I woke up to the feeling of an extra body in my bed. The scent of vanilla and oranges assaulted my senses, causing me to cringe. “Seriously, Kylie? That fucking perfume is assaulting.”
“No worse than your mouth.” I growled, pulled my pillow from underneath me and swinging it. It was caught with ease but I still felt better doing it. “You need to get up. It’s almost two in the afternoon.”
I turned around and pulled my pillow from her. In the darkness of my room (thanks to my blackout curtains) her pink hair looked almost blond. The rest of her seemed to fade into the darkness. I shoved my pillow against my head in an attempt to block out her voice. “In case you were unaware, I don’t get home from work until almost four in the morning, asshole.”
I felt her leave the bed and sighed. Maybe she was leaving me alone.
I could feel the heat of the sun against my back as the room I couldn’t block with my pillow was cast in bright afternoon sunlight. A sudden burst of power tried pulling my pillow away from my face, but I held on for dear life. “No!” I yelled as Kylie pulled harder. The next thing I knew, she jumped on top of me, sitting there as she continued her assault on my pillow. “Kylie, I’m gonna kill you if you don’t stop!”
The pillow slipped from my grasp so I attempted to use my bare arms to cover my face. “Come on, Cora. Get your ass up!” She smacked me with the pillow several times until I moved my arms to grab my extra pillow and smacked her back. I couldn’t help but laugh with her as a pillow fight erupted between us. She fell off of me as I pulled myself to my knees. With louder wails of laughter, we continued our childish assault on each other until my mood felt permanently lightened. “Feel better?” She spoke between exaggerated breaths.
“Actually, yes. I do.” I pulled her into a hug and smiled, “Thanks.”
“No problem. What are best friends for?” Apparently a lot. She was the one person in my life that knew me better than I knew myself. My Mom did too, but that’s just a given. Kylie has been in my life since my father walked away. My Mom had always worked third shift, and when my Dad walked out, it was Kylie’s parents who happened to live next door that offered to let me sleep over at their house. Spending every night in the same bed as your best friend sent you into a tighter relationship than most siblings. But that’s what she felt like. She was a sibling. She was my sister. And her Moms were my Moms. I’m definitely not lacking in maternal influences.
“So, why are you forcing me out of my bed?” I asked as I stood for a deep stretch. The sun felt good against my skin, my crop top lifting just beneath my breasts. I wanted to bath in that warmth like a cat, but I had a feeling Kylie had other plans.
“Besides wanting to find out what the hell happened at the bar last night?” I groaned at the reality check. Damn-it, why can’t I just forget and move on? Because no one would let me. “I want to go have lunch with you.”
“No work today?”
“I’m playing hookie.” She proclaimed with an heir of ease.
I turned and looked at her as she played with her hot pink hair. Her dark blue eyes stared up at me innocently, and had I not known better, I probably would have bought it. Her strange steam punk attire seemed to create a sense of innocence on her tiny frame which I’m sure was the the intended result. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing! Geesh.” She protested as she hopped up from my bed. “Get dressed. There’s this new Asian-American fusion place right outside of Atlanta I wanna try.”
“We’re driving forty-five minutes or more to eat lunch.” I stated, as if the sound of its ridiculousness would help drive home my need not to go.
“You don’t have to be to work until eight. Get ready, wear what you wanna wear to work if you’re worried about being late.”
“I’m not worried about being late, I’m worried about why you wanna drive me forty-five minutes away from home just for lunch.”
She crossed her arms, her stiff brown jacket bunching awkwardly around her chest. “We don’t have any Asian-American fusion restaurants in this pee-hole town.”
I laughed and shook my head. “Fine. I’ll go.” She hopped up and down with excitement. I sighed and went to my closet, ready to grab my typical tank top and jeggings when I stopped. The thought of seeing Tri again left me standing there, baffled. I looked like a bum last night. That strange girlie feeling took over and I found myself terrified. Why am I worried about what to wear to work on the off chance that he might actually think about trying again? There’s no way he would be willing to go back and deal with my crazies. He’s done. He has to be.
“You know, if you’re looking to spice up your wardrobe, there’s a Hot Topic not far from this restaurant.” Of course there was. I looked at her speculatively. She simply shrugged with her Faux innocence and turned around, skipping slightly as she headed to the door.
By Five in the evening, we were browsing through my favorite store, our bellies full of Asian cuisine which didn’t help the butterflies that had started there. “Hey, Cora. What about this?”
I turned and looked to find a rather adorable sleeveless shirt with a warm red color that donned Tri’s favorite band. Despite knowing what Kylie was trying to do, I did like the style. And it would definitely get his attention, although I wasn’t sure why I wanted or needed that from him. “What size is it?”
“Size Ten. You can fit in a size ten, right?”
