I sat at the long counter during a lag in customers, flipping through a book on Physics. My shift didn’t end until five when Conrad would take over waiting tables and the other cook Victor would come in to start his own shift.
I had yet to meet Victor in person, but from what I’d seen from my previous visit to the diner, he was massive, and he was Russian.
A glance through the window revealed Conrad scribbling away furiously on a place mat in the kitchen. I really didn’t understand that boy. He barely spoke, and the way his eyes darkened whenever he had to speak to anybody made me nervous. It was as if he’d been through something sad, and preferred to keep his emotions bottled up.
I hadn’t even realized I’d been staring until he glanced up, his green eyes clashing with mine. I quickly glanced away, a blush heating my cheeks.
Jeff stumbled through the door, the bell dinging merrily despite the angry look on his face.
“Are you okay?” I asked hesitantly, flipping my book closed, glad for the distraction from being caught staring down somebody as I analyzed his personality.
“No.” He snapped. “Some idiot is parked around back with the radio thumping out horrendous noise!” He spat, pointing to the door. His finger turned on me before I could open my mouth to reply. “He said he was waiting for you, a friend of yours?”
“I don’t know anybody …” I trailed off as the answer came. “Cole.”
“I’m so sorry, Jeff. It’s Alex’s brother. You know him don’t you?” I was hoping maybe he wouldn’t fire me if I could calm him down.
“Yes, I know who he is.” Jeff grunted, letting the door slam shut behind him as he meandered further into the restaurant. “Your shift is over, just get him out and I’ll consider letting you keep your job, girl.”
I nodded quickly, scrambling out of my seat and pulling my books into my arms as I did so. After punching out and grabbing my bag, I pushed open the door, squinting against the harsh light just as Victor pulled up in his car.
I waved, a fake smile on my face before storming over to the van.
“What is it that you think you are doing?!” I shrieked, flipping the radio off and slamming my door shut.
“Picking you up.” Cole replied breezily, not at all put off by my tone.
I ignored the fact that he looked really good in his aviators, with his hair falling over his face. He was a musician, no. They only lead to trouble.
“You almost got me fired.” I stabbed, still angry with him.
“Almost.” Was his reply.
“You know, you should learn to care about people other than yourself.” I said calmly, flipping my sunglasses on as he pulled from the lot.
* * *
“Where are we?” I muttered when Cole pulled over to the side of the road.
“Come on.” He hopped out, heading around to my side and pulling open the door. “M’lady.”
“Aren’t you just a gentleman.” I rolled my eyes, but got out anyway.
“Are you going to kill me?” I asked. Cole was dragging me through the woods, deeper and deeper.
“I feel like we’re in Twilight.” I muttered.
“Really.” Cole rolled his eyes, pulling me to a stop. “Ready?”
“Sure.” I sighed, gesturing for him to go on.
Pushing through the trees behind Cole, I stopped at the sight of the rest of the Hays family surrounded by a few people I didn’t know. I assumed from the resemblance to Mr and Mrs Hays that they were cousins.
Food was being piled onto the picnic tables beside the huge sparkling lake. After my day serving food to people, I was itching to jump in.
“It’s our annual fourth of July party.” Cole supplied, when I still looked slightly confused.
“Oh.” I responded lamely, taking in the happy atmosphere. I hadn’t even noticed the date, despite the decorations papering the town.
“Come on you two!” Alex called from beside the water, where she was stripping down into her bikini.
I skirted around the edge of the party, not wanting to get pulled into a conversation with the adults about why I didn’t have a boyfriend. I was too busy for a boyfriend, they would only bring my grades and my focus down.
“Damn girl, if you focus any harder you’ll burn a hole in the ground.” Alex giggled, sidling up beside me.
“I’m surprised she hasn’t already.” Cole shouted, running past us and throwing his shirt on the ground before leaping into the lake.
“Are you coming in?” She asked, propping her hand on her hip and raising and eyebrow.
“I don’t have my bikini.” I mumbled, scratching my arm absentmindedly.
“So?” She sighed, “Just go in your underwear.”
“No.” Not with her entire family there.
“Fine, you’re going in what you have on!” Cole scooped me up over his head and before I could blink I was in the water.
“COLE!” I shrieked, coming up above the water coughing and choking. He was gone however, Alex stood alone on the edge of the water, giggling hysterically.
“Shut u-” A huge scream escaped my mouth when something grabbed my leg. I thrashed about, kicking away until Cole’s head pushed above the water.
“I’m going to kill you.” I growled seriously, launching toward him.
Cole Hays would never see the light of another day when I was through with him.
His face went blank and he kicked away from me, chuckling. I chased after him, being a stronger swimmer I caught up quickly, jumping onto his back and attempting to push him under the water.
Even if I was a stronger swimmer, I wasn’t stronger in the general sense, Cole quickly grabbed my arms and stopped me from drowning him.
“You need to chill.” He laughed, not letting me off his back as he dragged us out of the water, dropping me on the grass and handing me a towel.
* * *
After we had eaten and circled around so every got a chance to catch up with everybody else, Cole hollered for everybody’s attention.
“So, as you all know. I was away at boarding school the past couple of years. In that time i started up a band with my friends. We played a few clubs and parties, and unfortunately they couldn’t make it tonight as they’re home with their families in Europe. But, I’m going to play you guys a song.” He pulled out his guitar and perched on the edge of one of the tables, beginning to strum softly. “Now, I hope you like it.”
The trouble with girls is they're a mystery
Something about ‘em puzzles me
Spent my whole life trying to figure out
Just what them girls are all about
The trouble with girls is they're so damn pretty
Everything about them does somethin' to me
But I guess that's the way it's supposed to be
They smile that smile
They bat those eyes
They steal you with hello
They kill you with goodbye
I couldn’t look away, Cole’s voice was beautiful and his guitar playing was perfect, his fingers moving across the neck like they were made to be there.
He looked up at me as he sang the last bit of the song.
They hook you with one touch
And you can't break free
Yeah the trouble with girls
Is nobody loves trouble much as me.
I blushed slightly, looking away as he ended the song and people started clapping, cheering for more.