Still reeling back to consciousness from personal auntie hug hell, Sofia blinked and kept the cut and paste smile on her face.
"Hi Mrs Sledder," Sofia said.
Jill Sledder always had a bouncy energy about her, and the day when she and Sofia met again was no exception.
"Wow Sofia, you've grown so much. What a beautiful person you have become. I feel like a proud mama hen," Jill wiped an imaginary tear from her eyes.
"Have you seen Thomas yet?" Jill tilted her head to the side.
The name Thomas gave Sofia another jolt of surprise. It felt like she was opening kinder eggs today with awkwardness written all over the center egg.
Sofia shook her head, and Jill tugged her along.
"Oh, really? I thought he would drop by! He's back for the summer. What kind of manners have I taught this boy. Come with me, he's at the store now!"
Sofia allowed Jill to lead her, but only because she was curious to see Thomas and the inside of Jilly's for the first time in forever.
"We haven't seen you around! Have you found another favorite ice cream store in town?" Jill asked.
"Oh, something like that." Sofia said.
"Well you have to let me treat you today." Jill beamed, as she moved to open the door for Sofia.
Sofia protested, "no, no it's really alright Mrs Sledder. I don't really eat a lot of sweet things nowadays, I'm trying to cut down."
Jill nodded as if to say she understood, waving her hand as they entered Jilly's.
Jilly's had an old parlor feel, with a baby blue and bubblegum pink theme with some black and white checkered walls. The lighting was bright and the ambience was chill and mellow. The uniform was a light yellow and white cream color.
Sofia looked around, and nostalgia flooded her body. Memories of ice cream visits with her parents, laughing with Thomas, getting freebies from the Sledders, watching old television advertisements about Jilly's.
And there, right behind the counter was Thomas Sledder, her childhood best friend.
Talk about glow up. He served some new customers, all the while with a mega watt smile, dimples and his soft looking strands of black hair blowing in the air con. He was taller than Sofia remembered, and much more charming than the troublemaking brat in her memories.
When they entered, Thomas looked up. Sofia watched as a look of shock grazed his features, before his face shut down into the happy serving smile again, he waved at his mom and Sofia multitasking as he told the order to the scoopers.
Jill and Sofia walked to the front, and Thomas swapped his shift at that moment to a girl with rainbow streaks in her hair and a piercing on her nose. He untied his apron and came out to the front to greet Jill and Sofia
"Thomas, look who's here!" Jill said.
"Hi." Thomas said.
"Hey." Sofia replied.
They stood there looking at one another, without a word and Jill shivered at the tense atmosphere.
"Hm, I think you need some time to catch up! I'll be in my office!" Jill squeezed Sofia's hand and patted Thomas on the shoulder before leaving through the back door.
"You wanna sit down?" Thomas asked.
"Sure." Sofia replied.
So they sat at one of the booth tables. Sofia looked out the big windows, and Thomas broke the stalemate silence first.
"Sof, I know it's been a long time since we talked, but I've missed you."
"Have you?" Sofia asked, bitterness seeping into her tone.
"What do you mean?" Thomas said.
"You were the one who pushed me away that day. And you didn't reply to my messages." Sofia muttered.
"What? I don't know what you mean, you didn't reply to my calls and texts. And I already said I'm sorry for that day. I would make it up to you if I could." Thomas defended himself.
Sofia felt a headache rising if they kept talking like this.
"I'm still mad at you. But I don't want to be. You were my ride or die." Sofia admitted.
"And you were mine too. Maybe we can start again. I'll be here for the rest of the summer so we have a lot of time to hang out. What are your summer plans?" Thomas asked.
Suddenly a loud crash resounded next to them and the next thing they knew they had one scoop of ice cream each flicked onto their shirts.
"Oh my god I'm so sorry," the server tried to get up, and Sofia rushed to help the server, while Thomas called for someone to help clean the floor.
When everything was cleaned up, Thomas and Sofia stood once again staring at each other but this time they burst into laughter. Thomas had green ice cream on his white shirt and Sofia had blue ice cream near her chest on her white shirt.
Sofia pointed at Thomas and she laughed while Thomas did the same, his finger stretched out towards her laughing his head off. Then Thomas came closer, and Sofia hitched a breath in as he wiped the corner of her cheek.
"You got some there, I can fix that one." Thomas smiled again.
That was the moment Jill decided to come back to the store front.
"Oh dear, what happened?" Jill asked.
"There was an accident of sorts," Thomas said stepping back from Sofia.
Sofia shrugged and said, "it happens."
"Come to the back office, I may have a spare change of clothes for you," Jill motioned for Sofia to follow.
At that point Sofia saw the help wanted sign again and she said, "Mrs Sledder?"
"Yes?" Jill replied.
"Are you still looking for help at Jilly's?" Sofia said.
"Yes of course! We have been looking for two new store workers for the summer as it gets more busy with students. I'll brief you in my office."
That day the ice cream adventures began for Thomas and Sofia.