Cerise closed her laptop, or rather Terry’s laptop and stood up.
“Everything ok at home?”
She jumped, not realizing anyone was in the hotel room with her. Jeff was lounging on one of the beds. Hadn’t he gone out to eat with the rest of the guys?
“Everything’s fine,” she replied, sitting on the other bed.
“Sounded like some serious shit going down. Wanna talk about it?” he offered.
“No, it’s nothing. My mom’s gonna hire my stalker at her bookstore.”
“Sounds reasonable,” he nodded.
“It’s a long story,” she shrugged. “Just a girl I used to know.”
“A female stalker, kinky.”
“She’s not really a stalker. Just Terry thinks so. Anyway, my mom’s gonna help her out.”
“Why does boyfriend think she’s a stalker?”
“’Cause she hangs out uninvited, like some other people I know,” she glared at Jeff mockingly.
He raised his hands defensively. “Oh hey, sorry, I didn’t realize you were having your super secret spy talk. Next time I’ll wait in the hall like I didn’t pay for my share of the room.”
“But why’d you stay? Aren’t you hungry?”
“Ok, don’t tell anyone, but I’ve got a secret stash…” he reached into his duffel bag and pulled out a bag of chips.
“Chips!” Cerise cheered.
“I’m just sick of pizza,” said Jeff as he opened the bag and took a handful.
He passed the bag to Cerise and she ate greedily.
“Where’s Cassie?” asked Karine, joining Jay as he sipped a beer and munched on M&Ms. A weird combination that somehow worked.
It was totally dead in the bakery tonight. Sarah was out with Paul, Janice was out with whoever and Mike still hadn’t arrived. Karine was getting pretty bored of watching the guys and Furry Jenn play that dice game of theirs.
“She has some family thing,” explained Jay.
“And you weren’t invited?”
“Well I was, but I decided not to go,” he replied sheepishly.
“Ooh, bad boyfriend,” snickered Karine.
“Yeah, I think she’s pissed,” nodded Jay.
“Funny,” said Vani. “I would have thought you’d be totally pussy-whipped but it seems the Cavity has no powers over you. I tip my hat to you, good sir,” he said, bowing his head.
“Pshh,” Willy blew spittle all over the place.
“Ugh, why do I keep interacting with you without the aid of a hazmat suit?” snarled Karl.
“Obviously Cavity’s pussy’s no good or you’d be totally pussy-whipped,” Willy went on. “You prob’ly haven’t even gotten any,” he laughed.
Furry Jenn laughed too and winked at Willy. Oh gross, had those two hooked up? So nasty.
“We’re totally doing it,” said Jay defensively. “I just don’t see the need to make her my whole life.”
“’Tis a wise choise,” nodded Vani.
“I dunno,” said Karine. “I think Willy’s on to something, much as I shudder to utter those words.”
“My condolences,” nodded Karl with genuine sympathy.
Karine went on. “I think if you were truly into Cassie you’d want to be there for her during whatever the fuck she’s doing tonight.”
“It’s her grandmother’s birthday party! Hello boredom!” protested Jay.
“But if you were seriously into her you’d endure that shit because you’d want to be with her no matter what!”
Jay furrowed his brow and turned to Karl. “Did you go to all of Sarah’s family shit?”
“I did,” he admitted. “And it was torture. If Cavity is willing to tolerate your lack of family involvement then ride that train as long as you can. Eventually she’ll dump you anyway.”
“That’s probably true,” giggled Karine.
“Yeah prob’ly,” shrugged Jay. “But whatever.”
“You’re so obviously not into her,” Karine snickered.
“Whatever, so it’s not true love, who cares? She’s fun for now.”
“Again, I tip my hat,” said Vani with a flourish of his hands.
“Hey yeah, I’m not one to judge,” admitted Karine. “I never went in for all that family shit either. The whole fucking four years I was with Steve, I went to his house like maybe five times.
“Respect,” said Vani with a comically raised eyebrow.
“You ever been to Boom-boom’s house?” asked Jay.
Karine laughed. “Mike? Nah. Fuck, if he wants to hang with me he can do it on my turf.”
“Respect,” Vani repeated.
“I wouldn’t mind going to your house,” Jenn said to Willy.
