Hullo there, guys. Back with another one-shot. A purely fluffified one-shot, to be exact. Oh dear.
For those of you who have read some of my other stories, a similar theme is used in this one. "Oh. Look. EruptingFender9 has written another story about a boy working in some form of a dessert shop. Positively no one saw that coming." So I like guys who bake and scoop ice-cream. Sue me.
No, wait, don't really sue me; especially for copyright infringement, because I don't claim ownership over Edgar Allen Poe's poetry, the Land Before Time movies, or Ipods. ??
I glanced at the time on my watch and doubled my speed once I saw how late I really was. With books in my arms, I half walked, half jogged toward my destination, hoping I could get there before my absence was noted.
Unfortunately, I had no such luck.
My mother's voice came through the ear piece on my phone as soon as I'd flipped it open.
"Annie, where are you?" she asked.
"I'm coming," I replied, quickening my steps.
"You were supposed to be at the store twenty-five minutes ago. Your brother is probably already home from school, standing outside and wondering why no one is at the house to let him in."
"I know, I'm sorry. I'm coming; I'm down the block." I snapped my cell phone shut and shoved it into my pocket as I rushed down the sidewalk.
While I walked, I anxiously ran a hand through my neck-length hair. I still wasn't used to it being so short. I had kept it long all my life, up until several weeks ago, when I had decided that I wanted a change. Before I had left my old town, I let my best friend cut it for me so it was barely past my jawline.
Big mistake on my part. Not because she had done a bad job or anything, but because some girls could pull off the short-hair look and some could not. I, regrettably, fell into the "could not" category.
Finally, short of breath, I opened the shop door to see my mother, standing behind the counter with her arms crossed.
"Annie," she started, using her tone of voice that suggested she was anything but happy.
"I know, I know." I avoided her gaze as I tossed my stuff on the counter.
"If you knew, you'd be on time. This is the second time this week. Now, when your brother gets home from school, I have to-"
"Be there to let him in. I know, you've told me. Just give him a key or something."
"That's not the point. He's only in second grade; he can't be home alone."
"Oh, c'mon, Mom. You left me home all the time when I was in second-"
"You have a responsibility to be here, Annie," my mother interrupted. "Please make sure you fulfill it. On time, from now on."
"Fine," I grumbled. I grabbed my apron and absentmindedly tied it around my waist. "How long do I have to work here, anyway?"
"Sweetheart, don't start with this. I can't discuss it right now," my mom said as she hurriedly collected her belongings and put them in her pocketbook.
"Seriously, Mom," I protested. "We've been in this town almost a month and I have absolutely no life outside of this ice-cream shop." She pretended not to hear me as she sorted through her bag. I sighed. "No one ever even comes in here, anyway."
My mom glanced up from her task and shot me a look. "That's because, when you hide behind the counter reading, people assume we're closed." Her shoes clicked on the white tile floor as she walked over to me. "We'll talk about it once we get some new employees in here." My mother gave me a kiss on the side of the head. "I'll see you for dinner. Call if you need me," she said.
I watched, unamused, as she headed for the door. I propped myself up with my elbows resting on the counter.
My mother pushed on the glass door with her shoulder, making the bell on the top ring out. Just before she walked out, though, she turned back around to face me.
"Oh, and Annie?"
I looked up at her, raising my eyebrows in question.
"Make sure you actually work, alright? Rather than burying your nose in a book while you're supposed to manning the counter."
I nodded and forced a smile. Then, after waving to my mom, I waited for her to leave. When the door shut and she disappeared from view, I leaned over the counter and craned my neck to make sure she was really gone.
Finally, I let out an exhale in the form of a sigh, grabbed my Ipod and newly-borrowed library book, and sank behind the counter.
I pulled my apron back over my head again and tossed it to the side. With music blasting through my headphones, I sat with my back against the cabinets and tapped my foot idly as my eyes scanned over words. I'm not sure how long I sat there, but before I knew it, my Ipod was minutes from dying and I had knocked out half the pages of the novel in my hand.
I froze and looked up from the text when I thought I heard a voice. The sound was muffled through the music, but it sounded like someone asking, "Anyone here?" over and over again.
