Amateur

“Don’t worry,” Monte told him. “There’ll always be someone behind the bar with you who knows what they’re doing until you can handle things yourself. Never forget making the drinks is the easy part. Bartenders are kind of like secular priests. People come here to talk as much as they do to drink. And people like talking to bartenders. So all you have to do is listen, smile a lot, and be agreeable. If you can do that, you can make more in tips in a few hours than you’ll make in salary the whole shift.”

“Sounds easy enough. What else, Boss?” Monte Chapman wasn’t his boss, per se, but he was the floor manager so in a sense, he did work for him. Monte, in turn, worked for the general manager who worked for the owner, who was a very decent, personable guy name Jeff Caruthers, an entrepreneur who owned several businesses in the downtown Seattle area.

“As a recovering attorney, I’m sure you’re well aware we have liability issues these days. You can’t let someone sit here and get shit-faced then drive home. It’s your responsibility to cut them off when you think they’re a danger to themselves or other people. Obviously, you risk pissing them off and losing repeat business so it’s a very fine line to walk but you—and the owner—are responsible for walking it. All I can tell you is err on the side of caution.”

***************

Luke Miller was not only a college graduate, but he was a lawyer who’d passed the bar. He’d been working for a very prestigious firm in downtown Seattle and was dating a gorgeous girl whose parents were very well known in the metro area. Her family treated him reasonably well, but they clearly viewed him as an outsider; an interloper trying to marry his way into money and power. They didn’t know or care that neither of those things interested him. He just loved their daughter, Bailey, or Bay, as everyone but her mother called her.

Bay was not only beautiful, she was fun and full of life. She was outgoing and personable while Luke was thoughtful, quiet, and reserved. Luke was blessed with great genetics and the good looks that went with them, but he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He didn’t have money, but he’d never had trouble getting dates or, as some called it, scoring with chicks. They just seemed to come to him and they kept coming and coming and…coming back. Except that Luke rarely took repeat customers until he met Bay.

Luke enjoyed being single and free, but he realized over the last year or so there was a part of him that was ready to settle down. He’d worked his ass off to mostly put himself through college and law school and he’d been grinding out 80-hour weeks at the firm that hired him. But he quickly learned their was no satisfaction in doing endless research and writing one legal brief after the other for whatever partner owned him at the time.

The one bright spot had been meeting Bay at a party hosted by her father, Keith Hutchinson, who was the firm’s managing partner. Keith was a package deal. He was extremely good looking for a man of 51 and married to one of the most beautiful women Luke had ever seen, a 43-year old former Miss Seattle named Margaret whom everyone called Maggie or Mags. He not only ran one of the most well-known law firms in the state, he had more money than God almighty, and it was old money from wealthy parents whose own parents were themselves quite rich.

Maggie had said ‘yes’ to the handsome, irresistible Keith Hutchinson her sophomore year of college and Bay had come along less than a year later. The timing was the source of much discussion in their circle of old-money friends, but it was close enough to be considered proper with a quick wink and a nod. Both of them had aged extremely well and Maggie was every bit as attractive as was her husband, both of whom worked out regularly and lived very healthy lives. As if that weren’t enough, they also had two of the most beautiful daughters in the state of Washington, and Luke was dating the older of them.

In fact, they’d gotten engaged nine months ago and would have married three months back if not for Bay’s inability to keep her legs crossed—a lesson Luke had learned the hard way. What was ironic about it was how her mother mentioned on more than one occasion—one of which Luke was present for—that she didn’t trust her daughter’s fiancée. He was the kind, at least according to Maggie, who would break her heart. Her reasoning went like this. “Sweetheart, he’s a very attractive young man. Too attractive, actually. Couple that with the way all men are and add to it the fact he comes from a lower-class family, and you have a recipe for a cheating disaster. And you’re the one who’ll bear the brunt of it in the form of a broken heart not mention a social scandal of epic proportion. If you’re smart, you’ll let him go now and make yourself available to a decent young man like Collin or perhaps Avery.” Both of them were already junior partners in her husband’s firm, and both came from old-money, upper-class families canlı bahis like Bay’s. Luke saw them as little more than college preppies in Brooks Brothers suits. They were all hat and no cowboy while Luke, in spite of his outwardly calm demeanor, was more than enough hat and had plenty of cowboy to spare.

