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Beautifully Damaged(15)

By:L.A. Fiore

"Hello, Ember."

"Good evening. It's nice to see you, Trace."

My eyes moved from him to his date who was looking at me with very cold, pale blue eyes.

"Can I get you something to drink?"

"Patron, neat." she said before turning her gaze to Trace. To say the air chilled would be an understatement.

"Dalmore, neat. Thanks, Ember."

I looked up and saw a grin touch his lips and my smile in response was involuntary before I disappeared to get their drinks.

The rest of the evening went the same way. His date was a cold bitch while Trace was affable and polite. I wondered why he subjected himself to someone as cold as her. I watched them and realized that her coldness was directed only at me, which seemed odd considering I was just a member of the waitstaff.

A commotion across the dining area pulled my attention. I recognized the diner; he was a regular, and when sober he was charming but he was a drunk so he couldn't stop himself after one or two or three.

He was usually placed in my section because I learned how to handle him. After drink number six he really wasn't tasting the forty-dollar scotch he was downing so Trent and I would stop charging him for his drinks and would cut his scotch with mostly water. This had the effect of not just stalling his downward spiral but, as anyone who'd ever drunk too much knew, once the buzz started to fade, exhaustion replaced it. I even had a cab company on redial to take Mr. Forester home. Clearly, Cindi wasn't watering down his drinks since his voice was rising and his hand roaming. I walked with determination across the floor before stopping just in front of him.

"Ember, you beautiful girl, how nice to see you."

"And you, Mr. Forester. How was your dinner this evening?"

"Wonderful, as usual."

Trent walked over at the moment with a new drink and handed it to me with a wink.

"Here you are, Mr. Forester."

"You are too good to me, Ember."


His bloodshot eyes looked over to Cindi who was beet red and twisting her hands nervously before her.

"She isn't as good as you."

"She's new, Mr. Forester, she's still learning the ropes."

"She isn't as pretty as you either."

I blushed as I turned to Cindi and smiled, "I'll take over for you."

She looked as if I just had given her the moon. "Thank you."

I stood with Mr. Forester for a few minutes until I got him to calm down and then I needed to check on my other customers.

"I'll be right back. I need to check my other tables."

"Don't be long, gorgeous."

As I walked away, I couldn't help but grin because as flattering as it was to hear those words from Mr. Forester, it would be nicer to hear them from someone who wasn't three sheets to the wind.

The last table I visited was Trace's only to find him sitting alone, silently watching me. I couldn't help looking at the empty seat across from him which had him offer, "She's in the ladies' room."

"Of course. Can I get you anything else?"

"You handled that man very well, Ember."

"I grew up with dock workers."

"He's right you know?"

I knew my confusion was clearly visible on my face when I asked, "Right about what?"

"You are gorgeous."

Before I could even get my head around his words, his date returned and mustn't have liked the way Trace was looking at me because she made a production of reaching for his hand as she glared up at me.

"He is so not for you, sweetheart, besides he's taken for the evening so you'll need to find some other stud to scratch your itch."

Her words angered me, almost irrationally so, and before I knew my intention I leaned over the table so I was eye level with her.

"You're right; he's not for me because when I look at him I see so much more than a rutting stallion." At her look of outrage I turned my eyes to steely blue ones before I added, "And if I was lucky enough to catch his attention I sure as hell wouldn't be okay with having him for only one evening." I then placed the check on their table and walked away.

It took will power that I didn't know I possessed to turn to Trace's table after I checked on Mr. Forester but, thankfully, the table was empty. I didn't know what possessed me to say what I did but, in all honesty, I wasn't sorry that I said it. I took the black leather folder to the register to close out the bill and had to lock my knees to keep from sinking to the floor when I realized that Trace left me a fifty percent tip.

A few days after my uncharacteristic display of temper at Clover, I was running through Central Park. The trees were all starting to turn colors as the cool crisp air chilled my skin. My thoughts turned to those little mouthfuls of cakey sin since I was becoming slightly addicted to cake-pops. Because I was working out I could indulge in one later, yeah!