I took one of my earphones out and listened again, but assumed I had been imagining the voice when I found that the shop was quiet. I was about to go back to my book when I saw something move from the corner of my eye. Craning my neck backwards, I looked up at the counter behind me and was met with another face, inches away from mine.
I screamed bloody murder and dropped my book, scrambling to my feet.
The boy who had been staring at me as he leaned over the counter stood up straight and took a few steps back. Despite the fact that I was breathing heavily and obviously terrified, he grinned, as if he couldn't suppress his amusement."Didn't mean to scare you," he finally spoke, breaking the silence.
When I just stared silently at him, he tried again. "Do you work here, or do you just break into ice-cream shops and use them as your own personal libraries?"
"No," I murmured, finding both my voice and my apron. I tied the pink string around my waist for the second time today. "No, I work here," I said.
"Yeah, I know. It was a joke."
"Oh," I said curtly. Then, a moment too late, I let out a weak laugh.
The only sound in the entire shop was the soft hum of indistinct music coming from my earphones. He cleared his throat, and I stole a glance at him out of the corner of my eye.
He had hair that spiked up every which way, and eyes that were the same exact shade brown. The boy wore cargo shorts and a casual black t-shirt which had, what I assumed to be, a band logo. On his feet, he wore classic checkered vans that appeared to have been sported enough times, because they were tattered and ripped.
The boy suddenly caught me looking at him, so I tore my gaze away and stared down at the countertop instead. "Is there anything I can get for you?" I asked, hoping to diffuse some of the awkwardness.
"Yep, there is," he replied.
I nodded. "The specially-made soft serve flavors for today are pistachio and chocolate-raspberry, and-"
"Actually," the boy said, "I was wondering if you could get me something more along the lines of an application. You guys are hiring, right?"
"Oh," I murmured, dropping my hand from the cash register. "You want a job here?"
He shrugged. "I was thinking about it, yeah. My parents have been bugging me to get a job since summer started, and I'm going to need some spending money for my dorm when I start college in the fall, so…"
"You sure you want a job here, though?" I stole another glance at his appearance. Then I quickly added, "I don't mean any offense by it. It's just you don't really seem like the type who would want to work in an icecream shop."
"And why not? I like icecream just as much as the next guy." His mouth split into another grin. "Besides," he said, motioning to my apron, "I look damn stunning in pink."
I laughed. "I'll bet," I replied. "This place is always dead, though. No one knows about it since it just opened, and, frankly, It's boring as hell to work here."
He nonchalantly shrugged a shoulder. "Sounds like the perfect job for me. I'm not too good with handling mobs of people, anyhow."
I opened my mouth again to reply, but shut it upon realizing what I was doing. I suddenly started to wonder why I was trying to talk him out of the job. After all, if he started working here, I didn't have to come in every day. I could meet some people, have some form of a life, and hopefully acquire some friends here by the time school started.
"Alright," I said, opening the drawer of paperwork by the front counter. I flipped through the stacks of papers and records, but I couldn't find anything. "I don't think we have any applications right now, but if you want to write some information down on a piece of paper, I'll give it to the manager."
He nodded and took the pen from my hand. Then he proceeded to scribble down his name, age, phone number, and address.
"Is that good?" he asked.
I took the piece of paper from him and quickly scanned over it. "Yep. That's fine." Then, having looked at his name on the looseleaf, I added, "Derek."
"Sounds good." Derek glanced down my ice-cream cone shaped nametag. "Annie," he added.
"The manager's not here right now, but I'll give it to him when I see him and then I'll let you know."
The boy nodded, sticking his hands casually into his pockets. "Hey… Do you think you'd be able to put in a good word? I mean, assuming you know him pretty well and all."
"The manager?" I asked. Then I laughed. "Yeah, I think I could do that. He's my stepdad."
"Oh. Awesome," Derek exclaimed.
"Eh, not so much."
He raised an eyebrow. "Why?" He asked. Then a look of realization made its way onto Derek's face. "Oh… You don't like him?"
I shrugged. "Nah, it's not that. He's a good enough guy. He's just not that good of a manager," I explained. "He opened this place about a week after we moved here. Then he got another job and hasn't been here since. Basically dumped the entire responsibility on me and my mom."
"Ah. That sucks," Derek said, nodding and pensively staring at the floor. Then he brought his gaze back to me and offered a comforting half-smile. "Well, hopefully I can help out, then."
