“I’ve got it,” I tell him as I pay for the two of us.
“That’s not right.” He shakes his head, looking confused.
“We’re friends.” I emphasize the word. “Friends buy each other coffee and I got my card out first and ordered more,” I try to reason.
“I guess.” He finally relents before he spouts off one of the longest coffee orders I’ve ever heard in my life. Jenna gives me a look when Peter turns to face me.
“I haven’t seen you in a while. I thought you might have gone to visit your grandmother.”
“Work has been keeping me busy,” I tell her, and it’s not a lie.
There’s always more work to be done and it’s just a matter of how much I can do. I retouch pictures and some can take me a few minutes while others can take hours. It depends on each project.
Jenna puts my bag of cake pops down on the counter and I have to step around Peter to get them.
“You know those are really unhealthy.”
“Okaaay.” I drag out the word while I pick my bag up. What else am I supposed to say? I thought cake was the best thing for me? I get agitated and wish I could tell him to mind his own business. That’s what I want to say but then things would be more awkward than they already are.
“Erin,” Jenna calls, handing me my caramel-filled drink. Peter turns his nose up at my drink before taking his own.
“You want to sit?”
“No, they close soon and I need to get back to work.” That’s another lie. There’s a new Housewives starting in a few minutes. Plus, I’d rather watch paint dry than hang out with Peter a second longer. How does he get worse and worse each time I see him?
“Fine.” He grabs my arm and pulls me toward the door. I’m so surprised it takes me a moment to realize what he’s just done and I jerk from his hold.
“You’re hurting me.” I rub the spot he grabbed as I keep walking down the sidewalk back toward my place. I want to get away from him as fast as I can.
“Sorry about that.” He takes a sip from his coffee, not looking sorry at all. “Since you’re busy tonight we could go out this weekend.”
I’m so irritated now, I try to cut this off. “I have a date this weekend.”
“Wait?” He stops walking but I don’t. When he realizes I’m still going, he runs to catch up to me. “A date?”
“Yeah, I’ve been seeing someone.” I head up the stairs to our floor, cursing myself because I know I can’t break my lease. I still have a few months left, but maybe I could move units. The complex is pretty big.
He follows me to my door and I try to end it there. “I’ll see you around.”
“I’ve never seen anyone come to your place. How are you dating someone?” he says to my back as I try to unlock my door.
“It’s kinda new.” When I get the key to work, I open the door and he steps closer to me.
I back up into my place with my hand on the door so he can’t enter. He glares at me for a moment before he smiles like he’s trying to hide his own irritation.
“We’ll get coffee after your date.” He says it like I don’t have a choice and takes a step back.
“See you later.” He cuts me off before I can respond.
I want to tell him we won’t be having coffee but I didn’t agree either. I don’t want to have more back and forth when he’s walking away from me. I decide to just leave it be for now and shut my door. I triple check the locks, though, just to be sure.
My phone rings in my purse and I pull it out to see my grandma is calling. I smile and forget all about Peter and the lies I’ve gotten myself into.
I’ll deal with that later because it’s not as though it can get any worse.
“I’ve got the plane ready and waiting,” Renee says, and I can hear her clicking on the other end of the phone.
“I’m almost finished packing. I don’t plan on this taking long, but the last time we tried to negotiate with them, I was in Paris for a week.” I go into my walk-in closet and see my dry-cleaning hanging up in the corner. “Thanks for getting my shirts.”
“You’re welcome, and fingers crossed for a quick trip. Danielle and I will be in the Hamptons with her parents all weekend if you need me.”
“Are you going to finally propose?”
There’s a long sigh and I smile. My sister Renee and I have worked together for years and we’re both chained to our jobs. The problem is, she went and fell in love. She’s been dating Danielle for the past year and I know things are serious—more serious than she’s willing to admit.