‘Good luck!’ Daniel texted me.
‘Thanks. I’ll call you when I’m finished,’ I replied, followed by a smiley face.
After my little snippy charade from Jodie (for which I found no cute work clothes, and I just wanted to get the hell away), I went home and prepared my next day interview outfit before I went to bed. I tried to go for casual but not lazy, and settled on skinny jeans and a white buttoned up shirt with an embellished collar. My raven hair was tied back into a slick bun that I managed to not make too tight.
The club manager, Randy, called me in for the morning not just for an interview but to have a trial run and see how well I can manage as well. I found him at the front counter, speaking during a meeting. I hid behind tall, toned and top-shape hunky men, while the women also looked fabulous. This place does pay well! When everyone started scattering away after the meeting, I took it as my cue to walk straight up to Randy.
“Hi,” I held out my hand, “my name is Anna, I’m here for the bartending job.”
Randy, a perfectly rounded man, with the most genuinely happy smile, reached out his hand and returned the shake. He was the John Goodman, John Candy-looking type. “Ah, yes, Adam told me about you. And Martin has such high-respects for you, I didn’t think he’d let you go.”
I smiled. Thank you Martin! “He’s such a great boss.”
“And a better fighter.”
His words piqued my interest. “Oh? You know of him?”
“Know of him? Honey, we’re like this!” he crossed his fingers. “Well, it’s more like this—” he held out both palms and stuck them together “—it’s a platonic love.”
I giggled and he laughed with me. Randy’s already awesome. I’d be lucky to have two great bosses, most people never even have half of one. I followed him behind the counter where he showed me most of where everything goes.
“Aaaaaand,” he let his eyes wander to see if he missed anything, “that’s about it. Now, teaching you some stuff is Nikki, she’s just gone to the bathroom but she’ll be right back.”
I nodded and smiled politely as Randy left me to be. I lingered on the name ‘Nikki’ for a while, trying to figure out where I heard it before, if I heard it before. I could have passed a million Nikki’s in my life, but while my back was turned to her as she approached me, I knew of only one Nikki that possessed that voice.
“Anna?” she asked, incredulously.
“Hi,” I peeped.
She went in straight for a hug. “Oh my God, I can’t believe this! This is so exciting, we’re going to be working here too!”
I smiled, but still noticeably in shock. “I didn’t know you bartended.”
“Yeah, Derek helped me get this job.”
My eyebrow lifted slightly, but the shock was pulling it down. “Derek?”
“He doesn’t work here anymore, though. It’s a shame.”
I nodded. “A shame indeed.”
“So I’ve been meaning to ask, who’s your plus one for the awards ceremony?”
I didn’t even know she was going with her boss too. Guess I’m not special, insert sad face here. I paused to soak in her words. “Plus one?”
“Didn’t you know you were allowed to bring someone along?”
I shook my head.
“Well mine is, of course, Derek. You should figure someone out soon, it’s coming up soon.”
I guess Derek wasn’t? Or could you have in-house plus ones?
“I guess my plus one is Eddie.”
Nikki made me flinch when she broke into laughter. I scanned the room to see if anyone heard. “Oh my God, Anna, you’re so funny. Eddie isn’t your plus one, he’s just dragging you along. Seriously though, if you don’t find anyone, you can be our plus one.”
I laughed, nervously. “Thanks but I think I know someone who might be up for it.”
“Great,” she beamed with a big smile, then she slapped her hands together. “Let’s get started shall we?”
Afterwards, Randy told me to come back on Friday night, when the place is really pumping, so I can get used to the change of pace from Martin’s. I walked out of there feeling good, but not great yet. Every time I felt like I had something in the bag, expecting that it would turn out a certain way, it typically turned out the opposite way. Like, the exact opposite.
Daniel ended up taking me to a restaurant on the beach. It was so cute, he had made reservations even without knowing whether I got the job or not.
“You got it,” Daniel rolled his eyes, smiling.
