Gina slouched on a bar stool and peered into the mirror behind the bartender. Her curls still held despite the perspiration streaming down her face. She tapped the counter for service. The bartender pushed a bottle of beer toward her while peeking over her head. Only one corner of his mouth curved upward in a sly smile. Glancing again toward the mirror, Gina studied a guy with a freckled face and business-cut red hair strolling up behind her. He seemed nervous, approaching with tentative steps while constantly looking over his shoulder. She’d just beat four of his friends, but Pete had never given up too easily. She’d known him for a few months now, and he’d always worked on his game or brought a new guy to test her skills. She wondered what his next challenge would be and hoped he’d raise the stakes.
Gina placed the bottle to her lips and welcomed the cool tingling sensation of frothy bubbles rushing down her gullet.
“Hey,” Pete began. “How about some action on the next game?”
Gina stared at the half-empty bottle in her hand before spinning on the stool to face Pete.
“One hundred,” he answered, holding up a bill between two fingers.
After chugging the rest of her beer, Gina pushed the empty bottle toward the bartender and nodded toward the billiard area. “Rack up. I’ll start. You better have brought your ‘A’ game tonight because I’m not in the mood to lose.”
Gina led the way and grabbed her cue which leaned against the far maroon colored wall. Her cue’s multicolored rhinestone settings made it a sure deal that the men she challenged would never walk away with her prized possession. After Pete racked up the balls and positioned the cue, Gina inhaled, leaning over the table with acute concentration to prepare for her first shot.
“Hey, Pete. Maybe you should’ve begged to break. She always sinks at least two with her first shot,” one of Pete’s friends said from her right.
She smirked then, upon laying eyes on the cue ball, quickly refocused. She’d had enough of giving men chances. If she’d paid more attention to the signs from her ex-boyfriend, she wouldn’t have had to walk in on him fooling around with some wench.
Her fingers tightened around the wider end of her cue while she slowly glided the other end between her index and middle fingers. Gina took a quick breath then pushed the cue forcefully toward the pale cue ball in her sight.
Balls rolled in all directions, but only as she intended—one solid sunk in left center with another teetering on the edge of the far right corner pocket. Pete gasped. She frowned.
One extra shot then.
She headed to the opposite end. Her next shot required something special. She pressed her buttocks against the table and repositioned the cue behind her lower back. Sweat doused the blouse now clinging to her cleavage. The lights were especially scorching tonight. Gina’s clothes clung to all the wrong places, and she realized the men were watching her rear end, rather than the game. That’s why they lose. They gawk at what they can never have. She ignored their lustful gazes.
She glided the stick gently over her free hand, thrusting it towards the object of her fury when another glimpse of Hank with his woman flashed vividly through her mind. The cue tapped the teetering ball. Another one sunk. It was amazing how placing Hank’s face on the ball helped her plant the shot.
Gina pushed away from the table and turned to face Pete. “You still sure about the action? You seem to be a nice guy. I’m giving you a chance to keep your money.”
“I’m sure,” he replied over the voices of his pleading friends.
“Alright. Prepare for eight and out.”
Without hesitation, she greeted each ball with the same intensity she possessed ever since she walked out on Hank a few months ago. She’d always been a decent player, but her broken heart made her unstoppable.
She sunk one right after another. Banked the fifth. Swerved the sixth. When Gina came face to face with the eight ball, she glanced toward Pete. His skin flushed a brighter hue than his exceptionally red hair. He’d been a good competitor, but not good enough. He’d brought many guys to beat her, but she’d bested all of them. Pete probably thought she’d be tired after playing three games against his friends and pounding down two beers, but she was only getting started.
Gina smiled and pushed her cue like it was a stiff feather. The eight ball sank without a hitch. She strolled over to the winner’s basket to grab the hundred dollar bill. She earned it and a day at the spa is just what she needed.
“Thanks for the game,” she said. “Don’t sweat it too much.”
He never had a chance.