Loading... Chapter Thirteen
"That is the second biggest stack of pizza boxes I've ever seen," Michael said definitively.
Owen had been trying to not bite at the various statements Michael threw out. Each had been getting more outrageous than the last, but this one successfully spiked his interest. He narrowed his eyes at the stack of nine boxes the delivery man just dropped off. They were uncomfortably tall. Owen took one from the top and spread them out over the table. The last thing they needed was an overzealous kid running in and knocking them all over. "How many was the biggest stack?" he asked.
Michael had been dropping bottles of water into a bucket of ice, but stopped altogether at the question. "So listen, I was friends with this guy, well he was really a friend of a friend...anyways, there was this guy who was throwing a party," he started, and Owen crossed his eyes, regretting the question.
"I don't want to say he was a hoarder, but the man was a fucking hoarder. We went into the kitchen and pizza boxes were ev-e-ry-where. We must have counted at least twenty hanging out. I swore we'd find more instead of dishes."
"That's funny," Owen said dryly. He started dropping water bottles into the bucket deliberately to clear them off the table. From this distance they created a splash, but Michael didn't notice as he seemed to be daydreaming about that party.
He snapped out of it a second later. "Yeah, we started drunkenly using them as shields."
"What did you use as a sword?" Owen asked as he bought back into the story again.
"You know, I don't remember! Salad tongs? No, that's not right." He waved the whole thing off, and got back to setting up for a very different type of party they were going to throw for the little league team.
"Hello?" Andreah called as she cautiously entered the room. She stood by a receptionist desk that had never been used, eyeing the empty spot before pushing further into the room. Normally she never had to go to this floor, but Owen was here. "What in the hell is that?"
Owen walked over, eyeing a column of mostly golden balloons, except for the black bottom that was meant to be the handle of a baseball bat. "It's my boss trying to appeal to kids and their influential parents." He stole another look at the pillar again before shaking his head and smiling over to Andreah. Her outfit was partially covered by the reflective work vest she had to wear. "What do you have for me, babe?"
She reached for her bag.
"Wait, wait," Owen said, and guided her by the arm over to his desk. "Alright, hit me."
Andreah gave him a funny little expression as she pulled a padded envelope out, and handed it over. The expression deepened with confusion when Owen gave it right back.
"It's for you." With a grin, he leaned back to sit on the front of his desk.
"You had me bike all the way here for something I already technically had? I might actually boop you now." She hit the bubble envelope against his arm. "This was the only package I had on this side of town."
"I know, I'm the worst. You got paid to come see your boyfriend who had a surprise present for you." Andreah rolled her eyes.
"Open it," Owen insisted.
She started to pull at the glue that held the opening's flap down, carefully eyeing him more than the package. "This isn't like a weird one-month anniversary gift is it?"
"Wow, you are impossible to buy things for. Noted." Owen reached out, pulling on her jersey to have her step closer to him. She stepped into the space between his knees as he sat. "No, you dork. I just wanted to see your face, and possibly make out with it in the break room. That part is totally optional though."
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Bone Diggers (Paperback out now!)Science Fiction
When everyone IRL lies, the only person you can trust is an NPC. Dirty little secrets can't be hidden behind player avatars, because Bone Diggers like Owen expose the lives behind the code. When his two worlds blur, he must decide which is more impo...