I was anxiously toying with the napkin. “Yeah, but there can be a possibility that I might not. I mean, that place is pumping!” I put my fist up in the air, Jersey Shore style, on the last word.
Daniel smiled, but it was obvious he was trying to supress it.
“Nothing, that was just, horrifying to witness,” he joked, chuckling.
I playfully kicked him under the table, and laughed. “Shut up.”
When the main course arrived I thought it was a good time to bring up the whole plus one thing for the awards ceremony. Belly satisfaction is key in any good conversation!
“So I was thinking,” I began after I took a sip of water, “there’s this awards thing happening for the advertising agency. It’s coming up soon and I have to go, not by choice.”
Daniel laughed. “I’ll overlook the obvious allusion to slave labour. Go on.”
“Well, apparently we can bring a plus one. My boss never told me, but I didn’t know until I went to the club today.”
Daniel furrowed his brows. “Someone at the club works at the advertising agency?”
I nodded. “Nikki.” No need to mention Derek, right?
“I’d like to go, but would I even fit in?” he asked, hesitant on the offer already.
“You would. But either way, if you don’t feel comfortable, I can always go with Nikki and—” I stopped myself quickly, but it was too quick to seem natural.
“And?” Daniel asked after he waited for me to continue.
“I’m assuming this, Derek guy, is Nikki’s boyfriend?”
I smiled sheepishly and shook my head.
“I change my mind,” he said, forcing a smile. “I think I’ll go with you.”
Now I don’t know if it was my mind playing tricks on me, or it was real, but I was feeling like Daniel was assuming the worst. You see, I never had luck with other men and my man, it was like a curse. They just seemed to turn into macho-el-manne when I mentioned another guy. Had it been different if I didn’t mention Derek? I don’t know. No, I do know, everyone will be able to get along, Derek, Daniel and Eddie. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?
After Daniel and I finished up our amazing meals, we headed back to his place to watch a movie and do the three C’s; get cosy, cuddle, and canoodle. I couldn’t even pay attention to what we were watching because I was yawning so much towards the end, eventually, Daniel took me home. He held my hand the entire drive way home.
“You didn’t have to walk me up to the door, you know,” I said.
Daniel smiled. “I know. I wanted to though.”
We stood before the entrance, and kissed, our smooth lips patterning each other’s.
“Goodnight,” Daniel whispered into my ear after he pecked it.
I grinned widely, sleepily, and knew that if I wasn’t so tired, I’d probably be going bright red by now. “Goodnight.”
By the time Daniel was practically half-way home, I noticed I forgot my cell at his place. One day, I’m probably just going to buy a new one; my current one seems to love Daniel’s place so much. I ended up driving all the way back with the window down to keep me awake. I know, I know, I should never drive when I’m super-tired, but my cell is a necessity.
I slowed down when I was driving up to his place, noticing another car in the driveway besides Daniel’s. Daniel’s roommate didn’t have a car. I parked on the side, and switched the engine and lights off, and on cue, two people ended up coming out of his place. Daniel I knew, but the girl I didn’t. Let it be known, coffee, apples, and this will definitely wake you up.
Mumblings were all I could hear until they started speaking a teensy bit louder.
“…but if she ever finds out, then—”
Daniel held her at her shoulders and bent his knees just a bit. “Jodie, she won’t. She has no idea, I promise you. Okay? It’s fine. I would never tell her.”
A lump formed at my throat. Never tell me what?
“Trust me,” he finally said. “Anna doesn’t have a clue.”
A knot started twisting my stomach. I couldn’t see what Jodie was doing clearly but I thought I saw her nod. She leaned in to give him a hug and then he walked her to her car. Before she drove passed me I pulled the lever on the side of the seat to push the backrest all the way back down. I looked like an idiot doing so because I flung back so quickly, I even shocked myself. I held my breath as she drove away, even though I knew she wouldn’t be able to hear me if I breathed. And then I listened out for the door when it closed.
I let myself cry alone in the car, in the same position, before I started up the engine and headed for home. How could he? How could she? Oh God, what do I do now?