The house is completely silent when I arrive back home at around midnight. I turn around and wave bye to Sully before closing the front door with a soft click. Even with his bedroom upstairs, I can still here my dad's loud snores clearly in the foyer. They're kind of comforting.
I nearly jump out of my skin and whirl around. Crystal smiles and takes a sip of her green tea.
'You just get in?' she asks.
'Looks that way,' I reply and push past her. I can hear her sigh behind me.
'I have some leftover tea on the stove,' she says. 'I could pour you a cup if you want me to.'
'No, thank you,' I snap, annoyed. 'I'm tired, and I have to work in a couple of hours.'
Crystal follows me into the kitchen and settles down on a stool. She watches me open the pantry, looking for something to eat.
'So you guys went to the beach, huh?' she asks as if she's actually interested. 'Was the party totally awesome or what?'
She still doesn't get it, I think, digging up a box of mint cookies and checking the expiration date. She's got to be the most annoying person on the entire planet. Why can't she just leave me alone?
'...So I was thinking that maybe this weekend we can go into the city. Just me and you?' Crystal bites her lower lip. She looks absolutely...pitiful. Begging her stepdaughter to accept her.
'Do me a favor, Crystal,' I say, shutting the pantry and heading for the back staircase. 'And stop trying so hard. You're making me embarrassed.'
I'm halfway up the steps when I hear her rinse out her mug and say, 'Good night, Mona. See you in the morning.'
She turns out the kitchen light, and the house is flooded with darkness.
Aubrie and I met up outside of Tropicana Hall at seven twenty. Her blue-black hair is piled on top of her head, looking artfully messy. She even manages to make the uniform work. Instead of having the long-sleeved Oxford hanging against her skin, the shirt hugs her curves, the tie loosely hanging down to her belly button.
'This my third cup of coffee this morning,' she snaps, her eyes hidden behind her dark sunglasses even though there is an overcast today. 'And I'm still tired as shit. If I didn't need this money so bad...'
I pull at my tie. 'You know, I didn't get that vibe. What, with an Audi convertible I thought you'd be loaded.'
Even though I can't see her eyes, I know she's rolling them. 'My parents are. And they're total assholes.'
'I hear that,' I murmur, thinking of my own father.
She takes a long sip from her Starbucks cup. 'Anyway, the money is for my boyfriend. He's in a band. I'm just trying to help him out.'
'Why not just ask the 'rents for some help?'
She snorts. 'Please. I can't even imagine Norman and Tina Wells shelling out their bucks for my boyfriend. They just don't get him like I do.'
Some more of the waitstaff arrives. Everyone looks wiped out and annoyed by the time. The curly brunette from the orientation yesterday steps to the front of the crowd and smiles at Aubrie, his hazel eyes gleaming with mischief.
'You ready, Sunglasses?' he asks flirtatiously. 'Ready for the whole Lamoore experience?'
Aubrie takes another sip of coffee and purses her lips. 'What do you think?'
A few people snicker. The boy just grins and sticks out his hand.
'I'm Devon,' he says. 'Devon Harvey.'
'And?' Aubrie glances at me and raises her eyebrows. I can only shrug.
Devon smiles. 'And I think you're really pretty.'
Everyone's mouths turn up at the corners. Some of the guys begin hooting and whistling.
Aubrie seems unfazed by all of this. She simply finishes her coffee, removes her sunglasses and shoots him a smug smirk. 'I know,' she says and then turns to enter the Hall. 'You coming, Mona?' she asks over her shoulder and begins down the hallway.
I turn to Devon once the doors close.
'Jeez, sorry,' I say. 'I didn't know she'd do that.'
But instead of being upset, Devon continues to smile, his dimples deepening. 'Ain't no thing, Miss Mona,' he says. 'I know your girl is feeling me. Just give it some time.'
I grin, wish him good luck, and then enter the Hall after my new friend.
'What was that all about?' I ask her. 'He obviously likes you.'
'I have a boyfriend,' she tells me, leaning over a water fountain. 'And besides, Devon isn't even that cute.' She takes a long gulp of water, her cheeks flaming and her eyes smiling and twinkling.
