Home > Cocktails on the Beach

Cocktails on the Beach
Author: Helen Hardt

1

 

 

Emily

 

 

I stop looking over my shoulder on the fourth day.

I don’t notice this until the evening, when I sit down by myself at the bar. I’ve been at the Wolfe Island Art Colony less than a week, but until today, I’ve been watching my back.

When you’re hiding from the devil himself, you don’t let your guard down.

A second after sitting down on the wooden stool at the beachfront bar, I look behind me.

That’s when I realize it’s the first time I’ve done it today.

Whether that’s good or bad, I can’t say. I shouldn’t be getting too comfortable.

“What’ll it be, pretty girl?”

I shift my gaze toward the bartender’s deep voice—

And nearly drop my jaw onto the counter. His eyes are such a gorgeous mixture of emerald and cognac. Most would simply call them hazel. I see a swirl of Prussian green and olive green with hints of Renaissance gold.

And believe it or not, those amazing eyes pale in comparison to the rest of him.

I smile shyly. I’ve kept to myself since I arrived on the island, spending most of my time painting the scenes outside my hut. This is the first time I’ve ventured to the beach.

“You going to answer me?” Hunky bartender raises his dark brown eyebrows.

“Yeah. Sorry.” My cheeks burn. “Just some water, I guess.”

“You guess? You can do better than that, pretty girl.”

Pretty girl. The second time he’s called me that in the span of two minutes. I don’t feel pretty. On the outside, I suppose I’m okay. On the inside, a disaster.

“Cat still got your tongue?” He smiles a lazy smile that makes him even better looking. “Trust me?”

I part my lips and lick them. Trust him? I trust no one. No one. He has no idea what kind of can of worms he’s opened.

“I’ll take that as a yes.” He reaches under the bar and pulls out a martini glass.

I hate martinis, but still I say nothing.

“Try my specialty. Virgin?”

My jaw drops. “Of course not!”

He laughs. “I mean do you want the virgin version of my specialty?”

“Oh.” God, my cheeks can’t get any hotter. I can only imagine what they look like in the light of the setting sun. “That’s what I meant. I don’t want the virgin one.”

“Got it.” He smiles.

Yeah, he doesn’t buy it, but I give him credit for letting me try to weasel out of my embarrassment.

He turns toward the back of the bar and pulls three different bottles from the myriad options.

Three bottles? Maybe I should have gone with the virgin.

He fills a stainless steel shaker with crushed ice and adds a stream of the golden, the yellow, and the hot pink. I eye the bottle closest to me—the pink one. Crème de Noyaux. Never heard of it.

Next he adds what appears to be orange juice and then pineapple. A Mai Tai maybe? No, he said it was his specialty. Surely he didn’t invent the Mai Tai. Or maybe he invented this particular version.

He adjusts the lid and shakes several times. Once he’s done, he slides a slice of lime around the rim of the martini glass, dips it in sugar, and then strains the contents of the shaker into the glass.

I notice the color first. It’s a lovely pinkish-orange, the shade of last night’s sunset that I tried to capture on canvas but couldn’t.

He pushes the drink toward me and sets a cocktail napkin next to it. “Tell me what you think.”

Good enough. I inhale and pick the martini glass up by its stem. I sniff. Nice fragrance. Orangey and almondy. Very tropical.

“Well?” he says. “Are you waiting for a little umbrella?”

I can’t help myself. I laugh. I laugh like I haven’t in a long time, and it feels good. Really good.

“You got one?” I ask.

“Your wish is my command.” He reaches under the counter and then pops a tiny pink umbrella into my drink.

If I had my phone, I’d shoot a pic and post this on Instagram.

I don’t have my phone, though, and I deleted all my social media accounts.

In fact, the only person who has a clue where I am is my brother, Buck, and he’s sworn to secrecy. He helped me get the invitation to the colony when I needed to leave town in a hurry. The person I’m running from can’t touch Buck.

No one can.

“I’m out of dry ice. Otherwise, I’d put a tiny chunk in the drink and fog would swirl out of it.”

The bartender’s deep voice jolts me out of my thoughts. Just as well. I hate thinking about what brought me here. I prefer to think about why anyone else comes here—to learn, to grow, to create.

And probably to meet a gorgeous bartender with a bronze tan, broad shoulders, dark hair that falls below his ears, and eyes that seem to pierce a woman’s soul. Even in the bright blue island shirt with palm trees and flamingos—this guy pulls it off as if it’s this season’s Armani.

“I ordered a bunch for Halloween next month,” he continues. “I’m working on some great new concoctions.” He eyes the drink I still haven’t tasted. “What are you waiting for, pretty girl?”

I grab the stem of the glass once more and bring the drink to my lips.

Flavor explodes across my tongue. Pineapple, orange, banana, almond. And rum. A lot of rum. I swallow.

“Well…?” he says.

“It’s delicious.” I swallow again, this time against the sharpness of the alcohol.

He smiles. “Too much?”

I return his smile this time. “Nope. Just enough.”

 

 

2

 

 

Scotty

 

 

“What’s your name, pretty girl?”

I admit it. I call them all “pretty girl.” This one, though, gives new meaning to the phrase. “Pretty girl” isn’t nearly descriptive enough for her long dark hair, deep brown eyes, rosy cheeks, and dark pink lips. And that body…

She’s tall and slim with breasts that are spilling out of her halter top.

“Emily. What’s yours?”

“Keanu.”

She smiles. “No shit?”

“My mom’s a big fan. Plus, I’m half Hawaiian. Everyone around here calls me Scotty.”

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