The rest of the table made gagging sounds and mimed puking all over the table.
It was pretty awesome to see Karine laugh like this. She was so much fun lately. Who would have thought back in the day that Karine Cavalière would totally be friends with Jay? It was beyond his wildest dreams. He supposed he owed it to Cerise and her retarded relationship with Terry Trebimonosyllabicsky.
“I wonder what Cerise is doing right now,” Jay mused aloud.
“8pm,” Karine looked at the clock. “She’s probably on stage, having a totally awesome time.”
“Word,” agreed Vani.
“Do you guys miss her?” Karine asked.
“I dunno,” shrugged Jay. “Do we?”
“She’s never around anyway. Always off canoodling with Muscles McGee,” shrugged Karl.
“Totally not true,” Karine disagreed. “Nine times out of ten if she’s with Terry then they’re here.”
“Fair enough,” Karl admitted.
“I think I might miss her, which is weird,” Karine looked around. “I mean it’s just weird to be the only girl here.”
“Hey!” Furry Jenn whined.
“Oh, honey, you don’t count,” Karine said condescendingly. “Not until you start menstruating.”
“I got my period when I was twelve!”
“So it started last week? Congratulations!”
“Eurk, bitch,” Furry Jenn grumbled under her breath as Karine sat back, self-satisfied.
What a weird interaction to witness. Was that a thing girls did? Mock each other with like, period related things? Girls were so weird.
“So you actually miss Cerise?” asked Vani with interest. “I thought you hated all other girls.”
“Why would you think that?” Karine asked, seemingly offended.
“Because all chicks wanna be Queen-bee,” Vani said matter-of-factly.
It was a theory they’d been working on for some time. First Cerise had joined the game, then Cavity, now Furry Jenn. And the girls who didn’t play the game tried to infiltrate in other ways but they always tried to draw as much attention to themselves as possible and saw other girls as threats. Karl argued that Janice was the only true example of this phenomena but Vani insisted all chicks were guilty of Queen-bee syndrome.
“You’re such a cracktacular little boy,” Karine scoffed.
“All chicks wanna be the star of the show,” Vani shrugged.
Karine laughed. “Hilarious coming from the biggest spotlight hog in the universe! Sounds like someone just can’t handle sharing the star.”
“She makes a fair point,” smirked Karl.
“Please!” Vani huffed. “She’s just jealous of my rock-hard abs!” He lifted his shirt to reveal nothing more than skin and bones. They all laughed as he went on. “Karine is the perfect example of a chick who is always trying to make everything all about her. And who vindictively lashes out at anyone who points this out.”
“Oh my god, Vani, you’re so deluded,” said Karine. “One of these days, seriously, you’re gonna get a wake up call.”
“Vindictive by nature,” he grinned and spread his hands, his point made.
“Yeah, remind me why I hang out with you losers?”
She looked seriously annoyed and Jay quietly cursed Vani for making her mad. Jay didn’t want her to go away. Lately they’d been getting along great. The real reason he hadn’t wanted to hang at Cassie’s tonight wasn’t because he hated her family, or because he wanted to game. He just wanted to hang with Karine.
He replied to her question by suggesting she hung out with them for the free candy and then poured a bag of M&Ms into her lap. She laughed as she tried to catch them and shrieked as many fell to the floor. They all hollered about the five second rule as they gathered up the fallen chocolate, then tossed the candy into each other’s mouths.
Jay actually proved to be fairly skilled at this game and chewed with mouth agape to encourage more throws his way. Vani tossed an M&M at Karine and it landed in her cleavage. She shrieked and pulled it out and then ate it. It was so hot. Vani threw another one and again, it landed between her boobs. He was obviously doing it on purpose. Soon they were all throwing candy down Karine’s shirt as she weakly protested, wiping tears from her eyes she was laughing so hard.
“Do me, do me!” Furry Jenn hollered, pulling her tank top open to encourage throws.
They all paused and looked at her dubiously and then Karine burst into raucous laughter, waving her hands and trying to say something but unable to get the words out.
“What’s so funny?”
They all turned to see Mike Townruinthefunsend standing in the doorway.
“Oh my god,” Karine wiped her tears. “You had to be there.”
She got up and left with Boom-boom, leaving the rest of them to clean up the discarded M&Ms.
