High School Soap Opera
That night, a waiter named Lukas is training me. I am so glad Selena’s not working. I’ve had enough of her for today. I am wearing my black skirt and ballet flats with the same turquoise shirt I put on before going to the hospital. My feet are so much more comfortable than they were last night, and I am moving around faster.
When we opened it was pretty quiet, so I spent the first hour and a half studying the menu. Jack had Ramon make one of everything so I could look at it and try to memorize the components. He also wanted me to taste it all so I can give personal recommendations. Jack seems to think this is a five-star restaurant, as opposed to a bar and lounge. Still, if I am going to stay in Spruce Ridge, and for now I don’t see any way of getting home, I’m going to need my own apartment. I can’t keep mooching off Jack, even if he doesn’t mind.
Nick is at the bar. I don’t know if working so close to alcohol is a good idea for him given his history of addiction, but Jack is keeping a close eye on him. Then again, seeing how drunk Boyd was this afternoon was probably enough to keep anyone sober. Nick needed to get a few stitches in his hand, but it’s not bad enough that he can’t work through the pain.
I sit at the quiet end of the bar with a menu and a tray of appetizers, which turns out to be all they serve. I tried some of the food last night, but I take small bites of everything else. I don’t know if Selena was right about Ramon, that he was hired solely because of his race, but he’s a good cook. I wonder what he would do in a real kitchen where he could create his own dishes.
Nick comes down to me. “Can I get you a drink? On the house of course.” He steals a piece of the shrimp cocktail, and I wonder if the drink offer is an excuse for him to do that.
“Um, yeah, do you have Coke here?” I ask.
“One rum and Coke, coming right up,” he says, and starts to walk away.
“No,” I say, and he turns back. “Just a Coke. No rum.”
“Oh… sure.” There are two sets of taps, one on each end of the bar. He takes a cup. “Rocks?” he asks. I nod, and he puts ice in the cup, then adds the soda. “Sorry, I shouldn’t assume that everyone at a bar wants alcohol. I mean, I should know that.”
“I guess you’re right, though. Most people do come for the alcohol.” Don’t admit that I know about his past, don’t admit that I know about his past… “Thanks for this,” I say, and I take a sip. He takes another shrimp.
“I’m sorry about earlier,” he says. “I didn’t really make an effort to be nice or get to know you.”
“It’s fine, you were worried about your sister. It must be even worse now.”
“Yeah, I can’t stop thinking about how I wasn’t even there. I lost my temper and punched Boyd, and then the cop came and arrested her while I was in the ER. I didn’t even get to see her.” Right, a lot of soap opera conversations recap things for people who missed an episode or turned the episode on after it started. He scratches the back of his neck, and his gaze drifts over to the other end of the bar. “Well, I’d better get back to it.”
“Yeah, I think Lukas is going to start quizzing me on this soon anyway.” He goes back to work, and I close my eyes and try to remember each dish without looking at the plates or the menu.
“How’s it going?” Jack asks. I open my eyes and I’m struck by his good looks again. Good thing I’m sitting, because I’m a little weak in the knees.
“I think I’ve got everything,” I say. I’m feeling quite accomplished, and proud of myself. But then Jack says something that makes my stomach lurch.
“So then you’re ready to memorize the drink menu?” He hands me a book as thick as a Bible. Even though the pages are thick and coated in plastic, there is still so much in here.
“I’m supposed to learn this whole book?” I ask.
“Well, that’s a start. I have a Bartending for Dummies in the back too, and a dictionary so you can look up the word gullible- did you know it’s not even in the dictionary?”
“It’s not?” I ask, and then he laughs. “I get it, you’re making fun of me for being so naive.”
“It’s adorable, I swear,” he says. He kisses me, and I have to remind myself that he doesn’t know he’s seven years older than me. That might not be a big deal in a few years, but right now it’s illegal.
