Hi guys, as promised, here's Part 6 of Absorbed! I'll be keeping to the original schedule of posting once per week next week, so look for Part 7 and 8 late next week. Thanks so much for reading! :)
I start to drag my eyes away from the woman and put her out of my mind because I’ve told myself I wouldn’t think about Sienna tonight, but the flash of a long, vivid red ponytail stops me. Hell, it nearly makes me lose my breath. And as Sienna slides into the seat next to the woman and straightens the strapless top that came down with the motion, it’s impossible for me to look away from her. She’s that fucking beautiful. Cupping her hand over her mouth, she bends until her lips are level with the other woman’s ear and whispers something that causes them both to laugh.
My plan to forget her flies out this dingy ass bar because I want to hear her laugh. I want to feel her hands touching me. And I want to touch her.
This is my chance. My opportunity to tell her how I feel without songs or elaborate gimmicks, and I know I need to take it. I drop my gaze down to my empty bottles and then drag it back up to Sienna. She’s sipping on something that’s pink and fruity-looking, and though my eyes are burning into her, she doesn’t glance across the bar at me. Instead, she lowers her glass to the bar counter and rubs the palms of her hands across her cheeks, wiping away tears of laughter. It’s a bitter, gut-twisting reminder that the last time I saw her, the last time I held her—she had been crying for an entirely different reason. Because of me.
“Sorry it took so long,” the bartender is out of breath as she walks back over to me. She slides another Sam Adams into my palm, taking the extra time to close my fingers around the cold glass. “You know how this place goes. Some nights we’re dead and then others we’re like—”
“What’s she having?”
The blonde’s pretty features draw together into a deep frown as she turns slowly and follows the direction of my gaze. “Which one?” The disappointment in her tone is unmistakable.
“The redhead,” I start, but then I hear the way of my voice sounds—like a fucking virgin finding his first Belladonna movie online—and I scale it back. “Just wanted to send her a drink. She did some work on one of our videos a few years ago. Wanted to tell her thanks for . . . putting up with my bullshit.”
Relaxing her frown into an easy smile, the blonde bobs her head. “Ah, okay. God, you know everyone don’t you?” She glances back over her shoulder at me, and I look her in the eye, trying to keep my gaze off of Sienna so that I can keep the dumbass look of excitement off my face. I’ve never put much stock in fate, but if this isn’t it, what the hell is?
The bartender clears her throat and turns her gaze back to Sienna and the brunette. “Should I tell her it’s from you and what it’s for? Last thing I want to do is piss off the guy she’s with, you know?”
“What?” That single word comes out too sharp, too loud, and too emotional. The bartender must catch it too because she turns all the way around to face me quickly, her mouth parted in surprise. For the first time since I got here tonight, I actually pay attention to the tiny nametag pinned to the hem of her halter top. “Shit, sorry. I . . . I just didn’t catch what you said, Luisa?”
“You sure I don’t need to take your keys?” she demands teasingly as she bends her face close to me, no doubt to make sure I don’t reek of hard liquor she probably thinks I downed before coming here. Once she’s satisfied, she moves back a little and jerks her thumb over her shoulder. “The redhead came in with some blonde guy who—” Her eyes focus on something a few feet away from me, and she stands upright. “She came in with that guy.”
I force my gaze to where she’s pointing her long, black-painted fingernail—a blonde guy, just like she said. I know I shouldn’t look, because I know it’s what’ll hurt the most, but I watch as he joins Sienna and her roommate. I watch as he touches his chin to the top of Red’s hair, before bending to whisper something into her ear. She grins before spinning around on the bar stool and throwing her arms around his shoulders. And I watch as he returns the gesture, splaying the large palm of his hand out on her slim back and rubbing his fingers in a circular motion in the spot where her bra clasps together beneath the thin fabric of her strapless top.
I watch all of it, and I realize that I haven’t felt so fucking sick, so ripped apart in four years.
“Look, I can send her the drink,” the bartender starts hesitantly. “I just didn’t want any misunderstandings. My boss would freak.” She gives me a sympathetic smile because all of the bitter emotions that are causing the inside of my chest to feel it is seconds from exploding must be playing out on my face.
Sienna’s moved on.
She’s fucking moved on already, and it’s barely been a month.
And the worst part of it all is that I know she deserves it. She deserves to be happy after what I’ve put her through not once, but twice.
But even the regret, the knowledge that I’m the cause of all of this—even that doesn’t make shit better for me. It doesn’t stop the fact that I wish I could trade places with that blonde mother fucker across the bar, just to be with her right now.
“Don’t send it to her,” I hear myself say, and Luisa grants me a swift, obedient nod.
“You got it.”
I don’t have to ask her for another beer, and then the next two that come after that. She brings them to me easily. She doesn’t mention Sienna again because Red’s whole party leaves the bar shortly thereafter, never noticing me. The next time Luisa mumbles more than a couple words to me is just as the bar is closing. She leans over the bar, like she did earlier, and looks me in the eye.
“You need a ride home.” It’s not a question, but a statement, and I smirk at her.
“Looks like I fucking do.”
“I’ll drive you in twenty.”