The bar was packed for a Friday night. Tamera was serving drinks and smiling incessantly. Andy sat at the bar next to Rob who was cradled in between Adam and Andy. Adam hadn't even bothered to change out of his work outfit. He had loosened his tie and rolled up his sleeves and decided that was an acceptable outfit. Rob was wearing a hat that looked like something a cat would throw up and looked like hell. Andy was nursing a vodka and coke before switching to beer, she looked over to Rob every few moments, making sure he hadn't bolted.
The band was making their first real appearance on stage. The front man was a tall, lanky guy who had successfully turned himself into a rock god with the addition of some ironic glasses and tastefully decorative tattoos. His image was completed with a Vietnamese girlfriend who played bass guitar behind him on stage and maintained her pin straight hair above all else. The rest of the band was inconsequential, a run of the mill garage band.
"You good for a second?" Adam asked down the bar. He raised his eyebrow and nodded toward the back of the bar. Normally he bailed for a few minutes at a time to make a lap.
Andy nodded and raised her glass. The band started playing a pumped up version of "New York State of Mind." Which sparked a volatile reaction from Rob. Andy hadn't really been paying attention until Rob spoke up over the music. "Don't they know this song is supposed to be heartbreaking?"
"They've probably never been to New York." Andy responded, taking another sip of her drink.
"This song should be outlawed from their repertoire. I'm going to go tell them." Rob started getting up from his seat and Andy pulled him back, but not before he knocked into a very scared looking girl. Her drink went everywhere and Andy caught her by the elbow before she face planted into the booze soaked floor.
"Sorry," Andy apologized for both of them. "Let me buy you another drink."
"No, it's okay. It's fine." She said, looking down at her soaked navy blue top.
"I'm just going to tell them to be quiet," Rob said. Getting up again.
"Fine, just don't leave the bar." Andy called after him, "Promise?" She sounded a little more desperate, "Rob!" She waited and he waved. "Well, now you can have a seat at least," Andy said, turning back to the girl she was still holding onto.
"It's fine," She said again. She looked up at Andy and seemed taken aback. Andy smiled and she slowly let a smile crack across her face. She sat down at the bar and didn't break eye contact.
Andy was completely consumed. This might be the most beautiful woman she had ever seen. She had big scared green eyes that were staring at her with a kind of interest she had never seen before. Her hair was blond and long and it fell in sheets around her pale, peachy face. Everything about her was clean and fresh, like pure oxygen Andy had never been privy to before this moment.
"Hi, I'm Andy."
"Lilly," She responded, smiling.
"What were you drinking?" Andy finally asked, realizing she had promised this beautiful woman a drink.
"It was just a coke." She replied, bashfully. It was as if lying about her drink of choice didn't even cross her mind. Andy envisioned herself reaching out and pushing Lilly's hair away from her face, letting her fingers slide over Lilly's soft skin and pulling away slowly, extending the moment as long as humanly possible.
Lilly turned to face the bar, but looked at Andy out of the corner of her eye. She looked like she radiated sunshine. She was sitting in a soda soaked shirt and skirt and still looked like the sun was resting inside of her, spilling out of her body.
"So what the hell happened over here?" Tamera's smile was gone and it was replaced with a hard line of annoyance.
Andy shook herself out of the trance she had just experienced and smiled at Tamera sweetly, "Just an accident, Tam. I'll clean it up if you want."
"Yeah, would you?" Tamera pushed a cloth into Andy's hand.
Andy put a hand on Lilly's shoulder, showing her to Tamera, and smiled again, "In return could you please serve this wonderful woman?"
Tamera squinted at Andy, trying to read what was happening, but nodded and then gestured toward the spill on the floor. Had Lilly just shuddered under her touch? What had just happened in the past five seconds? Andy wiped the floor, and picked up the glass and gave it to Tamera.
Tamera gave a sarcastic smile as she took the glass, "Guess this rum and coke is on your tab?" She gestured to Lilly who had now turned bright red.
"Absolutely." Andy said, taking her seat back at the bar.
Tamera shook her head but served the drink and walked away.
