ROYAL(94)

By: Winter Renshaw



One of the many faceless attendees grabs a bottle of cherry vodka and passes around little paper shot classes, which I’m pretty sure are better suited for Jell-O shots.

I take one, like the good sport I am, and wait until Natalie gives the all clear before shooting it down the back of my throat.

“Whew.” Violet shakes her head and sticks out a red tongue and laughs. “That stuff did not go down as easy as I thought it would. Tastes like cherry cough syrup. Ick.”

I think she’s trying to be cute.

Up ahead, the brunette girl hasn’t chugged hers yet. Not sure what she’s waiting for, but everyone is gathering their things and filing off the bus and she’s sitting there in some catatonic state.

“You coming?” Violet asks as she rises and slips her clutch under her arm. Why she would suddenly act like we’re together is beyond me, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and blame it on a combination of the cheap liquor and her young naivety.

“Yeah. You go ahead.”

Violet’s smile fades, but she nods and files in line. The bus empties and the Good Time Gang files into the kind of traditional Irish pub that would make our grandmother proud, rest her soul.

The brunette gathers her things and stands, her chest rising and falling slowly as she breathes in and exhales. Three deep breathes later, she steps toward the exit. I don’t even think she notices that she’s not alone. I don’t want to freak her out, so I wait another minute.

“You in or you out, buddy?” the driver calls back, his beady eyes watching me from the wide rear view mirror.

“Out.” I hope up and head into the bar.

The party takes up the entire length of the wooden bar and no less than three bartenders are attempting to keep up with the sudden influx of drink orders.

I find an empty high top and take a seat. It’s going to be a while before I can order another drink, and I can feel the shit already coursing my system weakening with each passing minute.

A cocktail waitress hurries past, stopping fast when she sees me sitting empty handed.

“What are we drinking tonight?” she asks.

I order another gin and tonic, glad for the good service, and scan the bar in search of the girl who doesn’t want to be here tonight.

I want her story.

I don’t want some bullshit meet-cute with some purple haired fairy who’s going to try and fuck me in my hotel tonight and spend all of tomorrow social media stalking me.

The waitress returns with my drink. I thank her and slip her a tip. And when she walks away, I glance up and meet the gaze of the Goddess of Boredom herself.

She freezes.

I freeze.

I don’t know what the hell is happening right now.

The woman abandons my stare and searches the packed bar for a place to sit. All the tables around me have filled up in the last few minutes. It’s just me, by myself, at this table for two.

Her almond-shaped gaze floats to the empty seat next to me, but she hesitates.

“This seat taken?” A drunken-eyed man in a Third Eye Blind t-shirt slurs into my ear. Not sure where he came from.

“Yeah,” I say. I point to the girl.

“Sorry man.” The drunk stumbles off, and I turn back to her.

“Now you have to take it.” I offer her a smile, to assure her I’m not a creep. I’m genuinely a nice guy. I think. Brutally honest. Unapologetically observational. But I think those are good things mostly.

The corners of her mouth inch up, and her eyes brighten in the dark.

“I’m Sawyer,” I say. “Cousin of the groom. Eighth and final groomsman. And I don’t want to be here.”

She smirks. “Delilah. Friend of the bride. Eighth and final bridesmaid. I don’t want to be here either.”

I flash her a genuine smile, first one I’ve had all night, and ask her what she’s drinking.

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