Charlie Prinze lived in a magical college town in a mountain kingdom in far-off Colorado. Charlie wasn't very smart, but he'd managed to get his MBA. Therefore he had money. He also had a good job, a car, he had friends, he had a house. The only thing he didn't have, as his mother reminded him often was a Mrs. Prinze – a Prinzess.
Charlie was lonely – that much was true – but he was just so busy. In an effort to meet someone new, he went out one Friday night in late summer without his buddies to a trendy bar in the middle of town. He'd worn his best short sleeved button-down, his nicest cuffed pants and his most expensive leather desert boots.
When he arrived around 9 p.m., everyone at the bar appeared to be coupled up or otherwise occupied, so he sidled up to the bar alone to order a drink. He was about to ask for one single Coors Lite when a hand touched his shoulder.
"Drinking alone?" asked a lilting voice. "A good looking guy like you?"
He turned to see a drop-dead gorgeous girl dressed in casual, dirt-stained clothing, her scintillating golden hair pulled up in a disheveled ponytail.
"Well I was just about about to get a Coors if you –" he started to say.
"Coors?" she responded, sliding onto the bar stool next to him. "No way, baby. I only drink Elysian."
She called to the bartender: "Silas, two pumpkin ales over here."
Silas twirled his handlebar mustache at the girl and slid two dark glass bottles across the bar. A moody owl stared at Charlie from the label. "Night Owl," it read.
"It's a new brew," the girl said. "Part of their 2014 Fall Lineup."
"How is it?" Charlie asked.
"Well, give it a taste, silly," she said.
Charlie sipped the cold, amber liquid, instantly tasting hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice.
"Real pumpkin in there," the girl said. "No artificial flavorings whatsoever."
"Damn, that's good!" Charlie exclaimed.
"Where can I buy these?" Charlie said, mentally smacking himself for talking about such boring things to this beautiful girl.
"The Night Owl's not in stores till August 1; the other ones won't be out until September."
"Wow," was all Charlie could say. He couldn't tell if it was the beer or the girl's eyes, but he felt like he was going into a trance. For hours, Charlie and the girl talked about everything imaginable. He found out she worked in a soup kitchen, cooking soup and scrubbing floors all day. The hours flew by until just 5 minutes to midnight she jumped up, having already paid for her beer, and with only a quick wave goodbye, ran out the door before Charlie could say a thing.
He looked at his empty Elysian bottles – he'd had six. At 5.9 ABV, he was definitely feeling it. Like a total creep, he leaned over to look at her credit card receipt for her name. There it was: Ella Cinders. But he had no number.
"Silas, hand me a phone book!"
With a flick of his waxed mustache, Silas pushed a phone book across the bar. Charlie wondered vaguely why people even used phone books any more as he flipped through the pages to the C's. But her name and address were there under Cinders, Ella. With the strength of one drunk man, he ripped a page from the phone book and ran off into the night in search of the girl he was sure was his Prinzess.
The glass glinted in the sun – it was an empty bottle of pumpkin ale. Charlie hopped out of his car vigorously and snatched the bottle up. Ella's word's echoed in his head: "I only drink Elysian."
This must be the house. He thought to himself. Without knocking, he burst into the house to find two girls who were not Ella drinking coffee and watching TV.
"Oh my god! Who are you?!" one girl screamed.
"Get the mace!" the other one let out.
Charlie checked himself, saw his hungover reflection in a mirror by the door, and quickly tried to explain.
"I'm looking for the girl who drinks this transcendental pumpkin ale!" he shouted, shaking the bottle, the taste of the spiced ale still on his tongue.
"Well, I don't drink beer," one girl said. "It has waaay too many carbs and I don't want a pony keg."
"I only drink red wine for the antioxidants," said the other. "And jello shots."
Charlie sighed in disappointment as the girls stared back at him, incredulous and pissed.
"You should probably go now..." said the first girl.
Just as Charlie turned toward the door, who should walk in but Ella.
"Charlie?" Ella sounded confused. In her arms she carried a recycling bin.
"I think you dropped this," he said reverently, stepping toward her with the glass beer bottle.
"Oh shoot, you're right," she said, taking the bottle. "That was some great beer last night, huh? We should do it again sometime. Sorry I had to dash off. My roommates go to bed at midnight sharp and they don't like me waking them."
One of the girls harrumphed and mumbled, "Rowing practice."
"I'd love to," Charlie said, taking her hands on either side of the recycling bin. "Perhaps we could have an Elysian every day... for the rest of forever..."
Ella pried her hands from his and expertly diffused the situation and his awkward statements. (She was used to marriage proposals from the soup kitchen customers.) He left minutes later, and she watched him drive down the street. He was sweet, she thought, smiling. A little weird, a little formal, but definitely cute.
Maybe we'll start with one more Elysian, she thought, and see where it goes from there.
It's always a good time, she mused, For one more Elysian.
Happily ever after,