“Yeah, no Queen-beeosity there,” said Vani sarcastically once Karine had gone.
“I’m not trying to be Queen-bee,” pouted Furry Jenn.
As Vani rolled his eyes, Karl sighed aggressively and told Jay it was his roll. Oh right, the game.
Terry woke with a start to find
pounding on his chest. “You felled asleep!” she whined. Brittany
“Oh sorry,” he wiped his eyes. “Isn’t it sleepy time?”
He’d been reading her a story on his bed, getting her to make the animal noises. He supposed he’d nodded off as she’d been doing horse neighs.
“No! No sleepy time! Stowy time!”
“I’m pretty sure it’s sleepy time,” he said, rolling over and cuddling up with a pillow, making smacking noises.
hollered, pulling at his hair. “Stowy time!” Brittany
He made loud snoring noises as she laughed and tugged at his clothes. “Stowy time!”
“I bet I can fall asleep faster than you can,” he said.
She looked at him quizzically, thinking it through. Was it a challenge? Was it a trick? “You always fall sleepy fast.”
“Yup, I win!”
“I win!” she hollered.
“No. You can’t win this one. There’s no way you’ll fall asleep faster than me. You’re not even in your bed!”
“I fall sleepy fast!” She rushed to her room and climbed into bed as he followed behind.
Seriously? Had this really worked? She was making snoring noises and kept opening her eyes to make sure he was still there. “So far you’re winning,” he said. “But I bet I fall asleep for real before you fall asleep for real.”
“I win,” she insisted.
Ten minutes later she was actually asleep. He wondered if he’d ever be able to use that trick again.
Cerise emerged from the bathroom in her stage outfit, which consisted of one of her collared shirts and one of the skirts Simone had stuffed into her luggage. The rest of the guys still hadn’t returned and Jeff was still changing when she emerged, his naked torso on display. He didn’t have a bad body, but it wasn’t great either.
She sat bon the bed and wondered how the sleeping arrangements would work tonight. They’d stayed in a motel once before, but it had only had one bed, which they’d let her sleep on while they nestled in blankets on the floor. This room had two queen sized beds. It would only be fair if she slept on the floor and they took the beds but she didn’t know if they’d be willing to share with each other. They made gay jokes just as much as any other group of guys she’d ever witnessed but she didn’t think they were truly homophobic
Jeff pulled his guitar out of its case and began strumming it. “You should learn to play,” he said a moment later.
“I don’t think I have any musical talent.”
“Yeah, I’ve noticed.”
“Fuck off,” she chuckled.
“Seriously though.” He sat next to her and handed her the guitar. “Try it.”
She held the instrument and he placed her fingers on the strings and frets. She plucked a string. “Ow, that kinda hurts.”
“You can use a pick,” he said. “Or just be manly and get calluses.” He held up his hand, showing off his calloused fingers.
He positioned himself behind her and helped her strum the guitar. It was sort of awkward. It made her think of the time she’d played pool with Terry and he’d stood behind her, hugging her as he helped her make a shot. Was this an example of the flirting Terry had warned her about? Was Jeff just doing this to be able to touch her or did he really think she should learn to play guitar? It was true that she would benefit from music lessons. Tom was teaching her to read music. Maybe this was the same.
Jeff brushed her hair behind her ear and she flinched.
“Sorry,” he said.
Before she could figure out what to do next the rest of the guys walked in. Jeff bounded away from Cerise and she stood up as well.
“You guys ready?” asked Bernie with a smirk.
“I am, let’s do this thing,” said Cerise, marching outside. God, that had been so awkward.
Shauna’s mother practically had an aneurysm she was so proud of Shauna for getting a job. Her father was more dubious and predicted she wouldn’t be able to keep it for very long. Her brother Malcolm agreed, saying she only got the job out of charity. He got smacked in the head for that suggestion. Malcolm glared at her and she knew he’d find some way to make her pay for that later.
But soon she wouldn’t even be living here anymore! She’d be the best bookstore employee ever and she’d get her own apartment and she’d never have to come home again!
Shauna put on her nicest outfit for her first day on the job. Or rather, her nicest outfit that involved pants instead of a skirt. Her legs were still kinda scarred up from her last scratching session. She had on what her mom called ‘slacks’ and one of those blouses that would get all sweat stained by the end of the day. But to start the day she’d look good. She even brushed her hair all nice for the occasion.
