“Just remember in the winter far
beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s
In the spring becomes a rose.”
-Bette Midler, “The Rose”
nodded encouragingly to Lillian when they entered the club, and with a flush she
took her light coat off, revealing the dress he had helped her pick out. Only
Chris and Lance had already seen her in it, and she was nervous worrying about
what JC and Justin would think of it. Especially Justin.
didn’t have to worry.
you look . . . amazing,” JC smiled admiringly. And she did. Her coat had
concealed the deep blue dress with its thin satin straps. The material of the
garment shimmered under the flashing beams of the strobe lights.
you,” she replied shyly, looking at her high-heel encased feet instead of
she had dared to look up, she would have seen his astounded expression. His blue
eyes were wide, swiftly running down the length of her body then up again. And
once more, as if he still couldn’t believe what was in front of him.
Day. Um. Lillian looks good. Very, very good. Her outfit wasn’t
something he usually went for when he was scouting the crowds at clubs, but
there was just something special about it. And he couldn’t figure out what.
The neckline wasn’t provocative, and the back didn’t dip further than just
below her shoulder blades. It wasn’t short either, because the hem ended at
her knees. Maybe it was the side slit of the skirt, exposing a length of leg. No,
that’s not it. I’ve seen girls with a lot more leg showing than that.
continued to stare at her before JC poked a sharp elbow into his ribs, urging
him to say something.
Yeah, JC’s right. You look . . .” he paused, thinking of a good word. Amazing?
Beautiful? Gorgeous? “. . .
nice,” he finished lamely, not knowing what to say. Very slick, Justin.
Every girl wants to hear herself described as nice. He could practically
hear his friends’ silent groans.
felt a little disappointed at hearing his response, but she shrugged mentally.
Personally, she was more than satisfied at the end result.
Justin,” she said before Joey grabbed her arm and pulled her to the crowded
in the mood for a tequila,” he stated. “What do you want?”
had no idea. The whole situation overwhelmed her. She had never drunk anything
more than some champagne at a housewarming party. Plus, she was only nineteen.
I can’t drink, I’m underage,” she protested.
came up behind them. “It doesn’t matter, Lilypad, Justin’s underage and he
drinks when he goes clubbing. You’re with us, don’t worry about it.”
I don’t really like alcohol,” she argued. “I guess it’s more of an
acquired taste. I’ll just have a Coke or water, please.”
come on, just try some,” Chris urged. “You won’t get in trouble, and
neither will we.”
It’s okay, I don’t want to drink anything,” she maintained. She had never
told them, but her strong aversion to alcohol had sprouted up when her father
had been killed by a drunk driver.
Chris and Joey exclaimed, not believing her.
don’t keep pressuring her,” Justin defended, coming up to them and
overhearing their conversation. “If she doesn’t want to drink, just get some
water.” I don’t want to know what alcohol might do to someone who’s
never had a whole glass before.
fine,” Joey gave in. “Tequila for me!” he called out to the bartender.
unconsciously put his hand on the small of Lillian’s back and guided her to a
stool at the end of the bar. He took his jacket off and put it on the stool
beside her. “Don’t accept any drinks from anyone unless it’s from me or
the guys, even if it’s water,” he cautioned. “It could have any amount of
crap in it. And don’t go outside without telling one of us. Be smart when if
you decide to dance with someone, don’t let anyone force you into getting
close with them.”
nodded obediently, getting a little worried. This wasn’t the type of harmless
dance club she was used to. Or rather, Karen was used to. She usually just
dropped her friend off and picked her up later because she hadn’t had too much
fun the first time.
picked up on her slightly fearful expression, and smiled to lighten his previous
warnings. “It’s okay, Lillian. I doubt anything’s going to happen. Just
have a good time!” he suggested before heading onto the dance floor to join
stared forlornly after him, not knowing what to do next, now that she was alone.
