The first thing she always noticed when she walked in were the vibrations that radiated throughout the building from the bass. No one would have expected to find her in a place like this, and maybe that is the reason she liked coming here so much. The place acted as an escape for her. When she was here there were no expectations placed on her. She didn’t have to worry about getting the perfect grades or dealing with the intense overprotectiveness all of her friends and her dad.
She walked through the rest of the club until she got to the bar. She found an empty seat near the end of the bar where she usually sat. Different colored lights flashed all around her as she sat there taking in the atmosphere around her. She did her best not to stare at the bartender working but did a poor job of it. Laura couldn’t take her eyes off of the woman. She was about an inch or two taller than Laura herself with jet-black hair and the most gorgeous brown eyes. She was wearing leather pants and a tight black tank top. A couple of minutes later the bartender walked over to her.
“What can I get you, cutie?” She said in a rough voice.
Okay so maybe the reason she liked coming her had absolutely nothing to do with escaping her life and everything to do with the woman standing in front of her right now.
Laura ordered a cocktail. They were ridiculously expensive and Laura was too much of a lightweight to be able to drink more than one, but at this place, it was worth it.
The bartender smirked at her. She picked up the bottle of alcohol spinning it around in her hand before tossing it behind her back and catching it with ease. Grabbing the tin in her other hand she threw the bottle over her arm and caught it before spinning the tin. She turned her hand so that the tin was upright with her pinky finger on top. She took the bottle and hooked her arm underneath then on top of the other so the bottle was pouring into the tin for just a second before she did a twist with her hands then drew the bottle away from the tin so Laura could see the liquid pouring out. Then she made a short downward jab of the bottle stopping the liquid just long enough for her to flip the tin upside down and right side up again before the alcohol started flowing again. The bartender finished making the drink and handed it to Laura with a wink.
For the next half hour Laura watched the bartender making drinks. Every time she made a drink bottles flew through the air only to be caught effortlessly. Several times Laura watched the bartender tossing multiple bottles at once each toss perfectly timed and positioned so that none of the bottles collided and she always had a had free to catch them. Laura was mesmerized watching the woman work.
Shortly after Laura finished her drink the bartender made her way back over toward her.
“Can I get you anything else, cupcake?” She asked. Laura was used to the bartender flirting with her at this point. She figured the woman probably flirted with most of the people here since she supported herself on the tips that she made.
“No. I’m good. It’s getting close to the time of night where people start getting blackout drunk and I have no desire to be around to have to deal with that.”
The bartender chuckled.
“Probably a smart decision. If I didn’t have to I wouldn’t deal with those idiots either.”
“You don’t like your job?”
“I love my job. I just don’t like the imbeciles it attracts after a certain hour.”
“I suppose that is fair enough. Anyway I should get going. Have a good night.”
“You too. Get home safely, cutie.”
Someone was calling for the bartender so she wandered away from Laura to start making another drink. Laura watched the graceful juggling the bartender did for a minute more before making her way out of the club and back home.
The next week Laura had an extra bounce in her step as she headed off to the club. She had been working on an investigative piece on corruption in the mayor’s office and had just gotten a source to come to her with the last pieces of proof she needed to write the story. The story was going to be the biggest she had ever written and she could not contain her excitement.
She walked to the bar and took the very same seat she had sat in the week before. As always her favorite bartender was throwing and catching bottles and tins around her as she mixed drinks, and it didn’t take Laura long to get lost in her movements. She was so engrossed in watching the woman she didn’t realize that another bartender who was working that night had approached her to get her order.
“Um, hi. Can I get you something?”
Being addressed caused Laura’s attention to snap to the person standing in front of her. Laura really had no idea how she had missed the woman as she was insanely tall with flaming red hair. Laura looked at the woman with an intense look on her face as she tried to ascertain exactly how long the woman had been there. The moment’s pause was all that was needed for the dark haired bartender to wander over.
“I’ve got this one Xena, so you can run along now,” the new arrival said with none of the friendliness that was in her voice when she always addressed Laura.
“Hey, you were busy so I got here and I will take her order,” Xena(?) responded just as rudely.
“I was busy and now I’m not, Agent Orange. Why don’t you see if the puppy dog of a man over there needs another drink.”
Realizing that the two bartenders were potentially about to get into an actual fight Laura decided to speak up.
“Can you do the toss-y stuff she does?” Laura asked the one whose name appeared not to actually be Xena.
The woman sighed and admitted that she couldn’t.
“If you don’t mind then, would it be possible for her to make my drink?”
The dark haired woman opened her mouth to say something but the other bartender cut her off.
“Shut it, Elvira,” she snapped as she stocked off.
