#5 Toasty balls
Joshua is a little surprised to be picking me up at another guy’s apartment in an outfit that suggests I have been doing a lot more than sleeping, but he laughs when I tell him how I actually spent my night. Turns out he was watching the race as well, although he assures me that he gladly would have turned it off for me.
“Want to go do something?” he suggests as he pulls up to my place. “I’ve got the entire day off, so we could go out for a bite? Or maybe take a walk in the park or something?”
“Like a date?” I ask him, not sure how I feel about that. Of course I go on dates sometimes – I don’t always pick up guys in the club, I enjoy the occasional dinner or some other date activity as much as the next girl. It’s different when I’ve already slept with the guy, though. This would sort of be a third date, which isn’t a number I get to very often. Third hook-up, sure, but third date… Nah.
“Sure,” he shrugs. “Or just two friends hanging out. I didn’t think you cared about labels all that much. I’m here, you’re here, we’ve both got nothing better to do. Why not hang out?”
That logic is pretty flawless, except for one little thing… “How do you know I’ve got nothing better to do? Maybe I’ve got work in a few hours. Or maybe I’m meeting friends or going to my parents’ place for lunch or... I don’t know, maybe I’m about to leave for the moon to save the world.”
“Are you?” Joshua asks, grinning.
I shake my head. “No, but I could!”
“Of course, baby, you could save the world by going to the moon,” he agrees, shaking his head at me. “So, what do you say?”
I shrug. He’s right, I really don’t have anything going on today. And he’s nice to be around, so why not spend the day with him? I tell him to wait outside, not ready for him to see my mess of an apartment. I hardly ever bring guys into my apartment. I used to back in college, but ever since I moved out of the big house I shared with a bunch of other girls and got a place of my own, I’ve been picky about who to bring in here. When I get exceptionally horny and my place is closer than his I sometimes cave, but I prefer having sex somewhere I can leave whenever I want to without having to kick a guy out first.
When I’m showered and dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, I head back out to see Joshua still sitting in his car, eyes closed as he sings along to the radio. His blonde curls bounce around as he nods along with the beat, making him look so young and cute. I realize I’ve got no idea how old he is. I’d say around my age, so 25 or something, but I can’t be sure. Right now, he looks younger.
“Hey!” he says with a smile when I slide back into the passenger’s seat. “You look cute. I thought we could go to this restaurant I discovered a week ago. It’s not fancy or anything, but they have great meatballs.”
“Sure,” I agree. “Let’s do that. By the way… how old are you?”
He glances in the mirrors before pulling away and hitting the accelerator. “21.”
“Oh shit,” I mumble. I mean, he’s legal and everything, but I don’t usually sleep with guys who are that much younger than me.
Joshua looks at me for a brief moment, a frown appearing on his face. “Is that a problem?”
“No,” I say, but I’m lying. It’s not just the age thing, it’s everything he told me. He had a girlfriend for three years and they only broke up recently, which means that they met when he was 17 or 18, probably still in high school. And he’s in college, sleeping with me, a 25-year-old waitress and bartender. Yeah, this is not what either of us signed up for. “Look…” I say, already regretting going on this friend date with him. “Maybe we should just call it a day.”
“What?” he hit the breaks because we’re at a stoplight, but he’s not quite smooth about it, so I jerk forward and huff at him. “Why would we do that? I thought we got along just fine?”
“Yeah, but you’re 21,” I tell him. “You’re probably in your third year of college, right? You should hook up with a nice college girl, not with me.”
He frowns. “I thought you were a nice college girl.”
“Oh no, honey,” I bite out, “I’m not in college and I’m not nice.”
He just laughs at that. “How old are you then?” When I tell him I’m 25, he doesn’t seem fazed. “Yeah, I figured you were a bit older than I was. Why is that important? It’s not like I just told you that I’m 16 or that I’m madly in love with you or anything. We’re just grabbing a bite to eat. What’s the big deal?”
Hmm. Maybe he’s right. When he says it like that, I feel like I’m being a little silly about this whole thing. “Okay then,” I say before I can change my mind. Age is just a number and he’s right, we’re just hanging out as friends. “Wait…” I frown when I recognize the parking lot he’s pulling into. “What’s the name of the restaurant?”
I grunt. “I work there.”
“Really?” Joshua doesn’t seem bothered by that. “What do you do?”
He just nods. “Nice. I understand if you want to pick another place. There’s this bistro just around the corner, The Baguette or something. Wanna go there?”
“Nah, let’s just go,” I decide. My stomach is rumbling and he was right about Giovanni’s having good food. Kieran and Hollister may be lazy motherfuckers, but the owner keeps them on for a reason. They know how to cook. “Let’s eat our weight in meatballs.”
When we walk in, I’m immediately greeted by the three waitresses working today. They all glance at Joshua with raised eyebrows. I’m not in the habit of eating at my place of work with guys I’m sleeping with, after all. Caroline has been here very often over the past years, and so has Francesca, but Aston is the only guy who ever comes here to see me, and that’s usually just to pick me up after my shift to take me to a party one of his friends is throwing.
Joshua and I order the meatball special and some fries on the side. There’s something weirdly delicious about dipping fries in the tomato sauce and I can’t wait to get some food in my system. I might not have gotten drunk tonight, but I feel a little hungover anyway, probably just because I’m tired and this is one weird-ass day.
“Is this your main job?” Joshua askes as we wait for our food, sipping our cokes.
