Excerpt for Deep Within the Shadows
Juliet Templeton scanned the patrons lined up at the bar waiting for drinks. Her hands flew as she packed ice into a glass and measured vodka in a jigger and dumped it in. She reached for the orange juice and tipped the jug.
“Have I told you this vampire-biker-chick look suits you?” Justin’s warm, moist breath brushed her neck. She flinched away, resisting the urge to elbow him in the gut. Orange juice splashed onto the counter. For weeks, since he’d been hired to bartend, he’d pushed for a date. He was doing it again tonight. With his shaggy mop of dark hair, clean-shaven, angular jaw, and hazel eyes, he could pass for Hayden Christensen’s cousin. Even with the Goth makeup turning his skin pale, he exuded sex appeal. Had her feelings not been deadened to it—to him—to every man, since—
“Look Justin. I don’t date anyone I work with. It causes too many complications. Move on to someone else.”
His smile wavered but didn’t quite die. “Maybe I’ll have to quit my job, then.”
She shook her head. I’m not worth the sacrifice. I’m trouble you don’t need. She slid the drink to the waiting customer and picked up his money.
A woman slinked up to the bar, her tight black strapless dress hugging her generous curves like a sausage casing. With arrogance and grace, she raised her hand in a demanding gesture. Juliet took a deep breath. She didn’t have the patience to deal with Justin and her, too. She nodded toward the customer. “Can you get her order? I need to ring this up.” She waved the money in her hand.
With a wry grin, Justin strolled down the workspace behind the bar, his shoes squeaking on the rubber mat.
Juliet heaved a gusty sigh. Maybe he’d hook up with Ms. Sausage and quit pressuring her. Hell, maybe they’d find true love together. She could only hope.
Her feet ached, as did her back, from nearly ten hours behind the bar. Even her facial muscles felt tired from smiling at customers. She just wanted to finish her shift and go home to a long, long bath and an empty bed.
She returned to the task at hand. The heavy metal beat from the stage pounded against her ears, drowning out the beep of the cash register as she keyed in the order. The base drum thumped in time with the headache throbbing behind her eyes. Jesus! She rubbed her temples. The rock bands Hector hired were usually more than loud enough, but for the last two weeks, The Skull’s music had been falling just short of an assault.
She scanned the dance floor where a strobe light captured the dancers’ stop-action gyrations. Not couples, but the group, the collective. They moved as one. She paused a moment, attempting to guess which were human and which had something to hide. The smoke machine backstage provided an eerie atmospheric backdrop for the band and the audience. Since they were already painted and garbed in Goth style, the special effects lent the patrons the look of extras on a Day of the Dead movie set.
The bar was the new happening hangout in Superstition, Kentucky. Business was booming. Tips were good. Unless you knew what to look for, it was difficult to sort the real from the imagined. Management strenuously encouraged the employees to dress a part. And the clientele.
Since the college had taken root, the sleepy little town of Superstition had begun to attract an interesting demographic. Very interesting.