It was a Friday night and Eva was home alone. Around eight o'clock, she'd just settled into her old armchair near the window with a cup of Earl Grey, milk and sugar, and her favourite book, The Bell Jar. Re-reading Plath's words for the ump-teenth time, the ringing of her phone startled her. Grumbling slightly, she unwrapped the layers of quilt and blanket from her legs and stumbled over the pile to grab the phone.
"Hello?" she mumbled into the receiver.
"Eva! Get out of your jammies! You, me, and Bethany are going out tonight!" her friend Rina's distinct voice sounded from the earpiece.
"What? No," Eva mumbled, pulling a stray bit of fringe out of her eyes.
"No excuses," Rina demanded, "We're coming to your house in an hour and we're taking you out, even if you're greasy and not dressed."
"But, I don't want to!" Eva whined into the phone like a grade schooler who doesn't want to do homework.
"I don't care! So get your butt in the shower and get ready," her friend insisted, "Tata love!" she said, blowing an audible kiss into the phone before hanging up.
"Son of a bitch," Eva cursed under her breath as she hung the phone back onto the wall. Glancing at her ancient Eeyore pajamas, she rolled her eyes while she trudged to the bathroom to shower. Have known Rina practically from birth, Eva knew better than to assume she would leave her alone if she didn't get ready.
Twenty minutes later, Eva lounged in her armchair with her book, waiting for Rina to show up. It'd taken her reluctant self fifteen minutes to shower and another five to throw on whatever clothes she'd grabbed first from her drawers. She was currently clad in jeans and a tee and rifling through The Bell Jar again. Some soft music was playing in the background and droplets of water occasionally slid down her wet hair and perched spherically onto her dark jeans.
"Eva! We're here!" Rina's voice chorused from outside simultaneously with the ring of the doorbell. Exhaling, Eva put her book down and opened the door to see her two friends dressed to impress.
"Hey," Eva half smiled at them while they looked at her outfit in semi-horror.
"You're wearing that?" Bethany questioned, taking in her friend's drab ensemble.
"Yeah?" Eva answered unsurely, "Where are we even going?"
"We're going to Omega!" Bethany crowed, clearly already a little tipsy.
"Oh no," Eva balked, "I hate that place."
"What, why?" Bethany questioned, unable to conjure up a negative thought towards her favourite club.
"I hate it because last time you guys made me go some perv practically molested me," Eva stated as-a-matter-of-factly.
"Sweetie, he was flirting and dancing with you," Rina sighed, adjusting her left earring, "He wasn't molesting you."
"For you information, some people draw a different line between the two," Eva huffed, crossing her arms firmly across her chest.
"Okay, will you just please give this place another chance? Aren't you always saying that people can't be held to first impressions?" Bethany argued, knowing how to get to Eva.
"Fine," she finally relented, "But if some guy decides to touch me all over, I'm calling a cab and leaving," she informed her pair of friends tartly while grabbing a bag.
"Awesome!" Rina smiled happily, flinging her hands in the air and traipsing out of Eva's apartment.
"Lord help me," Eva sighed, locking the door and following her friends.
"Can I get you something?" the muscular bartender asked Eva for what seemed, to her, the umpteenth time. In reality, it was only the third.
"Well, I don't suppose you have Earl Grey tea," Eva said resignedly.
"No, I'm afraid not," he replied, eyes dancing in amusement as he took in what kind of girl Eva was. "We have other stuff, though, or are you not a drinker?"
"I drink," Eva shrugged, "But tonight was a cup of tea and a book sort of night. Until I got dragged here," she said honestly, jerking her head towards her friends who were gyrating with some guys on the dance floor.
"Ah, I see," the bartender smiled, nodding, "So you're the proverbial wallflower, then?" he asked, drying off a bunch of glasses.
"You could say that and I wouldn't mind," Eva chuckled, a bit surprised at his eloquence.
"I'm Jake, by the way," the man behind the bar stuck a hand out and introduced himself.
"Eva," the brunette perched on the stool replied, shaking his outstretched hand.
"Nice to meet you," he nodded like a gentleman and Eva smiled back politely as her friends drew towards her.
"Hey girl!" Rina smiled, taking a spot on the stool next to her, "Will you please come dance with us?" she asked, reeking of sweat and alcohol.
"No," Eva pleaded, "You know I don't dance."
