After spending half an hour reading and rereading the same few sentences, I shut my book and check my phone. I brought it in with me when I came in, but I haven’t looked at it since I shut the sound off. I flip the sound back on and unlock my phone, scrolling through my texts. They’re all from Andrew. I have quite a few missed calls and voice mails too. I scroll through them and just when I’m about to stop because they’re all Andrews, and that same unknown number from earlier, I see one from Dimitri.
I forgot about him. I click on the voice mail and put my phone on speaker so that I won’t have to hold the phone to my ear.
‘Hey you. I was wondering if you were in need of a study buddy, because I’m about to explode from trying to study all by myself. So, if you’d be interested in saving me from said explosion, I’ll be forever grateful. Call me back!’
I’m not sure if I feel up to hanging out with him today. It’s already been such a frustrating day. But maybe I need a distraction. Instead of answering him now, I decide that I need a shower. That’s where all the best decisions are made anyway. I pull my sweater over my head and wrinkle my nose up when it brushes past my nose. It smells faintly of smoke, like most of my clothes do when I come back from the blue house. I wonder how Jeremy manages to always smell so good when he lives in that smelly house. I definitely need that shower. I toss my shirt into my hamper as I leave the room, heading for my bathroom. The thought of a shower is becoming more and more welcome with every passing moment.
Forty-five minutes later I feel clean and completely stress-free. For the moment, I walk back into my room, wrapped in just a large, fluffy purple towel. My hair is wrapped up in a towel of its own. I take my time picking out my outfit. I’ve decided that no matter what I decide to do with the rest of my day, I want to look nice. Looking nice always makes me feel nice. Because I just shaved my legs and my legs feel incredibly smooth and soft, I choose a short, floral, flowy dress and pull it on. After adjusting the straps and twirling once, just because I can, I let my hair down. I lean forward, tilting my head down so my hair comes flowing down. I run the blowdryer long enough to make my hair nearly dry and then flip my head back so I’m standing straight again. I run my fingers through my hair and turn to my vanity to do my makeup.
My phone beeps a few times while I apply my makeup but I ignore it. It’s probably Andrew, who I decided, when I was showering, to ignore for just a bit longer because I don’t want to deal with the fact that he’s moving and leaving me and that he hid it for so long. And if it isn’t Andrew, it’s probably Dimitri, seeing if I want to study. And I haven’t decided if I want to study with him today or not, so there’s no point in even seeing if its him. I can’t think of anyone else who would possibly be texting or calling me right now, so I focus on the brush strokes on my face, how the foundation blends into my skin and the feel of the bristles on my cheeks.
When I finally do check my phone, I don’t regret my earlier choice to ignore it. I was right about it being Andrew again. I ignore his messages. I don’t want to think about this right now. So I turn to the only distraction I can think of. I call Dimitri.
"Brookie?" I look up at Dimitri, startled a bit. "Daydreaming?" He asks with a chuckle. "No wonder you fail at taking notes so much. You don’t focus well."
Something about his tone reminds me of Tyler and I’m immediately defensive. "I focus perfectly well." But I know that’s not exactly true. I sigh. "I’m just focusing on other things right now. There’s no way I can study right now."
He stares at me, concern on his face. "Are you alright?"
I sigh again. "Not really. I need a distraction. And studying is just not going to cut it."
My phone beeps again. I’ve been avoiding looking at it, but when Dimitri turns his gaze to my phone, I find myself unlocking it and pulling up the new messages. The newest is from another unknown number. This one is different from the others. I hesitantly open it and read the short text.
‘It’s Jeremy, I stole ur number from Cam. Hope you don’t mind. Do u wanna go discing tomorrow?’
A grin crosses my face and I text him back that I’d love to go.
Dimitri doesn’t say anything and even though I know he’s curious, I don’t say anything about the text either. It’s none of his business. "So, what kind of distraction would be helpful?" He asks.
"What?" I’m too busy thinking about Jeremy and discing with him tomorrow to figure out what Dimitri is talking about.
"You said studying isn’t the right distraction?"
"So, what would you like to do instead?"
I lean back, against the edge of my bed and shrug. "I don’t know. But I have to work in about four hours."
He’s silent and the silence feels awkward.
