- Sneak Peek -
The server -- bartender, she should use the correct words -- stood not far away talking to a customer. When he spotted her, he headed in her direction and wiped the surface in front of her with a cloth.
"What can I get you?" he said.
She stared at all the bottles. With such a selection, how could she make up her mind? She could point, but that would mark her as someone who didn't know her way around Earth or its customs. She pondered the dilemma for long seconds, but no solution came to her.
"How about a glass of white wine?" the bartender said.
She waved a hand. "Far too safe."
The man stared at her. "Okay."
"But I'd better not have any mixed drinks."
"Then, you'll want something straight," he said.
Straight as opposed to crooked? Now she stared at him.
"Neat," he supplied.
"Oh, yes. Something neat." She needn't have anything sloppy, after all.
"I have some very old cognac," he said. "A little on the expensive side."
"Expense is no problem." She reached into the pocket of her uniform and placed the plastic card on the bar.
"Cognac it is, then." He produced an oddly shaped glass from under the bar and set it in front of her. It stood on a base, had a wide bowl at the bottom, and tapered to a smaller opening. Then he grabbed a bottle from behind him and poured a bit of liquor.
When she lifted the glass and swallowed the cognac, it burned down the back of her throat. The bartender didn't say anything as she coughed and sputtered. He didn't have to. Clearly, she'd taken the drink the wrong way.
"People usually sip cognac," he said after a bit.
So when he poured her a bit more, she only took a small amount. That made a lot more sense because now she could appreciate all the different flavors, and the shape of the glass allowed her sense of smell to pick up the perfume of the cognac. Quite complex and elegant. No wonder Earthers paid a great deal for this liquor. It was really quite remarkable.
"I'll leave the bottle," the bartender said as he smiled and walked away to take care of another customer.
Meriane poured herself a bit more and swiveled the stool so she could check out the rest of the bar.
A few more people had arrived, some in costume and others in more subdued clothing. She should interact with a few of them and get her bearings socially. Certainly an intoxicant like liquor should make people friendly.
As she sipped her drink, a sense of rightness settled into her chest. Everything was quite lovely here, wasn't it? Comforting and welcoming. The barstool was comfortable, the bartender genial, and the cognac sublime. She could relax and have some fun here as she searched for a mate. That in itself would provide plenty of stimulation for the senses.
Yes, it would.
Toward the back in a dim corner, a man sat studying her.