The Black Knight Squash Fiction League Match

The Quill Shots CHAPTER FOUR

Chapter 4

Musha ringum duram da

by Tracy J. Gates

There's some takes delight in the carriages and rollin',

Some takes delight in the hurley or the bollin',

But I takes delight in the juice of the barley,

Courtin' pretty maids in the mornin', o so early!

Musha ringum duram da

- from Whiskey in the Jar


Something small and hard fell to the floor with a thunk. The young woman turned her head toward the sound. Her eyes widened.

Oh. Shit.” She went to reach for it, but strong hands yanked her back onto the bed and Julian lifted himself over her, wincing a bit as his knee struck her shoulder, but he managed to stretch far enough to pull it toward him. The thing was still vibrating on the floor like some kind of reeled in fish. He tried to hit the button to make it stop, but instead a red bar appeared.


Julian?” the thing squawked.


Oh thank god you picked up! I don’t know why I didn’t think to call you first. Have you seen Sadie? Cause I really need to talk to her. And she’s not picking up her phone. Which really isn’t like her. I’ve called and called. Is she with you? “

There was finally a pause. “Oh. It’s kind of late I guess. Are you still at the club?”

Julian looked at the phone like it was as nuts as she was. He took a breath. “No, Bethany, I’m not at the club. It’s…” He pulled the phone away from his ear and squinted at the time. “It’s two in the morning for Christ sake.”

So you don’t know where she is?” Bethany’s voice sharpened, as if it was his fault.

I’m at home, Bethany. How would I know where she is?“ Something poked him in the side. It was a toe and he grabbed it. He dipped the phone toward his neck. “Just a moment. Really.”

The toe was yanked out of his grasp and a finger flicked against his bare skin with a little snap.


Are you with someone?” Bethany asked.

Julian jammed a finger again his lips. “Just stubbed a toe.” He rubbed his head. “Are you sure she just didn’t forget to call? Or she went out with friends and can’t hear the phone? Or maybe her phone died. It could be anything.”

Of course it’s not her phone,” Bethany snapped. “I just bought her one of those gold 5Xs or whatever. And that’s the problem, it could be anything. It could be something bad, Julian.” There was another pause. Julian knew what was coming. “You think we could just go over to the club and see?”

How could he say no?


No, I’m good.”

The bartender—a big boned, pale-haired young woman with East Coast white skin—stopped her hand from taking his glass. “Last call’s in fifteen minutes, so let me know soon if you want a refill.”

Christian looked at what was left of his drink. It had gone from caramel to the color of apple juice. “Well, in that case I’ll have another. No ice this time.”

The woman nodded and whisked his glass away. “Jameson, right?”

Christian eyed the rows of bottles. “I’ll try something different.” He gestured toward the top shelf. “Whatcha got?”

Those are small batch whiskeys.” She studied them. “We just got one in from Brooklyn. I could give you a taste.”

Christian had to restrain himself from raising his eyebrows. He revised his assessment; this girl was pure mid-west dairy farm. “Sure, I’d take a sip of that.”

She stood on her toes to reach the bottle, her short skirt riding up. The back was better than the front, he decided. When she turned around, he was already calculating how to reel her in. “What time does the bar close?” he asked.

She untwisted the cork from the bottle with a pop and poured a small amount in a glass and pushed it over to him. “Oh . . . what would you like?”

This was going to be like taking candy from a candy striper, he thought, taking a swig and feeling the liquid burn the back of his throat. Going home with someone he didn’t know was perfect. He could stop thinking about the past twenty-four hours—put off thinking about what to do about Bethany, the spooky feeling that someone had been watching him, and all that crap until tomorrow. He set down the glass and glanced up in the way he knew women liked. But the bartender was looking over his shoulder.

I’ll have one of those,” a woman’s voice said.

Christian whipped around.

Hiya, big guy.” Kim slipped onto the free stool next to him. She unwound a cotton scarf from her neck and hung it and a red leather bag on a hook under the bar. Her lips were the same wine dark red. “Thought I might find you here,” she said, smiling at him and shaking her hair out from where it had caught under her jacket.

You did?” A wave of something musky and just barely sweet swirled around him and he felt momentarily light-headed.

You okay?” She put a hand lightly on his knee. It was tan with slender fingers, a hammered silver band around the thumb. “Sorry I missed you at the club. I had a few things to do first.”

The bartender set down another glass and poured two fingers of whiskey. Kim gave Christian’s knee a squeeze, picked up the glass and tipped it toward him. “Cheers.”

Cheers.” He took another swallow and felt better. Certainly the evening was looking ever better by the moment. Kim had looked like a nice athletic specimen at the club, but in her tight jeans and shoulder-baring top she was downright hot here. “So how’d you find me?”

Kim ran a hand through her dark hair and flipped it back over a shoulder. “Oh, I know some of the girls at the club. They saw you head over here when your party broke up. Bottoms up, eh?” She tipped her head back and the whiskey slid from her glass. Christian couldn’t help staring at the rise and fall of her larynx, the small cross at the base of her throat. Then he tipped his head back, too. It didn’t burn this time; it just felt nice and warm.


The air was cool on his face as they walked to his car. He felt floaty and happy and not like thinking at all. Kim would drive him home and then she’d come in and they’d have another drink and then they’d have sex and then he would be able to sleep and then he’d wake up late and have some coffee and then, oh, he’d think about what to do then. Not now. Now they were at his car and he was beeping it open and handing her the keys and getting in the passenger side and sinking into the leather bucket seat and waiting for her to slip in beside him. There was another beep and then a click. He should’ve told her how to use his keys. Women were so clueless sometimes. He waited for her to come around to the driver’s side door. Only she didn’t. Where was she? He twisted around to look out the back and all he could see was the top of his trunk. What was she doing in the trunk?

Oh. Shit. His backpack.

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