Sporting a wide grin, Keeley waved goodbye as the customer she helped tuck the new board under her arm. She knew she looked foolish, grinning like a loon, but she couldn't help it. She'd been in a great mood ever since her date with Talon.

Pink stained her cheeks as she remembered how long they stood in that cave. It was the most intense make-out she'd ever experienced. She shocked herself by how bold she'd been with him. Never before had she taken such initiative, but maybe that was a testament to how comfortable she felt with Talon. They had an easy and natural rapport that seemed to build the longer they were around each other.

Unfortunately, she hadn't seen him much since their date. Both of their schedules clashed with each other. It seemed whenever he was free to hang out, she had work and whenever she was off, he had football practice. However, they made up for it by nightly phone calls and constant texts during the day. 

Her favorite part of the day was lying on her bed, listening to him ramble on about stories of his mom's cooking escapades or what it was like growing up in Texas. She loved how he included her in everything, saying things like, "Wait till you taste her Christmas cookies, you'll run for the bathroom," or "You'll love the pond by my house," as if he naturally assumed she would be there.

The front door jingled and her head came up as Shawn walked in. He gave her a brief nod as he passed and went into the back room where Van currently was. She didn't know what was going on with him today. Van had gone from grumpy and irritable to downright boorish. He was even rude to the customers. He snarled at one kid and made another cry. Fed up with his behavior, Keeley shoved him in the back room with a pile of invoices. She kept expecting him to come out and berate her, but he remained holed up in that room for the last hour.

Her phone vibrated in her pocket. Half expecting to see a text from Talon, she was surprised when it was from Nicky. 

We still on for The Factory after your shift? –N

The Factory was a well-known restaurant, famous for its eight-inch cookies topped with ice cream. The first time they experienced the double chocolate chip, peanut butter cookie was on Keeley's sixth birthday. Wide eyed, they watched the waitress set the large platter down and light the candles. They hadn't even waited for her family to sing Happy Birthday before digging in. Since then, they made it a ritual to go The Factory every couple months and share the cookie.

Definitely. You want me to swing by and pick you up? –Keeley

No need. I'm at the mall. –Nicky

You're not trolling the food court for samples again are you? –Keeley

Why are you saying that like it's a bad thing? –Nicky

You promised me you were going to stop! How long have you been sneaking around behind my back? –Keeley

The last time Nicky staked out the food court, she almost got in a fist fight with an old lady over the last sample of fried chicken. Apparently, the lady belonged to a group of senior citizens who routinely showed up at the mall to receive free food. They'd threatened to call the mall cops on her, but Keeley had been able to dissuade them with a handful of coupons and the promise that Nicky wouldn't encroach on their turf again.

*hangs head in shame* Every Tuesday and Thursday for a couple of weeks. –Nicky

It's because of that new girl at the soft pretzel stand isn't it? I saw her slip you that second sample the last time we were there. –Keeley

I'm sorry! She told me her schedule and I couldn't stay away. They are like little pillows of salty goodness. –Nicky

Keeley didn't know whether to be amused or appalled by Nicky's lack of self-control, but God help her, she loved her best friend, crazy antics and all.

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