After a long day of work on the farm, I was more than ready for a beer. Or two, or three. We’d see where the night went. I had to be back at work early again the following morning, but it was Saturday night. A guy had to cut loose sometimes.
Smirking to myself, I thought about that. I knew that my brothers, and probably most of the town, thought I cut loose a little too often. But as long as I was getting my work done, I didn’t see what the problem was.
I frowned as I pulled up outside Kinsey’s. There were tiki masks framing the doorway, and a cluster of wooden torches like you’d see on a tropical retreat. But this was fall in Oklahoma. It wasn’t too cold yet, but it definitely wasn’t anything approaching paradise.
Then again, I grinned wondering if the girls in the bar were dressed in coconut bras and grass skirts. It was a really nice mental image. Or it would have been if I didn’t know that behind the bar was Lucy, a woman I’d never been particularly attracted to.
With a sigh I got out of my car, wondering what the inside of the place would look like, if this was the outside.
Fortunately, the inside still looked pretty normal. There were a couple more tacky tropical decorations, and a bunch of the other people scattered around were wearing brightly-colored leis and drinking out of coconuts cups.
The main change that drew my eyes was the woman behind the bar. It wasn’t Lucy, and the woman who was there—well, let’s just say I’d definitely like to see her in a coconut bra and grass skirt. I let my eyes roam over her for a moment while she poured drinks at the far end of the bar.
It was Abigail, the new girl in town. I’d already run into her a few times, and we’d danced together for a little while the other night in this same bar. She had nice curves and a pretty face. Truthfully, I didn’t really know why we hadn’t ended up sleeping together the other night. Maybe I’d been just a shade too drunk to close the deal. Tonight, she was behind the bar, so dancing was out, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t chat with her.
Taking a seat at the bar, I waited for her to notice me. I didn’t mind the wait, since I was still staring at her body, thinking of all the ways I could make her come apart beneath me, hopefully before the end of the night.
Part of my attraction to her was the novelty. She was new to the area, and I’d grown up with most of the people who lived here. But she was different from everyone else, too. Bewitching, and sexy. A total goddess. Tonight, she looked particularly good, despite how casual her outfit was. She was dressed simply in tight jeans, with her light brown hair pulled up in a messy bun. She wasn’t wearing much makeup, other than a faint smudge around her golden-green eyes. My eyes lingered on her ass as she bent down to grab a bottle of beer from one of the lower refrigerators. She glanced over at me as she stood up, and I flashed her an unrepentant smile, knowing she had noticed me staring.
She rolled her eyes, but didn’t say anything about it, even as she came over, wiping her hands on her apron. “What can I get for you?” she asked.
“Where do I even begin?” I asked, teasing.
She snorted and shook her head, but I could see she was amused. “Settle down, Romeo. Let’s start with your drink.”
“Tonight’s beer special,” I told her, without even looking at what it was. Kinsley’s beer specials were never really all that different. A discount on one type of lager one night; the other type the next. Abi nodded at my order, already moving to pull the tap. “What are you doing back behind the bar, anyway?” I asked curiously.
Abi scowled. “Apparently, Lucy ran off and eloped with Tyler,” she said. “So, here I am covering for her.”
“I was hoping I could get another dance with you,” I said.
“With a crowd like this, I’m not even going to have time to chat, let alone dance,” Abi said sourly, putting my drink down with a little too much force. I frowned dubiously at the coconut cup and took a sip, and nearly spat it back out.
“Oh my God, what the hell is that?” I asked.
Abi cracked a smile. “It’s pumpkin beer,” she said, with a shrug. “Don’t ask me, I didn’t come up with the theme—you can thank Kinsey for that. Somehow, our special for the night is pumpkin beer in coconut mugs. Didn’t you read the sign?” She asked it innocently, knowing full well that I hadn’t.
I couldn’t help feeling amused at how smug she was. I gamely took another sip, swallowing it down quickly despite the flavor. “It’s not bad,” I lied. “Just a little unexpected.”
Abi looked like she wanted to say something else, but there were three guys at the far end of the bar already trying to get her attention, and she had to move on. “Enjoy your night,” she told me.
I nodded at her and turned to scan the room, looking for any other potential targets for the night. But Abi was the only one I could think about.
To be honest, I’d been thinking of her ever since I first laid eyes on her, the night that we’d danced together. It was weird for me, since I usually bounced from girl to girl. I wasn’t a relationships kind of guy. I just didn’t have the energy to devote to that. For me, I just needed something to slake my needs.
Probably the only reason I was thinking about Abby that way was because I’d been watching my brothers. First David, and now Ted. They had both found the perfect girls for them and started settling down. They both seemed really happy. But that wasn’t the kind of life that I wanted for myself. I didn’t need a wife. I had everything that I wanted already, and the girls that I hooked up with more than took care of my needs.
“How’re you doing, Mason?” Kinsey asked, clapping a hand on my shoulder. The guy was old enough that his hair had gone totally white long ago, but he still had an impressive strength to him. No doubt due to his years of hauling around kegs in the back room.
I shook my head, “You know, Kinsey, I’m a little miffed,” I drawled. I took another sip of my pumpkin beer and made a face. “I never would’ve thought a respectable place like yours would serve piss like this.”
Kinsey’s eyes twinkled. “You don’t like the theme?” he asked, innocently.
“What is it with the theme nights, anyway?” It was a new thing there, and I just didn’t understand it. The place pretty much always drew the same crowd, and it wasn’t the kind of crowd that cared for themes and other nonsense. These were farmhands and ranchers, simple guys who just wanted a drink after a long day in the fields.
