“Sup, lover?” I ask, sliding into the booth next to Jeff. Him and the rest of the gang all sit in a circular booth in the corner of Elaine’s, a small diner on the outskirts of town.
When Jeff sees me, he beams, throwing an arm around my shoulders. “Babydoll,” He coos, kissing my temple. I shoot him a withering look and he just smirks, but I burrow into his side just the same. With my head against his collarbone, Jeff runs his fingers absentmindedly through the tips of my ponytail. Lifting his head, his eyes scan the doorway. “Where’s the boy—”
Just then, the bell at the top of the diner’s entrance dings. A guy wearing a gray beanie over his black hair, peers to the right then to the left where we sit. When his eyes meet mine, they’re hard. In three loping gates he stands at the foot of the table.
“Tonio!” One of the girls sitting sandwiched between Jeff and his friend, Casey squeals. She has a bleached blonde pixie cut and her brown eyes are thickly lined in black. The smile that she’s wearing at the sight of the guy almost splits her face in half.
“Hey Lake,” Tony murmurs, lifting his hand in a wave.
Lake hops up and down in her seat, motioning next to Casey. “Sit! Sit! We’re just waiting on Kodi.”
“Kay, kay.” He laughs, putting up his hands in surrender. His eyes wander back to where I’m seated next to Jeff. Sliding into the booth, he juts his chin at Jeff, teeth gritted. “Paws off.”
I roll my eyes and Jeff pulls away, sliding his hand underneath the table and squeezing my knee. I bite back a giggle as he widens his eyes at Tony. “Touchy.”
Tony doesn’t break eye contact with Jeff and Jeff moves his hand from my knee. I glare at Tony who settles back into the booth, crossing his arms over his chest, a smirk pulling at the corner of his mouth. “So Lake,” Jeff begins, shifting so not even his shoulder is touching mine. “What’s holding up Kodi?”
Lake rolls her eyes, dropping her chin into her palm and blowing her bangs up. “Stupid band practice.”
Casey actually cracks a smile at this, poking Lake in the ribs. She turns sharply to glare at him, but one look at those forrest green eyes and she melts. His sandy blonde bedhead sticks up all over the place and matched with the dimples in both of his cheeks, he looks like a kindergarten that just got away with mischief. “You’re just jealous ’cause Kodi is a shredder.”
Lake scoffs. “Am not!”
Casey rolls his eyes. “So are. It one of the things that makes her hot. And girls like you, little spiteful pixies, tend to get angsty when someone is good at something they’re not.”
“Geez, Case. Way to lay it on soft,” Jeff laughs, rubbing Lake’s back.
Lake tilts her head to either side, cracking her neck, before sitting up. “He’s right, you know.” She glances at Casey over her shoulder. “I am a spiteful pixie.”
Casey laughs. “Aww, come on, Lake. You know we all think you’re pretty.”
Lake shoves him with her shoulder before twirling her straw in her milkshake. “Pssh. You think I’m freakin’ vixen and don’t think I don’t know it.”
Casey shakes his head before glancing over at me. He gives me a soft smile and then looks over at Tony who’s turned his focus back to the door. He clears his throat, albeit awkwardly, and juts his chin at me. “You guys thirsty?”
Jeff smacks his hand to his forehead. “How rude of me, not asking if my babydoll wants a drink.” He turns his blue eyes on me and I feel my heartbeat start to pick up. “I could use a chocolate milkshake,” I murmur, resting my chin on his shoulder and he raises his eyebrows at me.
“Lake,” He beckons, turning away from me, but sliding his hand down my leg again, making my breath hitch. When he hears it he grins, squeezing it gently. “Get Darlene for me.”
Lake shoots him a look before sticking two of her fingers in her mouth and whistling, “Yo, Ma!”
A heavier set woman with her blonde curls thrown up in messy bun turns to look in our direction. Pursing her lips, she begrudgingly makes her way toward our booth. Lake is beaming from ear to ear and Jeff is smirking, trailing his fingers up and down my leg then sideways. I’m sucking on my bottom lip, Casey is scratching the back of his neck embarrassed, and Tony is staring daggers at Jeff.
