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It felt strange wearing nothing but civilian clothes. It felt really strange not having the base to go back to, his bunk in unmarried quarters no longer his own.
Funny how one thing he and all the guys groused about was not having a room to themselves and here he was in Florence Mae's Boarding House with a room all to himself and he found it lonely and too quiet of snores and sniffles and the smell of other men sleeping.
He didn't know who Florence Mae was, but she sure didn't own the boarding house anymore. Now it was owned by a chubby guy who made great chili and lots of it. Thing was, that's all that was made for supper and while you could have as much as you could eat, after a couple of days of it, Jeff just couldn't eat anymore.
So after a day of testing out at the DEA's Corpus field office, he went out to find a diner or bar or somewhere he could get a warm meal that wasn't too expensive and wasn't chili.
The touch of the wind on his scalp was familiar at least. He'd spent the last two years of his five year stint in the Navy at the Podunct Naval Base. It had been an easy decision to decide to find something here, given he had no reason to go home.
He missed the easy camaraderie, even if some of the guys were assholes. The world felt a lot bigger when you faced it on your own.
He followed the Kennedy Causeway south toward Padre Island, looking idly for somewhere clean and decent and not frou-frou. He saw a bunch of trucks at this little place called The King's Sword. Looked busy enough, decent, and the sign out front offered burgers and beer.
Worked for him.
He let himself in, the smell of smoke and beer hitting him as opened the door. Hesnagged himself a little table in a corner, and sat with his back to the wall, looking around. The place wasn't big, was homey and simple. Little bar. Little dance floor. Little stage with a trio of cowboys setting up.
Funny, you'd expect at least a few chicks out on a Friday night.
The waiter was a young guy in jeans and a t-shirt with a cowboy hat tilted back off his face. "Hey stud, what'll it be?"
He blinked. "Um ... a draft and burger, please."
"A tall cold one like yourself? And you want that burger with the works? Fries on the side?"
He blinked some more and nodded. The guy was coming on to him. Or flirting anyway. He nodded.
The cowboys on the stage got settled--two guitars and a violin. They must not suck because the bar went wild, hooting and clapping. One tall red-headed cowboy leaned towards the mike, smiling. "Howdy, y'all. Happy Friday." Man, talk about drawl.
His waiter brought over his beer and gave it to him along with a wink. "You're in for a good time tonight."
He buried his face in the beer.
The music wasn't earth-shattering, but it was good and everyone knew all the words. At one point, the red-head took off his hat and the bar hollered, "Take it off, Hunter! Take it all off!"
They got a sexy little laugh and the finger, those eyes bright green in the lights.
Jeff's burger was delivered while he watched and his waiter pouted at him. "Oh, now you've seen Hunter in action a poor serving boy doesn't stand a chance."