"Don't apologize," Andy interrupted, holding up a hand, "You're 21?" Lilly nodded, "And we'll all make sure we get home safe."
Lilly smiled and took a sip of her drink. Andy could feel herself getting sucked in again and she tried not to stare.
"Look who I found," Adam said, coming up behind Andy.
Andy turned around to see Adam holding on very tightly to Chelsea, a redhead with long, choppy hair.
"Hey, Chels," Andy said, "How are you doing?"
"Just enjoying the band," She smiled, and then looked around to see what the band was doing now. The lead singer was giving a speech about something and Chelsea seemed ready to go listen to whatever he had to say.
Adam looked down at Lilly, who was trying to get a good look at Chelsea without being overtly rude. "Is she with you?"
"Adam!" Andy said, faking surprise and shock, "This is our first date, I can't introduce her to family yet." Andy sneaked a look at Lilly and was surprised to see she didn't seem taken aback by this comment. Instead she smiled sweetly and let the smallest of giggles escape her lips.
"Sorry about it, And. Hey, could you come and fix some of the band's equipment?" Adam's tone turned urgent as he gestured for Andy to follow him toward the stage.
Andy turned back to Lilly for a split second but she just smiled and nodded. Andy followed Adam and Chelsea toward the side of the stage, where there was a pocket of dead space and a break from the brunt of the sound.
"What the hell are you thinking?" Adam asked, hitting Andy across the shoulder.
"Ouch!" Andy rolled her shoulder back and debated about hitting Adam back.
"She's slumming it, you know that right?" Adam asked. He glanced back over to the bar where Lilly smiled politely at a man who had just sat down next to her. "She's probably not even gay and you're fueling her drinks for the evening."
"How'd you find her?" Chelsea asked, leaning down from her stiletto perch.
Andy avoided looking down Chelsea's dress, looking into her thickly lined eyes instead, "She almost fell into a puddle of booze. Created by Rob."
"Rob!" Chelsea recoiled to her full height. "Why would you bring him out here?"
Andy shrugged, catching another glance toward Lilly. She was still politely smiling and nodding, but she looked around the bar desperately before catching sight of Andy and quickly looking away.
"I'm just saying be careful." Adam said, watching what had just happened in front of him. "And could you find Rob?"
"Yeah, no problem," Andy said, absentmindedly, already walking away. She walked back up to the bar and put a hand on Lilly's shoulder, "Want to get a closer look at the band?" She resisted the urge to run her hand down Lilly's back. "Hi, Bob," Andy added to the large man Lilly had just been smiling at so politely.
Lilly scrambled out of her chair, her blonde hair falling into her face. She stood upright and Andy could catch a hint of her perfume, something sweet and innocent, something sublime, and could feel how close their bodies were. Andy took her hand and they made their way back up to the stage.
"I came here with some friends," Lilly said, yelling over the new song.
"Who likes the band?" Andy asked, letting their bodies get a little bit closer.
"They do," She said, letting go of Andy's hand and grabbing onto her arm instead. Andy felt a chill go through her and tried to ignore it.
"I actually brought you up here under false pretenses," Andy said, turning back to avoid some very serious fans, jumping around to the music. "I'm looking for a friend who's kind of upset tonight." Andy walked around the pit of adoring fans until she spotted the disgusting little grey hat and threadbare flannel. "Robbie?" Andy asked, tapping him on the shoulder and waiting for him to turn around. "Rob," She tugged on his shoulder and he complied, letting her pull him away from the mosh pit forming around the band. She couldn't help but feel kind of like a rockstar, a pretty girl on her arm and a deadbeat Dad to take care of. Maybe less like a rock star and more like a girlfriend? She wasn't completely sure, but there was definitely something there. "Hey, Robbie," Andy said again, sitting him down at the bar that was now eerily clear.
"Hey, And." Rob said, looking up at her and then crying, suddenly. He deflated and leaned against the bar, racked with tears and Andy sat down next to him, rubbing his back and looking around for Tamera. For a moment she forgot Lilly was there, and was taken aback by the pretty blond figure looking down at the scene playing out in front of her.