I couldn't help but mirror his expression. "Hopefully," I repeated.
"I don't know, Annie," my mother said as she turned on the faucet.
"Why not?" I whined. "You said it yourself. You said we needed to hire new employees."
She glanced over her shoulder and shot me a look. "When did I say that?"
"Today!" I exclaimed, stacking the pile of dishes next to the sink. "You said, 'we'll talk about it when we get some new employees in here'."
"Yes, Annie. When. That doesn't necessarily mean now. I don't know if your stepfather wants any employees right now. We just opened the store." Using her forearm since her hands were submerged in soapy water, my mother brushed a strand of light brown hair- the exact same shade as mine- out of her eyes.
"So what?" I picked up a dishrag and began to dry the clean plates on the counter.
"So when you hire employees, it means more paperwork and more formalities and more money," she explained. "We don't even know anything about this boy. He could be a thief, for all we know."
"Oh, yeah? And what is he gonna steal, mom? Our non-existent cash register money or a few tubs of vanilla cookie dough?"
"Don't be fresh, Annie."
I sighed. "Could you at least just talk to Frank about it?"
"I'll talk to him about it, but I doubt he wants the extra responsibility right now," my mother said, handing me a freshly-washed plate to dry and put away. "And if he does agree, let me tell you right now: You'll be taking on some of that responsibility."
I doubled my speed as I caught sight of the time on my watch. The small hands over the numbers suggested that I was thirty-two minutes behind. My feet quickened on the sidewalk.
As I shoved the door open, breathing heavily, I was met with the greeting, "Your mom's right. You are always late."
Derek stood behind the counter with his chin in his hand and his foot tapping idly. Today, he was wearing a grey beanie over his hair, a white shirt underneath his apron, and his signature cargo pants that, I'm almost positive, he had fifteen identical pairs of.
"You have no right to reprimand me," I replied, tossing my things on the counter and going to grab my own apron.
"Oh? And why's that?" he asked, grinning.
I raised an eyebrow at him as I tied the thread about my waist. "Have you already forgotten how many strings I pulled for you?"
"Alright, alright. I know. Sorry," he said immediately, oblivious to the fact that I was teasing him.
Regardless that I had reminded him countless times, I decided to remind him again. "I sang your praises to both my parents, despite that I barely knew you. I practically begged my stepdad to hire you. I agreed to this deal that I have to be the one to train you, and on top of that, you have the audacity to point out my slight tardiness?"
Finally, he caught on to my sarcasm and the size of his smile doubled, showing the dimples on both sides of his mouth. "Where were you, anyway?" He asked, but then added, "Wait, no, don't tell me. The library."
"Nerd. You're such a nerd."
"Asshole," I retaliated.
"Queer in a pink apron."
"Girl with a boy's haircut."
I gasped and stared at him as I feigned emotional injury. "You've gone too far," I told him. I placed my hand over my heart and turned my back to him.
Derek had only been working at the ice-cream shop for a week, but he and I had already grown comfortable around one another. The teasing and joking never took a break, and he and I were always on each other's cases for one thing or another. I found that, with Derek around, I got less work done than I would have if I was alone. The thought started to dawn on me that I would never finish his training, get out of here, and go have a life. Strangely, though, I didn't mind so much.
"Annie," he began. "C'mon, I didn't mean it." Derek took a few steps toward me and tugged lightly at my hair. "I like it short, you know that. It looks good on you."
I turned around to shoot him a look, but I froze upon being face-to-face with him. His signature grin was still on his face as he looked down at me. "You can't stay mad at me, you know."
"Oh, believe me. I can," I stated.
He signed and let his shoulders drop. "What do I have to do, recite poetry or something?"
"Hah. The day that you recite poetry will be the day that pigs fly, hell freezes over, and they stop coming out with new Land Before Time movies."
No sooner were the words out of my mouth that Derek had dropped down onto one of his knees and started rambling, "Annie, Annie, she's oh so pretty, her hair is short, her eyes remind me of… uh, Salt Lake City?"
I raised an eyebrow and stared at him with a disdainful expression on my face. "That's the worst excuse for poetry I've ever heard."
"What!?" he exclaimed. "It's a real poem!"
"Have you ever even been to Salt Lake City? I assure you, it has nothing to do with my eyes. That isn't a real poem."