Where was Lance? She didn’t see him dancing anywhere. Her eyes surveyed the
packed club and finally found him in a far corner, surrounded by fawning girls
and sipping from an already half-empty glass.
guess it’s okay that they drink at clubs, because they don’t drive
themselves anywhere. Plus, their bodyguards would never allow them to get behind
the wheel drunk. And they’re not alcoholics or anything either.
was simply a little surprised at the idea that these wholesome images they
presented were not so wholesome. Of course, she shouldn’t have been that
surprised, because they were all legal adults.
was dancing, pressed up close against a very curvy redhead. He looked like he
was enjoying himself. He really was a good dancer, Lillian couldn’t help but
notice. He moved as if the rhythm was ingrained in his bones. His partner was
customers at the bar had dispersed back into their own separate groups, and
Lillian was left as the lone patron next to the bar. She sighed, not wanting to
see all her friends getting intimate on the dance floor with various
wrong, lamb?” someone asked her in a strong British accent.
swiveled on the stool, turning to see the bartender wiping the area of the bar
next to her with a rag. He looked to be in his late-twenty’s, and had short
bleached-blonde hair. His left ear was adorned with two studs and three ear
cuffs, and his sleeves were rolled up to expose his tattooed arms. She focused
on his face and noticed that he was very handsome. Not in the classical sense,
but his features had definite character.
smiled at her brazenly and introduced himself. “I’m Adonis.”
regarded him with disbelief. “Adonis?” she repeated.
my mum christened me Adam, but in this business Adam just doesn’t cut it. So I
bleached my hair, called myself Adonis, and whaddya know? Everyone’s trying to
hire me. I’m known as Adonis, the God of Bar Tricks,” he said with a
couldn’t help but smile at his explanation and the way his face reflected his
emotions. “Hi, I’m Lillian,” she greeted, offering him her hand.
to meet you, Lillian.” He enthusiastically shook her hand. “That’s a
beautiful name. There a story behind it?”
that I know of, no. My parents probably just found it in a baby names book.”
it’s a wonderful name all the same. Do you want to order anything?” he
asked, motioning to the different bottles of alcohol and cans of beer behind
that’s alright. To be honest, I’m underage,” she confided without
thinking. Oops. I shouldn’t have told him that. Now I’ll be kicked out.
to her surprise, he just threw his head back and laughed. “Your secret’s
safe with me,” he whispered conspiratorially. “You’re adorable, lamb.”
walked away to reach under the counter on the opposite end, then came back
holding a bottle of water. “Here you are, Lillian. On the house. And don’t
worry, it’s not contaminated or anything. I overheard your boyfriend a moment
examined the Evian bottle and saw that the seal around the cap hadn’t been
broken. “Thank you, Adonis,” she accepted, gratefully taking a sip of the
cold liquid. “But he’s not my boyfriend. We’re just friends,” she
quickly corrected with a wistful glint in her eyes that Adonis quickly picked up
you say,” he shrugged. “He’s the one missing out.”
blushed, shaking her head emphatically to disagree. She was desperate for a
change in topic.
what bar tricks can you do?” she asked, curious.
see ‘Coyote Ugly?’” he inquired. At her nod, he went on, saying, “Well,
I guess it’s like those tricks, but no stripping or pouring water on
laughed. “That good, huh? Are you going to do anything tonight?” she
but I only perform on Monday’s and Saturday’s,” he explained. “You’re
a day late.”
a shame. I’ve never been able to see bartenders do their tricks live
before,” she said, disappointed.
up, lamb. If you’re not going to dance, I can teach you how to slide a drink
down the bar. No spill, no mess,” he suggested.
she asked, perking up instantly.
it’s a slow night anyway, at least for drinks. I think your friends attracted
everyone to the dance floor,” he elaborated, pointing at the large crowd
gyrating to the music and then to the empty bar and stools.
went to grab a dusty looking glass sitting behind some beer bottles. He blew the
dirt off it, then set it down on the counter. “We can use this as the practice
glass. And then we’ll move on to bigger and better things.”
the next half hour, they presented an odd sight. A strangely attractive man with
a dainty looking girl, one showing the other the fine art of sliding full
glasses of alcohol down a slick bar counter.
a fast learner!” Adonis complimented, seeing how easily it had been for her to
accomplish the task. “Now we don’t have anything else to do.”
smiled at him. “We can talk,” she offered. “Tell me about your family.”
obligingly obeyed her request, and after pouring a bloody mary for another
customer he began his story.
