CHILL

There was no such thing as ‘unseasonably warm’ in the town of Selvmar. The popular tourist destination was nice enough in the summer – beautiful weather, even – but in the early spring months it was nothing but grey. The flowering trees would not start blooming for another few weeks, once the chilly air stopped rolling in from the choppy ocean waves.

Maya Solis was always surprised at how quickly she forgot about the fickle weather of her adopted home town. Now, with five minutes to bar close on what could have been the dullest night of the pre-tourism-season, she found her bare shoulders shivering as the draft coaxed its way through the aged windows of Ducante’s bar.

She rubbed at her shoulders hopelessly, turning to reevaluate the nightly inventory numbers. Three lousy bottles of some watery off brand beer was the only thing that had left the premises. It had hardly been worth being open, but she knew that Ducante would insist: “You never know who will come in after midnight. Or what they’ll say,” he would always add with a wink. And so she had stayed, though the rest of her staff had gone home before 11:55.

To fill the time, Maya had given the grimy old bar the wipe down that it had been denied for the past several decades. The only task left was to dust the bottles that sat untouched on the top shelf – this location did not see the sophisticated palettes that so many of Ducante’s other bars did – and Maya was loathe to go through with cleaning them. She had finally caved to fetching the creaky wooden ladder from the back of the store when she heard the creak of the front door.

Though it was still particularly cold, there was the vibrant thrill of spring time laced on the air that seeped into the lemony fresh tavern. It was enough to offer a jab of adrenaline, but that was not the only thing that set Maya’s hair on edge.

“Wow, working late, I see,” said a light female voice.

The bartender froze in the door to the store room. “Amanda,” she replied cooly.

“Who else?” The girl crooned, sidling past pool table and battered booth to take a seat at the bar itself. “I just got into town and thought I’d stop in to see if you were working. For old time’s sake.”

“For old time’s sake,” Maya repeated. “Right.”

Amanda dragged one long, pale finger across the surface of the freshly Pledged bar, causing a horrible squeaking sound as she did so. “Is your owner around?”

Maya clenched her jaw. “I suppose you mean the bar owner?”

“Yes, of course. That’s what I meant. Where is Gregory spending his time these days?”

“Oh, you know,” she said, shrugging her bare shoulders, “here and there. He’s never spent much time here, though.”

The self-satisfied expression that had been set on the new comer’s face fell slightly. “You’re telling me you don’t see him?”

“Only when there’s a new business opening.”

“Right, the one in Molten,” she cooed, some of her old vibrance flashing back to her hazel eyes. She shook a hand through her sandy curls. “I hope Jason found you.”

Maya’s jaw clenched again. She snatched up a rag hanging on the edge of the bar and began scrubbing furiously at a non existent spot. “You got him disowned, you know.”

“Oh, come on, Maya. Nothing worse than what you’ve done,” she said lightly, leaning an elbow on the counter. “And at least he got a job out of the deal.”

Abruptly, Maya stopped. Her green eyes flashed. “Ivy got what she deserved.” The bartender sighed, pressing her fingers to her temples. “That’s in the past anyway,” she mumbled.

“And I’m here to talk about the future,” Amanda said, sliding to lean forward over the bar. “I had an interesting encounter recently. With a certain ‘Josef.’ I think your employer would like to know about it.”

Maya tossed the rag into a small hamper at the side of the bar before she bothered to respond. “When did you become one to start playing these games, Amanda?”

“When Ivy left the position open,” she said lightly.

“That’s not funny.”

“Please, Maya,” the girl said, more seriously, now. “Please. I need to talk to Ducante.”

The bartender sighed. “Come back tomorrow, Amanda.” She shook her head, turning to fetch the ladder from the back room.

At the bar, Amanda smirked. “It’s good to see you again, Maya.”

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