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Lana sighed as she glanced around. The pool bar was her home setting—the place she could most be herself. She walked to the bar in the back with a mirror running behind it. The tight jeans rubbed comfort into her long legs, giving her hips a bit of a sway. She needed a shot of whiskey before she got back to work; she needed it to take away the lingering unease from the moment before. She grabbed a bottle of her best whiskey and a shot glass from under the bar. The liquid fired down her throat.
As a man entered dressed in jeans and a button-down shirt, she took another shot. She kept herself from connecting to him and everyone else in the bar. She just needed one more moment to steady herself. The second shot of whiskey ran through her blood, convincing her that everything was normal. Harrigan nudged her soul. They were all right.
With a deep breath she placed her hands on the counter and reached out to see how she and Harrigan could serve everyone.
Empathetic lines shot out from her soul—lines that anchored on Harrigan but originated from her. Joy, pain and desires shot back into her from the customers. Most of them she ignored, allowing Harrigan to sort them and figure out the drinks she needed to serve. Some emotions burned so hot they forced her to give them a passing glance. But none overwhelmed her. She grabbed a tray and set to work lining up the drinks.
People kept arriving, brushing against Lana’s soul with their cares and concerns. Harrigan gave her the drinks to ease their pain. Often the drink wasn’t what the customer would’ve ordered, but they always took what Lana offered.
Lana set the tray on the counter to begin another round. She reached under the bar and paused when she held up the bottle Harrigan had given her: Zima. They hadn’t made that in years. She’d never served one. She glanced out to see who it was for. The man who’d walked in after her first shot of whiskey leaned across the pool table. God he was huge. She’d somehow missed that before. He stood after sinking a ball, displaying his glorious, muscular 6’4” body. At least she guessed that was his height. She was a tall woman and knew she’d be looking up to him when she approached.
His friends were obnoxious. They were gonna tease him for the girly drink. Odd. She’d taken all of them rum and Cokes, but she hadn’t even noticed him sitting with them. She questioned Harrigan. Nothing about skipping over him earlier, just an insistence to take him the Zima. She could press and find out why, but he’d be good in bed. An uncomplicated tumble might be just what she needed. She twisted the top off the Zima and headed over, leaving the tray behind.
She waited for him to take another shot. When he saw her, he stood right away. He had a pleasant face with stubble he hadn’t bothered to shave. His cheekbones were a little wide, but his perfectly straight nose made up for them. His blue eyes smiled, beckoning her to get lost in them.
She raised her defenses. Superficial sex was all she wanted, and he’d be good at it.
“You’ve got game,” she said. “Maybe we could play when I finish serving.” She held the Zima out to him.
The smile in his eyes vanished as he stared at the bottle. His friends went silent. No one teased him. Something was wrong. He wasn’t taking the drink. Waves wobbled through her ears like a shift going wayward, but the bar didn’t phase out. Unease crept into Lana. This hulk of a man could see through Harrigan’s facade.