“That was close,” said Sam sitting next to Tom at the table next to Tom’s party.
Sam toasted Tom and turned his eyes back to the beautiful woman at the bar in the black dress. “You can say that again. Too expensive for me.”
“For you and me both, brother,” laughed Sam then scrunched his eyebrows close together. “So,” he began lowering his voice. “If you don’t mind me asking, what’s with the beard. I thought only moonshiners and terrorist wore long beards like that.”
Tom’s eyes rounded, and his brown eyes rolled up. “Are you shitting me?”
Sam’s brow creased, and he cleared his throat. “I don’t mean to sound -“
Tom roared with laughter so loud everyone in the bar looked at him. He laughed until his eyes tears. He clutched his gut and took deep breaths to slow down his laughter. “Take it easy. My mom asks me the same thing every time I see her. I’m not offended. I like a big beard.”
“Don’t get me wrong. You,” Sam stumbled on his words. “It looks good. But isn’t it a pain to keep neat? I tried a beard for a while, but got tired of all the work.”
“You gotta know what you’re doing.” Tom nodded at his friends sitting on the next table. “We just started a new venture selling men the products they need for good beards.”
Sam’s eyebrows raised. “Really? Tell me about it. You got your marketing plan?”
“We’re working on it,” Tom said, shrugging his shoulders. “But we know product. Ben’s been to barber school and Mike worked for a shaving manufacturer. I’m the tech guy. Got our site built, but we’re waiting on venture capital to go full time. Mike’s the only one still working full time.”
Balder walked up to the table with a tray carrying two glasses and a bottle. “Here you are, gentlemen. I noticed your glasses were empty.”
Sam looked at the brown bottle on the tray. “Um, I don’t know if I’ve had Kahlua straight.”
“Then you’re in for a treat,” said Balder. He set two chilled glasses on the table and poured the brown liquid into each. “Mind you savor the flavors. This drink is years in the making. Why, it takes six years alone just to grow the right coffee cherries. Don’t get me started on the aging of the spirit. She takes years combining the right coffee with the right distilled cane before she even considers aging them together. But her patience creates a whole fine for sipping and making new friends.”
Sam picked up his class. He sniffed the drink, then took a sip. “To new friends,” he said.
Tom drank from his glass and leaned back in his chair. Amanda, his sister, leaned from her chair to Tom. “Looks like everyone is making new beginnings tonight.”