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Angels & Abominations

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2. Newcomers

It was 7 p.m. and only an hour into her shift. About twenty patrons, all regulars, occupied the establishment. Most of them sat at this or that table, conversing with fellow bar-goers and catching up since the last time they had seen each other. A few hovered around the pool tables, trying to hustle a couple of extra dollars from friends. As for Rae's bar area, no man or woman had taken a seat in front of her for longer than the time it took to be served. Most chose to stand so they could make their escape a little faster. She preferred it that way, she didn't have to fake smiles over senseless flirting or mindless chatter. Friends weren't something Raven could afford, and most of the people well enough acquainted with her had stopped trying to gain her attention. Most, that is.

Raven watched as two new faces walked through the door. They were good looking men, appearing to be in their mid-twenties. The gentleman on the left was tall and looked to be around 6'6. His dark brown hair was cut short and his face was cleanly shaven. A lazy and relaxed grin stretched across his face. An expertly tailored suit fitted what appeared to be a very masculine body as he walked with powerful strides beside his buddy to a quiet table. He was a handsome man for sure, but Raven couldn't help but be drawn more to his quietly brooding friend.

The man whom she assumed was the mystery mogul's friend appeared so tense in comparison. Rae studied him with appreciative eyes. Blonde, messy hair framed his face and fell to his shoulders. His pale complexion stood out with his faded blue jeans and a grey plaid button-down. The stranger was a couple of inches shorter than his companion but his broad shoulders and chiseled features stole the show. She watched them, well only the one, in particular, take their seats at a small table across the room. The brooding man sat stiffly against the wooden chair's back and rolled his long sleeves up each arm to his elbows, showing off muscled forearms. Raven could almost imagine those arms reaching around from behind her, trapping her in his embrace, his face pressed into the crook of her shoulder...

Slap!

"Rae! Hello! Can I get some service here or are you going to keep eyeing them up like your next dessert?"

Rae's head snapped quickly to the man who's hand had just smacked the bar, "The fuck, Fisher?! You have to yell in my damn ear for a refill?" Her words came out quick and flustered. The dislike for Fisher grew steadily every time she had to see him.

"I do when I stand here for five minutes watching you polish one damn glass and staring at a couple of douches," he huffed, "I've asked you for a refill twice now."

There was a sly smile playing across his lips that Raven wanted nothing more than to knock off his face.

"Fish, I swear to whatever maker is out there, I am going to knock your head off your shoulders one day. I was not staring at them. It's my job to gauge every newcomer who walks through those doors to make sure they aren't trouble. And I know damned well you weren't here for that long begging for your piss-poor beer," Raven gritted the words through her teeth.

She yanked the empty pint out of his hand and retrieved a frosted one from her cooler. Tipping it under the Bud Lite tap, she poured a perfect pint for him and slid it across the bar to his awaiting hand. It sloshed a bit to its destination but made no difference to her. 'Let it spill on his sorry ass' she thought.

"Thanks, doll. Y'know, maybe a good lay will help with that shitty attitude of yours. I could help out with that whenever needed," Fisher smirked then turned to walk back to his table.

Raven scowled at his retreating form, momentarily seeing red. She imagined a dozen different ways to make him suffer for his infuriating words but she knew to give him any attention, angry or otherwise, would only feed his enormous ego. Picking back up the task she was doing before the interruption, Rae shook her head to clear it of her murderous thoughts. It wasn't but a few seconds that she felt eyes burning into her so she lifted her head to look around. She immediately locked eyes with the mystery men. The suit and tie guy lifted his hand to beckon her over while the other almost seemed to stare her down.

'Yeah, sure, don't get up or anything like normal people,' Rae thought as she crossed the floor to the waiting men. The closer she got though, the more she felt she needed to turn back around. There was something about the man in flannel that screamed 'Run' and she had trouble deciphering the feeling. Was she supposed to run away from him, or run into his arms? A large part of her wanted to do just that, run into his arms. It confused her immensely as she had never struggled so much with her intuition. Her whole life revolved around quick and rational decisions.

She made it to their table too soon, still feeling the internal war going on inside of her. It was too late to run away though and she sure as hell wasn't running into any man's embrace.

"Hey, guys. Welcome to The Hunt. My name is Raven and I will be taking care of y'all tonight. What can I get you?" She rushed the words out and felt the heat of embarrassment crawl up her neck from her newfound shyness.

The well-dressed Bachelor #1 spoke up, "Hey, can we get two Michelob Ultras, no glass please?"

"Of course, will that be all for you gentlemen tonight?" She asked nervously. Her eyes darted between the two men, trying her best not to stare into Bachelor #2's gaze. His deep blue eyes were trained on her, however. She nearly jumped out of her skin as he spoke.

"I don't want a beer. I want a whiskey and coke, make it a double; top-shelf. No rocks. A burger and fries, medium with everything," his voice was masculine and demanding. It both entranced her and pissed her off. Did he think she was a lowly servant?

