Chapter 1 | Knox
CHAPTER 1 | Knox
I took a sip of my cold Bud Light as I sat at the bar top. It was a typical Friday night at Finnigan’s bar. It was only a little past 9pm and the place wasn’t too packed yet. The small dancefloor would probably be filled over the next hour thanks to their semi-decent live band. All the attention was on the band so nobody would recognize us tonight, which is what we were hoping for.
The plan is for a calm night tonight. Just a couple beers with the boys and seeing Jack. Nothing too crazy considering we got practice tomorrow afternoon. Coach had a two beer limit the night before practices. Wayne would probably need a reminder of that as he typically forgoes the rules, plus he’s been eyeing the bachelorette party on the other end of the bar for the past hour.
I really enjoyed Finnigan’s. It was your typical Irish pub in midtown. A lot of construction guys or the businessmen would come in to grab a beer after their shift before catching their trains. As the night progressed there was always a crowd for their life music. The upper class dive bar is how I termed this place. This is a place you would doubt running into any professional athletes or celebrities.
No one usually looked twice at me here.
I started coming here about two years ago, when I first got traded to the New York Giants at the age of twenty-three. I met the owner, Jack. He was born in Ireland and moved to the states in his teens. He was a shorter fellow with the blondest hair I had ever seen. Regardless of being in the states for almost a decade now, he still had a thick Irish accent and a wiseass personality. We instantly hit it off, so Wayne, Adam, and I have been coming here almost weekly since. It’s a good place to just bullshit and people watch when I need to get out of my own head.
I watched as three men and a woman came into the bar in their scrubs. They must have just gotten off their shift and were now occupying the stools to the right of me. I can hear them discussing how they are in desperate need of a drink after how their day was. They seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Jack walked over from the bachelorette party he was chatting with to serve the doctors. He was quite friendly with them, so I assumed they were regulars here.
“Aye Tony, where is Bridget?” Jack asks in his thick accent
The heavy-set man in black scrubs with greying hair smiles “She’ll be here soon. She’s still running report to her replacement. We had a few trauma cases come in and of course it was minutes before we were supposed to be getting off shift.”
“Aye that lass is gonna have another emergency if the bride realizes how late she is.” Jack says as he points to the end of the bar to the bachelorette party
The doctor just shrugs “I feel like Bridget can hold her own with some old college friends. She should be here in the next fifteen minutes probably. Fair warning, she’s more firey than usual after today’s shift.”
Jack lets out a hearty laugh as he hands them their beers “I have a hard time believing that lass can even get more short fused than she normally is. Now cash or card?”
Before the man can respond, I interject “Jack, just put them on my tab for the night.”
The grey haired doctor looks over at me, noticing my presence for the first time “Are you sure, son?”
I just nod “I got a lot of admiration for what you guys do every day. Least I can do is buy you a round when you get off a long shift.”
The man nods but stares at me intently “Well I appreciate that. You’re Knox Anderson, right? My kid loves you and got a couple of your jerseys. That’s admiration if you ask me.”
I shake my head “Yeah, that’s me. Your kid has a more impressive father if you ask me. I couldn’t do what you guys do.”
The man smiles and extends his hand. I accept it in mine and give a firm shake.
“Well thank you, Mr. Anderson.” He says before turning to talk with his colleagues
I liked that he wasn’t going to talk my ear off. He thanked me for the beer and moved on giving me some privacy. I was here to get away from the constant attention. I returned my gaze back to my half-empty beer.
I hear Wayne laugh beside me “Do you ever get tired of playing Mr. All American?”
I shake my head and mutter for him to fuck off.
Wayne has always believed that I was trying to win the title of the ‘All American boy’. I think I was just raised in the south: Support the troops, thank the doctors, and church on Sunday. While I haven’t been in a church in years and my lifestyle now has a little bit more debauchery than it used to, I still have some of my mama’s values.
Wayne’s attention went back to staring at the bachelorette party. It was apparent that he was waiting for the right time to make his move towards them. He probably was hoping that Adam or I would want to go over as well. I understood the appeal. The girls were pretty, but tonight wasn’t the night for me. I wanted to just have a couple drinks and then head home.
I went back to people watching as the front door of the bar came swinging open with quite a bit of force. The girl was probably no taller than 5′2 but her posture and stance demanded attention. She wore a pair of blue scrubs and walked in as she was pulling her auburn hair out of its high ponytail. The soft waves fell just below her breasts.
This girl was strikingly beautiful.
She had already stolen the attention of a couple men in the bar, but she didn’t seem fazed. Her facial expression looked like she would cut a man down with a single glance. The wild beauty began scanning the room looking for someone and I was certain she was on a mission. Her eyes fall on the group wearing scrubs beside me as she marches towards them.
