It was almost 1am when Zander heard the thud of a door and the tap of heels. He lifted the bottle in his hand to his lips and drained it before he swivelled in his seat at the bar to face Max with a grin.
“You come bearing gifts!” he said with a little bounce. He set the empty bottle down and wiggled his fingers at her. “Gimme!”
“You closed early,” Max said as she walked behind him and went to the other side of the bar to set down the covered plate she carried. “And what’s this?” She picked up the empty bottle to frown at the label then placed it back beside the two others that sat on the bar. “Not your usual drink.”
“That one.” Zander pointed at one. “Is the one Luc didn’t drink. And that one is the one I chased the first one with. Then that one is the one I…” he grinned and shrugged. “Guess I got a taste for it.”
“And this?” Max picked up the empty glass and sniffed it. “That’s your usual.”
“That one is the drink I had with Mitch when he came in,” he said as Max poured a shot of whiskey into the glass then downed it with a slight grimace. “Tough night with the family?”
She shrugged as she poured another drink but this time she sipped it. “You know how my moms are. When am I going to meet someone blah blah blah.”
“Uh huh,” Zander nodded and took the glass from her to take a drink. “I thought that was why you and Mitch were doing your thing,” he said with air quotes for thing.
“He was busy tonight, but that was the plan.”
“As Mitch would say, yeah no, I call bullshit.” Zander frowned and tilted his head back. “If my memory serves me correctly, he was in here by 9.30, he could have joined you. Wait, did you say was? That’s not the plan any more?”
“I don’t know…” Max groaned and covered her face with her hands. “He’s too…”
“Too?” Zander prompted after a minute of silence. “Hot, nice, considerate?” he threw out helpfully.
“All of that,” Max agreed with a wave of her hand. “But more than that, he’s too distracting.”
“Distracting?” Zander repeated and she nodded. “From what?”
“Everything. This.” She moved her hand in a circular motion and Zander frowned and looked around.
“Yes. I keep thinking about him when I should be…” she waved her hand around again.
Zander shook his head once then lifted the glass and threw back the shot before thumping the glass down on the bar. “You.” He jabbed his index finger at her. “Are an idiot.”
Max’s mouth dropped open in shock before her chin lifted and she glared at him. “Nice talk from someone who wants cake,” she said and pushed the plate out of his reach.
Unrepentant he scoffed at her, “Moments like this I wonder if there was a mix up at the lab and we’re not really related.”
“Zander!” she protested with a laugh and pointed at him. “For that, you have to sing for your cake.”
“Pfft,” he scoffed again even as she went to the store room behind the bar to grab a guitar that was kept there. “I’m not taking it back,” he muttered as he took the guitar from her and fiddled with the pegs.
“Well tell me,” Max invited. “How am I an idiot then?”
“Letting this.” He mimicked her waving motion. “Control your life and-”
“Not control. It’s just a priority,” she interrupted.
Zander looked down and strummed a chord then looked back up at Max. “Don’t you remember why we started this? So we could be our own bosses, be in control of our lives.”
“What’s the point of it if we don’t have lives away from here? We have excellent staff, a great manager. Neither of us needs to be here as often as we are. We’re looking at a second location soon and what then babe? We can’t be at both places at once..”
“All the more reason to be here now to make sure this place can run without us.”
“Or is it time to step back and see if it can run without us?” Zander said as he strummed and adjusted
Max knew he was right. They needed to focus on the next stage, the next location, and… other things in life, or what was the point. She sighed and pulled the plate with Zander’s slice of cake closer. “You might be right,” she conceded. “Sing for your supper rockstar then we’ll call it a night. I’ve got an apology to make and I’d rather do it after a decent night’s sleep.”
“You have a key to Mitch’s place, you should go over. Trust me,” he said when Max frowned at the late hour. “As much as it pains me to say, deliver your apology naked and all will be forgiven.”
“Oh god, shut up and play,” she said with a groan.
Max shook her head. “Whatever you feel like playing…”