Warning: coarse language and adult situations.

Chapter 1: Ol' Blue Eyes

It was a slow night, so it's not as though I would have overlooked him. But even if the bar had been packed, I think he would have stood out. At least to me, he would have.

He came through the door and looked quickly around the room, his eyes sharp, missing nothing. I'm not sure what he was expecting to find, but it was the same run-down dive that I had been working in for the last fifteen years, serving the same drinks to the same customers who sat in their usual spots until finally they didn't show up one day and one of the other regulars would announce, "Oh, yeah. Fred. He dropped dead three days ago."

Finally satisfied that everything was the way it should be, he ruffled his hair a bit with one hand to shake out the water, spraying droplets into the air around himself. It had been raining on and off all evening, which explained the small number of drinkers on a Wednesday night.

As he turned and walked towards the bar, I took a moment to check him out. He was about four or five inches over six feet and muscular. It was a deceptive build, though. He wasn't all bulked up with steroids so it would have been easy to miss if you didn't know what to look for. I could see it because of the powerful, controlled way he carried himself that spoke of regular visits to the gym and lots of running. I was willing to bet he had used this illusion of weakness to his advantage in a fight on more than one occasion.

He was dressed casually in jeans and a black windbreaker, a black polo shirt with a gray collar showing through where the zipper of the jacket didn't quite close at the top. He was clean-shaven with short hair, but I could see he was overdue for a trim since the ends were starting to curl. Too bad he kept it so short. It would be dead sexy if he let it grow out a bit more.

I could tell he was packing when he shifted his butt onto the bar stool and the fabric of the jacket under his left arm didn't buckle the way it should have. I wasn't going to mention anything about it, though. He was obviously some kind of a cop, the way he had come in and looked around. My dad and two brothers are cops, so it didn't worry me. I knew for sure he had a gun when he didn't take his damp jacket off but only unzipped it partway as he sat down on one of the stools along the bar.

"What'll you have?" I asked, inwardly groaning at the old cliché and thinking, Smooth, you idiot.

He looked at me through the most beautiful pair of blue eyes I think I have ever seen. They were the color of a mountain pond, cool and deep, and he smiled without letting the smile reach his eyes as he responded, "Jack Daniels, rocks," and leaned his forearms on the surface of the bar, lacing his fingers together in front of himself.

I turned away to get the bottle down from the shelf, giving myself a quick once-over in the mirror behind it. My hair, pulled back into a French braid, was as neat as could be expected after almost a full shift, and my tits were nicely displayed by the low-cut top that the bar's owner insisted all the girls wear. For once I was silently thanking my boss for the wardrobe choice as I turned around and noticed the gorgeous blue eyes moving downwards before coming back up to focus on my face.

I grabbed a glass from the rack under the bar and scooped a few ice cubes into it, tipping the bottle upside down to serve the shot. I couldn't help glancing at him as the liquor streamed out through the pouring spout, but he already seemed to be miles away.

I subtly jerked my wrist in a way that caused an extra half ounce to follow the measured amount. To the untrained eye it would look like a regular pour, but it caught his attention, causing him to smile again, and this time it did reach his eyes as his lips parted, revealing even, white teeth.

Bingo.

I smiled back at him and finished pouring, setting a cardboard coaster down in front of him and placing the glass on top of it. He picked the glass up, still looking at me with an amused expression, and raised it in a silent toast before taking a sip and putting it back down again.

Reaching into an inside jacket pocket, he pulled out a wallet, extracted a twenty and handed it to me, his eyes still fixed on my face. I started to feel the flush moving up my neck and into my cheeks, and I turned away quickly to the cash register, ringing up his purchase and counting out the change, taking more time than I usually needed so that my coloring would have a chance to get back to normal.

When I turned again to give him his change, he looked at me with a sort of speculative air, head tilted to one side, and said, "You blush pretty, Miss. I wouldn't have expected that from someone who can overpour so skillfully."

