Daniela hadn’t even given me many details about Justin, my date. She’d gone on about how mouth-wateringly scrumptious Cody was and how she would stare at his crotch all lecture long. “If he’s half as well-developed down there as the muscles in his arms, he’d be one serious catch,” she had said.
“So this Justin guy—” I said, making last-minute adjustments to my hair in the full-length mirror we had in the suite. “What’s he like?”
“Oh! He’s also a catch. Frankly, I would’ve been fine going out with either of them. I’ve heard other girls say that he has celebrity looks. Like a musician, you know?”
“What kind of musician? Like a rockstar?”
She tilted her head toward the ceiling and put her finger on her chin. “Don’t think so. Maybe more alternative? Not sure.”
Hmm . . . someone artsy. If he was down-to-earth and not an egotistical rockstar type, maybe we could hit it off. Who knows? I decided to be optimistic about Justin.
“Well as long as he doesn’t have high expectations, I could see us getting along. I’m not exactly the perky, blonde sorority-type, if that’s what he’s looking for. You did tell him a bit about me right?”
“Oh yeah. Of course. I said Lorrie Burnham is my best friend. She’s wonderful, has a wicked sense of humor, and is overall a great girl.”
I frowned. “So basically you told him as much about me as you’ve told me about him.”
The edges of her lips curved into a smile. “Sure, whatever. It’s more fun if it’s a surprise anyway right?”
I knew where she was coming from. Daniela had good intentions. Except in my experience, surprises could be a bad thing. A very bad thing.
The plan was to meet Cody and Justin at the bar so we called for a cab to pick us up outside our dorm. The driver was a young guy with brown hair and lovely green eyes who turned out to be not much older than us. He explained that he was a senior English major and took a part-time job driving cabs on weekends to help pay for his tuition. He was friendly and I found myself thinking that if my date turned out to be half as pleasant as him, I would consider the night well-spent.
The cab slowed to a stop outside the front entrance to the bar. There was a large pink neon sign out front of a bearded cartoon squirrel that had a beer mug in hand. Toward the side was the parking lot which was mostly full with cars and trucks. A few vehicles even spilled out onto the open grass area nearby. This place was apparently very popular. I hadn’t been to many bars but from what I could tell by the number of people flooding inside and the cars parked all around, this one was unusually large. From the outside, the wooden square building didn’t seem that big, so it either extended further back than I could see from the front or it would be ridiculously packed when we got inside.
“Ladies, here you are,” the driver said. “I hope you have a wonderful night. Name’s Ryan by the way. Here’s my card. Call me if you need a ride back to campus.” He winked one green eye. “My shift goes until five AM.”
“Thank you so much!” Daniela said, handing him a twenty and taking his card. “We’ll definitely give you a call when we’re ready to head back.”
I offered my thanks and gave him a tip. After giving us a salute, he drove off.
Daniela turned to me. “Night’s off to a great start already huh? Aren’t you glad you came out?”
I had to admit it felt good to be out instead of being cooped up in my room like I usually was. “Ryan was actually kind of cute,” I found myself saying to her.
“If you thought he was cute, you’re gonna love Justin!”
I smiled. We followed a gaggle of girls up the wooden steps to the entrance to the bar. A big burly guy with a black skullcap and a scruffy beard with braids in it stood by the door with his arms crossed across his barrel chest. Uh oh. Security.
“Ladies, welcome.” His voice was low and gruff.
Daniela reached into her purse for her wallet and flashed her fake ID. Her hand was still and she beamed a confident smile, having practiced the routine more than a few times. I was about to do the same when the guy waved his hand dismissively. “No worries, you’re good. Just don’t get too rowdy or I’ll have to kick your asses out. Got it?”
We both gulped and nodded.
He smiled, uncrossed his arms, and gestured inside. “Enjoy your night.” He flashed us a pearly white grin that seemed too kind for someone that looked like he manhandled “rowdy” college kids on a nightly basis.
Once we got inside, I turned to Daniela. “Did that just happen? They don’t even check IDs here? Won’t they get shut down?”
Daniela shrugged. “Who cares, right? That’s not our problem. As long as we’re in, we’re good to go.”
We scanned the bar, craning our necks over the crowd of people to try to spot our dates. I didn’t know who I was looking for, but that didn’t stop me from looking. The bar was brimming with people but not wall-to-wall crowded as I imagined it would be. I didn’t recognize the loud rock music playing probably because I was more a Taylor Swift fan than a Nine Inch Nails one. It was probably a fifty-fifty mix between college students and recent grads but there was definitely nobody older than forty.
Daniela’s cell phone chimed and she checked the new text message she received. “They got a table near the back. It’s supposed to be next to a giant moose head mounted on the wall.”
We maneuvered our way through the crowd toward the back and spotted the moose head. It looked like an ordinary mounted moose head except it had black X’s over its eyes and it had a long tongue sticking out. The decoration fit the over-the-top grizzled animal theme they had going on.
“Cody!” Daniela shouted over the noise.
Two guys seated across from one another turned to us, smiled, and waved. The one named Cody had brown eyes with flecks of amber in his irises and donned a white baseball cap turned backward. He wore a pink polo with the collar popped and sleeves that showcased his muscular arms. There was only one label flashing to my mind: frat guy.
“Daniela!” Cody shouted. “You guys made it! Come sit with us.” He patted the seat beside him.
Daniela sat next to Cody and I took my seat next to Justin.
“Cody, Justin,” Daniela said gesturing to each person in turn, “this is my suitemate and best friend Lorrie. Lorrie, this is Cody and Justin.”