“Hey cutie, are you single?”
“We’ve been together for a year now.”
“Hey cutie, are you single?”
“We’ve been together for a year now.” I roll my eyes, a soft smile tugging at the corners of my mouth. Senator sighs, heavy and put-upon, and flops onto the couch next to me. He peers over at the book in my hands before reaching to grab his cup of coffee and raises an eyebrow.
“What? Something I can help you with?”
“You’re reading that again. I know you’re done with schoolwork, but you’ve read it at least fifty times. Don’t you have a million unread books on your shelf in your apartment?”
I look up at him for the first time since he got here, narrowing my eyes. “It soothes my soul,” I whisper, “and I can’t figure out what makes the writing so remarkable, but it is. God, it’s beautiful.”
“You don’t believe in God or sou — ow!” He rubs his shoulder where I’ve hit him, grumbling under his breath. We both take a moment to survey Bennu, our favorite coffee shop, full to the brim with people, like always. It’s mid-afternoon on a Saturday, so the college crowd is out in droves, writing papers and studying for tests, looking frantic all the while. “When do the girls get here?”
“Oh, they said they’d be here soon about an hour ago, so I give it another thirty minutes. Holly was asleep and Lina was out knocking doors with Jojo.”
“Jojo is the dog, yes?”
“Mhm, cutest girl in all of Austin. I think Lina’ll bring her too, we’ll have to find some outside seats if they ever get here.” I smile, thinking of my two best friends and their quirks. The barista, James, catches my eye and grins at me from behind the bar. I get the sneaking suspicion that he’s been watching for my friends, too, seeing as the three of us so rarely come here separately.
“What’re you making eyes at the barista for?” The taunt is light; we’ve spent the past year trying to convince Lina that James is into her. She, of course, is obstinate on that front. “Is today the day you leave me?”
At this I snort and he looks rather offended, in an affected sort of way. “Oh please, Sen, I’m in much too deep now. What would our mothers say?”
“You would indeed be scandalizing the ladies of TWO separate Daughters of the American Revolution chapters. I don’t know how you could live with such shame.”
“Oh, I most certainly could not, I’d simply be wracked with guilt.” I’ve put on my Southern twang and fan myself with my hand as we both try to keep straight faces. Senator’s mother is the chairwoman of a DAR chapter in Georgia, while my mom holds court in Eastern Kentucky. Naturally, they hate each other, despite having never met.
“Oh as you should be, a Southern Belle should not even consider sleeping with a man before marriage, let alone do so and then LEAVE such a man. I say, simply the thought just burns my gills.” Sen struggles to maintain his composure while giggles overtake me, but loses his resolve and muddles the last few words.
“They’re dead, Hol, guess we better alert the phone tree.” Lina’s dry sarcasm stirs us from the flopped, wheezing position we’d held for the last ten minutes or so, though it only plunges us further into laughter.
“Oh dear,” Holly brings a hand to her mouth, feigning shock and distress, “we’ll have to have them committed. How will we tell the families?”
Lina snorts and heads toward the counter, depositing her backpack and water bottle on the coffee table near my feet. Holly settles down into a chair across from us, tucking herself in and unloading her backpack, which is really more like Mary Poppins’s bag, let me just say.
“Hey Holly, you got Tom tucked away in there somewhere?” The joke doesn’t land, much to Sen’s disappointment. Instead, Holly looks at him and mumbles something to the effect of “I wish.”