Well, what did I do but blush again like a school-aged virgin! I was trying to think of something clever or sexy or anything at all to say just to keep him talking when one of my regulars sitting on the other side of the room yelled out, "Hey, Darlene, how's about some service? There's other men in here besides that guy!" So of course I immediately opened my pretty blushing-virgin yap and bellowed, "Keep your hair on, Willie! You're not going to fucking die of fucking thirst, you know!"

I didn't even want to see how Mr. Hunky Blue Eyes was reacting to that fine example of ladylike decorum, and I grabbed my tray and slipped my notebook into the pocket on the front of my apron before coming out from behind the bar to take orders from the room.

When I came back about ten minutes later carrying a tray of used glasses and pitchers, his stool was empty. The glass was sitting on the bar, however, with most of the whiskey still in it, and I hoped that meant he hadn't left while my back was turned. It would be a shame if he got away before I could make a decent play for him.

Now, I know you're probably thinking from that last comment that I'm always hitting on customers, but it isn't true. I learned early in this business that that kind of behavior can get you into serious trouble so I don't usually mix my social life with my work life. But there are times to make exceptions, and this just felt like one of them, because I could sense he needed someone. Why else would a guy like that wander into a crappy little joint far off the main drag? No, let me back up a bit and explain a little more clearly.

He was trying to get away from something or someone, so he had come here, a place where nobody would know him, to sit and drink alone and think. But when he was through, whatever it was that was haunting him would still be there waiting, so even if it was just for a little while, he could use some understanding and comfort without questions or strings or complications, and I needed to be needed every once in a while, so it was a perfect fit.

Besides, the thought of his blue eyes and wide mouth and large hands on me made me shiver and get a little wet, and after I put the food orders in to the cook and came back behind the bar to start making up the drink orders, he was walking out from the men's room, glancing in all directions again before coming back into the lounge area, his right hand hovering at waist level in case he needed to draw his gun for any reason.

He sat down on the stool once again and took a drink, directing a smile my way that was about half strength. I wondered what would happen to my knees if he ever decided to give me his full smile, since the weaker version had almost knocked them out from under me. I started to pull the beer, pitchers of cheap draft for Willie and the boys, and the familiar task helped to divert my attention from the small fire that had ignited in my belly.


The next time I came back from delivering rounds and collecting money, I could see that he had shaken off whatever had been occupying his mind and he was now prepared to be a little more open and talkative, which was just fine by me. He started it off by saying, "So, Darlene. My name is Gary," and we shook hands like civilized people.

His grip was firm but gentle, his hand warm around mine. I resisted the temptation to get him to hold his palm up in the air so I could compare the size of my hand to his. For a moment, I considered having him hold my hand for the rest of the evening, but I unfortunately needed it to do my work, and I let his go and returned to wiping up and arranging my bar supplies.

I knew instinctively I wouldn't be able to ask him many questions at all, if any, so I just started talking about myself, telling him about my dad and my brothers. I could see he was interested and also that he was familiar with some of the details I mentioned about the life of a police officer and a police officer's family.

I told him way more about myself than I would normally tell a stranger or even some of my friends, for that matter. I wanted him to feel at ease with me and know that I wouldn't set him up for anything or try to get anything from him. Well, other than, you know, some incredibly hot sex.

Anyway, I was down to chatting with him about nothing in particular when he suddenly shifted his hips to one side so he could take a vibrating cell phone out of his jeans pocket. Glancing briefly at the number, he took the time to look up again and say, "Excuse me for a minute," before standing up and walking over to the empty corner between the bar and the front door. I noticed he didn't turn his back to the room the way a civilian would, and this meant I could hear him as he answered the call.

Working in a bar, you need to be able to hear people talking over all kinds of noise, whether it be the sound of a juke box or a live band or just other patrons getting a little out of control. I had been working surrounded by constant background noise for such a long time now that my hearing had become quite a bit sharper than the average person's, so without having to telegraph to him in any way that I was trying to listen in, I could hear him say, "Casey, secure," after he pressed the button to activate the call. I couldn't get any more than this from the conversation since it was just a series of "uh-huhs" capped off with a "yes, ma'am" before he disconnected, but a name was plenty. Gary Casey. It even rhymed, sort of.

