“You know, if you just joke with them and smile sometimes, they’d probably tip you more,” she said innocently, putting her beers on a tray.
I put my hand on my hip. “The minute I smile or play nice with them is the minute they take advantage of me. I don’t want to give them the wrong idea.”
“Luisa, I’m really starting to think you’re afraid of men.”
That bothered me a bit. “So? Aren’t you?”
She rolled her eyes. “I’m a lesbian because I like pussy, not because men scare me.” And with that she took the beers over to her waiting table.
I pressed my hand on the back of my neck, trying to alleviate the constant strain I felt there. It was nearly eleven o’ clock at night, and I had been on my feet for twelve hours. I had three more hours of this before I could go home, which meant a forty-minute drive to San Jose del Cabo where I lived with my parents.
Which reminded me. My mother’s birthday was tomorrow and I knew she deserved something special. We didn’t have much money—I was the breadwinner at the house since my father suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s and my mother was blind. She was healthy otherwise, but neither she nor my father could work, which meant everything fell on me. It was a lot for a twenty-three year old but I’d been working since I was a child; even when my father was able to hold a job it was never a high paying one. I was used to poverty and I was used to hard work.
I just could never get used to being treated like a piece of meat. I could never get used to the constant fear. And working at Cabo Cocktails, working for my boss, Bruno Corchado, meant I’d been dealing with those two things since I was twenty. And now, because the only way I could get my mother a gift tomorrow would be to ask for an advance on my paycheck, I was walking right into the lion’s den.
I took a deep breath, looked around to see if any new patrons had come in, and when I saw they hadn’t, I straightened my shirt, pulling it up around my cleavage, and walked around the corner to Bruno’s office.
I gave three quick raps on it and stood back. I hadn’t seen him much today so I wasn’t sure what kind of mood he was in. I was hoping for generous and disinterested but knew that was pressing my luck a little bit. At this time of night he was usually drunk and a jackass. Or a lecherous pervert.
I swallowed hard as I heard him bark, “Come in!”
I opened the door and poked my head in. “Bruno?” I asked.
He was sitting at his desk, a row of empty beer bottles beside him, going over the ledger. He looked at me with red eyes, his head swaying from side to side, and I immediately knew I’d made a mistake. “Luisa. My beauty queen. Come on in.” He nodded at the door. “And shut that behind you.”
My heart rate started to pick up. I’d been in this exact situation too many times and knew this was going to end very badly. Still, I needed this favor. I did as he asked, the door shutting like a cell door, and walked two steps toward him, hoping I could keep my distance.
Bruno wasn’t a bad looking guy. He was in his late thirties, an apparent family man, though he never wore his ring at work and told every waitress that his marriage was open. We’d never seen his wife, or his children for that matter—we weren’t even sure if they lived in the city, and none of us cared enough to ask. Many men operated businesses elsewhere and only visited their families on the weekends.
But just because he wasn’t bad looking, didn’t mean he wasn’t bad.
“What is it, Miss Los Cabos?” he asked, stroking his chin and looking me up and down with drunken eyes. “You know, I was Googling you the other night and I found a picture of you winning that beauty queen contest. What were you, eighteen? Your tits were higher back then.”