Before I started working at the Succubus Bar and Lounge, I would have considered myself a pretty normal person. I lived a normal life, working as a cashier at a local retail chain store, and had an apartment of my own. I went to school like everyone else, and I even made good grades. The only thing I ever thought was odd was the fact that I had only one parent, but there were lots of kids with only one parent, due to divorce or death or even imprisonment. My mother never really told me what happened to my father, just that he loved us very much, so I assumed he was dead.
I first met Ash on a particularly hectic day at the store. I’d already had a customer throw a pack of toilet paper at me for having an attitude that I didn't have, a toddler throw his cup during a tantrum, drenching me in apple juice, and a leaky pack of meat that smelled awful and no way to wash my hands until break. When he got in my line, I was dealing with a particularly angry customer who refused to pay $5.99 for something that had been stuck in a $2.99 spot by a random customer.
“I'm not going to pay that much,” the woman said angrily.
“Would you like me to take it off?” I asked, feigning politeness.
“No, I want you to give it to me for the price it says.”
“I can't do that without speaking to my manager first.”
“Then I suggest you go get your manager.”
“I'm not supposed to leave my register, but I can page her if you like.”
“Yes, Ma'am,” I said, forcing a smile. I pulled the microphone close to me and made the call.
Only about five minutes had passed before she was demanding to know where my manager was and informing me over and over again that she was a paying customer and would not stand for this.
“I’ll call your boss's boss and have you fired!”
The attractive man behind her was clearly tired of this woman and finally spoke up. In a calm voice, he said “Ma'am, there's no reason to start threatening people. I'm sure...” He looked at my name tag. “...Stella is doing the best she can.”
I gave him a thankful smile, taking a moment to examine his features closer. He looked almost familiar, like someone I had known a very long time ago, but I couldn't place him. He had flawless skin and his auburn hair was messy with sideswept bangs. He looked somewhere between 25 and 30. He was probably about 5’ 10” and toned but not too muscular. His voice was very nice when he had spoken, low and kind of melodious. He didn't seem to have any kind of accent though. It was strange, as most people I knew had some kind of accent, but this man didn't seem to have one at all.
“No, the best she can do is to give me the product for the price it says on the shelf,” the woman blabbed on.
“I’m sure there’s a protocol for things like this. Some customer probably put it in the wrong spot.”
“That's got nothing to do with me. It said $2.99.”
“Would you like me to buy it for you?”
The woman looked horrified, like she had just been prompted for sex. She replied “no. I want it for the price it said.”
Both his tone and his demeanor changed at that point. “You're really getting on my nerves. I think you should leave.”
“I said you should leave.”
“I'm not going anywhere until I get my product.”
The atmosphere was very tense and only getting worse. I was very uncomfortable right now.
In a low and almost menacing tone, the man nearly whispered “You need to leave. Now.”
The woman must have sensed his anger because she began to back up slowly and then turned and ran in the direction of the door.
The man's demeanor quickly changed, and the air was light again. He gave me a smile and said in a more cheerful tone, “sorry about that. People like her get on my nerves.”
“No problem...” I replied, still wondering what on earth that atmosphere was that had been present just a moment before.
“It's just that, you know, God chose humans over his own angels, and the ones like her just make the whole race look bad. But you're one of the good ones, aren't you?”
“Um...” I wasn't sure how to answer that.
He smiled and held out a card to me, his unusual burnt umber eyes meeting my blue-gray ones. “Sorry. You just seem like a nice girl. Come by and relax after work sometime, okay?”
I took the card and finished ringing up his purchases. We said our goodbyes, and he paid and left. As I was waiting for my next customer, I took a look at the business card he had handed me. It was black with red flames on the bottom and purple succubus silhouettes on each side. In crimson letters, the print read:
Succubus Bar and Lounge
The hottest bar in town.
166 Ember Avenue
Owner: Ash Cinder
The name was followed by a phone number. I stared at the card for a bit. Some relaxation in a lounge did sound pretty nice after the day I'd had, but I was raised sort of religious and was unsure if a bar and lounge named after a sex demon was the best place for me to go.
Two rude customers and three toddler tantrums later, my mind was made up.
I pulled into the parking lot of the address that was on the card and was instantly greeted by a large neon sign with the name on the card. Succubus. I briefly debated turning back around, but damn it, I deserved some relaxation. Besides, it was just a name.
The inside of the Succubus Bar and Lounge was a cozy little place. It wasn't overly flamboyant or vibrant. It was simply a long rectangular room with black carpeted floors, big fluffy furniture, and a well stocked bar. A slow and haunting melody filled the bar, creating a trance-like atmosphere that seemed to successfully relax everyone in the room. The lighting was dim, due to the interesting shades that covered the bulbs, and the lounge wasn't overly populated. The few people that were there were drinking and relaxing. It was perfect for me.
As I looked around the room, I noticed that there were paintings on the walls. They were mostly of angels. One particularly interesting piece depicted several angels leaving a brightly lit sky and falling downward, to Earth I assumed. The plaque at the bottom read The Fall. Another was a side view of a man with a succubus in his arms, her leg up on his side and her tail curled around his legs. Then there was another of an angel holding a red haired woman from behind, his arms and wings wrapped around her body.
