Excerpt from HOUSE OF THE RISING SON
Eddie swiped down the space in front of Cheyenne and set down a short glass. “Bourbon rocks, with a twist. The good stuff. Quite a change from your usual rotgut. It’s coming out of your check.”
“No. Let me.” Alexander took a bill out of his wallet and pushed it toward Eddie.
“Cheyenne, you gonna introduce me to this gorgeous side of beefcake?”
“Sure. First name Nunya. Last name Bidness.” He turned to Alexander. “This nosy old woman is my boss, Edwina, as in…” Cheyenne held his arms out and spun around gesturing towards the stage, the dance floor and the bar.
“Edwina is…Eddie?” Alexander wiped his hand on his pant leg before extending it. “Pleased to meet you, ma’am. Name’s Alexander. You have a great place here.”
Eddie took his hand with a firm grip and shook it. “Here, there, I get around.” She turned to Cheyenne and pointed her thumb in Alexander’s direction. “Now that’s what I’m talking about. You hear him, you tiny twit? He’s a gentleman. Be nice to this one.” Eddie leaned her impressive girth across the bar to scan the tall man from head to toe. “Remember, the store room is pretty small.”
“Oh, that’s subtle.” Cheyenne drummed his index fingers on the edge of the bar with a quick staccato beat. “No worries, old woman. He’s not my type.”
Eddie’s laughter echoed throughout the emptying bar. When it began to fade, she looked from Cheyenne to Alexander, shook her head and started laughing again. Cheyenne fed on her amusement and returned it to her. She giggled as she resumed cleaning the bar.
“What was that about?” Alexander’s confusion brought Cheyenne’s attention back to him.
Cheyenne didn’t have to look at Alexander to know the man was growing tense. He tasted it. “Crazy Old Woman Syndrome. Don’t worry about it.” Cheyenne doodled in the moisture that had pooled at the base of the glass of bourbon and then stuck his tongue into the dark amber liquid. “Ugh! Yuck!” He coughed. “You drink this stuff or strip furniture with it?”
Alexander shrugged. He swirled the ice in his glass and took a drink. “Take a little and give it a minute.”
“What the hell. I’ll try anything twice.” Cheyenne brought the glass to his lips, hesitating before taking a sip. He closed his eyes as the liquid’s warmth traveled down his throat and settled in his stomach. “I see what you mean.” He leaned around Alexander to check out the empty seat next to him. “So where’s the babe you were with earlier? Ditch you for a better prospect?”
“What?” Alexander shook the ice in his glass, and swirled it again.
Cheyenne found Alexander’s fidgeting interesting. “You were with a girl earlier. Where’d she go? She ditch you, or did you dump her?”
“Oh, that was a friend. Prudence. She didn’t… I mean, she wasn’t feeling well, so I took her home.” Alexander gulped his bourbon, grimaced and cleared his throat.
“Huh.” Judging from the delicious new jolt of cayenne he’d just ingested, he knew even talking about the woman was making Alexander agitated and angry. Why didn’t he admit that he’d been angry at her? Cheyenne filed the information away. He’d dig a little further into this curiosity some other time. “I don’t remember seeing her here before. Well, maybe you’ll bring her back sometime when she’s feeling better.”
The spicy taste of Alexander’s discomfort kicked up a notch. It was delicious. Cheyenne imagined making him furious would be mouth-watering.
“Listen, I better be going. Early morning and all that.” Alexander stood up and dropped a twenty into the tip jar. “See you around,” he said, walking away.
“Conflicted much?” Cheyenne retrieved the twenty from the jar and stuffed it into his pocket. Maybe big, sexually confused guys with money were his type after all.