Happy Easter! I was determined to get this finished up for today! It's just going to be a collection of a few moments in their story. Ok, so sorry, but I can't write this in the traditional story sense. For you all that have read Country Song, you already know these two a bit anyway!
Disclaimer: I own nothing! Haha!
This is for the always amazing and long time fanfiction friend, Sama! She always supports my craziness!
Fourteen months before Country Song
What's your all-time high
Your good as it gets
"Eliot?!" Parker said insistently through the comm in his ear. Ignoring her for the second time, Eliot Spencer leaned more heavily against the bar, his gaze on the petite blond standing beside him. His brow lifted, and he flashed her a hint of that smile that always worked.
"My names Becky," she said, a slight flush slipping across her pale skin.
As much as Eliot Spencer truly appreciated a direct woman who knew what she wanted, he loved the girls that blushed also. She reached up, tucking a long strand of hair behind her, and dropped her gaze. It did not matter if the coyness was a show; he didn't mind playing along.
Sitting up, Eliot stuck his hand out, "nice to meet you. I'm..."
Parker suddenly appeared directly in front of them, finishing his sentence for him. "Eliot!"
"What, Parker!" He ground out through his teeth, leveling her with a glare as he dropped the blond's hand.
Unphased as usual, Parker just looked at him with her big wide eyes, completely unaware of the intrusion. "Table seven needs its drinks."
Eliot opened his mouth to say something, but what was the point he knew she wouldn't leave. He scowled at her as he stood. Turning his attention to his new friend, he said, "I'll be back, darlin'."
Parker handed the drink slip she had to him, then disappeared to the other end of the bar. His attention followed Parker, his upper lip curling up, he growled. Apparently, he was also the bartender tonight. Eliot got up and made his way behind the bar; he grabbed a tray from one of the shelves under the counter and skimmed the tag before pouring two draft pale ales, a Blueberry Wheat, and a bottle of Columbia River IPA.
"Don't go anywhere," he said to his new friend as he made his way from behind the bar.
Eliot walked closer to the dark cherry wood table and the group of people surrounding it. While most times these days, he just reacted to mess with the others; sometimes, they still pissed him off. Eliot had stopped finding them nearly as irritating a long time ago, even Parker. She was so childlike, and oddly innocent Eliot found her annoying, but he also would protect her with his life. Truthfully, he would do the same for any of them. However, at the moment, the hitter was seriously thinking about wringing Parker's neck. He wasn't her waiter. She had no boundaries, but he already knew this.
It was Friday, the Brew Pub was busier than usual, plus they were short two wait staff, so that meant even fewer boundaries.
He didn't mind lending a hand to his friends. Though Eliot preferred working in the kitchen to waiting on tables, tonight something else had occupied him.
The four women sitting at table seven were the usual Friday night, drinks after work, happy hour sorts. They had office jobs, wore lots of makeup, and statement jewelry. Eliot found it highly offensive; he even knew what statement jewelry was. He'd blame that in Sophie. They carried designer purses and wore designer shoes and had no clue. Just like the one he'd left at the bar with his assurance, he'd be right back. Becky was a secretary at an insurance office three blocks away and said she came here all the time. Eliot didn't recognize her, but that wasn't really surprising. Still, he played along when she said she remembered him before he asked her name.
The brunette sitting with her back to him, stood turning so he could see her profile, and removed a leather jacket as he drew closer. She looked over her shoulder, gifting him with an even better view of her pretty face. There was something familiar about her, liked he should know her, but he had no idea why. She smiled, turning around, and sat down, leaving him with a view of her narrow shoulder covered in a tight grey sweater.
A second later, she laughed and turned her head again. Her face was crimson. "All ya'll are assholes," she said in a familiar accent.
Next, she gifted one of her companions with a big toothy grin that took him back. It was a much younger face that had always given him that smile when she was being a brat.
He stopped short at the name that passed the lips of one of the friends 'A.B.'
