A slow, 20 minute walk later, Noah and Alina were sitting in Sam's Bayfront Bar & Grille where Noah worked. They were talking about what beverages they were going to order when a bartender approached them.
"Dude, it's your day off, can't you ever not work?" The bartender laughed.
"I just couldn't stay away, and also I wanted to bring my new friend Alina here," Noah gestured to Alina.
"Hi Alina, nice to meet you, I'm CJ. Are you new to town?"
"No, just visiting from Oregon, I'm not sure if I could handle this weather year round!"
They all laughed.
"What are you talking about? This is the best weather in the world!" CJ said as he held out his tanned arms from his Hawaiian shirt. "So what can I get you two?"
"I'd love a house margarita on the rocks with a salt rim please," she replied.
"Coming right up, beer for you man?" CJ asked Noah.
"You know it, thanks CJ."
While CJ grabbed their drinks, Alina looked around the restaurant. It was both trendy and classic with a bank of open-air windows looking out over the bay and another looking out over the street. The bar was in the middle with TVs hanging up around it showing March Madness games and other sports highlights. An alternative rock song played, though she didn't know which one, and the clinking of plates and animated voices filled the air.
"Here you go, one house margarita and a PBR for you, cheers kids."
"Just put it on my tab Ceej."
"Oh no no no you don't!" CJ and Noah both looked at Alina in surprise. "It's my turn to pay and I insist," she said firmly.
Alina locked eyes with Noah as she slid her card over to CJ. CJ sighed and said "Sorry man, gotta go with the lady," and left to add her card to the tab list. Noah laughed and tilted his beer up to take a sip.
Alina took a sip of her margarita and was shocked by how satisfying it was. Maybe it was the hot, humid air or this whirlwind of a day or maybe even the jet lag, but it was one of the best margaritas she'd ever had.
"Oh my god, this is so good," she exclaimed.
"I know right?" CJ replied from the register. "Noah made up the recipe for the mix, it's a little time consuming but people love it."
CJ circled the bar to help some new customers - an animated group of young women that were all wearing a shirt that said something about a bachelorette party.
Alina looked at Noah with surprise for what felt like the 20th time that day.
"Is there anything you can't do?" She asked.
He smiled at her, and she could see his dark blue eyes so clearly, she noticed the fiery yellow ring on the inside just by his pupils. He leaned close to her and she almost thought he was going to try to kiss her.
"I guess you'll have to find out," he said.
About an hour and a second margarita later, and Alina and Noah bid goodbye to CJ and headed back out into the heat. The sun was lower in the sky but the heavy air still lingered.
"You up for one more adventure?" Noah asked her as he put his sunglasses back on and waited for her to answer.