Kinsey shrugged, though. “Once your brother ran off to Nashville, we had to figure out some other way to keep everyone entertained,” he said. “And I’m afraid the new girl, Amanda, just isn’t drawing the same crowd that David used to.”
“Still though, pumpkin beer?” I asked. “Served out of coconuts?”
“Can’t an old man have a little fun every once in a while?” Kinsey asked. “I’ve got a whole string of ideas, too. A fiesta night, a costume night, a blackjack night. Although I’m not sure about the legalities of that last one. But I think I can convince the sheriff that it’s a good idea for a night, and as long as the lot of you behave yourselves, I don’t think we’ll have any issues.”
I snorted. “Perks of living in a small town.”
“That it is,” Kinsey agreed.
“So, Lucy and Tyler? Is that true?” I asked. Another perk of living in a small town—gossip. Everybody knew everybody else, and what they were up to. Some people knew more than others. Kinsey tended to know just about everything that was going on, thanks to the number of people who came to his bar specifically to gossip.
“That Tyler sure is smart,” Kinsey said, his eyes laughing. “Don’t ever give a woman time to overthink things or you’ll never know what she’ll come up with. He’s just saved himself thousands and thousands of dollars on the wedding, although it sounds like most of the funds for that just got shifted to their honeymoon. But at least they can enjoy that.”
“Where are they?” I asked. I didn’t know either of them particularly well. I only really saw Lucy when she was behind the bar, and Tyler was a farmhand on Lauralee’s farm. Now that Lauralee and Ted were engaged, I was slightly more in contact with everyone who worked over there. But even though it was next door to ours, we didn’t really interact all that much, a holdover from when we’d been feuding over the phone tower.
“I’ll keep their secret for now,” Kinsey said. “I’m sure they’ll want to tell everyone all about it themselves, when they get back.”
“And you’re going to have Abi behind the bar until Lucy gets back?” I asked, unable to help myself. If she was back behind the bar, it didn’t seem like I was going to get to interact with her as much as when she’d been out waiting tables. I just wanted to dance with her, and maybe take her home. That was all.
Kinsey shrugged. “Not like I’ve got anyone else to put back there,” he said.
I started to protest that he had other girls who had been back there before, not that I really kept track of them all, but before I could finish, one of the older guys was dragging Kinsey away to look at a problem with his car. Kinsey had owned the bar forever now, but he built vintage cars in his free time and everyone knew to take their cars to him before they took them over to the garage. Half the time, Kinsey could solve the thing just by putting a couple things back into place.
“Hey man, long time no see,” Ben said, slugging me on the arm.
I laughed. “Hey, good to see you,” I said. “If you haven’t seen me, though, it’s your own damned fault. I’m in here practically every night. Anyone in town could tell you that.”
Ben rolled his eyes. “Well, some of us have wives and children to look after,” he reminded me. “Can you believe Kara is old enough to walk already?”
“That’s crazy, man,” I told him, shaking my head. And it really was crazy to think about. Ben and I had graduated from high school together, and it could have been me with a toddler already. Not that I never wanted kids, but I definitely hadn’t met anyone that I wanted to have kids with yet.
My eyes glanced back towards Abi, still pouring drinks behind the bar. Well, maybe.
But no, I wasn’t going to let myself even consider that. I was just attracted to her—that was all. Sure, she might make a good mother someday, but how would I know? We’d only danced together, that was all.
I couldn’t quit watching her as Ben and I played a game of pool, though. And it showed.
“God, you’re terrible tonight,” Ben moaned, as he cleanly swept the table. “Go get another beer, maybe you need to be drunker to play.”
“I can’t help it,” I said, shaking my head. “Pumpkin beer—ugh!” But I took his advice, heading back to the bar to order another one of the disgusting drinks. For a minute, I thought about switching it up and going with something harder, or paying full price for a real beer, but I felt a righteous indignation about it. If I wanted to drink the beer special, I should be able to drink the beer special. Damn Kinsey and his theme nights.
“Mason, so good to see you,” Ella said, as I reached the bar, laying her hands on my arm as though she owned me. She was my brother’s ex and the girl who was trying to ruin my life. We’d had one stupid night together, a night that should never have happened. Now, I was still waiting to hear the status on her pregnancy scare.
Who does that to a guy anyway? Goes back to a one-night stand and tells him that she might be pregnant, and then leaves him waiting for weeks to find out if she actually is? I didn’t really believe she was pregnant, and even if she was, I didn’t really believe that it was mine. I knew that she slept around, same as I did. And we’d been safe.
But all the same, it was a little nerve-wracking, thinking that I might have gotten her pregnant. David probably wouldn’t have cared so much. He knew that she had slept around even while they’d been together. That’s why he’d broken off his engagement to her after only a couple weeks. But she’d also slept with Ted, and I didn’t think he would appreciate it if I had gotten her pregnant.
What a mess. I didn’t really want to ask her about it here, though. And especially not in front of Abi, even though she had probably already heard all the rumors from someone else.
“Can I get another beer?” I asked brusquely at the bar.
Abi looked a little taken aback by my tone, but she poured me another of the pumpkin monstrosities. “Did you want one as well?” she asked Ella.
“Oh no,” Ella said, shaking her head and smiling coyly. “I’m not drinking right now.” I didn’t miss the way she put a hand on her flat stomach. She wasn’t really pregnant, I didn’t think. I hoped she wasn’t, anyway. I couldn’t even imagine the world of trouble she could cause if she really was.
I grabbed my beer and tossed some cash at Abi. I wanted to keep chatting with her, but not with Ella there. Instead, I went back to play another round of pool with Ben.