The Barman and the Barrister

an excerpt

Chapter One

With a bump of his hip, Jason closed the door of the glass washer, flicked the switch, and immediately turned away as it began its cycle. It was busy in the bar and there was no time to waste. Hurrying through, Jason glanced at the line of customers waiting at to be served.

Unsure who to attend to first, Jason looked to his friend Nathan for guidance. Nathan nodded at a patron and Jason went quickly to a tall, blonde woman who leaned toward him smiling widely.

"Three glasses of house bubbles, handsome."

"Coming right up." His most professional smile in place, Jason poured the drinks, set them on a tray, and took her proffered debit card. Jason immediately felt the slip of paper beneath. Glancing at it, Jason saw it held her name and cell phone number, and the blonde winked at him.

Swiping the card, Jason passed over the Eftpos machine for his customer to enter her pin number. Jason handed the card back and the blonde grabbed his hand before he could pull away.

"Call me." Releasing his hand, she picked up the tray and walked away.

The moment her back was turned, Jason tossed the slip of paper into the bin. Apart from the fact she was the wrong sex for him, Jason would never have the courage to call her.

The rest of the night passed in a swirl of cocktails, wines, and beers, until the call for last orders. The usual banter over, only Jason and Nathan, as the duty manager, remained. While Nathan worked cleaning the bar, Jason stacked the chairs on the tables and mopped the floor. Cleaning could add a good hour or more to the time he'd get out.

"Got any plans for your days off?" Nathan called out.

"My cousin's up on a business trip for a few days." Jason paused in his mopping, grateful for a minute's respite. "So, since the firm's paid for a suite that sleeps three, and there was only two of them sleeping in it, I can stay in the twin room with him while his colleague has the double bed. The hotel's just a stone's throw from Skycity, so we can eat wherever we like, apart from the firm's dinners Hayden must attend, then go to Skycity and play the tables in the casino, and round the night off in one of the clubs. How much time he has during the day will depend on the seminars he has to attend."

"Why not take him to that new place, Warm Glow, while he's here? I hear their signature liqueur, Shimmer, is a big success."

"Good idea." Jason nodded. "I haven't been there yet, either. At least that would be something a bit unusual."

"Careful what you mix it with. I hear it's different with everyone." Nathan laughed and ambled out of sight to clean the glass washing area.

"Yeah, right. A good marketing gimmick if you ask me." Jason jammed his mop in the water before squeezing it out again. But I hear the place is nice and at least it's somewhere new for me.

By the time the cleaning was finished and Jason had driven home, it was after three a.m. Not unusually late for a weekend shift, but since Jason had already pulled a couple of extra shifts over the last couple of weeks he was ready to have his time off.

Yawning widely, Jason resisted the urge to simply crawl into bed, instead he made himself some toast and a mug of tea. With a heartfelt sigh, Jason set his supper down and sank into a chair. Flicking on his TV, Jason settled to watch a recording of a cookery program he'd set.

One day I'll move into viniculture or winemaking rather than bar work. Jason sipped at his tea in between bites of toast. Once Liam's out of university, then I can concentrate on doing what I want. He yawned again and glanced at his watch. It was already gone five a.m.

With a deep groan, Jason stood up, stretching and rotating his shoulders. Taking time for a quick detour into the bathroom, Jason finally collapsed into bed.