Laughter erupted from the table where Amanda sat cuddled with her fiancé, Mike.
Charlii slouched into her hands and rolled her eyes. “They’re having a good time tonight.”
“Aren’t we all,” replied Balder, once again polishing a glass while leaning on the bar near Charlii.
Charlii turned in time to see Amanda’s friend, Kaylee, lean over to whisper into Marty’s ear only to slip out of her chair.
“Maybe they’re having too good a time,” said Charlii to Balder.
Balder said nothing, but winked to Charlii.
“It’s not fair,” said Kaylee, not so much slurring her words as speaking them with too much care. “You catch one of the last good men. What’s left for the rest of us?”
“I don’t know about the last good man left unattached,” replied Ben lifting his empty glass. “I’m not attached. Who’s ready for another round?”
Marty, the tall woman who’d been quiet most of the night, chimed in. “Kaylee’s had enough, but as I haven’t, this round’s on me.” She stood and moved to the bar.
She stood next to Charlii and looked back at the table. “Another round,” she said to Balder.
Charlii noted Marty’s eyes were clear, her speech smooth, and even her stance solid. “Designated driver?” she asked Marty.
Marty jumped, almost slipped off her feet at Charlii’s voice. She laughed. “No,” she said. “Just a lightweight. I go slower than my friends. We’re in the neighborhood.” She turned back to her friends and shook her head. “But it looks like I’ll need to call a Lyft to get everyone home.”
Balder placed glasses on a tray and poured from a bottle of yellow-amber. “A woman of tradition and responsibilities needs a suitable drink.”
Marty looked at the glasses, then at the bottle Balder held. A smile broke her calm sensibly, and a light twinkled in her eyes. “I haven’t had that since granny last visited.”
“An open heart relies on family to move forward. Courage to you,” he said and toasted her.
Marty took the tray to the table. “My turn,” she said. “A toast from my roots.”
Kaylee reached for a glass, but Marty gave her a glass of water.
“What did you give her?” Charlii asked Balder.
“Pisco,” replied Balder. “Tonight’s her chance to impress Ben. If she doesn’t act soon, she and Kaylee won’t be friends for much longer.”