Authors: Shane Morgan
A smug look masks his face as he continues to
wipe off glasses. “Yep, and even though they’re waiting at the door, they’ll
pick the table by the window when you ask.”
I walk over to the couple. Then I tell them to
choose a table. Sure enough, they saunter over to the one by the window.
“Can I get you folks anything to drink while you
take a minute to decide—?”
“Oh we can order now,” the husband informs me.
“Are you new? I haven’t seen you before,” says
the wife. When I direct my attention to her, my chest tightens as I gaze into
her piercing emerald eyes. In a flash I see Grams looking back at me. My hands
start to shake. My heart throbs. I can’t get a hold of myself. I need a moment,
a moment to chill out.
I feel a hand at my back. When I look to my left
Aislin is taking their orders. She finishes and pulls me along with her from
“Take a break,” she whispers to me, before going
over to the bar to put in their order.
Turning to step out back, I glance over at the
old couple. They look at me with confusion before resuming their conversation.
I stand outside and fume to myself. I haven’t
had a moment like that in a few days, and I hate that Reign isn’t at work to
distract me with her smile—I’m serious, it helps. Aislin opens the door and
comes over to where I’m leaning against the wall.
She rests one hand on the wall and drops the other
on her hip before asking, “You okay?”
“Yeah,” I say, not meeting her gaze.
“Well, you kinda froze back there. Are you sick
Looking at her, I reply, “No. I’m fine. Just
didn’t get a good night sleep.”
She twists her mouth to one side and studies me.
“Take a few more minutes before you come back inside. It’s slow in there,
anyway.” Then she twirls, heading for the door.
“Thanks,” I mutter before she slips inside.
“Don’t mention it.”
Shortly after, I go back into the restaurant.
There’s only one other table being served aside from the old couple’s. This
place really is slow at times. I walk over to the bar and look at my phone,
it’s barely after two. I notice around this time it slows down completely, and
then picks up a bit in the evening. I’ve been observing the restaurant down the
street and they’re busy around the clock from opening till they close. I wonder
what’s so different about them.
He looks back at me and answers, “Twelve years.”
Then he resumes watching some show on the TV.
“How about the restaurant down
Giving me his undivided attention now, he
creases his forehead and narrows his eyes. “Why? You plan on switching to
I laugh. “No way, I was just wondering.”
John pauses for a moment and taps on the bar,
deliberating. “They’re fairly new. About three years now. I’ve been with
for five, in case you wanna ask that too,” he snorts.
“Humph. I guess people got caught up in the
arrival of another restaurant on this street and decided to jump ship then?”
“You can say that. But you know what,” He leans
over the bar and folds his hands. “I’d pick this restaurant over any other
cause Mrs. Aldridge’s a great person. She could have fired me long ago when I
started having my shit and coming to work late. But she’s good on giving second
chances; sometimes a lot more.”
As if on cue, Mrs. Aldridge comes around the
corner and stops in her tracks, peering about the restaurant and looking out on
the deck. She sighs in a disheartened way then runs her hand through her hair.
She glances over at the bar and I turn away, not wanting her to know I’d been
She mutters as she walks over to us, “I’ll be
taking off for a while. I have a meeting with someone.”
John exhales. “It’s not about—” he stops himself
from finishing and looks over at me, then says instead, “That?”
Mrs. Aldridge cuts her eyes to the restaurant.
“I’ll be back,” she says without explaining. Then she walks away from the bar
to head out the door.
John releases a gush of air. “Damn.”
“What?” I ask.
He shakes his head and murmurs, “Nothing for you
to worry about.”
As he turns his back to me and resumes watching
what had piqued his interest earlier on TV, I glide away from the bar as a group
of girls enter the restaurant.
They are hot, and their sweet perfumes engulf me
as I lead them to a table out on the deck. But amidst their flirty giggles and
naughty eye contacts, my mind keeps drifting to Reign. I wonder why she’s not
working and what she’s doing. I really wish she was here today.
IN NO TIME Nate pulls up to my house. Getting
out of the car, he hurries around and picks me up into his arms, carrying me
the rest of the way. I’m laughing shyly the entire time, and my sulkiness from
“So, are you hungry?” I ask when he settles me
back on my feet and we step inside my house.
He growls and wraps his arms around me. Brushing
his lips lightly against my left ear, he whispers sweetly, “Hmm…I’m hungry all
right, hungry for you.”