"Ugh, fine," her tall blonde friend sighed, shrugged her shoulders as she downed her martini, "Come on Bethany," she signaled to her tall, brunette counterpart and they both returned to the dance floor.
"Wow," Jake commented with wide eyes, "Wow."
"What?" Eva asked, confused.
"How are you friends with them?" he blurted without thinking.
"Wait, no, that sounded bad," Jake mumbled, "I just meant that you and them are so different. Like, you're their foil."
"You are just whipping out the SAT vocab aren't you?" Eva laughed, "And yes, we are really different. They're the bombshells and I'm the plain Jane, wallflower friend," she shrugged, "I haven't got an issue with it."
"You are in no way a plain Jane wallflower," Jake scoffed, "If anything you're that friend who's secretly awesome, but no one notices it until it's too late and you're mackin' with the hottest guy on campus."
"Did you just say mackin'?" Eva cracked up, "Oh my gosh, you're too much!"
"It's my pleasure to serve, madam," he stated, bowing low which only served to send Eva into another fit of giggles. Out on the dance floor Rina and Bethany watched in delight as their friend grew remarkably comfortable with the bartender.
"So I get to go on my break now," Jake informed her as he finished on the other side of the bar.
"Okay," Eva nodded, missing his implications.
"See you later," he replied, not wanting to push her.
"Okay, see ya!" she waved as he disappeared into the back of the bar, presumably through some shady alley door.
"Girl, where'd he go?" Bethany demanded as they rejoined their friend.
"I don't know," Eva shrugged, "He said he was going on his break."
"And you didn't go with him?" Rina asked, half amused, half horrified.
"No, why would I?"
"Because that's what girls do with guys that they like," Bethany supplied, as if teaching a little kid multiplication for the first time.
"Oh pfft," Eva scoffed, "I just met him."
"There he is," Rina said, tilting her head towards the tall guy in black who was making his way back to the bar with a cardboard coffee cup in his hand.
"Hey," Eva smiled while her friends returned to dancing.
"Hey," he nodded, placing the cup in front of her, "I got you that Earl Grey, I hope milk and sugar is okay," he asked hopefully. Eva gaped at him for a second before a huge smile consumed her face and she practically hopped over the bar to give him a hug.
"Thank you thank you thank you!" she mumbled, taking a sip of the piping hot tea.
"You're welcome," Jake laughed, stretching his neck while he watched her drink.
"This is amazing, where'd you get it?" Eva sighed contentedly.
"That's a secret, and if I told you, I'd have to kill you," Jake said with a straight face.
"No fair!" Eva protested, "Oh! And how much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her pockets for money.
"Nothing! It's on me," Jake laughed.
"No, I can't," Eva protested, never being one who felt comfortable owing people.
"How about this?" he proposed with a lopsided smile, "You give me your number, and I'll take you to the place," he offered.
"That sounds fair," Eva smiled, grabbing a pen from her bag, "Do you have a napkin or something that I can write on?"
"Yeah, here," he nodded, slipping her a paper coaster.
"Eva! Come on, we're leaving now!" Bethany and Rina called from across the bar.
"Okay!" she called back, glancing apologetically at Jake, "So, um, there's my name and number," she said, handing him the coaster, "And you'd better call because I need to know where this tea is from," she demanded playfully.
"Will do, ma'am," he saluted her with equal sentiments, "It was nice to meet you, Eva."
"Same!" Eva enthused truthfully before she was dragged away by her two friends.
A small smile spread across Jake's lips as he played with the coaster that she'd written on. Still grinning, he slipped it into his back pocket and made a mental note to remove it before he washed the pants.
"Still hasn't called?" Rina asked, sliding across a bus bench next to her brunette friend.
"What?" Eva asked, plucking a headphone out of her ear.
"Bartender man Jake," Rina supplied, raising her eyebrows expectantly, "I really thought he had a thing for you."
"Oh, him," Eva recalled, "He was nice and brought me tea," she reminisced with a smile.
"You did give him your real number, right?" Rina suddenly demanded, horrorstruck.
"Oh give me a little credit," Eva rolled her eyes, "I did like him."
"I never know with you," her friend laughed, "Well Bethany and I were thinking about going back to Omega this Thursday. Want to come?"
"No, not really," Eva shrugged, "Sorry."
"I know you're not,' Rina laughed, "But okay. We won't make you this time, you've fulfilled your quota," she joked.
