The Watering Hole ~ #DailyPractice
Today’s daily practice in seeded in missing the experience of sitting at a bar on a Wednesday night watching the subtle tension of the work week inform decisions, flirtation, and behavior. It has always been one of my favorite things to do..sit at the end of the bar with a cocktail and some appetizer and the bartender’s favor will and just…watch.
Note – Though I’m trying to do daily practice sessions not everyone has been worth posting here. A lot are little more than metaphorical crayon scribbles. I started this one a couple of weeks ago but couldn’t come up with a resolution I liked with just Rye and Becks. Things shook loose today, and I’m moderately happy with how it’s come out.
The Watering Hole has been around longer than anyone can remember. The neighborhood boomed, sagged, boomed, tanked, lifted, fell, and most recently was revitalized. There are alleys still uneven with their historic brick paving, tall, stately buildings with dates and names chiseled into their lintels that only the old papers on microfiche remember. Through all of it the Watering Hole squatted on the northeast corner of 12th and Washington serving the poison of your choice to help you celebrate, remember, mourn and forget.
It’s an ugly building, all things considered. Freestanding in the midst of shoulder to shoulder townhomes and shops, painted brick, barred windows, dingy neon signs next to painted adverts of brands from long ago. But it’s The Watering Hole and no one would change it.
Ryanne pauses outside, letting the shifting light of dusk wash her shitty day from her brain. With each breath she pushes away the shitty boss, the shitty apartment, the shittier car, and the detached and untouchable woman consuming her mind. Music plays inside, underscored by the occasional crack of balls on the pool table, accompanied by laughter and chatter. Distraction, that’s what she needs.
“Hey, Whiskey, getcher fine ass in here!” Ryanne jerks as a slap on her backside echoes down the street and a tall, broad, barrel-chested man flashes a grin over his shoulder at her.
“One of these days, Red,” Rye grumbles and rubs at her butt as she follows her long-time friend into the bar. The interior is dim and smokey, even though it’s been at least a decade since smoking inside was legal. The pictures on the walls are a mashup of sponsored intramural leagues, vaguely familiar celebrities, and dollar bills with messages grafittied across their faces with marker. It’s fucking perfect.
“Whatcha drinkin’ tonight, Rye?” Ryanne relaxes still further and grins at her favorite bartender.
“Whatdyathink, Stella?” The bartender’s jeans are distractingly tight, her Watering Hole tee proudly threadbare, and her red lipstick promisingly dark and lush. Distraction option number one.
“Whiskey it is,” Stella tosses her brassy red hair over her shoulder and grins. Rye winks back.
She makes her way around the bar to her favorite spot. A double whiskey, neat, of course, waits at the seat against the wall. She settles onto the stool and takes a healthy sip. Rye savors the burn, the peaty smokey richness, and the vanilla and peach notes on the backend. “Oh. I like that one, Stella,” she lifts her glass to the bartender and she glances her way. Stella gives her a wink.
As that first sip settles into her stomach and spreads heat through gut and spine Rye turns to lean back against the wall. Red’s at the pool table trying to distract Becky, offering to help, leaning his lanky form over hers as she lines up her shot. He doesn’t even last the ten seconds Rye gave him before Becks elbows him in the ribs. Jacob’s propped against the wall walking his hands up and down his pool cue, his face rigid, his clenched jaw revealing his jealousy. Rye knows Red and Becky hope to take Jacob home someday. “Maybe not today,” she murmurs into her whiskey as the two men start posturing like gamecocks and Becky rolls her eyes and saunters away.
“Doesn’t that ever get tiresome?” she asks. Becky leans against the bar next to Rye, too close.
“Ah, well. Used to. Now I’ve started to think of it as their foreplay.” Becky accepts a glass from Stella and watches the two men. “I think Jacob isn’t really as angry as he’s acting, and I know Red isn’t.” Becky bends a look at Rye and turns, setting her glass on the bar. “And what about you, Ryanne O’Bryan.” Becky slides her hands up Rye’s thighs, pushes them wider and steps between them. Rye slides her empty whiskey glass down the bar top and sits up.
“What about me, Rebecca,” Rye murmurs. Distraction number two? A slow smile curves her lips as Becky’s gaze focuses on her mouth and Rye reaches out to slide one finger along the other woman’s jaw line and rolls her thumb along her full lower lip, dragging the edge of her lipstick into a smear. Becky’s nostrils flare slightly and her color rises, turning her cheeks sun kissed. In Rye’s peripheral vision Stella pours two fingers of whiskey into the waiting glass, slides it back her way, and Rye catches it and lifts it to her lips.
