by Patty Maximini
“You kissed me,” he said, in between chuckles.
Emily groaned and covered her burning face. “Not that. Don’t say things like that. Besides, I didn’t kiss you, I kissed your cheek.”
Taylor couldn’t understand why she was so embarrassed by such an innocent and sweet display of affection, but it was very funny. With a smug chuckle he teased her once more. “Twice—you kissed my cheek twice.”
“I haven’t done that to anyone other than Charlie, Z and J in a very long time, so don’t make fun of me,” she begged from behind her hands.
“Hey, I’m not. I’m just—wowed.” He removed the hands that covered her face and, with a gently finger beneath her chin, he lifted it so she would meet his eyes. “I really liked it, please do it more often,” he requested honestly.
“When you’re done with your story, I might do it again,” she teased with a shy smile.
“I better get on with it then,”
* * *
The Reason I Stay
“Hey there,” a chipper voice with a very noticeable drawl sounds to my right.
Lifting my head to acknowledge the source of the voice, through my peripheral vision I see a narrow waist covered in navy fabric and a hand with purple nail polish and a girly skull ring, but I don’t bother to look at her further. I just can’t. I know she’ll be some nice southern-hospitality enthusiast trying to start a conversation, and welcome me to this town. Being one hundred percent sure that I’ll lose it if I’m subjected to that I bend my elbows, anchor them on the table and burry my head in my palms.
“Welcome to The Jukebox. I’m Lexie.”
I roll my eyes at her stupid name. Of course you’re a Lexie.
“Excuse me, do you have a problem with Lexies?” she asks, the previous friendliness in her voice completely gone.
Unlike most people, I don’t flinch, frown or apologize when I’m called out on my rudeness. I’m me and I don’t give a fuck. Without removing my head from my hands, I reply the only thing I can think of. “No, I don’t.”
“Good, ‘cause you’re stuck with me . . . Lexie . . . your waitress . . . up here.” Her cheery tone is back, obviously trying to be cute with me.
Usually I’d take her cue and have some flirty fun, and if she ranks seven or up, I’d put some mild effort, leave her a big fat tip and take her home for the night. But as previously stated, I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE. Besides, considering how hard she’s trying to be nice, I bet she’s no more than a five in the looks department. With that in mind, I give her a sarcastic thumbs-up and return my hand to its place, holding my aching head up.
She chuckles. “Come on. You’re really not gonna even look at me?”
And now she’s pushed me too far.
I puff a lung full of air. “No, I’m not.” With my eyes fixed on the tabletop, I continue. “Listen, sweetheart, I’m betting you were prom queen of this shithole, and for that reason you’re sure that if I just look at you, we’ll fall in love, get married, and you’ll get to quit your shitty-ass waiting job and actually be someone in life. But I’m not interested. I’ve had about five of you this week alone, and I’m just sick of it. So why don’t you quit with the chit-chat and do your fucking job, which is not that hard, by the way.”
She takes in a sharp intake of breath and lets it out in a loaded sigh. “Wow. Okaaay then. I’m so happy we got that settled. Are you ready to hear the specials, order or leave?”