Eliot opened his mouth only to shut it just as quickly. It couldn't be. " A.B.?" He questioned. The brunette turned and looked up at him. "Abigail Baker?" He asked, slowly, surprise, lacing his voice.
She gave him an odd look, then recognition and disbelief slipped through her green eyes and across her features almost simultaneously. Her mouth opened then closed, she studied him for a moment. A bewildered smile appeared on her face. "Eliot?" She questioned as if weighing the name. Standing up, she said, "Eliot Spencer."
Eliot nodded. "Yeah." He placed the tray on an empty table next to him. He opened his arms, hesitating for a moment, the impulse to hug her caught him entirely by surprise.
A.B. threw her arms around his waist. "Eliot Spencer," she said, shaking her head against his shoulder.
Despite initiating their embrace, Eliot hesitated for a half a moment again then hugged her back. She squeezed him tighter, not letting go as quickly as most would. She held onto him for a moment longer, then moved back.
Stepping back also, Eliot looked at the pretty brunette standing before him. A mass of thick dark hair was piled atop her head in a bun, highlighting a smooth brow, and big dark green eyes that seemed to smile at him. "Abby Baker."
She was older, obviously, but there was no mistaking Caleb Baker's little sister. She had the same coloring and oval-shaped face, with high cheekbones and nose that turned up slightly on the end as her older brother had had.
"What are you doing here?" she asked. "Do you work here?"
"No. Friends of mine own the brewery." His eyes traveled over her quickly, still unbelieving that she was standing here in front of him. "What about you? Are you here visiting or?"
Abby was quiet for a half a second before she spoke. "I live here."
Eliot just stared at her for a moment, still more than a little surprised, then shook his head, the corner of his mouth pulling upward. "Me too." The last time he had seen her, she might have been thirteen and all angles and elbows as her grandfather would say. She definitely wasn't anymore.
"Ab's?" someone behind them questioned. "Are you gonna introduce us to your friend?"
Abby reached up, tucking an errant hair behind her ear and pulled her attention from Eliot. She had honestly forgotten them. "Um, yeah. This is Eliot. Eliot Spencer. Eliot, this is Sasha."
Eliot took the blond's hand.
"So how do you know, A.B.?" she inquired.
"I grew up about two miles from her grandparents' place."
"Mmhmm, " Sasha replied. She cocked a brow that somehow said, I bet you did, in a very naughty way. Abby gave her friend a dirty look before she could say anything more. "Isn't it a small world?"
Her friend Jess spoke, from the chair to Sasha's, immediate right. "Hey, I'm Jessie."
As Eliot was shaking Jessie's hand, the brunette who had been sitting closest to Abby smiled. "I'm Joan," she said, waving, the line of metal bangles on her wrist jingled together.
Eliot just nodded politely.
"So you lived a couple of miles from our Abby, you say?" Jessie questioned, making the question somehow sound nearly as inappropriate as Sasha's eyebrow had. Abby's cheeks grew warm, and she leveled Jess, with a glare.
Chuckling softly, Eliot said, "Yes, ma'am. Maybe one as the crow flies and two and a half by road." His attention moved back to Abby as he finished. He winked at her.
"So, you're a farm boy?" Jess asked, her dirty blond eyebrows lifted innocently.
"Nah." He said, his attention returning to Abby. "A.B.'s the farmer's granddaughter; I was just a hired hand."
"More like family," Abby corrected. Eliot might have gotten paid, but he was never just hired help. "Do you want to have a drink with us?" Abby asked.
Eliot finally remembered the tray of drinks he left sitting on the table beside him, but his attention moved to the bar and Becky. She was standing sideways, leaning against the bar, trying to watch him out of the corner of her eye covertly.
"Unless you're otherwise occupied?" Abby asked, drawing his attention back to her. "Or, you could both join us?" She offered with a shrug.
