Again, no observations. I am still plodding. I’m getting to be not fond of that word, but there you have it. 😉
I am hopeful about getting another bit in before I sleep, but I’m also making a hostess gift for Thanksgiving and I’m behind. Does anyone see a thread to my life? haha
The usual DISCLAIMER.
Total word count: 31,720
1620 words behind.
You can read previous sections here.
I am at the diner with Rose and Nikki, munching on a veggie burger slathered in guacamole, melted cheddar and jalapeno jack cheese, and fresh, spicy salsa, and drinking a sweet malty beer and am so glad that tomorrow is an off day so that I can sleep in and pretend that I’m on vacation somewhere warm. I may even tune my cell so that it plays crashing waves and seagulls cawing. And, I won’t think about being a witch or worry about witch slayers or what lies ahead. With that thought, Anton, the blond tower enters my thoughts. Kissing on the beach like that movie scene from From Here to Eternity. Which is a no. Definitely no.
“Either that veggie burger is the best thing since sex or that’s exactly what she’s thinking about,” Nikki says while slicing into her open-faced hot turkey sandwich smothered in gravy with whipped potatoes and dressing.
Rose nibbles on a spicy French fry. “Earth to Sophie. Tell us. Is he a good kisser?”
“I don’t want to talk about it. It’s all confusing,” I say but feel my face get rosy.
“Heightened color just at the thought,” Rose teases.
“Me, for one, didn’t understand anything that was going on this afternoon. What is all of the witch stuff? Witch slayer? Who’s a witch? And who’s slaying? Is it like Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Is it like some kind of dungeons and dragons thing that your Mom is really into? Was she testing out ideas for her new novel?” Nikki asks.
I glance at Rose, wondering what to say to Nikki. Regardless, it’s probably a discussion best had elsewhere and not in a crowded diner on Saturday night.
“Let’s talk about it later,” I say. I take a sip of my thick dark beer, thinking of a change in topic. “What happened to Isla? Did she call or text?”
Rose and Nikki both shake their heads.
“Didn’t hear a word from her,” Rose says.
I frown. That’s strange. Isla can sometimes be flighty, but not usually where the restaurant is concerned. I pull out my phone, but there’s no texts or calls from Isla. Maybe it’s time to consider hiring someone after all. Isla always protests that we don’t appreciate her enough and that she’ll just go off and do her own thing. That’s not the kind of help I want when I need her to be at work.
We continue eating while Nikki regales us with her encounter with Mark Newsome, who she had a crush on in high school when he was the head of the yearbook and the newspaper. He was short and skinny, with thick dark glasses but so, so smart. Nikki was a cheerleader in high school as well as State U and majored in art. The quarterback, Jason Detwiler, had a crush on her, but Nikki dreamed about nerdy Mark Newsome, who now works for a major newspaper and runs a news blog that focuses on cold cases and other mysteries. And, he’s also graduated from the glasses, is tall, dark and handsome, kind of like a Clark Kent…except for the glasses.
“So, he said I was looking good, but it was like he couldn’t get away from me fast enough. I think he thinks I’m stupid as a doorknob.”
I can see Rose fighting not to offer “brick” instead of doorknob, but she obviously reconsiders. Doorknobs are just as dumb as bricks.
Instantly I feel the hairs on the back of my neck raise.
“Oooo la la, lover boy’s here,” Rose says, grinning.
Anton goes straight to the counter and takes a seat and says something that amuses Renee, the waitress. Picking up the menu, he begins to study it but must feel our gazes on him because he turns slightly and glances in our direction. He focuses on me, a slight smile curving his lips before he turns back around and focuses on his menu.
My heart is thudding. I can almost hear it rapidly pumping blood into my ears. So crazy. I am so not the type of woman to be crushing on any man like this.
“Mom would have a fit if she even knew you were in the same restaurant as him.”
“What mom doesn’t know…”
Rose smirks. “She’ll find out. She always finds out.”
I take a daintier bite of my burger than I’ve been taking, then chide myself for caring if guacamole is running down my chin. I glance over at him and then mentally roll my eyes. I’ve got to stop this silliness. It’s like being a teenager with a crush.
“Soph, take a look across the street,” Rose says.
