I nod and smile as he walks down the sidewalk.
“It’s cold out here,” Hardin’s voice says behind me, scaring the shit out of me.
I huff and walk past him back into the bar. The table that I was sitting at is now taken by a bald man and his supersized mug of beer. I grab my purse off the stool next to him, and he just gives me a dead-eyed look. Or rather, gives my breasts one.
Hardin is behind me. Again. “Let’s just go, please.”
I step over to the bar area. “Can I just get two feet of space? I don’t even want to be around you right now. You said some pretty hateful things to me,” I remind him.
“You know I didn’t mean them,” he answers, defending himself, attempting to make eye contact with me. I’m not falling for it.
“That doesn’t mean you can say them.” I look over at the girl—Lillian’s girlfriend—who’s watching Hardin and me from the bar. “I don’t want to talk about it right now. I was having a nice night, and you aren’t ruining it.”
Hardin steps in between us. “So you don’t want me here?” His eyes flash with hurt, and something in their green depths makes me backtrack.
“I’m not saying that, but if you’re going to tell me that you don’t love me or how you use me for sex again, then you need to go. Or I will.” I’m trying my hardest to keep my bubbly, giggly attitude instead of sinking down and letting the pain and frustration take over.
“You are the one who started all this shit when you came here with him—drunk, might I add . . .” he begins.
I sigh. “Here we go.” Hardin is the king of double standards. His latest one is walking toward us now.
“Jesus, would you two shut up. We’re in a public place.” The beautiful girl that Hardin was sitting with interrupts us.
“Not now,” Hardin snaps at her.
“Come on, Hardin’s obsession. Let’s take a seat at the bar,” she says, ignoring him.
Sitting at a table toward the back of the bar and having a drink brought to me is one thing; sitting at the bar top and ordering my own is another. “I’m not old enough,” I inform her.
“Oh, please. With that dress on, you’ll get a drink.” She stares at my chest, and I pull the front up slightly.
“If I get kicked out, it’s your fault,” I tell her, and she tips her head back in laughter.
“I’ll bail you out of jail.” She winks, and Hardin stiffens next to me. He watches her with warning in his eyes, and I can’t help but laugh. He tried to make me jealous with Lillian all night, and now he’s jealous of Lillian’s girlfriend winking at me.
All of this juvenile back-and-forth—he’s jealous, I’m jealous, the old lady at the bar is jealous, everyone is jealous—it’s annoying. Slightly entertaining, especially now, but still annoying.
“My name is Riley, by the way.” She takes a seat at the end of the bar. “I’m sure your rude-ass boyfriend isn’t planning on introducing us.”
I glance back at Hardin, expecting him to cuss her out, but he only rolls his eyes, which is pretty restrained for him. He tries to sit at the stool between us, but I grab the back, then place my hand on his arm to help myself get up onto it. I know I shouldn’t be touching him, but I want to sit here and enjoy my last night of this minivacation-turned-disaster. Hardin has scared away my new friend, and Landon is probably already asleep by now. I don’t have any other options except sitting alone in the room back at the cabin. This seems better.
“What can I get you?” a copper-haired bartender in a jean jacket asks me.
“We’ll have three shots of Jack. Chill them first,” Riley answers for me.
The woman scans my face for a few seconds, and my heart begins to race. “Coming up,” she says finally, and pulls three shot glasses from under the bar and places them in front of us.
“I wasn’t going to drink. I only had one before you came,” Hardin leans over and says into my ear.
“Drink what you want; I am,” I say without looking at him. Still, I silently pray that he doesn’t get too drunk. I never know how he’ll act.
“I can see that,” he says by way of scolding me.
I look at him with scorn, but end up staring at his mouth instead. Sometimes I just sit and stare at the slow movements of his lips when he talks; it’s one of my favorite things to do.
Perhaps noticing I’ve softened somewhat, he asks, “Are you upset with me still?”
“Then why are you acting like you aren’t?” His lips move even slower. I really need to find out the name of that wine. It was really good.
“I already told you, I want to have fun,” I repeat. “Are you mad at me?”
“I always am,” he replies.
I laugh a little. “Isn’t that the truth.”
“What did you say?”
“Nothing.” I smile innocently and watch him rub the back of his neck with his hand, pinching the top of his shoulders between his thumb and forefinger.
A shot of brown liquor is placed in front of me seconds later, and Riley raises her shot glass to Hardin and me. “Here’s to dysfunctional, borderline-psychotic relationships.” She smirks and tilts her head back to take her shot.
Hardin followers her lead.
I take a deep breath before welcoming the cool burn of whiskey down my throat.
“ONE MORE!” Riley cheers, sliding another shot in front of me.
“I dunno if I can,” I slur. “I’ve never b-been this drunk, never never.”