My first week on the island flew by in a whirlwind of busy work shifts and theme park exploration. I'd seen most, if not all, of the attractions at least once. My favorite was still Mo. After a lot of convincing, I'd finally convinced Claire it was totally find to show me the impressive, fancy control room with all it's screens, buttons, and other gizmos. She was busy constantly, which was why it probably hadn't been so hard to break her down about filling me in on the behind the scenes stuff. We hardly saw each other unless it was for some dinner here, a coffee there, or a quick 'hey I'm just passing by' wave. Any free time I had outside the park was usually spent reading in my new plastic lawn chair outside my trailer, trying to figure out how to get things sent to me from Amazon (my Isla Nubar address seemed to cause confusion for a lot of vendors), or sometimes hanging out with Violet. I'd only seen Owen once or twice in passing since the night I'd first met him. Apparently playing parent to a pack of raptors kept him pretty busy.
Which was why I hadn't expected it when he walked in through the doors of Margaritaville, just after my last customers had finally drifted out. I was used to us being one of the last restaurants opened on Main Street now. A lot of the other park employees often stopped by for drinks after their shifts were up. This, though, was the first time I'd ever seen Owen set foot inside.
"Hey, new girl." He greeted, giving me a smile.
I glanced up from polishing a pint glass, surprised to see him. "Hey! What the hell are you doing here?"
He perked an eyebrow. "I kinda work here, remember? Why, should I not be here?"
"No, just never seen you here before." I said with a shrug.
"Well, you have only been working here for like a week..." He teased, his voice trailing off. He shot me one of his cheeky grins and I rolled my eyes.
"You know, we are technically closed so I could technically refuse you service." I said in mock seriousness. "If you're gonna get an attitude with me."
"What attitude? I don't see any attitude. I just came in for some tequila. Had a hard day, you know how that is. My co-workers have lots of sharp teeth and claws, and it's a little bit terrifying when they get pissed off." He propped his elbows up on the bar, resting his chin both his hands like the way a little kid would.
I smiled, shaking my head. "Alright, alright. One shot it is. Patron, Jose...what's your poison?" I pulled out a clear shot glass from the shelf underneath the bar and slid it towards him.
"Better give me the Patron." He said, reaching for the shot glass and twirling it in his hand. I grabbed the bottle from the shelf behind me. I made to grab the shot glass from him, but he suddenly pulled it back. It was my turn to raise an eyebrow at him. "You know, on second thought, you probably should have one too. It's not healthy to drink alone, and all that crap."
"I wish, but I'm still on the clock." I reminded him, leaning against the bar.
Owen shrugged his shoulders. "Yeah, but you're technically closed. You did just say that, didn't you?" He gave me a playful smile. "Come on, I'm not gonna tell. You need it, you worked all day too."
I chewed my lower lip, drumming my fingers on the bar. Then I shot a quick glance over my shoulder, making sure I was still alone while the closing server cleaned up the inside dining room, before pulling out a second shot glass. Owen's grin grew as I poured two shots of the clear liquid.
"I knew you were a badass!"
"Shut up and drink before I get in trouble." I raised my shot glass to his, and my eyes met his blue ones as our glasses clinked. I put the glass to my lips and tilted my head back, letting the warm liquid burn it's way down my throat. The instant it hit my stomach I was warmed from the inside out. I made a face, scrunching my noise. "Ugh."
"Yup, agreed. Still tastes like regret." He said, sliding the glass towards me. "The good kind, though."
I gave him a doubtful look. "There's a good kind of regret?"
"Absolutely." One side of his mouth had turned upwards in a crooked grin. He stood from his stool and reached into his pocket, sliding a twenty dollar bill towards me. "Keep whatever the change is."
"Thanks!" I called after him, as he walked out of the bar without an actual goodbye. When he had disappeared from view, I glanced down at our two empty shot glasses, shaking my head. If only Claire could see me now.
About an hour later I was collapsing onto my couch, laying on my back and plopping my legs up onto the far armrest. My phone let out a high pitched beep from purse. I snatched the bag off of the coffee table, digging around inside until I felt the familiar rectangular object beneath my fingers. I hadn't looked at it once since l'd clocked in for work that morning, too busy to even think about it and too preoccupied on the train ride home, thinking about my unexpected tequila encounter with Owen Grady.
I let out a groan as I scrolled through my missed call list. One from my mom, which I'd return tomorrow since she was probably in bed at this point. Then one from my ex-boyfriend who just couldn't seem to let go. I made a face when I clicked the voicemail option and heard his voice.
"Hey Rylan, it's Parker."
I rolled my eyes. Well no shit, like I wouldn't recognize his voice or the missed call notification that said 'MISSED CALL FROM PARKER'.
"Just wanted to check in and make sure you made it to the island okay. Haven't heard from you in a while. *Loud sigh*. Listen, call me back if you can. I really think we should talk. I know you said you didn't wanna do the long distance thing but-"
I tossed the phone onto the coffee table with a clatter, letting out another annoyed groan as I pressed my palms against my eyelids. The dude seriously could not take a hint. Long distance had been one reason, but the other, as I had clearly told him, was because I didn't feel any real chemistry between us. I had never felt...attached. In the entire three months we'd been dating, there was never a point where I was convinced I was with the right person. There was never that spark, that lightning strike moment, everyone says you're supposed to feel. If that was a real thing that even existed.
I thought about getting up and going to the fridge for a beer when I remembered it was sadly very empty. Instead, I opted for fresh air. I shoved my feet into my sneakers and stepped outside into the warm, tropical air. The sun had already set, and my breath caught in my through as I looked up at the vast blanket of stars overhead. It reminded me of home for a second, of those nights spent outdoors, curled up under a blanket on the porch swing. Only this was about a thousand times better. The only lights came from whatever ones they left on in the park in the distance and the small square windows of the mobile homes. Nothing to dim or mask the brightness of the stars.
Across the mobile housing park, the lake water sparkled under the moon. I headed in that direction, drawn by the fresh smell of the water, fresh and untainted by a city's harsh pollutants. A cool breeze suddenly swept past, rustling the tall grass at the edge of the road. Using my phone as a flashlight, I stepped off the path and walked to the edge of the grass, where inky black water just touched the edge of the shoreline. The surface of the water rippled with the breeze, and the deep croak of a frog came from my right before it splashed into the water. I wondered what other kind of underwater life existed in the depths. It was a stupid, irrational thought that made no sense, but I had a mental image of another Mo gliding along the bottom of the lake. I shivered and wrapped my arms around my middle.
A light caught my eye and I glanced in the direction of Owen's place, which Claire had pointed out when I'd first moved in. An extremely bright, fluorescent porch light