I nod. “I’ve got my business degree, but I’ve got no idea what sort of job I want, so I just stuck with this after college. I work here about five days a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. And I bartend at Animals and sometimes I help out when there’s a festival or an event or something.”
“A business degree?” he repeats and I just know what he’s thinking. It’s what people always think: why would you be a waitress if you finished college? Or maybe he’s contemplating the other question, the one many guys have asked me: did you really finish college? For some reason, people always think I’m just a dumb slut. I don’t care about being called a slut, but I do take offence at the dumb part. I’m not a genius by any means, but I did well in high school and in college. My grades were great and I’m not working as a waitress because I can’t get a different job, but because I don’t just want to take a job that I’m going to hate.
“I’m studying to get a business degree as well,” Joshua says, surprising me by not saying any of the things that guys usually do. “I’m focusing on accounting. What did you major in?”
“Marketing and public relations,” I reply. “So… you’re an accountant, huh?”
He shrugs. “I will be one day, I guess. I can’t believe that you used to take the same classes I’m in right now.”
We chat about professors we both know, and I find myself thinking back to my days at the local university. I lived with Caroline, who was studying to be a teacher. We started out as roommates in the dorms, but by the end of college she moved in with her boyfriend Danny and I stayed behind in the large house we’d been sharing with eight other girls after getting fed-up with the dorms. One of the girls’ fathers owed a bunch of places like that and the rent was low, so I stayed a while longer until I found the apartment I live in now. The rent is alright and with my three jobs, I manage to save a whole lot of money each month. I think many people would be quite surprised if they knew just how much I’ve got in my savings account. It helps that I don’t have student debts, of course. I’m on only child and my parents saved up from the moment I was born to put me through college, so every penny I earn goes straight to my bank account.
“What are you thinking about?” Joshua asks just when the waitress puts our meatballs and fries in front of us. “You look sad all of a sudden.”
Before I reply, I take a fry and dip it in the tomato sauce from the meatballs, savoring it for a moment. “I was thinking about my best friend, the one I went to college with. We’ve known each other since kindergarten and I’m just used to having her around, I guess. She recently moved away for her new job and I miss her.”
“She must be a pretty great friend to have you looking all misty-eyed.”
“She is,” I agree. I always thought that Caroline and I would live close to each other our whole lives, but I guess it doesn’t work that way. I’m happy that she finally got a teaching job she loves and she seems to be doing okay for the most part, but I selfishly wish she still lived with her parents, like she’d been doing for the past year ever since she and her boyfriend Danny broke things off and she moved out of his apartment. I knew she wasn’t happy with her life, but at least I still got to see her pretty much every day.
Trying to get out of my funk, I jab into a meatball with my fork and put it to my mouth. Fucking hell, why isn’t it hot? The meatball is barely even lukewarm. This is not the standard I’m used to from Kieran and Hollister.
“Be right back,” I tell Joshua, standing up with the bowl of meatballs in my hands. “I’ve got to go yell at someone.” He stares after me while I walk to the door that leads to the kitchen and push it open, fuming. “What the fuck,” I yell the moment I see the two cooks looking at me in surprise. “Why are my balls cold?”
“Hi Shaughna,” Kieran grins. “Nice to see you too. I don’t know why your balls are cold. Mine are toasty warm.”
“Listen,” I say, rolling my eyes. “You’re lucky it’s me who got this shitty plate of food. Now stop being so lazy and get me piping hot balls with steaming sauce.”
Hollister laughs. “I’ve got some piping hot balls for you right here, babe. And if you play your cards right, there may be some steaming sauce coming out…”
Even though I want to be mad at him, I can’t help but laugh along at his bad puns. He may be an asshole sometimes, but we’ve known each other for years and he knows I appreciate a suggestive joke even more than he does. “Whatever, Hollister, just get me and my date some new food.”
His eyes go wide when I say that and he doesn’t look pleased. “You’re on a date?”
“No, I’m sitting in a restaurant all alone, eating my weight in balls,” I shoot back. “Yeah, I’m on a date. Is that really so hard to believe?”
“Not at all,” Kieran cuts in, giving Hollister a push. “Make the lady some food, you lazy motherfucker.”
“You’re no better than he is,” I tell the 40-year old chef with a massive eyeroll. “And you better make me some more fries as well. And they will be complementary to make up for the cold balls.”
“Of course, princess,” Hollister grumbles. “Damn, we were really enjoying you not being here for the day, but here you are, yelling at us on your day off.”
I don’t bother replying and just walk back into the dining room, winking at Joshua as I sit back down. “Sorry about that, I had to yell at my colleagues. They get lazy when I’m not around.”
He shrugs and swallows the fry he’d been chewing. “No problem. Would you like to go to a movie with me after this? I just checked the website and there’s this chick flick playing that might be fun to go to.”
“Chick flick?” I repeat. “You are willingly going to one of those drama filled shitshows?”
“Maybe.” He smiles, looking like he’s got other things in mind. “I was actually hoping to get in a snog or something.”
Get in a snog? Did he seriously just say that? Still, it would be a lie to say that I hadn’t been thinking about kissing him today. Making out at a movie like a couple of horny teenagers actually sounds like a pretty nice afternoon.
“Sure,” I agree. “Let’s do that. But first…” I motion to the waitress, who puts a new bowl of meatballs and a huge order of fries in front of us. “Food!”