The sound of ice cubes tinkling in the whiskey glass resonated loudly around the empty bar. It wasn't a strange phenomenon for bars to be void of customers or patrons at this hour. Not in this part of Chicago, where the night grew chilly, the hours were quiet and the streets hummed in silence.
Sage James liked quiet, and he preferred to be in his own company most times, so being the only employee to close the bar every Tuesday night was something he always looked forward to at the end of his shift.
Despite living in a bustling city where no one was a stranger to the pollution of light and noise, he thrived and took advantage of any moment of quietness he could get. Thinking, he mused, worked best for him when there's nothing to distract his attention.
And thinking, he did.
While quietly wiping the counter top clean, he thought about the amount of money he needed to amass to cover his tuition fees this year, the rent that would be collected by the end of this week, sending money to his mother back home, get some groceries, and….do his laundry.
The second thing he liked to do was having a solution, a plan he had laid out mentally; the first one was going to be ongoing until he finished with his studies; work extra hours every day except Saturday, because he deserves at least that, and then set aside some leftover money from his previous paycheck for rent. He would bank in some money to his mum, do groceries on Wednesday mornings because for some reason, the prices were a little cheaper and Sage needed to spend smartly if he wanted to make it in the city. He didn't have huge appetites so it was easy to get the necessary food ingredients to survive every two weeks, at least.
And finally, he would do yesterday's dirty laundries as soon as he gets home.
And, he mused in an immediate afterthought, if he still has any more cash from his previous pay check and some from his soon to be receive salary, those will stay in the bank for future plans.
Sage James considered himself to be a practical man.
There were times when he wondered why his boss opened up the bar in a secluded place of this city, which contrast greatly with the posh interior, considering the history on the establishment of the club dated almost two centuries ago, built for people of prominent household and proprieties. A part of Sage thought that his boss ran this business as a joke to his aristocrat family, but he also thought it was just plain dry humour on his boss' part. He asked him once, and the man's only response was a shrug and grin a little too sharp than he was accustomed to.
Sage left it at that.
Across from him, a man chuckled deeply, the sound vibrating through his body, which successfully broke him out of his thoughts.
"A penny for your thoughts?" The man said, a drunken slur evident in his voice.
Sage flickered his gaze towards his boss, the owner of Carlisle's Isle. He chuckled. His employer must have thought the name was clever, since it was basically named after him. As if that wasn't clear enough, he thought adding an isle after Carlisle – a pun after his name – would be the real deal. Sage had to bite back a chuckle at the thought.
Carlisle Rutherford was intelligent, but he was also peculiar.
He was also a man of few words, but a talkative drunk when prodded. With alcohol.
He eyed the three glasses of whiskey the man across from him had.
What a lightweight, he thought.
When he spotted his boss reaching towards the half-empty decanter, he swiftly swept it away from him.
"I think that's enough. Shouldn't you be heading back, boss?"
Carlisle raised a thick eyebrow at his apprentice and answered, his slur evident. "You're kicking me outta my bar? Jus' who d'ya think – "
"Mr. Carlisle – "
His boss sniffed a little and rolled his eyes. "Carl. Three years working together and you're still stuck in formalities? C'mon kid. You're making me feel old."
Sage quietly murmured something, but it still caught his boss' attention.
"Huh?" Carl barked. The man thought he heard Sage muttered something about him being old, indeed. Truthfully, it was a sore spot for the older gentleman, though he would not admit it to anyone.
Despite the older man's rugged and burly appearance, his bark was louder than his bite, a fact known to all of his employees, and so Sage didn't feel as though his life was being threatened.
Sage wasn't completely heartless to douse cold water on his boss' pride, so he opted to approach a different topic. Before he could, his employer beat him to it.
"Y'know, you'd better do as I say since you're relying on my paycheck and all."
Sage's lips quirked, the first smile in the hour since the shop closed. Carlisle's tone wasn't unkind, though it sounded a little reprimanding, like one would with a son.
"When did I not, Carl?" Sage chuckled lightly. The pay was handsome, almost generous even, and Sage didn't know how else he could repay his boss other than being responsible and making sure the business retain its good reputation and not flop because of his incompetency.