“Ya know, honey, it isn’t proper for you to be yellin’ Ma ‘cross a diner full of other patrons,” Darlene sighs, grabbing her pen from her hair.
“But Ma, since when have you ever known me to be proper?” Lake coos, batting her lashes.
“And what have I told you ’bout callin’ me ‘Ma’,” Darlene huffs, flipping through the pages on her notepad.
Lake shrugs, her smile faltering a bit. “You’re more of one to me than my own. What else is there to say?”
At this Darlene’s big blue eyes, a worn denim type of blue, grow sad.
Casey clears his throat again and Jeff shakes his head at Darlene. Sighing once more, Darlene turns her gaze to me. “What can I get’cha, sweetheart?”
“One chocolate shake, please,” I smile as Darlene scrawls my order down. Turning her gaze to Tony, she eyes him up and down before asking, “And the gentleman?”
“I don’t suppose you have a whiskey on the rocks?”
“And one, tall glass of water,” Darlene says firmly, staring sharply at Tony. Turning to me again, she smiles. “It’ll only take a second, honey.” And then she flounces off, a new found bounce in her step.
“Well speaking of tall glasses of water…” Jeff begins, his gaze focused on the girl who just entered the diner. A willowy girl, with cascading brunette waves, bites her lip anxiously surveying the patrons, but looking for one table in particular. Lake cups her hands around her mouth and Casey slaps his hand across her mouth before she can open it. Lake mutters something that is garbled by Casey’s hand and he laughs.
“Someone lost?” Tony calls, looking over his shoulder at her.
The girl turns toward his voice and her face breaks out into a slow grin. I blink and notice a certain sway to her hips as she comes toward us. I blink again, and she sinking her teeth into the corner of her lip, but no longer seems anxious. Sliding into the booth, Kodi gets awfully close to Tony. “Hey, guys,” she says to all of us with a smile. “Sorry I’m late. Tori was in a mood and kept accusing Turner of clashing the cymbals too hard. But I mean we’re a punk band, so it’s only fitting–”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Lake interrupts, Casey’s arm now lazily around her shoulders. “What do you want to drink? Darlene’ll be back any second with their order.” She gestures at Tony and I with her head.
It’s the first time that Kodi seems to notice me at the table, and I catch her stiffen. I fight off the urge to smile. At least the girl has some shame.
Ok, so it’s not like Tony and I are anything; not anymore. But she sure moved in on him pretty fast, honed in on him.
And as I am thinking these thoughts, Jeff picks the worst opportune moment to lean down and nibble on the lobe of my ear. I pull away laughing just as Darlene comes back with our drink order.
She hands Tony his water and then noticing my flushed face, she hands Jeff my drink. “Keep her in line, young man,” she says with a nod of her head at me, but she’s wearing a soft smile.
I pull my milkshake over to me as Jeff begins to twirl the tips of my ponytail once again, talking to Casey about some random game that was on the other night. Lake is intently examining her cuticles and Tony, for once, is not glaring at me. His arm rests on the booth behind Kodi’s head and his other hand holds his glass of ice water which he is almost finished; the cubes clinking noisily around the bottom.
As I take my first sip of my shake, I catch a pair of hazel eyes even with mine. What was a glimmer of shame only seconds ago, is now a spark of some type of fire. Dare I say a competitive spark of sorts. Scooting closer to Tony, so that his fingers are tracing lazy patterns on her shoulder, which I am sure he is acutely aware of, a slow smile begins to spread across her porcelain doll-like face. I slide away from Jeff, but not out of her gaze, which I realize a little too late, because she is now placing her order and jutting her chin at me, her smirk sinister and full of snark. “I’ll have whatever she’s having.”
Unless, of course, she’s already taken it.
Tony’s eyes don’t meet mine for the rest of the meal.