Today is the release of our fourth birthday story from the Second Chances anthology: Dirty Martini by Bette Browne.
When Daniel Fletcher runs into his ex with the
man he caught him in bed with, vodka seems like the answer. Nathan Smith is
used to men drowning their sorrows at the bar he tends, so the connection he
feels to one is unusual.Will a means to
forget turn into something more?
THE WORD was shouted like a curse. “Another one here, please”—the man held up
his hand in an attempt at getting Nate’s attention, and as soon as he had it,
he banged his glass back down onto the wooden surface of the bar—“and leave the
bottle.” Nathan Smith looked over
at the man as he poured a measured shot of whiskey into another patron’s glass.
“I’ll be with you in a minute,” he replied with all the patience he could
muster, just loud enough to be sure he was heard.
“Sir.” He smiled at the
older man sitting in front of him as he pushed the newly filled glass forward
then wiped over the counter using the cloth that was permanently slung over his
“Keep an eye on that one,”
the older man said, tipping his head in the loud man’s direction as Nate moved
to the touch screen and added the drink to the older man’s tab. “He’s already
two sheets to the wind. A few more drinks and he’ll be three.”
Nate knew not to comment,
bartenders were there to listen and not have an opinion. So he smiled instead,
giving a slight nod of his head, making sure the older, and undoubtedly wiser,
man knew Nate agreed.
“I’ve seen it before, lad.
That one, he’s drowning his sorrows, that’s what he’s doing. Oblivion’s what
he’s chasing.” Ironically, the older man lifted his own glass to his lips and
took a healthy swallow, pursuing his own form of oblivion. Nate had seen it all
before. It was not often a contented man who sat at a bar alone. “Is he staying
here?” The man tilted his head toward the man along the bar.
Nate knew he wasn’t; the
man had wanted a tab rather than charge his drinks to a room. “No.”
“Well, make sure he stops
soon. Send him home in a cab.”
“I might just do that,
sir,” Nate responded. It was more than likely that sending him home later in a
cab was exactly what he’d do; in fact, the hotel encouraged it.
Nate turned to pick up the
bottle of premium vodka the other man was now drinking. One or two more would
be fine—he had no intention of leaving the bottle—and then Nate would convince
him to go home for the night. He discretely glanced down the bar again, trying
not to be seen doing so. The guy had been sitting there almost two hours now.
He’d come in earlier. Nate
had watched him, both drawn to and intrigued by the attractive man standing at
the door who clenched his hands irritably as he looked for a seat. He’d made
his way determinedly to the farthest seat at the bar, looking neither right nor
left, obviously, not in the mood for idle chit-chat.
Nate had promptly placed a
bowl of nuts in front of him and handed him a cocktail menu, but the man hadn’t
even bothered to open it. Instead he’d looked at Nate and asked him for
something with vodka.
“Any preference?” Nate
“Surprise me.” He raked a
hand through his mahogany brown hair. “Just make sure it’s strong.”
After thinking on it a
moment, Nate decided exactly what he’d make the guy. “You like olives?”
“Well, I’ll make you my
specialty.” His words were met by a raised brow. “A Dirty Martini.”
“Dirty seems appropriate.”
The man pulled his cellphone from his pocket, turned it on and checked the
display, then just as quickly turned it off. “Make me two.”
Nate knew even then that
the guy was on a mission to lose himself to drink, and that was okay with
him—he was used to it; it was part of his job. But that had been three
cocktails and four shots ago. In Nate’s opinion, the guy was just about done.
He was more than prepared to cut him off before he passed out, creating a
problem Nate didn’t want to deal with.
Before he’d managed to
move down the bar, the older man spoke again.
“Likely a woman.” The older man held up his glass as if that would confirm his words. “Only a woman can make a man look like that.”
Nate moved away, he controlled the retort that was so close to the tip of his
tongue. Love might make a man look like that, Nate thought, but it certainly
didn’t have to be because of a woman. He was proof of that—heartbreakingly
honest to goodness proof of that—and if his instincts about the man sitting at
the other end of the bar were on the money, his problems had nothing to do with
a woman either.