“Another Belvedere and tonic, ma’am?”
“Ma’am?” Alexis seethed, drunkenly. “Do I look old enough to be a ma’am? How about not ruining my day and call me miss, ok?” The surprised bartender froze in silence, unsure of whether or not the young, beautiful Latina whom he’d been serving drinks to all afternoon, was joking.
“I am truly sorry, miss,” he uttered apologetically. It was only his first week there, and he hadn’t caught a break yet. “I didn’t…” Alexis abruptly cut him off.
“Never mind and just keep the drinks coming,” she scoffed coldly. She could feel the eyes of the few other patrons on her, but she didn’t care. The bartender had been out of line, and that was a fact, she thought. Alexis felt drunker. The Xanax was charging through her as well, pulling her into a spinning state of confusion. She tried to keep it together.
She refocused her eyes onto her computer screen as a new email popped into her inbox. She was watching a conversation between Violetta and Juan Carlos. She was hoping that they would figure things out with the shoe designs and get on the same page, but she felt that she would have to intervene soon.
“Your drink, miss,” the bartender politely said as he placed her drink down. He smiled, but did not make full eye contact. She felt bad for snapping at him, but then shrugged it off. Too late now. She promised to leave him a good tip for putting up with her. She sipped from her drink and took a piece of ice into her mouth.
Alexis hated plane delays. If it weren’t for the American Airlines first class lounge she would have gone back to the office hours ago. She felt herself sobering up slightly. ‘Mind over matter’ she repeated to herself. She looked behind her into the lounge. There were only a few other patrons, all of them minding their own business. She couldn’t wait to get on the plane. She turned back towards the bar and looked at the clock. She still had two hours to kill. That was going to get her to New York by five in the morning, New York time. She sighed. She heard the chime of a new message coming in and her eyes snapped to her laptop.
Violetta was out of control. Alexis’ temper flared just then as she read the words from her overly dramatic, super high-maintenance, but all important client. Alexis hit the ‘reply to all’ button and took a deep breath. She typed out her email with a fury.
JC cannot make the requested changes that you desire, as he’s already stated. We simply cannot make the glass bows stick to the leather material of the shoe without majorly altering the design. Our factories assure us that we can get the same look and style by using the acrylic bows, and we can save 6$USD per unit that way. We are wasting a lot of time going back and forth over this. We cannot risk missing the shipment dates. Are you on board with this? Yes or No.
Alexis sat back, pleased with herself. She reached for her drink and noticed a man sitting a few seats over from her. She hadn’t noticed him walk up. She looked at him and he stared at her with a friendly smile. He was Latino, and he looked very tall. He had a handsome, but masculine face, with a strong jawline and kind eyes. He already had a drink. She couldn’t believe that she’d spaced out so bad.
She turned back to her email, but she couldn’t focus. She sent it anyways and then opened a web browser to check her personal email. She thought about the strange Latino though. She’d seen Latinos in the first class lounges and had even heard conversations in Spanish, but he seemed very different, but not like he didn’t belong.
Alexis clicked through the pages to get to her inbox, but all the while she thought of this tall, dark, handsome man. She had no new email, which was no surprise to her. She wondered if the Latino was a banker or lawyer. Alexis thought of the stranger again, and she let out a subtle chuckle under her breath. ‘Yuck, I hate Latino men,’ she thought to herself. ‘Why am I obsessing? Am I drunk?’ She reached for her drink. It was half done.
“Can I buy you another?” the Latino asked in a deep, smooth, tone. Alexis peeked at him from the side with a sarcastic look. He then laughed at himself. “Sorry, I’m seriously not trying to pick you up. I’m just here killing time, and I…never mind. I’m sorry to have interrupted you.”
Alexis chuckled slightly. How pathetic, she thought. “Sure, it’s your money,” she blurted out. She immediately regretted saying that, but agreed to go with it. The stranger laughed again, clearly embarrassed, and ordered another drink and a refill for Alexis. Alexis got a better look at him and determined that he was cuter than she first thought, probably in his early thirties, and from his clean cut look and expensive suit, definitely a professional.
“I’m Carlos, by the way. It’s nice to be here with you.”
“Thanks. And, thanks for the drink,” she answered. She checked her iPhone just then. It was important for her to let him know that he wasn’t shit to her, because he wasn’t. She was aware of her own disposition. She was aware that she was a beautiful Latina that made her own six-figure income and dated global men of power and prestige. She was well aware of her effect on men, and it had been shaping her personality for years.
“Yeah, of course. Anytime,” he said politely. He checked his phone as well. “I’m on my way to New York. For a conference. It’s been a while since I’ve been there, so I’m kinda looking forward to it. How about you?”
“I’m on my way to Paris,” Alexis replied without looking up. The bartender brought her drink over without saying a word. She cut her eyes at him. She couldn’t help feeling anger towards him. She knew it was for no particularly good reason, but she couldn’t help feeling that way. He had just rubbed her the wrong way, and now the feeling just stuck, and got worse, even, with the alcohol.
