The following night, Melissa again found herself seated at a wooden table in the corner of O’Shea’s. That night, the bar was a little more crowded than the night before, being a Friday. Melissa stifled a laugh after her southern comrade had accidentally spilled beer down her shirt as she brought it to her lips to take a drink.
“What, do you have a hole in your lip or something?” Melissa giggled as she traced her fingers over the carved scribbles etched into the table top. It was all she could do not to turn her head toward the bar where that delicious, Irish bartender stood behind his counter serving a group of women she guessed were probably in their twenties and were entirely too underdressed to be out in the frigid temperatures of a late November evening.
“Now, never you mind, darlin’,” Rachel said, poking a finger down her own cleavage to wipe the stray drops away before licking the bitter liquid from it and taking another sip from her glass. She at least made her target that time. “Seems to me like you ought to be drinkin’ down a little bit o’ that good ol’ liquid courage yourself.”
Melissa raised an eyebrow. “What?” she cried in classic defense. “Can’t a girl just sit in a bar on a Friday night with her best friend, having a few drinks?”
Rachel obviously wasn’t buying the innocent act. “Mmm-hmmm,” she hummed with notes of sarcasm. “Don’t act like you haven’t been eye-ballin’ Mister sexy pants over there since we got here tonight. Just go talk to him,” she suggested.
“No, no, no!” Melissa protested. “He looks busy. And besides, I just got out of a long-term relationship. I still need some time to process all that and just be single for a while.”
“Honey, if you didn’t see the end of that joke of a relationship coming, I’d say you need to go get your eyes checked.” Rachel motioned her hand that fisted her drink toward Melissa to bring her point home.
Leave it to Rachel to tell it like it was, Melissa thought, though she couldn’t argue. It really had been a long time coming. Melissa was just one of those never-say-die kinds of people who would drag things out for months, even if those months were torture. Melissa was no quitter.
Without responding, Melissa took a sip from her bottle of Angry Orchard and tried to stifle the air bubbles that worked their way back up. She allowed herself a glance in Conor’s direction, admiring the curve of his lips as he spoke to his patrons. Even though she couldn’t hear what he said, she could still imagine the lilt of the words he spoke in his Irish tongue.
“Oh, for cryin’ out loud, Mel. Y’all sat here flirtin’ for hours last night. Can’t you put yourself out of your misery and go talk to the fella?” Rachel asked. “Just go. What’s stoppin’ ya?”
Melissa looked down at her nearly empty bottle and threw back the last of it. She sat the bottle down on the table in front of her, thinking there was nothing left. No boyfriend, no beer, and no reason why she shouldn’t walk over to that bar and strike up another conversation.
She drew in a deep breath. “Okay. I’m going to do it,” she said with a sudden burst of confidence.
Rachel clapped with excitement as a wide grin took over her face. She moved forward to the edge of her chair as though to gain a better viewpoint and watched as Melissa stood and walked over to a vacant spot at the bar with her empty bottle.
When Conor noticed her approaching, he worked his way down to her end. “Whut can I get fer ya, gorgeous?” he asked her with a crooked smile.
“I, uh… j-just a…” She held up the empty bottle to relay what her words were failing to at that moment, all semblance of her previous confidence gone, and she felt her cheeks flush with heat.
Conor nodded and bent down to pull a bottle from the cooler below. He pulled a bottle opener from his belt loop and popped the top off for her. When he slid the bottle in her direction, his eyes caught hers and held them. Her fingers brushed his when she took the bottle from his hand, her eyes still locked on his as though she couldn’t look away until he released her. She felt all the blood in her body rush to her lower core, and the feel of his warm skin as their fingers touched made her long for his hands to be on her body. She swallowed.
“Thanks,” she mouthed when he finally let go of her drink, and she saw his eyes dart to her full lips, finally breaking their eye contact.
“My pleasure,” he replied with one corner of his mouth raising to reveal a dimple in his right cheek.
She swallowed again. “So…” She wanted to strike up a conversation, but words had suddenly abandoned her.
“Yes?” he urged.
Melissa could feel the seconds drag on in slow motion as she tried to come up with some witty line, something interesting to say, anything. He stood watching, waiting.
“I-“ she began, but was interrupted by a feminine voice calling from down the bar.
“Can we get another round over here?”
Conor’s attention was pulled back to the group of girls. He turned back to Melissa to tip his head at her before walking back to where the other group was, and Melissa turned to move back to her table and Rachel.
“What did he say?” Rachel asked with notable impatience.
“Nothing.” I answered.
“Nothin’? It sure didn’t look like nothin’ from over here! It looked like somethin’,” Melissa quipped.
Melissa shook her head. “I just ordered another beer.” She sighed.
“Seriously? Am I gonna have to go over there and get y’all to talkin’ myself?” Rachel mused.
Melissa glanced back in the direction of the bar, and she felt a rush of excitement roll through her as she found Conor looking back at her.
How could she talk to him when he left her damn well speechless?