Chapter 1

1587 Words
Keeping the identity of your child’s father in a small town tends to earn you a reputation. I live in a small town in Texas, where everyone knows everyone. It’s not that I don’t know who my daughter’s father is. It’s the fact that he and I were a secret. He’s two years older than me, but I was only sixteen when we started secretly seeing each other. Now, I’m a twenty-one-year-old bartender single mother of a one-year-old, and her father doesn’t know about her. My best friend, Sarah, is the only person in this town who knows who Mackenzie’s father truly is. My parents have been begging me to tell them the truth since they discovered I was expecting, but I couldn’t risk it. He joined the navy when he graduated high school, then shipped out when I learned that I was pregnant. I haven’t heard from him since. I was madly in love with him, so it hurt when I realized he was talking to his parents and his best friend but not me. I live in a two-bedroom house, alone with my daughter. She’s growing so fast, and doing everything myself is exhausting. I work nights and wake up with her around eight every day. When my parents take her, I get a little extra time to sleep. Sarah, on the other hand, leaves early for work. “Hey, Mia, what’s the update today?” Sarah called as she walked into my house. Tonight, Sarah is coming to watch Kenzie for me while I work. I walked out of the bathroom, adding my necklace to my outfit. “Kenzie just ate lunch before going down. When she wakes up, she’s going to need dinner. Also, she’s cutting another tooth, so be aware that she may spike a fever. Which also means she has a rash forming; just put fresh cream on every diaper change.” “This poor kid, is she almost done cutting teeth?” Sarah sighed. “Doctor said it looks like she has all her teeth after this as it’s her two-year molars coming in. She’s barely sleeping from the pain, you know how much Tylenol to give her before bed, right?” “I got it, momma. Aunty Sarah has her munchkin. You go to work.” Sarah said, taking a seat on the couch. I handed her the baby monitor and headed out the door. I drove the ten minutes to work listening to the radio. I stepped out into the parking lot, greeting my boss, Chris, on my way into the door. I checked in with the cook and set all the tables for the night. By the time the bar opened, it was the usual Friday night crowd. Couples coming in, people having a couple of beers after work, it’s a small town but a large crowd. I make my way around the bar serving drinks and food to people I know. “Mia, you’re looking good tonight.” Bernie, one of our regulars, called out. “When are you going to let me take you out?” “Bernie, we both know you’re married to your work.” I laughed as I handed him his beer. Bernie is the town flirt but a very happily married man. He’s an older man in his mid-seventies, with a lean frame, salt and pepper-colored hair, and baby blue eyes that would have stolen many hearts in his younger days. “How’s your little girl doing?” Mary asked as I approached her table. Mary helped me find my house as the town's local realtor. “Doing good. Turns two in two weeks.” I replied, setting her food down. “Wow. How time flies.” Mary smiled as I moved through the crowd. “Mia, remember the band is coming in at eight tonight,” Chris called out from the office. I nodded as I went behind the bar to pour some more drinks for my customers. A local band coming in to play tends to draw bigger crowds. Paul is the bartender, but I get the drinks for my customers to help him out. The kitchen is bustling in the back as I grab more food that my customers are waiting on. “Table 2 just got new customers. They look like they’re not from around here.” Paul told me as I walked past the bar. “Great. I need a Heineken and a Bud Light in bottles.” I sighed. He placed the bottles on my tray as I lifted them off the table and walked over to deliver the order to table 12. I walked over to table 2 and saw two guys talking and looking around. “What’ll it be, boys?” I asked in my usual manner. “Two whiskeys neat and a side of you.” A man with dark brown hair cut in a shaggy style answered, grabbing my ass. I push him off with a glare. “Two whiskeys neat coming up. Touch me again, and the owner will have you tossed out of here on your ass.” I replied. Paul had called Chris out of the office to observe the situation. Chris has a zero-tolerance policy for rowdy patrons. He always has my back. I went to the bar to make the drinks. “Hey, bartender! Can I get 3 Miller Lights on draft?” A very familiar voice called out, making my heart stop. It’s been almost three years since I heard his voice, yet it still has the same effect on me. “Coming up!” Paul answered, going to the taps to pour the drinks. I grabbed my tray full of drinks, smiling at Paul, and continued to make my rounds. When I got back to table two, a few more guys had joined the table. I put the drinks down with a smile. The young man from earlier decided he would slap my ass as I began to walk away. I spun around and punched him in the face as Chris came over to escort him out of the building. “Mia, you know punching customers isn’t smart.” Chris scolded with a smile. “Are you good, or do you need a minute?” “I’m fine. Despite my reputation, I’m here to sell alcohol and food, not myself.” I snapped back. I went back to the kitchen to grab more food for my customers. I continued my rounds as the band began to set up for the night. “Paul, any idea where all these out-of-towners are coming from tonight?” I asked as I grabbed my customers more drinks. “No idea, but try not to punch anymore. Chris will send you home if you do; you know better.” Paul warned. I rolled my eyes as I walked away. The band started playing, and the night continued without incident. The usual customers have all begun to trickle out to go home around 11 when the kitchen closed. I made my way over to a table with drinks that someone ordered when I almost ran into Ryan Miller. His brown hair is still in its usual crew cut, but his grey eyes were as soft as ever. “Sorry.” He smiled as he helped steady my tray. It’s that smile that has always made my breath hitch. “Thanks,” I mumbled as I continued on my way. “Mia?” Ryan called as I emptied the tray at the table. I spun around with a smile. “That’s me. How are you?” It was hard to pretend I wasn’t out of sorts but seeing him after so long, I was.” “I’m good.” He replied. “Wasn’t expecting to see you in here, never mind working as a waitress.” “Bartender and waitress on the night shift,” I replied. “Excuse me; I have tables to clear.” I walked away to continue my shift. Midnight rolled around, and the band began to pack up. I sighed when the music stopped, and my ears stopped buzzing. When Paul called for the last call, most of our customers cleared out. I finished my shift by cleaning all the tables, sweeping the floor, and mopping the floor. I walked out with Paul as we went to our cars. “Mia, I wanted to talk to you.” Ryan’s voice called out. He walked over to me as I unlocked my car. “There’s nothing for us to talk about, Ry,” I replied, opening my car door. “I’ve missed you. I was hoping we could hang out for old time's sake.” I laughed, “that ship sailed almost three years ago. I’m not interested.” “Word around town is your quite the tease. I was hoping you and I could get together like we used to.” He said, reaching for my waist. “Don’t believe everything you hear. Not everything is true.” I snapped, getting in my car. I pulled the door closed, started my engine, and went home. At home, I took a shower, checked in on my baby sound asleep in her crib. I sighed as I walked into my room and crawled into bed. It was two in the morning, and I knew my baby would be up in a few hours. I closed my eyes, trying to clear my head from the events of the night.
Free reading for new users
Scan code to download app
  • author-avatar
  • chap_listContents
  • likeADD