There’s a knock on my door just moments before the door swings open. My mom steps in and her gaze immediately swings to Dimitri. "I didn’t know you have company over, Brooklyn."
I force a smile to avoid an argument. "Yep. This is Dimitri. Dimitri, this is my mom. Dimitri came over to help me study for our final."
"Oh, isn’t that sweet." She’s plastered on her own sweet smile and I wonder if I look as fake as she does right now. "Well, if you need anything, just let me know. And Brooklyn, there’s something I’d like to discuss with you later."
"Well, I’m working later."
Her smile drops for a second and she shoots me a glare. Her smile is back on her face in a second and she shakes her head a bit. "Well, maybe tomorrow then." And she turns on her heel and walks out, leaving my door wide open.
I childishly want to stick my tongue out at her back as she walks away, but I hold off and turn back to Dimitri. "Sorry about that."
He just smiles. "She seems nice."
I barely manage to refrain from raising an eyebrow and saying something snarky. Instead, I close my notebook and glance at my phone to check the time. "I’m kind of hungry. Do you want to go get something to eat?"
We managed to keep up a steady conversation during lunch but now we’re back to just awkward pauses and occasionally forming more than a few sentences. By the time we get back to my house, neither one of us has anything more to say. "Well, I should really start to get ready for work." That’s such a lie. I don’t have to go to work for another two and a half hours.
He nods. "Yeah, okay. I’ll see you later, then?"
"Yeah. See you later."
He backs his car out of the driveway and I walk back inside the house, telling myself that if he ever calls again, I’ll find a way to avoid spending time with him. We hadn’t even really spent that much time together. How could we have possibly run out of things to say that quickly? I decide not to think about it. It doesn’t matter anyway. I turn to my phone and see that its filled with calls from the same unknown number as earlier. It’s not Jeremy - I added him in as a contact after the text this morning.
I contemplate calling the number back, but I don’t. Instead, I go to my room and decide to do something with hair before getting ready for work.
I try curling it, but when that doesn’t work out, I french braid the top of my hair back and throw the rest of my hair up into a messy ponytail. I stare at my face in the mirror for a few minutes. I already have makeup on from this morning and hanging out with Dimitri, so I decide to just touch it up. I still have two hours until my shift starts.
I could try studying again. My eyes turn to my books and after a second of staring at them, I shake my head. Instead, I end up sprawled out on my bed with a book that I’ve been meaning to read. I set an alarm for half an hour before my shift starts in case I get too wrapped up in my book to keep an eye on the time.
I don’t get wrapped up in my book. But I nodded off at one point or another during the first chapter and my alarm jerks me awake. I shove my feet into a pair of shoes and grab my bag, phone and keys. I nearly crash into mom on my way out but manage to duck to the side and avoid the collision seconds before. "We need to talk later." She reminds me as I near the door.
"I know. But I have to go. I can’t be late!"
Part of me wonders what she wants to talk about, the other part of me shuts the thoughts down immediately. There’s no point in wondering and trying to guess with her. She’s too unpredictable.
I make it into work just on time after getting stuck at nearly every traffic light. Don is on the phone, sounding frantic. "I need you to come in. Nearly everyone else is sick, or claiming to be, and we’ve only got Cam in the kitchen tonight."
I take my time clocking in and tying on my apron, so I can hear the conversation.
Don groans. "I know you’ve come in for three extra shifts already this week but this is nearly life or death." He pauses and groans again, even louder. "I get it. I get it. Okay. Thanks anyway."
He hangs up and rubs the bridge of his nose. "Everything okay?" I ask, hesitantly.
He shakes his head. "Nope. That new girl we hired last week to work in the kitchen quit unexpectedly. ‘The kitchen’s too hot’." He pulls of her whiny voice so well that I laugh and he sighs. "And no one else can come in. Apparently they’re all ‘sick’." He air quotes the word but then sighs again. "Maybe they really are sick. I don’t know."
"So it’s just Cameron back there tonight?" That’s insane. It’s Saturday, we’re going to be slammed tonight.
Don nods. "Yeah. Jeremy’s the only one left to try, but he’s come in twice this week already to cover other shifts and tonight is his only night off this week."
"If there’s no one else, I’m sure he’ll understand." I say.