"Yeah," he said, his gaze shifting between the girl he hadn't seen since she was still just a kid and the one at the bar. There wasn't any contest. Eliot grabbed the tray and gave them each of their drinks. "Don't go anywhere." he said. It didn't escape Eliot that he had said precisely that to his new friend when he was leaving her.
Abby sat back down, glancing at Eliot as he made his way back across the crowded room. A blue plaid shirt clung to a set of shoulders that were much wider than she remembered. His hair was longer also, but those eyes and that voice were precisely the same. She scooted her chair back into the table and wrapped her hands around the Columbia River IPA he had left for her.
"Holy hell," Sasha said, leaning back in her chair to watch Eliot walk away. "If that's how they grow them in Oklahoma, I will be going with the next time you visit."
"Did you hear that fucking voice?" Joan asked. "That alone would make me melt, never mind the eyes."
"So, who is he?" Jess asked a second later, none of them giving Abby a chance to speak. She was very openly interested.
A.B. refrained from commenting on his voice or Jess's apparent interest. "He was my brother's best friend."
"Oh," Joan said. They'd all heard the story of Caleb's death and how hard that had been after losing her father six years earlier in another car accident.
"You had no idea he lived here?" Sasha asked, drawing Abby's attention.
A.B. shook her head, her attention moving to where he talked to the blond girl. "No. I haven't seen Eliot since just before my fourteenth birthday."
Jess interjected. "I just got to say, he's hot."
"We caught that already," Joan said.
"Shush," Jess said, pointedly looking at the others before she looked over Abby's shoulder. "He's coming."
"I call dibs," Sasha said, smiling.
"Dibs?" Jess asked. "What about A.B.?"
"She has Hank," Sasha said, purposely ignoring the point. They had a rule about dating each other's friends and family. Sasha pushed her chair closer to Jess. Unbeknownst to Sasha, she was the main reason for that rule. Sasha had messed around with Jess' cousins friend a couple years ago and hurt him pretty badly. The guy was like family to Jess.
"She doesn't find any of you funny, " A.B. responded, but paid them little mind. Her attention stayed with Eliot; he had left the blond girl behind at the bar. The girl looked none too happy either. A.B. remembered her mom saying he was going to keep breaking hearts most of his life, and Abby had no doubt he had. He may be older; fine lines marked the edge of his eyes and creased his forehead, but was every bit as handsome as she remembered from when she was just young and experiencing a very adolescent crush. Maybe more so.
A.B. turned and looked at her friends, scooting her chair back she stood, taking her beer with her. "Sorry, guys, " A.B. said, turning just as Eliot reached them.
"Why don't we find somewhere to sit?" Abby grabbed her jacket from the back of her chair.
"Sure," he said. He nodded at her friends. "Ladies." He stepped back, lifting his arm, gesturing for Abby to go before him. "How about, right over there?" Eliot said, nodding toward an empty booth near the entrance.
Addy stepped past him.
She dropped her jacket onto the booth seat when they reached it and slid in behind it. She studied him curiously for a moment. "So?" She asked expectantly, her eyes growing big. She leaned her elbows on the table.
"So what?" He asked, taking a drink of the beer in his hands. He still had that same twinkle in his eyes he had always had.
"Where have you been?"
"Around. What about you?" Eliot asked. "How'd you end up here?"
"Well, that was an informative answer," she said, laughing softly.
Eliot nodded, shrugging his shoulders.
A.B. signed. "School," she said, nodding her head. "I attended Humboldt State in NorCal. Jenna lives in Salem, and I moved out here to live with her and ended up applying to School on the west coast." A.B. refrained from telling him about Kyle or running away at seventeen or anything that ensued.
"Really?" Eliot asked. He had forgotten about Jenna. She was Caleb and A.B.'s sister from when their father was young. Eliot had never met her. "For what?"
"Journalism and liberal arts."
Liberal arts was one of those majors career students pursued a lack of anything useful to take or just to obtain a degree. The other didn't surprise him, however. She was always scribbling in notebooks when she was a kid. "Journalism?"
