"Wine by the Glass"
The receipts were racking up. She had signed her name so many times on the dotted line that it became automatic, the familiar slick credit card slip with a varying assortment of pens, each with an enormous summer flower taped onto the top. Probably to decoratively dissuade people from walking off with them.
Macie twisted the pen in her fingers, marveling how people rarely have pens of their own nowadays, but are so accustomed to them that they will tuck it away without knowledge. We need little reminders like a jaunty flower or a stringy pen-leash to prevent restaurant-goers from automatically walking off with them. She wondered how many pens she’d stolen by accident in her years of patronizing cafes.
Certainly hadn’t taken one from this wine bar, but she’d given herself enough opportunities for it.
This was Macie’s second visit this week, and she nervously scratched at her wrist. Does she come off as a drunkard? Is twice a week too much? Maybe she should wait every five days so it normalizes a bit, but then she didn’t want to be a regular on a particular day either. It would be too obvious. Her frequency was already notable. She should come in on a Wednesday just for appearances.
Wednesday is his day off, so she could make it seem less like… what it is.
He knows that she likes Rosé, Chablis, and Riesling, and will sometimes suggest similar varieties for her to taste and sip on, taking special care to pair with any snacks she might be ordering. Once he asked what magazine Macie had with her, and paired a wine to that.
“Someday I’ll get you to order a red,” he said with a wink.
She would order a case.
He looked good in black, that button down shirt that he would roll up over his forearms, showing off his nice tan… Macie would watch his hands swirl and pour her a glass, checking and double checking for a wedding ring, as though one might have appeared over the weekend or when he looked particularly upbeat. Nothing yet.
Why didn’t they just wear nametags? Is that so tacky?
And his hair… it was still thick and tall on his head, the type of dark blonde that might be hiding grey if you looked closer, but she hadn’t had the chance. He always seemed busy, spinning on the spot, washing and arranging glasses, smiling in the deepening afternoon as the room trickled in with people early off work. Macie didn’t know what time he left work, but she once saw him arrive for his shift around two p.m.
The wine was good, it was not an excuse at all. And it was a great place to get some extra work done, and write a few notes and relax. Magazine offices littered the area so it was convenient, and the reason why she had visited in the first place. The cheese plates were portioned small and affordably, and slowly she was expanding her knowledge of wines and vineyards. It was a nice place to go.
Except that wasn’t the reason Macie went, not even a little bit.
She wanted to bring her friends one day, but even the smallest group of women can become a gossipping gaggle and inwardly, Macie worried that her friends would embarrass her with their all-too-apparent interest in her crush. It was easier to be shy than mortified, and Macie picked these situations carefully. Today she sipped a Pinot Blanc he recommended and browsed the newest Vogue, painfully aware that this new shirt bunched up around her midsection unflatteringly. She sat straighter than usual. The check was signed, and her glass was nearly empty. The waitress was off elsewhere.
Just walk up and tell him what you thought of it. Make conversation.
Macie tucked away her magazine and stood up, adjusting to her new pair of heels. The uneven tile flooring was hell on stilettos, or it would be if she wasn’t an expert.
It’s not too busy yet. It’s still early. The bar is only ten steps away, fifteen at most. He’s not doing anything that looks important.
One step, two steps…
She felt herself veering to the door instead, shooting glances at him as he compared labels behind the bar. That’s where she should be. She should be learning about what those labels say. She should be walking up right now to ask the name of that Pinot Blanc she drank. She should be…
“Have a good one,” he called, stopping her in her tracks “It’s Macie, right?”
She nodded from the door, feet glued to the tile, and gave a little wave.
He smiled that impossible smile and hefted an armful of bottles off the counter and into the room behind the bar.
Well… maybe next time.
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