“Tony! Not only do you give me the hardest patients today, but then you couldn’t have already gotten me a beer!” She shouts as she approaches the group
The grey-haired man from earlier smiles and is unfazed by her aggressiveness “About time, you got here! Everything go well with the patient?”
She nods “He’s stable, but definitely not out of the woods yet. Dr. Richter got a hold of the family as well so they are on their way.”
He puts his arm around her “I know it was a rough day, kid. You handled it well though.”
Her rough exterior seemed to have dissipated for a moment as she smiles at him “Thanks. I also appreciate you helping me out with that intubation earlier. You’ve been a great mentor throughout this.”
The older man smiles “Listen I know you’re new here, but your really doing great. Before you get whisked away with the party tonight, I just wanted to let you know that I put your name in for Lead PA next year. I think you should stay on our team permanently.”
She quickly hugs him excitedly “I don’t know what to say. Thank you!”
He lets out a hearty laugh “You deserve it, kid. Now you better start drinking to catch up with your girls.”
The older man walks to the other side of their group to speak with some of the other coworkers. The redhead takes this opportunity to shimmy into the spot on the right of me to lean over the bar.
Her bare arm slightly grazes my arm and I like the warmth of her skin. She seems entirely unaffected as she hasn’t even looked my way.
I can’t help but smirk at how cute her small frame looks trying to grab one of the bartender’s attention. I typically am attracted to tall thin model types, but something is so alluring about her petite figure and how she carries herself.
This woman is like a hurricane.
No, scratch that.
Hurricanes come with warnings when they approach.
This girl was a full blown tornado wrecking havoc. You didn’t know she was there until its too late.
“You made quite an entrance.” I observe as I lean closer to her so she can hear me
Her face quickly snaps towards me with narrowed light blue eyes “Thanks.”
She turns back to the bar and continues to ignore my existence. So she was skeptical of strangers. Usually that should be enough to know she’s not interested. Oddly I couldn’t seem to stop myself from becoming more intrigued.
“You know, of all the gin joints in this city, the most gorgeous girl walks into my bar. I feel like I’m obligated to buy you a drink for being the most interesting woman here.” I smile
She looks back at me once more with an unamused expression “Does that line usually work for you?”
If I hadn’t realized this girl was a little spitfire before, I would have been caught off guard by how closed-off she was. Instead it is quite amusing. She could be annoyed with me all night if that meant I could continue to talk to her.
I shrug with a smirk on my face “Never had a reason to say it before. My buddy owns this bar and I’ve never seen anyone that holds a candle to you. So what do you say, can I buy you a beer?”
She may think that these are some lines to get into her pants.
Well they are. I can’t deny that.
But I also can’t deny that every word was the truth.
“Cute, but no thanks.” She laughs turns back to the bar, but then turns to me once more “And for the record, this is my place.”
Shot down, but can’t blame a guy for trying.
As I’m about to respond, a tall thin blonde comes barreling towards us. She is wearing black pants and a grey top that reads ‘BRIDESMAID’ across it. She quickly hands the redhead a canvas bag “You’re late, Bridget! You were supposed to be here over an hour ago!”
The feisty redhead puts up her hands up in defense “I know, I know. But I got caught up at work, but no more worrying about that. I’m here now, Gen.”
The little hellraiser waves Jack down as she lifts the bar counter up and swiftly closes it behind her “Jack, I’m using your office to change.”
Who is this woman?
Jack playfully rolls his eyes as he shouts “Oh yeah, Brigde. Just make yerself comfortable!”
Before heading towards the back room, she stops in her tracks “We’re still on for brunch being here tomorrow, right? Please tell me you didn’t forget!”
“Aye. It’s all set.” He responds as he cleans the bar top with a white rag
“Wait, Jack you do brunch here?” I ask confused by this new information
“Only for close friends. And to think you thought you two were buddies.” She says with a fake pout
After her snarky remark, she walks out of my view to change.
Jack precedes to lean against the bar next to me “Need another one?”
The drink was the last thing on my mind.
“I need to know who just ripped me a new one.” I say staring at my favorite bartender
Jack laughs “Oh that’s just Bridge. Don’t mind her sass, she’s always a wee bit feisty.”
I stare dumbfoundedly “And how have you never introduced us?”
Where has he been hiding this hellraiser?
Jack tilts his head and laughs realizing I have taken an interest in his friend “We grew up together.”
“In Ireland?” I ask
He laughs “No, ya eejit. We went to the same high school when my family moved to the North Bronx. She went to Boston for college and just recently moved back to New York. Ye haven’t seen her probably because for the last few years, she usually was only home for like Christmas break. She just came back a couple months ago. Plus no reason for ye two to meet because as ye can see, she ain’t fallen for yer charms.”
