Changing things up a bit here. Hold on tight, it's gonna be a whirlwind from here.


Hannah had been coming into my bar a lot lately, comin' in early, and never stayin' more than a couple hours. She was always long gone before Izzy or Krysten showed up. It never took long for me to cut her off. She was with a different fella every night, and they'd all started to look the same. Fancy khakis, brand name polos, occasionally the random baseball cap or pair of sunglasses around the back of the neck, every one of 'em thinkin' they were hell on wheels. I shook my head each time she walked in, serving her with a heavy heart. Not the first broken girl tending to her own wounds to come in here, that's for sure.

I usually tried to talk to her as she waited on her drink, always the rum and Coke, light on the Coke. She never responded with more than three words at a time. The look in her eyes never changed, it was always that lifeless stare that honestly gave me the willies. I never stopped tryin', though. I don't know why, I know she nearly tore my two favorite girls apart, but I've always had a soft spot for hurtin' people.

Maybe I shoulda gone into therapy, I hear that pays a helluva lot better than a bar does. Especially this one.

Just like clockwork, she came stridin' in at eight oh five, complete with the random male accessory. I never paid the fella she was with much mind, but this night, this fella was different. Somethin' in his presence, a wildness in his eyes, the way he carried himself, the permanent clench in his jaw...he had trouble written all over him. It was the usual routine: quiet talking in the corner booth, Hannah coming up to the bar every twenty or thirty minutes for her rum and coke and his Bud Light, me attempting to make conversation with a brick wall, them leavin' two hours later. I let out the breath I'd been holding most of the night without really knowin' why, just glad that the creep was out of my joint. I wondered if I should've tried to do something to keep Hannah from leaving with him, but there was really nothing to do. He'd behaved himself. Can't really go up and sucker-punch a fella for no reason.

Izzy walked in the back thirty minutes later. "We busy tonight, Sam?" she asked. I detected some sarcasm in her tone and grinned, pushing the other girl from my mind.

"Oh, it's been a bash all night," I drawled.

No need to stir up trouble when I could well be stirrin' an empty pot.

The next night, I looked up at eight oh five to see Hannah walk in with yet another...same guy? That was peculiar. I gave him the once over, and he caught my scrutinizing glare. His eyes went steely, almost like he was daring me to do something. I sighed and went back to other customers, catching up with Willie's latest fishing trip. I could stand to go fishing for a weekend myself. Need a break from all this emotional investment in customers.

The pair in question left at the same time, walking out without incident. I didn't fail to notice the man's possessive clutch on her elbow. It worried me a little.

Apparently, Hannah liked this guy, because she'd shown up with him for three weeks straight. I didn't breathe a word about her to Izzy or Krysten. I knew it was a sore spot for both of 'em, and the last thing I wanted was them fighting again. Broken-hearted pretty little bartender makes for bad business, you see.

Fine, I cared about the two lovebirds, and hated seein' 'em unhappy. I won't admit that to just anybody, though.

Anyway, Hannah came walkin' in with The Steady, who I exchanged a glare with, as had become our custom. Ten minutes later, Hannah walked up to the bar.

"Rum and coke and a JD, Sam."

I paused, my hand already around the Bud Light I was accustomed to grabbing. "Not a Bud? Ya sure?"

"I'm sure. Just give me the whiskey, please."

I complied, looking up at her when she handed me the money. She tucked a piece of hair behind her ear uneasily, and I saw a slight shadow across her jaw. Instantly realizing her mistake, she grabbed the drinks and quickly walked back to the booth.

So that's what it was.

I was raised to respect women, and don't take kindly to those who don't.

Before I went charging in, guns a'blazing, though, I couldn't really do anything. Nothing had happened while they were here, and I had no solid proof. I doubted she would admit to it, anyway. With a sigh I leaned my elbows on the bar and watched the back booth carefully, resolving to throw the coward out myself after giving him a good lashing if he gave me so much as a squeak of trouble. All I could do was wait.