I started to look at the others when a familiar voice got my attention.
“So you decided to come.”
I turned around to find the attractive man from the store standing behind the bar. He was wearing a black button up shirt that made his tousled auburn hair stand out and black jeans. Where had he come from? He wasn't there a moment ago.
“Uh... Yeah...” I said awkwardly, taking a seat at the bar.
“Stella, right?” he asked.
I nodded. “Yeah.”
He offered me a hand. “I'm Ash. This is my bar.”
I shook the offered hand. It was really warm. “Nice to meet you again. This is a nice place you've got here.”
“Thanks." He smiled. “Want a drink? On the house.”
I shrugged sheepishly.
“I'll make you something you'll like.”
“Thanks,” I said shyly.
I turned around to look around the room once again as Ash got to work making my drink.
There were two women dressed in tight pants and tube tops that read Succubus. One had short black hair while the other had long hair purple, and they both had little wings on their backs. I figured they probably worked here, especially considering they were flirting with most of the male customers.
I heard a clink on the bar behind me as Ash set my drink down. I turned around, and he gave me a smile that raised one corner of his lips slightly higher than the other. It was kind of cute.
“Do any guys work here?” I asked, taking a sip of the pink drink before me. It was really sweet.
“Me,” Ash replied.
“I mean besides you.”
He shook his head. “Sex sells and, quite frankly, men aren't very sexy.”
“I think some of them are sexy.”
He shrugged. “Well, it's called Succubus, not Incubus.”
“What's an incubus?”
“The male version of a succubus.”
“Oh. Well, I think you might get more girls in here if you hire a couple of guys.”
“I'm here. That's enough.”
I smiled. “Scared they'll take the attention away from you?”
He returned my smile with a smirk. “Maybe. Besides, if there were too many guys in here, I wouldn't get any time to talk one on one with pretty girls like you.”
I blushed and took another sip of my drink, maybe in an attempt to hide my pink cheeks.
“I mean, I'm behind this bar most of the night,” Ash continued. “If I had other guys running around, I wouldn't get noticed as much."
“Maybe you could hire another bartender.”
I shrugged and took a few more sips.
“You're cute,” he suddenly said. “Wanna be my bartender girl?”
I looked up at him in surprise.
“You'll get to see me every night.”
I laughed. “That sounds like a better deal for you.”
He shrugged. “Maybe.”
“But no thanks. I don't feel comfortable wearing the uniform,” I reasoned, gesturing towards the two girls who were sitting on either side of what appeared to be a businessman.
“You wouldn't have to. You'd be a bartender, so you could just wear a nice outfit. All black though.”
“I don't know anything about bartending.”
“I'll teach you.”
“I don't know.”
“Just think about it, okay? You've got my card if you decide you're interested.”
The rest of the night went well. I spent most of it sitting at the bar and talking to Ash as he made me drink after drink. By the time the bar was closing, however, I was having a hard time walking a couple of feet.
“You want me to give you a ride or something?” Ash asked me as he walked me out to my car, his umber eyes full of concern. “I could call a cab.”
“Nah, I'm fine,” I lied, leaning on him for support.
“Are you sure?”
“I'll pay for the cab.”
“No, I’m alright, really.”
“Stella, you can't even walk straight. I’m not about to let you drive like this.”
“I'll be fine.”
As I said this for what felt like the millionth time, I tried to step down from the sidewalk and would have fallen if Ash hadn't caught me.
“You don't drink much, do you?” he muttered, looking down at me.
“Nope.” Looking back up at him, I was pretty sure he had four eyes.
Ash sighed. “Either you let me take you home or call a cab; otherwise, you're coming home with me. You're not driving.”
“Go home with you?” I giggled, pulling away. “But we only just met today.”
He crossed his arms, bringing out the muscle tone and definition of them. “Then should I call a cab or are you going to tell me where you live so I can take you home?” He was serious.
“Don't look so serious,” I mumbled. “You're so much cuter when you smile.”
His expression didn't change. “Stella.”
I started to respond when I realized I didn't feel too well. I sat down on the sidewalk and puked all over the pavement of the parking lot.
"Do you have a wallet or a purse or something?" he demanded.
"Now you want my money too? At least take me on a date first."
"You must have a license or something. You drove here."
"I promise I'm legal," I giggled.
"That's not even the issue right now."
"I'm twentyyyy… something," I went on in a singsong voice. "Betcha can't guess."
"I knew I should have ID'd you," he grumbled. "Where is your license, Stella?"
I shrugged and bit down on my bottom lip, looking up at him as innocently as possible. "I dunno."
He massaged his forehead and let out an exasperated sigh. "Look, I'm just trying to get you home as quickly, easily, and safely as possible."
"You're such a gentleman, Ash."
"I try to be. Now, are you going to tell me where you live or not?"
I gave him a childish smile and shook my head. "Nope."
"Stella," he sighed.
"I feel sick," I barely managed before I leaned forward and puked again. Afterward, I lay back on the sidewalk and passed out.