And that’s what drew Bay to him. He was quiet but…intriguing. He lived life fully and in a way that left her breathless. He’d taken her skydiving on their first date. He had every skydiving and open-water diving certification possible and took her up for a tandem jump with him. But no matter how good-looking he was, no matter how exciting he might be—and Bay learned that in the bedroom he was more than exciting, she grew bored easy and quickly. No matter how high the high, Bay was always looking for something (or someone) higher and that often meant via chemicals like cocaine or LSD—a fact she kept well hidden from her ‘lower-class’ fiancée. But her latest secret high wasn’t with Luke, let alone some empty suit like Collin or Avery. It was with a brash, reckless, devastatingly handsome guy from a side of the tracks that made Luke seem like he’d come from decent stock.

She met him at a party at her father’s mansion where everyone but Luke was doing lines of coke and drinking way too much vodka and tequila. He saw him checking Bay out several times and even saw her smile back once or twice. But one of Luke’s best points was also one of his worst. He was trusting to a fault. He was also supremely confident without the kind of arrogance that often went with it. He had no need to be jealous because he could find someone else anytime he chose to look, and since he’d met Bay, he’d stopped choosing to look.

As much as he thought he loved Bay, as much as he knew she had this wild streak, he never worried about her cheating on him—until he couldn’t find her around midnight. Another of Luke’s many attributes was that he was as perceptive as he was smart. Unfortunately, his perception was sometimes nullified by his trust and it wasn’t until Bay was already upstairs in one of the many bedrooms in her parents’ expansive home with this modern James Dean that he put two and two together.

As he turned to walk down the long upstairs hall which had four bedrooms on either side, he knew she was in one of them. What he didn’t expect to see was Keith Hutchinson at the end of the hall holding hands with one of the firm’s prettiest young paralegals. Luke stepped back behind the hallway wall before peeking out again. She was now in his arms kissing him deeply enough to make him think of the saying ‘playing tonsil hockey.’ He quickly pulled out his iPhone, found ‘Camera’, hit ‘Video’ then tapped the start button while holding the camera just inside the hallway until the giggling started and the two of them went into the master bedroom together.

When he did walk in on Bay and her newest Bad Boy a moment later, he still had his phone in his hand. He didn’t get angry or threaten either of them. He just stood there holding his phone until she saw him recording the show. When she finally looked up, she shrieked. He just smiled, waved playfully at Mr. Bad Boy, and walked out.

Bay pushed her lover off and chased Luke down the hall butt-ass naked. He’d never been hurt at love before, and his wounds were already healing from this first time as he tuned out his ex-fiancee’s begging and pleading to understand. “It was just a thing, Luke. We were high. It won’t ever happen again. Luke—you can’t do this to me!”

Luke wasn’t much for cliches, but it made him smile when he stuck his palm in her face and said, “Talk to the hand, Bay.”

It was around three am that morning when it hit him. He hated practicing law. He’d never really liked it, but he hadn’t been able to get into medical school, the thing he most wanted to do, in spite of his 3.72 GPA. He did however, get accepted into three different law schools and at the time, it seemed like a logical alternative. After all, it was a highly-respected profession, lawyer jokes aside.

Law school had been easy for him. Sure, he did the necessary studying, but his mind had the uncanny ability to sort through and separate every facet of every case he ever studied and understand the significance of it. He intuitively saw there was a broader application for whatever he was being taught than simply memorizing facts to pass an exam. He had the much-sought-after ability to use those facts to win cases. He was also an excellent litigator, but was rarely given the opportunity to speak in court. Like all new associates, he’d been ridden hard and put away wet while paying his dues. His turn at making partner would come, and dating Bay put him on an accelerated path to that track early on.

By 5am, he’d made his decision. He was done. Partner track or not he’d had it. He got up and quickly banged out a resignation letter, showered, put on a suit, double checked his phone, then went in to work at the firm for the last time. To bahis siteleri his delight, Maggie was in Keith’s office when he walked in unannounced and without even knocking. “Luke, what a pleasant surprise,” Maggie said doing her level best to at least try and sound genuine.

