Brett strolled into the tavern and took his customary seat at the far end of the bar near the bathrooms. Both of his favorite bartenders were on shift. Lacy, dressed as always in all black, stacked up a stretch of longnecks, and popped their tops in rapid succession. The crowd of guys near her cheered in appreciation.
Steven strolled over and passed him a bottle of Bud without asking. He was an odd type: He dressed according to a theme. This week was TV cowboy.
Pushing his white Stetson back, he said, “Howdy, pardner.”
“Aw, you’re gonna talk like a cowpoke in addition to dressin’ like one?”
“Heh heh heh. Naw.” Steven picked up a rag and wiped the surface. “How’ve you been, man?”
“Not good.” Brett took a long pull of his drink. After wiping this lips, he set the bottle down. “I think Tammy is cheating on me.”
“Yikes.” The bartender flipped the cloth over his shoulder. “Why do you think that?”
“She’s more distant, spending most of her free time on the computer. She also recoils when I try to touch her.”
“Ouch. That sucks.” He turned to the rack of liquor, grabbed the tequila and poured a couple of shots. “On me.”
“I appreciate it.” Brett tossed back the alcohol and shuddered. It was harder than he was used to.
“Have you caught her?”
“What?” His brow wrinkled. “No. I’d have said I was divorced otherwise.”
“Do you love her?”
“Of course I do. She’s the light of my life. The literal, as well as figurative, woman of my dreams.”
“Want some advice?”
Someone yelled out.
“One moment.” Steven strode up the bar and spoke to the guy who’d shouted.
He pointed to Brett who stood to go to the restroom, allowing his coat to fall open, showing off the shoulder holster with the Sig Sauer 9mm, and most importantly, the gold detective’s shield clipped to his belt.
A few minutes later, he reclaimed his seat and finished off his beer. Steven strolled over and handed him another. “Where were we?”
“You’d just found out that I’d welcome some advice.”
“Woo your wife. Court her.” Lacy called for a whiskey sour, and he began to mix one. “Seduce Tammy.”
“Think back to how you won her over to begin with.” Steven took the drink to his partner and waited on some new people who’d come in. The place was getting crowded.
Brett thought back to when he and Tammy were dating. There was laughter back then. A lot more than now. ‘When did we start to drift apart?’ He took another swig of Bud. ‘Why wasn’t I paying more attention to her?’
Lacy sashayed over. “Hey, Handsome. Want another?”
“Yeah, one more before I hit the road.”
She retrieved the bottle from the ice and set it on the counter. Steven beckoned her to his end of the bar before she could say anything else. Brett glanced up at the television, not really seeing the baseball game.
“You seem deep in thought.”
Lacy’s sudden words surprised him. He turned from the screen to see her leaning on the bar, resting her chin on her palms. “I am.”
“Penny for your thoughts?”
“I’m trying to figure out where I went wrong in my marriage.”
“May I make a suggestion?”
His eyebrow went up. This was unusual. “Sure.” She usually kept her thoughts to herself.
“Don’t dwell on how, or where, you went wrong.”
“What should I do, then?”
“Well, I don’t know of any woman who doesn’t like flowers. If she goes on a trip, and comes back, greet her with a bouquet of her favorites.” Lacy straightened. “You do know her favorite flower, right?”
“Of course I do.” He rose and fished out his wallet. Placing a fifty on the bar, he smiled. “She loves the wildflowers called Blanketflower and Blue Bell.” After adjusting his sport coat, he waved to his friends. “Keep the change.”
The two thanked him as he headed out into the evening air. ‘Call a cab, or walk?’ A glance to the sky revealed a full moon with some fast-moving clouds. ‘Walk. It’s a beautiful night.’
After a short hike, he stood in front of the thick oak door that marked his house. He unlocked the three deadbolts and stepped in. Once inside, he removed his jacket and shoulder holster, placing both within the closet.