was born in London, so yes, the accent is real. That’s how I learned the bar
tricks. My father was the owner of a local pub, but it was a very hot place. He
employed this one amazing guy, Flip. Not his real name, of course. Flip taught
me everything I know now. I was only sixteen at the time, so I thought that Flip
was the coolest any one person could possibly get. Obviously, mum was not at all
happy with his influence on me. ‘Go to college,’ she said, ‘Become a
doctor.’ But I was always a rebel. Had to go against her wishes. So I took a
temporary job, got the blunt, and moved here. And I suppose that takes me to
where I am today.”
you like your life?” she asked curiously, seeing the nostalgia in his eyes.
like it, but I don’t love it. I’m not stupid enough to think this job will
last me forever. I can’t toss bottles when I’m sixty, that’s for sure.”
don’t you go to school again? Maybe a community college.”
thought about it. But I don’t know. It’s too late for me, I think,” he
answered with no trace of pessimism, as if he was stating a well-known fact.
not too late!” Lillian said. “It’s never too late, as long as you’re
willing to work hard. When I was in high school, I didn’t have the best
grades. But by junior year, I shaped up and worked the most I’ve ever worked
in my life. Cramming for the SAT, raising my average, and getting so many part
time jobs my mind swirled.”
you really, lamb?” Adonis asked, still a little doubtful.
and then I was accepted into MIT and given a scholarship. See? It really can
suppose it can,” he said thoughtfully. “I’ll keep that in mind,
smiled encouragingly at him. “Now tell me about your tattoos,” she prompted.
“How many do you have, anyway?”
wiped the sweat off his brow. He’d never danced so much in one night with so
many different girls before. He guessed he was still hyped up from cutting off
all his curls and letting go of his inhibitions. He’d even lasted longer than
JC, who had retired from the dance floor to sit with Lance and the horde of
girls surrounding him. He glanced around to find Joey and Chris chatting up two
hot babes. Where’s Lillian?
quickly looked towards the bar, busy once again now that the majority of the
main attractions had stopped dancing. He couldn’t locate her small figure
among the others crowding against the counter. His mind panicked. Shit, where’d she go? What if some jerk slipped something in her
drink? I told her not to leave without telling us!
He strode swiftly to where he had left her before, sitting alone at the
bar beside his discarded jacket. He smiled falsely at the grasping women at the
bar, shrugging their hands off him. Finally he reached his destination, and
Lillian was sitting right where she had been an hour before. But she wasn’t
alone anymore. Someone was talking to her, in the stool beside her. She had
taken his jacket from the stool and was clutching it in her lap.
“Lillian!” he called out, going over to her and not caring that he
was interrupting the other guy’s sentence. “I was looking for you.”
“Hi, Justin,” she smiled gratefully up at him. As soon as people had
come ordering drinks, Adonis had to leave to attend to his job. The minute he
had left, a slightly tipsy college student had appeared at her side. He had been
about to sit down next to her, disregarding Justin’s jacket, and she had
quickly grabbed it before he could crush it.
Justin glared at the college guy and stood beside Lillian protectively.
“Come on, let’s go sit with Lance and JC.”
He took his jacket from her and wrapped his hand around her upper arm,
pulling her off the stool.
She immediately agreed and allowed herself to be escorted away, ignoring
the other guy’s protests.
“Are you having fun?” she asked, staring up at his face.
“Yeah,” he grinned, “Lots of fun. What about you?” he wanted to
know, edging his way past the women surrounding the table and pulling out a
chair for her.
“Well, I met the nicest man,” she started, sitting down.
She met a man?! When the hell did this happen?
“Who?” he demanded, turning his own chair backwards and leaning on
“The bartender. His name’s Adonis. He’s the most interesting
person,” she replied, still smiling at him.
“Oh,” Justin replied. Why
are you feeling jealous? There’s no reason to be jealous. Sure, Justin. Keep telling
“He gave me some bottled water. So I knew it was safe,” she said,
noticing his odd expression. She didn’t want him to get mad at her for
disobeying his instructions of not taking any drinks except from them.
“Don’t worry, the seal wasn’t broken.”
Justin felt some gratitude for this Adonis guy. At least he knew that
while he had been busy Lillian was safe. “Well, that’s good,” he admitted.
“But hell, what kind of name is Adonis?”
