Cheers to a New Year my friends...here is a fun little short story for you to enjoy. Hope you like!
Glancing around the deserted street and sidewalk I glared hopefully up to the apparently empty building. No sign or welcoming neon lights pulled in the randoms and wanderers, it was by specific direction and word of mouth only that my favorite place could be found. Tucked behind the busy streets of down town Las Vegas, nudged between a sex shop and a watch repair building stood my favorite bar in the whole city; Bilbo’s Tavern.
Warm brick stacked haphazardly across the front of the building face with two boarded sections seemingly closing off barren windows and a lone street light casting a wide berth of orangish light over the black pavement. It was off the well-worn path of down town, not even remotely close to the strip of mass excitement and dirty escapades for what my beloved city is known for.
Tonight wasn’t a normal night though, the swarms of bodies filled the streets and bellowed their excitement into the bitter cold air with excited fervor. It was New Year’s Eve and only 40 minutes to the stroke of Midnight and for the first time in many many years I was completely alone.
At first I thought staying home would be a good idea, I even relished the thought of climbing into bed early tucking my feet beneath my plush new comforter and ringing in the New Year next to be best friend and closest confidant my little pug Wrigley. Unfortunately, 30 minutes before I dashed out of my quiet and quaint apartment, I saw a post on Facebook that changed everything about my plans for the evening.
My long ago ex and long lost best friend of my past was engaged and at a fabulous party with his shiny new fiancé, and shiny new suit and tie. It was enough to make me vomit, but instead of sitting inside my apartment and wallowing in my own self-pity, I jumped out of bed, ran a brush through my tangled hair and slipped into the sexiest party dress I owned. My makeup was a little rushed, but still fancy enough for where I was headed, and my hair though slightly flat held a ruffled just out of bed sexy look to it. So maybe I was a little desperate to not feel so alone on the one night a year you don’t really want to be alone at all, but as I stood in front of the barren looking bar that had been my favorite retreat for years I almost regretted my decision.
I didn’t need the alcohol in my system, and I didn’t really need to be surrounded by a bunch of strangers that I didn’t care about, but what I did need was noise and distraction. Bilbo’s was the perfect place for that.
My three inch shiny gold heels clicked over the pavement as I sashayed toward the front entrance. As I pulled the heavy wooden door away from the wall wild music assaulted my brain with fierce intensity.
“ID,” the door man barked at me before looking up.
“It’s me Vic,” I practically yelled back over the raucous music thumping heavily into my bones.
“Ah, James! Good to see you girl, looking good tonight. Who’s the lucky guy on your arm?” The meat head door man looked past me into the empty alley way waiting for a second body to fill the already packed bar.
“Going stag tonight my friend,” I responded easily to which he frowned in response.
“That’s no good! You are far to pretty to be alone tonight. First drink is on me babe. Go tell Mark at the bar that your whiskey is on the house tonight.”
Always the one to please the pretty ladies that walked into his domain, I smiled sweetly into Vic’s dark brown eyes and thanked him for his generosity.
“I don’t think you will be alone for long in that outfit my dear,” he yelled at me as I sauntered toward the bar. Despite his overly bulky muscles and shaved head, Vic was a sweetheart in the middle. He appeared to be a door weight and a face without a brain, but he was one of the sweetest guys on a day to day basis.
Walking up to the bar my favorite bartender and long time good friend Mark saw me as I pushed my way through the sea of bodies to reach the mahogany bar top. “What’s it to be tonight ma’dear?”
“Whiskey on the rocks tonight, make it a double, generosity of Vic,” I said with a wave to the door.
“Coming at you,” Mark said as he pulled one of his top shelf Glenlivets from the glass shelves behind him. “Just one drink?” He questioned looking around behind me for a possible guest in tow.
“Just the one.”
The monitor overheard blasted the time and a video feed of the wild parties running around the strip of Vegas. It looked like fun, and I knew it would have been wild to be in the center of the party on New Year’s Eve, but again I just didn’t feel like a party. Perhaps it was the absence of all my long time friends, or that I had just broken up with my most recent boyfriend less than a month before. Either way, tonight was about hanging out and celebrating a new year. I wasn’t about to let the strain of being alone bother me.