When he returned to resume his place on the bar stool, I noticed something else and wondered why I hadn't seen it before. Most people usually slumped on bar stools, supporting themselves on the bar surface with an elbow and letting their spine bow and head drop. For the majority of the time since he had come in, Gary Casey sat ramrod straight, head erect, not supporting himself on anything.

I did a little inventory in my head as I tidied the prep area: looks and acts like a cop only with something more going on, like, for instance, saying "secure" when answering the phone; carries a concealed handgun but wears civvies; military posture and bearing. It all added up to one conclusion, and that was that he was ex-military and a federal agent of some type. I smiled to myself as I thought that, if I played my cards right, it wouldn't be long before this beautiful G-man would be finding my G-spot and driving me crazy.


Well, it was crunch time. Now or never. Gary had almost finished his second drink and most of the other customers had already filed out the door into the drizzle. Willie and his friends were the only others left. They were taking last gulps from their glasses and putting on their coats and Willie, true to form, couldn't help trying to make a joke at my expense. He lurched towards the bar, his words slurring as he called out, "Hey, Darlene, watch out for this one. He'll break your heart for sure."

His friends grabbed Willie by the shoulders and turned him around, pointing him towards the door, and I gave Gary a wry look as if to say, What can you do? It comes with the territory, and he chuckled as he finished the last of his drink.

It would be a shame to let Gary slip through my fingers now. Before he had a chance to stand up and before I had taken the time to think it through, I reached towards his face intending to straighten out a lock of his hair that had gone wild where he must have accidentally pushed at it, and as my hand was nearing the side of his head, he grabbed my wrist with lightning-fast reflexes, abruptly halting its motion. His eyes were hard and his easy smile had turned into a steely glare that scared me for a moment, but when he realized my hand was empty and I probably wasn't going to stick a syringe full of poison into his neck or something, he eased the pressure on my arm and let me smooth the strands of hair back into place above his ear, still keeping hold of my wrist.

When I had finished this rather daring and intimate grooming between total strangers, I rested my palm on his cheek, and he sighed and relaxed, closing his eyes and letting his head fall to the side a bit so the weight of it was cradled in my hand. I stopped breathing, waiting for whatever was going to happen next.

When he opened his eyes again, he turned his head slightly and kissed the inside of my wrist, then let it go and said, "Darlene, I know it's a lot to ask, but..."

"Hold that thought," I blurted out, and hurried from behind the bar and over to the door, locking it, then flicking a switch to turn off the exterior sign lights. When I came back, I could see that Gary had figured out what he wanted to say, and I came up near his bar stool to get closer to him as he swung around on the stool to face me.

He opened his arms and I very naturally positioned myself inside their circle, standing between his thighs as he lightly closed his embrace and looked into my face.

"Darlene," he said, starting again, "I was wondering if we could be together, just for tonight. I can't offer you anything and you'll probably never see me again, but –"

I shut him up with a soft kiss and, pulling my face back again, said, "Gary, you don't have to explain anything and you don't have to apologize, now or ever. I think I understand what your situation is, and if I don't, it really doesn't matter. What's important is that we both want to share some time in each other's company, so let's not waste it."

I smiled as prettily as I could and freed myself from his arms to go back behind the bar and finish closing up.

"We can go to my apartment," I told him. "It's just a couple of blocks down. I'll only be about ten more minutes. Do you want another drink while you're waiting?"

"No, thanks," he replied, pushing his empty glass towards me so I could reach it.

"Hey," he continued, pulling a cigar out of a breast pocket, eyebrows raised in inquiry, "would you mind if I smoked this at your place? Just something I do occasionally to help me relax."

I turned towards him, looked him straight in the eye and, wearing a challenging grin, said, "Gary, sweetie, as far as I'm concerned, you get to do pretty much whatever you want," and I could hear him chuckling as I turned back to the cash register to finish the final tally.