I pull the pad from my apron, not realizing prior to him ordering how complicated it was going to be. I jot it down and then take the other orders. There’s no point in hanging around longer than needed, so I grab some silverware and set it down.
Fortunately, they don’t stay long after finishing, and Trina’s already back. On their way out, the guy who ordered the side salad stops. “Money’s on the table.”
Another guy calls after him, “Come on, Trevor.”
“Coming,” he says, pushing through the door.
I clear the table, dropping the tip off to Trina, and get to cleaning dishes. Just shy of eleven, my mom finds me in the back. “Why don’t you head out, and we’ll finish up?”
I’ve learned not to hang out and question too much, or I’ll end up being told to stay.
Pushing out the back door in a hurry to get to Chloe, I stop when I see two figures leaning against my Blazer in the shadows. Todd pushes off to toss me an unopened bottle of whiskey. “Gift for you.”
The adrenaline is still coursing through me when I reply, “I like gifts like these.”
Heading over to Todd’s old Chevy, Bryant says, “We’re going to Lucky’s. Time to play some pool and for you to lose some of that hard-earned cash.”
I’m not that kind of guy, usually, who brags about my girl, but I’m feeling the need to give them a heads-up. “It’ll have to be another time. I’ve already made plans.”
Todd asks, “What’s her name?”
It feels good to laugh with my friends. “Perceptive.” Neither of them feels the need to brush over it, so I say, “Chloe.”
Bryant, who’s perched on the door, looks over the top of the truck. “You only pushing her petals or getting serious?”
It feels like a betrayal to what Chloe and I are building to treat it less than what it really is in front of my friends. “It’s getting serious.”
He huffs, his hands dropping on the roof of the metal truck. I look around to make sure no one’s around or the cops might be called for being disorderly. He adds, “Well, what’d ya go and start doing that for?”
“I like her.” Popping my door, I set the bottle behind my seat in a bucket to secure it.
“Then bring her to Lucky’s,” he says, “so we can get to know her.”
“You want me to bring her to that shithole?”
Todd laughs, starting the engine. “Let me guess. Yaley? Too good to slum it with us townies?”
“She’s not like that. She likes me just as I am.”
He says, “Sounds like a fucking love song, but a word of warning, Evans. You can’t hide your roots. Bring her around anyway. We’ll play some pool and be on our best behavior.” He’s already backing out. Bryant’s arm goes out the window, his finger flipping me off.
I return the favor before tugging my phone from my back pocket
So much weighs on me suddenly—what will they think of her? Yaley? That’s a new one that makes me roll my eyes. I’m a fucking Yaley if attending’s their criteria. Despite a few misdemeanors, my friends are good guys, loyal to a fault despite being stuck in a town that never wanted them to succeed. The tracks that divide this town might as well have been fifty feet tall. I only got over because of my last name. I would have never stood a chance being Patty Russo’s kid. But David Evans held weight.
I’m a little anxious—two sides coming . . . maybe colliding is a better word—together. I’m pretty sure the guys will like her because I do, but what will she think of them? I have a feeling by how it never occurred to her to get a roommate, Chloe Fox isn’t used to hanging out with a bunch of bums.
Do I want to give up the time alone with her, though? Simple answer—No. Seeing the taillights before they take the corner, I’m loyal to them as well. If this is going to work with Chloe, tonight will be a good test for us. I text her: Just got off work. Want to go out?
When I don’t hear back right away, I start to wonder if she doesn’t like the change of plans. Too much too soon?
Chloe: Yes. I’ll get dressed.
The thought of her naked has me biting my fist. We’re so close to having sex that the thought of detouring tonight becomes painful in my pants. The opportunity to see her in a new place, to hang out with my friends tempers it a bit.
It only takes three minutes, so I wait a few extra to give her more time. While parked out front, I look up at the building. The location alone carries a hefty price tag.
So it’s easy to assume from her calling Newport home and that her parents pay for everything, she comes from money. Hell, if being an ER doc isn’t good enough for her father, I’m pretty sure they’re wealthy. With that knowledge kept in mind, she doesn’t have to enjoy pool halls, but I sure hope she likes my friends.