"Not yet, maybe, but watch me. I'll get it copywrited. Solely for you, my love." Derek stood up and tried to wrap his arms around me, but I laughed and shoved him away.
"You're such a suck-up," I accused, turning away so he didn't see the scarlet color on my face.
I sat on the counter-top in the kitchen, a novel in my hand. Every few moments, I'd look up to check if Derek was still mopping the floor as I'd told him to.
"Are you planning on helping me at all?" he asked, pausing for a moment to wipe his forehead with the back of his arm.
"Nope," I said, my eyes glued to the page. "I am the trainer, you are the trainee. Therefore, you do the irritating, mindless jobs that I refuse to do."
Derek rolled his eyes, dipped the mop back into the bucket, and continued with his work.
"The sooner you finish, the sooner I get to teach you how to use the soft-serve machine!" I stated excitedly. Derek didn't look as thrilled.
The bell in the front of the store suddenly rang out, indicating that someone had walked in.
I sighed and impatiently let my head drop against the back wall. "Any chance you want to get that?" I asked.
Derek looked up from the soapy puddles on the tiles and feigned innocence. "Me?" he asked. "The naive trainee who does the irritating, mindless jobs that you refuse to do? No, handling customers is much too important and intricate. I think you'd better take care of it."
I scoffed, immediately regretting my former choice of words. "Fine," I spat, tossing my book to the side and hopping off the counter.
When I walked out into the brightness of the front room, I saw a girl standing at the counter. She was dressed in a pink tank top, white denim shorts, and flip flops. Her reddish, wavy hair reached to the small of her back. She was examining her cotton-candy pink nails, and she didn't look up until I asked, "Hi, what can I help you with?"
"Oh," she murmured. "Hi."
I raised an eyebrow. "Hi." My voice was curt and inquiring. "Is there something I can help you with?" I repeated.
The girl was looking over my shoulder at the kitchen door, tilting her head in question. "Actually, I was looking for someone."
"Who?" I asked. Getting information out of this girl was like pulling teeth from a mule.
"A guy named Derek. I think he just started working here a little while ago."
My mouth formed a silent "O" shape, and I nodded. "Yeah, he did. He's in the back room right now, though, mopping up."
The girl's gaze flickered over to me. She stared at me with a blank expression, as if she was waiting for me to do something.
"So," I stretched the word out as if I was talking to a kindergartener, "Is there anything I can help you with?"
"Sure. You can tell Derek that Kirsten is waiting to talk to him." She looked back down and continued examining her nails. I stood there for a moment with my eyebrows furrowed. Then I finally turned on my heel and went back into the kitchen.
"Looks like you're going to have to deal with the importance and intricacy of customers. She demands you."
Derek put the mop back in the bucket and glanced at me. "What?" he asked.
I pointed over my shoulder and then resumed my spot on the countertop. "Someone's looking for you," I said. I picked up my book and pretended to be engrossed in the text once again. "Hurry it up. I still have to teach you how to use the soft serve," I added.
I waited until Derek walked out before I tore my eyes from the page and strained my ears to hear what was happening.
"Kirsten!" I heard Derek say.
"Hi Derek!" she exclaimed happily. "See, I told you I'd come to see you."
Derek laughed. "Well, I had my doubts," he said.
Then she laughed, too. "So this is where you got a job, huh?" Kirsten said as she peered around. "It just opened, right?"
"Yep. About a month ago."
"Seems like a cool place to work," I heard her say. She paused, and then added, "Although your coworker has a bit of an attitude."
I clenched my teeth together.
The swinging door finally fell still and closed up the entrance, and I could no longer hear the conversation going on outside. However, I craned my neck and inched forward to be able to see through the small window in the kitchen door.
Kirsten was facing me, but all I saw of Derek was the back of his head. She laughed and swatted him playfully on the arm. Then Derek, for a split second, put his hand on her upper shoulder.
My face suddenly flushed red. Derek was usually a kiss-ass when it came to customers, but he was never this much of a flirt. Ever. Except, maybe, when he was trying to get on my nerves. And, well… Such modified situations did not make me all that thrilled.
When Derek went to sling his arm around her shoulders, he stepped out of my line of sight for a second. I leaned forward even more to see what was going on, but I forgot that I was perched on top of the countertop. As I went plummeting toward the floor, I made a grab for anything that would keep me up.