Lillian grinned at him. “Come on, I can introduce you two. I’m sure
he’d like to meet you. And then he can tell you the story himself.” She took
his hand gingerly and after seeing that he didn’t protest, she grasped it more
firmly and pulled him back to the bar.
The crowd had already thinned down, thanks to Adonis’ fast service.
They stood next to the last customer, Lillian impatiently drumming her fingers
on the countertop and Justin regarding Adonis cautiously. He’s not that unattractive. Maybe Lillian’s got a
crush on him. She’s sure eager to introduce us.
“Lamb, I was wondering where you went off to!” Adonis exclaimed
after handing the last man his beer. He turned to look at the man standing next
to his new friend. So
it’s the boyfriend. Or rather, ‘just friend.’
“Adonis,” he said, sticking his hand out.
Justin nodded at him and brusquely shook his hand.
Lillian spoke up to excuse Justin’s rudeness. “This is Justin, my
friend from before,” she introduced quickly.
“I remember,” Adonis answered. “I saw you tearing up the dance
floor out there,” he offered, attempting to make nice with the boy Lillian
obviously cared about.
“I try,” came the succinct answer.
Adonis had to concentrate to prevent his eyes from rolling. Young pup. Doesn’t even realize how clear his
“Good, good,” he nodded amused. “I never see you in here. Special
Lillian answered for Justin. “Yeah, it is! It’s our friend’s
twenty-second birthday. Everyone wanted to do something fun and get out on the
town. He’s not able to just let loose that much.”
“Birthday, eh?” Adonis questioned. “Well, that is a
special occasion.” He turned around and quickly made a margarita, adding two
parasols to the drink. He handed it to Lillian.
“Why don’t you take that to him, lamb? A complimentary drink for
your friend, in honor of his birthday,” he smiled.
“Really? I’m sure he’ll like it,” she grinned before rushing off
to give Lance his gift. She didn’t even notice how she left Justin alone with
The tall bartender turned to consider the equally tall youth.
“Problem?” he challenged, seeing how Justin glared at him sullenly.
“I think that’s a little obvious,” Justin muttered. “Where do
you get off trying to seduce naïve girls like that?” he demanded.
This time, Adonis couldn’t stop his eyes from rolling skyward. “I am
not seducing naïve girls, contrary to your opinion. I was minding my own
business when I noticed how Lillian’s friend abandoned her next to the bar
with his jacket while he got up close and personal with random females. I know
that no woman is a placeholder, unlike other people, so I decided to strike up a
conversation. And it turned out to be a good decision.”
Justin immediately defended himself. “I didn’t abandon her.
She wouldn’t have wanted to dance, anyway, and I didn’t buy her a drink
because she doesn’t like to drink.”
“I suppose that excuse is reasonable. But it doesn’t hold strong for
a whole hour. You could have checked on her before then.”
“She didn’t need me to check on her!” Justin exclaimed, trying to
get the persistent feeling of guilt out of his conscience.
“So I’m guessing you didn’t notice how some drunk asshole tried to
pull her outside,” Adonis retorted. Upon seeing Justin’s eyes widen, he
“Yes, he tried to get her to leave. Luckily for all of us, I saw him
and I got the bouncer to kick him out. But if I hadn’t seen, what would have
happened? Where was her damn friend when she needed him?” he challenged.
Justin stood silently. Shit.
What would have happened? I should have been here the whole time with her. I saw
how good she looks tonight, some other guy was bound to notice eventually.
He nodded, resigned. “I’m sorry. It was a good thing she met you,”
he offered. “Thanks.”
Adonis just shrugged away his apology. “You’re welcome, Justin. I
knew you were a good guy. Lillian wouldn’t hang with you otherwise.”
Justin had turned to stare at Lillian, who was sitting beside an
intoxicated Lance and playing with one of the paper parasols. “I realize that.
Listen, I should really go now. Maybe apologize or something.”
Adonis smirked at the back of Justin’s head. “Be my guest.”
Justin stepped away from the bar, only to be stopped one last time by
“Open your eyes, kid. She’s not going to wait forever.”
Justin heard the comment, but he threw it off and continued to the
table. Is the guy English or
retarded? It doesn’t matter, I have to be with Lillian right now.