Because the community rallied so hard for Smutathon 2018 and breached £750, you have unlocked an achievement: the second installment to this story!
Though it won’t finish here, this story started at #Smutathon2018 a filth-fuelled 12-hour marathon where 8 of us furiously compiled words and photos on sex and smut to raise money for the Abortion Support Network. Consider donating to the cause here.
I stared at the collection of bottles behind the bar while Erin flipped to some other point of conversation, deliberately avoiding the doorway at the front of the building. Though I had formally accepted the challenge, I was anything but immune to being nervous to the point of mortification while we waited.
This was a public drinking establishment smack dab in the middle of Canada. Anyone over the age of 19 could walk through that door at any moment.
I ordered a shot of rye in anticipation. It was as impatient as I was sitting at the bar for the next patron — or my potential next lover, if I had anything to say about it — to come through.
We heard the laughter before we saw the faces to go along with them, and I felt a mixture of relief and dread when I realized I recognized the voices.
“Well, well, well.” Erin sounded very smug; every bit the tone of someone who felt the odds weighing heavily in her favour. “Look who we have here?”
Erin and I were fast to become friends. I’d only been working at Duke’s for a couple of weeks when we went out for the first time after a particularly busy Thursday night in the restaurant. As per service industry tradition, we bonded over our sore feet and love for the perfect marriage of karaoke and cheap vodka. I crashed at her place that night and we rolled into Duke’s for our brunch shifts the next morning in haggard, hungover solidarity, officially solidifying the bonds of our new work friendship. We’ve been on and off best friends ever since.
But we were still in the throes of getting to know each other that quiet night at our bar. And one of the things she had yet to learn about me was that I was even more competitive than her. Indeed, this whole game was set up in order to let Erin realize her unfulfilled dreams of slapping someone in the fact.
Unfortunately for her, I don’t play to lose.
I turned around then to see my next challenge in the form of two young men ambling up to the bar. They greeted the bartender, Colin, with high fives and handshakes the way old friends do.
Colin poured three shots of amber liquid for him and the two newcomers as they rearranged themselves at the bar to accept them.
“Which one walked in first?” I asked Erin.
“Oh, fuck,” her smug smile flipped under the mild disappointment, “I wasn’t paying attention.”
“I guess it doesn’t matter.”
I tossed back my shot of whiskey, slammed the glass on the bar top three times in quick succession, and rose from my seat.
Noah greeted me first. “Yo, Megs! How’s it going?”
Noah was one of the friendliest, most easy-going guys we had on staff at Duke’s. He was a little on the lanky side of tall, and though the final vestiges of his youthful roundness had long since melted from his jawline, his eyes still had a charming, boyish twinkle about them.
He was also one of the sluttiest members of the Duke’s team.
“Good, good,” I said, subtly hiking the hem of my skirt up a smidge as we spoke. “What are you guys doing here on your day off?”
“You know how it is,” said Noah. “Can’t stay away from this guy too long.” He gestured behind the bar at Colin to highlight another tenet of service industry culture: the homoerotic subtext between the ‘staunchly hetero’ men in the room.
“How was it tonight?” Rob asked as he accepted his rye and coke from Colin and squeezed in the lime. “Pretty busy?”
A little shorter than Noah, and a little more solid in his limbs, Rob was handsome in a very everyman kind of way. His dark, day-old stubble gave him more of an air of sophistication than the laziness that daily hangovers tend to breed.
“Not at all,” I said. “So Erin and I are celebrating.”
“What are you celebrating?” Noah said right before he took a sip from his glass.
Noah choked on his beer, while Rob must have misheard me. “Oh, did we get paid this week?” he asked.
“Sorry,” Noah said, looking at me as he cleared his throat. “I definitely thought I heard you say something else.”
I didn’t correct him.
I still wasn’t feeling exceptionally confident about my chances to make this work, but there is something pathological in my need to win that usually takes over if I let it.
“Hey Noah, was it you who was telling me about that weird private room upstairs?”
Rob interjected, softly. “Uh, that was me, actually.”
Of course, I hadn’t forgotten. “Right.” I took a step in closer to solidify my position as the crucial peak of the triangle. “I’d still love to check it out. Who feels like giving this girl a tour?”
The boys exchanged confused glances as they tried to determine who should play along with me, and adjusted themselves as subtly as they could manage.
Noah was the first to take the bait.
“Wait. You never gave Meghan the tour?” he said to Rob, shaking his head. “Dude…” He then leaned down to my ear level and stage-whispered, “I apologize on behalf of this animal.”
“Maybe he just… doesn’t know the script like you do,” I said, nudging Noah with my shoulder.
“Maybe.” He looked a little chuffed by the little ego stroke and took another swig of his beer.
“Maybe… you should teach him so he knows better for next time,” I suggested.
Noah was doing his utmost to keep his cool, but I heard Rob struggle to gulp down the lump of saliva building in his throat. It sounded like he might have been starting to put some of the pieces together, though there’s no way he could have anticipated where I would take it. Because, frankly, I didn’t know yet either.
“What, you mean—”
“Come on.” I cut Rob off by positioning myself right between the two guys. I linked my elbows with them, making eye contact with them each in turn. “It sounds like we should all go take a look at this room together.”
Noah looked at me, over my head at Rob, and back to me. In that moment of swollen silence, I think I heard Erin’s jaw hit the floor somewhere behind me.
“Yeah, sure,” Noah said with a cool shrug. “Right this way.”