Laughing nervously, I pry myself out of his
embrace and lead him into the living room. “How about we watch a movie
He nods and saunters over with me, sinking down
on the couch as if he’s disappointed. We sit together, and within a few minutes
of the romantic comedy I put on, Nate nuzzles up to me and starts kissing me on
He places his hand on my stomach and inches even
closer, so much that he manages to slide me down on my back, gently running his
fingers down to the hem of my blouse. He sticks his hand underneath and traces
the area around my bellybutton. I grow nervous, shifting beneath him until
finally I press my palm against his chest and ease him up a tad.
He ignores it and drives in again, reaching his
hands under my back to try and unclasp my bra. Utterly surprised by his bold
attempt, I push him off fast and spring from the couch, fixing back my blouse.
Getting up, Nate crooks an eyebrow and tightens
his jaw in frustration. His brown eyes darken with anger I’ve never seen
before, penetrating me hard. He’s making me feel like I’m the worst girlfriend
in the world right now.
“What’s wrong, Reign? Why don’t you want to be
with me?” he asks in a sharp, skin-prickling tone.
I back up a few steps as I answer, “I told you,
I’m not ready.”
“What the hell!” he snaps. I shudder, because
this is the first time he’s yelled at me, too. “We’ve been dating for almost
three months, so I’m sure you’ve realized by now that I obviously care about
you, a lot.” He aggressively runs his hand through his tousled blond hair.
“Like, what the hell! Just tell me what the problem is ‘
I don’t get it.”
I take a second to catch my breath. Then I find
the strength to snap back at him, “Why does it have to be a problem because I’m
not ready for sex? If you really care about me then I’m sure you can wait for
“That’s just it,” he cuts me off. “It feels like
it’ll never happen.” He waves his hands about as he adds, “There’s always an
excuse with you.”
Tears well my eyes but I don’t cry. I maintain
my composure as I ask in a breathy tone, “Why are you getting so mad at me?”
I look down at my bare feet on the dark hardwood
floor and stay quiet. Nate closes the distance between us, inhaling as he
touches my arm. “Babe,” he says calmly. “I just want us to be closer. I think
it’s great that you saved yourself all this time. But, I feel like you don’t
Peering up to meet his gaze, I shake my head and
drape my arms around his neck. “That’s not true. It’s just me…I’m really
nervous about it, that’s all.”
He gently eases me away, looking me in the eye
intensely as he says, “There’s nothing to be worried about. We feel the same
way about each other, so of course it’ll be great.”
Nate makes it seem as if he’s a virgin too. He’s
not. He lost his back in the eighth grade to some random girl in one of his
classes. But that doesn’t matter. He’s with me now, and like Claudia says, guys
I breathe in and out then smile as I mutter,
A broad grin spreads across his face. He strokes
my cheek and takes my hand, leading me to the stairs. I haul him back, laughing
nervously. “Not now though.
Sunday, after I leave work.”
Nate smiles halfway and pulls me into his arms,
whispering at my neck, “All right, I’ll make it special for you, babe. I
I relax in his grasp with my head resting on his
shoulder. Pressing my eyes shut, I tell myself over and over, that I’m making
the right decision.
That evening Dad and I have dinner together
while Mom’s still at the restaurant. He spoke to her on the phone earlier when
I was cooking and he made sure to keep his voice low and almost inaudible, as
if he doesn’t want me to hear.
We eat in silence. Dad isn’t making any eye
contact and I have all these thoughts running through my head. I don’t ask
what’s going on because I don’t want to be rude. Mary was never rude, only fun
and lively. She knew to mind her business though.
I start up the usual dinner table conversation.
“How was your day, Daddy?”
was good. How was yours?” he asks, helping himself to more lasagna.
I swallow what’s in my mouth. “It was good.”
Silence engulfs us again until dinner ends.
Afterwards, I do the dishes then walk into the living room where Dad’s sitting
on the couch, watching a movie. He gestures me over.
“It’s one of our favorites,” he says, “
He’s wrong. That’s Mary’s favorite. Dad mixed up
our likes again. I’m also bothered by the fact that he’s in the same spot on
the couch where Nate felt me up this afternoon. It places an awkward feeling in
my stomach and I can’t move out of the doorway.
I tell him instead, “I’m gonna go for a walk.”
glances at his watch then looks back at me, confused. “It’s almost ten.”
“I’ll just go down the street and come back. I
barely got any exercise in today.”
“Oh…well,” He looks at me for a moment. Then he
says, “All right, but don’t stay out too late.”
I’m out the door immediately, leaving my car
behind as I walk past Claudia’s house, pacing down the street and out of the
neighborhood even though I said I’d be right back.
It’s happening again. The lonely feeling is
creeping up on me and all I’m thinking about is Mary. I want to see her calm
face but not hear her screams, so I jog past the park, running for ten minutes
before I reach the beach.