Shaken Not Stirred (Mixology #1)

by Alyssa Rose Ivy

Chapter One

Sex on the Beach is overrated. I don’t mean the carnal act, although I’ve heard the same thing about that, sand in the wrong places and everything, but I’m talking about the drink. With so many other drinks out there, why does everyone order it? It’s the name of course. If you want to create a popular drink, put “sex” in the name. Bottom line: sex sells.

“A Sex on the Beach. Wait, make that two.”

I glanced up at my latest customer. He ran a hand through his short brown hair. Wearing a pink polo shirt with the collar popped, he was trying to pull off thirty, but my guess was he was nearing forty. Without looking, I knew he was wearing flip-flops with his khakis. Guys like him always did. They left their suits at home, and tried to act younger and cooler than they were. They usually spent their time hitting on younger girls, who were looking for rich older guys to break the monotony of college boys. I’d dated my share of those boys and understood the boredom, but these losers weren’t any better.

“Sure.” I turned my back to him, pulling down the glasses and going through the motions that were all too familiar. When I first took the job bartending at Surfside Bar & Grille in Corolla, North Carolina, I thought it would be a good summer escape. It was almost Labor Day, and I wasn’t going anywhere. The Outer Banks served my purposes just fine. What was the point of picking up and leaving?

“Here you go.” I set the two pinkish-orange drinks down in front of the suit and waited for him to slip me a credit card. My guess was an American Express.

He slid me a Visa. I’d lost my touch.

“One’s for you.” He grinned at me, as though he was telling me I’d won some great prize.

“Uh, thanks, but I don’t drink on the job.”

“Come on, don’t you like sex on the beach?” He raised an eyebrow.

I knew exactly how to handle him. “I think your friend misses you. You better bring over her drink.” I nodded toward a blonde—bottle not natural—who was currently shooting me daggers.

He didn’t bother to turn around. “I’d rather talk to you a little longer.”

I leaned back against the far counter. “I’d rather you didn’t.”

He grinned like a Cheshire cat—all white teeth. “I like the attitude. It’s sexy.”

“And you’re wasting your time.” I wiped down the counter, biding my time before another customer came over to the outdoor tiki bar, or the guy got bored and found blondie.

“Have you worked here long? I don’t remember you from last summer.” He tried to pull me into conversation again.

“I wasn’t here last summer.” I didn’t bother to turn around. That would just encourage him.

“Where do you go to school?”

“I don’t.” It had only been about three months since college graduation. He didn’t need to know that.

“Oh. You kind of look like a college girl.”

“What, her ass looks smart?” A low voice called from behind me.

I smiled. There was no need to turn around to know who had uttered the words. I’d been listening to that same snarky attitude since before I could walk.

Suit wasn’t too happy with the interruption. “Excuse me? Was I talking to you?”

“I don’t think so, but I happen to have a close personal relationship with that ass, so I’d like to know why you think it’s smart.”

I let a laugh escape and turned around. “Hey, Macon.”

He took a stool right in front of me. “Hey, this piece of work bothering you?”

I poured Macon his usual Thursday night drink, a Long Island Iced Tea. “Nah, he was just leaving.”

“Are you two involved?” Suit still hadn’t gotten lost. I guess I could give him points for determination—although those points would get him nowhere with me.

“We live together, don’t we, honey?” Macon winked.

“We do.”

“Oh. I see.” Suit finally got up.

“Do you see?” Macon spun around on his stool. “The other guy she lives with is in the kitchen.”

“Other guy?” Suit’s eyes widened.

Thankfully I got another customer and didn’t have to listen to any more of the conversation. Macon was sweet at heart, but he tended to take things a step too far. He liked being the center of attention, and he didn’t always care whether I felt the same way. By the time I served another Sex on the Beach and two Rum Runners, suit was hanging all over the blonde.

I leaned on my elbows in front of Macon. “Was that really necessary?”

“What? I was just telling him the truth.”

“The truth? We’re roommates, Macon, not some live-in threesome.”

He laughed so hard he coughed on his drink. “Live-in threesome? Yeah, if you want that, we’re switching Brody for a girl.”

“Oh, come on, baby. You think I want to share you?”

He set down his glass. “One of these days you’ll discover what you’ve been missing.”

“I will? When?”

“Soon. Real soon.”

“Thanks for the specifics. I wouldn’t want to miss it.” It’s not like Macon wasn’t good looking. Not at all. There were few girls that could resist the charming smile that belonged to my brown hair, blue-eyed roommate. I was one of them. My ability to joke about sex with Macon was a new thing. We kind of broke the ice on it when we drunkenly kissed one night at a party my sophomore year of college. It didn’t take long to realize neither of us wanted that to happen again. We did, however, like to joke about the possibility. I don’t know why, we just did.

He finished off his drink. “You’re laughing now.”

“And I’ll keep laughing.”

“We’ll see about that. When you get cold this winter, I know what bed you’ll be running to.” He crumpled up a cocktail napkin.