“So I’m guessing your name isn’t actually Elvira,” Laura stated, hoping to finally learn the name of the gorgeous woman standing before her.
“You guess correctly, sweetheart. My name is Carmilla, and it’s called flair,” Carmilla responded all traces of the rudeness gone from her voice now.
“What’s called flair?” Laura asked scrunching her eyebrows together in confusion. She had been so distracted by learning the bartender’s name she had forgotten what she had said before hand.
“The ‘toss-y stuff,’ it’s called flair.”
“Oh, right, cool!” Laura said blushing. “My name is Laura by the way.”
“Did you have anything specific in mind that you wanted for tonight, Laura, or could I sway you to let me surprise you?”
Laura looked at her for a second thinking, before her face broke out in a huge smile again.
“Surprise me,” she decided as she started bouncing in her chair.
Carmilla chuckled before grabbing a bottle of vodka and another bottle, which held something Laura couldn’t identify. Laura watched as the bottles arched through the air. Somehow multiple different forms of liquid ended up in tin before Carmilla put a glass over it and shook it all together. She strained the contents into a martini glass. Laura thought the drink was finished but Carmilla reached into her back pocket and pulled out a container of the small round rainbow sprinkles and used a few dashes to garnish the drink.
“Here you go, cupcake.”
“It looks delicious. What is it?” Laura asked still bouncing in her chair.
“It’s a sugar cookie martini. It seemed like something up your alley.”
Laura took one sip and her eyes went wide.
“Holy Hufflepuff! This is so amazing!”
Carmilla let out a chuckle at Laura’s exclamation.
“I’m glad you like it, cutie.”
The redheaded bartender who Laura decided to keep calling Xena until she learned her actual name yelled at Carmilla for slacking off.
“Looks like I have to get back to work. I will check in later to see if you need anything.”
Carmilla walked off and Laura watched her go. Normally Laura took her time sipping on her drink so she could watch the mini performances Carmilla puts on for as long as possible, but the drink was just so good she found herself finishing it much faster than she had intended to. Laura frowned slightly and stared at the empty glass when she realized the drink was gone. She didn’t want to go home yet, but she knew that would be unwise.
“What’s wrong cupcake? Last time I was over here you were bouncing in your seat and now your frowning.”
“Oh I just…I kinda wanted to stay out a bit longer, but I have to walk home so I probably shouldn’t have another drink.”
Carmilla set about moving behind the bar. This time, there was no flair as she mixed the drink together, but Laura thought that might have been because she didn’t notice any alcohol going into the drink.
“There you go, cutie. Now you won’t look like your just sitting at the bar awkwardly and you don’t have to go home yet. There is no alcohol in there I promise.”
Laura beamed at the girl who merely winked at her before wandering off to get back to her job. This time Laura was determined not to drink too quickly. She sipped on her drink slowly admiring Carmilla’s skill behind the bar. From the body language between the two bartenders Laura figured that Carmilla and Xena did not get along very well. It was clear most patrons, like herself, preferred having their drink made by Carmilla and this appeared to rub Xena the wrong way.
A couple of minutes after Laura had finished off her drink, Carmilla made her way over.
“Do you want anything else or are you going to call it a night?”
“I think I’m going to call it a night and head home.”
“Alright, cutie. See you next Friday.”
Carmilla sauntered off before Laura could say anything. She stood there frozen for a second as she realized that the incredibly sexy bartender she had been crushing on for the past two months must have noticed her before the previous week if she had noticed Laura’s pattern of showing up every Friday night. She put a significant amount of effort into keeping her composure as she walked out of the bar. That managed to last just until she got outside the doors of the club before she broke out into a happy dance.
A week later found herself in the middle of her living room screaming into the phone. Her father who was on the other end of the line was screaming right back at her. Not able to take it any longer, she yelled that she loved him and hung up on him. She may be mad at him but that didn’t mean she would end a conversation without telling him she loved him. As soon as the call disconnected, she went to her settings and turned off her gps. Deciding that she didn’t feel like being in her apartment any more she quickly changed and headed off to the club.
She got there earlier than she normally did and the place was almost entirely empty so when she sat down Carmilla came over immediately.
“You’re here early, cutie.”
“Yeah, I had an argument with my dad and decided I needed a drink.”
“One drink coming right up.” Carmilla responded with a smirk.
As always Laura watched mesmerized at the flair bartending.
“So what was the argument about cupcake?”
“Actually, it was about me coming her…kind of…or at least that is how it started out.” Laura sighed. “My father called this afternoon and asked me who I had been going to clubs with every week. I responded that one: it was none of his business but I wasn’t going with anyone and two: what the hell was he doing tracking my movements. Which it turns out is exactly what he was doing! He was using a track my phone app to ‘periodically check and make sure I hadn’t been kidnapped or something.’” Laura said the last part with sarcasm dripping from her voice.
