Sweet Forty-Two
Author:Andrea Randall

She walked toward me, and despite the noise around us, I could hear each dedicated click of her heels on the sticky wood floor.


“Takin’ a break already?” She folded her arms on the bar in front of her and leaned toward me like she’d done earlier in the day. This time, though, I remained fixed on her eyes.


I chuckled. “I figured before I continued I should check in to see if I made you a believer.”


Any look of surprise that showed on her face dissolved into a grin. “Regan ... I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”


That’s it. That was her only response before slowly lifting her chest off of her folded arms, turning, and strutting over to a guy with spiked hair and a black t-shirt with “Pink Floyd” across the front vying for her attention.


With my eyebrows pulled in, I returned to the stage in a daze.


“You okay?” Ember settled onto her stool and adjusted the guitar over her shoulder. “What’d she say?”


“I...” I looked back at the bar and watched Georgia thread her fingers through the spikes of the Pink Floyd guy’s hair. “I have no idea.”


“What were the words she said, Regan?” Ember chuckled as she tuned.


“They made no sense.” I tuned with her as she looked over my shoulder, undoubtedly at Georgia.


“Well,” she shrugged, “it’s probably for the best, anyway. Her eyes and hands have been all over everyone in this bar.”


Defensiveness overrode common sense. “Isn’t that just ... her job?”


Ember’s eyebrow hooked incredulously. “That’s not her job.” She nodded, and I followed with my eyes to see Georgia leaning all the way forward as a different guy whispered something into her ear.


He tucked a piece of paper in between her breasts and she set herself back on her heels and kept working.


I wanted to kick his ass, and it made no sense.


I shook my head. “God, whatever. Let’s play. Ready?”


Ember’s look relaxed. “Mmmhmm.”


As we settled into the song, I reminded myself that girls like Georgia were good at making guys want them. Crave them. With skin-baring clothing, wicked eyes, and a bottom lip pinched between their teeth, they owned us. All of us.


Through each piece, Georgia’s hips swayed to the beat, but she never pulled her attention away from her customers. Her tips. Once every other song, or so, her eyes would flash to mine, and I’d look away. She was scrambling my sense of reality with one stone-blue gaze. One smile. One laugh.


It was clear why she and CJ were such good friends as I watched her move with seductive determination through the bar with a tray of drinks in hand. Each time she set down a glass she’d bend a little further forward, inviting eyes to places they had no business being.


Her game bothered me just as much as CJ’s did, maybe even more since I knew how men perceived women who behaved like that. I hadn’t seen her take a drink all night, and I was pretty sure drinking on the job as a bartender was barely tolerated, so she couldn’t even use intoxication as an excuse.


She was intentional, this girl with a rocking horse tattooed on the back of her neck.


She was intentional and made absolutely no sense.


We finished our set and packed up our gear with an hour left before the bar closed. I just wanted to get out of there and go home. It was the first set of that length that I’d played in some time, and I was exhausted. The finger pads on my left hand screamed for a break.


“Great set, Ceej.” Georgia met us on the stage, kissing CJ on the cheek.


“Thanks, kid.” He smiled as he held her waist for a second.


It was then that I got a better look at the tattoo on the back of her neck. It wasn’t just a rocking horse. It was one with wings. More confused than I’d been before, I shook my head and slung my violin case over my shoulder.


She and CJ were engaged in quiet conversation about something CJ appeared to take seriously, given he was paying attention at all. I wandered to the bar and sat next to Ember.


Ember bumped her upper arm into mine. “That was good, Kane. Real good. You’re back on top of things, I’d say.”


I grabbed her beer and took a sip. “It felt good. Two weeks and we start recording, right?”


Bo laughed from the other side of Ember. “I knew the bug would bite you in due time.”


Even though I’d agreed to come record, I wasn’t sure if my heart was in it. But, Bo and Ember could see the desires of my heart written across my face. I was all in.


Ember tilted her chin to where CJ and Georgia were still talking. “What’s with her? How does CJ know her?”


I filled them in on what little details I knew.


“Dunes?” Ember crinkled her nose at the mention of the bar Georgia’s dad used to run. “That place is such a hole.”


“Yeah, she’s been out here for a few years. I don’t know anything about her, really.”


Ember raised her eyebrows. “She really does leave little to the imagination, though, doesn’t she?”


I leaned to the side and saw Georgia and CJ walking toward us. Georgia’s breasts bouncing as she moved.


“Be nice,” Bo mumbled.