He had recently lost a bar tender and Aislinn was above average in appearance even if she didn't think so.
When Aislinn had applied to the job, he hadn't even asked if she could mix drinks. He figured that he could teach that.
She wasn't a super model but she was attractive in a strange way and she was better than the nothing that he had.
Derrick was at the far end of the bar talking with some regulars. Aislinn had learned relatively quickly to keep space between herself and Derrick.
Derrick was an ass.
He was always grabbing her and making lewd comments.
In this place the best spot to be in was behind the bar where the only person who could grab you was Derrick.
Anywhere else and you were fair game for all the jerks who came in the place.
He had even attacked her once. But she had slugged him and gotten away.
The other people she worked with were mostly nice. Kelly was really the only bitch and that was because Aislinn had gotten the job Kelly had wanted.
Kelly figured that she had been there longer, had devoted her time and deserved the bartender job. When Derrick gave it to Aislinn, he had made Kelly a permanent enemy for her.
Aislinn hated the place.
But she needed the job.
She needed the money.
As Aislinn moved from one person to the next along the bar, she approached the new guy who had sat down at the bar near the wall. He was impressive.
His approach had resulted in most of the other patrons making more than enough room for him, resulting in an unnatural amount of space at that end of the bar.
Aislinn was perfectly happy to have a short lull in the number of people she had to deal with. The man was pretty big, even sitting on the stool.
He had black hair and brown-black eyes and was tanned. He looked hard muscled even under the black leather duster he was wearing. But the strangest thing was this ageless appearance to him.
At first look she might have said he was in his late twenties/early thirties. But at second glance he looked almost 100.
Whether that was normal for him or was the fact that he looked as though he'd had the worst day of his life was up for grabs.
"What can I get you?" The guy looked up at her as if he only just realized that he was in a bar. Aislinn waited and when he didn't respond she asked again. "What can I get you?"
Cullen stared at the girl speaking to him appraisingly.
She had an odd scent. It was hard to make out between the rancid smell of the bar, the smoke from the people around him soaking into everything, and some awful perfume she seemed to have bathed in.
But there was something to it that caught his attention. She was attractive but she wasn't remarkable in any way. She had brown hair, blue eyes, pale skin, and medium build. She wasn't his type. I would probably break her, he thought and grinned at himself. Besides she wasn't what he was here for. The last thing he wanted was a woman tonight. No matter how intriguing her scent was.
"If you're not ready to order I can come back in a couple," Aislinn offered at his silence and the annoyed, confused look on his face as he stared at her.
Aislinn nodded, poured the beer and placed it in front of him. No sooner had she waited on the next person but he was pushing his glass toward her. She gave him another. Then another. At first she was concerned.
He didn't look very friendly and adding drunk to not very friendly usually didn't end well. But he kept himself to himself, paid for each glass as he indicated his need for a refill, and didn't do anything to bother her or anyone else. He just stared at his glass and drank.
Something about him that she couldn't quite put her finger on kept everyone else away.
Aislinn really wasn't sure what kept drawing her attention back to him.
The smell of him disturbed her. Since she had escaped her last job she'd had a sharper sense of smell.
But after everything she'd been through to this point she kept herself to herself and that included telling anyone that she could tell who she was talking to with her eyes closed. Smells always got to her very easily.
When she got out into the big wide world she had started layering on perfumes just to mask the smells around her.
But tonight his smell was getting through her defenses. He smelled foul or dead.
At least that was the only way she could describe it. She didn't know what could possibly make that odor.
But every time the air shifted she nearly flinched at the awful reek that overpowered even the smell of rancid beer in this place.
God why did I decide bartending was a good idea, she thought to herself.
Cullen was still sitting there drinking as the place was getting ready to close.
The girl who had been serving him all night walked up to him as she was clearing the bar. "Hey, buddy, do you need me to call you a cab or something?"
"Cullen," he said before he knew that he had said it.
"What?" Aislinn stopped what she was doing and started reaching for a phone. "Is there someone I can call for you?" she reiterated.
"My name. Cullen. Not 'buddy'. And no, I don't need a ride. I'll walk." He started to get up and then realized that he had drank more than he originally thought. It's been a long time since I managed to get drunk, he thought with a measure of amusement.
That's exactly why I came here, right? He took a seat on the bar stool again.
Aislinn let out a sigh and glanced at one of the other girls. "Okay, Cullen," she said hesitantly. "Look, we're about to close, and you're too intoxicated to go anywhere. You've got to have a friend somewhere who'll come get you."
He looked up at her and smirked with a hint of amusement. "Yeah," he replied, "a whole pack."