Ante Up- Dream A Little Dream

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CPR has become a part of my daily routine.  Work has been a living hell, not just for me, but for all of the nurses on our unit. Over the past few weeks, the ICU has been flooded with critically ill people. Combine that with a nursing shortage; ...

CPR has become a part of my daily routine.  Work has been a living hell, not just for me, but for all of the nurses on our unit. Over the past few weeks, the ICU has been flooded with critically ill people. Combine that with a nursing shortage; the need to blow off some steam has reached a fever pitch. Like a Band of Sisters (and a few brothers too), several of us are getting together to cut loose and throw caution -as well as our dignity- to the wind.  Karaoke Night at Lenny's is just what the doctor ordered. No, but seriously, Dr. Johnson recommended we get out and de-stress. What kind of nurse would I be if I was non-compliant?

While I wait for the rest of my flock, I place a drink order with the cute bartender, ready for the night’s festivities to begin.  I’ve hit a bit of a dry spell the past few months and I find myself giving him a once over.  He's blond, a little overweight, but a nice piece of eye candy to go with my Long Island Iced Tea. Giving me the index finger, he signals that he will be back in just a moment.  Cutie turns around to leave the bar, giving me a nice view while I wait for my drink. 


Lenny's is a great little dive bar for our mid-size Indiana town. The atmosphere is laid back and casual, with televisions mounted to the wall tuned into various sports networks, several pool tables, and a modest-sized dance floor. The bartenders aren't too stingy with the liquor either. Most of the patrons are middle-class, middle-aged suburbanites looking for a night away from the kiddos. I take in my surroundings and watch as couples and friends fill up the bar, ready to cut loose after a long week.  Karaoke is being set up on the corner of the dance floor and I can't wait to leave my inhibitions behind, belting out some of my favorite tunes.

Growing impatient, I realize the bartender is taking a ridiculously long time.  Scanning the bar, I find him flirting with a few barely legal girls at a high top table by the door. I might not be as young as I used to be, but I don't believe I'm too hard on the eyes. Readjusting the girls to give my assets a little more oomph, I attempt to wave at him to get his attention. He doesn't even blink as he looks back at me. Figures. Leaning back on the bar stool, I watch as the girls giggle at whatever ridiculous lines he is feeding them.

Shaking me from my stalking, "Did it hurt?" A low, masculine voice speaks softly in my ear from behind.

Oh, good God! Is that the best he has? I don't know if I have the patience to deal with men prowling the bar, looking for an easy lay to take home tonight. However, curiosity always gets the better of me.  Not even bothering to turn around and already knowing the answer, I reply sarcastically, "Did what hurt?"

"When you fell from heaven," the deep voice replies.

With an exaggerated eye roll and a sigh, I swing around on my bar stool preparing to rebuke this most unoriginal fellow who thinks he is being cute.

"Holy shit," I whisper, taking in the sight of the man standing in front of me. He has to be well over six feet tall, dark brown hair with a slight wave. It's kept short and there isn't a single hair out of place on his perfect head.   His eyes are absolutely captivating. Two emeralds peer into me, all-knowing; like he can see into the depths of my soul. I can tell he works out; his pecs are straining for freedom against his taut burgundy graphic T-shirt, promoting some bar called Uncle Sid’s in Chicago. I can't seem to look away and I consider for a brief moment just stripping out of my dress right here in the middle of the bar.  But I won’t.  I’m a lady. Kind of.

"Holy shit?" he asks with a boyish smile that unveils his perfectly straight pearly whites.

I really need to regain some composure here. "Um....holy shit that was a terrible pick-up line. Not very original if you ask me." Nice save!!

"My next pick-up line is a bit more original if you would indulge me," Mr. Studmuffin says.

"Fine. Fire away," I sigh, already losing interest in our little game.  I’d rather him just throw me on the bar top and have his way with me.  No need for conversation.

Mr. Studmuffin points toward the back of the bar by the pool tables where three other equally handsome gentlemen are playing. He has very muscular arms and those forearms are almost enough to make me lose my cool. Thick, ropy veins swirling around his arms, teasing me like the nurse porn that they are. God, I don't even need a tourniquet to tap those beauties.

"Those guys back there bet me that I couldn't pick up a beautiful woman using only the worst pick-up lines known to mankind. I'm never one to back down from a bet. Especially a bet I know I can win."

"You were right. That was definitely more original than your first attempt. You have surprisingly piqued my interests."

