Subject to change. Unedited. Release day TBA, when I actually have one lol.
“Uh, excuse me, I’m looking for um… Patrick Bell,” Tanise teased, putting on a Valley accent for some reason as she approached me where I usually was if I was at the shop.
“What is it this time Tan?” I asked, straightening up from hand-sanding the fine details at the corner of the desk I was working on. “I thought you didn’t like leaving Rome and Ellie up front with customers, yet your ass is always back here lately, trying to get me to—shit, this isn’t about Leona again is it?”
“I said I was done with the Leona thing, didn’t I?”
I scoffed. “Yeah, three days ago, and you’ve been pushing her like crack ever since.”
“Bringing up her name is not “pushing her like crack”, asshole. And anyway… this isn’t about her. It’s about some little insta-thot up front looking for you. By name.”
Grabbing a towel, I wiped the sawdust off my hands. “One – how do you know she’s an “insta-thot”, and two – what does she want with me?”
“Well, you’ll have to ask her that yourself. And I know the other thing because Ellie recognized her, started gushing about her Instagram. Also, the dress she’s wearing? Thot behavior.”
“Oh well I’ve definitely gotta go see what’s going on now,” I said, ignoring Tan’s rolled eyes. I used the towel to brush off as much sawdust as I could since I was going into the showroom, then followed her out to the front.
I stopped short as soon as I saw who was on the other side.
Tan had always been a hater when it came to being the prettiest girl in the room – a distinction she typically won. But once I saw the dress in question – a little peach-printed sundress that hung off the shoulders, and stopped high on the thigh, leaving plenty of skin on display – I understood why she’d referred to it as “thot behavior”.
Dawn looked better than her.
As soon as she saw me, she pulled the cup she’d been sipping from away from her lips, letting her mouth spread into a big smile.
Shit, is that for me?
“Patrick,” she gushed, almost sounding relieved. Now, even more than before, she had that weary look in her eyes that contradicted her smile, but from the way she lit up, I could tell her excitement was genuine. She started to step forward, but must have remembered Tanise’s presence – and Rome and Ellie, peeking this way from the checkout counter – and rocked back, staying where she was.
“Dawn… this is a pleasant surprise,” I told her, taking the steps she hadn’t, and pulling her into a – cautious- hug. Gus was standing just behind her, mugging the fuck outta me, and I wasn’t trying to get my jaw rocked in my own damn shop.
“Aren’t you going to introduce us to your friend?” Tan chimed, from close enough over my shoulder that I could tell she’d stepped in to be nosy.
“Nah,” I told her, turning to shoo her off. “Aren’t you gonna find some business of your own?”
“You’re standing in my business.” She gave me a falsely sweet smile, that I didn’t find at all amusing.
“Ugh, fine,” she snapped, walking off to join Ellie and Rome being nosy from a distance, and I turned back to Dawn in time to overhear her whispering to Gus that he should find some business too.
That made him scowl at me.
“Damn, you getting me in trouble with everybody,” I told her, once he’d left us to ourselves.
She laughed. “My bad. I didn’t mean to cause any problems. Especially not with your… whoever the pretty copper one over there is. I don’t think she likes me very much.”
“Tan? She doesn’t even know you.”
Dawn made this defeated sound in her throat as she shook her head. “Unfortunately, I know all too well that knowing me isn’t a prerequisite for disliking me. It’s kind of a trend these days.”