Stace stood close to Michael at the bar, her arm wound proprietorially around his waist, claiming him as hers, just in case Violet was in any doubt.
When she'd walked in, she'd clocked the two of them together immediately, and was dismayed at the high level of eye-contact. She knew she really should have been annoyed at Mikey...after all, they had been a couple for so long and she expected more loyalty from him, but she was far more angry at Violet. On a sensible level, she knew that this was unfair, because Violet had no way of knowing this was her boyfriend she was giving the eye, but it was much easier to be mad at the teenage girl she'd known for a shorter time.
Michael looked down at Stace, then over at Violet. He felt good. He could sense the animosity between the two, even though Stace was trying her hardest to hide it, especially from him. She was fully aware of his feelings about possessive females, so he knew she'd play it cool as far as she could, but the way she was just about clamped around his waist and her sly sideways looks at Violet, telegraphed the message: ''Hands off.''
He'd been flattered when Violet had approached him at the bar. She seemed feisty and fearless, unlike Stace. She was less feminine than his girlfriend, more wiry and angular, in contrast to Stace's soft curves, but she emanated an energy he found exciting. He also knew that he had a lot of influence on this friendship. If he encouraged it, Stace would keep Violet around. And he liked that idea. He liked it a lot.
They found a booth, the three of them, Mikey and Stace sitting one side, Staces's hand never straying from Mikey's knee, and Violet sitting opposite. They talked about work, and school, and music, and TV shows. Violet had stopped the flirting. She was sensible enough to want to keep Stace on her side. But when they all said goodnight, as Violet watched them walk away, Mikey turned his head and, unseen by Stace, gave her a parting smile.
Violet smiled, then turned and walked away, feeling more excited than she had in years.
A couple of nights later, they met up again. Violet announced that she had been given a week to get out of her rented room, as her landlord wanted it for his own son, who had dropped out of college.
Stace held her breath, hoping that Michael would not say what she knew he was going to. But of course, he did.
''We have a spare room. Want come stay with us till you find something else?''