The not-as-cute-as-he-was-before bartender finally brings me my drink. Looking toward the tables I had reserved earlier, I notice several of my friends making their way over to them. Demurely darting out my tongue to take a sip from my straw, I look up at Mr. Studmuffin squeezing his eyes closed and taking a deep breath. Good, I have an effect on someone. Not just someone, but without a doubt the sexiest man I have ever seen. I could use a little ego boost right now.

"Looks like my friends have arrived. It was very...interesting to meet you, Mr...." my hand lingers between us for a platonic handshake.

"Bennett. Tate Bennett." He grasps my fingers lightly and brings it up to his lips, giving my knuckles a soft kiss. Leaning in to me I can feel his warm breath on my neck as he whispers, "It will be a pleasure getting to know you better."

This guy has some serious moves. No doubt he has had a lot of practice.

Sliding off of my bar stool, I walk towards my friends and make sure to put a little swagger into my hips, letting my dress ruffle across my thighs. I glance back at Tate to see him shaking his head with a light laugh. 

I plop down in the hard wooden chair at the table as it quickly fills up with my fellow workplace cohorts. Halfway through my first drink and I can feel my muscles begin to unwind.The knots in my shoulders and neck serve as a reminder that I spent over an hour running a full code on an eighty-five-year-old woman with dementia this afternoon.  We pounded on her chest with compressions, electrocuted her to restart her heart, and gave her high amounts of adrenaline all in the hopes of bringing her back so she may live out the rest of her life in a nursing home.

With a tilt of my head, I crack my neck.  This de-stresssing stuff is worth its salt, I can already feel the tension in my shoulders melting away. The night is only going to get better from here. I just know it.

A slight electrical charge fills the atmosphere of the bar and I look around to see the head of every man turn and follow the object of their desire.  My best friend, Jess, has made her grand entrance and I watch with sick fascination as men’s tongues hang from their mouths as she passes them and makes her way to our table of gangly friends.

Jess is beautiful and not just a best friend kind of beautiful either.  I mean she should have and probably still could be a super model.  She’s five foot ten inches of Scandinavian blonde bombshell kind of beautiful.  Every man in this place, even Mr. Studmuffin, has checked her out at least once.

 I’m not ugly; short, curvy with unmanageable curly brown hair, I’m more of the cute variety.  On a 1-10 scale I’m probably about an eight, not too bad.  But Jess is easily a twelve.  Next to her I look like a crusty dog with mange.  I’m not being hard on myself either, Giselle wouldn’t fare much better than I.

Jess and I share a long history of good times and trouble.  We met in our senior year of high school.  It was my third transfer in as many years.  I made it a rule that I would never become too attached to another person, because you never know when you will have to pick up and leave.  Life changes in the blink of an eye and that is a lesson that I have learned time and time again. 

Despite my resistance, she somehow managed to get under my skin and has stayed there ever since.  She is my most trusted confidant and advisor and I don’t know where I would be without her.  My childhood was riddled with immense grief and the uncertainty of never knowing if I will get to sleep in the same bed each night.  Not to mention if I would be safe in that bed.  I’ve lived in some pretty sketchy neighborhoods with less than admirable people.  And now here I am, sitting in a middle-class bar with my middle-class friends, living the middle-class American Dream, of sorts.

Making herself comfortable, Jess sits down in a chair next to me and leans back as she smooths the wrinkles in her dress and crosses her long legs.  Within seconds, the neglectful bartender is at the table to get her order.  Of course he is.

Ignoring the nonverbal insult from the bartender, I focus on the karaoke book and make up my playlist and fill out my request slips.  Jess looks around and we both see Mr. Studmuffin, and he is looking at us. 

  1. Not us. 

Not gonna lie, it stings a little.  But the recent memory of the way he was looking at me up at the bar makes me feel hot all over.  His ridiculous bet brings a slight smile to my lips.  I’m going to enjoy that moment, even if those flames were doused by the flame retardant, called Jess.

Ever observant, she seems to have picked up on my more upbeat mood.  "Spill it Daphne, who's the hottie at the bar?" she demands. I've known Jess for eleven years, there is no point in trying to hide anything from her; she can read me like a book.

But it's worth a try. In a vain attempt to downplay the effects this particular man is having on me, feigning indifference seems a logical choice.  "Just some guy trying to pick me up."  I'm struggling not to stride over and straddle him at this very moment. 

If he’d still want me.

The bar is getting crowded and the music is blaring through the speakers. Raising her drink toward the group of men, Jess yells, "Holy hell that man is H-O-T, hot. You need to tap that. If you don't, I will.  Nothing like a good orgasm to help relax. Whore yourself out a little bit."

“Not so sure I’m his type,” I mutter under my breath as I turn the page, looking for my favorite song.