He hadn't had any complaints against him, nor had he fought with the customers, and he planned to keep it that way if he could help it.
The rugged man looked at him through bleary eyes and curled his lips in response.
"Always. That's what pissed me off. If you were a little rebellious, I would have had more fun picking a fight with you."
Sage hummed while he cleared the last remnants of the night's activities. As he washed them, he glanced to Carl and said, "A brawl brings bad reputation, especially to a gentleman's bar like this." The place was furnished with dark colours – burgundy, chestnut, and mahogany – all polished and clean, and all leather and velvet.
It boasted the idea of masculinity, generosity, and comfortability, all of which was successfully brought into vision.
"Besides," He added with a mischievous grin at his boss, "The missus wouldn't like it."
Carl guffawed, and waved his hand offhandedly. "The missus wouldn't care. This is my bar, after all."
At the sound of a slight creak, Sage glanced at the door and held his grin, as he busied himself with finishing with the last whisky glass. His boss rambled on obliviously.
"This may be your gentleman's bar, Carl, but the missus does own a share of the place, too. And by that, I mean me so there better not be other missus. We're co-operating it, after all," came a smooth, velvety voice from behind Carlisle, with long tapered fingernails caressing his shoulders.
Carlisle froze before a myriad of emotions flashed across his face; surprise, sulky, and resignation. He shifted to see his beautiful wife looking down at him with a frown on her face, her hands cocked at the hips.
Carl smoothed his features into one of complacent. "Thea, darling. What are you doing here?"
Dorothea Rutherford, a beautiful woman whose age had been kinder to her as she looked not a day over thirty glanced at Sage and smiled at him before casting a scowl at her husband.
"Obviously to get you. Seems like you've forgotten you have a home. Did you forget you have a wife, too, honey?"
At the slight emphasis of 'honey', Carl knew he was in trouble. "Of course not, sweetheart. You're everything to me." He tried to soothe her and pulled her closer.
In that moment, Carl tried to remember if he had forgotten to do something with her, or if he had missed their anniversary. She was the love of his life and he loved her very much. He didn't think he had forgotten anything important, or did he?
Carl decided to be upfront with her. "Did I miss anything?"
"Just me, I hope." Thea gave him a dazzling and longing look that he couldn't resist. He knew at that moment that he did forget one thing; their thing.
And just like that, their love seemed to grow stronger as ever.
Sage never understood the secret that held them together for as long as the bar had existed thirty years ago. He didn't understand the secret and knowing looks they had just by connecting their gazes without communicating verbally, but he thought it was a fascinating thing. Perhaps that was their secret.
It was nonetheless an amazing thing to witness between his bosses, Carl and Thea, and he was happy for them, because he knew they deserve it.
It seemed a little ridiculous for a moment, especially for a guy who barely thinks of anything other than his motivation to acquire money for his future, but he wondered if he was going to experience something like that too with someone. Someday.
Who would have thought him as both practical and a dreamer? It seemed ridiculous, but maybe, maybe he was too.
"You will, kid." Thea's voice penetrated his thoughts. It took Sage a moment before he realized she was talking to him.
"I'm not a kid," he said to her, his tone almost irritated before adding carefully. "And did you just read my thoughts or did I say them out loud?"
Carl smirked. "You may be a responsible and good employee, son, but sometimes you wear your heart on your sleeve."
Thea laughed and spoke to him in a way one does with a toddler. "Which is adorable."
She then went to pinch Sage's cheeks, but he swiftly avoided it, his face a slight flush. "Though it could land you in trouble if you're not careful enough," She said knowingly.
He raised an eyebrow and looked as though he wanted to ask what, specifically did she mean by that but she continued fondly.
Though she cast a gentle and loving look at her husband, her words were directed to Sage.
"Everyone's got a soulmate somewhere out there. And who knows? Maybe you'll meet them in the next minute, hours, months or years. Only time will tell." Thea then looked at Sage and raised a brow knowingly. "Now wipe that longing look off your pretty face and let's close the bar for tonight."ns 126.96.36.199da2