He laid the letter on Keith’s desk and said to Maggie, “You know Mags, you were right. This relationship was doomed from the start. How prescient was it of you to predict it would end due to infidelity.”

“It’s not my fault if you can’t um…keep it in your pants, Luke. Your kind haven’t had the benefit of proper breeding.”

“Well obviously your daughter has.” He found the video and hit ‘play’ before handing it to Maggie. “I suppose that’s what your kind might call being bred properly.”

“Oh…my…God!” she said.

“Oh, it gets even better, Mags. Evidently, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree where this proper breeding of yours is concerned.” He quickly showed her the first ten seconds of the other video involving her husband then took the phone back and said, “Well done, Mags,” as he walked out. “Oh, and in case you haven’t read it yet Keith, I quit. You can send my severance package to me.”

“There won’t be any severance package if you walk out that door, Luke,” he said smugly.

“Far be it from me to threaten someone of your standing in the community, Keith, but you might want to ask your snob-of-a-wife, Maggie, about that first.”

He smiled, winked at Mags, then walked out stripping off his expensive silk tie then ceremoniously dropping it in a trashcan on his way out.

***************

Luke Miller was an instant hit at the bar and word spread among the university’s co-eds like wildfire. Young women, many of them unbelievably attractive, vied for position to belly-up to the bar whenever Luke was working. In fact, many of them shamelessly ‘tittied-up’ to the bar letting them rest on the long, wood counter as they smiled and jockeyed to get a little closer to him.

As much as he was enjoying the constant attention, the thing he loved the most was NOT being a lawyer. He’d start work around 8pm and quit somewhere between 2 and 4am then go home and sleep until noon before getting up and going to the gym. He hadn’t been on a date since his rather sudden breakup with Bay, and as far as he was concerned, that was a good thing. This was his time to sit back, chill out, and watch the show. No, not the Bay/Bad Boy show, but the one that played out in real time for him nearly every night of the week as young people drank, met, and left to hook up the same way he’d done so many times before. Quite often, those same two people barely even acknowledged the other on subsequent visits to the bar, making Luke finally see how shallow most of his dating life had been.

He wasn’t that old, or at least that’s what he kept telling himself. So why then was the thought of endless hook-ups no longer appealing to him? Why could he laugh and play off every offer he got from beautiful co-eds to take them home or just head to the bathroom right there for ‘a little fun’? He didn’t have an answer to his own questions, but he did know he was ‘up to here’ with it all. For now, he just needed to relax and wait for the answer to come to him and the answer didn’t have to have a pair of D-cup knockers attached for it to make sense. It would come and when it did, he’d be ready for whatever ‘it’ might be.

During the following six weeks, Luke went on a grand total of two dates and neither of them were with co-eds. One of them wasn’t really even a date. It was more of a favor. He spent a very pleasant evening with Jeff Caruther’s older sister, Spencer, who was most likely in her mid-40s. Initially, he’d agreed because Jeff was a really great guy and a pleasure to work for. But after he met her, he found her to be so pleasant and easy to talk to, he’d been happy to double-date with her later on with Jeff and his wife, Kristie. Unlike the women his age and younger, Spencer wasn’t in a hurry to go anywhere in particular. She was confident of who she was and while she was clearly attracted to him, she refused to throw herself at him the way 20-somethings routinely did. It was such a refreshing change, he decided he would remain open to the possibility of dating someone a little older—or maybe even a lot older—in the future should the opportunity present itself.

That said, the last thing on his mind was dating when he saw an…old…familiar face walk into the bar. She saw him but didn’t smile. She strode directly to the bar and sat her purse down and just looked at him.

“What can I get you, Maggie?” he asked her.

“Do you serve crow?” she asked quietly.

“Sorry, we’re fresh out.”

“How about a slice of humble pie, then?”

“Mags? What’s going on?” he asked her as he set a Scotch and water, her favorite drink, in front of her.

“I came to do something that’s harder for me than speaking to a group of poor women about my charity, Luke.” bahis şirketleri He stood there resting his hands on the bar and tilted his head slightly waiting for her to speak.