"Yup," she said, popping the p.
"So, are you?"
Abby's brows lifted. "A journalist?"
"Yeah," Eliot said, folding his arms across his chest and leaning back.
A.B. shook her head. "Nope, not at all." A puzzled look crossed her features. "That is unless composing a lot of emails makes me one. I am head of the sales department at Pipeline Distributing."
"What about you?" She asked next. "What do you do besides help out your friends?"
"Me?" Eliot asked after a moment. Very rarely did this question come up, unless it was in a similar circumstance. That circumstance usually had someone like Becky playing center stage, not someone like A.B. He carefully said, "private sector."
When he didn't say any more, A.B. gave him a puzzled look.
"So what? Like the ex-military, private sector guy in the movies?" she asked, a teasing twinkle in her eyes. "Like Black Forest?"
She had no idea how close she was, despite that he gave her a small smile. "You mean Blackwater?"
"Sure," she said, her eyes dancing.
"No. I do some consulting work. Security mostly." After a short pause, he said, "how about your granddad, is he still around?" The question might be a distraction, but Eliot really did want to know. He'd driven past the Baker place when he was home. It was apparent people lived there, but he had no way of knowing if it was still her family. For reasons he would prefer not think about the not knowing made the hollow ache, he had felt even worse. That was probably because he knew in a different world, he never would have lost contact with them or the girl sitting across from him. He had honestly never intended to, Caleb would have wanted him to be there for her.
"Gramp's?" A.B. asked, a twinkle in her eye. "He's still going. He says he's not goin' anywhere yet. He still runs the ranch."
"Too ornery," Eliot observed, amused, and not at all surprised. Jameson Baker was known for his stubbornness.
Their gazes held, and Abby bit her lip. "As a polecat is what momma says." After a pause, she continued. "I can't even imagine what the old man will say when I tell him I saw you." Abby grew quiet for a moment. "I was sorry to hear about your dad, Eliot."
A shadow fell over Eliot's face. The light left his eyes, and he looked away. Abby had been so young she never knew what actually happened, but she knew he and his dad had always had a tense relationship.
When he didn't say anything, Abby did. "Gramps always thought the world of you, you know." She almost reached out and touched his hand, but didn't. She had asked her mom if Eliot was there when his dad died. "We all did, I think."
This time she smiled. "Even me, when you weren't scaring my would-be boyfriends."
He looked confused for half a second, then understanding dawned, and he smirked. "Maybe you should have picked better ones."
Abby smiled, checking her watch, it was nearly eleven pm. "I really do need to get headed home," she said reluctantly. It wasn't lost on her that she could sit right here for the rest of the night. But they already sat here for hours, and she was supposed to hike the Columbia River Gorge tomorrow.
"So dinner when you get back?" She asked, her attention drifting over his face.
Eliot smiled, nodding his head. "Yeah."
A.B ignored the soft fluttering in her stomach as their gazes held.
"You have to promise to be nice this time." She teased, her eyes lighting up. She stood, and Eliot did likewise. "I think you'll like Hank."
Eliot just smiled. Her farm boy from Oregon sounded alright, but Eliot rarely liked people. For some reason, he doubted Abby Bakers' boyfriend was going to be an exception, but he'd at least be nice. Or try, for her sake.
A.B. hugged him without him offering this time. Like earlier, she held onto him much longer than people usually did when hugging. "I'm so glad we ran into each other."
"Me too," Eliot said, he tightened his arms around her for just a moment. And he honestly was.
A.B. finally let go, stepping back, she grabbed her burgundy-colored leather jacket and slipped it on then put her phone into the pocket.
"Soon," he agreed, watching as she took two steps back then turned and started for the door leaving him to watch. Eliot let out a deep breath.
"So?!" Parker asked, appearing at his elbow less than a second later.
Eliot scowled at her and turned to walk away.
Undeterred, Parker followed him. "So, who is she?"
"None of your business, Parker."
Thanks for reading!