My hand wrapped around the dish towel that was placed underneath bowls, mixers, utensils and other things. It, unfortunately, did not keep me up, but it did pull all of those things down. It made a huge ruckus as it clattered to the floor.
"Annie?" Derek asked, suddenly at the door. "Are you alright?" he asked, stepping over the mess to help me up.
"I'm fine," I replied, grabbing his hand as he pulled me to my feet.
I opened my mouth to speak, but the words caught in my throat. "I slipped," I finally murmured. "You should consider putting a wet-floor sign down next time."
He let out a weak laugh and apologized, but he was interrupted.
"Everything okay in there?" Kirsten's voice sounded from the front room.
Derek went to the door and held it open with his shoulder. "Yeah, everything's good," he responded.
"Anything I can help with?" she said, offering him a smile that I categorized as fully pretentious.
He shook his head. "Nah, we're alright." Derek turned back around to look at the state of the room. "Hey, Kirsten… Listen, thanks so much for stopping by. It was great to see you, but I should get back to work."
She nodded reluctantly. "Okay," she agreed. "We should definitely do something soon, though. I haven't seen you all summer!"
"Absolutely. I'll call you," Derek said. I rolled my eyes behind his back and started picking up some of the stuff on the floor.
The bell on the door sounded again, but I continued to avoid Derek's gaze as I stacked the bowls that had dropped.
"You okay?" he repeated.
He shot me a look, but dropped it and started to help clean up. The kitchen was quiet except for the clattering of metal.
"So she seemed happy to see you," I said flatly, finally breaking the silence.
"Hm?" he asked.
"Your friend Kristen."
"Oh. Kirsten," Derek corrected.
"Yeah, I haven't seen her since school let out," he told me. Then he stated pensively, "We used to go out, you know."
"No kidding," I murmured dryly."
"Yeah, but that's done with. She's been just a friend of mine for about a year now."
"Does she know that?" I asked spitefully.
Derek's expression was quizzical. "What're you getting at, Annie?" he asked.
"Nothing." The word came out sounding like venom, and Derek stood up straight and crossed his arms.
"Is someone jealous?" he asked, a smirk pulling at his mouth.
"Excuse me?" I asked, forcing a laugh.
"You are. You're jealous."
"Oh, please," I murmured, putting the last of the stuff on the countertop where it belonged. "Jealous of that girl? Let me tell you something, Derek. I have the ability to giggle and appear like I'm a moron. I just choose not to."
Derek cocked an eyebrow and leaned nonchalantly against the side of the refrigerator. "I think you're a little more preoccupied with her ability to gain my attention."
I scoffed. "You know what's wrong with you?" I asked, trying desperately hard not to sound flustered. "Your ego is too big for your own good, that's what's wrong with you."
"Well, apparently that doesn't bother you too much, because I've managed to capture your heart even with my gigantic ego."
His tone of voice suggested that he was only teasing me, but even so, it riled me up.
"Shut up, Derek," I hissed.
"Or what?" he asked. When I didn't answer, he turned on the faucet behind him and ran his fingers underneath the faucet. Then he flicked droplets of water at me. "Or what?" Derek repeated, his signature grin reappearing.
I glared at him for a moment, my mouth half open. "Or this," I retaliated, grabbing a handful of brightly-colored sprinkles out of the container. I tossed them in his direction and the majority of them collected in his brown hair.
"What the hell, Annie," he spat. Derek then grabbed the whipped cream, leaned toward me, tugged at the neckline of my shirt, and pressed the nozzle. He smiled wickedly as the entire contents of the can were sprayed down my shirt.
I made a sound that was a cross between a choke and a gasp at the cold substance that was now, thanks to my coworker, seeping into my bra.
"You bastard," I yelled. Within a split second, his signature cargo shorts were dripping in chocolate sauce.
Ah well. At least he had fourteen more pairs at home.
The soft-serve machine caught both of our attentions at the same time, and the two of us stumbled toward it, each trying to shove the other out of the way. The second the levers had been pulled, all hell broke loose.
The freshly-mopped floors were swirled with melting chocolate and vanilla ice-cream. I could feel the chocolate syrup sticking underneath my shoes, and, on top the dilemma that my shirt was dripping with whipped cream, I now had chopped walnuts in my hair.
