Authors: Shane Morgan
love a gorgeous travel companion like Reign. “That’s nice,” I hurry to say,
stifling back my inappropriate thoughts. “Has she been anywhere yet?”
Looking at me as if I’m mad, Mrs. Aldridge
widens her pale blue eyes and dips her head back. Then she glances down at my
resume again and mutters, “No. She has a lot to deal with at present,
especially getting through college and learning to make firm decisions about
her future. No time to play around.”
“Oh, good for her.
gonna study travel in college?”
“No,” she answers dryly, her mind drifting a
bit. “Reign decided to study business. That’s best for her, I guess.”
Something about her response unnerves me. But
it’s none of my business. Why am I even asking the lady about her daughter?
What the hell, Micah. You’re here for work.
When she pops her head up and looks me dead in
the eye, my throat tightens once more. I have to be prepared for whatever other
questions she has.
“It all seems fine to me. There’s no reason I
shouldn’t consider you, and since I need someone at this very moment for our
busy days ahead, I have no problem letting you start right away.”
Relief floods over me and I grin, because this
is easier than I thought. I’m about to thank her for the opportunity when Mrs.
Aldridge stuns me with something I haven’t considered until now.
“Do you mind if I run a background check? It’s
mandatory for new employees.”
Shit! How did I not think about that at all? Oh
right, my job at the Chinese restaurant in Georgetown was a
no-questions-ask-just-do-the-work type of job.
I swallow hard before I ask in a low tone, “Even
if it’s only for the summer?”
That must sound suspicious because she tilts her
head to one side and studies me. “Well, yes. Is something wrong?”
“No,” I answer fast. “Nothing’s wrong. That’s
“It’ll be done in no time. Like I said, I’d love
for you to start immediately. My other waitress won’t be back until after
summer and it’s been hectic with only Aislin and Reign. Aislin has summer
classes so she’s cut her hours back. I figure since you’re looking for
temporary work then the job will be perfect for you, don’t you want it?”
“Yes…” The whole time she’s talking, my mind is
still stuck on that stupid background check. When she runs it, not only will
Mrs. Aldridge discover that I’m using Grams’ maiden name, she’ll learn that
Micah isn’t my first name either.
Why can’t she be like my previous boss? Mr.
Chang didn’t care about those things, only if I could keep up with his
he paid me in cash. Hopefully she’ll do the
“So,” She breaks through my thoughts, sounding
enthusiastic again. “Are you ready to get started?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I say, getting up to shake her
hand. “Thank you.”
She wedges one hand inside her pants pocket,
gesturing me to the door with the other. Mrs. Aldridge leads me to the
employees’ room where I’m given two uniforms and a locker. Then I follow her to
the kitchen and she introduces me to her chef, Clark Fernandez. He’s around the
same age as Mrs. Aldridge; mid-forties. Says he was born in Puerto Rico and
moved to the states as a kid with his father.
Afterwards, I walk back to the employees’ room
to change into one of the uniforms—black pants and white dress shirt with the
restaurant’s name in blue over the shirt pocket. Then I saunter to the dining
area where Mrs. Aldridge instructs me to help Reign place the utensils and
center pieces on the tables.
She starts to head back to her office when
suddenly the door opens and a frazzled-looking guy strolls in. Mrs. Aldridge
makes a guttural sound, checks her watch, and then frowns at him. Without uttering
a word, she shakes her head and marches off past the bar and around to the
passage that stretches back to her office.
Dude releases the breath he’s been holding,
strolls over to the bar, and puts down his small black bag. He doesn’t even
bother with me as he steps past and heads around back, possibly to change into
While setting down napkins and water glasses, I
glimpse Reign at the corner of my eye. She isn’t being too discreet either,
staring at me every so often. She still looks as if she’s trying to remember my
“Hey.” A raspy voice calls out from behind me.
I spin around to see a girl with boyish short
blonde hair and a silver nose ring.
“Hey,” I reply.
Edging closer, she lifts her hand to shake mine as
she introduces herself, “Aislin.”
“Micah,” I say with a half-smile. Her face
remains serious as she reads me. Growing a tad uncomfortable, I ask, “Is there
anything you need my help with?”
She shrugs. “I was just being courteous, unlike John.”
She nods in the direction he went. “He’s the bartender. He can be a douche
sometimes but it’s only because he’s going through some stuff.”
“It’s fine,” I say, because honestly, I don’t
Aislin turns around. Before going back to
whatever she was doing, she peers over her shoulder and winks at me, saying
with a smirk, “You’re cute.”
She scampers off and I resume what I was doing
before. Around noontime the restaurant starts to get busy. I’m taking an old
couples order when some guy wanders in. He has an arrogant vibe about him.
Aislin is closest to him from the door so I assume she’ll tell him to sit
wherever there’s a vacant table.
