The first thing I heard was giggling. I frowned but didn't want to wake up. I was comfortable on my right side. I felt something warm pressed to my chest and a pillow under my head. Figuring it was my cat, I put an arm around her.
But it wasn't my cat.
"Hurry up! Before they wake up," I heard Janine whisper.
I heard a shutter click and opened my eyes. Our moms were standing in front of us, broad grins on their faces. I looked at the TV. It was playing the last Die Hard movie's menu on loop. Deidre was what I had thought was my cat. I quickly removed my arm.
"What time is it?" I muttered, rubbing my eyes.
"Around 10," my mother answered, still grinning.
"In the evening?" I asked, sitting up and Deidre stirred in her sleep.
I froze, not wanting to wake her.
"Yep," Janine said, smirking. "Guess you were pretty tired, huh?"
My mom winked and I groaned, laying back down. I had been pretty comfortable....
"Well, we're going to bed," my mom said and turned the TV off.
I rolled my eyes but closed them again, deciding to humor them for this one time. As the lights turned off and I repositioned the pillow, my arm immediately went back around Deidre.
I was just humoring our moms. Right?
"Shit, shit, shit."
I woke again. Deidre was no longer on the couch. She was pulling her shoes on and tripped over the coffee table.
"Shit!" she whisper-yelled.
"Are you okay?" I asked, jumping to my feet and helping her up.
"I'm so late for work," she groaned and I glanced at the time.
"Deidre, it's only 7:30," I said slowly and she stopped.
"Is it?" she asked and I nodded. "Oh."
"What time do you have to go into work?"
I grabbed my keys. "Let's go early and we can get some coffee."
She thought it over before nodding. "Okay."
I led her out to my car. When we got in, I passed her the comb I kept in the glovebox. She quickly ran it through her hair, grumbling when it would get stuck in a knot. It was rather entertaining, listening to her swear under her breath. She was the last person I expected that from.
I kept waiting for her to mention how we slept last night but she never did. I contemplated bringing it up but we pulled up to the coffee shop before I could. I opened my door but she hadn't even unbuckled her seatbelt.
"Hey, what's wrong?" I asked.
She was chewing on her lower lip, staring at the front door. "Larry doesn't know," she said.
I leaned back so that I was sitting normally. "No one is supposed to," I reminded her.
"What are we going to tell people then?" she asked, frowning at me. "I may not have friends but I know you do."
I shrugged. "We'll just tell them we're dating. When you think about it, we kind of are."
She chuckled, unbuckling her seatbelt finally. "Except we skipped the first date and went straight to the ring."
I laughed, too. Normally I was a zombie in the mornings but something about her made me want to be more awake. I opened the door for her. Larry turned and looked confused to see us walk in together. He stared as she stretched. Her eyes were closed so she didn't see the utter confusion and shock on his face.
"Well, good morning," he said and Deidre smiled at him.
"How were the lines?" he asked and she hesitated. He narrowed his eyes at me then looked back at her. "You know, I noticed the van is missing."
I sighed and leaned against the counter. "Yeah, about that," I said slowly. He crossed his arms across his chest. "Deidre and I are dating."
He frowned and looked at her. "Dee, could you go make sure the croissants aren't burning?"
"Sure," she said and went to the back.
I opened my mouth to speak but Larry punched me.
"Dude, what the fuck?" I snapped, stumbling back.
Larry didn't speak for a few minutes. He was glaring at me. Finally, he pointed a finger at my chest.
"I know you, Artemis," he said in a low voice so Deidre wouldn't hear. "I know how you treat women. If you're going to play games with Deidre, I will personally make sure you pay for it."
"Relax," I said. "It's not like that."
"A week ago you didn't even like her. What's really going on?"
"I told you the truth. We're dating."
"So, since you're dating, you convinced her to sell the van and bought her new clothes?" he challenged, putting his hands on the counter and leaning forward. "Where did you dump her mother, huh?"
"Stop it," I said, feeling sickened at his words. "I wouldn't just dump her mom to fend for herself!"
"You're lying to me," he stated. "And I'll find out what's going-"
"Croissants are fine," Deidre announced, walking out with her apron on. She frowned and ducked under the counter. "Artemis! What happened to your chin?"
"I tripped and hit it on the counter," I said, glaring a little at Larry. "Apparently Larry had been mopping this morning."
She looked at the floor. "But I don't see any-"
"Iced white mocha?" Larry interrupted.
"Oh! Yeah, please. Go ahead and take it from my check."
"Don't be stupid," I said. "I'll buy it for you."
There was that adorable blush when people did things for her. I ordered my usual mocha latte and we sat down by the window. Larry went into the back and I heard him banging things around. She shook her head.
"I wonder whats wrong with him," she said. "He's not a morning person, but he's never been in such a bad mood."
"Must've woken up on the wrong side of the bed," I shrugged, blowing on my coffee before taking a sip. "Do you normally do the food?"
She looked at the door again.
"No.... I just do coffee." She sighed in frustration. "So why did he have me check the croissants?"
I looked for inspiration to change the subject. It was snowing again.
"Did you play in the snow a lot?" I asked.
Her eyes lit up. "Yeah," she said. "On the days we both had off, my mom and I would go to the park and have snowball fights. They never lasted long, but it was great to get out and stretch our legs."
"What about snowmen?"
"We never had the time," she said sadly.
I didn't know how to respond to that but she didn't seem to need one. She looked out the window and I slid my hand over so our fingertips were touching. She smiled nervously.
"Your shift is starting soon," I said after we sat in silence for about ten minutes.
It wasn't awkward, though, to my surprise. It was very comfortable, even if we didn't hold hands completely.
"Well, I guess I'll officially start then."
"What time do you get off? I'll come pick you up."
Larry came out from the back and narrowed his eyes at me. I shook my head wearily. He was going to be the hardest to keep the secret from.
"She gets off at close," he snapped and she glared at him.
"Seriously, Larry," she said. "What's your problem? You're never like this!"
"I just don't feel well," he muttered. "She doesn't really get off at close," he added.
"I get off at seven," she said and I nodded, getting up.
"Well, I'll see you at seven, then."
"Bye," she waved, getting back behind the counter and pulling up the register computer.