Derek and I wrestled over anything and everything that could be used as ammo, and we left a disaster on every inch of the tile floor that we trod on. Soon, every bit of the kitchen was covered in some form of sugar.
He dipped his hand into a jar of raspberry sauce, and as he tried to smear it on my face, I lost my footing and kicked his legs out from under him.
I felt the ice-cream seep into my hair when my head hit the tiles. Derek fell right on top of me. He tried desperately hard to keep his arms from slipping in order to avoid squishing me.
Even when he got his bearings, though, he didn't move. He stared down at me, his face barely recognizable through all of the icecream and sprinkles on it. We grinned at each other through our heavy breathing.
"Hey Annie?" He asked.
Derek took this opportunity to smear what was left of the raspberry sauce from one side of my face to the other.
"You're welcome," he replied. Then Derek slowly leaned downward, and the smile on my mouth slowly straightened out. I immediately froze up, and my heart (located next to the entire contents of a whipped-cream can) began beating impossibly fast.
He and I both jolted when we heard the bell of the door. We jumped to our feet, which resulted in a hell of a lot of skidding and falling. The kitchen door swung open, and my stepfather stood there, peering around the destroyed room.
Of course, after weeks of ignoring his ice-cream shop, he chose today to stop on in and check up on it. I felt about ready to throw up.
For a moment, his expression faltered, and he didn't seem to know what to say. Then Frank's face turned redder than mine (take into account the raspberry sauce), his fists clenched, and he appeared ready to detonate.
"You!" He pointed at Derek and yelled the words at the top of his lungs. "Get out!"
Derek opened his mouth to say something in our defense, but the command, "Now!" boomed out of my stepdad's mouth before he could even try.
"Annabelle Johansen, you will have this cleaned up before I get back or, mark my words, I will talk your mother into never allowing you to see the light of day again," he roared.
Frank waited for Derek to scramble and me to equip myself with a mop before he left the store in a rage, the door shutting forcefully behind him.
I let my head drop back against the tile wall and closed my eyes, slumping onto the counter. The mop, located beside my legs, was leaning against the edge of the stainless-steel surface, and the broom rested on the floor. There were still a few rags around the kitchen, but, for the most part, I had rinsed them of all the whipped cream and chocolate syrup and they were drying on top of the radiator.
I had managed to get the majority of dessert toppings out of my hair by running my head underneath the tap for a while, and I'd even found an old t-shirt in the storage room from when we were painting the place. Even with my minor attempts to clean myself up, though, I looked like hell.
It must've been close to 11 o'clock at night. On any other day, I would've closed up and been home two hours previous. But I'd been cleaning the kitchen since 4:30 that afternoon, and I was about ready to keel over.
The bell in the front room sounded, and I shut my eyes tighter, wishing I'd imagined the sound. I was not mentally prepared for the wrath of my stepdad, especially now that he'd had several hours to reflect on how I'd managed to turn his kitchen into a battle zone.
However, instead of hearing the phrase, "I talked to your mother and, good news, you're only grounded until the day you turn twenty-one," I heard a timid voice ask, "Annie?"
I opened one eye to see Derek. He had pushed on the swinging door ever so carefully and was peering around kitchen.
A smile pulled at the side of my mouth. "Don't worry, Derek," I said, allowing myself to relax once again. "He's not here."
"Thank God," he murmured, taking a step into the kitchen. I noted that the lucky bastard had been able to take a shower, wash the toppings from his hair, and change into clean clothes. Oh, how I longed to do the same. "I was half expecting to be held at gunpoint when I walked in," he added.
I laughed. "Aw, c'mon, he wasn't that mad."
Save for the skeptical raised eyebrow, Derek's expression was blank.
"Alright. Well, whatever," I muttered quickly. "We turned his kitchen into a Jackson Pollock painting, ice-cream style. He had a right to be ticked."
He shrugged and hopped up next to me on the counter. "Yep. I'd say so," he agreed, letting his head drop back against the wall as well. A grin formed on Derek's face as he stared absentmindedly at the ceiling. "It was pretty fun, though."
I laughed. "Yeah, it really was," I said. "Not half as much fun as the cleaning turned out to be, however."
