“Let’s get a drink,” Gina yells, grabbing my hand and leading me through the throng. They all seem to part, like they’re water and we’re the mighty Moses or something and the bar magically appears, a couple of young looking guys working behind it. “What do you want?” she asks, turning to look at me.
“Pick something out for me,” I say, not sure what I should order. I’m not a big drinker. I never have been. Most people go out and party on their twenty-first birthday but not me. It’s just never interested me.
Really? I don’t like losing control. Losing control means I might do stupid things and I don’t want to be tempted. It’s better to avoid alcohol altogether.
Tonight though, I’m doing this for Gina. Maybe a little bit for me, too. Seeing all of those guys lined up on the wall, how cute some of them are, makes me think of Gabe and how much I miss him.
Lame but true.
Gina waves her hand at one of the bartenders and he makes his way over to us, offering her a flirtatious smile and a suggestive, “What can I do for you?”
She orders two drinks, I swear I heard her say the word zombie, and he offers her up a wink and a smile before he slaps the edge of the counter and says, “Be right back with that.”
He walks away and I lean close to her ear to murmur, “He was flirting with you.”
She turns and gapes at me in surprise. “He was not.”
“He so was.” I watch as he casts her a sidelong glance before he starts going to work on our drinks.
“I’m sure he flirts with all the girls. Look at how many are here tonight,” Gina says, waving a hand around. “He has his pick of any of them.”
She’s right. There are a ton of girls here. It’s like every unattached female on campus made their way over to this bar for the half-off-fruity drinks deal. “Yet I don’t see him flirting with any of them. Just you.”
Gina lifts her chin, looking haughty as shit. Despite her middle class upbringing, she really knows how to put on airs when she needs to. “I’m a taken woman so he’s wasting his time.”
I burst out laughing at her choice of words and eventually she starts laughing too. We’re still laughing when the bartender sets our drinks down on the bar in front of us. When Gina and I both start to hand over cash he settles his hand over hers, stopping her completely. “On the house.” He shoots me a meaningful glance. “For the both of you.”
“Oh, no way,” Gina starts to protest but he shakes his head, squeezes her hand firmly.
“I mean it. Enjoy.” He slaps a napkin in the palm of her hand and leaves, off to help the next girl order an over the top drink.
Gina stares at the crushed napkin in her hand before she holds it up and shows it to me. “He gave me his phone number.”
I start laughing again. “Of course, he did. I told you he was flirting with you.”
“Unbelievable. My boyfriend and I are apart not even a few hours and I’m already fighting them off. Imagine what Chad’s going to deal with?” Oh, crap. She looks close to tears, I swear to God.
“No way, don’t you dare start thinking like that. Come on.” I take her arm and lead her through the crowd of girls all hopping up and down to the beat, singing along with the song currently playing, their drinks firmly in hand. I turn to face her and we start to dance, my lips attached to the straw as I suck up the drink. Whatever the zombie whatcha-call-it has in it, it’s damn good. Sweet and delicious and doesn’t taste like alcohol whatsoever.
I finish it off in minutes, deposit the glass on a nearby side table and begin dancing in earnest, signing along with the songs like the other girls. Gina is doing the same thing, her glass still in her hand as she dances and spins. I raise my arms above my head and sway to the music, getting lost in the lyrics, smiling and nodding at Gina as she sips on her drink and sings off key.
My head’s a little dizzy and I’m so hot I’m starting to sweat. I lift the hair up off the back of my neck and hold it there for a while, letting the cool air bathe my skin before I drop the heavy locks. I’m thinking there was a lot of alcohol in that drink, not that I really mind. I’m feeling good. Better than I’ve felt in a long time. I’m finally liberated. Free to do whatever I want. And it’s like I can do anything, like the possibilities set before me are endless. New school, new place, new life. I can be whatever I want to be and no one’s going to stop me. Not even Mama.
I stumble, nearly fall over onto the floor, and thank goodness I find my balance quickly. Okay, I’m definitely only having one drink. I don’t need to consume any more liquor and besides, I’m on a limited budget here. I hope by next week my schedule’s settled and I can go in search of a job.
A source of income would be totally reassuring right about now.
“I want another one,” Gina yells at me, holding up her empty glass.
“No way.” I shake my head. “We only need one. That thing was potent.”
“Yeah, it was. Wasn’t it great?” She dances a circle around me, her fingers catching in the skirt of my dress and she lifts it up a little bit. I slap it back down and try my best to dodge her busy hands. “Live a little, Lucy. One more drink can’t hurt.”
“I shouldn’t spend the money,” I tell her and she sends me a look.
“We got the first round free, remember?” She bats her eyelashes at me. “I bet I could get the second round free too if I ply him with my charms.” With that, she goes back toward the bar. I watch as she leans against the counter as our bartender zooms back over to talk to her. She leans forward, offering him a glimpse of her cleavage—which is pretty decently displayed in that low cut top she’s wearing. His gaze is on her chest as he says yes to whatever her question is.
Within minutes, she’s standing next to me, handing me another drink.
“On the house again,” she says, offering her glass up for a toast. I clink mine against hers and we both sip from our straws. “All I had to do is agree to a date and give him my phone number,” she says after she takes a swallow.
My mouth drops open. “You did not.”
“I did,” she says with a shrug and then a grin. “I just gave him the wrong number.”
“Ooh, you’re bad,” I tell her and we both laugh. And drink.
And drink some more.
Finally after thirty minutes of dancing and sweating and laughing with our newfound nameless friends, guys come sniffing around us, some of them cute, a couple of them creepy. We dance away from the creepy ones and smile and flirt with the other ones. I notice Gina never says she has a boyfriend and I wonder at that. Though I can’t judge. Why should she have to offer up her private business to a guy she barely knows? But if I had a boyfriend I know I wouldn’t be flirting with random dudes on a dance floor at a semi-sleazy bar.
By the time I finish my second drink I’m good and buzzed—and it’s already almost midnight. I need to go home. “I have a nine o’clock class tomorrow,” I yell at Gina.
She bounces up and down and laughs, clapping her hands together. She finished off her second drink long ago and she’s acting sort of crazy. “Who cares? I have an eight o’clock one.”