Authors: Mickey J. Corrigan
Tags: #Scarred Hero/Heroine, #Contemporary, #Women's Fiction
Whiskey Sour Noir
Mickey J. Corrigan
The Hard Stuff, Book One
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
Whiskey Sour Noir
COPYRIGHT © 2014 by Mickey J. Corrigan
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
PO Box 708
Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708
Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com
First Mainstream Fiction Edition, 2014
Digital ISBN 978-1-62830-170-0
The Hard Stuff, Book One
Published in the United States of America
Praise for Mickey J. Corrigan
“I've only read three of her books and she is HILARIOUS! I know I will be highly entertained by her shenanigans.”
~Smardy Pants Book Blog
“One of the best things about being a reviewer for Romance Junkies is the vast number of new-to-me authors that I get to read. There is nothing more thrilling to me than finding a writer whose work I can instantly fall in love with. Mickey J. Corrigan is one of those authors for me.”
“I'll read anything by Ms. Corrigan. All her short pieces I have read were vastly different, but no less entertaining.”
~Hearts on Fire Reviews
“Find what you love and let it kill you.”
I’d never tasted a whiskey sour before I met up with Cat Avery. If I was having me some whiskey, I wanted it neat. In a shot glass. With a beer chaser. That’s the kind of girl I am. You may call me trailer trash or low class or whatever. I don’t care. I know what I like and that’s what I care for. I have my own tastes, my own reasons for that such. But sometimes I choose wrong. It happens. Shit happens all over this world.
I liked Cat Avery right off. Even though I knew he was a sexual offender, SO for short. You get arrested or convicted of any kind of sex offense, even playing with yourself too near to an open window or sharing raw dog photos on your smart phone, well, your name goes up on the register. Your meanest face mugs out of the daily line-up on our local public TV station, your home address zips out by email to every resident within five miles of what used to be your private life. The good people of Dusky Beach, Florida, take their predator protection rights seriously. You do the time for a S.O., everybody in town knows more than you do about it.
But in west Dusky Beach, where I lived these last two years, and where I worked and played and had a cold one nearly every night with my fake diamond-studded, concave, white as an iceberg belly up to the bar, nobody much cared. So nobody held the damn so-so label, as we called it, against Cat Avery. Mainly because everybody has a past if they’re hanging around west Dusky Beach. I know I did. Still do.
The first time I met Cat Avery, he’d just started at the Kettle of Fish. The sudden halt of the Gulf Stream flow was all over the news and everybody sat glued to the yakker box, watching the talking heads discuss the oncoming doom. When I walked in I was tired and cranky. Not in the mood for world disaster. Not in the mood for love, either. I’d dropped by the Kettle for relaxation, not excitement. I’d had enough of that at work.
The Kettle is two doors down from the Drop In Center where I counsel survivors of intimate partner abuse. People around here call it the DIC. A lot of my clients—we call them clients, not victims, so as to be empowering—are drug addicts and drinkers. Being near to the Kettle isn’t such a good thing for the addicted, but real estate is expensive in a beach town like Dusky Beach. Bars on the buggy west side of town are moneymakers because the rent here is low. And because, after all, not everybody who likes a drink can afford to indulge in the snobby pubs over on the beach.
So when I went into the Kettle after work that day, I wasn’t looking for trouble of any kind. I was just in need of something cold on tap. As per usual, I’d had a bitch of a day and all I was considering was my choice of chaser. I won’t get hauled in for drunk driving because I live right up Pearl Street and I can roll myself home nice and easy from the Kettle. Have done such that many a time. So there I was, already not liking things due to the blare of the two flat-screen TVs stuck on loud on the hyper-chatter news shows. Oh yes, we are headed for death and destruction, so let’s all sit and watch it come for us. I was in no mind for the end of the world.
I almost turned right around and headed for the take-out coolers at the liquor mart down the way. But once I’d set my squinting eyes on Cat Avery, I stood my ground. In west Dusky Beach, you’re lucky if you see anyone with all their own teeth, never mind good-looking guys in their thirties. Well-built men with hair on their heads are a rare breed in my neighborhood. I’d become accustomed to sleeping down. Avery was on another ranking entirely. He was up so many rungs he was out of my league, and I knew it soon as I laid eyes on the man.
That was my first row of thoughts, at least. I should’ve turned tail, saved my tattooed ass. But it was already too late. I was hooked line and sinker, and he was smiling at me. He’d seen me come in. The double-thick oak door eased shut behind me, and I stood there, letting the bar gloom seep around me. The Kettle’s windows are covered up with sailcloth drapes in funereal black, specially designed for alcoholic privacy and to keep out the mean old Florida sun. I held my breath for a moment and tried not to look at the vision of hunkiness standing behind the bar with a dirty towel over one broad shoulder. But there wasn’t really any choice. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. What was a guy like that doing in a place like this?
It was doubtful he was thinking that such about me. I’m a Kettle of Fish kind of girl. Cheap date clothes, red chipped nails, sawed off hair bleached whiter than Miami coke. Tats down my low-cut backside that show when I sit down. In west Dusky Beach, I fit in perfectly.
Peter broke the ice for me and Cat Avery by saying, “Here come trouble, boys.” He waved me over to the stained captain’s chair next to his own. “Avery, you better bring me a pitcher and a couple shot glasses of WT. And hold onto your wallet. And your pecker.”