Derek turned his head to offer me a sympathetic glance. "I'm really sorry, Annie," he said, all traces of amusement disappearing from his voice.
"For what?" I asked.
He shrugged. "Well, for one, taking off so you had to clean the entire kitchen by yourself."
"If you'd stayed, Frank would've lost it. Even more so then he already did. I don't blame you."
"Yeah, I guess," he said, pensively scratching the back of his neck. "Then I'm sorry for starting it in the first place."
"Technically," I replied, "your first choice of ammo was water. I'm the one who upgraded to sprinkles."
Derek rolled his eyes and sighed. "Alright. Then I'm sorry for…" His voice trailed off as he tried to think of something. He held up his pointer finger as the thought came to him. "Making you jealous," Derek stated.
"You did not make me jealous," I insisted, emphasizing each word brusquely.
"Oh, but I did." Derek made a repetitive 'tisk' noise and shook his head slowly from side to side. "I made you jealous, Annie, and now I feel as if I must sincerely apologize."
"No, really," I murmured. "It's fine. I don't need an apology."
"You do," Derek disagreed. "A good one, too. But what can I do that will make up for all the trouble I've caused you tonight?"
"Just steer clear of this place for about a week or so while I talk Frank into letting you keep your job, and we'll call it even."
Derek pursed his mouth to the side as he thought about it. "I was thinking more along the lines of reciting a poem for you."
"Oh no," I groaned.
"Yep." Derek slid off of the counter and, once again, dropped down onto one of his knees.
"Would you get out here?" I said, starting to inch away from him. "We tried this already, remember? You're not exactly Dr. Seuss when it comes to rhyme schemes."
"This one's good, I promise," Derek insisted. "And it doesn't even rhyme." Then he cleared his throat and took my hand in both of his. I let my head slump forward as I sighed irately.
"My heart, it is brighter than all of the many stars in the sky," he began. I made another unappreciative sound at his first line, but Derek shot me a look that said, "I am not done," and then continued.
"For it sparkles with Annie," he said. "It glows with the light of the love of my Annie."
I tilted my head to the side as I stared at him with curious, narrowed eyes.
"With the thought of the light, of the eyes of my Annie." Derek finished and looked up at me, his expression illegible.
When I didn't say anything, he stood up and murmured, "Today is the day that pigs fly, hell freezes over, and they stop making Land Before Time movies, Annie Johansen, for I just recited poetry for you." He forced his voice to sound smug, but there was a hint of insecurity to it.
I stumbled over my words for a minute or so before I finally choked out the response, "There's no way in hell you made that up."
He laughed. "No, I didn't make that up," Derek admitted.
"Who did?" I asked.
"It's called, 'For Annie'," he told me. "It's by Edgar Allen Poe."
"Oh." I scrunched up my face in distaste to hide the fact that, in all reality, my heart was melting. "Well, that's not romantic. That guy was a nutcase. He wrote about killing people and hiding their hearts underneath his floorboards and shit."
"Jesus Christ. I tried, didn't I?" Derek stated. Even though he sounded angry, the renowned grin was surfacing on his expression. "Now shut your face, accept a compliment, stop trying to put me down, and quit pretending like you don't know I like you."
With that, Derek took a step toward me, took my face in both of his hands, and placed a confident but gentle kiss on my lips.
As I sat on the edge of the counter, my legs swinging giddily underneath me, I put my arms around his neck and, pulling him closer to me, kissed him back.
I suddenly stopped caring that I didn't have a life outside of that ice-cream shop. I stopped worrying about handing in my pink apron and getting the hell out of there so soon. I started planning on being on time more often.
I figured I wouldn't need to hide behind the counter and read novels anymore to keep from being bored, and I decided that from now on, I'd much rather hear Derek's voice than the sound of music through my Ipod headphones.
I noted how happy I was that he'd come into the store, scared the ever-loving crap out me, and asked for a job. I noted how happy I was that I'd talked my parents into hiring him. I also noted that it was a good thing I'd been good at talking my parents into hiring him, because when I got home that night, I'd have to do it all over again.
Oh, the strings I pulled for that boy.
Alas, another one finished. I'm working on multiple other stories at the moment, but lately I've been like, "Oh, let's write one sentence of a friggen story and then decide to start another," so I dunno when I'll be out with something new.
Thanks for reading, and please review :D