Last time, Tracy had a customer who wanted more service than she was willing to give, and she saw how the staff at The Wilted Pen reacted when someone got a little too handsy with their friends.
Fifty Two Pick Up
“I hear you had an exciting night this weekend,” Nell stated on Monday. There wasn’t much more to our conversation. I didn’t have a lot to say, and I’d been in the kitchen when I heard Claire filling Nell in on Tom’s banishment so I knew that the story she heard was accurate and unembellished.
I didn’t have much more to say about it. Tom had gone a step too far; he wasn’t welcome in The Wilted Pen anymore. His friends had been absent for the rest of the weekend too.
There was no reason to take unnecessary risks though. I walked most of the way home either with Claire or with one of the guys from the kitchen. On occasion, Davis was the last one out with us, and he walked me to my door on those nights, mostly silent but answering questions if I asked or letting me prattle on as I tended to do at the end of a long night. The days got progressively hotter as New York’s summer took a swing towards fall and tried to bake the residents of the city. The incident with Tom nearly faded from my consciousness after a few weeks.
With July nearly over, and my mother’s voice in my ear once a week reminding me to go shopping for “real” clothes, the start date to my “real” job felt like it was stalking me across the city. I hadn’t so much as gone to scope out the offices yet. I hadn’t prepared for it anymore seriously than keeping up to date with financial news and weeding out my wardrobe to figure out what I needed to buy when I did go on that stupid shopping trip.
There were other things to distract me. Claire and her boyfriend were in the throes of puppy love. She was obnoxiously pleasant to be around, and she decided a week or two after the Tom incident that my singleness was an affront to her. Every worthy guy that came through the door of the Pen was trotted out for me. It was an odd dichotomy given the edict that we not date customers, but all of the “worthy” men happened to also be close friends of Mike, her boyfriend. Despite my thinking it set a bad precedent, I allowed her to fix me up on two disastrous first dates before I pulled Davis aside and told him he was going to have to start hitting on me if only to stop her constant match-making.
The sly grin I got in return for that request was not what I was expecting.
Davis was anything but subtle in his flirting, and my grand plan backfired spectacularly when Claire saw it and immediately backed off with a quirked smile and a thumbs-up to Davis when she thought I couldn’t see. Something told me I had missed a crucial exchange somewhere along the way, and they were again friends.
“You don’t have to lay it on so thick,” I muttered over the bar as Davis filled my drink order at the beginning of a weekend double shift.
“Maybe I like laying it on thick,” he replied with a smirk and a wink. “Here you go, babe.”
“You know, I’m only here until September right?” With that shot I rushed away from the bar, hoping I was leaving him open mouthed in my wake. A hurried look over my shoulder just caught a bemused smile on his face though.
“Why does your self-imposed time limit in this job affect me hitting on you?”
“Because I won’t be around.”
“Are you leaving New York?”
“Then stop stressing about it,” he finished with a flick of his towel in my direction and sauntered off down the bar.
It wasn’t just I wasn’t sticking around in this job. It actually had very little to do with my job and a lot to do with the fact that Claire had specifically warned me off this particular boy from day one and was now giving him a thumbs up behind my back.
The last thing I needed as I got ready to start a new job was for someone else to make my life into a game that left me with pieces all over the floor and no one to help me clean up the mess. Clearly, Claire and I were going to have to have to talk.
Cover art for Headed towards the Right Decisions was created by Maritza Lugo.