"Damn it. Damn it damn it damn it all!" Jake mumbled repeatedly, staring daggers at a wad of paper that'd been sitting on his kitchen table for the better half of a week. It'd been reduced to a pebble shaped wad of papers in the wash, and the tall boy had spent the rest of the week reprimanding himself for not just putting her number into his phone, or taking it out before he washed his pants, or a plethora of other things that would've enabled him to call Eva.
"She probably thinks I just blew her off and didn't call," Jake mused, running his hands through his hair, "Maybe she'll be at the club again on Friday. Actually, probably not. She didn't look like she wanted to be there last Friday, and plus with me, an asshole who doesn't call, as the bartender, there's no way she'd come back," he rambled, grumbling internally and externally.
"Oh fuck it all," he finally swore after another five minutes of self-loathing. Grabbing his keys, wallet, and jacket, he locked the door and stomped down the stairs before driving to work. Marty would not tolerate tardiness, even for an amazing girl.
When he got to work, Jake's eyes couldn't stop roving the bar. Normally focused and expert-like, he made several mistakes with orders that night, including bringing an appletini to a woman who'd asked for a whiskey on the rocks. Slightly frazzled, he couldn't help but hope that he would see Eva again, miraculously, and he could bring her another cup of tea to make up for his own idiocy. Lady luck, however, didn't seem to be on his side and the delightful and attractive brunette didn't seem to be in that night.
"Hey, you!" a tall blonde called from the end of the bar, "Can I get a gin here? Wait. You're that ass who didn't call Eva," she spit out with a murderous glare.
"You're Eva's friend!" Jake exclaimed, "Oh my god, thank god," he said, "Yes, I am the ass that didn't call her, but I have a reason, albeit a lame one."
"Tell me while you're getting' that drink," Rina demanding, pointing to a bottle of amber liquor. Nodding, Jake grabbed the gin and a glass and began talking while pouring. When he finally handed her the glass, Rina was nearly crying from laughter, though the alcohol might've helped. "Oh, Eva's going to love that one," she chuckled, "She does that all the time. You guys have such a fucking love connection," she continued, not really watching her mouth. "Okay, so here's her number and address, go call her now and take her to that tea place or whatever. When you brought her that Earl Grey shit last time, I couldn't get her to stop smiling all night."
Jake's face lit up and he nodded like a little boy being ordered around by his mother. Running to Marty and quickly explaining the situation, he ran out the door with one arm in his jacket sleeve and all but sprinted to the teashop and then to Eva's apartment doorstep. Taking a breath, he dialed her number and began climbing stairs while it rang.
"Hello?" Eva's voice sounded after what seemed like forever.
"Hi, Eva?" Jake asked hurriedly, "This is Jake."
"Oh, hi," she replied, sounding like her face had fallen.
"Okay, before you yell at me, I want to say that I'm sorry for not calling you till now. I washed my pants with your coaster in it and when I realized what I'd done, it was a ball of fibers," Jake rambled, "But I want to make it up to you and take you to that place where I got you that tea, if that's okay with you."
"Um, I'm not really dressed to go out," Eva mumbled, hiding a small smile behind her right hand.
"Oh, that's fine," Jake replied, feigning slight disappointment, "Maybe some other time, then?"
"Sure," Eva nodded, yawning a little before she hung up. Smiling, Jake reached a finger out to press her doorbell.
"What in the name of-Jake?" Eva wondered as she opened the door in an overly large jumper.
"Since you didn't want to go to the tea shop, how about I bring the tea to you?" Jake asked, offering her a cardboard cup full of Earl Grey. Smiling madly, she grabbed him into a large hug before letting him into her apartment.
"You're too sweet, Jake, thank you," she smiled happily, pressing a kiss to his cheek.
"Well, I think you owe me two favors now?" Jake smirked, pretending to count on his fingers.
"Oh? And what'll those two favors be?" Eva asked playfully, curling up under the blanket on the couch.
"The first one is that we watch a movie together tonight?" Jake asked, hopefully. "And I think I'll cash in on our teashop date for the second one," he continued, getting her smile of approval.
"I think I can agree to both of those," Eva laughed, planting a kiss on his jaw, "What do you want to watch, then?"
"Something scary," Jake suggested, grabbing a random horror flick form her shelf.
"Okay, but I'm not afraid of scary movies. I don't need anyone to hold me," Eva warned, settling onto the couch.
"It's okay," Jake smirked, leaning into her, "I get scared, you can hold me."