Until We Break(10)

By: Jamie Howard

The bar is dead ahead, and that’s where Blaire heads first. The floor battles my shoes, the stickiness of it clinging to their soles. I’m going to pretend that the sticky stuff is soda. Squeezing through the crowd, Blaire leans forward onto the polished wood of the bar to set her assets on display.

When I see who’s coming to take our drink orders, I nearly groan out loud. Is he everywhere?

“What can I get for you lovely ladies?” Luke asks, flashing us a devilish smile.

When he smiles like that, it’s like staring straight at the sun. God, this guy makes me want to vomit.

“Rum and coke for me,” Blaire says, “and a water for her.”

If it’s possible, his smile widens. “Do you take your water on the rocks or neat?”

I pinch the bridge of my nose. If I’d known he was going to be here, I never would have come. This is exactly the kind of guy I’m trying to avoid, that I’m trying to stay as far away from as possible. Not because I’m afraid of anything happening—that’s never gonna happen regardless of how gorgeous he is—but because the sight of him makes me see red. Can I not have one night out without the reminder of my ex slapping me in the face?

“On the rocks would be great,” Blaire finally answers, throwing a nasty look my way.

When he goes to get our drinks, Blaire punches me in the arm. “Stop being such a bitch.”

I was going to say that I wasn’t, but I kind of was. I run a hand down my arm. I feel so at odds with myself, like I’m wearing someone else’s skin and it’s too tight.

She grabs me by both shoulders and gives me a little shake. “He’s not Nick.”

I clench my teeth together so hard that the muscle in my jaw bunches.

“Here you go, ladies.” He slides our drinks toward us but seems taken aback when he spies the look of blatant rage on my face.

Blaire tries to cover it over with a winning smile and shoves a wad of bills in his direction. He barely glances down at them as he tucks them in his pocket.

Taking my water, I shrug off Blaire’s arm. “Go enjoy yourself and let me be. Find me when you’re ready to go home, and if you’re not coming home, just send me a text.”

I can tell by the look in her eyes she doesn’t want me to go off anywhere by myself, but I’m not really leaving her a choice. I don’t go far, just to the corner stool where I can sit unobtrusively against the wall. With the dim lighting I doubt anyone will even notice me.

And they don’t. From my perch on the stool, it’s like I don’t exist.

Blaire flits from group to group, always surrounded by admirers. She has a smile for all of them, even the unattractive ones. She’d never go for them, but she’s way too nice to treat them like crap. It’s one of the few things we have in common.

Unfortunately, my decision to stay at the bar puts me in fairly close proximity to Luke, and I get more than my fair share of watching him, whether I want to or not. At first I’d tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, thinking that the rumors about him were clearly exaggerated. They’re not. I’m not sure which is more disgusting—him or the boatloads of women who throw themselves at him knowing he’s probably dipped his stick in every single one of their friends.

More than one person leans across the bar to grab at his ass or hook their finger through his belt loop to pull him closer. He never objects, never seems to be bothered by the way they touch him. It’s like he’s a communal sex toy that everyone passes around and plays with. When I can’t stand to watch anymore, I leave my empty glass and its resulting ring of condensation behind and make my way outside.

The deck is shaped like an upside-down T, with the long part extending out across the sand and toward the water. For the most part, the action is contained in the bar area, and the farther away I walk, the fewer people I encounter.

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