“And you know what? When I got angry that he is treating me like a child, he had the gall to respond that his decision to INVADE MY PRIVACY was actually a positive because what was I thinking going to a club by myself. Didn’t I know that places like that are dangerous and someone can slip something into your drink, Laura? Ugh! He treats me like a child and doesn’t trust me to be able to take care of myself. I’m not stupid! Ugh! That is beside the point too. I mean really he may be my father but that doesn’t mean he can just track my movements and tell me what establishments I can or cannot visit. It is my life and I am allowed to make my own decisions!”
After finishing her rant Laura downed the drink Carmilla had made her. Carmilla, who had just listen patiently, quirked up an eyebrow at the speed at which Laura had finished the drink.
Carmilla made Laura another drink. She heard someone calling her down at the other end of the bar, but hung back for a second to ensure the tiny woman drank the drink more slowly this time. Carmilla had never seen her drink more than one drink in a night and had a feeling, the other woman wouldn’t be able to handle it too well. Luckily, Laura seemed to have calmed down a bit after the first drink because she was sipping this one.
Pretty soon the club and the bar as an extension was packed. Despite slowing down the speed of her drinking, Laura didn’t stop. It didn’t take long before she had gone from sober to tipsy to drunk. Around the time she finished her sixth drink, Carmilla wandered back over to her and handed her a glass of water.
“Here, cupcake, you could probably use this.”
“I don’t need water, Carm. I’m not drunk. I’m just a bittle lit tipsy,” Laura slurred. “What I need is another drink.”
Carmilla bit back a laugh. Leaving the water where it as she mixed a new drink for Laura this time leaving out the alcohol, hoping Laura wouldn’t notice. Thankfully, when Laura took the first sip of her drink she merely hummed at the taste.
“This is delicious, Carm.”
However, as Laura’s level of intoxication had increased, her rate of drinking had increased along with it. This meant that it didn’t take long for Laura to finish the non-alcoholic drink Carmilla had made her and this time it was the red-headed bar tender who came over to see if she needed another drink.
“Can I get you anything?”
“A drink,” Laura said as if it were the cleverest think in the world.
The redhead sighed.
“What kind of drink would you like?” She replied exasperated.
Laura’s face fell from the broad grin she had been sporting into a pout. Her bottom lip was trembling slightly and she looked as if she were about to cry.
“What the hell, Xena, what did you say to her?” Carmilla barked angrily at the redhead. She had come over just in time to see Laura starting to cry.
“Xena is upset with me…everyone is upset with me,” Laura responded her voice quaking.
Carmilla couldn’t help but burst at laughing at Laura calling the redhead Xena. The redhead for her part became so angry her face was almost the same color as her hair.
“Oh my god, my name is Danny not Xena! And I just what you wanted to drink!” Danny spat back before storming off.
Laura took in a shaky breath at the anger in Danny’s voice, but Carmilla merely laughed harder.
“Oh my god, cupcake, that is the best thing I have ever heard,” Carmilla breathed out with tears in her eyes from laughing so hard.
At the look on Carmilla’s face, a smile spread over Laura’s face as well before it settled into a scowl.
“I don’t know why Xena is mad at me.”
“Don’t worry about it. She is always mad about something or another. It’s not your fault.”
The scowl remained in place on Laura’s face. She was drunk enough at this point that she didn’t have a significant amount of control over her emotions. She had started drinking to forget about her fight with her father but Danny’s anger had just reminded her of how angry her father was at her.
The look on Laura’s face tugged at Carmilla’s heart and she just couldn’t stand to leave Laura looking like that. She picked up a bottle from behind the bar and tossed it up in the air catching it on the back of her hand and balancing it there for a second. She used the time to glance at Laura’s face and notice that the sad look was gone, replaced with a look of pure awe. Carmilla returned to concentrating on bottle. She pushed her hand in the air catching the bottle in the same hand before tossing it behind her back and catching it on the top of her other hand. She threw a few more moves in there before making Laura a very weak drink and sliding it in front of her. Laura was beaming at Carmilla and had completely forgotten any sadness that she had felt moments before. Carmilla simply winked at her.
“Alright, buttercup, I’ve got to attend to other customers but I will be back shortly.”
A little while later, Laura had finished her drink and got up to go home. Before she could even properly get off the stool she tripped, falling flat on her face. The next thing she knew, Carmilla had come out from behind the bar and was picking her up.
“Smooth, Sundance, smooth.”
