Guy Hater(7)

By: J. Sterling




Claudia

I finally understood Britney’s obsession with this bar. One step inside its warm interior and I loved the vibe already. Soft music played in the background, but was drowned out by the conversations happening everywhere. A whole section of wall was dedicated to Instagram pictures only, with Sam’s bar prominently advertised in the corner. It was brilliant marketing and I respected it. Nick’s handiwork, I knew from Britney.

“It’s amazing, right?” she asked as we navigated through the crowd, and I smiled and nodded in response.

We found Ryan and Nick tending bar—smiling, taking orders, and mixing drinks. They were definitely good-looking, both with gorgeous blue eyes that looked almost identical in the dim light. I absolutely understood the appeal and why women kept coming back for more.

When Britney introduced me to Ryan, I smiled, realizing within seconds why she crushed on him. He was charming, but not in a cheesy kind of way, with sandy-brown hair and a sprinkling of sun-kissed freckles that reminded me of Britney’s. His charm seemed easy and genuine, like it was part of who he was, not like he was giving you his best sales pitch. It would be way too easy to think he was into you when he talked to you.

While I observed Britney and Ryan flirting with each other, my skin prickled for no apparent reason. I looked around the room, my eyes latching onto a pair of green ones that I couldn’t look away from.

It had to be Frank, the oldest Fisher brother. His jet-black hair matched Nick’s, and their features were similar.

I struggled to look away. He was devilishly handsome, his jawline so strong and rugged, it caused my breath to catch in my throat. We stared at each other for what felt like minutes, but was probably only a few fleeting seconds, until I tore my gaze away.

Someone had to.

Even though I was no longer looking his way, I could still feel him, sense he was near. Unnerved, I hesitated before looking up at the sound of what had to be his voice. Everything about this man caused my body to physically react, and I had no idea why.

When Ryan introduced Britney and me to Frank, I was once again ensnared by those green eyes. I couldn’t look away this time, refusing to stop the buzz that charged inside my head just from looking at him. Everything else went quiet as I lost myself in a sea of green.

This time it was Frank who broke our eye contact. He hustled away so quickly, I almost thought that I had done something wrong or had offended him in some way. When Ryan chased after him, I shot Britney a questioning look.

“That was . . . weird.” She gave me a wicked grin. “And hot.”

“I just thought it was weird,” I lied, willing the heat that had flared through my body to die down.

“I’ve never seen Frank look at anyone like that before,” Britney said as Ryan made his way back to us. “Not that I ever pay him that much attention, because he usually stays in the background.”

“Sorry about that, ladies,” Ryan said with a smile. “What can I get for you?”

As I scanned the menu, I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the cocktail names. “Guy Hater? No Bad Days? Adios Pantalones? Friendship Bracelet? These are ridiculous,” I said, still grinning.

Ryan faked a pout. “You’re hurting my feelings, Claudia.”

“I’m sure you’ll recover. I’ll take an Adios Pantalones.” I cast a sideways glance at Britney, who ordered a No Bad Days.

We watched as Ryan meticulously made each drink, taking his time before he presented us each with our works of art.

Tapping the bar, he said, “Next one’s on my socially awkward brother.”

I sat up straighter. “He’s not socially awkward,” I said, defending Frank as Britney shot me a surprised look.

“He’s not?” Ryan hiked one eyebrow. “What would you call it?”

I laughed. “I don’t know. But I don’t think that any of you Fishers have an awkward bone in your body.” I grinned, unable to stop myself from flirting back with him. “Except maybe you, Ryan.”

“I’m wounded.” His mock pout came back as he placed a hand over his heart.

“I’m sure you’ll survive. Britney here’s a great nurse,” I said, then we turned around to fight our way through the small crowd gathered at the bar.