I’m still getting the hang of things when I see Ambrosia walk in. At first she sits on a couch in my section, and I start to head over to her. Then, while scanning the room, someone at the bar catches her attention and she gets up. Curious, I follow her subtly. Someone asks me for another gin and tonic, which is perfect. I go to the bar and hear Ambrosia asking Nick if they can talk. Jack is nearby, and Nick calls him over to cover him for a short break. I ask Jack for the drink, and Nick comes around and sits next to Ambrosia.
“I heard you were back in town,” she says. “I was hoping to see you here.”
“Word travels fast,” he answers.
“Oh, you know my uncle is one of the doctors in the ER. He thought he recognized your name on the board and asked me if Olivia’s ex-boyfriend’s last name is Harrington. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen you with my own eyes. I thought you were never coming back to town.”
“I wasn’t,” he says.
“Gin and tonic,” Jack says, handing me the drink. I smile and thank him, then bring the drink to my customer, even though I really want to keep eavesdropping. I look around at my section, and everyone seems to be set for now. Jack has been bussing tables, but since he took over at the bar for Nick, I take a bin from the kitchen. I head for the tables nearest the bar first.
“But enough about me,” Ambrosia says. “I want to know about you. Do you have a new girlfriend yet?”
“Give it up, Ambrosia,” he says. “I can see right through you.”
“What?” she asks, acting innocent. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m just trying to catch up with an old friend I haven’t seen in six months.” She waits for him to respond, but he doesn’t say anything. “We are still friends, aren’t we?”
“We were never friends, Ambrosia. You and Olivia are friends, you and I were nothing more than rivals for her attention.”
“Now that’s not true,” she says. “If I recall, you and I almost had a fling once.” She leans over and kisses him. What is she trying to do? At first he kisses back, but then he pulls away.
“No! This is not going to happen, so you can just stop right now.” He stands up, but she grabs his arm.
“Why not? You’re not still in love with Olivia, are you? Because she’s with John now. You remember him, right? They were dating when you left town, and they’re still together now.”
“She’s only with him because she got amnesia after Raul held her head in the fountain so long that she passed out before I could get there to stop him. After I shot him, I rushed her to the hospital, but it was too late. Her memory of me was gone.” He looks away dramatically. See? Another soap opera recap.
“Like I said, she’s still with him. They are happy together, and I won’t let you do anything to get in the way of that.” Unbelievable. One day she’s seducing John to get the shares of Adaire’s company away from him, and the next she’s seducing Nick so that he doesn’t break up Olivia and John. Only in soap operas. I love Spruce Ridge.
“Trust me, that’s the last thing on my mind right now,” Nick says through clenched teeth. But Ambrosia won’t let it go. She keeps the conversation going, and she raises her voice. I think she wants the whole bar to hear them. If that’s her plan, it’s working. Every pair of eyes in the bar is on the two of them. Even Lukas and Jack have stopped working.
“And why should I believe you?” she asks, adding in some big gestures to make everything even more dramatic. “The only thing you could possibly have come back to town for is to try to get Olivia back!”
“The reason I returned,” he yells back, “doesn’t matter now that Serenity’s been arrested for embezzlement and arson!” He stops, a look of panic in his face. He turns around, and the panic turns to horror as he sees that everyone is looking at him. The one thing Serenity asked was that nobody find out what happened, and now he’s gone and told the whole town. Ambrosia giggles, and Nick looks utterly defeated.
“I guess she won’t be able to make it to Olivia’s birthday party next week, then?” Ambrosia asks. “But don’t worry, Nick… you’re welcome to come, if you can bear to see the love of your life in the arms of another man.”
“You know what, Ambrosia?” he says quietly with a steel look in his eyes. “I think it’s time for you to leave.”
“I think I’ll stay,” she says. “Why, are you afraid you’re night is going to get worse? I’m not sure that’s possible.”
Nick eyes the alcohol. Jack must notice too, because I kid you not, he steps on his little counter, flies across the bar, and stands between Nick and Ambrosia. “Much as I would like you to leave, I can’t do that right now. So do yourself a favor and stay away from Nick, and stay away from the bar, or I will have the bouncer escort you out.”
