Nikki had to get back to that bar. Maybe there was something about the man that was different. She innocently gave Jenna a hug before they turned in for the night with Nikki’s bag, and the bracelet, right in between them.
Maybe if she could talk to the man again something would click. So Saturday night she was ready when Rodney started the bus. Jenna gave her a meaningful look but both she and Ian chose not to say anything.
They could tell that it was even more crowded than last night. If it was like this now Nikki didn’t know if she could take it when they really started getting busy. She just hoped she could still find the guy.
Jenna only rode the bull once before she sat down with her and Ian to eat. Ian also seemed to want to walk on eggshells around her, always being the one to go get drinks or anything else. Was it so obvious that whatever happened last night shook her up enough that even someone who was almost a stranger to her could tell?
Nikki could see nothing from where she was sitting. She needed to walk around and see if he was here. The only thing that was keeping her in her seat was the thought of what she would say if she did find him. What did she want from him? She couldn’t really explain it to him.
Excuse me, but I have this bracelet. Nikki thought to herself. I think that it might be releasing some sort of energy that reacted to you the other day. Would you mind holding on to it and seeing if you feel anything?
She couldn’t stand it anymore. Crazy or not, she had to get answers and she wasn’t getting any here.
“I’ve got this round.” Nikki got up before she could lose her nerve.
“You sure?” Ian asked.
“Yeah, I’ll be right back.” Jenna was already at another table and Nikki wanted to be gone before she ever knew she was leaving. She was going to have to work on her poker face around these people. No more hearts on her sleeve.
The bar was packed again. She ended up just hanging out on the far side and found out why the crowd was so thin there. The bartenders were so busy with those pushing to the front that they rarely thought to check over there. She was perfectly content with waiting though. Most people who came in would end up coming this way anyways so she had a greater chance of catching the guy.
Eventually, a chair cleared up next to her as disgruntled drinkers went to brave the crowd. She sat down and waited.
Why did she think that he would come back anyways? Usually people don’t go to bars every night and at least not the same one if they did. This was stupid. She was being creepy. She should let the idea, whatever it was, go.
She started to get up when a man, definitely not the one that she was looking for turned toward her in the chair next to her. His eyes were glassy looking and he had a slightly crooked smile.
“So which version of ‘you come here often’ have you not heard yet tonight?”
He took Nikki so off guard that she actually laughed. She decided to indulge him. “That one. Good job. You get an A for straightforwardness.”
He fist pumped. “Yes. I knew my obnoxiousness would get me somewhere some day. So I ask again, what brings you here?”
“A school bus full of strangers.”
“Ah.” He looked like he wanted to be impressed. “I see. An adventurous life you lead.”
“Any particular reason you chose to ride with a bus full of strangers here?”
She explained the metal detecting and a little about the group.
“Find anything yet?”
“Trash and pocket change.”
“Really? No diamond rings or old lady’s necklace?”
Or a bracelet that I’m inexplicably attached to?
“What are you looking for up there anyways?”
“You know, you seem really interested in metal detecting.”
“Well, forgive me for showing interest in your hobbies.”
“It seems that your interests are not quite the same.”
They both turned to the man that spoke from behind Nikki. The exact man that she had been looking for this whole time.
“And…” The new stranger took a sloppy drink from his cup. “Who asked you?”
He shrugged. “A gift is a gift no matter from where it came.”
Nikki’s new bar buddy might have been looking to her to interrupt or tell him off for being rude but she couldn’t be sure. Now that she found exactly who she was looking for she didn't want to take her eyes off of him. The question was, now what?