"And there you have it, a martini," I declared.
Freya frowned at the glass of bitter smelling liquid.
I had spent the last thirty minutes mixing all the crowd favorites at Feral, my club. The name was not so subtle which I did not mind. I was not known for my creativity.
She grabbed the cocktail glass from me and sniffed it, then turned to the bar top. "This has-- this." She lifted a bottle of vermouth. "And this." She touched the bottle of gin. "Plus the creepy lemon."
"Lemon twist," I corrected.
"Uhuh. Lemon twist." She picked up the Americano I had prepared, and sniffed it. Turning to the bottles again, she picked up a fresh glass, threw in ice cubes, poured the vermouth, the campari and the soda over it, and presented it to me. "Is it right?"
It was. I did not need to taste it to know. She had poured the exact amount of everything: equal parts vermouth and campari, with just a splash of club soda.
I nodded, and took a sip. "Perfect. This is an Americano."
It was 4pm. An hour to opening and we were all alone in the dimly lit room.
We went through all the drinks with her re-making them, just from a single sniff. It was very impressive. Every time she repeated a name, I knew she was saving it to memory.
Afterwards I asked, "So you learn faster through smell?"
"Yes. Especially when it comes to food." She grinned up at me.
Never had I found a girl beautiful. Or attractive. But something about Freya.…
Just days ago she had used Dustin's shampoo and soap, and now she was covered in mine. My jeans grew tight and uncomfortable. I wanted more. I wanted everything. I wanted a stronger, more primal claim to her.
"Do I have the job?" Freya asked, grinning even wider. She ran her fingers down my chest, real cat-like, and I shivered. The glint in her brown eyes was mischievous. "I promise I won't forget a single drink."
I growled low in my throat, my human side had very little to do with that, and gripped her long curly hair. I pulled her closer.
A shrill alarm filled the deserted club. I jerked away from her, almost falling over in the process, had it not been for my hand in Freya's hair.
Only one person consistently personalized his ring tone on my phone. No matter how much it irked me to no end.
"Dustin," I answered. I cleared my throat to get rid of the groggy emotion in it. "What?" For the first time in my life there was something I wanted to do more than talk to him. Almost.
"Are you heading to Feral later today?"
"I'm already here. With Freya."
"Should she be moving about so soon?"
"She said she was fine." I had asked her a dozen times and she had insisted each time that she was fine.
"You shouldn't have let her. She needs to rest, Riles."
I rolled my eyes. "You try telling her no, Dust." Nickname for nickname. That's how it worked.
Freya went back to mixing drinks. The other employees would show up in an hour to set up for the day.
"I just want to make sure she's okay."
Hurt or jealousy. I could not tell which. "She's fine, Dustin. And I'm good too in case you're wondering."
"Of course I'm wondering, Riles. I'm always wondering," he said, quietly.
I hated it when I made him feel like crap. I did it all the time when I got jealous of Diana, and now I was doing it with Freya.
"I know. I know. I'm sorry."
Freya looked at me strangely. Is something wrong, she mouthed.
"He's just worried about you," I told her.
"How long will you guys be there for?" Dustin questioned.
"Till closing. I'm teaching Freya the ropes. She wants to bartend for me."
He laughed. "Ambitious. I guess we can't keep her cooped up in the house forever."
I looked back at Freya and my insides warmed up. "No. We can't."
"I mean, you can't."
"What?" I asked, confused.
"You. She's your mate. She's yours to keep..or whatever"
We're your mates, you idiot, I wanted to scream, but I bit my tongue. He would not accept me as easily as Freya. I hang up without saying another word.
Freya shimmied up to me and leaned all her weight on me. Which turned out to be a lot, for her 5'7 height. I stumbled. She grinned. Brilliant.
"I'm quite strong," she said. "Sirens are stronger than ordinary wolves."
"Uhuh. Even those." She straightened. "So do I have a job?"
"How old are you?"
"Twenty." She frowned. "How old are you?"
"Twenty three." I draped my hands around her.
"And you went to college?" she asked, curiously.
"Yeah. Eight years; business."
"You joined college at sixteen?"
Her eyes widened.
I shrugged. "Dustin left when he turned eighteen. I tried being without him for a year..." I trailed off, leaving her to fill in the gaps.
"The mate fevers."
"Yep. Almost died. So I did what I had to do and joined him the next year."
"That's impressive. So you're smart and cute?" she asked.
I smiled at her flirting. Dustin and I were going to have our hands full with her. "Yes. I told you, I never forget anything. Never have."
"Well, if I've smelled it before I can't forget it. And if you give me something I've never made or smelled before, and I've smelled the ingredients before, I'm good to make it too. So trust me with your bar, Riley."
"Well, for now, sure. Why not? You'll work with Jessica. Help her out. The workload's getting crazy now that the Feral's getting popular....."
She kissed me on the forehead. Then the nose. "Thank you. Thank you." she said with each kiss. "I won't let you down, cutie."
Someone coughed, before I could protest the nickname.
Jessica. I had been so caught up in the alluring Freya, I had not heard her come in with her key.
"Hey, Jessie. This is Freya."
"Yeah," she said, warily.
"She's your co-bartender." I used "co" because Jessica tended to boss people around, and I did not want any of that around Freya. "You'll be working with her from now on."
She looked at me strangely for a while, until I realized I still held Freya in my arms.