Liar, I want to say. You know you like him. But I don't. Instead, I just smile and straighten my tie.
'Whatever you say, Aubrie,' I murmur as the doors open and the rest of the waitstaff pours in, ready to work.
'Whatever you say.'
By the time my shift is over, the rain has arrived and has absolutely taken over everything. The palm trees that usually sway gently to the curve of the Pacific breeze whip around as if someone has stuck a fan in front of them. Aubrie's face screws up when we step out of the dining hall and look out of the window.
'Shit!' she curses, stomping her foot and throwing her wrinkled tie to the ground. 'I left the damn top down!'
'You left the top down of your Audi?' Devon asks, coming up behind us and picking up her tie. 'In this weather? Are you insane, woman?'
'I didn't know it was going to rain,' she snaps, snatching the tie out his hands.
'Watch the weather next time,' I murmur, amused.
'You're not helping,' she sighs, and the three of us start out for the staff parking lot. When we see her convertible, Devon and I both try to hide our laughter.
'Well, that sucks,' he says to me as Aubrie sprints to the Audi, cussing her ass off. 'That was a nice car, too.'
We both look at each other and double over into hysterical laughter.
'Look, you just go,' Devon tells me through chuckles. 'I'll help her. My sister does this all the time.'
'You sure you can handle her?' I ask.
He makes a 'pfft' sound. 'Baby, I'm Devon Harvey. I can handle anything.'
I smile. 'Have fun with her.'
Once I'm in my own (dry) Jeep, I lean back and turn on the radio. An old Nelly Furtado song blares through the speakers and puts me in a singing mood.
So there I am, driving around with no destination in the pouring rain, singing 'Legend' at the top of my lungs when my cell phone begins ringing.
'Hello?' I yell, not bothering to turn the music. I figure it's just Ronnie or Sully, but I'm wrong.
'Hey,' Christian says. It sounds like he just took a bite of something. 'You havin' a party and you didn't invite me?'
I reach for the volume and turn it down. 'Sorry. I'm in the car. Where are you?'
There is a pause. He's most definitely eating, I think, smiling.
'Cafe Glow,' he says, swallowing. 'And I just wanted to tell you something...'
My breath catches. 'Y-yeah?' I stutter.
'Well, I've been doing a lot of thinking,' he murmurs. 'And it's taken me a while, but I've finally made up my mind...'
He takes another bite of whatever he's eating and says, 'Cafe Glow's cheese paninis are better than the Ocean Breeze's. It's taken me eighteen years, but I've finally found the perfect panini. Please celebrate me.'
I stop rather hard at a red light. 'Christian, you called me to talk about...paninis?'
I sigh. 'I thought it was something important.'
'Well, I thought it was. Don't you realize what a turning point this is in my life? No longer do I have to settle for a panini with only two cheeses.'
I'm dead silent.
'And I'm guessing that this isn't that big of a deal for you as it is for me,' he laughs.
'Well, come celebrate with me anyway,' he murmurs. 'Are you near the oceanfront?'
I glance at the nearest sign. 'Yeah, I guess so. About five minutes away.'
'Well, I'm at Cafe Glow,' he says. 'I have the afternoon off. Drop by.'
'Maybe I will,' I sniff. 'If I can fit you in my hectic schedule. If I can simply find the time...'
'Mona,' he says. 'See you in five minutes.'
When I walk into Cafe Glow, completely soaked, I spot Christian sitting in a corner, in front of table with at least six paninis on paper plates. His messy blonde is falling into his eyes. He's wearing his black glasses today.
'Good God, are you going to eat all of those?' I ask, nodding toward the plates.
He starts laughing. 'Of course not. You're going to help.'
'I don't even like paninis,' I say, shivering.
'You'll like these,' he replies, pushing one toward me. 'It's like God made it in his kitchen and then told Jesus to throw it out of heaven.'
I start laughing, which is very difficult to do when your teeth are chattering. He finally notices my sopping top.
'Take your shirt off,' he says.
My head jerks toward him, cheeks flaming. 'W-what?'
He starts laughing and rolls his eyes. 'Good lord, you have such a dirty mind. Take your shirt off in the bathroom and put my sweatshirt on.'