Backing away from the bar top and into the throngs of bodies I lost my footing and slammed into a slightly squishy body just behind me.
“Whoa there little darlin’,” a high pitched voice belted out from behind me.
I turned around to find a young looking man not much older than possibly 25 with a thick black beard, overly tight grey pants and a shirt that clung a little to tightly to his round and beer filled belly. His face was slightly round but pleasant as he smiled down at me as I turned to apologize for ramming into him.
“That’s no problem at all, I don’t mind people running into me when they are as cute as you. What’s your name pretty lady?”
“Jamie, but most people call me James,” I said loudly.
“James,” he said experimentally before taking a sip of his beer adorned with a orange. My nose scrunched in annoyance at his beverage which I immediately tried to hide. I have always been a lover of good drinks, fine wines, oaky whiskey, and flavorful beers, but I can’t help but turn up my nose as beers with fruit in them. Something about it just seems terribly wrong. Good beer doesn’t need a flavor addition, good beer is good all on it’s own. Then again, that was the exact reason why all of my friends called me an uber beer snob.
“I’m Terrance,” the beer belly guy said as he pushed his chubby hand in my direction.
“Nice to meet you Terrance.”
He smiled at me with a look of intense hunger before he leaned in a little closer giving me a full nose of barbeque sauce and citrus beer. “You here alone James? A girl as pretty as you can’t be alone at Midnight, what would she possibly do for a New Year’s kiss?”
“Well I…” started to say, then jumped almost a foot in the air as a warm arm slinked around my waist and hoisted me up against soft warm flannel.
“There you are love, I have been looking for you,” a deep voice resonated from beside me.
I glanced up completely startled at the voice and saw sharp green eyes glittering down at me. I didn’t know this man who's hand was all too comfortable resting on my hip melding the black silk tightly to my skin.
“Oh Jude, I didn’t know you came with a date. Sorry man, didn’t mean to step in,” Terrance said slowly before backing away from me.
“No worries man, no harm no foul,” Jude said good naturedly.
“Nice meeting you James,” Terrance said before melting back into the crowd.
I stumbled away from Jude’s grip completely baffled at his forwardness in pulling me against him and tricking Terrance who was being a perfect gentleman away from me.
“What was that for?” I barked at him.
“Trust me, you don’t want to be next to that guy when the clock hits midnight. He has a pocket full of pills that would leave you without a sense of what you were doing. I just saved you a trip to the hospital, and a walk of shame that you wouldn’t have remembered.
I was completely blown away. “You can’t be serious,” I said completely dead pan.
“Cross my heart,” he said slowly before dragging a finger in an X motion over his chest.
Looking up into his deep green eyes I took in his full appearance and couldn’t believe how completely gorgeous he was. Not in a traditional way, but for me his look spelled trouble for my future. Long black hair curled about his head landing just below his ears. Thick eyebrows settled heavily over his wide green eyes leading down to a slightly narrowed nose. His face though angled and narrow gave his appearance a boyish quality as well as rugged with the overly scruffy cheeks and chin. He wore a red and black long sleeve flannel hanging over slightly tight black jeans and stocky black boots. Several tattoos peeked out from random places of open skin along his neck and his left hand bringing out the bad boy nature slightly covered by a mountain man display. A silver stud winked at me from the corner of his lower lip matching the twin silver plugs lodged in either ear.
“Jude is it?” I said slowly.
“Nice to meet you James was it? Interesting name for a girl,” he stated with a small grin on his face.
“It’s Jamie actually, but everyone calls me James. Long standing nic-name.”
“Well, James, since I just did you a huge favor I think you will have to make it up to me.” His eyes sparked with humor as his hand found its way back to my waist.
“Is that so?” I responded taking a small step back away from him. He might be really good looking and perhaps he had rescued me from a possible disaster, but I still didn’t know the guy and didn’t really like his tendency to touch me so intimately.
“You see until I saw you walk through that door, not a single girl caught my eye. I am alone on New Year’s Eve and I think that is just a horrible position to be in don’t you?”
