlet.
“Maybe I’ll just call you Red. It can be my special nickname for you.” I gave him a wink and was about to turn away when he finally managed to speak.
“I’m Les. Sorry, it’s just…girls like you don’t usually talk to guys like me.” He shrugged and took another sip of his beer.
“What do you mean guys like you? Guys who larp? You should come to Nerdvana more often. Out in the real world people might not get larping or the appeal of video games, but in here? It’s a whole different story.” I paused as I pointed to the row of booths across from the bar.
Each booth butted against a wall and had a flat-screen TV attached to the end of the table. Video gaming systems ranging from the 80s to present day were installed on built-in shelves on the wall. Dustin, one of the owners of the bar and my boss, aptly named the place Nerdvana, with the live action role playing room, comic book nook and video game section, it was truly a haven for nerds.
“You’re really cute, and in this place, you’re like a king—no pun intended of course,” I pointed to his Arthurian-esque garb. “What I’m getting at is you shouldn’t be so shy. I bet I could get you laid tonight, if that’s what you wanted.”
Les looked at me with his mouth gaping open. Damn, maybe I’d been too presumptuous. I probably shouldn’t have said so much. My roommate Olivia was always nagging me about that. I had horribly loose lips.
“Wh-who-who do you think would want to lay me?” He ducked his head and I had to strain to hear the next question he asked me. “Or is that offer coming from you?”
I burst out laughing. It didn’t matter how sweet and geeky they might seem, give a guy an inch…
“Well, like I said you’re a cutie but…”
“I get it, you don’t do pity fucks. It’s cool. I need to get back to my game. How much for the beer?”
“Hey,” I said, and put my hand on top of his, all kidding aside. “I’m not trying to be a bitch. And I’m not rejecting you for the reason you think I am. Maybe that’s your problem. Maybe if you didn’t sell yourself short, you’d have better luck with the ladies.” I leaned forward again, this time I got so close my face was only inches from his. In doing so, it put the ledge of the bar under my sternum. I knew that Red was getting a spectacular view of my cleavage.
“Between you and me, if we’d met somewhere else, I would take you back to my place tonight and fuck your brains out. It just so happens I’m trying to be good here. You don’t want to get mixed up with a girl like me.”
I kept my gaze trained on him, hoping he would take my advice and that maybe the next time a chick came on to him, he’d take it seriously and not brush her off. Les put down his empty beaker and I couldn’t help but notice he did so with a shaky hand. Damn, he was totally adorable. I hadn’t been lying to him or just trying to flatter him in hopes of a fatter tip. A part of me wanted to take this shy guy with the deep blue eyes home with me and do wicked things to him.
“Jesus, Jamie. Don’t scare the customers. Dustin wouldn’t like that, you know.”
At the sound of my roommate’s trilling tone I whipped my head to the left. She was sitting next to Les, but I hadn’t even seen her approach. I bit my bottom lip. I wonder how much of the conversation she’d heard?
“Liv…when did you get here?”
It was a bullshit question I used to try to gauge her mood. Not only was Olivia my roommate, but she and Dustin had been dating for the past couple months. I guess I should’ve been creeped out by the fact that my boss and roommate were shagging, but they made an amazing couple. I’d never seen Olivia as happy as she’d been since she and Dustin had become an item.
A situation that might never have happened if I hadn’t stuck my nose into her life and told her she was making a mistake. Originally, she’d wanted to stick to her no dating in college motto when her and Dustin first started hooking up. I made her realize how pointless that rule was. A fact I tucked into my mental back pocket, should Liv decide to start lecturing me now. Maybe if she lectured me, I’d simply remind her that I’d been the one to talk some sense into her stubborn ass, and if she hadn’t listened to me in the first place, she might not be blissfully happy with Dustin.
“I’ve been here long enough to know what you’d do to this handsome knight if you weren’t on the clock.” My bestie shot me side eyes.
Shit. So, she’d heard. Oh, well. Liv knew me better than anyone else. She couldn’t even claim to be surprised by my intentions.
“Look, ah, Jamie. I’ll see you around. I need to get back to the larping room.”
Before I could say anything else to Les, he turned and walked toward the two-story glass room in the corner of the bar. Damn, I guess I really had scared him. Or shocked the hell out of him. I didn’t know if I should feel confused or rejected.
“Jamie, really? Him?”
“What? You think I don’t like redheads? Think they’re not cute as hell? ‘Cause I guess that means you’ve never seen Prince Harry?”
My best friend rolled her eyes.
“Or Ed Sheeran with his oh-so-innocent looking face and that inked up body? I mean, who doesn’t love a juxtaposition like that?”
“Wow, listen to you throwing big words around. I wasn’t referencing his hair color. You know that sweet guy’s probably never been propositioned like that before, right?”
“Propositioned? What the hell, Liv? You make me sound like a hooker.” I noticed a customer waving a couple of bills at me in my peripheral. I held an index finger up to the guy flashing his money, letting him know I’d get his order in a minute. “Do you want your usual?”
“Yeah, but you can wait on that guy first. He seems like he’s in a hurry.”
“I need a round for this table and that one.” He pointed to two tables behind him, then he turned toward the group in question. “Yes! You got to the next level. That’s legit, dude!” He let out a loud whoop, proud of his friend’s video-gaming skills.
Jesus, these fucking guys, I swear. Working at Nerdvana was awesome but sometimes the customers got so excited about their make-believe world, it was weird. I poured a round of cocktails for the over excited customer. He paid with several large bills and told me to keep the change, which equaled a nearly ten dollar tip. Lucky for me, alcohol makes people generous. Most customers opt to pay the extra two bucks to drink their libations from a glass beaker—and sure, it looks cool—but it gets people hella inebriated, hella quick. Sometimes I wondered if Dustin and his business partner Quinn had really thought that aspect through when they came up with the idea.
I poured a gin and tonic into a beaker and slid it across the counter to Olivia. Unlike some patrons, Liv knew her limits when drinking. One beaker of the classic cocktail and she was good for the whole night.
“So what’s up with you tonight? Why are you busting my ass about a little harmless flirting? You should be doing the nasty with Dustin back in his office.”
“Whatever, that’s only happened once or twice.”
I shot my best friend a bitch, please look. She and my boss hooked up in his office more times than I could count. Not that I blamed her. Dustin’s a fucking fox. He’s a dead ringer for Adam Levine and I mean, what red-blooded woman in her right mind wouldn’t want to jump on that?
“Don’t try to make this about me, Jamie. You know I love you, right? So can I speak honestly and you promise not to get offended?”
I begrudgingly nodded my head.
“That knight was adorable, but you have to be…a bit less direct with the nerdy, shy types.”
I shrugged. “You know me, guys are like buses. One comes along every ten minutes. So, I screwed things up with Big Red. Now I know what to do next time I’m attracted to a cute, bashful dude. I gotta wait on some people. Catch ya later?”
My coworker, Sara, had been on her break, but she came back in time to start marking drinks for one of the groups. She’d treat me to her infamous stink eye if I didn’t stop talking to Liv, like, this second. I turned to walk to the other end of the bar, but Liv grabbed my hand before I could escape.
“Are we good?”
“Always,” I said with a squeeze of her hand.
That was the thing about our relationship, we made each other better. I encouraged Liv to be more adventurous and uninhibited. I had a tendency to be chaotic and, yeah, I’ll admit, flighty. She consistently called me on my bullshit and challenged me to rise to my potential and I loved her for it.
Want more? Stay tuned for more teasers!