Home > Falling Fast(11)

Falling Fast(11)
Author: Aurora Rose Reynolds

“Yeah, we have…” She pauses, shaking her head. “We did have a place together.”

“Are you going back?” My gut sinks at the idea of her leaving town and going back to Chicago. `

“I don’t know. If I do, it won’t be for a while.” She pulls her eyes off me. “My grandma isn’t doing so well, so I won’t leave her,” she states firmly.

I watch her pull in a breath as I fight the urge to tug her into me, to hold her and tell her everything will be okay, even if I’m lying to her in the process, just to get that look off her face.

“So your mom said there were some rules about this place,” she says once she’s gotten herself under control.

“Yeah.” I step inside the metal building and go over to the wall, pulling off the clipboard that’s always there.

“If you come here to do a pick-up, you mark off everything you take, always pull from the front, and always, always, make sure you lock up when you leave. Every month, Mom does a count and places an order so we don’t run out of anything.”

“That seems easy enough.”

“It is. We used to keep all this shit at the bar, but a few years ago, some kids broke in and stole everything, and I mean everything. Over thirty thousand dollars’ worth of liquor. No one knows about this place, not even the other waitresses and bartenders.” Which makes me wonder why Mom was showing her. Then again, I could tell my mom had a soft spot for Gia.

“Other waitresses?” she repeats.

“You’ll meet them both at some point. Dena works at the Rusty Rose and The Post, another bar in town. And Macie just works the Rusty Rose. They’re good people. You’ll get along with both of them.”

“Cool.”

“Any other questions?” I ask, stepping out of the building with her.

“Not right now.”

“Good.” I shut the door then head back to the car, with her following my lead. After getting in, I wait until she’s buckled up to pull off.

“Where are we going?” she asks a few minutes later when I pass the Rusty Rose and keep driving.

“I’m starved. I didn’t get a chance to have lunch.”

“I’m on the clock.” I hear the panic in her voice as she looks over her shoulder at the bar that is now a few hundred yards behind us.

“Me too.”

“I need to be at work when I’m on the clock, not out with you because you didn’t get lunch.”

“It won’t take long.”

“You cannot be serious,” she murmurs, and I turn to look at her. Seeing her worrying her lips, I press mine together so I don’t laugh.

Pulling into the parking lot for Ted’s Burgers and More, I park and get out then bend down to look at her in the car when she doesn’t move to get out. “Come on.”

“Come on? You’re not just running in and grabbing something?” she asks with wide eyes.

“Nope.” I slam the door, hearing her say something through the glass, then watch her jerk her seat belt out of the buckle and get out.

Stomping toward me, she shakes her head. “I can’t even call your mom and tell her what you’re doing because my phone is at the bar.”

“Ma will want me to eat.” I smile, placing my hand at the small of her back and leading her into the restaurant.

“You’re unbelievable.”

“Thanks,” I reply, and she lets out an audible huff of annoyance.

Spotting a table in the back, I lead her there then hold out her chair. It takes a few seconds, but she sits. Actually, she throws herself into the chair like I’m asking her to have lunch with the devil. Sitting down across from her, I don’t look at the menu on the table. I’ve been here so many times that I have it memorized.

“Do you know what you want?”

“I’m not eating. I’m going to keep my hands free so I can shove whatever food you order down your throat as quickly as possible so I can get out of here.”

“Pick something to eat, Gia,” I urge softly, and her eyes fly up to meet mine. “I’m not going to rush through lunch. The bar will be fine without us, mom and dad are both there.”

“You—”

“Please,” I say, and I can see the wheels in her head spinning.

“I don’t have my purse, and all I have in my pocket is five dollars.”

“You think I’d let you pay for our first date?” I ask, and her eyes widen and her body stills, even her breathing.

“This isn—”

“I’m kidding, Dimples. I got lunch. Order whatever you like,”

“Don’t call me Dimples.” She grumbles picking up the menu on the table.

“They’re cute.” I smile and I can tell she doesn’t know whether to yell at me or smile.

“Whatever.” She huffs dropping her eyes back to the menu. After that the waitress comes over and we place our order then sit there and eat lunch. It takes her a while to relax, but she eventually does. And when she does, I know I don’t want this to be the last meal I share with her.

CHAPTER 4

Up In Smoke

Gia

“SO YOU HAD LUNCH with him?” Natasha asks in my ear as I move around the kitchen, putting the leftover roast from dinner into a Tupperware container for tomorrow night’s tacos.

“Yeah.”

“And he joked about it being your first date,” she repeats what I told her—or what I yelled into her voicemail—as soon as I got off work, since she didn’t answer when I called and I needed to tell someone, anyone, about what happened.

“Yeah,” I reply, feeling my stomach muscles tighten the same way they did when Colton joked about us being on our first date.

“And he’s hot?”

“Very.” I close my eyes and lean back against the counter, thinking hot doesn’t quiet cover what Colton is.

“So what’s the problem?” Opening my eyes, I look at Grandma sitting at the table, trying to put together a puzzle. I came here to take care of her and get to know her again. I didn’t come here to get my feelings mixed up in some guy with beautiful dark eyes and a great laugh.

“He’s my boss’s son,” I answer, and it sounds lame even to my own ears.

“So…” She lets that one word drag out.

Running my hand through my hair, I tip my head back to look up at the ceiling, wondering if the answer is there. “And—”

“Don’t do that,” she whispers, cutting me off, and my back goes straight. “You always do this with guys. You never give them a chance. You make up every excuse in the book to keep yourself distanced. Don’t do that now. I could hear it in your voice that you were excited, happy even. So don’t try to play this off as nothing. I love you. You’re my best friend. And as your best friend, I’m telling you not to let the fact that you’re afraid hold you back.”

“Nat—”

“Who knows what will happen? He might end up being a complete dick. But then again, he might not.”

“I don’t even know if he’s really into me.” And that’s the truth. I have no idea if he’s just being nice, or if he’s being nice and flirty because he likes me. I can’t read him.

“Only time will tell, honey. But if he is into you, then you need to be open to the idea of being into him.”

“I’ll try,” I promise, because I know she won’t give up until I do.

“Good. Now tell me how your grandma is doing. Did you get her an appointment?”

Lowering my voice, I say, “She’s okay, but she thinks I’m my mom, and most of the time I don’t have the heart to remind her who I really am. I got her an appointment for the day after tomorrow, so we’ll see what the doctors say then.”

“Do you want me to come down?”

God, I love my best friend.

“I’m good for now,” I tell her, picking up the Tupperware dish, taking it over to the fridge, and placing it on the shelf inside. “I’ll let you know if that changes.”

“Keep me updated on everything.”

   
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