Liquid Confidence

Bonus, unpublished scene from between The Haven (Book #2) and The Hunt (Book #3). Content is considered canon and is owned by the author, E.M. Johnson. This happens after ‘Guy Advice.’

January 25, 2038

                “Hey!” Traphian said as he leaned against the bar in front of Cypha. “You’re early – I’m not off for almost another hour.”

                “I know,” Cypha said. “Will you get me vodka?”

                “Did you want it mixed with anything?”


                He gave her an intrigued look and reached over to grab a glass and a bottle of lower-grade vodka. He showed it to her and she nodded, so he got some ice and then filled the glass three-quarters full. Then he put a napkin on the bar in front of her and set the glass down. “Going for effect tonight, huh?”

                “Yeah,” she muttered before picking up the glass. “Thanks.”

                “What’s up?”

                She waved a hand at him dismissively. “You’re on the clock. Go help other people with their liquid confidence.”

                Traphian raised an eyebrow, giving her an appraising look, before going to check on some of the other people at the bar.

                Cypha inhaled and exhaled deeply before taking a deep drink of her vodka. She winced slightly as she swallowed and then leaned on the bar top. She people-watched a little, not interested in the basketball game on the televisions behind the bar, and caught herself watching Traphian work more than once, wresting her gaze off him and back to the television. She felt anxious and exposed. Even though she knew that no one could read her mind, it felt like they could. The longer she sat there, the less she looked at people.

                Except Traphian – she couldn’t stop watching him.

                Cypha scowled after catching herself again, biting down on one of the ice cubes left in her glass – the vodka already gone. “Well, that’s why you decided you needed to stop denying shit,” she muttered under her breath.

                A short while later, Traphian came back over by her, the vodka bottle in hand. “Want more?”

                She deliberated for a moment before nodding and pushing the glass toward him.

              He picked it up and filled it behind the bar. When he came back, he asked, “Rough day at work?”

                “No, not really.”

                He eyed her and put the glass in front of her. “Then why are you drinking so hard on an empty stomach?”

                “I’ll tell you later.”

                He sighed and pulled his phone out of his pocket to check the time. “In ten minutes?”

                “Yeah, sure.”

                Traphian shook his head slightly and stepped away from the counter.

Cypha looked at her glass and her brow furrowed. Vodka wasn’t fizzy. “What is this?” she called out before he left.

                “Sprite. I’m not giving you anything else until you eat – you’ll get sick. I don’t really feel like babysitting you.”

                She sighed, giving him a look. “Whatever, my liver can handle it.”

                Traphian smirked and turned around again. “Yeah, sure, but I prefer it when you’re not drunk.”

                Cypha blushed slightly, staring at him as he headed down the bar, wiping the top with a wet cloth. She sighed, took a long drink of her soda, and then put the glass down, waiting to see how the alcohol from the first glass was hitting her. She definitely wasn’t drunk, but she wasn’t sure it had gotten her buzzed yet – and she already knew she was going to need some kind of impairment to breach the topic she wanted to tonight.

                Fifteen minutes later, when her glass was nearly empty again, Traphian slid onto the stool next to her. “Okay, I’m off. What’s our plan tonight? Want to stay here, get supper, and keep drinking?”

                “No,” Cypha said.

                “Okay. Where should we go then?”

                “Um, somewhere nice?” she asked in a small voice.

                “Somewhere nice?” he asked, mildly surprised. “Like what?”

                “I don’t know. Like… like, date nice…”

                Traphian leaned on the bar, crossing his arms on the wood as he leaned closer to her. “’Date nice?’”

                “Yeah,” she said, quieter.

                He tapped her glass with the back of his hand. “Is that why you were trying to drink hard? Because you wanted to ask me on a date?”


                Traphian snickered, relaxing on his arms. “What brought that on?”

                “I can’t stop thinking about you,” she muttered.

                He leaned slightly, resting his shoulder against hers. “Yeah? So, what, you want to stop saying that we’re not dating? Is that it?”

                “I guess.”

                “Y’know, no one even knows we sleep together besides Malk.”

                “And Josh,” she muttered.

                “How’d he find out?”

                “I told him.”

                “How come?”

                “I wanted advice on how to ask a guy out, and Saty’s the only person I trust as much as him that could possibly have that kind of experience.”

                “And you’re not telling her. Why does Josh have that kind of experience?” Traphian asked, his brow knitted up.

                “Cuz he’s gay.”

                “Oh, really? He is?”

                “Yeah…” she eyed him. “Damn, I really did need to tell you I like you. You’d have never figured it out.”

                Traphian laughed. “Can’t say I’ve ever seen Josh express interest in anyone. Anyway, concerning us… I kinda figured there was some kind of spark a while ago, but I wasn’t going to change it up if you didn’t want to.”

                “So, are we going to?”

                “If that’s what you want, sure, I’m all for it.”

                Cypha blushed and smiled, covering it with her glass as she finished what was left of her drink. “How much do I owe?”

                “Five dollars.”

                She pulled her wallet out, took out a five, and set it on the bar.

                Traphian picked it up, waved down the bartender that had taken over for him, and passed off the cash before he slid off the stool. “Let’s go get something to eat then, huh?”


                She followed him through the crowd and then out of the bar. Outside, just around the corner from the bar, Traphian took her hand and pulled her around, in front of him. He put an arm around her shoulders and tipped her slightly as he pressed his lips to hers.

                Cypha tensed, but grabbed onto his arm and kissed him back.

                When he broke the kiss and set her upright again, she blushed, smirking.

                “That’s the kinda thing you’re hoping for, right?”

                “Well… yeah. I guess so,” she shrugged, squeezing his hand.

                “Better get used to it,” he said, squeezing back as they started walking again.

                “Cuz that’s how you roll?”


                Cypha smiled, her face flushed. “So, we don’t have to hide it like Saty and Malk do?”

                Traphian shrugged. “I mean, it’s probably not smart to go and shout it from the rooftops, but we already hang out all the time and that’s well-established. We’ll just keep our affectionate shit behind closed doors.”

                “So, uh, are we just dating, or are we actually boyfriend and girlfriend?” she asked quietly.

                “Same thing, I think. Do I wanna claim you? Yes. Is that all right?”

                “Yeah, I just figured we’d start tamer.”

                Traphian shrugged. “We’ve basically been dating since last year, Cypha. I mean, you asking me to start dating you wouldn’t change my plans very much. We could change it up and trade off who covers our meals – I’ll get it one night, you get it the next. We’ll stay even and still feel like we’re being taken out.”

                “All right.”

                “I’ll be glad to finally be able to say that we’re together, not just messing around.”

                “To who?”

                “I dunno. Malk, I guess. Are you going to tell Satyrna finally?”

                Cypha shrugged. “Probably should.”

                “She thinks you’re asexual.”

                “Yeah, I kind of let her think that.”

                Traphian laughed and shook his head.