I shrug “Not yet. Give it time.”
Jack laughs “Hell could freeze over before you melt that wall of hers. And in my defense, she’s the only one who gets the brunch offer cause as you can see the lass has a mind of her own. Her Boston girls are all in town cause one of them is getting married. They are doing some girls brunch where they gossip with some OJ and a bottle of cheap champagne.”
I almost forget Bridget’s blonde friend is still here until she speaks “It better not be cheap or Mya will kill Bridget. Then Bridget will probably come after you.”
Her tone is a bit prissy and not what I would expect as a friend of the fiery red.
Speak of the devil and she appears.
My eyes fall on the beauty that comes from the back office. She has changed into her uniform for her mission tonight. Grey shirt with ‘MAID OF HONOR’ across it with a black corduroy buttoned skirt that showed off her legs that went on for days. She wore black heels that could only be described as “fuck me heels”.
This woman was going to break hearts tonight.
She spots my eyes on her and smirks as she caught me checking her out.
She quickly turns to respond to her friend “Nothing is wrong with cheap champagne, Genevieve. Last time I checked we weren’t too good for Andrè a couple years ago”
Her blonde friend rolls her eyes. I’m unsure if it’s due to the use of her full name or the cheap alcohol.
Gen’s prissy voice continues “Maybe in our sorority days when we would take the bottle to the face, but were adults now and Andrea is getting married. This is a big occasion!”
Bridget gives her a knowing look “Andy has never been high maintenance and if you and Mya want to help chip in for this brunch, then I’ll consider indulging us in the finer things.”
Jack interrupts the conversation “Bridg, are we doing mixed drinks or beer tonight?”
The redhead turned her attention to him “Honestly since I came late and now need to play catch up let’s shoot for some Jameson on ice and then probably switch to whiskey gingers after.”
Jack nods “Have you seen Ms. Brooks since you’ve been back?”
Immediately the two of them become enthralled with conversation about their old neighborhood. It’s easy to see that they truly were childhood friends. Her sharpness disappears with him.
I turn my attention to my left where Adam and Wayne are now talking with the bachelorette party. Wayne probably seized the first opportunity he could to plant himself in the group of woman. He is truly in his element as he finally gets to flirt.
Adam turns to the blonde, Gen “So which of you are the lucky bride to be?”
A tiny Asian girl rolls her eyes “Cause the tiara and sash doesn’t give it away.”
Wayne places a hand on Adam’s chest and turns all of his attention to the small female “Forgive my friend here. He’s not the quickest of the bunch.”
And in that moment, it was clear. Wayne had picked the girl he was after tonight. I get why he picked her, she is a pretty little thing at maybe 5′4. Her dark hair was pin straight and she wore the same grey shirt as the rest with a very tight black leather skirt and dark red lipstick.
Wayne places an arm around her “This is a day of celebration. Why don’t we do a round of shots? How many do we need for the ladies, six?”
I shake my head knowing where this is going. So much for following the two-beer rule. At least the season hasn’t started yet or else I’d have to pull in the reins on this a bit.
The bride scrunches her nose and shouts loudly “Well if Bridget would stop talking to Jack, there would be seven.”
Bridget quickly comes rushing over to the group and knocks into my side and I have to steady her by her shoulders a bit. She barely even notices as she turns to look at the bride “Sorry was making sure we were set for tomorrow. I’m really not of fan of tequila shots, so I can sit this one out, Andy.”
The bride rolled her eyes “Last time I checked you used to be able to hang. Just because you are some hot shot in the ER doesn’t mean you can’t let loose every now and then. I’m getting married for Christ sakes!”
At this point, the grey-haired doctor pops into the group quickly interrupts “Bridget, just letting you know me and Alice are heading home. Have fun tonight with the girls. Plus ladies, she’s not working till Tuesday so she can get as drunk as you all please.”
He gave a Bridget a wink before leaving her as she glared at his retreating figure.
The bride smiles and turns to me “Great it’s settled. Seven shots, please.”
How did I become in charge of shots?
My attention then turns to the Asian woman as she shouts loudly at Wayne “Wait like pro football, not like club intramurals? Then what are you doing in this dive bar?”
Of course, this man is using being a professional athlete as a pull to get women. Not the first time I’ve seen him do this and probably not the last.
Wayne nods his head confidently “Yeah, I’m serious. Knox back me up here.”
Bridget’s face spins towards me and her head slightly tilts as she analyzed me “As in Knox Anderson?”
I smile smugly “So you’re a Giant’s fan?”
She laughs the most angelic laugh “No, my brothers absolutely hate you.”
And in that moment enjoying her laugh, I realized this woman was going to be the death of me.