Chapter 10- Pizza and Wings
The next morning, I was waiting tables and doing my job when Arden walks in. When he spots me he shoots me a panty dropping smile, and takes a seat at the bar. I finish with the customers I was currently with, placing their orders before I approach him.
"Good morning, Arden. Are you dining in or do you want your coffee to go?" I ask politely. Even to my own ears my voice sounds distant. It sounds as if we didn't spend the day together yesterday and he is just another customer. I know that was the goal, to keep him at arms length, but I don't think I can keep this act up.
If he noticed my tone, he didn't comment on it, he just continues to smile and grabs a menu from behind the counter. I wait silently as he looks it over and when he is done he tells me his order. I write it down on the slip and turn to put it in but his hand circles my wrist, drawing me back to him. I suck in a breath at the contact, willing myself not to melt against him like I so desperately wanted to.
"Are you okay, Abby? You're acting weird." Biting my lip, I muster up a convincing smile. His grip loosens and I take the opportunity to pull my arm away. I didn't want him to think my behavior is his fault so I say the first thing that pops into my mind.
"Yeah, everything is fine. Just seen something from my past that kept me up last night." His eyes immediately flitted with concern, looking me over carefully. I know I didn't look the best, I didn't have time to put on makeup this morning so the dark bags under my eyes were very noticeable. My hair was also just thrown up into a messy bun, so I knew I looked a mess.
Turning to place his order in, I head to the kitchen to pick up an order for another table. Once complete, I moved back to the counter to start on wrapping silverware. Arden shifts over a seat to be closer to me. "Abby, I know we just met, but you can talk to me if you need. Regardless of how I look, I am a great listener." I lock eyes with him. He is being genuine.
My heart flutters, and my stomach twists as I stare into his light brown eyes. Licking my lips, I notice his eyes dart down to watch the action before returning to look into my own eyes. This conversation reminding me of our talk at the waterfall. "Thank you, Arden. Same to you. I'm here for you." He straightens up at my offer, before coughing into his hand.
"Anyways, when are you painting?" I blink. Okay, so change of topic, he obviously isn't ready to talk about Cassy. I understand. There is no way I want to tell anyone here about my past. I left there for a reason, even though the memories are still haunting me.
"Uh, probably this evening. You don't hav-" I was cut off by him speaking.
"Okay, I'll be there. Do you like pizza and wings?" I furrow my eyebrows at his question. Who doesn't like pizza and wings? Why was he asking me this?
"Yeah, why?" I tilt my head to the side in confusion. The bell goes off to tell me that an order was done. Before I left to get it, Arden answers my question.
"I'll bring dinner." I nod my head silently. Somewhat amazed by his confidence. How am I supposed to not fall for him when he is being so kind. Grabbing his food, I place it in front of him an go about serving other customers. We didn't talk anymore except for when he paid for his food. After he left, my shift went by agonizingly slow. It's like the world knew I had plans that I was looking forward too.
When my shift finally ended, I rush home and run in. Yelling for Cassy, I look in the living room. When I didn't see her, I turn to go upstairs but scream as she is right in front of me. Cassy laughs and clutches her stomach. I punch her shoulder then cross my arms. I was not amused. "Cassy, please. I have to tell you something."
She wipes her eyes and straightens up. "Okay, okay. Im sorry. What is it that you need to tell me so bad you were screaming for me?" We both walk over to the couch and take a seat. I need to treat this like a bandaid.
"Arden is coming over to help me paint and I need you to not be visible." I rush out. She sobers up. Something flashing over her face before it is gone completely.
"Oh. I thought you said-" I stop her, holding my hand up. I know what she was going to say. I promised her I wouldn't date him. However, I didn't promise I wouldn't be his friend.
"I know. It isn't a date, Cassy, but he is literately my only friend in this town right now. I can assure you, nothing romantic will happen. I don't mind if you are there, I just don't think it is wise for him to see you. I don't think it would help with your plan of moving on and helping him move on." I state factually.
Cassy nods her head slowly, understanding what I was saying. "Okay. You're right, I'm sorry." Nodding my head, I leave her to go change into simple jeans and a tank top. If I want this to be platonic, I can't treat this like a date. That includes not putting in effort on my outfit.
By the time I place what paint color I want in each area, I start to put tape around the edges. Cassy watching me with a bored expression on her face. Mid-way through, the doorbell rang out. I look up, meeting Cassy's eye in warning. She rolls her eyes at me before she disappears, but the coldness of the area tells me she is still here.
Moving to the door, I yank it open to reveal Arden in a plain black t-shirt and low riding jeans holding a big box of pizza with a bag on top that smells deliciously like buffalo wings. I may be bias, but this is the best damn view anyone could hope to see. Inviting him in, I guide him to the kitchen where he could place down the food. "I really appreciate you offering to help. This would take me ages to do by myself."
Opening a cabinet, I reach up on my tip toes to grab plates, when I felt him behind me. His front brushing against my back as he places on hand on my waist while he reaches up with the other to get the plates. "You're welcome." His breath tickles my neck. Shivering slightly, I remember Cassy.
Stepping out of his self made cage, I try to act cool and calm as I move to the fridge, pulling out two bottles of water. "I uh- I'm guessing you knew the people who use to live here?" He pauses for a moment before he continues to pull pizza out and place on the plates. So I continue, "I mean, since there was a letter addressed to you?"
He agrees slowly, before taking a seat at the table. I follow, sitting beside him. "Yeah. My ex-girlfriend use to live here." I try to act nonchalantly, I'm also trying to see if he has moved on or if he is still hung up on her.
"Oh, I see. So the note was from her, I'm guessing a post breakup letter?" Taking a bite from my pizza, I let out a little groan of appreciation. It is so good, I can't remember the last time I had pizza this good.
"Yeah, I mean, I don't know. I didn't read it." Trying to hide my surprise I turn away slightly.
"Well, I think we can start with the kitchen. It seems like less work, also I already taped around the edges of the cabinets." I change the subject. I know it must be hard for him to talk about, but I am also kind of giddy that he voluntarily opened up to me. Even if it was just a small detail, it was a start.
He smiles appreciatively before nodding. He furrows his eyebrows before he shivers, "Damn, you like your place to be chilly, don't you?" I shrug innocently, hoping he doesn't think anything more of the coldness that comes along with Cassy. From there, we finish our food with only small talk, and then begin with the paint. This should be fun.
Hey guys, I wanted to apologize for not updating sooner. With the holiday festivities I lost track of my days. Hope you all had a Happy Halloween, and stayed safe! x.