I’m back! Sort of! Sorry I’ve been absent. I hope to get back to my regular blog schedule soon.
Truth is I’ve been battling sinus headaches again, so when I’m not busy I’ve been taking it easy. I’m also behind on things but I hope to get back in the groove soon. Headaches are no fun.
In the meantime, here is a sweet excerpt from one of my in-progress short stories called “Blazing Heat.” Happy Valentine’s Day!
(Any undrafted mistakes are mine.)
The revolving door burst open, and Sal nearly knocked her over as he came inside next to her. “Bernice! Jill! Go home for the day! We don’t need you complaining anymore and we ain’t got customers for you to jaw at!”
Anna watched the relief on the two women’s faces as they stopped pacing around for a chance to relax in the freezer, and they sighed after thanking Jesus and then running to the back to grab their stuff. Anna furrowed her brow, wishing she could go home too, knowing at least her air conditioning unit in her apartment was functional. She’d love to just sit in the living room by the window where her unit would hum at her while it blew sweet, chilly air into her face. She’d catch up with her favorite TV shows, take a nap and just enjoy the chilly air, and the fact that every pore in her body wasn’t leaking sweat.
Alas, she was stuck at work with two other waitresses who looked just as peeved as she was toward Sal at not giving them a break like he did Jill and Bernice.
“Now the rest of you get back to work,” Sal said, and he turned to Anna. “Styles, come with me to the back of the bar. I need your help.”
She sighed. She knew exactly what kind of help he needed her for too. She was the tallest waitress, therefore she was the best choice to help him wipe off the bottles and clean the higher shelves on their booze cabinets. Anna couldn’t back out either; it was obvious Sal was in a cleaning frenzy, channeling his anger through wiping down his bar until Bob came in to fix the A/C, if that would ever happen. Anna would bet her next paycheck Bob was chilling in his own air conditioned home, swearing at Sal and taking his sweet time to come at all. Knowing he’d be dealing with Sal’s hot temper, she’d bet Bob would avoid it as much as he could.
“Yeah, I’m coming” she said, and she followed him out into the bar. Surveying the area, Anna noticed four customers in the whole bar. It was the slowest moment of the day. All four were regulars, and all four of them were carrying their pieces. They also had a few beers in them too, and the ice cold beer seemed to stave off the desire to leave the bar at any point.
Anna trailed after Sal as he sauntered to the largest booze cabinet. A small step stool was waiting for her, but most of the shelves she could reach. She thought perhaps Sal was also torturing her for complaining earlier but she hoped that maybe this would get her mind off the heat. She felt another drop of sweat run down her forehead and she groaned. Perhaps not.
She lowered her gaze, watching Sal walk and then turn toward her as they stopped in front of the cabinet. She had a second to enjoy that ass in tight Wrangler jeans, and she appreciated it just as quickly, adding it to all those other times she’d sneaked a peek at it.
He cleared her throat, drawing her thoughts toward him. She met his eyes, wiping the sweat off her brow in the mean time. She wiped it slow and pursed her lips at him, hoping he got a good look at her misery.
Unfazed by her suffering, he threw her a damp, clean towel. “Get started on that top shelf and work your way down.”
“What are you going to do?” she asked bluntly, hoping the words came out more playful than mean. He didn’t seem to take it that way, but he rose to the challenge.
He smirked. “Enjoy the view,” he said, and she blinked when she got the joke. She should have expected it. When anyone teased Sal, he teased right back, only playing dirtier. Anna felt her cheeks go warmer, if that was possible. She didn’t even want to entertain thoughts of where she could take that remark – where her imagination could take it further. Damn, Sal! She hated that he was smooth. She hated that he was good looking and the heat was getting to her.
She also hated that he was paying his sole attention to her when he rarely ever did. Uh oh.
‘He must really be mad at me for complaining so much today,’ she thought, biting her lip.
“I’ll be working on that cabinet,” he said, interrupting her thoughts again, and he pointed to the cabinet to their right, which was about the same height. He had a step stool waiting for him too and another towel. “It’s faster with two.”
“Got it,” she said with a sigh, and she moved past him and got to work, stepping on the stool, finding her balance and grabbing the first dusty bottle: Johnny Walker Blue. Soon, she fell into routine cleaning the bottles and wiping off the shelves. They weren’t really dusty, but when she cleaned them up, they definitely looked clearer, and the light reflected off them giving them an iridescent glow. She stepped off the ladder and began working on the third shelf from the top with two more shelves to go. Anna snuck a glance to her right, watching as Sal came down to the floor and caught up with her on his row.
Oddly enough, she enjoyed his company even though he was completely silent. She could hear him breathing, a little more labored from the heat, and he’d finally started to sweat. Sweat shimmered off his tanned forearms and she found herself catching a long look at one of her favorite tattoos: a detailed, realistic looking leopard.
“Anna,” he said, and he only needed to say her name in that commanding tone for her to snap back to work.
© HK Rowe