Tamera came around to their seats and looked disappointed again. "Why do I keep seeing you guys tonight?"
"Sorry, Tam." Andy said, "Could you get Rob something?"
Tamera shook her head and walked away to get a fresh glass.
"This is probably really intrusive, but what happened?" Lilly asked, sitting next to Andy.
"Just some good old divorced couple stuff." Andy said, keeping her hand on Rob's shoulder and turning to look at Lilly.
Lilly nodded her head but didn't seem to have any comprehension of what was happening. Rob took notice of the dynamic going on and he turned to face them. He wiped off his face and readjusted his hat before taking a good look at Lilly. Andy paid close attention to what his reaction would be. The only real way to read Rob was to get his first, unedited comments and when that wasn't a possibility his body language was always a telltale sign. He looked Lilly up and down, stopping at her shiny black shoes, then her navy top still soaked with soda and then onto her long blond hair. He always had a weakness for blondes and Andy would have sworn there would be some sort of understanding, but Rob seemed unmoved. Andy was taken aback, just a little. He didn't approve of this girl. She felt affronted, and decided he was obviously unstable in his fragile state.
"Drink, Rob. But don't get sick on my floor and make me regret this." Tamera set down a Jack and coke on the counter and then put down two other drinks in front of Andy and Lilly. "This is all on your tab, you know." Tamera nodded to Andy. "Cleaning bill will be too if any of these guys make a mess."
"You're such a sweetheart," Andy said, raising her glass as Tamera walked away.
"Where are you from?" Rob asked and Lilly looked taken aback.
"Here, for now. I grew up in D.C. and I'm here for school. Well, for an internship for school. Well, a long term internship. An entry-level job, really." She seemed flustered, as if she had just forgotten her own life.
Rob gave Andy a sideways glance but turned back to Lilly and smiled, "You sure about that?"
A light twitter erupted from Lilly, like a wind chime or light bells at Christmas. This was the most beautiful sound, Andy thought. She suddenly imagined waking up to that sound everyday. How wonderful would it be to fall in love and settle down with Cinderella herself? To have birds and animals come and dress your beautiful wife everyday, that would be such a treat. Suddenly, Andy realized what train of thought she had just allowed herself to be a part of and shook herself out of it, landing back in reality where she didn't know anything about this girl or about her life.
"What do you all do?" Her lovely voice chimed.
"Andy does all the tech help stuff at some company and I'm a starving artist." Rob said, taking a long drink and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "We're poor."
"Rob." Andy said, shaking her head.
"Sorry. I'm poor. Andy's trying to impress you."
"What the hell are you drinking?" Andy asked, wishing she had left him to be trampled by the mosh pit.
"Are you gay?" Rob asked, ignoring Andy altogether.
Andy let Lilly sit uncomfortably for a few moments too long before interjecting. "That's probably too personal for the bar, Robbie."
Rob shrugged, turned to face the bar completely and stared down into the depths of his drink. He looked so sad, but at the same time Andy was so drawn toward the beautiful girl next to her. Once again Adam showed up to save the day, but this time Chelsea was absent by his side.
"Glad you found him." Adam sat down next to rob and patted his back. "How long are we going to stay to hear this crap?" Adam asked Andy, yelling over a very up-tempo rendition of Tambourine Man.
Andy shook her head and shrugged. It really depended on how long it would take to convince Lilly to come home with them. So far she had not made a very good impression on this girl.
"Lil?" A tall brunette came up to the bar and pushed her way in between Andy and Lilly. "Lil, why aren't you up there with us? This band is so amazing!" The leggy girl emphasized "amazing" like it was the last word she would ever say.
"It's okay, I'm fine here. You guys go have fun." Lilly said, smiling up at her friend. Andy always wondered if best friends could really read each others minds. If they could, what were they saying to each other in this moment of tense silence. Was her friend asking her what she was doing with a group of two shaggy looking men and a lesbian? Was this normal for them? Or was Lilly saying she would like to be left alone to see where the night would take her with this odd group?
Lilly's friend left with a wayward glance at Lilly and then at Andy. Andy held her ground and stared right back. "You can listen to the band, if you want. Adam didn't mean it. They're not that bad."
