After rising to Cara Thereon‘s Draft Folder Challenge, I decided to go back into the annals and see what else was there. I found this — the original sketch of a story that ultimately became the story I called “Condemned Desire” and submitted to Bellesa before Bellesa was really a thing.
It also coincides nicely with the pangs of nostalgia I’ve been feeling over my good old days as a restaurant server after writing my most recent (winning!) Smut Marathon entry.
It’s not all that smutty, but it promises a lot of sexy destruction. And I enjoy this little exercise of looking back to see where some of my favourite stories started.
Maybe you’ll enjoy the journey too.
You’re standing at the edge of the bar. You notice the chit with the drinks you’re waiting for is at the end of a long line-up. It’s going to a be a few minutes for the bartender get to them, and that’s totally fine by you. You’re going to take the opportunity to take one of those wedges off and let your foot breathe. It’s been a busy night so far, and it’s not even half-way done.
Whatever you do, don’t look at the clock. I promise, it will only make your sore feet hurt more.
That’s when you notice a familiar face at the other end of the bar. It’s been a couple of weeks since you’ve seen it, but there’s no mistaking him. He’s engrossed in conversation with your very pretty, very slutty manager. He must be here to pick up his last paycheck.
You don’t think much of it, put the drinks on your tray, and carry on with your shift.
Hours go by, the rush has died. There is virtually no one left in the restaurant. The kitchen staff has started cleaning the grill. The bartenders are dismantling everything and running it through the dishwasher. You have a couple of lingering ladies who are nursing their now-lukewarm coffee, and are in no need of any additional service. They haven’t even touched the billfold, never mind make an attempt at paying the check.
Quick. Find something to do before you fall asleep standing up. In fact, now is the perfect time to wipe down every menu, page by page.
Standing near the entrance, that’s exactly what you do. Damp cloth in hand, you lazily sweep through each menu, one annoying page at a time.
He walks by you in drunken, yet inexplicably graceful haste. It takes a few steps, but he then realizes who you are and turns around. Taking you by the hand, he spins you around as if about to start up an impromptu salsa.
“I’m terribly sorry for disappearing on you the other night,” he says.
I didn’t even realize he knew I was there that night, you think to yourself. “Don’t worry about it. I was drunk too and didn’t take it personally.”
“It’s really too bad.” If you hadn’t seen him drinking, you would never have known he was inebriated. He hid it disturbingly well.
“Yes,” you agree, “and now you’re leaving so soon.”
“Yes,” he murmurs, almost to himself. His eyes focus on something beyond that moment. “But not quite yet. We should grab a drink sometime.”
You try not to scoff too violently. Drunken promises from fickle acquaintances are hard for you not to balk at.
“Yeah, sure,” heavily coating your words with a generous stroke of sarcasm. “Well, you have my number, so you know where to find me.”
“Indeed, I do my dear.” He spins you around once more, and disappears just as quickly.
As you turn back to your damp cloth and stack of menus, you feel your heart flutter uncomfortably. Tough to say if it stemmed from anxiety or fatigue, or something else entirely.
That was when it still wasn’t.
It never really was even when it was, but at that point, it was still more or less nothing. I remember almost every instant so vividly, but I think it was more emphasized by all of the events that followed that it was inherently impressive. That first moment was so trivial and hardly noteworthy until I made the decision to take matters into my own hands.
I didn’t think I wanted to hear from him. To this day, I don’t know what possessed me to do so, but a couple of days following the lobby dance, I found his number in my phone and reached out.
Me: If you were serious about getting together for drinks sometime, you should let me know.
I tossed my phone on the bed behind me as I continued to sort through my laundry. Seconds later, I hear a vibration on the sheets.
Him: This is me letting you know.
My stomach flipped. In that moment, I realized that I liked him just a touch more than I had ever allowed myself to believe.
Me: When were you thinking?
Him: How about tonight. 9:30?
Good Lord, what is happening? I just got home from work. I was half undressed, deliberating very seriously about going to bed. And then this had to happen.
Me: That should work. Have a place in mind?
Making plans has never been my forte. I always pass it off to the other player if I can get away with it.
Him: How about [redacted]? I’ll pick you up. Address?
No nonsense, straight to the point, and a free ride. Perfect.
I didn’t put much thought into what I was wearing. I know I had jeans, but I can’t remember the top I chose. I touched up the makeup I had worn to work and told myself it was good enough.
Right on time, a knock came on my door.
I greeted him with a nervous smile.
“Hi.” He was always so deliberate with his delivery. “How are you,” he said with the intonation of a statement more so than a question.
“I’m pretty good. How about yourself?
“I’m very well, thanks.”
Did he just do that? I really think that was a backhanded correction of your grammar…
“Shall we?” he said, gesturing towards the black car parked on the street.
He opened the passenger door closed it behind me once I had settled in. I felt a smile creep up on to my face as he circled around to the driver’s side.
It’s okay for you to like this, you know.
Or so I thought.