Let Life Happen

Jaqueline Snowe

 

Chapter 1

The Customer’s Always Right-Jenna

“JENNA! I need you to take care of the guys who just sat down.”

I looked up from the glasses I’d just cleaned to see a group of guys sitting down at one of the corner tables. If Cynthia, my boss and friend, weren’t pregnant right now, I’d tell her to screw off. She knew I preferred being behind the bar, and that I only took orders in dire situations. This was not dire. At the moment, there were three other servers who could very well do it. Did I complain, though? No. I did it. Because I seriously loved me some Cynthia.

“Damn it, Cynthia, you know I can’t say no to you now you got have your cute belly showing.” I looked back at the testosterone-fueled group and sucked in a sigh of frustration. “And they’re frat guys. My goddamn favorite. You owe me, woman.”

“Play nice, Jenna. Just smile, bring them their drinks, and you can start closing up. There must be an event or something soon, because it isn’t busy today.” Cyn smiled sweetly.

“It’s the start of a new school year. There’s probably some Quad Day bullshit. Actually, I’m sure that’s it. One of my roomies is working for it.” She nodded. I sucked it up. “Well, I guess I’ll be right back.”

I grabbed one of the pens from my hair and headed toward the table, eyeing the obnoxious bro tanks four of them were wearing. At least one of them was dressed in a normal outfit. Not like I was one to judge…

Hell yeah, I was judging.

Shaking my head, I plastered on a fake smile. “Hey, guys, how’s it going?”

No one looked up from their menus. Assholes.

“We’ll take a shotski, five pitchers of beer, and ten shots of fireball,” one of them, wearing cut-off jorts, demanded. I absolutely loved when people did that.

I bit the inside of my cheek to prevent my sarcastic comment from escaping. “All right, thanks for answering, but what would you like in the pitchers? We have multiple beers on tap.”

“What beers? Any new ones?” blond surfer dude asked with a lazy smile, making eye contact. Points for him. He must be the friendliest of the group.

I grabbed one menu from the table and flipped it over. I pointed to the top section, labeled Beers on Draught. “They’re listed right there.”

“Name them for us. Please.” The deep voice caught my attention.

I looked up from Jorts’s shoulder to make eye contact with none other than Aiden Chad, Sigma’s president and our school’s ultimate player. I narrowed my eyes at him, and without missing a beat or even peeking at the menu, I listed all ten of them.

Jorts looked up with a confused expression on his face. His brows furrowed in concern as he took in my scowl and pursed lips. Instead of actually answering, Jorts’s eyes slowly appraised my body, taking in my low shirt, jeans, and Chucks.

“Hey, eyes up here. So what’s it going to be?”

At my comment, Jorts looked ashamed of his actions and mumbled an apology. Aiden chuckled softly under his breath, and I looked up with raised eyebrows. They apparently didn’t comprehend I still needed an answer.

Aiden’s intense gray eyes worked their way down my face to my body. This felt different than just being checked out. Was Aiden Chad hella hot? Hands down. Model worthy. So hot I wasn’t unaffected by his stare, but thanks to his douchiness—a word I'd used more in the past year than I ever would again—I shut down my lady parts to him.

He rubbed his jaw and smirked at my expression, but the moment was lost when Jorts blurted out, “Lagunitas.” I didn’t wait a second longer before walking back toward the bar.

“Cyn, I need a shotski started for them. Get Joel to do it. Where is the tattooed punk anyway?”

Cyn sat on one of the barstools, counting cash, looking like a badass. I owed her a lot and felt an overwhelming sense of pride for my friend and boss for simply kicking ass at life. I’d known her most of my life, and she’d saved my butt multiple times.

She paused her counting and looked up at me. “Some sorority meeting’s going on in the beer garden, so naturally, he’s out there.”

“Ah, that explains it. Sorry to let my feelings come out, but pregnancy looks good on you. Gage is a lucky man.”

Her eyes widened, but she smiled. “That’s practically an ‘I love you.’ Thanks, J. Love you, too. I’m going to assume you really meant it and weren’t just trying to find a way out of the baby shower. No matter how hard you try, you will be there.”

I cringed a little because I’d been planning a way out of it. Even though it wasn’t my intention at the time, she knew me too well.

Joel sauntered in with a wicked gleam in his eyes, and he swatted me with his rag. He always demanded attention when he entered a room. “What up, bitches? J-Dog got himself a date tonight. Can I get a fist bump?”

“You’re always such a dog.”

“Aw, she’s jealous. You see, Cynthia? Just say the word, Jenna, and I’m all yours.” He threw his arm around me and planted a kiss on my head. If he wasn’t one of my best friends, I would’ve decked him.

“In your dreams, J-Dog. Help me with these drinks, would ya?”

He poured the pitchers while I laid out ten shot glasses. I grabbed the bottle of whiskey and twirled it before pouring all the shots in one try. “Hells yeah,” I said to myself, because inside every bartender was a little desire to be like the girls in Coyote Ugly.

“You are just so dreamy,” Joel said in a sarcastic manner rivaling my own. He leaned on the counter and pretended to applaud my show. I flipped him off without Cyn seeing, but somehow she knew.

“Be nice, Jenna.” She already had the perfect motherly tone down. She’d treated Joel and me like her own children for years, and we would both admit we needed a motherly figure.

I grabbed a tray to set up the drinks. I felt someone watching me, and I found gray eyes doing just that. Aiden’s eyes had a steely look to them. Like he was an authority figure in his past life. I scowled at the smirk forming on his face. He probably thought I was checking him out. He sure as hell didn’t need an ego boost.

“Aiden Chad is looking at you,” Joel whispered over my shoulder. He nudged me with his hip to get me to look up at him. I rolled my eyes at his baffled expression.