“I came to say—I’m sorry.” She wasn’t looking at him when she said it, but when she looked up, he could see her eyes were wet. “I was wrong, Luke.” She drew a deep breath and as she exhaled, she grabbed a paper napkin and said, “Whew. This is even harder than I thought it would be.” She looked back up at him and said, “Not the apologizing part. That’s easy. I was indeed wrong. It’s admitting you were right even though you were.”

He didn’t speak; he just let her continue. “I was being my typical snooty self one day making some horrible comment or other about your upbringing and your family…people I don’t even know, by the way…as I bragged about Bay and how wonderfully we’d raised her when you said something that me so angry I wanted to slap you. Do you remember what you said by any chance?”

He told he did remember and repeated what he’d said. “Character isn’t something passed on by ‘proper breeding.’ It comes from a lifetime of doing the right thing even when doing it is difficult. It has to be developed, not inbred.”

“I guess you were paying attention,” she admitted with a long sigh. “Luke? I can’t ask you to forgive me. I can only apologize and tell you how dreadfully sorry I am for anything and everything I ever said. And believe me, I said a lot during the time you were dating Bailey.”

“Thank you, Mags. That took amazing courage. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for you.” He smiled until he got her to smile back and told her, “That required character.”

“You’re still a charmer, Luke.” She took a sip of her drink and said, “So are you seeing anyone yet?”

Luke laughed and said, “Nope. No one. In fact, I’m kind of on a hiatus from the dating scene and I have to tell you Mags, it’s been pretty great.”

Maggie tried to smile but just couldn’t gin one up. “I guess for someone like yourself it might actually be nice to have a break from having beautiful, young girls fawning all over you all the time.”

Luke polished a few glasses while he talked and told Maggie, “They still do the fawning and the throwing, I just don’t do the catching. I’m really tired of all the shallowness. Maybe I’m finally growing up or something, but the whole hook-up thing has no appeal to me anymore.”

“Hooking up. Ah, yes. The proverbial ‘one-night stand’ as my generation called it.”

“I’m sure you had your share of hot, romantic dates, Mags. Former Miss Seattle and beauty queen extraordinaire that you are.”

Maggie laughed as she took another sip. “Ha! Hardly. First of all it would be ‘was’ as those days are long gone. More importantly, I was raised in a very strict Catholic home and although I was allowed to compete in beauty pageants, I wasn’t allowed to date without a chaperone. Believe or not, Keith was my first, last, and only.” She sighed deeply as she finished her drink before saying, “And for all practical purposes, that was an arranged marriage. My father knew his father and they both came from the ‘right’ families and it was a foregone conclusion their children would marry someone in that small circle of old-Seattle money. Oh, sure, Keith was fabulously handsome and initially, at least, very charming, but it wasn’t like either of us had a lot of say in the matter.”

“Would you like another?” Luke asked.

“Sure. Why not? I don’t have anywhere else to be,” she said handing him the empty.

He poured her a fresh drink in a clean glass and set it down. “This one’s on me, Mags.”

“Oh, no. You’re not doing that, Luke. I can pay for my own drinks, thank you.”

He smiled and said, “Uh…had it not been for you, I’d have never received that severance package so I think I can afford to buy you a drink.”

“You can thank your video for that,” she said caustically. She finished half of her second drink then told Luke, “As far as Keith goes? That wasn’t the first time by any means.”

Luke raised his eyebrows and Maggie said, “Oh, yeah. There’s been a very long line of other women over the years. I wasn’t even surprised when you showed me. Now, I have to admit that seeing my daughter um…in flagrante delicto…was a bit unsettling, but looking back, I can see that was exactly what I needed to jolt me out of the phony life I’d created for myself.” She tossed back her drink and said, “And I have you to thank for that, Luke.”

He looked at to see if he could read her expression before asking, “In a good way or in a bad way?”

“Oh, a good way. Most definitely a good way. You see, I’d built this other life around my real life. It was a place where my still-handsome husband loved only me and my charity work and gardening were enough to make my life complete. You blew that up in less than a minute, Luke.” She looked down for a second and then told him, “No, that’s not true. What you did was pull back the curtain that showed me how empty and, to use your word, shallow, my life had always been.”

“And…?” he asked as he nodded at her glass.

“No, thanks. That’s more than enough,” she said. “Well, for starters, I moved out.”

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