Title: Whiskey Girl
Author: Grea Warner
Genre: New Adult/Women’s Fiction
I’ve been called many names—mid-kid, wild child, Ella Bella, preacher’s daughter, and probably a lot of others behind my back. Whiskey Girl, though, is top shelf. It’s not necessarily the most accurate. But it’s my favorite because of who crowned me with it.
Entering the bar, all I wanted was a temporary escape. I needed a moment of not comparing my life to my perfect sister’s. And that definitely meant a shot of something strong … something that would leave an impression. Little did I know, it wouldn’t be the alcohol but the stranger sitting beside me.
When fate traumatically threw us together a second time, the initial bond I had with that man strengthened. Maks understood sister issues. He understood being the undervalued family member. He understood loss. He understood me.
What Maks didn’t understand was my ability to protect myself from being hurt. I did it when playing sports, and I had learned to do the same with relationships. That’s why when it came to our goodbye, I needed to be the strongest proof and fly away.
But bottles break. Wings get clipped. And my directionless life suddenly seemed to have a plan of its own.
Outside, some couples were dancing and others were sipping champagne or wine. I felt like neither. I wanted something fitting of the feelings I was trying to bury—feelings I knew weren’t necessarily warranted but fertilized because of simple jealousy. I felt like having something worthy of the silver treasure I had tucked in my pocket earlier in the day.
“Any chance you can fill this up?” I presented the flask to the bartender, who had dutifully made his way over.
“Sure. What’s it gonna be? What’s your pleasure?”
“To not be here.” When I admitted the truth, I could feel more than see the guy to my immediate left turn in my direction. “But, since that isn’t really an option, I guess I’ll have whiskey.”
The bartender swept his arm out and behind to showcase the variety of choices at my disposal. I liked a good drink, but being a connoisseur of brands and proofs and whatever, I was not. While I knew a good ole standby was Jack, my eyes crossed over another brand, one I knew was perfect for my current, personal theme.
“Black Velvet.” I settled on.
I passed the container over as I glanced at my dress. It wasn’t velvet, but it was black and formal for the occasion. I loved the simple style—a square neckline with an open back and no frilly embellishments except for the sides of the legs, which were black lace and sparkled every so often with white pearls.
While I waited for the golden-colored beverage to be poured, I thought about how I had only used the flask during my senior year in high school. It had been the cool thing to do—sneak into events and add a little extra something-something to an otherwise legal beverage. In college, underage or not, nothing was hidden. But, somehow, now at age twenty-three, I resorted back to those teen years. A lot of it was because I had only accidentally come across the silver beauty when looking through old stuff in the room my sister and I had shared growing up. But another part was because the flask screamed secret and naughty, and I kind of liked that.
“Is that to go?” The bartender broke into my thoughts. “Or are you starting a tab?”
“Put it on the groom’s,” I proclaimed.
“The wedding guests are supposed to h—"
The other thing the dress pocket held was my ID, which I promptly placed on the bar. “Sister of the bride. I was the one who actually organized a lot of this gig.” I knew how the bar system was set up for the wedding guests. With a small guest list and wine and champagne already offered outside, we knew few wedding goers would find their way inside. “Is the last name proof enough?”
“Yep. And the attire. Bridesmaid?”
“The one and only.”
“Enjoy, Ella. I’ll put it on Mr. Thompson’s tab.” He slid my card back and walked toward the other end of the bar.
“You’re her sister.”
I turned more definitively to my left and the man who had spoken those words. He was wearing dark pants and a white button-down—which made it obvious he wasn’t one of the casual hockey fans. But I hadn’t seen him at the wedding or the reception. And even though I had been preoccupied with attending to all the little details no one else seemed to care about but drove me crazy, I surely would have noticed that man. I mean, he was drop-dead gorgeous … in that loose tie and relaxed, slightly-wavy-but-not-overly-long-hair kind of way. Almost like one of those Game of Thrones Stark brothers but with a dirty blond hue instead of dark brown.
“Bethany’s sister?” GOT look-alike man inquired again.
I managed to answer, “Depending on the day … yes.”
Oh, geez. I didn’t know him. I probably shouldn’t have said that … at least not with the snarky inflection I had. He could have been one of Bethany’s friends, and I didn’t need it to get back to her or our family. I was pretty much already considered the bad apple of the Opala clan and, if not, why add any drama to the day? Especially because, in reality, I loved my older sister—despite some of our two-sides-of the-same-coin differences. Sometimes, though, it was hard seeing her get all the breaks I couldn’t seem to—a phenomenal and growing career, financial stability, and a romance that love songs were literally written about.
Luckily, my fellow bar mate chuckled. “Hmmm.”
Feeling a little more secure with my initial response, I ventured with, “So, you’re a part of this wedding hoopla? Who …? I don’t remember seeing you.”
“Yeah, I missed the actual ceremony with my flight being delayed. Just came in for the reception but didn’t stay long. Thought I could handle it. It’s nice they included me, though.”
I took my first swig from the flask … mostly as a way to put the pieces together that the obvious out-of-towner had presented me with. He was invited but couldn’t handle it? Everyone besides my family was from out of town. Ryan’s family stretched across the United States, and both he and Bethany had friends in California. I couldn’t connect any definitive dots. And the alcohol was not helping the process. I was beginning to realize champagne on an empty stomach topped off by a swig of Black Velvet was making me a bit tipsy.
“I’m sorry. Who are you?” I just came out and directly asked.
“Maks. Maks Hynes.” He took a swig from his glass, half filled with a slightly lighter liquid.
Yeah, that name sort of sounded familiar. But why? I purposefully tried not to scrunch my face in confusion.
“Hynes,” I repeated. “Maks.” And then it hit me … sort of like the alcohol was starting to.
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**Special price of 99cents until March 10th!**
What’s your favorite activity to shake off the winter doldrums?
Like Ella’s family in WHISKEY GIRL, my family enjoys gathering every week to cheer on our hometown NFL team. We put on our jerseys, prepare the thematic food (see the book for more details!), and sit on the edge of our seats for 4th quarter nailbiters. Family and football is something to definitely look forward to during those long, colder winter months.
Why is your featured book a cure for the winter blues?
Why do we get the winter blues? A lot of it has to do with the dark hours and colder weather. We seek light and warmth. Like the drink in its title, WHISKEY GIRL will warm your heart with its story of family and finding your life path. You’ll keep your light on well into the night crying, cheering on, and relating to Ella as she overcomes obstacles created both by the world around her and through her own insecurities.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.
Runs March 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on April 1.
Grea Warner wants you to cry. She wants your heart to break a little, too. Why? Because that means you feel her characters as if you were one of them. With a background in daytime dramas and a realistic approach to life, Grea writes novels that blur the line of Women’s Fiction and Romance. If you’re a fan of binge watching a TV series or have a passion for the arts like Grea, then you’ll love her fictional serials.
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