I do but don’t see anything but a woman striding down the street in skin tight blue jeans with red hair that looks as though she might have stuck in finger in an electrical socket.
“At what?” I ask.
“Isn’t that Isla?”
“With Frankenstein’s bride’s hair? I really doubt it. You know how fussy she is about her hair. Must be straight. Every strand polished and in place.”
“Soph, I’m telling you that’s Isla. She’s marching toward the Express-O Motel.”
I squint. I so have to get my eyes checked. Damn, but Rose is right. Those are Isla’s motorcycle boots and her new, very expensive pair of jeans ripped at the knee.
“What’s she doing?” Nikki asks.
Rose surreptitiously glances from me to Anton so that Nikki doesn’t pick up on her signal.
Crap. What is Isla doing? Does she plan on taking on the witch slayer? What will she do? Chant something over a container of my soup and then make his take a sip? Oh, I’ve thought that before. Still funny, to me anyway.
“When we finish here, let’s find out,” I say, knowing that Anton will be here longer than we will since he’s just now ordering.
Nikki frowns. “I can’t. I promised my mother that I’d help her make some side dishes for Thanksgiving.”
Rose asks why they’re doing that on Saturday when Thanksgiving is on Thursday.
“She’s going to freeze them so that she has time to do her baking and she’s doing something special with the turkey, something about brining it, whatever that means, and blah, blah, blah. So I’m going to be up to my elbows in creamed spinach and green bean casserole tonight,” Nikki says.
I try not to picture Nikki up to her elbows in creamed spinach because for all I know that might very well be a literal take. With Nikki, one can never be sure.
“It was nice to see Mark though. I bet he’s got a sophisticated girlfriend in DC. You know the kind. One who wears tight business suits and two-inch heels, has her blond hair coiled so tight that it gives her an automatic face lift.”
I chuckle at that image. Nikki grins at me and shakes her head.
For the moment, I push Isla to the back of my mind and focus on Nikki. She’s always so upbeat and I can hear the slight hurt between her words, wondering why a guy like Mark would never see her for who she is.
“He stood up for you when Mrs. Montgomery said that she thought all Asian girls were supposed to be brilliant and you were dumb as—”
“A doorknob,” Nikki says, smiling at the memory, her eyes glowing. “I know right? He was my hero telling her that that was a stereotype. She said I was only half Asian and obviously not the brainy half.”
Nikki’s smile falls away. “It’s true though. I’m not brainy. I saw a meme that had a picture of a stack of papers next to a teeny tiny book and it said my music lyric knowledge next to my math knowledge. It was true. I can quote lyrics from even before I was born, but when it comes to numbers, I’m a disaster.”
Even though she’s only three-quarters done with her dinner, she sets her knife and fork on the plate. This is bad. Nikki always finishes her open-faced turkey sandwiches. She lives for them, would have them every night if she could. She stares at her plate, her eyes growing shiny. She shakes her head as if trying to push away the bad thoughts and wipes her lips on her napkin before tossing it on top of her plate.
“You know, maybe I should just go help Ma now. She’d appreciate it,” Nikki says, searching through her purse, pulling out her wallet and setting down more than enough money to cover her share because she likes to tip waitresses extra because she is one.
I press my hand on hers. “Are you okay?”
She rubs the heel of her hand under her eyes, smearing her eye liner a bit. “Of course. I’m going to self-pity about being dumb for ten minutes and then I’ll be fine. I always am. There’s someone out there who will like the fact that I’m artsy and nice and kind of cute, even if I’m not the sharpest tool in the hardware store.”
She tries to smile brightly at Rose and me and then shrugs. “Thanks, you guys. It’s always nice to hang with my two sisters, even if we aren’t blood.”
Rose pats Nikki’s shoulder and then leans in for a hug. “Any guy who doesn’t see how great you are, isn’t worth knowing.”
Nikki’s smile is grateful. “I love you guys. Okay, creamed spinach, here I come.”
We watch Nikki leave the diner, toss her head slightly so that her waves of brown and gold ombre colored hair bounce over her shoulders. I notice that there are a lot of masculine eyes who watch her leave.
Rose and I quietly finish our dinners. After we pay the bill, we look at each other as if gathering courage.
end of Day 20(a)