“Don’t worry, hun, I already ordered it”. Just as Val finished her sentence, their server sidled up next to them and placed a frosty mug in front of Alex. “See, I told you!”

“Thanks Val and thanks,” she paused to read the girls nametag, “Jessie”. She was a stereotypical female ‘Long Ride’ bartender. Pretty, petite, bubbly and attention grabbing. The male bartenders weren’t much different. They were all attractive, muscular and could hold attention for hours. When Valerie had taken over the management of the bar, that was one of the first things she focused on, she wanted to make sure that the men and women that visited the bar had equal amounts of eye candy in the servers. People love going to drink; they love to drink even more when sexy bartenders are serving.

The first sip helped calm her stress levels instantly. It was bound to be a long night. “Ok, so what’s new with you”, Alex asked Val, hoping to avoid the J word for as long as possible. She knew they would have to talk about him, and that the conversation was bound to be intense, but it didn’t need to start yet.

Valerie giggled, “Avoiding something are we? Ok, well I guess I can give you a break for a bit. Everything’s doing well. As you can see, the bar is packed and you know as well as I do, that it’s like this almost every night”, she glanced around the bar to prove her point. “I just went on another date with that guy Matthew, that I met the other week at the grocery store” She paused to see if Alex remembered hearing about him.

Alex nodded, “yeah, I remember you telling me about him. I thought he was kind of boring though?”

“Oh he is! But he has great taste and took me out into Austin to that great new steak house that just opened. I really wanted to go, so I said yes, but I won’t be going again”, Valerie smiled. She knew it drove Alex crazy that she would go out for dinner with someone she wasn’t interested in, just because the place sounded good. At the end of the day, Valerie didn’t feel like she was using the guys, she felt like she just giving them what they wanted. If they were willing to pay for great dinners, she didn’t mind being the object of affection.

“Oh Val, you crack me up. Does he know that you only agreed because of the restaurant?” Alex laughed, sometimes she wished she could be as carefree with men as Valerie was, but she’d never tell her that.

“Of course not, Alex! I would never crush his ego like that. I want him to think I went for him. I’ll just make up some excuse for why I can’t date him again. Just because I go for the food, not the guy, doesn’t mean that I am not a fun, entertaining and sweet date”.

“Ok, ok, fair enough Val. I just was checking. I would hate for these guys to leave with hurt feelings and an emptier wallet”. She finished laughing just as their server Jessie walked back over with a couple of shots in hand.

“Sorry to interrupt girls, but these are from the guys up at the bar. I guess they thought you were to intent on your conversation and needed a drink. Either that, or they were just hoping to get your attention”. At that, all three girls laughed. The bartenders knew as much as the girls did about getting hit on. It was a common occurrence at ‘The Long Ride’.

“Thanks Jessie, I guess we better tell them thanks too.” Valerie waved at the guys and mouthed ‘Thanks’. She turned back to Alex, “Bottoms up!” They both took the shots and it sent shivers down Alex’ spine.

“Ugh, tequila! This stuff is brutal.” She made a face at Valerie, “it’s your fault, if it had just been me, I would have sent the shots back!”

“Yeah, Alex, I know. Which is why I made you drink it. The only way I’m going to get you to be honest about the whole Jackson situation is if you get your tongue a little loosened.”

“Fine, whatever, I guess you’re right.” Alex could feel the heat of the tequila rising up, she was already feeling more relaxed.