By: Sadie Black

As Sonia approached with the next round, Moneka and I shared a look of alarm. Moneka then immediately started laughing. It was clear that neither of us wanted this to continue. Part of me wanted to push it a little further, thinking that I had Moneka on the ropes and it would only be a matter of time. Another, smarter part of me knew that Moneka wouldn’t back down and we’d both be unconscious before eleven.

Moneka slammed her hand down and held another up to arrest Sonia’s movement.

“I agree.” I said, understanding her intentions.

“Good. Because, I have work to do tomorrow.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“I mean that’s the only reason. Otherwise…”

“Of course.”

There. We’d both managed to salvage both our stomachs and our pride.

Moneka leaned conspiratorially forward, as if preparing to tell me a drunken secret. “Want to have some water?”

“I thought you’d never ask.” I laughed.

A relieved Sonia handed the vodka to my crew members and poured two pint glasses of water behind the bar. As she placed them in front of us, she said, “good decision kid,” and ruffled my hair.

“You’ll make an excellent bartender Sonia.” I called after her as she went to pour herself another drink.

“I already am,” she called back.

Moneka and I nursed our waters for a while. It wasn’t long before the nausea brought on by the sudden influx of vodka had worn off and I was enjoying a pleasant drunkenness.

Around 11:30, Kaila's date had ducked out, clearly perturbed that Kaila was not going with him. My crew members had also gone home for the night. Sonia poured us each another tumbler of scotch, stating that we could handle it again now, before retiring to the other end of the bar with Kaila. I didn’t have to look their way to know that they were whispering and glancing our way. Self proclaimed matchmakers are literally the most irritating people on the planet.

“Well this is a nice silence.” Moneka caught my eye and smiled wanly.

“Sorry. Is this awkward? I’m just a little drunk.”

“A quiet drunk, huh? One in a long list of things that I don’t know about you.”

“Well what do you want to know?”

Moneka contemplated her open invitation. She scrunched up her face, making a show of trying to come up with the perfect question. I suddenly wanted to kiss that face.

She finally came out with, “did you always want to be a contractor?”

“It’s a little late for the heavy hitters isn’t it?”

“Nah. It’s about that time.”

“Ok. Yes and No. I always new I wanted to make things. That lends itself to a lot of things though. I like working with my hands.”

“Oh.” Moneka reached her hand out and laid it on mine. I felt a buzz of electricity run up my arm, making the little hairs stand up in exciting ways.

“Did you always want to be a chef?”

“Since I was about eight. I like creating things too.”

Her hand remained on mine. The fact of her touching me hung in the air like an unfinished sentence. I wanted to grab her, pull her close, and kiss her everywhere that I could reach. Ours eyes locked and the air left my lungs. It felt like there was only one choice. Kiss her. Kiss her or suffocate. Kiss her or die.

We didn’t notice when Kaila and Sonia had slipped into the kitchen and out the back. We didn’t notice as the lights in the awnings of the restaurants up and down the boulevard started to peter out. We didn’t notice as the ice melted in our drinks and the glasses sweat large puddles across the Sonia's perfectly finished oak bar.



My hand lay on top of his. I could tell by the look of intensity on his face that he was getting the message. With a pinky, I traced the edge of his finger and back, just light enough to tickle and just firm enough to be unmistakable. If you had asked me yesterday if I thought I’d be touching digits with Cole Saunders in a darkened restaurant after midnight, I would have told you to take a hike. Sure, I thought he was cute. Ok, that's a lie. I thought he was the most perfect man I'd ever laid eyes on. But there’s thinking someone’s sexy and then there’s actually sleeping with them. Up until tonight, Cole was window dressing, meant to be admired from a distance. The moment he walked in wearing that suit, however, all bets were off. Tonight, I got to meet more than Saunders the contractor who always has to be right. Tonight I got to meet a charming, playful, hot…