A Shot of Cupid
Elizabeth Wilde © 2016
All rights reserved
The guy walks up to the bar, and Connor watches him looking around. He’s obviously new here, wringing his hands and wondering what the hell he’s doing as he checks both the board over the counter and the mostly empty tables.
Some couples are meant to be. That’s just the way the world works, apparently, because the guy at the bar pings a whole hundred as his gaze hits the girl at the back with the Jules Verne novel open on the table.
He glows, both figuratively and literally.
It’s a done deal, open and shut case. All the guy’s gotta do is buy the lady a drink, and it’s on. In ten short years, they’ll be down the aisle. In six, there’ll be a little girl. She’ll be premature, they’ll fret for months, but she’ll be fine—big and strong and obsessed with soccer.
Connor walks across the warped floorboards, hands stuffed in his coat pockets, and takes a barstool beside his mark.
“Shot of bourbon, please,” Connor tells the girl behind the counter. The guy makes another set of moony eyes toward the back of the room. “Make that two.”
“Coming right up.”
If he’s not mistaken, she sounds amused. She turns, reaching for the top shelf stuff—what passes for it in this place anyway—and Connor twists a little on his stool, elbows against the bar.
“Buddy, just get her a rum and coke,” he says lightly. “You’re killing me, here.”
The guy looks at him, startled. “Um. Excuse me?”
“She looks like a rum and coke sorta gal, y’know?”
It’ll take him eight and a half years to work up the courage to propose, but luckily, that part isn’t Connor’s problem.
This part, however…
He takes a breath and reaches down deep, every fraction of his focus pulled inward. There’s a well in there, tapped but always flowing, energy thrumming perpetually. It’s buried and reluctant—always a fight to find, to corral. Like grappling with an unruly shark, trying to steer that flow in the right direction without losing his grip.
Back up top, where the air is dense with the sickly smell of beer and saturated by the low lamplight, Connor feels like his veins are expanding.
He lashes out quickly with a trembling fist, right into the mark’s side.
“Ow! Jesus, fella, what the hell?”
Connor claws himself back, trying to breathe slow, measured breaths. He raises both eyebrows at the guy, watching his expression go from offended to dreamy.
“I’m sorry… What was I saying?”
“Nothing, man,” Connor says flatly. “Go get her.”
The guy shakes his head, resolve solidifying his features. “Right. Yeah.” The girl behind the bar pours out both of Connor’s shots, and the guy catches her attention with a wave of his hand. “Can I have two, uh, two rum—no. Wait, yes. Yes, two rum and cokes, please.”
Connor starts on his own alcohol—head still ringing, heart hammering like the sensation of a bruise. By the second bourbon, his guy is gone, tottering away with his two drinks toward the back of the room.
At least he’s stopped glowing so damn bright.
This always fucking happens when Connor decides to go out. Drinking alone in his apartment is far easier than dealing with this shit, but he has a quota to fill, and today it took him until seven thirty to muster the strength to roll off the sofa. And now, he’s here, struck with that damned itch in the back of his head, that little love buzz that tells him, yes, those two right there, look at how they beam for each other.