“I don’t know, I seem to be doing alright with it so far,” I said bravely lifting my glass in his direction but as I glanced up at the clock the minutes to midnight were dwindling and I couldn’t get the image of my ex and his shiny new fiancé out of my head.
“You aren’t that good of a liar,” he clipped out.
“How do you know I’m lying?”
“Because you have glanced at the clock five times since we started talking and that was less than ten minutes ago.”
I paused without a single rebuttal and smiled at his forceful nature. I liked him, and I was pretty sure he knew it.
“So the plan is, I am going to walk up to the bar and order you a tasty beer. You look the type to like a good stout am I right?” I nodded enthusiastically. “And then I am going to come back here and cheers to the New Year with my new friend before I give her the best kiss she has ever had in 2014.”
“It isn’t 2014 yet?”
“Then I won’t have much competition will I?”
I giggled like a dumb school girl. What the hell was wrong with me? He turned around with a flirty wink and headed toward the bar with 12 minutes left in the year. Returning with two Duvel glasses filled to the brim with a rich creamy stout, Jude handed me my glass before clinking the lip of his to mine.
“Let’s cheers to a New Year, new friends, and our mutal friend Mark who told me I would be a blithering idiot if I didn’t approach you and try to steal a kiss from you tonight.”
My mouth almost hit the ground. “He didn’t!”
“He definitely did. That man has been hitting on me for almost two years now, and finally for once he plays the perfect gay wing man. I put in a lot of time to get a girl tip from him. Apparently he pointed me in the right direction.”
“You have been coming here for two years?” I asked more shocked than anything else. I had been going to Bilbo’s for almost two years as well. It was strange that I had never met Jude before. The bar was large, but I would have noticed him if I had ever seen him.
“Yes Ma’am I have. Perhaps fate decided tonight was the night for us.” He winked again before taking a sip of his beer prompting me to taste mine. He had hit the nail on the head with his choice. The chocolaty stout filled my senses with warmth and flavor bursting over my tongue like every delicious beer does. It was perfect.
Voices surrounding us began the countdown at 20 yelling out each number like a march toward victory. Jude pulled me in closer and this time I didn’t back away. Not only did I not want to, but something about his smile and the way his eyes flashed as they looked at me made me curious about him so much more. The realization that our kiss would be a mingled taste of stout and chocolate peeked my excitement that much more.
His free hand moved from my waist and drifted up to cup the side of my face as the countdown reached ten. “Hope you are ready for this wild adventure Miss James.”
“I’m not so sure you can handle what’s coming to you Sir Jude.”
His eyes flashed sharply before a wicked smile splashed over his features. “Oh you my dear, have no idea what you just signed up for.”
At the screaming sound of Happy New Year surrounding us, Jude leaned close pulling my lips toward his drowning me with the heat of his breath and the thick smell of wet dog. My mind didn’t quite register the smell, but just as he pulled me but an inch away from his lips his tongue ducked out and licked me full across the side of the face.
“What the…,” I jolted out of the haze losing my balance before I fell butt first to the ground. Shaking my head my eyes strained to part before a wild yip barked in my ear and 22 lbs of puppy pounced on me kissing me with full excitement.
My eyes snapped open immediately to find myself still dressed warmly in my nice cozy red and black flannel pants sprawled out on living room floor after having fallen off the couch.
Every minute of that evening at my favorite bar was a complete and total dream. I had never actually left my apartment, and instead had completely missed the ring of midnight. My little puppy still wild with energy after the loud burst of fireworks from outside my apartment jumped all over me in attempt to lick my face until he was content I’d had enough.
“Looks like you are my New Year’s kiss this year little guy,” I said as a scratched the short hair on his wrinkly head. “Maybe next year I will find my Jude.”
Wrigley barked his affirmation at me before lunging toward my face again. Perhaps this year wasn’t my year for some hot stranger to find me, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t ready for a new year full of surprises.
Lifting my glass of warmed stout to my lips I smiled as I watched the end song of Across the Universe play on my tv. Glancing at the clock I realized I hadn't in fact missed the new year, it was only 10:50. Dashing with the speed of an Olympic runner I ran to my room and ripped out a pair of heels and threw on my silky black dress. I kissed my little pug good night and headed out the door.
Time to go find my Jude.