“Mr. Myles, I—” I said, shaking my head but stopped because this was so embarrassing. I just couldn’t bring myself to say that Louis was gorgeous in front of not only Dale, but their parents! This could not be happening!
“Don’t worry Kota, it’s okay.” Mr. Myles said, smiling and nodding encouragingly. They all looked at me, Dale enjoying every minute of it, and the men’s wives looked at me with pity.
“Well, he’s— he’s very, handsome.” I finally managed to say, feeling like my face might be permanently red for the rest of my life. Louis’ face got redder too, but he smiled and looked at me like he had the suspicion that I didn’t just say that for his dad.
“Yeah? A strapping young man?” Mr. Myles said and hit the table with his hand happily, a smile lighting his face. His chest poked out a little more now, like he was the proudest man in the world.
“Yes a, v-very strapping young man.” I said, my voice shaking as Louis sat up straighter and smiled at me happily, though he was still embarrassed.
“Well, I’m not going to ask you about Dale, because I know that would be weird.” said Mr. Lochay, “You’re practically brother and sister.”
“It’s okay Mr. Lochay.” I said, thinking that this night couldn’t get any more embarrassing. “He’s a strapping young man too.” I looked at Dale and he grinned knowingly, knowing I was just trying to make up and take the subject off Louis.
“Well, thank you Kota.” Mr. Lochay said, smiling warmly at me.
“What would you like to drink tonight?” I asked, changing the subject thankfully.
“Sweet tea please.” said Dale, looking quite happy with himself and making me suspicious of whether or not this had been his idea.
“We’ll have that too.” said Mr. and Mrs. Lochay.
“Us too.” agreed Mr. and Mrs. Myles.
“And you, Louis?” I asked, raising my eyebrows at him and waiting for an answer. He was staring at me and kept on for a few seconds before coming to and blinking a couple times.
“Oh— Um, some root beer please.” he said, looking down embarrassedly.
“I’ll be right back.” I smiled at all of them, landing on Louis a second longer before going over behind the bar. I was still in eyeshot as I got their drinks ready, but tried to keep focused even though I could feel Louis watching me.
“So, who’s the new cutie I saw you with?” asked Suzy in a low voice. She was taller than me and skinny too, but in the good way. She had wavy golden hair pulled into a ponytail and was going to college with Ray.
“A new friend from school.” I said as I readied their drinks.
“What was going on over there? It looked like your faces were going to burst into flame.” she said and I sighed heavily. Great. That was probably subject to the whole restaurants’ attention. I thought. “Are you with him or something?” she asked.
“No, but I’d kinda like to be. His name’s Louis.” I said.
“So what’s keeping you?” she asked.
“Well, because I like this other guy too, but he’s not so easy to get close to. I don’t know what to do.” I confessed.
“Well, he sounds like a jerk, I mean, who wouldn’t want to get close to you? I say go after Louis.” she advised, flashing me a warm smile before sweeping away with a tray full of drinks.
I sighed behind the bar, but composed myself quickly. I finished with their drinks and then left the bar, returning to them. “Decided what you’re having?” I asked.
“Um, we need a few more minutes.” Mrs. Myles smiled sweetly at me.
“Okay.” I smiled back and went to the front and took care of other customers. After I had gotten the other customers their drinks, I went back to Louis and Dale and their parents.
“Are we ready?” I asked. They nodded and ordered their dinner.
“Order Lou.” I said, sticking it up for him to see, but just as I was about to leave, I paused and looked back at him.
He was whirling around, him and everyone else in the kitchen going ninety miles an hour to make the food. He noticed me still standing there and said, “What’s up, Kota?”
“Uh,” I wasn’t sure I needed to tell him about the dance competition right now, but if he was going to fire me I wanted to do the right thing and give him enough time to find someone else. “I just wanted to let you know that as of August thirtieth, I’ll be an hour late to my shifts. My school’s having a dance competition and their practices are after school.” I said the last part quickly because I thought his eyes were going to bug out.
He opened his mouth several times, looking like he was going to yell, but then finally said, “Why are you telling me this now?”
“Because if you’re going to fire me, I wanted to give you time to find someone else.” I said.
“Sue in on this too?” he asked and I nodded. He was quiet for a minute and then sighed. “Fine then, but not a minute later than it takes to get here from there!” he said, pointing a stern finger at me as he prepared fajitas in a frying pan.
I opened my mouth in surprised and then said, “I- You’re not firing me?”
“No, why would I?” he said, glancing at me as he added the unions and other vegetables to the meat. “You’re the best waitress I’ve ever had, and I truly think you’re part of the reason we get so much business. I’m not giving you up that easy.” Then he smiled and winked at me.
“Thank you, sir.” I said, smiling too.
Then he pointed to the door and said, “Now, get to work and show me why I keep you around.” I smiled and disappeared out the door.