Laura giggled slightly at the new nickname. She attempted to pick herself up off the floor, but her attempt was in opposition to Carmilla’s attempt to pick her up and resulted in her ending up on the floor again. Carmilla sighed but reached for Laura again and this time succeeded in getting her off the floor into a standing position. Laura clearly would not be able to stand on her own so Carmilla slung Laura’s arm around her neck putting her own arm around Laura’s waist. She led her to a back room and sat her down in a chair.
“Stay here. I will be back in two minutes,” Carmilla instructed sternly.
Laura nodded her head in assent and started counting.
Carmilla merely shook her head and wandered out of the room.
…119…120…” At hitting two minutes Laura frowned but kept counting “…121…122…123…124…125”
Carmilla wandered back in.
“You’re late…I counted and it was over two minutes.” Laura said pouting.
“No I wasn’t cupcake, you just counted a bit two fast. I stay true to my word cupcake, it was exactly two minutes, I promise,” Carmilla comforted.
Laura’s face broke out into a giant smile.
“Your rollercoaster of emotions is going to give me whiplash, cutie. Come on, let’s get you home.”
“But, Carm, we don’t live together yet. At least I don’t think we live together…Did I miss us moving in together?”
“No, creampuff, you didn’t miss us moving in together. We are going to get you to your home.”
“Oh…but you’re working...”
“I talked to my manager and he’s letting me out a little early tonight.”
“Oh...Okay,” Laura agreed her smile growing impossibly wider.
Carmilla led Laura out of the club and onto the street.
“Alright, cupcake. Which way do you live.”
“I don’t remember.”
Carmilla sighed again and made up her mind.
Laura woke up with a pounding headache. She groaned and rolled over reaching for her spare pillow to put over her face. When she couldn’t find it she opened her eyes and realized she wasn’t in her room. After a moment’s panic she realized she was fully clothed from the previous night so she hadn’t done anything stupid. When the panic had subsided, she surveyed her surroundings. She was lying on a mattress that was situated on the floor. There was a dresser not far from the foot of the bed and a stack of books in the corner. Other than that the room was empty.
Laura thought back to last night and tried to figure out where she was. Some of it seemed to be missing but she remembered that her drunk self had not been particularly able of getting home and when she couldn’t remember the way home, Carmilla had brought her to her place. Laura’s next groan had nothing to do with her headache.
Deciding to go in search of water, Laura stood up slowly and wandered out of the room. As she approached the living room, she noticed Carmilla was throwing a bottle around without much regard for the fact that it kept turning upside down. She caught it on the back of her hand as she had the previous night before flipping it 360 degrees and catching it again on the back of her hand. She was simply repeating the motion and it took Laura a second to realize she was counting.
Laura moved further into the room and was so engrossed in watching Carmilla that she accidentally kicked another pile of books sending them flying and causing Carmilla to break her concentration and drop the bottle. Laura worried for a fraction of a second that the bottle would break, but it merely hit the ground with a loud clanging noise while Carmilla jumped back slightly.
“You’re awake. I was starting to worry you had died. I have never met a person who sleeps in later than me.”
Laura groaned in response. “How did that not break?”
“The bottle? It’s hard plastic. It’s a practice bottle I use so that I can practice new tricks without having to worry about cleaning up glass every couple of minutes. How are you feeling?”
“Like I never want to drink again. Do you have any water?”
“Unfortunately no. This is an apartment in the city with absolutely no access to water.”
“You are an ass.”
Carmilla merely chuckled and walked into the kitchen fetching Laura a glass of water.
“So…I’m really sorry I got so drunk on you last night and that you had to take care of me, which thank you for that by the way…I don’t think I would have made it home last night if you hadn’t. Then my father would get onto a rant about me going out to a club to drink on Friday nights. Not that I really actually go to the club for the atmosphere or the drinks. I really just go to see you but I mean I’m not going to tell my father that he would just lecture me about going to extreme lengths to see someone….” Laura’s brain had finally caught up with what she had just admitted to.
“So you come just to see me, eh?” Carmilla smirked back.
Laura blushed furiously.
“I mean you did ask me last night if we had moved in together yet, but I didn’t realize I was the only reason you came into the club.”
Laura looked down at her hands. She normally wasn’t bravest person when it came to asking people out, but she figured after this conversation she would probably never be able to face the gorgeous bartender again so she went for it anyway.
“Right so…I mean you probably don’t want to see me after I basically forced you to take care of me last night, but I was hoping maybe I could make it up to you and say thank you by taking you out to dinner...as a date maybe.”
Laura didn’t look up, unwilling to see a look of pity or rejection on Carmilla’s face.
“I think I might like that very much.”