Yes, I wrote another long chapter so this is part two of Chapter 19 and you can find part 1 HERE. To catch up with the rest of the story, which I feature every Friday, click HERE or find the link at the top of the page. This is a “novel in progress” and when it is finished I usually toss it up on Kindle for friends, family, and blog readers to read in full (after I fix plot holes, edit, rewrite and hopefully fix typos).
Sitting at the bar with his third bottle of beer in front of him, Alex dragged his hands through his hair and wished he could drink until he couldn’t think anymore. He knew he couldn’t, though. He’d finished the days chores, but Robert could need him at any time of the day. He hated the idea of Robert seeing him with glazed over eyes or a hangover. That had happened only once before and Alex had felt the stinging rush of humiliation when Robert sent him out of the barn and ordered him to sleep it off. Thankfully Robert had accepted his apology.
It wasn’t the first time in his life Alex had felt the sting of humiliation. In fact, he’d felt it many times in his life and often when a man much better than him had to correct him on one of his many mistakes.
“You need to make a decision on what kind of man you want to be, Alexander Timothy Stone,” his grandfather had said to him as they drove away from the jail one night in his grandfather’s old pick up.
Col. Paul Madigan. Career Marine. Retired by the time Alex was in high school; just in time to whip his own grandson into shape. Or at least try to.
Even at 67 he had still been an imposing man. Six feet tall, broad shoulders and chest, square jawline
“What do you think you’re proving pulling all this stuff, boy?” his grandfather had asked him. “You’re not proving that you’re a real man. You’re not proving you’re better than your father. Is that what you’re trying to do? Get his attention? It’s not going to work. You know that. Your father doesn’t care about anyone other than himself, boy. You better think about what you want for your future, who you want to be. You want to be someone your future children can be proud of.”
His grandfather’s jaw clenched, his hands gripping the steering wheel tight. He’d let out a long breath and then shook his head.
“I know one thing, though, boy, no matter what you do, I won’t top loving you. I know there’s a man inside that body of a boy. I know there is a man who wants to be better, who wants to be what a man should be – responsible, trustworthy, and able to provide for his family. A man people will want to look up to one day, not shake their heads at.”
Alex had wanted to be a better man, to be what his grandfather had wanted him to be and somedays he thought he was on the way to being that better man, but today he really didn’t care anymore.
He needed a break from trying to be better. It was exhausting.
Country music blared from the speakers and cigarette smoke filtered across the bar like the haze filtering across his mind. The bar was sparsely crowded with only two other people sitting on actual bar stools near him, the rest scattered around the dimly lit inside of the bar, sitting at tables or leaning against the pool tables.
Blond hair spilled over his shoulder, interrupting his thoughts. Someone leaned against his back, a clearly feminine arm draping over his shoulder, a strong smell of alcohol and perfume hitting him.
“Hey, farm boy. You look like you need a friend.”
He glanced over his shoulder, his face now inches away from the face of a woman he’d met in the same bar a few months before. What was her name again?
He struggled to remember.
The woman’s smile was broad, her eyelids heavy under dark blue eyeshadow. Her bright red lipstick matched her blouse which featured a low cut v-neck that clearly revealed her cleavage. “Remember me?”
“Uh. . .yeah. . . hey … Jackie.”
She rolled her eyes and giggled.
Jessie. Right. Jessie Landry.
“Right. Jessie. Hey. How’s it going?”
Jessie slid onto the stool next to him and leaned an elbow on the bar. “Good, but you look like you’ve seen better days.”
Alex shrugged, taking another swig of beer. “Yeah. I guess.”
Jessie smiled slyly and tipped her head. “Fight with your girlfriend?”
A slight smile tugged at Alex’s lips at he looked at her.
“No girlfriend to have a fight with.”
“No wife either?” Her tone was playful now as she slide her hand along the bar toward is arm.
“No woman to speak of,” he said, looking back toward the stack of bottles behind the bar.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Jessie push her lower lip out and tip her head to the other side. She crossed one long leg over another, her high heels clicking on the bottom rung of the stool.
“Aw. That’s so sad. Someone so good looking shouldn’t be so alone.”
Alex laughed softly and shook his head. He knew a flirt when he saw one, even with all the alcohol in his system, and this Jessie Landry was definitely one of those.
Music thudded from the jukebox on the other side of the bar. Bodies pushed into the center of the room, moving and swaying to the rhythm. Jessie slid off the bar stool and began to dance next to him. That’s when he noticed her too short mini skirt and her too tight bright red shirt. She tugged at his arm as she danced, hips moving from side to side.
“Come on. Dance with me. It will make you feel better.”
“I don’t dance,” he said with a smirk, sipping the beer.
She leaned close to him and winked. “Then just stand out here with me and I’ll dance around you, silly.
His senses dulled by the beer, Alex staggered from the stool as she grabbed his hand, letting her lead him to the center of the floor. She gyrated slowly in front of him, her straight blond hair bouncing back and forth across her back and shoulders as she moved down to the floor and back up again, sliding her hands up his legs seductively.
He watched her through bleary eyes, drowsy from the beer, admiring her slender form and the way her body curved in all the right places.
When a slow song came on, she slid her arms around his neck and stepped close to him, pressing her body into his. He questioned himself briefly about why she was being so forward — they’d only met once or twice before, yet here she was dancing with him liked they’d been dating for months. He dismissed the thought almost as quickly as he’d thought it as she tipped her head back, revealing a long bare neck, the top of her shirt pulling down and drawing his eyes to where he knew he shouldn’t be looking.
Her voice was whiny as she flipped her head back up and pressed her forehead against his. “It’s so boring here tonight. We should think of something else we could do…” She trailed her finger down the front of his shirt, letting her eyes drift down and then up again, then leaned close and seductively whispered the last word. “Together.”
Alex watched her for a moment, lowered his eyes to her full lips and shrugged. Why not? It wasn’t as if someone Molly would ever be interested in someone like him. An alcoholic loser like him. A heathen someone like Ben Oliver might say. Why not take his mind of Molly and how he wouldn’t ever be good enough for her?
He grinned at Jessie and laid his hand against her thigh. A familiar need pulsated within him.
Her jerked his head toward the door. “You want to get out of here? I know somewhere we can have a lot more fun.”
Jessie giggled and nodded. She took his hand as he broke their embrace, and followed him out into the parking lot. When she climbed up into his truck and closed the door behind her, she slid next to him and laid her hand on his upper thigh, rubbing it gently as he shifted the truck into gear.
He drove toward the house, glad to know he’d soon have a way to take his mind off Molly, his failures, and his confusion about life in general.