No sooner had I spoken the words when a cute little redhead deposits a martini glass filled to the rim with a yellow concoction, directly in front of me. "'Between the Sheets' from the gentleman over there," the server says pointing toward Tate and his friends. 

Maybe I was wrong.  It is kind of dark in here.  By default, I assume that no man is truly interested in me once Jess enters the room.  But he may be the exception.  By the tug I’m feeling in my belly, I would almost beg to be the exception. 

Typically, I don't accept drinks from strangers, but I am thoroughly impressed with his gambit and more than a little relieved that I am still on his radar.  Pulling out a pen and paper I scribble a note that says:

Clever, but not that impressed.

I hand it to the server along with a tip to deliver my note. I need to at least try to play hard to get. And this drink is delicious!

Two drinks later, the DJ finally announces that my moment to shine has arrived. My voice isn't the sexiest, but I can carry a tune. Liquid courage surges through my veins and suddenly my inner sex kitten is clawing to get out and play. 

Taking advice from from my inner feline, I saunter up to the stage and clear my throat, bringing the microphone close to my lips.  The tune of Cass Elliot’s Dream a Little Dream of Me is amplified around me and I know that this is the best decision I have made all night.  The folksy rhythm of the song moves through me as I sway my hips.  I seek out the room to find Tate and see him leaning against a pool table with the cue between his long legs and his feet crossed at the ankles. He's watching me.

Good.

Keeping eye contact, I sing to him: 

 

Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you

Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you

But in your dreams whatever they be

Dream a little dream of me

 

Attempting seduction, I gracefully begin to dance, with moves I would classify as a classy stripper or ballet meets pole dancer. In all actuality I probably look like I have Tourette's Syndrome. I finish up with a room full of applause and whistling. Okay, maybe I went a little bit overboard. Slightly embarrassed, I make my way back to Jess. On the table next to my empty martini glass is another drink I did not order. This one is in a shot glass and familiar. "Buttery Nipple?" I ask Jess.

"Yep, and a note that says,” she wiggles her butt in the chair, all too happy to read the note aloud:

 

I can only imagine that yours taste even better than a Buttery Nipple.

 

"How very straightforward of him," I say with a raised eyebrow. I have to give him credit, it is very creative, but does he seriously think it’s enough to get me out of my panties?  It is.  But he doesn’t know that.  I send the drink back along with a note taunting him,

 

Lame, but creative. I expected so much more from you.

 

The night continues with great friends and even better drinks.  We complain about work and how exhausted we are. We order more drinks, some pizza to absorb the alcohol, and we all take a turn on stage.

From time to time I glance back toward the billiards and watch Tate play darts, pool, and toss back a few shots. Guess I was playing a little too hard to get, seems as though he has given up. His loss.  I don't need a man to give me an orgasm. I have battery-operated ecstasy in the top drawer of my night stand.

Resuming conversation with my friends, I hear a tune vaguely familiar to me. I only hear this song come up on the 90's radio station.

Looking around the bar I try to find the person responsible for choosing such a lame song, when I find Tate standing directly in front of our table, microphone in hand.  I Wanna Sex You Up by Color Me Badd is ringing in my ears and I take a moment to make sense of the delectable situation that is serenading me.  

Where the hell did this guy come from? His voice is smooth and deep, akin to Jim Morrison; I'm amazed he's able to hit the high notes.  But he does, and he does it well.  I squeeze my thighs together to alleviate the pressure building, as I let his silky voice wash over me.  This man can sing and it is a complete aphrodisiac. 

All of my friends back away as Tate makes his way closer to me. Traitors. The man has dropped down on one knee and now those bright celadon eyes are staring right into mine.  Light fingertips graze my cheeks as he sings:

 

Let me take off all your clothes

Disconnect the phone so nobody knows

Let me light a candle

So we can make it better

Makin' love until we drown

 

Damn, he's smooth.  After finishing his song, he turns around and pins me with his intrepid stare, his eyes shining brightly with humor as he takes in the stunned look on my face. He struts toward me with the ease and the confidence of knowing he has just won our little duel. Holding his hand out to me, I place my small hand in his as we make our way to the door.

I turn back and look at my friends with their jaws slack and Jess sitting there with her arms folded and smiling.  His friends are laughing and one of them comes up to us and shakes this suave man's hand, discreetly passing something to Tate while clapping him on the back. With a wink and slimy smile, his friend looks me up and down, then struts back to the rest of the men.

Tate places the mystery item in his jeans pocket. 

What did that guy hand him?  Maybe it was money, after all this was a bet.  I hope the payout is good.

 Tate turns back to me, pulling me by the hand, and we walk out of the bar together.

 

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