He pulls his Princeton sweatshirt over his head and hands it to me. He's wearing a black T-shirt on underneath.
'Thanks. I'll be right back.' I stand and uneasily make my way for the bathroom, my face still on fire and my mind filled with images of just the two of us alone together. Me taking my shirt off, but only for a whole different reason.
'Jeez, I do have a dirty mind,' I mutter and fling the bathroom door open.
When I return to the table, warm and smelling like Christian, there's another person there. At first glance, it looks like Sully. But then I recognize the signature curves and easy smile.
It was Maddy.
'Hey, Mona,' she says lazily, reaching for a panini.
I sit down and shoot Christian a confused glance. 'Hey, Maddy. You know Christian?'
She nods, slowly munching on the toasted sandwich. 'Yeah,' she says when she swallows. 'He helped me majorly when I first started learning guitar. If it wasn't for him, I would have given up a long time. I didn't know you two were dating.'
'We're not,' I murmur, snuggling deeper in his sweatshirt.
'Yet,' Christian adds, winking at me.
Maddy grins at me. 'Sully is in major trouble,' she says. 'Last night, after dropping you and Ronnie off, she went back to beach.'
'What?' I snap.
'Yeah. At least that's what she told the 'rents. She didn't get home until seven in the morning.'
'Probably with Nick,' I sigh. 'When will she learn?'
'Never,' Maddy replies, finishing up her panini. She licks her fingers and stands up. 'Anyway, I'm meeting Parker for a movie in a little bit. I guess I'll see you later, Mona. Thanks for the panini, Christian.'
'Anytime,' he says solemnly and smiles at her when she walks out of the cafe.
I reach for a panini. 'I didn't know you knew Maddy. Or that you played the guitar.'
He closes his eyes and nods slowly. 'Yeah. Every now and then. I'm not that good.'
'Please,' I say through a mouthful of cheese. 'You're good at everything.'
He looks at me and raises his eyebrows. 'Not everything,' he murmurs.
I swallowed hard. What did that mean?
'You know what I love?' he asks and without waiting for me to say anything, he says, 'Cake. Your turn.'
'I love black and white movies,' I reply, wiping my mouth.
'I love to fly.'
I made a face. 'Oh, God, you do? I hate airplanes.'
'I never said anything about airplanes,' Chris says. 'I have the power of flight.'
'Shut up,' I giggle, throwing panini crust at him.
'Oh, listen,' he says. 'That awful Maroon 5 song is playing.'
'It's not awful,' I sigh, knowing that I had all of their CDs hidden in my bedroom. 'What's wrong with it?'
'Hmm, let's see,' he mutters. 'It's corny, the band is awful, the music video makes no sense...'
'Stop talking,' I demand, a sudden impulse taking over. 'And let's dance.'
I can tell he's surprised that I reach for his hand and pull him into the center of the cafe. There isn't that many people there, anyway, so what was the big deal?
'I can't believe I'm dancing to 'Makes Me Wonder' with a girl in my sweatshirt,' he groans, twirling me.
'D'you want me to frisk you like the flight attendants did to Adam in the music video?' I laughed, dancing like I was alone in my house.
'That wouldn't be so bad...' he says, and we both crack up as I lower my body slowly to the floor, feeling him like I was searching for weapons. We were both flushed like crazy, but having a ball.
'Give me something to believe in, cause I don't believe in you, anymore, anymore! I wonder if it even makes a difference to try, yeah, and so this is goodbye!'
Christian and I are in tears by the middle of the song, and our laughter only intensifies when Christian starts singing the breakdown part of the song. We're still cracking up and dancing and singing when the song ends and a slow, mellow Norah Jones one replaces it. The manager and one customer are looking at like we're lunatics, and that just keeps us rolling.
'That's one place I can never show my face again,' Christian chuckles as we duck out. The rain has slowed down to a dull patter.
'You want a ride home, Chris?' I ask. 'I know you probably brought your bike.'
'Ah, you're right,' he replies, walking over to light pole where Rusty was chained up. 'And yes, I would like a ride home. Thanks.'