Carlos took a sip. “Paris? Wow, that’s amazing. I’ve always wanted to go there, well, really, my wife’s always wanted to go, but it seems cool.” Alexis’ eyes darted to Carlos’ hand and she spotted the wedding band. She regretted that she hadn’t caught it sooner. She had been trying to train herself to look for the ring right away when meeting a guy, but it was not yet happening. Not like it mattered, she thought.
“Are you a model or something?” he asked before taking another sip of his drink.
“Are you fucking joking me?” she sassed rudely. He spit part of his drink up as he laughed.
He looked at her, wondering if she was serious. “Are you being serious?” he asked. “I’m sorry if I offended you. You are smoking hot, and you are flying first class, I just thought you might be. I mean, you for sure could be.”
She eased a smiled. “Thanks. But no. I’m not a model.” She could see the bartender peering up at Carlos, obviously eavesdropping. It annoyed her. She decided to be nicer to Carlos, just to annoy the bartender. “I’m going to Paris because I work in the footwear industry. I travel a lot to keep the products running on time and to design.”
“Wow, “ Carlos replied. “Beautiful and smart. That sounds like interesting work. You go to a lot of fashion shows and stuff like that?”
Alexis grinned slightly. “Yeah. I go to all the major shows.”
“That sounds exciting. Do you know famous people?” he asked. Alexis chuckled again and sipped her drink. She unconsciously flashed her gorgeous smile and momentarily became carried away with her own flattery. Carlos stared back at her in awe. She didn’t answer him.
“Tell me, Carlos. Does your wife mind you buying women drinks and telling them that they’re beautiful and smart?” She smirked at him and then a serious look came over him. He suddenly became a lot more tense and then he stared at his drink pensively.
“Yeah. I’m pretty sure she’d mind if she knew,” he finally answered. He downed the rest of his drink and signaled for the bartender. “Two more,” he said quickly. He turned to face Alexis. She watched him curiously, wondering what load of bullshit he would toss out. She wondered if it be, ‘we’re getting a divorce’ or ‘she’s cheating on me’ or possibly, ‘she’s dead’, which was one she’d actually heard before.
“You know…I really love her. Or used to anyways,” he went on. Alexis rolled her eyes slightly. “Things have been changing lately. She’s gotten back into her career, which is great -I love that. She’s passionate about it. So much has changed though. She is different. She won’t talk to me –like really talk to me. We used to be so close. I have been trying to reach her, but she is not responding to anything I do. I took her to the place we first met. A restaurant over by UCLA, and it was just like…I don’t know. She wouldn’t get off her iPhone!” he said, raising his voice. They both sipped from their fresh drinks.
He went on, “I took her to on vacation to Lake Tahoe, about four months ago and she literally needed to leave after the first night to go back to work. She has been spending so much time working for those guys. She refused to go to Cabo when I offered.” He drank again. “We used to fucking love that place!” he said, raising his voice again. He then chuckled and looked at Alexis, smiling with regret. “I’m sorry for unloading all this on you,” he laughed again. “You’re so beautiful, and I don’t even know your name, and I…” he laughed again and drank from his drink. “I’m sure you pictured your evening listening to some jerk go on about his marital problems.”
Alexis laughed. She felt bad for him. He seemed to be speaking in honesty, but she didn’t quite buy it. All guys were dogs and cheaters, after all. “It’s ok. I don’t mind hearing about it actually. It’s kind of interesting. You know, married life and all,” she smiled wryly and took a drink.
He went on after a chuckle. “Yeah, it’s a trip alright. Maybe we got married too young. Maybe we’re growing apart. Maybe we are falling out of love. She is getting farther away from me. I am losing her and I’m not sure if we can ever get back to where we were. This trip is more than just about business for me. I guess it’s hard to be married to someone with such strong career.” He looked at Alexis, helplessly staring into her beautiful eyes. “I guess anyone you would be with would have the same problem. I couldn’t handle being with someone like you!”
Alexis laughed. “Nice! Why not?” she asked curiously.
“No, no! I don’t mean it that way. You are gorgeous and obviously smart! But your career seems like too much. Are you kidding me? A beautiful woman, travelling the world, mixing with famous people in the fashion business? I’m sure you come into contact with handsome, famous, rich men all the time. That would drive me nuts! Plus, I’d never see you. I guess I’m selfish that way. I guess I need someone who will be there for me –to give me her time and attention.”
She laughed. “A man being selfish? Wow, there’s a newsflash!” He laughed too. “You think that’s funny? You should get a load of our friend the bartender over here,” she went on. “He thinks I’m old enough to be calling ma’am! Hey bartender! This is your ma’amager speaking! Can we get a few drinks over here?” Carlos burst out into laughter, and then they both laughed joyously.