Don nods again. "Yeah, maybe. I need to find better people to hire. People who won’t quit when the kitchen gets hot. What did she expect, honestly?" He turns back to the phone and I pick up an order pad and a pen. I test out the pen on the back of an order slip to make sure it's not dried out and then stick both the pad and the pen into the pocket of my apron.
I glance over at the schedule to see who else is on with me tonight. I grin when I don’t see Carla’s name. Tonight should be good. I head into the dining area to find out which section I’ll be working tonight.
Apart from the low salary and occasionally crappy customers who give little to no tips at all and complain about everything, waitressing isn’t usually a horrible job. But tonight, even without Carla, I’d rather be anywhere else. Right in the middle of the busiest part of the night, the air conditioning stops. It takes a while for anyone to notice.
Lexi walks up to me when the dining area clears a bit. "Is it getting hot in here?"
"I was just about to ask you the same thing." I say, waving the order pad like a fan in front of my face.
After standing with me in the ever-growing heat, Lexi decides to talk to Don about it. Jeremy pushes open the kitchen door and strides over. "Where’s Don? We’re dying back there." He pauses and tilts his head to the side. "I thought it’d be cooler out here, but it’s not by much." He pulls his hat off and wipes his forehead. He’s glistening with sweat, and not in a cute way. I wrinkle my nose a bit.
"You aren’t sweating into the food, are you?"
He looks at me, an unimpressed type of look. "Would you like to try working in that furnace without sweating?"
I grin. "No, thanks. I’m all set out here. Where it’s cooler, but not by much."
It takes him a second to catch my play on his words but a grin crosses his face before he chuckles slightly. "Lexi’s already on the whole broke air conditioning thing, by the way. She’s talking with Don now."
The hostess, I think her name is Ellen, walks over. "Oh, gross. It’s hot over here. It’s so much better by the door. I can’t even complain now."
Jeremy sighs. "You’re lucky. The kitchen is literally an oven right now."
Ellen wrinkles her nose. "Ew. Don’t sweat in the food, okay? Customers might not like that." She turns and heads back towards her post by the door, glancing back for a second to say, "Oh yeah, Brookie, you’ve got a table to wait on."
I check my pocket for my pad and pen and then head over to my table, throwing on my best ‘How Can I Help You?’ smile.
"Why is it so hot in here?" A girl with an obviously fake tan asks, in an almost nasally voice. Maybe the voice is my imagination. Maybe I’m being too judgmental. I’ll give her another chance.
"I’m so sorry about that. The air conditioning broke just a bit ago. We’re working on it though."
She frowns and turns to the boy. I’m assuming he’s her boyfriend.
"Babe, let’s go somewhere else. This place sucks." She whines. So much for second chances. I’d quite possibly spit in her food if she ordered something.
He frowns. "But they have the best steaks here."
"But it’s hot."
He rolls his eyes. "It’s almost summer. It’s better than it being cold." He turns to the drink menu and after scanning it for a minute, asks for a root beer, and a glass of water.
She pouts, but orders a lemon water. With two lemons. I smile politely, take the drink menus and tell them I’ll be right back.
Jeremy is still leaning against the wall where we stood earlier when I pass by. "Shouldn’t you be back in the kitchen?" I ask, with a teasing smile.
He nods. "Probably, but it's so hot. Cameron and I are taking turns out here."
I laugh. "And his turn is?"
"When his shift is over." He says with a grin. I laugh again.
"When Don fires you and not Cameron, don’t ask why."
He smirks. "Don won’t fire me."
I roll my eyes. "Overconfident much?"
Don comes out of the office looking frazzled, and sweaty. "That office needs a window." He grumbles. "The air conditioning can’t be fixed until at least Monday. I’m going to run out and get some fans to put up. I knew I should have invested in ceiling fans when we started this place up again." He passed by Jeremy, then takes a few steps back to look at him. "Shouldn’t you be in the kitchen?"
I cough to cover my laugh and make my way to get the drinks for the customers that I nearly forgot about.
When I get back to the table, they’re gone. "Stupid whiny, fake tanned girl." I grumble to myself as I head back to take care of the now pointless drinks.
Cameron’s leaning against the wall this time. Fanning himself with his hand. "This doesn’t actually do anything." He says as I pass.
After taking care of the drinks, I stand in the hallway, across from him. "Did you kick Jeremy back to the kitchen?"