What could I do? I laughed and sat down at the bar in the high wooden chair next to Peter’s. When he gave me a peck on the cheek I could smell the musty peanut odor of a day spent in darkness drinking cheap drafts and watching the bad news unfurl in an endless depressing stream. I hadn’t slept with Peter, not even close, so he could tease me all he wanted. I didn’t care, long as Avery kept smiling at me like he was. Kind of nice, not creepy and looking to benefit from my personal history of cheap scandal. Like some want to do.
“How’s tricks, Tami Lee?” Peter sat back against the knobby rungs of the chair. His beery gut pressed against the sticky bar. He petted it like a pregnant women does, rubbing little circles and soothing what’s deep inside. “You talk to Lulu today?”
Lulu’s his ex and my boss at the DIC.
“Yup. What you want to hear, Peter? She was crying all day long, crying so bad she couldn’t get any work done, all because she’s missing your sorry butt?”
He snickered. Lulu was tough as they come. When she tossed Peter to the curb, he’d fractured his tailbone and, according to him, it still hurt to sit on the crapper some ten years later. They were kind of friends, but Lulu blamed Peter’s drinking for every financial problem she and the two boys had suffered over the years. Being a single mother hardened Lulu and made her into one of those real strict teetotalers. She disapproved of my habits, and this held me back from all sorts of career advancements. I had more education than Lulu, but she’d put in way more time at the job. There’d be no winning with her.
“A pitcher of the house beer and two shots of bourbon. Here you go, kids. Now introduce us, will you, Peter?”
Avery’s soft-lull voice rumbled straight through my bones into my sponge-tender marrow, like we were sitting in a boxcar taking a long slow train ride together. I looked up at him and thought—I remember this distinctly, that’s how hard hit I was by this man—
he’s going to love me and hurt me, but I don’t know in what order.
“Tami Lee Conkers, meet Mr. Cat Avery, the new day bartender. He’s your new best friend. If you don’t break any mugs or shot glasses, he’ll give you your tenth round on the house.” Peter looked like he might have gotten a free drink or two already. “Avery’s on TV. He’s famous,” Peter added with a wet laugh.
“So is global warming, so shut it, Peter,” I said.
I offered the new guy my hand like the fine southern lady I was not raised to be. If this man was on TV but working here, I figured he was either a criminal or a porn star. Turns out I was just about dead on.
His hand was rough, pale, worn in the pads of his long white fingertips. I imagined those callouses worming their way into the deepest folds of my dampest parts. Just like that, I was in lust with Cat Avery. So lusted up I had to drop his hand like a hot tamale and down my drink in a concentrated whoosh. He kept looking at me in this way he has. Indecent, but distant. Like a sex god or a pimp.
“Nice to meet you, Tami Lee,” he said.
No trace of a hick accent. Polite, but dangerous. My heart rappelled off my chest and my nipples hardened. I have a thing for bad boys. Not sure why. I’m in the counseling business by default, not because I can figure out what makes the human tick or lie back with a smile.
After Avery left to tend to a rowdy redhead at the far end of the bar, Peter gave me a look. “He’s got one of them so-so labels, Tami Lee. Bum rap. He’ll tell you soon enough.” Peter clinked his beer glass against mine.
Clinking back, I nodded. Nothing new in these parts. Half the guys in my motel had a sex offender rap. There wasn’t a daycare center, park, or school within six blocks of Pearl Street. Registered sex offenders could legally live and work in west Dusky Beach. Many of them did. Not a one had ever bothered me.
I sipped my beer and looked around. We weren’t the only ones having drinks at the Kettle at three-fifteen on a Monday afternoon, so Avery was up and down the bar, fetching and making quick comments about the Gulf Stream disaster. The cash register dinged, he ring-a-linged the tip bell. He seemed awful damn comfortable for a new guy on the back end of a federal stretch and the front end of a climate collision.
I asked him about himself when he returned to our end of the bar. He acted like he wasn’t a bit busy and gave us his full attention. He sipped on a sweet-smelling glass of pineapple juice. He liked to talk, didn’t listen too much. He was into his own story. Most attractive men are like that. And I’m not one for personal revelations anyway. I’d rather take in a tall tale than tell my own. In a bar. To a stranger. Especially in west Dusky Beach, where I worked, lived, and ran around a little too much.
Now, don’t get the wrong idea. Dusky Beach proper is real nice. White sand beaches with lots of pretty little shells. Cutesy strips of pink and teal T-shirt shops, ice cream parlors, and pizza places with early-bird specials for the old folks. Five churches, real ones with steeples and asphalt parking lots. Nice clean schools with windows for the kids to stare out, not like some I’ve seen in the big cities, where the local prison has a more accommodating look. Over in east Dusky Beach, there’s a little downtown off Beach Street with the city hall and the library, both historic buildings from 1960-something. In this part of the world, anything older than a couple decades is automatically historic. Maybe because nothing lasts very long here in the dirty Sunshine State.
West Dusky Beach, now that’s a whole different pad of paper. I’m talking about the part of town where the churches are located in somebody’s house for tax purposes, and the stores have one thing for sale in the window and something else entirely in the back room. That’s where I live, in a run-down day motel called Love House. Yup, I know, but you can’t beat the long-term rates. Plus, I can walk to work. The DIC facility is huge, includes a homeless shelter for overnights, a soup kitchen serving three meals a day, plus day rooms for community use, group counseling, and support. Mostly we get drunks, addicts, abused women and kids, and crazies without the wits to stay on their meds. We get a lot of sex offenders because the state laws for so-so parolees and those on probation are mighty strict. Those people can’t live anywhere decent. They lose their jobs and run out of dough. That’s how Cat Avery ended up in the neighborhood. Like a lot of other folks I know down this way. In west Dusky Beach, you learn to live with them.