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Dave's Place Chapter 2 - Janet

"Welcome to Dave's Place." Walking in was a cute latina mujer. She was about 5' 4" with curves in the right places. I was obviously interested. I could only hope she'd pick up. I try to just flirt lightly with the customers, but sometimes I can't help myself.

"Hola," she replied. "¿Como esta?" I think she was trying to catch me off guard, but I've lived in Texas a long time.

" ¿B ien, y tu?" She smiled appreciatively.

"I am good," she replied. "A little bored, but nothing a drink or two cannot fix."

"Sounds good to me. And don't limit yourself. I'd be happy to call you a cab later." She laughed. "What would you like?" I asked. We went through the beer routine and she settled on something local, but mainstream. I left her to it for a few minutes and inquired, "What brings you in?"

She said, "I did not feel like going to my normal place, and I have always wanted to come by. I drive past every day. My friend, Andy, said he comes here all the time."

"Assuming he's same Andy that's a big basketball fan, he definitely does. He should be in later too, since it is a playoff game night." I offered her the beer which she took readily. I also figured I should step up my game. Andy has good taste in women. "You work with Andy?"

"I do. He was one of the nicest people I met after transferring from the Venezuela office." My game is apparently terrible as she had to introduce herself, "I am Janet, by the way."

I replied with an apology for not asking sooner, and excused myself to take care of some newcomers.

By the time I returned, Andy had arrived. I pulled him his customary Guiness and said hello.

"I see you're ready for me tonight. You have the game, my beer, and put a cute lady next to my chair," Andy quipped.

I chuckled, and replied, "How do you like their chances tonight?"

Janet interrupted, "They will lose. This is Houston. It is always heartbreak." I detected some personal pain, but let it go for now, replacing her empty glass with a full one.

Andy said, "They should win," and proceeded to list why all the bit players would be all-stars on another team. He's a bit of a homer. I let Andy and Janet discuss the finer merits of playoff basketball. I went to pull a few beers and mix a few drinks.

After paying attention to the rest of the bar for a while, I noticed that Janet was looking a little bored. "Is Andy too preoccupied to pay you the attention you deserve?" I inquired.

She beamed enjoying being noticed. "Hey, bartender," she purred.

"How long have you been in Houston?"

"A couple years now. It is not much like home." She sounded nostalgic. Her eyes sort of drifted into the distance.

"You aren't happy here, then?"

"Happier than I was there," she replied sharply. Her eyes went from distant to piercing. There was the strong woman I thought I noticed when she walked in. I didn't say anything. "I was in a bad relationship," She sighed softly, but quickly took on a hard tack. "I met a wonderful man. I had a good job with Petróleos. Those are the things that I miss." I nodded slowly encouraging her to continue. "When Chávez gained power, he enacted a lot of market reforms. That dried up my job. I am a college educated woman, but my expertise is in gas marketing. I could have found another job, but it is not what I enjoy. The wonderful man I spoke of wanted me to take something more, how can I say...., domestic. I would not have been happy. I had no choice but to come here. It is where I am marketable and I kind of like the market too." She gave me a little eyebrow wiggle. She nodded at the score, "I told you they were going to lose."

"There's time left," I replied. "I can see your struggle. Being independent and valuable is a strong motivator, but home is home. There's a lot to be said doing it there."

Janet agreed. I smiled and offered her another beer which she declined. She went back to harassing Andy. They both closed out a few minutes later. Shortly thereafter, a cheer erupted from the bar as the Rockets won. I caught Janet's eye as she was packing up. "They didn't lose."

"Yet. There is always tomorrow."

I didn't reply until she had turned away. "Indeed." Andy and I watched her leave, continuing to eye the closed door for a few seconds after.

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