Tony opened his eyes wider, trying to make sure he didn't poke himself with the mascara brush. He had already done that once this week, and he didn't feel like a repeat tonight. The dirty mirror in the men's bathroom wasn't helping much, but he finished the job without incident. Recapping the brush, he took another look at himself. His thick, black lashes stood out in stark contrast to his pale skin. His light pink lip gloss wasn't too obvious, but it gave his mouth a subtle sheen that would definitely draw attention, just as he wanted. Damn, he thought to himself. I'm going to be beating the customers off all night looking like this.
A sharp banging on the door caused him to startle, and then the sharp voice of his boss came through the door. "If you're not out there in two seconds, I'm coming in after you," she said.
Tony had no doubt that she would, too. Ellen was many things, but delicate wasn't one of them. She'd get in the middle of a bar fight or come barging into the men's room or whatever the situation called for, and not make any apologies for doing it. It was one of the reasons he liked working for her.
With an exaggerated sigh, he pulled open the bathroom door and walked out. Ellen was standing there with her arms crossed, tapping her foot and looking at him like she was a few seconds away from ripping him a new one. "Are you done, Princess?"
"Beauty like this takes time." He looked at her, his eyebrow raised as he took in her worn jeans and plaid over-shirt. "Maybe you should follow my example and spend a few minutes on your own self."
"No, thank you," she said, then narrowed her eyes as she leaned closer. "Are you wearing glitter?"
"Oh, is it noticeable?" he asked, rubbing his fingers against his cheek. "I couldn't tell in there. The lighting's so bad, it's a wonder our customers can see well enough to aim, much less tell what they look like."
"Most of them are too drunk to notice anyway," she said. "But, really, what's with the glitter?"
"Cindy picked some up for me last time she went shopping. I wanted to give it a try and see if I liked it."
"Like the other stuff isn't enough for you?" she asked, pressing her lips together. "Nobody needs to be that shiny, much less you."
"Ellen, darling," Tony said, cocking his hip to the side and striking a pose. "I'm just enhancing my natural glow."
"Yeah, right," she said, her tone flat. "Well, how about you direct your glowing little ass behind that bar? You're already fifteen minutes late for your shift." Ellen turned, calling back over her shoulder as she walked down the hall. "And if I have any customers complaining about glitter in their drinks, you and me are going to have a discussion."
"Bitch and complain," he called out, but she didn't acknowledge him, just walked into her office and slammed the door behind her.
The place wasn't even all that busy when he walked behind the bar. There were a few customers sitting around the outer tables, and the pool tables were occupied, but at the bar itself was desolate. There were only three customers sitting far apart from each other, and Cindy had it covered. Tony didn't know why Ellen had to be such a hard-ass about him taking the time to get dolled up. When the crowds increased she would be thankful for it, since he could draw in more money with his flirting and fine looks.
"Oh, you're wearing the sparkly stuff I bought you," Cindy said when he came near, her smile getting wider. "It looks fantastic."
"Thank you," Tony said, emphasizing the words. "At least someone appreciates it."
"I always appreciate you, baby," she said, giving him a peck on the cheek. "Now take over the bar while I deal with the tables."
-- from "Defying Expectations" by K. Lynn