He laughs. "Sort of. He’s in the kitchen. But he’s standing by the door, letting some cool air in."
"Not a bad idea." I say. "I hope Don gets back here with the fans soon."
Cameron nods. "I hope he actually lets us use one in the kitchen."
I laugh. "Yeah, considering you and Jeremy are the only ones in there working tonight, and that it was busy for at least two hours earlier, you guys deserve a fan. Besides, nobody wants sweat in their food."
He laughs. "Yeah, but no one wants to see a sweaty waitress either. Nobody ever sees us, so they don’t care."
I wrinkle my nose up. "I’m sure they’d care if they’d think about where their plate of food came from."
"Yeah, but no one ever really thinks about that."
"True." I pick up my order pad and use it to fan my face. "It’s not even officially summer yet, how can it be this hot?"
Cameron shrugs, his gaze on my order pad. "That’s gotta work better than a hand. Where can I get one?"
"Order pads are for the waiting staff only."
"Aw come on. I need to cool off so I don’t sweat into the food!"
"Go bug Ellen about it. She’s the stand-in manager since Don left and Carla’s not on tonight."
He sighs loudly. "But that means moving."
"Sucks for you then, doesn’t it?" I stick the pad back into my pocket and head out to check on the tables. "Guess you’re stuck being sweaty."
When I walk into the dining area, Ellen calls me over to the front. "When is Don getting back? We just had like three groups of people walk in, feel the heat and leave. We’re losing business like crazy right now."
I shrug. "No idea. I wonder how many fans he’s actually getting."
"It’s Saturday night, not even eight o’clock yet and we’re empty. Completely empty." To prove her point, she gestures to our empty dining area. I sigh.
"I know. I’m not blind. But can you blame anyone? I’d leave if I could."
She half-heartedly nods. "I suppose you’re right. I would too. If I wasn’t being paid."
"Don’s back!" Lexi calls out.
"I’ll go see if he needs help unloading the fans." I say.
Ellen nods. "I’ll stay here and hope we get some customers who don’t mind the heat."
Ten minutes later and we have all the fans set up. Two in the kitchen, one in Don’s office, one in the break room and six scattered throughout the dining area. "Much better." Jeremy says, standing in front of the one in the break room.
"I’m just grateful we didn’t get rushed during our own personal heatwave." Cameron says, pushing Jeremy over so he can feel the breeze the fan gives.
Jeremy murmurs his agreement.
Ellen pops up, with a smirk. "Good thing there’s fans in the kitchen now then. It appears the world suddenly realized we’re not as hot as before. Six cars just pulled in."
Jeremy and Cameron exchange an exhausted look before reluctantly heading for the kitchen.
"Are there really six cars?" Lexi asks, tightening the strings of her apron.
Ellen grins. "No, just two. But I wanted some fan time for myself really quickly before they get to the door." She moves to the center of the room, standing right in front of the fan and then sighs happily. "Oh this is much better than before."
Lexi and I both nod in agreement and Ellen sighs again. "I should go. I’ll be back, fan!" She calls out dramatically as she heads back towards the door.
"I can’t wait for tonight to be over." I say, standing near the fan with Lexi. We wait just a few more moments before stepping out into the hallway to take the orders of the customers Ellen seats.
What Ellen called two cars must have been more like two vans. There’s a line of people waiting to be seated. Lexi turns to me, takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly, straightens her shirt and apron, and says, "Please let them tip well."
Miha - Aw thank you soo much! You make me so happy! I'm super glad you enjoyed the chapter, and I hope you like this one too!
Chrystina J - Haha, Brookie was a bit dramatic but that's to happen occasionally. I'm soo glad you love the chapter! Hope you enjoyed this one as well!
Bookluver78 - I'm soo glad you enjoyed the chapter! Dramatic chapters can be soo much fun to write! I hope you like this chapter too! I can't wait to hear from you again!
Zelia - Haha, thank you! I love hearing from you! Hope you enjoy this chapter as well!
Emma- Awh, thank you so much! I wish they could be in every chapter too! They're soo much fun to write!
To all my commenters/readers: Thank you so much for the support you give! I love you all! And I absolutely love hearing from you commenters! You always make my day!
Scars And A Daisy - Chapter NineteenWork gets a bit hot!
By Em Bishop