Koda’s eyes lingered on the small man sitting at the next table. Like her, he sat alone with a drink. His dark hair was long enough he hand down into his eyes, but not so much he would be unable to see. The lean body did not move as she stared at him from her peripheral vision.
Her eyes darted away before anyone caught her staring. Something about him drew her attention. She wanted to join him. Ask why he wore a frown and stared at his glass as though he were in a different location. Brush the hair away from his forehead. The gentle movements of his thin body continued drawing her attention and she wondered if she was being too obvious.
The dark club was lightly packed since it was still early in the night. She sat at the back tables not far from the door leading to the green room and club offices. The stage across the room was being set up by some band members. The music had been turned down slightly, but it was still difficult to hear any nearby conversations.
A few of her friends were milling around the area, but they had not yet joined her at their usual table. She took another sip of her drink and kept her glances to the least she could manage. Clearly something heavy weighed on his mind as the visible parts of his forehead were scrunched.
She jumped as her best friend Jane fell sideways into her lap. Blond hair sprayed into loose curls rubbed against her face as the woman adjusted her position. She scooted back on the tall chair so the girl would not be pressed against the table. “And why have you given me this honor?” she asked, smiling.
She stuck her lip out in a pout. “Asshole at the bar won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
“Ugh. The worst.” She adjusted her friend so they were positioned like they were a couple very much into public displays of affection. She placed her lips next to her temple. “Where’s Tams?”
“At her brother’s birthday party. I left before her dad arrived. They’ll be here once the parents leave his apartment.”
“I guess it’s still tense with him?”
“Yeah. We’re trying to give him time, but -” She sighed then shrugged. “If it wouldn’t be Todd’s birthday, I would stick around. I’d rather not cause that kind of tension today. They both tried to get me to stay, but I’ll save forcing my presence around him for major holidays and other major family events.”
Koda pressed her nose against Jane’s cheek as she laughed. “You’ll get there. Especially since the rest of the family supports your relationship.” She patted her friend’s back. “However, I take it that you need a girlfriend to run interference right now?”
“No.” Her friend turned so their foreheads pressed together. “I need a strong person who can beat the shit out of an obnoxious pig if things go too far.”
“Ah.” She rubbed her finger along Jane’s cheek. “You are a strong woman.”
Her friend nodded then buried her head into Koda’s shoulder. “I’m not confident enough in my physical strength to fight like that.”
She chuckled. “Ah, that’s really why you need me.”
“Don’t make it sound so cheap.” Jane stroked the back of her neck.
Koda pulled away slightly as she smiled then shook her head. “So how long do you think it’ll take for the creep to give up?”
“Well, he’s kind of drooling at us right now. I give him less than five minutes before he comes over and tries for a threesome.”
She placed a hand on the side of her neck and rubbed their noses together. “Let him drool. As long as I’m here, no one will touch you without your permission.”
Her friend leaned her head on her shoulder. “My hero.”
“Only because Tams isn’t here.”
She snorted and laughed. “True. I’d prefer my girlfriend’s protection, but you’re the next best thing.”
“Good that I’m happy being your number two,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“Be as sarcastic as you want, but that’s why Tams trusts you as well.” Her expression turned serious. “I’d never run to someone she worried about.”
Koda kissed the side of her head. “She knows. That’s why she trusts you.”
Her friend nodded. “Trouble is officially approaching,” she said after glancing over her shoulder.
“Let’s see how far he’ll go. I’m really not interested in a fight.”
A man with a buzz cut stopped next to the table. He wore a dark blue short sleeve T-shirt stretched over his muscles. He took a drink of his beer, frowning as he failed to meet Koda’s eyes. “So, you are a chick, too,” he said, smirking at Koda. “Kept thinking you were a dude.” He laughed. “Easier to see when I’m up close. You’re confusing from a distance.”
The level of hatred Koda already felt for the man rose higher. The night would soon be spoiled if the situation was not handled soon. They met his gaze with a blank expression. “There is no reason for you to guess who I am.”
He licked his lip and his leer grew more pronounced. “Relax. I just wanna party.”
“Then go party. Elsewhere. Without us.” Pulling Jane closer, they moved her into position to shift her out of harm’s way.
“Aww. Don’t be like that.” He leaned his hand on the table. “Three’s always a better party than two. At least one of you has to like dick.”
Jane made a retching noise.
Koda smiled as he lifted his drink. “We’re not interested in anything you have to offer. Go find your party elsewhere,” he said as he placed the empty glass on the far end of the table.
Koda swung Jane’s legs under the table. When her feet reached the other side, he pushed her off his lap. The movement placed him and a chair between the pushy bro and Jane. “Neither of us want to go anywhere or do anything with you. You need to leave us alone.”
“You don’t have to be like this, cunt.”
He took a deep breath. “Neither do you. The longer you pursue my girl friend, the more desperate you look. I’m asking you once last time to back off.”
The man sneered and flexed his muscles against his tight shirt. “Make me.”
“Ok. But I would like to make you aware of the people who hang here,” he said. “Go ahead and look around.”
He glanced over his shoulder and his jaw twitched. Most of the club’s patrons were now watching. The only ones who looked remotely friendly were the people he came in with, though a couple of them were clearly not very happy about his actions.
“We take care of each other here. The bartender and bouncer know me well enough to know I don’t start fights.” He cracked his knuckles and smiled. “But I do finish them. What’s your choice?”
The man shoved Koda in the chest and drew his fist back.
Koda caught himself with the table and pushed back toward the man. He lifted his knee and hit directly between the legs. When the man bent down, he wrapped his arm around the man’s shoulder and twisted it. The joint shifted as he intended. He kept the bastard from cracking his head on the concrete floor before taking his hands off him and backing away. His eyes never left the now screaming figure.
The man gritted his teeth and began breathing heavily. Anger filled eyes look up.
“I gave you multiple chances.” Glancing at the man’s friends, he saw two bouncers named Kyle and Tish were standing between them. It did not look like the group was about to rush in to defend him though he appreciated the backup. “Guys, let them get the asshole. I think he understands the situation now.” He met the eyes of the one who was brave enough to step forward. “Your friend’s shoulder is dislocated. I suggest finding someone with medical training to help him.”
The man nodded as he knelt down and sat his friend up. He put his arm under the uninjured shoulder before lifting him to his feet. The disgraced man walked hunched over, still breathing heavy, but at least he was silent. The entire group left their unfinished drinks behind and left the club.
Koda let out a heavy breath and forced his body to relax. He turned to Jane. “You okay, girl?”
“Of course,” she said with a huge smile then hugged him across the chair.
The tension finally began to drain from him. He looked at the bouncers. “Thanks, guys. Buy a couple drinks on me, okay?”
“We appreciate you not giving us too much work to do,” Kyle said, grinning. He turned and motioned to the bartender. “You heard Koda, right?”
“Two drinks each,” Max said with a nod. He placed a couple bottles of water on the bar. “When you’re off shift, though.”
The men laughed as they went back to their positions.
Koda sat back on the chair and let Jane sit in her lap again. “Feeling better?”
“Yes.” She did not snuggle against him like last time. “Mind if I sit here for a while?”
“Go ahead,” he said. “It’s not like there's anyone who would be jealous.”
Jane wrapped her arms around his back and gave him a tight hug. “One day, my friend.”