It’s less of a burn this time, but the whiskey raises the heat in her gut further and the press of Becky’s thumbs into the crease of her hips adds little eddies of hot lower and closer to her center. “Do you feel anything watching them posture over me?” It’s more obvious than she’s wont, and Rye knows her brows are lifting in surprise before she can help it. Becky leans in and she can smell the rum on her breath, the waxiness of her lipstick, the floral undertones of her perfume.
“Should I?” Rye asks the question in the breath of space between them and the motion of Becky’s nod brushes their lips together. “We were never a thing, Becks,” Rye whispers but the roll of Rebecca’s thumbs and the heat of the whiskey and the closeness of her lips are making it a hard line to sell.
Never a thing, no, but they were an on again off again when one of them needed something. And oh did Rye need. Their lips whisper together again and Rye exhales, lifting her hand and threading her fingers through Becky’s hair, gripping, holding, demanding. “Are you going home with me tonight, Becks, or them.” She turns Becky towards the back of the bar where Red and Jacob are pressed together in what looks like something that could be both a battle and a seduction.
“Oh fuck,” Becky pants and she swings between Rye and the pair of men. “That’s not fair.”
“You need to decide, Becks,” Rye murmurs. A woman walks in and in Rye’s peripheral vision her profile is just a touch away from being her profile. Her fingers tighten in Becky’s hair and the other woman makes a low, desperate sound.
Becky pushes her hand against Rye’s chest, tilting her back against the wall into a relaxed slouch and untangles her fingers from her hair. “Don’t leave.” Rye raises her brow and tenses to move and Becky sighs. “Just…Please.”
Ryanne relaxes and watches Becky cross back to her lovers, one active, the other soon to be, or so it seemed. She kisses Red hotly and Rye laughs under her breath as Becky then turns and kisses Jacob, too. She whispers into both their ears and all three turn to look her way. Rye raises her whiskey in a toast and winks at Becky.
“I think you need a refill after that.” Rye is reaching for the glass before the distinct timbre of the voice settles deep into her bones. Fuck me, Rye thinks and lifts the cool glass to her lips, letting the gold liquor flow over her tongue in a richly complicated flood of flavors. Her eyes drift shut and feels the air shift against the back of her knuckles in the moment before the glass is plucked from her hand. “Mm. Didn’t expect this place to have Glenmorangie. My favorite.” Rye looks up and is caught, her stomach dropping, at the look of sheer animal pleasure on Tara’s face.
“Tara.” Rye is proud of the calm, coolness of her voice and dismayed at the smile that curves Tara’s lips. The dark-haired woman sets the now empty glass on the bar with exaggerated care before fixing her disconcerting, brilliant green gaze on Rye.
“Ryanne,” she answers and behind Tara a knot of limbs catches Rye’s attention and Becky flashes a hot, hungry look her way. “Would you rather go with them?” The question confuses Rye. She looks back and Tara’s right brow arches expectantly.
“No. Becks made her choice,” Rye replies and pulls her confidence around her, refusing to react.
“What choice was that?” Tara shoots back and Rye answers without thought.
“Said she needed to decide who she wanted to go home with.” Tara’s expression shifts and she’s rising to the challenge. She looks Rye over slowly, methodically.
“Can’t say I agree with her decision-making skills,” Tara comments and Rye straights from her slouch against the wall, the hairs on the back off her neck lifting. The other woman doesn’t step back or even lean as Rye sits up and suddenly the untouchable, distant, disconnected Tara is so very close, so very warm, and so very, very touchable.
Rye lazily hooks her fingers into Tara’s pockets and tugs her between her thighs. Stella is watching them and Rye has to fight down a smile when her brows lift out of sight under her bangs. “And what decision would you make, Tara,” Rye asks, her voice hot and rough. Color rises in Tara’s cheeks but it’s Rye who’s breath is stolen when her crush, her distraction, her…her bane, answers.
Tara places a palm beside Rye on the wall and cups the back of her head with the other. Rye’s heart is pounding, the roar in her ears drowning the music, the pool game, the chatter. The other woman nudges closer, spreading Rye’s thighs and there’s no mistaking their postures as anything but intimate. Rye’s head is spinning and there isn’t enough oxygen and the other woman hasn’t even kissed her yet. Oh fuck, I’m in more trouble than I though, Rye thinks, caught in Tara’s gaze like a fly in a web.
Tara tilts Rye’s jaw up and to the left and slides her lips along it until her full lower lip teases Rye’s ear. “Take me home, Whiskey. Now.”