We manage to fit the bike in the trunk of my jeep, and he gives me directions to his house. The Maroon 5 song comes on again, which makes us start laughing again.
'I'm going to have nightmares of Adam Levine for weeks,' he moans, glaring at me jokingly as if it was my fault.
I cruise down the highway and after a while, Christian starts talking about his family.
'I have a little sister named Carrie,' he tells me. 'She's fourteen and going to be a freshman. My mom works part-time for a travel agency. She was the one who got us the deal for Mexico next month.'
My heart sinks a little when I remember that he had told me about his summer plans on the first night we met. I just chose the ignore them.
'How long are you going to be gone?' I ask, trying to sound casual.
'Three and a half weeks,' he murmurs, fiddling with the radio. 'Carrie is excited because she's taking Spanish in the fall and thinks this will give her some advantage. And all my dad can focus on is that he's going to be away from the company for almost a month. God forbid.'
'What does he do.'
'Computers. He's a whiz at anything electronic.'
I run my fingers over the steering wheel. 'It's going to be boring without you,' I mutter.
Christian just smiles. 'I'll bring you back a sombrero. And then we can record the Spanish version of 'Makes Me Wonder'. 'Me hace preguntarme'. We'll take it on the road.'
I wrinkled my nose. 'Me hace preguntarme? I think that means 'He makes me wonder.' Not 'makes me wonder.'
He grinned at me. 'Well, Adam Levine will just have male flight attendants searching him, huh?'
We both double into laughter, and I turn into his neighborhood. The houses are cozy, Cape Cod-style.
'You live here?' I question.
'Since I was eight,' he replies. 'Take a left here.'
I do and end up in front a beautiful pale yellow house with white shutters and palm trees lining the driveway. I look over at him.
'Cute house,' I say, and he smirks.
'Yeah, yeah. Can you help me with my bike?'
I pop open the trunk and he yanks Rusty out. I get out to close the trunk.
'I had fun today,' I say. 'Just what I needed after my first day of work.'
'Not a problem,' he replies, and for a split second, he looks like he's about to kiss me. And then he backs away.
'Thanks for the ride.'
'I'll call you later, okay?' He takes his glasses off and wipes them with his shirt. 'Now I got that damn song stuck in my head.'
'Something to remember the evening by,' I tease. 'See you later.'
'See you,' he says and starts rolling his bike up the hill.
I get back in my jeep and pull away. The song is stuck in my head, too, so I hum it the whole way home. It's only then that I realize that I'm still wearing his sweatshirt. I might never want to take it off.
GAH, this chapter is done, finally!!!! I've been home since the end of July, but haven't been in a "writing mood" for a while. Well, now I am, which I why I stayed up until 4:30 writing this. You better be glad I love my reviewers, or I would have saved it for later. XD I hope you guys like this chapter because I do, and it was fun writing it. Constant. Music. I've heard that damn Maroon 5 song about 25 times tonight. I just couldn't pull away. It's addictive. And yeah, I guess I'm a little bit of M5 fan. SUE ME!!!! At least me and Mona are on the same page :P I hope there wasn't too much mush for some people and not enough for others. I tried to balance it out and it took every ounce of strength I had to not just say that Mona jumped on Chris and started kissing him like crazy. I would have done it...but then the story would've sucked. XP HOPE YOU GUYS LIKED IT THOUGH!!Hope no M5 haters come after me...-nervous glance-
kylie1403, sRoze, mia5081, and xXxWritersXBlockxXx (hope you get rid of that soon, Terra!!)
No, Yasmin, you get no thank you. Lol, just playing, I know you're my biggest fan. Hopefully. Lol, you know I was thinking of you when I wrote that bit of Norah Jones. 'Don't know why I didn't caaaaaaall.' THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONSTANT SUPPORT CHICA!!
Not sure when the next update will be. School starts soon, so who knows how THAT'LL go? Thank you so much for reading. Love to all of my reviewers!!
PS. I just re-read the entire chapter and realize that the writing isn't all that. But I just wanted a new chapter up, something fun and lively. Next chapter will be better!
PPS. I hope no one is thinking that Aubrie is some bitch, because that wasn't my intentions at all.