"Of course, Sir, any particular brand of whiskey?" She bit out. Whatever confusing feelings she had before he opened his mouth went flying out the window.

"Seeing the poor excuse of a bar this is, I'm inclined to say whatever actual top shelf you may have that hasn't been watered down."

Ooh, his attractiveness was out the window as well. 'Fuck this guy, someone needs to pull the stick out of his ass.' Raven was busy reeling in the backlash waiting to be released from her mouth. Bachelor #1 had the decency to look shocked at his friend's rude behavior and looked at her with sympathetic chocolate eyes, seemingly pleading apologies without words.

"Sure, I will be sure to use the good coke as well. Extra carbonation. You paying as you go, Your Highness, or are y'all starting tabs?" She couldn't do it. She just could not stop the heavily sarcastic response.

'Well, there goes that tip.'

While the asshole was busy picking his jaw off the table from her remark, his much nicer friend couldn't help but release a small chuckle and respond, "Here's a hundred, eighty for whatever we order tonight and twenty as your tip. You earned that just by shutting him up. When we reach past that, let me know."

Raven took the crisp bill from his hand and nodded. "Name for the open ticket?" She asked.

"Aldrich," he replied.

Rae nodded again and said she would be right back with their drinks. She made her way back over to the bar and her small POS to open their check and order the burger. After only a minute she returned with the Michelob and whiskey and coke, stating she would bring the burger out when it was finished. There were a few refills she needed to handle for her regulars and some cleaning she needed to attend while she waited on her order to cook. After a few minutes Trey, the kitchen/bar help was bringing out the food.

"Hey Rae, I've got your order for 'Aldrich' here. Want me to run it over?"

"No thanks Trey, I've got it. I could use some more ice though and these dish totes to be run back of you would."

"I'm on it," he replied, quick to grab up a dish tote. He was young, only 18, and Raven loved working with him. Trey was Mae and Charlie's youngest of three and chose to learn the ins and outs of the family bar so he could run it one day. With his hard work and determination, he was a good employee and she knew would one day make a good boss as well.

Like a good little bartender, Raven didn't leave the ass waiting for his burger and waltzed it over to him, letting both men know she would be at the bar if they needed anything else. Her hopes would be she would only have to deal with Aldrich that way and she could avoid the other man altogether for the rest of their stay. The rest of the shift went smoothly, with Rae bartending and cleaning until the last call. She saw her regulars come and go as the hours passed, but both newcomers stayed planted to their seats. Still, though, she only had to deal with Aldrich for the night and did not have time to dwell on their drinking habits.

By the last call, only Aldrich and his rude friend were left. They both approached her as she was doing her nightly checklist.

"When will Charlie be out?" The unnamed one asked.

"What do you need with Charlie?" Raven asked cautiously.

"I was told he could help me with a job and my friend here set a meeting up with him for tonight, after bar closing," he replied with a hard look to his face that said he didn't like being questioned.

"Look, I've not heard about any meeting or opening positions available so maybe you should reset your meeting. Haven't you had a few too many to drinks to be interviewing anyways?" Raven queried. She was beyond 'too tired' to be dancing around the subject. She knew what these guys were here for now and she definitely hadn't heard mention of a meeting.

"I'm not looking for a job, Sweetheart. I'm looking to hire. Call up your boss and ask him if he is ready to see Percival." His speech was too clear and steady for the many hours he had been drinking.

'Percival. A pompous name for a pompous asshole, very fitting.'

Raven studied both men for a moment, looking for any sign they were not trustworthy. She sighed when she noticed nothing strange, "Really, I haven't heard anything about this, and I am the first one to know, but I will ask him. I am warning you now though, if you are lying to me or are here to cause any issues, I will have absolutely no problem knocking you on your ass."

Although her tone was heavy, neither man seemed to care about her threat. She took a second to sniff the air but smelled nothing odd in the stuffy bar. She gave up and radioed Charlie to ask him about the visitors, only to be green-lighted to bring them to his office. Aldrich was nonchalant, but Percival had a smirk plastered on and a glint of satisfaction in his eyes. She nearly let out a growl seeing his smugness. It didn't take long to lead them to Charlie's office, where he greeted both men with a strong handshake and excused Raven. She walked back to the main bar area to finish out her night and get ready to head home.

The entire drive home was spent with Rae over-analyzing the men. Why had they sat for nine hours for the meeting? How had they not been drunk by the last call? Percival especially, had more drinks than she could count and should have even served. When she sniffed the air, why did she not smell anything, not even a human scent? By the time Raven had eaten and collapsed in bed, her head was pounding with a migraine. A couple more pills and a few gulps from her bedside stash had the ache easing up and her in La La Land quickly after.

Before dozing off, her last thoughts were that she knew these men would be trouble and she hoped to not have the misfortune of seeing them again.

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