Making her way through the throng of the crowded club, Aisha headed straight for the bar area. It was located in the centermost area of the west wall. Like the dance floor, the bar was elevated higher than the rest of the room so that it could be easily seem. Because The Urban Revue stayed so busy, it needed two bartenders at all times.
Finding an empty stool on the north end of the long bar, Aisha sat down. When she placed her order, she found that she didn’t have to raise her voice at all. The music was less loud on this side of the club.
“I’d like a glass of wine please,” Aisha said, putting her purse in her lap. Though not much of a drinker, she did enjoy the fruit of the vine on occasion.
“Did you say wine?” asked Jarrett Halliwell, the bartender. He looked surprised by her order. The women that usually frequented this club preferred other kinds of drinks. Drinks like Sex On The Beach and Long Island Iced Tea.
“Yes, white please.” Aisha flashed him a friendly smile. “Surprise me from the top shelf.” She pulled a large bill from her purse and placed it on the counter.
“Coming up,” Jarrett replied, reaching upwards.
As he prepared her drink, Jarrett continued to give the dimple-faced woman speculative looks every few seconds. Part of him kept thinking he’d seen her somewhere before. Was she a model? An actress?
If she wasn’t one of those, she certainly looked like it. Matter of fact, she reminded Jarrett of the actress LisaRaye McCoy, except with mocha skin and the deepest dimples he’d ever seen.
From her expensive order and the elegant way she sat on the barstool with her legs crossed and her body in a statuesque pose, Jarrett could tell that this woman had some class about herself. So then what was she doing in a place like this?
Though The Urban Revue wasn’t a slum club by any means, it was usually frequented by those on three particular levels of society. On the bottom level were those trying to dress and act as if they weren’t still in the ghetto, even though they were. The second level included those who were one-step up from the ghetto. The ones who had blue collar jobs, lived near the housing projects and still visited them from time to time.
Lastly, the top level of The Urban Revue patrons consisted of those with newfound wealth. Those who, though they lived in the suburbs now, missed certain aspects of ghetto life and found it at clubs like this. The woman sitting in front of Jarrett now didn’t fit in any of those categories. She seemed to be in a category all by herself.
Partial to beautiful women, Jarrett couldn’t have been happier that she’d found a seat on his end of the bar. This gave him a chance to try to get to know her better. A lot better. Hopefully.
Positioning the wine flute atop a red logo napkin, Jarrett smoothly placed the drink in front of the dimpled-faced woman. “Enjoy your wine and let me know if you need anything else,” he said with open interest swimming in his hazel pools. As he spoke, he retrieved the hundred dollar bill from the counter and prepared to make change of it.
Aisha pulled her glass closer. “I will,” she replied, giving him a knowing look. She knew she’d just been evaluated by the bartender. She also knew that he was itching to ask her at least two questions.
Question one: What was she doing here?
Question two: Would she give him the time of day?
Aisha wondered how long it would take him to build up the nerve to make his inquiries. “No, you keep the change,” she said, waving off the stacks of twenties he tried to give her once he’d made change.
“Thanks a lot,” Jarrett said, putting the money in the pocket where he kept all his nightly tips. “I’ll be right back.” He briefly moved away to fill a couple of pitchers with beer for two new patrons.
Aisha took a sip of her wine, allowing it to pool on her tongue before swallowing. She learned a long time ago that slow consumption of alcohol was the best way to enjoy a drink and stay sober.
“Mind if I ask you a question, Miss?” Jarrett asked when he returned to her a few short minutes later.
Exactly five minutes, Aisha mused, timing the arrival of the bartender’s first question by the thin black watch on her wrist.
“Not at all.” Aisha smiled, putting down her glass. “Go right ahead, Jarrett,” she added, reading his name from the white tag on the red shirt he wore.
“What is a woman like you doing in a place like this?” Jarrett asked with a warm smile of his own. He seemed to like hearing his name on her lips.
Men were so predictable. This one was kind of adorable in his own special way. Especially with that totally unoriginal pickup line.
Aisha smiled wider. A light chuckle escaped her lips as she circled the top of the wine flute with her index fingers. She’d been right about question number one. Fortunately, she had a ready answer for it.
“A woman like me enjoys trying out new places when she moves to a new town. I heard about The Urban Revue and thought it might be a fun place to visit and unwind.”
“Alone?” Jarrett’s smile turned sensual now as the flirting officially began.
That was question number two, just wrapped in a different package. “Alone,” Aisha confirmed.
Jarrett leaned against the bar counter and dropped his voice to an almost whisper. The flirting was in full force now. “You don’t have to stay alone, beautiful. My shift ends in an hour. I’d be happy to help you unwind to your heart’s content.”
Aisha had an answer for that, too. “The name’s Aisha. And although I do appreciate the offer, I really want to keep my options open for now. My soul-mate might be up in here and I don’t want to miss him by falling for the first gorgeous man I meet.” Her voice was soft and friendly as she meted out her rejection. She didn’t want to alienate anyone that she might need later on.
Jarrett’s smile drooped just a little. Although just twenty-three, he was mature enough to handle rejection and thus quickly perked right back up. Plus that compliment she just laid on him had really stroked his ego.
“So you’re looking for Mr. Right, huh?” Jarrett stood upright again. He retrieved a clean cloth from a nearby stack and began to wipe down the surfaces of his work area.
“Something like that.” Aisha brought the glass to her lips again.
Though she was actually looking for Mr. Wrong, Aisha decided to let the bartender believe what was most beneficial to her right now. She wanted him to think that she was looking for a serious commitment since most men were extremely turned off by that. The only man Aisha didn’t want to repel tonight was Bonz, who had yet to show his face in the club.
“Well, happy hunting then,” Jarrett replied, backing completely off now since he was not looking for any type of serious commitment. “Just be mindful of the wolves in sheep’s clothing we got flocking around here,” he admonished, sounding like his preacher of a grandfather just then. “Speaking of wolves…” Jarrett’s hands and his words paused as a well-dressed group of six suddenly entered the club.
Lowering her glass, Aisha’s eyes followed the direction that Jarrett’s attention had gone in. A fan of fashion, she immediately noticed the three females in the group. Though the colors accented the women’s various skin tones, the outfits were too tight and way too short to be comfortable or even wear underwear underneath.
Just stamp available on your foreheads, why don’t you? Aisha mused, chuckling to herself.
Some women just didn’t know how to make a man work for it. Didn’t they know that being too easy made it easier to be forgotten? Easier to be discarded? Men tended to remember and hold on to that which caused them some effort.
Shifting her attention to the three men in the group, Aisha couldn’t help but notice how much respect they garnered from the people around them. Even from here she could detect the dangerous vibe and prosperity of the male trio. Their eyes looked menacing, as if they had seen too much evil in the world to care about anybody or anything. All the bling-bling they sported on their necks, wrists, and hands alluded to their prosperity.
There was no doubt in Aisha’s mind that that prosperity had come at the expense of others, undoubtedly even at the cost of a few lives. Her gaze grew hard. Her heart colder as she remembered her brother.
Wondering if one of the men were Bonz, Aisha looked for cornrows braided straight back as her first clue. If he was as handsome as
Suddenly Aisha’s breath caught in her throat. Her pulse took off at a gallop. Saliva pooled in her mouth. Liquid heat pooled in her nether regions.
Did she find the man with the cornrows? No, but she did find a man that fit all of
Please don’t let ‘him’ be Bonz, Aisha mused, wanting to make fiery love to this fine specimen of a man, not exact cold revenge upon him. And yet deep down inside she knew that she’d found her mark.
© 2005 by Suprina Frazier