“You got it,” she agreed with another giggle before disconnecting the call.
After pulling on my tank and doing my hair and makeup, I had less than ten minutes to get to the bar. Luckily, it was only a five-minute drive, so I made it there with just enough time to toss my purse on the bottom shelf behind the bar before clocking in. Friday nights were always busy, and today was no exception. I immediately got to work filling drink orders after explaining to the other two bartenders on shift that my coverage fell through at the last minute. Jane and Todd told me to check with them first if I was ever in a tight spot again. Not that it would’ve done me any good this time since we were all scheduled together.
Don, the owner of the McClaren’s, came out of the back office about three hours after I started working. He did a double take when he spotted me behind the bar and headed in my direction. He wasn’t super involved with the day-to-day management of the staff, but he knew about the wedding this weekend since he scheduled the bands and Chuffed Up couldn’t perform. “What’re you doing here? I thought you traded shifts with Kelli?”
“She sent me a text thirty minutes ago to let me know she couldn’t make it because something came up,” I explained while I grabbed a container of lime wedges from the fridge behind me to restock the garnish tray.
“What do you want to bet it was a someone?” Jane asked with a roll of her eyes as she poured a draft beer and slid it toward the customer sitting directly in front of her.
Todd wandered over from the other end of the bar. “Someone what?”
“Kelli was the one who bailed on Wendy’s shift,” Jane huffed, turning toward the register to add the beer to the guy’s tab. “She waited until the last minute and gave her some crappy, vague excuse about something coming up. But we all know there’s only one thing that would drag that girl away from the tips she’d earn on a Friday night shift.”
Todd nodded. “Oh, yeah, for sure it was a dude.”
Jane snapped a towel at his thigh and pointed over his shoulder to the woman who was tapping her fingers against the top of the bar—a sure sign that she felt as though she’d been left waiting too long for service. Don quirked his brow at the inappropriate gesture, but Jane just winked and shrugged. Everyone knew she and Todd had been dating for the past six months. They restricted their PDA to when they weren’t working, but it was impossible to miss how comfortable the two were with each other. I loved having shifts with them because the time tended to fly by.
I smiled at Don and shook my head. “Don’t worry about them on my account. I’d happily do every single shift with them if it meant I didn’t have to worry about working with a couple of the other bartenders again.”
“Yeah, like Kelli,” Jane grumbled as she mixed a cocktail.
Don didn’t look too happy with the direction the conversation had gone, but a couple of my customers' glasses were getting low and a guy from one of the high-top tables was making his way over. So I lifted a finger to ask him to wait a minute while I took care of everyone. Once I was done, I walked back over to where Don was standing.
He moved closer and lowered his voice to ask, “Is Kelli really that bad to work with?”
“She’s awful,” I confirmed with a nod. “Normally, I never would’ve asked her to cover my shift, but Jack wasn’t willing to fix the schedule, and the only other bartender who wanted to switch needed me to take a shift tomorrow.”
“Which would’ve been worse because then you’d miss the wedding.” He scrubbed his palms down his face and sighed. “When did you ask for the time off?”
“The day after Breaker proposed to Ireland.” I laughed, remembering how she’d grumbled about the one-month time limit he’d set before jumping into planning with both feet. “I’m not one to complain, but this shouldn’t have even been my problem in the first place. I have vacation days and was marked down to use them tonight and tomorrow. It really sucks that I’m missing out on the rehearsal because he messed up the schedule and couldn’t be bothered to fix his mistake himself.”
“You’re right, and I’m really sorry, Wendy. I’ll have a talk with Jack about the situation on Monday,” he promised.
Don was a good guy, and I trusted him to keep his word. “Thanks, I appreciate it.”
“I own the place, so the buck stops with me.” He scanned the crowd and nodded as though he’d come to some kind of decision. “Which means it’s my job to step up when something goes wrong. So how about you get out of here, and I’ll take your place behind the bar.”