“You’ll have to work that out with your boss, I’m sorry.” he said and I nodded.
“Is there any sheet we have to get signed?” Sue asked. We smiled at each other.
“Yes, it’s right here.” he grabbed a piece of paper from a stack and showed us. “You have to get it signed by August thirtieth. But between now and then, the ones who are interested will still be practicing during gym. Is anyone interested?” he asked this last part hesitantly.
I sat there a moment, and then stood and went down to him. I took the paper and smiled at him. “Do we have to go now or can we just stay here since this is our next class?” I asked.
“Yes, you can stay here.” he smiled back. After I had reseated myself, other people started getting up and taking a sheet. Almost everyone got one, except for that one group of course. And after we had all gotten into groups and were talking, I saw Ivan and Connelly sneak over to the coach and take a sheet too. I smiled absently, but then noticed what I was doing and turned my back on them. This was going to be harder than I thought.
This time, when it was time to dance, I didn’t even get up because I knew I would be the only one left. And this time, Connelly didn’t come and ask me to dance, though he did sit behind me again. I would feel his eyes on me sometimes when I was watching the dancers. His stare brought on chilly bumps and I had to keep rubbing my arms to make them go away before he saw them and thought I could like even a jerk like him.
I was tempted to ask him why he ran off when he saw Louis, but that would be in breach of my agreement with myself. I still looked back at him though. He seemed startled at my sudden turn and tightened for half a second, but then smiled softly.
His smile was so perfect and sweet, it was impossible to think he was the same person who had hurt my feelings. I couldn’t help but smile back; it was like his smile was pulling one out of me. Then shyly, I turned back around. His smile was unexpected, especially after what he’d done in History and then in English Lit.
“Kota, you seem stressed. Are you okay?” Sue asked as we walked to the back door of ‘The Southern Experience’.
“Yeah, I’m just so confused about this whole Louis and Connelly business, but I think I’ve figured it out.” I said and grinned at her. We went inside and put on our aprons.
“What’re you going to do?” she asked.
“I think I’m going to go with Louis… Maybe — I don’t know.” I said, suddenly not confident in my decision. I shook my head angrily and wiped my hand over my face in frustration.
“Don’t worry. You’ll do the right thing.” she smiled at me encouragingly. I nodded and we went to work. It wasn’t as packed tonight as it had been yesterday, but one thing made it worse.
“Kota!” called Dale, running up to me and picking me up off the ground, squeezing me tightly. It wasn’t really a proper thing for a customer to do to a waitress, but this was a small town and this thing was actually pretty common among the stores and restaurants in Maxville.
“Dale, good to see you again. Uh— Aren’t you going a little overboard with this whole ‘in charge’ over Louis?” I asked, now seeing Louis and his and Dale’s parents behind us. Dale laughed and put me down.
“No, it turns out that my parents know his parents and we’re taking them out for a ‘welcome to the neighborhood’ dinner.” he smiled at me and chuckled a little again.
“How many?” Suzy asked, behind the desk.
“Six.” said Dale’s father, Mr. Lochay.
“Smoking or Non-smoking?” she asked.
“Non-smoking.” he said and I led them to their table by the bar and jukebox.
“Kota, I’d like you to meet my parents.” Louis said and waved a hand out to them.
“Hi, Kota. Nice to meet you.” Mrs. Myles said and smiled warmly, Mr. Myles nodded his hello as they both shook my hand.
“Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Myles.” I said.
“Nice to see you again Kota.” said Mr. Lochay, smiling warmly and not bothering with a handshake, but pulling me instead into a hug.
“You too Mr. Lochay, and Mrs. Lochay.” I said as I hugged both of them.
“Arnold here and I were in college together.” Mr. Lochay said, sitting at the booth and looking up at me. “We had lots of fun back then, and now our boys are friends.” He looked over at Mr. Myles and they both nodded.
“And what strapping boys we have. Going to do wonderful things with their lives.” Mr. Myles agreed. “And meet lots of pretty girls while we’re at it, eh?” he looked over at Louis, who looked completely embarrassed and surprised by this, glancing up at me and then around at the floor.
“Yes, sir.” Louis said, trying not to look at me and wearing an embarrassed smile on his flushed face. Dale on the other hand was grinning broadly, looking between me and him.
“Well you know Kota here is the boy-magnet herself. She always has guys running after her, don’t you m’ dear?” Mr. Lochay said and looked up at me with a smile, making me jump.
“Oh! Um, I guess.” I said, feeling my face suddenly burning up as Louis finally looked at me, feeling better now that I was getting embarrassed too. “Though I wouldn’t say a lot.” I tried to recover and pulled out my notepad and pen.
“Don’t be modest Kota, you’re a beautiful girl.” said Mr. Lochay.
“Well thank you, but—”
“Absolutely, and actually, you should be a good judge of our boys.” said Mr. Myles, “You being so experienced and all.” I wanted to die right then.
“What? Dad, no. Please.” Louis said, shaking his head and hands as if to stop him, but it didn’t work. He looked both made and extremely embarrassed at being subjected to this.
“We’re just having a conversation, no harm in that.” his dad said and Louis slumped over, hiding his face shamefully with his hand. “Well Kota? Tell me, what do you think of my boy?” Mr. Myles asked and Louis lifted his face a little so he could see me.