“My tits, yes. My ass? No.” She scowled at me and tossed it in my direction. I huffed, “Fine. I’ll try it on.” I slipped it over my current tank top and it surprisingly fit fine. It rode up in the back a little bit, but most shirts did that. I turned just in time to catch a pair of black and white striped shorts that Kylie decided would go with my top. “Okay, I might actually need a dressing room now. I’m not trying these on in the middle of the store.”
A woman with hair brighter than my new shirt and at least ten piercings in her face came up behind me. I actually envied that about her. I was too terrified of needles to even get my ears pierced. “I can set you up with a dressing room if you’d like.” I nodded and thanked her as she led me to the back.
By seven, the two of us were in the car headed back. I had slipped on the red shirt, put some stocking on that bordered on fishnets with my new black and white short shorts on top. I had thrown on my charcoal grey sports coat I had gotten from Goodwill to stifle the slightly chilled air. You would think that sixty degree weather would feel warmer.
“So,” she began as she got onto the highway headed home, “We just had lunch and spent the rest of the evening clothes shopping for you so you could look good for work tonight, which is something you have never done since you’ve worked there. I’m sure you know what my next question is going to be, right?” I turned around and looked out the window. “Cora,” she chided, “are you ready to talk about last night yet?”
“What’s there to talk about? Tri came in, I freaked out and threw bottles at his head. Then I go home and he’s outside my car and he tries to tell me he wants to get back together.”
“He what?!” She almost screamed, “You better spill woman!” I did. In fact, I went into even more detail with her than I did with my Mom. After I finished, she chewed on it for a moment as we got off the highway onto a smaller one. “Okay. First thing’s first. The reason everyone called you guys Tri-Corac acid was because it sounded cool. Not because you two were disastrous together.” She drummed her hands on the steering wheel, “Second, you and I both know that you still love him.”
I leaned up to protest but she held her hand up until I shut my mouth. “Don’t go on and tell me that you don’t. You’ve had a total of two boyfriends since him, and both of them you held up to him. Trust me, I was the one you called with all of your doubts. Every doubt you had came back to Tri. So, let’s talk about him telling you that he still loved you. Or almost told you.” I sighed and leaned my head against the head rest of her car. “How’d you feel when you knew that was where he was headed?”
I thought about it for a moment before speaking. “I felt scared. Weak. Hurt.” I sat up straighter in her car to pull my make-up bag in my lap. I opened the sun visor and flipped on the light on as I tried to busy myself with my makeup. “I didn’t want to hear it. I wanted him to not be in love with me so I can move on. My biggest problem, as you’ve told me so many times, is that we didn’t really have any closure.”
“That’s one of them.”
I ignored that hint of insight hidden in her tone. “Anyhow, I think maybe I should talk to him. Ask him what the hell happened. Why he didn’t come back, all that shit. Maybe I’ll be able to finally move on and get over him.” Silence ensued my comment until Kylie began slurping her drink so loudly it made me wanna shove the straw up her nose. “Why do you do that?” I groaned.
“Because I know it irritates you.” She grinned. I laughed and continued my make-up, taking care to do the best job I knew how. I wanted Tri to see how awesome I am. What he lost. Like Dave said, it’s what I always do with my other ex-lovers. Why not him?
With five minutes to spare, I hopped out of her car and bolted inside the back door. I decided quickly to keep my jacket on knowing I could slip it off when I get too hot. I was feeling suddenly very self-conscious. My hands were jittery and my legs felt weak as I went to the computer and clocked in. “Whoa, Cora. You’re lookin’ hot!”
I turned around to see Joe standing at the end of the hallway that led to the bar and growled at him. “Don’t start with me, Joe. I’ve had a rough week so far.”
“Clearly.” He looked me up and down, smiling as he continued past me back to the grill. “You hungry?”
“No. I had a late lunch with Kylie.” He nodded and I headed to the front of the bar. As I entered the main area, eyes turned to me, at first in angst as they worried what I was going to do, but then in surprise as they saw the way I was dressed.
Oh, this was a bad idea.
Then I saw those caramel eyes and I wanted to cry. Tri sat on the far end of the bar, his toffee-toned skin glowed against the harsh bar lights. His eyes glistened against them as he stared at me. Damn, he was beautiful. And he used to be mine. What happened? How did we get to this point?
I had to have been staring at him for a couple of minutes before Dave walked up behind me, “Cora, you alright?”
I jarred myself away from Tri’s gaze and turned to stare into Dave’s. “Yeah, I’m fine. Thanks Papa Bear.” I winked playfully and turned to get behind the bar.
He followed me in and grabbed a couple of dirty glasses. “You look beautiful tonight, Coralynn.” I turned to him with shock. He had never told me that before. Not like that, anyway. He smiled thoughtfully, “I think you definitely got his attention.”
He knew what I was doing. Of course he did. He knew me too well for that. I looked behind me and caught Tri’s gaze who had clearly still been watching me. He didn’t look away or try to mask his desire for me. It was smoldering and hungry.