Fridays always used to be the nights that Jack and I would meet for dinner at Stella’s but now he’s here and I’m waiting on him.
“Can I get you anything, sugar?” I say with sass as I approach his table.
“Hmm, I’ll take a fried chicken platter with a side of you,” he teases back.
“We charge extra for that,” I banter back.
Jack laughs and clears his throat. “Okay, I’d really like the fried chicken with fries and coleslaw and a Coke.”
“Coming right up.”
“Thank you for coming in even though I had to work.”
“Of course. I had to see my girl.” He gives me a smile and his eyes crinkle in the corners. I’m so in love with this man. I just pause to soak him in for a second and then realize I have to work and not drool over my boyfriend. I’m not a teenager.
“Let me put your order in and get your drink. I’ll be right back.”
“Okay, take your time. I’ll be here all night,” he says as I turn toward the kitchen.
“Wait, what? You’re going to stay?” I whip back around in shock.
“Sure. What else am I going to do if you’re here?”
“Relax and enjoy your free time.”
“I relax when I’m around you. Now go do what you’ve got to do and don’t worry about me.”
“Okay, be back in a bit.”
I put Jack’s order in and take him his drink before checking on my other tables. Just as I’m about to sit with him for a minute, more customers come in.
“Hang on, Jack. I have to get these customers.” He smiles, and I float to the door to greet them. Once they are settled in their booth I take their orders to the kitchen and check on Jack’s. It’s not ready yet, and when I turn back I notice Peter is in his regular spot.
“Pie and coffee, Peter?”
“Nah, just coffee.”
“Peter, are you okay?”
“Oh, yes, I’m fine, just not very hungry tonight.”
“Okaaaay,” I draw out while filling a coffee cup and keeping a worried eye on him.
“Honestly, I’m fine. I’m working on a case and I might get called in at any moment, so I don’t want to have to leave uneaten pie. That would be a travesty.”
I laugh. “I see. Well, I thank you for not wasting our pie, so we have it for customers who appreciate a good pie and make sure to finish it,” I tease.
“Always making me laugh, Lucy. Sometimes I just need it.”
“Wow, did I just help you for once?” I ask, placing the coffee in front of him.
“You always help me. I’m not sure you can leave. You’re the only one who can mix my coffee just the way I like it.”
I giggle. “Don’t bring it up again, Stella might get jealous for real this time and fire me and then we’d both be in trouble.”
That makes Peter laugh. It’s good to see him smile. His pensive look and furrowed brows were making me nervous, so it’s nice to see his face relax.
“I see your fella is in tonight.”
“Yeah, he’d rather sit here with me than go out with the guys.”
“Wow, looks like he’s a keeper.”
“I think so. Plus, he sees them all the time at the station.”
“I know how that is.”
“I’m sure you do, but do you ever get lonely?”
“Not really. Work keeps me busy. It’s one of the reasons I’m still single.”
“I know a lot of woman can’t handle being with someone in your profession.”
“You have no idea.”
“But I do. Jack’s a firefighter and I pray for quiet days.”
“That’s true. I guess you would know. See, that’s why you’re meant to be here. You understand your customers.”
“I understand your situation, not necessarily you. You’re a whole other ball of wax,” I say and circle my hand in front of him.
“Ha ha ha.” Peter lets out a belly laugh and the whole restaurant quiets. I’ve never heard something so lyrical in my life. The warm tone tickles my ears and makes my heart flutter. All eyes are on him and no one moves as if time has stopped.
“Uh, Peter, what was that?” I lean in for an answer.
“What was what?”
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