More than This

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"Welcome to Diablo's Diner, home of the bottomless nacho

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"Welcome to Diablo's Diner, home of the bottomless nacho... Juliette! Thank God you're here. Finally. Maria's about to lose her shit. We're down two servers and the new guy went home sick. Something about a fever."

I groan while leaning over Allison, my best friend, so I can clock in on the computer. "Sorry I'm late. Traffic was a nightmare." No need to tell her that I'd lost track of time because I was reading Jane Eyre. It's the final book of high school and the only novel that's held my attention in our senior English class.

While I'm pawing under the hostess' station for a black apron, Allison leans over, her blonde hair spilling into my face. "We're still going to Babylon tomorrow night, right? Did you tell your mom yet?"

"Yeah. Said I was staying with you."

"My mom hasn't mentioned anything to me. Maybe your mom hasn't called. Or maybe she just forgot."

Allison's mom is like that. She works nights and a couple of days, too, and unlike my mom, doesn't care much what her daughter does while she's out of the house. She's more like a big sister to Allison. Which means she's willing to tell my mom that we'll study all night for finals, and she won't ask questions when we go to a South Beach club and roll in at four in the morning. Win-win.

I wrap the apron around my hips. As always, the restaurant smells like French Fries and stale beer. By the end of my shift, my hair will be thick with the scent and I'll have to wash it twice.

"I hate wearing this stupid uniform."

She shrugs. "Could be worse. You could be a Wing World waitress. They have to wear those nylon shorts that ride up the crack of your butt. At least you get to wear jeans and a T-shirt instead of this stupid polo." She plucks at her sleeve.

"I look like a twelve-year-old."

"You couldn't look like a twelve-year-old if you tried, not with that body."

I smack her arm and she yelps.

"Girls. Enough. This isn't daycare." It's Maria, our manager. She runs the staff at Diablo's as if we're a five-star restaurant in Paris and not a chain diner off the expressway in the boring suburbs of Miami-Dade County. She glances at me over the rim of her black glasses. "Thank you for gracing us with your presence, Juliette."

Whatever. I'm only fifteen minutes late, which is nothing. Anyway, I almost always stay a half hour late and am never paid for the overtime. I smile sweetly. "Sorry. Traffic!"

Maria taps on a dry erase table map with her index finger with the seriousness of a general deploying troops. "Kent had to leave. He thinks he has the flu."

Allison groans. "If I get sick before tomorrow night, I'll kill him."

"Hand sanitizer," Maria says. "Juliette, you pick up his tables. There's a family at twelve, a couple at fifteen in the booth and a guy at eleven. Most are ready for their check, so go ask them if they're enjoying their meals or if they'd like anything else. Make sure to push the berry cobbler for dessert."

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