“Am I supposed to be excited about this?” I responded, which caused Joel to throw his head back and laugh. “What? Yeah. He’s hot. But damn, I have standards.”

Joel put his hand up to my forehead and scrunched his nose. “Are you feeling okay? I’m pretty sure this Arizona heat is getting to you. Man candy himself isn’t up to your standards?”

“Joel, come on. You’ve known me for years now. Players like you and him are great as friends, but you know I stay away from them. They aren’t my type. Ugh! Why are we having this conversation? I have better shit to do.”

I picked up the tray of shots and held two of the pitchers in one hand. Some people were good with numbers, others with tools or artsy shit. I was absurdly great at balancing trays of drinks and holding two pitchers in one hand.

“Here you go, guys. I’ll be right back with the rest.” I quickly came back with their other drinks, and Aiden handed me his card. “Would you like me to open a tab or close you out?”

“We’ll start a tab, please.”

I grabbed the card from him, but he held on to it. We were in a weird tug-of-war match. He let go after what felt like an hour.

“Have you worked here long?” He tilted his head in confusion.

“Yeah, about four years. Normally, I’m behind the bar.” I twirled the pen in my hand, wanting the conversation to end. This was the one thing I hated about being a waitress over a bartender; you had to wait until the right moment to leave a table. At least behind the bar, there was always something to do during a conversation.

“I don’t think I’ve seen you here before. We come here a lot.” His eyes were still regarding me up and down, but not in a creepy way. I didn’t like the way my body broke out in goose bumps at the attention. Nope.

“I know. I’ve seen you around, but generally, you have girls stuck on your face, so that’s probably why you don’t recognize me.”

Jorts, Surfer Dude, the guy with the beard whom I dubbed Bear, and the guy wearing a sweatband all looked up at me and chuckled. Aiden sucked in a breath and ran his tongue over his bottom lip before smiling at me. “Jealous?”

“Not even a little bit. Just calling it like I see it. Bartenders know and see more than you think.”

His teeth, pearly-white and perfect, bit down on his lip for a second before he replied, “Good to know. So, feisty one, what’s your name?”

“It’s Jenna, but your charm ain’t going to work on me, so I’m going to stop this conversation here. I bring your drinks. You pay for drinks. That’s as much interaction as you and I are going to have.”

Bear, the guy with the bushy hipster beard and all, handed me a shot. “This is highly entertaining. You totally just curbed the king. You deserve a drink after that. Here, have a shot.”

“Aw, how sweet. Thanks.” I grabbed one and clinked the glass with his, and I threw it back. Not the first nor the last time I had a shot on the job. Perks of being a bartender. “Anything else I can get you boys?”

“No, we’re straight. Thanks,” Jorts replied.

“Anything for you, Your Highness?” I couldn’t help but bait Aiden after hearing one of his frat buddies refer to him as a king. Once again, the word douche flew around my brain.

His eyes still hadn’t left my face. They appeared to be a darker charcoal, and I thought I saw a flicker of interest. Great. Not my intention.

“Yeah, but what I want isn’t on the menu,” he replied with an arrogant smirk.

I burst out laughing. “Holy shit. Your line is terrible.” I shook my head and walked back toward the bar, still laughing.

“What’s so funny? Did you try flirting again?” Cyn asked, a smile forming on her lips.

“No. Do you know who Aiden Chad is?”

“I may be older than you kids, married, and pregnant, but yes, I do own a bar on College Avenue. I know who he is. He’s hot. Why?”

“Yeah, he’s uncontrollably hot, but not the point. I’m serving him and his frat buddies. The line the sexy douche just used on me was the most ridiculous freaking thing I’ve ever—” I stopped midsentence as I saw him walking up to me. “Yes?”

A normal-mannered person would apologize and at least appear embarrassed at being caught, but never once did I mention I was normal. Or mannered. If anything, I was pissed he probably heard me say he was hot. I refused to compliment any man-whore.

“Uncontrollably hot? Care to expand on that?” His dimples showed on both sides of his face. His hand was on his hip and part of his abs was exposed. His extremely tanned, ripped midriff.

Suddenly, my mouth became dry.

“No way in hell am I going to expand on that, but we can talk about the douche comment. Do you need something?” Once again, I bit down on the side of my mouth to prevent myself from saying anything regrettable.

He leaned in closer, and by instinct, I crossed my arms, drawing his attention to my cleavage. Did I have nice tits? Yes. Did I like frat guys ogling them? Nope. Not at all.

His eyes narrowed, and he took a deep breath before mirroring my stance. “Do you have a problem with me?”

His question surprised me, but I appreciated the upfront attitude. I preferred to live life without lies or bullshit. Honesty was always the best policy. “With you personally? No.”

“Good to know.”

“We going to have a heart-to-heart right now?” I asked.

“Uh, no, just wondering about the tone.” His voice held nothing but curiosity and interest.

“I’m sure someone like you isn’t used to a woman not falling at your feet. This must be traumatic for you,” I quipped, not unfriendly, but definitely not kind.

“I like your attitude. It’s refreshing.” His eyes crinkled in a smile.

“Yeah, I get that a lot. I’m a peach. Not meaning to sound rude, again, but did you need something?”

He laughed and shook his head in amusement. “Can we get a couple orders of fries?”

“Sure thing.”

I punched in the order and continued to clean the bar area, ignoring the pointed stare Cyn was giving me.

“Are we going to talk about what just happened?” She arched a knowing brow.

“Nope.” Just like that, I deflected any conversations involving the weird interaction I just had with the most sought-after guy on campus.

“All righty, then.” She pursed her lips.

I ignored her sass. “We need the keg for 312 changed. Joel just finished it.”

“On it.”