Afraid of being late, she was half an hour early and Cerise’s mom wasn’t even there yet. That was fine. She waited on the curb. When Ms. Simon arrived she greeted Shauna warmly and let her into the store. A few minutes later that hippy chick arrived and Ms. Simon introduced her as Trista. Weird name. Trista was to be her trainer.
“Ok, so it’s divided by French and English and then within that it’s fiction and non-fiction. But any further classification is pretty random. We basically do it just by remembering where we’ve put stuff. So it’s something you pretty much have to memorize.”
“So how do people find stuff they’re looking for?” asked Shauna tentatively. Was it obvious or was just too stupid to get it?
“If they want something on a specific topic they basically ask us so that’s why we have to learn where everything is. You know?”
“Oh, ok. But what if they want like one book? Like they have a name of a book?”
“Like if they have a specific book? Yeah, we have our inventory on this excel sheet,” Trista pointed to the computer that somehow served as their cash register. She would definitely need Trista to explain how the cash worked again. She totally hadn’t gotten it.
“And the excel sheet says where the book is?”
“God, you sound like Cerise. She was always putting like shelf numbers and stuff into the inventory list but her mom and me don’t bother. We just go by flow, you know? You just like, feel where the book is.”
Shauna didn’t understand that concept at all but didn’t want to sound like an idiot so she just nodded. “When does Cerise work?” she asked after a moment, trying not to sound too stalkerish.
“Oh, she doesn’t work here anymore. You’re her replacement.”
“Where’d she go?” Shauna asked in surprise.
or something.” Ontario
“No, she’s in like a band or something and they’re touring around and stuff.”
“Oh. Really?” Cerise was in a band? That was so cool!
“Yeah,” nodded Trista. “So do you want me to read your palm?”
Shauna really had no response to that.
Karine changed into normal clothes in the back room and then waited outside the ice cream shop until Brown left the bakery. When he’d gone she walked across the street and greeted Terry.
“Hey,” he replied.
“So you gonna come tonight?”
“I come every night,” he smiled wickedly. “Why, you offering to help?” He lunged his crotched at her and grunted.
“Sex! Pew pew!” Vani shouted from the kitchen.
Karine rolled her eyes. “But seriously.”
“What’s tonight?” Terry asked, blinking.
“Hawaiian night at the yacht club. “We promised Sarah and Jay and Karl we wouldn’t leave them hanging.”
“Meh, screw Jay and Karl. Sarah too, but in a different way,” he grinned.
“Oh shut up,” Karine laughed. “So you coming or what?”
“If you don’t mind waiting I can give you a lift, but I have to watch Britt tonight.”
“Vicky’s dating some dude. Total douche.”
“So that means you can’t have a social life anymore?”
“Guess not,” Terry sighed.
Karine regarded him for a moment. “You look tired.” He hadn’t shaved in a couple of days and the scruff actually looked pretty good on him but he also had dark circles under his eyes.
“Yeah, I dunno.”
“I can ditch out on the yacht club and hang with you.”
“It’s ok. If you’re there it’ll just give Britt an excuse to act out. Go out, have fun. Let me live vicariously through you,” he chuckled weakly.
“God, you almost sound depressed.”
“No, I guess I’m just sick of all this shit,” he waved his arms around. “Brown is such a dick, I actually find myself looking forward to school starting up again. But if it’s hard handling Britt now… I mean she wakes up so fucking early, and I have to take her to daycare. And then the fucking drive here, which takes forever. When school and hockey start how will I have time to take care of her?”
“Shouldn’t Vicky be taking care of her?”
He shrugged and shook his head.
“She’s totally taking advantage of you,” Karine grumbled. “You should’t have moved in with her. You know you can still live with me!”
“It’s good for Britt for me to be there.”
“But what about what’s good for you?” asked Karine.
“Hey, as long as I get a quick handy now and then, it’s all good!”
Vani came scampering out of the kitchen and stood in front of Terry, stroking a massive, imaginary cock as Terry leaned back and thrust out his groin.
“Seriously?” Karine scoffed. “I really need to stop hanging out with you guys.”