“Aw, Max wouldn’t do that. He and I are friends,” she says, but she cackles and walks back over to the couches, where I see her take her cell phone out of her purse. In case anyone in town wasn’t at the bar to hear what just happened, she must feel it’s her job to let them know.
“You wanna leave, I get it,” Jack says to his cousin.
“No, I’m okay.” Jack looks at the bar and back at Nick. “Really, you don’t have to worry about me. I’ve been clean for two years. I’m not gonna give that little spider the satisfaction of pushing me off the wagon.” He goes back to the bar, and I think mixing drinks must be good for him – focus on the recipes, keep his mind busy.
“Do you want me to keep an eye on her?” I ask. “I can go out of my way to pass by…”
“No,” Jack says, “leave that to me. I want her to see that I’m not scared of her.”
“Okay, but she’s in my section. I have to take her order, if she wants anything.” He gives me a look, but I don’t give him time to protest. “She doesn’t know me, I’m not her target. I’m just a waitress.”
“Fine. Let me know if she does anything I can use as an excuse to kick her out.”
“Sure.” I hand the half-full plastic bin to him. “I started to help, but then something distracted me.”
“Real cute,” he says, but he’s smirking.
I take out my receipt pad pen and start with the customers I had before the fight. Most of them are nursing their drinks, and some have already gone to the bar directly. It’s only a few minutes before I get to Ambrosia.
“Can I get you anything?” I ask, as if nothing happened and she’s just another customer.
“Great,” she says into her phone, “I’ll see you soon.” She holds up one finger and mouths one sec. “Sure, I’ll order your usual so it’s ready when you get here.” She ends the call. “Vodka on the rocks for me, a glass of Pinot Grigio for my friend, and uh…” She looks at the menu, even though I’m sure she knows it cold. “I’ll have a wedge salad.”
“Let me put that right in for you, and I’ll be back in a minute with the drinks.” I make sure to smile for her. If I was watching this on television, I would definitely be talking to the screen. Instead, I go to the kitchen and tell Ramon I need a wedge, then I look for Jack. He’s bussing a table near the bathrooms, and I try not look too eager as I walk over to him.
When Jack notices me approaching, he looks toward Ambrosia, then asks, “What happened? I saw you taking her order.”
“She asked for a salad and a vodka on the rocks.” I wait, prolonging the suspense. He looks at me, confused because that’s not unusual for her, as I know very well. “She also asked for a glass of Pinot Grigio, and that’s exactly what Olivia drank last night.”
“Are you sure?” he asks. For a bartender, he’s coming off as being surprisingly unobservant.
“Six glasses,” I say flatly. “I’m sure.” I look at Nick. “Do you think we should warn him?” Don’t admit that I know about his past.
“I’ll do it,” he says. “It’s only right to give him a heads up before the ex-girlfriend who broke his heart shows up, when he’s already hit a few low points today. It’ll give him a chance to leave if he doesn’t want to face her yet.” He goes to the bar, and I follow.
“I need to get her drinks first, she’s waiting.” Jack pours the drinks and puts them on a tray for me. “Thanks.”
As I walk away, I hear Jack telling Nick he needs to talk to him in the kitchen for a minute. He calls over one of the two bouncers to keep watch over the bar until they return. I put two napkins on the little table in front of Ambrosia’s couch, then put the drinks down. Ambrosia takes the vodka like a shot and puts the glass down.
“Keep them coming,” she says. “This is going to be a lot more fun if I’m inebriated.”
I take her glass back to the bar. This is not going to go well.
I’ve decided to post my NaNoWriMo novel on my blog this year, chapter by chapter. I hope you enjoy it! And remember, this is all about having fun and writing a whole lot in a short period of time, so please don’t give me “corrections.” I’m not planning on going for publication anyway. Start at the beginning: Chapter One