“So, should I tip normally or would you go and kick me in the balls?” some jackass asks as I get his order.
“Oh, but for free, I can throw boiling hot coffee to your face,” I answer sweetly.
“Can you not threaten every asshole who comes up to the counter?” Rachel sighs as the jackass carefully backs away from the counter.
Rachel and I both work part-time as baristas at her mom’s café, Café Bean. It is the closest café in town where anyone can sit down to study or chat with their friends. There is an open mic night every Friday when local acts come to showcase their talent. The Bean, as everyone in town fondly calls it, is usually bustling with everyone from the entire school just like it is right now.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I feign innocence.
“You’re lucky that my mom didn’t hear that or she would have your hide,” she lectures me.
“What didn’t I hear?” Rachel’s mom, Judy, walks in.
“Nothing,” we both tell her and get busy with work that doesn’t exist.
“This better not have been Brielle threatening the customers again.” Judy says sternly.
“Judy,” I say, “when have I threatened customers?”
“Brielle, don’t get me started. It’s a wonder why I still haven’t fired you,” Judy huffs and walks away to the back of the cafe again.
Even though Judy seems rough around the edges, I know she has a soft spot for me.
“So,” Rachel segways into a new conversation.
“What’s up?” I ask her as I ring up another order.
“So, I never got to tell you the exciting news,” Rachel barely contains her smile.
“What?” I ask her curiously.
“Okay. Ready?” she asks again.
“Just tell me already!” I tell her.
“I’m going to be spending the next week working with Scott together on our marketing project,” Rachel squeals.
“Oh, yay!” I try to sound as enthusiastic as possible.
I know that Rachel is my best friend, but it’s also for the same reason that I’m nervous at the thought of Rachel and Scott spending such intimate time together. I’ve seen how Rachel is with any guy she had a crush on, and she always tends to go for the kill.
“It’s going to be awesome. I already have a three-step plan,” she says excitedly.
“Oh, no,” I say nervously.
“Step one,” she explains, ignoring my doubts, “do this project successfully to show Scott my serious and studious side. Step two, get his number and become good friends. Step three, become so close that we start going out.”
I drop the tin pitcher after hearing step three. I know that her plan sounds absolutely ridiculous, but I’ve also seen her ridiculous plans work.
“Oh my god, Bri. You’re such a klutz,” she giggles.
“Yeah, klutz,” I mumble. “How do you know this three-step plan will work?” I ask her.
“It’s going to work. I mean, Scott Alvarez just hasn’t had a girlfriend this whole time we’ve been in high school together with him.” Yeah, cause he’s married to me.
“It’s either that,” she continues, “or he’s gay.” I laugh out loud at the thought. Scott would probably blanche just at the accusation. “But, he’s definitely not gay cause I’ve seen the way he looked at Emily Bronson’s ass,” she nudges. I purse my lips at that conclusion.
“What if he has a girlfriend that we don’t know about?” I ask casually.
“Oh please, you mean his date form junior prom?” she raises her eyebrow.
“You never know. It could be her,” I shrug to try to throw her off.
I remember junior prom. Scott and I got into a huge fight cause he felt obligated to go to junior prom, but there was the complicated situation of a date. Girls have been dropping hints to him to ask them, but I told him, “If you go to girl with another girl Scott Alvarez, I will slap divorce papers so fast before you even get to say sorry.”
“Why can’t you just go stag?” I argued.
“Cause guys don’t go stag,” he responded.
“That’s stupid,” I said.
And, then we would go into the next round.
“Why can’t you just take me like a normal person?” I would ask him.
“You know I can’t do that,” he sighed.
“Then I guess you’re just going stag,” I said again.
But, then we got some help from the universe in the name of Margie Craig. I walked into the girls’ bathroom one day to see that Margie was crying in the bathroom. Apparently, some bitches thought it would be great to talk about how no one would ask her out to junior prom cause she was deaf. Little did they know that Margie could read lips fluently. It was like open season on Margie after she was rejected by a douchebag extraordinaire.
“Margie,” I signed through her sniffles. I was thankful that I learned sign language back when I was in foster care. There was this girl who lived in the same foster home as me, and I remember spending nights trying to learn sign language just to make her feel more comfortable.
“I have a friend who hasn’t found a prom date yet, and I think he’d love to go with you,” I couldn’t just leave Margie thinking that no one would ever ask her to prom.
“No one wants to go to prom with me,” she sniffled back.
“Not this guy. I have a feeling that tomorrow’s going to be a good day,” my mind raced with ideas. “Promise me you won’t let whatever these girl said to you, bring you down. Promise,” I put my pinky out to make a pinky promise.
She looked at my pinky skeptically. After all, I was just another classmate who didn’t really talk to her till this moment and now promising her a junior prom date.
I put my hand closer, urging her.
“Promise,” we pinky promised, and the plan was set.
I told Scott about what happened in the bathroom, and he readily agreed to be her prom date. We had less than 24 hours to create the best promposal for Margie that she deserved.
That afternoon, when Margie was just about to walk through the doors and leave school for the day, Dae tapped Margie on the shoulder and handed her a white rose and an inspirational sign. Dae had “You’re amazing!” written on his. He signed for her to come with him, and he led her through the lobby to the next friend who was holding another rose and sign. I remember how the rest of the school went quiet as they noticed something interesting was going on. Margie and the rest of the crowd followed the boys until they reached the freshman cafeteria that had a huge sign that read, “PROM?” and Scott with a huge bouquet of white roses.