“I just made a mental note to buy extra blankets in case you shut off the heat.”

“Would I ever do something like that?”

“Yes.” He wouldn’t. He’d be more likely to turn up the heat so I wouldn’t get cold.

“Three Shark Baits and two Shirley Temples.” Mary rested her tray on the bar. Of the waitresses at the grill, Mary was my favorite. Sweet and funny as hell, she made the busy summer nights move faster. We hung out every once in a while, but she spent most of her time with her young daughter.

I busied myself making the drinks. The Shark Bait was one of our signature tropical selections. Overpriced, and pretty much only pineapple juice and peach schnapps, customers usually cared more about the plastic shark attached to the cup than the actual drink.

Right on schedule, Brody took a seat at the bar. He always timed his break with the beginning of the first set on Thursday nights.

“You smell like fish.” Macon wrinkled his nose.

I filled Mary’s tray, but she lingered. I got the sense she was into one of my roommates, but I couldn’t tell which. My bet was on Brody. She’d told me she had a thing for tall guys. Macon wasn’t a small guy, but he looked tiny next to Brody’s six-foot-three frame. Brody claimed his mom made boys big and that his older brothers were actually bigger. I wasn’t sure if I believed him.

“Really?” Brody looked down at his black Surfside Grille t-shirt and then over at Macon. “It almost seems like I’ve been cooking fish all night.”

I laughed, and Brody winked. “Give me my usual, Maddy.” He took it in stride, but I knew how much he hated his job.

“Like you have to ask.” I placed his Coke down in front of him. He couldn’t drink at work, but really the only time he drank alcohol was late at night once in a blue moon.

He opened his straw. “Thanks. So do you have your drink picked out for tonight?”

I nodded. “Yes. It’s the right one. I can feel it.”

Mary smiled. “Ohhh, it’s Thursday night, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, this week went fast.” I picked up some empty beer bottles someone left on the other end of the bar.

“What do you think of all this?” Macon treated Mary to his full attention. “Do you think Maddy’s ever going to give up on this loser?”

“No. She’s dedicated. When a girl’s dedicated, she never gives up on a guy.” She twirled a piece of her reddish-blonde hair around her finger.

“I get that, but there’s an easy solution.” He turned back toward me. “You know that right, Maddy?”

“An easy solution?”

“Tell the guy you want to go home with him. If he says yes, you’re in. If he says no, you had no chance to begin with.” Macon laughed, letting me know he knew there wasn’t a chance in the world I’d do it.

“Thanks.” Used to the ribbing by Macon, I didn’t let it get to me.

“Fantastic advice.” Brody shot me a sympathetic glance. “What’s the drink tonight?”

“An Algonquin. I’m convinced he’s a whiskey guy.” I left out my narrative on the history of the drink, those usually didn’t go over well.

“Oh yeah? Should we plan the wedding? He likes whiskey, so he’s got to be a catch.”

“Shut up, Macon.”

“No, it’s too much fun.”

“Good luck, Maddy.” Mary smiled before heading off to deliver her drinks.

“Oh, look. The man of the hour has arrived.” Macon laughed again. He seemed to do that a lot at my expense. If he wasn’t my best friend, he’d have never gotten away with it. Our history made it different somehow. Besides, I usually managed to throw it back at him.

My heart sped up slightly as I caught sight of the musician that had me drooling every Thursday night. My fascination with him went beyond his athletic build and piercing brown eyes, although those traits didn’t hurt. What really got me was his music. He sang the most haunting songs. They found their way under my skin in a way that music usually couldn’t. “I think he got hotter.”

“It must be that white t-shirt. It’s so over the top.” Brody grinned. His teasing never went as far as Macon’s, but he definitely did his share.

“I like that shirt on him.” I liked everything on Lyle Waverly. In all honesty, I’d been dreaming about him wearing nothing quite often. Although in those dreams, his guitar usually blocked my view of his lower region.

Macon grinned. “Oh damn, she’s imaginary f**king him again.”

“I am not.” I swatted at Macon. “I’m admiring the view.”

“Really? That expression on your face says otherwise.”

“Shut up.” I rolled my eyes.

“Brody, man. Is it healthy that we’re supporting this perverse hobby of hers?”

“What makes it perverse?” I crossed my arms over my black t-shirt. Unlike Brody’s, the logo on mine was small and on one side of my chest. “I’m just trying to find the perfect drink for him.”

“Because you’re convinced it’s the ticket to getting a guy to like you. That’s not normal.”

I let my hands fall to my sides. “Who defines normal?” He was wrong. I didn’t think it would make him like me, but it would help me understand him.

“Oh no. No getting all philosophical on us. We’re here to support you. Don’t put us through it.”

“Support me?” I ran a hand through my just-past-shoulder-length dark brown hair. “My mistake. I thought you guys were here to mock me and get free drinks.”

“Who’s getting free drinks?” Max, my boss, picked that moment to join us. I’m sure it wasn’t random. He usually kept a close eye on the outside bar when I worked it alone. I think he worried about male customers bothering me.