When the bell over the door jingled, Caroline Barlow felt a shiver of dread moving down her spine. She’d been working at Tasty Treats for almost two years now, ever since she was sixteen.
Every Tuesday and Thursday at five-thirty, the cheerleaders and the football team come in after their practice is over during the school year. Well, the football team, the basketball team, or the wrestlers. What group came in all depending on what sports season it was at school.
Some of the girls who joined the teams changed with the season. However, one girl didn’t change because she cheered for every sport. That one exception was Reva Johansson, the head cheerleader of all the different cheer groups.
Reva made it her job to make Caroline’s life at work, well, school too, as miserable as possible. You see, Reva is tall, slim, and has the most beautiful auburn hair, full of curls and shine. She’s also athletic and popular.
Caroline, on the other hand, was clumsy, slightly nerdy, and short. She also had dishwater blonde hair and was somewhat chubby. Well, not chubby exactly, just bigger than Reva. Reva might wear a size four, and Caroline did well to stay in her size twelve.
I’m just big enough for Reva to call me names even though, years ago, she was my friend. Sadly, Caroline figured that even if she were a perfect size two, Reva would still find a reason to call her names. However, circumstances changed that, and now for some reason, Reva enjoys pouring on the hate when it would be better to ignore me altogether.
“Oh look, our favorite little worker is here,” Reva sneered, and the other girls laughed along, so did some of the guys.
Caroline ignored her the best she could and waited for the first guy to step up in line. When he finally did, she politely asked, “What can I get you this evening?”
“I’ll just have the number ten special with a coke,” the guy, whose name is Ben, answered.
So, one by one, they stepped up to take their turn. It went on for the next twenty minutes or so until everyone had ordered. Then Reva stepped up to the counter to take her turn.
“Alright, whale girl, make sure you get this right,” Reva said snottily. “I want the number three special. Make it the chicken wrap today with grilled chicken. I don’t want onions or mustard, just a little mayo, lettuce, and cheese. Instead of fries, I want a side salad with fat-free ranch dressing and a diet sprite.”
Caroline repeated it back to her to make sure Reva didn’t change her mind about what she wanted. Reva had done that to her once before, and when she’d gotten her order, she swore Caroline had it wrong and sent it back for a refund. This time though, Reva nodded, and Caroline sent the order through.
The bell over the door jingled again, causing both Caroline and Reva to glance over.
Suddenly, Reva had a big smile on her face.
Caroline’s heart kicked into overdrive as Andrew swaggered through the door with a grin and a wave to his friends.
Andrew, in Caroline’s opinion, was the dreamiest guy in school. He had light brown hair and brown eyes. He was tan, with an athletic build that could cause a girl to drool all over herself.
Caroline was no different. She drooled right along with the rest of them when nobody was looking. She had always thought he was a nice-looking guy, but freshman year, he’d lost his little boy cuteness and matured into a handsome man.
Caroline sighed. That was about the time I started crushing on Andrew. Yet, except for a polite hello now and then, he never gives me the time of day. Of course, with him being a jock and extremely popular, his kind and mine don’t mix, but oh, how I wish they did.
“Andrew, honey, where have you been?” Reva questioned him as she headed toward him.
Andrew gave her a polite smile but headed to the counter as he replied, “Coach wanted to talk to me.”
“May I take your order?” Caroline asked, her voice slightly husky due to the fact she was talking to her crush.
Reva walked up, grabbed hold of his arm, and gave Caroline a dirty look as she snapped, “Talking here!”
“Reva, stop it. Caroline is just doing her job,” Andrew scolded.
With a snort, Reva turned and stomped off.
Giving what sounded like an irritated huff, he said, “Sorry ’bout that, Caroline, she has no manners.”
“It’s alright. I’m used to Reva’s ill humor when she sees me,” Caroline whispered.
“You shouldn’t have to be used to her rude behavior, though, so I’ll talk to her about it,” Andrew softly said. He then ordered, “I’ll just have a strawberry milkshake—”
Caroline grinned and finished for him. “Extra thick, a few extra strawberries on top with a bit of whipped cream and nuts.”
“How’d you know?”
“That’s how you’ve ordered it once a month for almost a year now,” she reminded him.
Andrew gave the nod and handed her a ten-dollar bill. After she finished cashing him out, he went and sat down while she started on his order.
The two other girls working that night, Maggie, and Judy, quickly filled the orders. Caroline’s friend, Dale, who worked with her, was carrying them out. They worked like a well-oiled machine to get it done quickly because hungry football players became angry ones.
Nobody was in line when Andrew’s order was ready, so Caroline carried it out to him. Once she was standing next to him, she lightly tapped him on the arm to draw his attention from Ben, who was talking to him, to the fact that she was there. He jerked slightly as soon as she touched him, almost like she had shocked him, before turning to look at her.
“Your order,” Caroline said softly, hoping she wouldn’t draw Reva’s attention.
It didn’t work, and Reva screeched, “Ew! Why are you out here serving? Go away before everyone’s food is contaminated.”
Andrew drew his lips back in a silent snarl as he turned to Reva, saying, “Lay off, Reva. Don’t make me have to repeat myself.”
Reva cringed back slightly, and Caroline swallowed hard. Thinking she should leave before anything else was said, she placed his milkshake down on the table and turned to go.
A hand grabbed her arm lightly. Turning, she found Andrew watching her, a strange look of longing on his face. He smiled at her and gently said, “Thank you.”
“Welcome.” Then she headed back across the room to finish her shift.