I don’t know who was more stunned, the entire school or Margie. But, Margie had the biggest smile on her face when she yelled, “YES!”
And, that was how Scott went to junior prom with Margie and had an awesome time with her. Margie’s mom was so thankful that she uploaded Facebook post thanking Scott for what he did for her daughter, which ended up becoming viral. It got to the point that he even got requested for interviews by the local press.
That Monday after junior prom, Margie came over and thanked me.
“How did you get this to happen?” she asked me even though I never told her I helped with the whole prom date situation.
“Can you keep a secret?”
“Who would even listen to me?” she asks mischievously.
“Scott and I are married,” I tell her truthfully.
“Yeah right, and I’m the Queen of England,” she signed and laughed as she walked away to her next class.
Margie was the first person I ever told about our secret, and she didn’t even believe me.
“So, am I a genius or what?” Rachel breaks me out of my thoughts.
“Would a cheesy James Bond villain count?” I ask her.
“I’m serious. This is the year! No more hopeless crushes,” she says determined.
“I really don’t think this plan will work,” I tell her.
“Well, I’m going to enact Operation: Lasso whether you like it or not,” she huffs.
“Operation: Lasso?” I don’t know if I should laugh or be horrified.
“Yep, I’m going throw the lasso and reel him in,” she pantomimes, which causes me to burst into laughter at the ridiculousness.
Noticing that there’s someone at the counter, I ask with my most courteous voice, “May I take your order?”
“Brian!” I gasp as I realize that who’s right in front of me and looking much better than gym class. For someone who was kicked in the balls, he seems to have recovered well.
“Hey, Bri,” he smiles without any hint of malice. “How are you doing?”
I can’t figure this guy out. I kicked this guy in the nuts, and he talks to me as if we were good friends.
“You are one weird guy,” I say out loud instead of thinking it in my head.
Curse me. Why must I say things before thinking?
“You know this is the second time you’ve called me weird?” he asks me.
“Damn it.” I cuss as I get his order. “Brian, I’m really so sorry about calling you weird, and I’m really sorry about kicking you in the balls. Like I have no idea how to— I mean, I suck,” I ramble dejectedly.
“Honestly, it’s cool,” he laughs and hands me the money for his drink, which I reject.
“Let me at least buy you this drink. Just think of it as my apology gift,” I tell him.
“I usually don’t accept things easily from people, but since you’ve already closed the register, I’m going to guess I have no choice but to accept,” he says as he begrudgingly puts his money away. “Plus, I should’ve known better than to think you needed help with fighting against Dae Kim. Plus, I would’ve wanted to pummel him if he talked to me like that too,” he winks.
“Thanks,” I say quietly. “But, seriously, I’m so sorry Brian. I could’ve seriously prevented you from having any little Henderson children.”
“Why? Were you planning to help with that?” he jokes.
“That’s gross,” I scrunch my nose and hand him his drink.
“Thanks for the drink Bri, and for the record, I forgave you way before you gave me coffee,” he says and walks out.
“I see that you two have become close enough to buy each other drinks,” Rachel says with a sly smile.
“Shut up,” I tell her as I get back to work.
“I’m home,” I yell as I get back from a long day of work. My clothes smell strongly of coffee from the long hours at the cafe.
No response. Scott is probably still mad about the whole incident in gym, and he’s not one to talk once angry. I see him sitting quietly as he taps away on his computer like usual.
“I’m home,” I say quietly against his ear as I wrap my arms on top of his shoulders. I see that he’s tinkering with the mock stock market site again like he usually does whenever he has some free time.
“Hi,” he says, but I could feel his shoulders stiffen.
“Are you still mad?” I ask him.
“What could I possibly be mad about?” he asks me passive aggressively. I roll my eyes at his passive aggressiveness. For someone who likes to deal with her problems head on, Scott is the most frustrating person to fight with. I usually end up giving up halfway through just cause I run out of energy.
I jump over the sofa and sit right next to him so that he can’t avoid me.
“I think there’s been a huge misunderstanding,” I try to explain myself to him.
“I think there was no misunderstanding,” he says and goes on tapping away on his computer.
“Scott,” I close his laptop, which would probably just piss him off more. “Brian Henderson and I aren’t friends. He’s just this annoying guy who seems to pop out all over the place.”
“You don’t seem to hate the attention,” he mumbles.
“Scott,” I grab his face, so that he could look right at me. “I don’t like the guy, and I love you.” I kiss him to show him just how strongly I felt about him. His laptop is all but forgotten as he moves it to the side.
“Are you still mad?” I ask him quietly.
“I was mad?” Scott asks again but this time, with a joking tone.
Now that, that’s over with.
“So, what’s for dinner today?” I change the subject as I stretch my tired arms.
“I made your favorite pasta today,” he smiles. Can Scott get any more perfect? Being a horrendous cook and all-out fire hazard, I’ve been banned from the kitchen, forever. So, Scott has taken up cooking duty, and I swear that he’s like a genius in the kitchen.
“That sounds amazing. I’m going to take a shower before eating,” I get up from the sofa.
“Need help with that?” he says.
“Very funny,” I tell him dryly.
“Oh, before I go, I heard you and Rachel are going to be working together on a project,” I say casually.
“Yeah, We have to create a marketing plan for the made up business,” he brings his attention back to his laptop.
I almost choke on the word plan.
“Yeah, that might not be the only plan going on,” I mumble to myself.
“Did you say something?” he asks me.
“Nothing,” I wave off and enter the bathroom.
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