I love how we’re treating this like it’s something that’s not down and dirty. Sure, Kelli and I can go on a date and make all the small talk we want during dinner but afterward we’ll want to take it to another level, right?
A let’s get naked together level.
“Whatever you want to do, I’m game,” I tell Jade, my smile easy, my chest tight. This might not be the best idea in the world, but what other choice do I have? Lucy’s kicked me to the curb and I can admit it to myself—I’m butt hurt. Feeling a little down, a little miserable.
Nothing like a quick lay to pick everything up.
I scrub a hand over my face, across the back of my neck.
God, I hope so.
I found a part-time job within days of arriving at Santa Augustina, and though it’s not a job on campus, it will do for now. I’ve waitressed before and though it’s not my favorite thing, the restaurant I’m working at is small and right on the ocean and the food is delicious.
My boss is nice too, which is important. I hate working for assholes but they’re everywhere so that means they’re hard to avoid. Whatever. I’m doing what’s best and working. Earning money and keeping all that cash I made over the summer in my savings account in case of an emergency.
So far so good. Everything’s going according to plan.
Well, not quite. A certain someone put a wrench in it but I can’t focus on that. Him. It’s a distraction and the last thing I need is a distraction I need to stay focused. On top of things. Getting through college is my number one goal. Losing my mind over a guy who’s terrific in bed is a bad move.
It’s all about school and work. School and work.
School. And. Work.
I reported for work for the first time yesterday and my feet are killing me. I have on better shoes tonight, ones I found earlier at the local Kohl’s when Gina and I went there. I’m wearing my new black Nikes I bought on sale, along with a T-shirt with the restaurant’s name emblazoned across the front and black shorts. It’s a Saturday night and business is steady so the second I clock in, I hit the ground running.
Working helps distract me from the real problem at hand—the problem that’s named Gabe and my reaction to discovering we go to the same college. I mean…what are the freaking odds? It’s not something we ever discussed and I kept it impersonal between us on purpose.
Big mistake. Finding out the truth would’ve been real nice because at least I would’ve been prepared.
Now I feel like a total bitch for ignoring him but what else was I supposed to do? I wish he’d never seen me. I considered dropping our shared class but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It’s only offered during the fall semester and I refuse to let some dumb guy dictate my schedule.
Okay fine, he’s not a dumb guy. He’s a pretty awesome guy. But he’s not the guy for me.
So I slid into class on Wednesday at the last minute and sat in the very back row again, in the desk right beside the door so I could dash out the moment Professor Bailey dismissed us. And trust that I did exactly that.
I didn’t even see Gabe. Oh, I looked for him because I can’t help myself and it’s like I enjoy the torture or something but yeah. His pretty dark head was nowhere to be found. Neither was his pretty, handsome, gorgeous, beautiful face, nor that wondrous, sex-god body of his.
Crap. I seriously need to get a grip.
Focusing on work tasks, I bustle around the tiny restaurant, seating customers, taking their orders, refilling their glasses and bringing them their meals. The later it gets, the busier we are and I don’t even notice the two couples laughing and chatting easily until I stop in front of their table and ask if they want anything to drink.
The moment I look up from my notepad, I freeze. Intense blue eyes are on me, drinking me in almost hungrily, yet with a flare of anger in their depths.
“I’ll have a beer,” the guy sitting on the opposite of the booth says as he slips his arm around the shoulders of a beautiful redhead. “What do you want, babe?”
“Just some water please,” she says, smiling at me sweetly.
The other girl—the one sitting next to Gabe—sends the redhead an incredulous look. “You’re not drinking?”
“Someone needs to be the sober driver tonight,” the redhead says.
Hmm, I like her. She seems to have a good head on her shoulders.
“Well, I’m ready to get liquored up.” Gabe’s date smiles at me. I’d like to scratch her eyes out with my stubby fingernails but I keep it together. “I’ll have a beer too.”
“What kind?” I ask tightly, not wanting to draw this out but crap. I have to take Gabe’s order next. And I can barely look at him, let alone talk to him.
Did he know I work here? How could he? What are the freaking odds? I know this town is small but holy shit.
“Bud Light.” She glares at the other guy when he groans. “What’s your prob?”
“That shit is nothing but watered down piss. Sorry.” He flashes me an apologetic smile. “I’ll have a Pale Ale please.”
That he knows we have Sierra Nevada stashed in the back indicates he’s been here before. “You got it.” I scribble down everyone’s order, taking way too long, until finally…finally I lift my head and meet Gabe’s gaze. “And for you?”
He just stares at me, the anger, the hunger, all of it still there in his eyes. He remains silent and his jaw is so tight it looks like it could snap. I hold my breath, waiting for his response.
Which still doesn’t come.
Damn it, he’s not making this easy, is he? Though I didn’t either so I guess I’m getting what’s coming to me.
“Aren’t you going to order something?” The girl nudges Gabe in the side.
He glances down at her, his lips stretched into a grim line. Oh, he’s tense. I recognize that look. I’ve seen it before. “I’ll take a Pale Ale, too.” He swallows hard. “Nice to see you again. Lucy.” His dark voice sounds like he’d rather eat nails than see me again.
Yet my knees weaken just hearing him say my name and I mutter a quick, “Coming right up,” before I scamper away from their table, heading back to the kitchen. I hear his date ask Gabe, “You know the waitress? How?” but that’s all I caught.
How did he answer her? Not that I care. I don’t. Really.
Shit. Yes, of course I care, but I can’t. I ran away from him like a coward and have avoided him ever since. Didn’t even answer his text because I’m a total chicken shit who can’t face the guy she screwed around with over the summer.
The guy she almost fell in love with.
Love. Ha. I’m completely delusional.
I shake my head and grab a glass, violently pushing open the ice container and grabbing the scoop, shoving a bunch of ice inside the glass before I fill it with water. I grab a couple of Pale Ales, a Bud Light, three chilled glasses and set them all on a tray.
My fingers are trembling and I take a deep breath. All because I just saw Gabe. I’ve lost it. Seriously, how can I let this guy rattle me like this? It should be no big deal. I can move on and so can he. He’s already going on a date with another girl—a really pretty girl—so he’s definitely moved on.