Body Shot(6)

By: Kelly Jamieson

Again Hayden surveyed her image in the mirror. “Huh. That is kind of nice.”

“Okay. We’re all set.” Carrie unplugged the flatiron. “Heels would look great, but if we want to walk to the bar we need to wear flats.” She frowned.

“I’m fine with flats.” Hayden rarely wore heels because she was on her feet and running around all day, every day, and flats were more practical.

They walked up to Grand Avenue and then toward the Pacific Ocean. As they approached it, its salty scent carried on the breeze, rustling the palm trees lining the sidewalk. The lowering sun cast a golden light over everything. “So beautiful,” Hayden murmured, looking out over the sand and water. She didn’t take enough time to appreciate the beauty around her. She knew that. She was just busy.

“It is.”

“This is the place.” Carrie stopped in front of a white stucco building with arched windows and a red clay tiled roof. Above the door was a stylized black-and-white conquistador on a horse and the name “Conquistadors,” illuminated with spotlights that were still pale in the early evening sun.

“Looks nice.”

It wasn’t your typical Mexican restaurant with bright colors and a fiesta vibe—instead it was classy and elegant.

Inside, Hayden was further surprised. The interior of the bar and restaurant matched the exterior, with white walls, dark wood, black leather furniture, and funky chrome light fixtures suspended above tables. A fire flickered in a big stone fireplace against one wall, and the bar lined another wall, glittering with bottles and glasses. Wood Venetian blinds on the windows kept the atmosphere secluded from the lowering sun outside.

Nearly every table was occupied, and a sign at one end of the bar welcomed people to the tequila tasting event. They made their way there and were greeted by a gorgeous Hispanic man. “Hello.” His smile beamed white in his olive-toned face. Short stubble darkened his jaw and his brown eyes gleamed. “I’m Marco. Welcome to Conquistadors. Did you ladies buy tickets ahead of time?”

“Yes, we did.” Carrie handed over her computer-printed tickets.

Marco checked them against a list and handed them back. “Excellent. We’ll be getting started soon. Have a seat at the bar.” He gestured.

They climbed onto black leather stools and studied the myriad of bottles on the wall behind the bar. “He was totally checking you out,” Hayden told Carrie.

Carrie smirked. “Yeah.”

Hayden had to laugh. Carrie had to be the most down-to-earth model in the world.

“He’s good-looking,” Carrie added. “But douchey.”

“What? Why would you say that?”

“I don’t know.” She shrugged and picked up the paper that had been set in front of each stool. “Just an impression.”

Hayden lifted her paper too and studied it. It outlined the various tequilas they’d be tasting that evening. She didn’t recognize any of them. Not that she was very familiar with tequila.

More people arrived and checked in for the event, joining them at the bar. A man slid onto the stool next to Carrie. “Hi,” he said. “I’m Brian. This is my buddy Will.”

Carrie introduced herself and Hayden, who leaned forward to smile at the two guys. Of course they would introduce themselves to Carrie. Guys were always hitting on Carrie.

A woman behind the bar approached them with a friendly smile and set a basket of chips and a bowl of salsa in front of them, then another in front of Brian and Will.

At the far end of the bar, another man was busy lining up bottles and glasses on a big tray, talking to a group of women who’d gathered there. Hayden glanced his way as she helped herself to a chip, then did a double take. “Holy shit.”

“What?” Carrie plucked a chip from the basket.

“That guy…the bartender down there. He’s the one who grabbed me when I ran into that sign the other day. Oh right. I didn’t tell you about that.”

Carrie’s eyebrows rose and she crunched her chip. “Nope.”

Hayden told the embarrassing story and Carrie covered her mouth with her hand, eyes dancing. This wasn’t the first time Hayden had done something like that. “Oh, Hayden. Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I felt like an idiot.”

Carrie’s gaze shifted to Hayden’s rescuer. “Sweet baby Jesus, check out the sexy man bun. And those biceps…his tattoo…he is hot.”

“I know. I was so flustered I could barely talk. I mean, I was a little shaken up from hitting the post, but then he was holding me and all I could think was…wow.”

“Well, hey, you get a chance to thank him again.”