"Oh yes they are," Adam said.
"It's really fine. I can hear them from here." Lilly said. Her eyes lingered on Andy for a few extra seconds and Andy wondered if she had meant it as a come on.
"Alright. These guys are probably going to tap out soon, so I don't know what your plans are for the rest of the night. Do you have a ride? You're more than welcome to share a cab with us." She felt dumb saying all of this. Like she was in college again and this was some sorority girl she was trying to dupe into coming back to her gross townhouse with her smelly friends. Actually, that's kind of what this whole situation would look like to an outsider.
"I probably would have tapped out about an hour ago," Lilly smiled, "This band is really awful, huh?" She laughed again and finished her drink. Andy could feel herself falling in love.
"Does this mean we're going?" Adam asked, he was not at all in the mood to play games tonight. His shirt looked like it had been through hell.
"She's going to be with some friends tonight. I said she should be with some friends tonight." Adam edited his own statement.
"Do you want to nail her or not?" Andy leaned over Rob's body, now sprawled out on the bar counter.
Adam shook his head and nodded, not so subtly at Lilly.
"If you want to nail her, if you threw out your magazines in order to nail her, you had best make sure she goes home with you tonight. I am not about to sit through another year of 'well, I'll just give her some space.'"
Adam mulled this over for a moment and then shot the last of his drink back before making one last trip down to the stage.
"Some space?" Lilly asked. Was that sarcasm?
"Sometimes men are dumb and you just need to give them a little push." Andy said, attempting to support her earlier comment.
"I'll try to remember that." Lilly said. "Do you want to nail me?"
Rob shot up from his spot at the bar, staring down the conversation that was about to go down. He was obviously completely over himself. Andy sat in silence for a few seconds to make sure the world hadn't just ended and Lilly stared with her huge beautiful eyes and clear bright skin waiting for a response.
The tension in the moment rose until Lilly let out a nervous giggle and backtracked. "I knew that was a dumb question."
Rob elbowed Andy in the back and she lurched forward a little on her stool, catching herself before she knocked into Lilly for the second time that night.
"Not a dumb question, that's totally legit. Sorry." She tried to recover but there were no words that came to mind fast enough. She wanted to sound willing but not like a jerk. This was the root of most of her problems.
Andy could feel Rob's eyes on her, waiting for something logical to spill out of her mouth. Instead Adam reappeared with Chelsea firmly by his side. "Hey, guys. I'm going to go home. Lil, it was nice to meet you." He smiled down at the little blonde and waved goodnight to everyone else. "Have a wonderful night. Ado"
The trio was left with an awkward conversation and nowhere to go.
"Andy's apartment is really great. Have you met Davie?" Rob asked.
"No she hasn't met Davie. She just met me." Andy said, turning back to Rob.
"I wasn't here for that." Rob said. "How about you close up the tab for the night, let us all split a cab and we'll go home." Rob beamed. Lilly stood up and flattened out her skirt. "You're going too blondie, don't think you're getting out of this." Lilly shook her head and raised her hands.
"Leave the poor girl alone." Andy said, taking her wallet out to pay the tab. "She does have friends here, you know."
"Good, we'll just say goodnight to her friends while you pay Tamera." Rob took Lilly's hand and they both snaked around the side of the crowd.
Andy shook her head and took out a credit card. Tamera showed up and swiped the card out of Andy's hand. "Hey! No need for that."
"You've known her for five seconds." Tamera said, swiping the card violently through her machine.
Andy watched, hoping her poor piece of plastic would make it. "I know."
Tamera stood in silence for a moment, waiting for an elaboration, but Andy stayed quiet, unsure of what had just happened.
"Five seconds, And. You better not be making this mistake. She's slumming it. She's not into you. She's into the idea of you and how dangerous she thinks you are."
"Tam, I'm not doing anything. Really. Okay?" Andy said, holding out her hand for her card.
Tamera shook her head. "Just don't fuck with me. Okay?"
"We're ready to go!" Rob sounded like a child as he presented Lilly's hand to Andy. Andy ignored this gesture and said goodnight to Tamera instead.