Only, she glances behind at him, swivels
instantly, and pretends like he’s not even there as she continues to focus on
her table. He doesn’t look all too interested in her, either. If I didn’t know
better, I’d say there is tension between them—the ‘we slept together last night
and you didn’t even bother to call me’ kind of tension.
I’m about to walk over and guide him to a table
but decide against it when he starts for the deck, seeming to have found the
reason why he’s here: Reign.
Screw me. I definitely don’t have a chance now.
A cocky grin spreads across his face. It isn’t
hard to figure out that he must be her boyfriend. She’s too gorgeous to be
single. Walking over to Reign, he drapes his arms around her waist from behind
and kisses her on the cheek. With no regards for the fact that she’s at work,
he pulls her away after she pours a glass of water for a customer and tows her
over to the railing.
Reign smiles awkwardly at him, as if she doesn’t
really want him here.
I observe them while making my way to the bar to
plug in my customers’ orders. He never takes his hands off her. It makes me
cringe somewhat. Then as if she senses me, Reign looks over and catches me
staring. Oops. I drop my eyes fast and put in the orders. That guy probably
He has nothing to worry about;
I’m not a girlfriend stealer. Still, for some reason, I feel bothered by that
kiss and the way he rests his hands on her hips like he’s staking his claim.
“WHO’S THAT GUY?” Nate asks me, eyeing Micah
“New employee,” I answer. “Why? Are you pissed I
have so many hot guys around me?”
He scoffs. “Not in the least. Just haven’t seen
him before. Anyway, I know you only have room from me. So, are you coming by
I search my head for what he’s talking about.
Seeing how lost I am, he reminds me, “It’s his birthday. He’s throwing a party,
“Oh, right. That. Um…I don’t know Nate, the
restaurant closes at ten. By then I’ll be pretty tired.”
He wrinkles his brow, seeming appalled by my
excuse. “I’m sure your mom can let you slip away earlier if you tell her it’s
for me. Sophia loves me as your boyfriend, right? Besides,” He has a sneaky
grin on his clean-shaven face. “I’ve been looking forward to it ‘cause I was
hoping we’d sneak out of the party and spend the night at my house.”
That’s a no-no. I’ve known Nate since junior
high school but we only started dating two months ago before graduating. I’m
not ready to take our relationship to the next level.
“I’m sorry,” I say, “Even if I get the chance to
come tonight, I don’t know if I want to sleep over—”
“Oh jeez, I’m not insinuating anything, Reign,”
he laughs short then kisses me lightly on the forehead. “It’s okay. I just
wanted to hang out with you alone, since you’ll be working for most of the
summer and I’m busy with my stuff, too. We aren’t even going to the same
college in fall.”
I lower my gaze to the half empty jar in my
hand. Nate lifts my chin and sticks the loose strand of hair behind my ear.
“Hey, it’s fine. Don’t look so worried.”
Gazing into his brown eyes, I smile as I say in
the nicest way possible, “You should go, I’m working. I’ll ask Mom about later,
Nate briefly runs his thumb across my bottom lip
and nods. “Cool. See you later then.” He says it confidently because he knows
I’ll show up at Lucas’ house later. That’s me. Always trying to keep him happy
because I have to work extra hard to make up for the fact that I won’t sleep
with him, at least not until it feels right.
Twisting away from me, Nate starts to head out.
I watch as he strides for the exit, steps outside, hop inside his Porsche and
drives away. He’s upset. I can tell he is no matter how he tries to put up a
front that he’s fine with waiting.
Not sure why, but for a passing second I glance
over at Micah before bringing the jar back to the bar to refill it with water.
He was watching me and Nate earlier and his reaction seemed odd. If anything,
he appeared…disappointed. I walk around to the kitchen to check on my table’s
order when Mom comes up to me in the passage.
“What’s up?” I ask innocently, fearing she saw
“I’m gonna drive over to the shop to see your father
for a minute. Will you at least change into a uniform before it gets really
busy? I mean, look at Micah,” She nods in his direction and I slant and take in
his appearance. “Even he changed into my uniform. Set an example and do the
“Okay, Mom,” I smile, more so out of relief that
she didn’t see Nate after all.
Her lips curl into a satisfied grin. I can see
wrinkles at the corner of her pale blue eyes as she beams at me with pride.
Then I remember Lucas’ party and how Nate really
wants me to come. “Um, Mom, is it okay if I head out an hour early so I can go
to Nate’s cousin’s birthday party tonight?”
Her smile falters as she considers this. Letting
out a long gush of air, she answers firmly, “No. You leave the same time as the
others. How is it gonna look to Aislin, John, and Micah if I let you out
earlier to go party? I don’t think so, Reign. You get off at ten. End of
I bite down on my bottom lip, fuming as she pats
my arm and continues toward the exit in a nonchalant way. There is nothing I
can say to protest this, because even though I want to be a good girlfriend and
make an effort for our relationship, I also don’t want to disappoint my
parents. Mary wouldn’t. And since she’s no longer here because of me, I have to
take her place and be the obedient daughter.