Before I can elbow her in the side, the bell above the door rings and in walks the third member of our little party patrol, Charlotte Dunn. A stunning girl who turns heads everywhere she goes with her long, naturally bright and beautiful red hair, she slides into the booth opposite Izzy and me, looking exhausted herself.
She settles in, sighing heavily, and Izzy looks over at her. “Tough morning for you too?”
“I think walking in the back and sticking my head in a vat of hot oil might just be preferable to working reception on the ground floor of Satan’s Skyscraper,” she jokes. “It’s not like anything bad happened either.”
“So what’s the deal?” I ask, and Charlotte shakes her head. “What?”
“I guess it’s just that everyone there walks like they’ve got a hundred-pound albatross on their back as they come in. No smiles, no greetings, even though I try. It’s just depressing,” she replies. “You got lucky, landing in the shining palace.”
“Girl, please. I work all by my lonesome in the deep, dark dungeon of a basement,” I point out.
Charlotte snorts. “But that’s how you like it!”
She’s not wrong, so I don’t bother arguing, instead teasingly gloating, “And I get to wear whatever and work however the hell I please.”
Our waitress, one of Izzy’s co-workers, comes over with her order pad. “So, what can I get you ladies?”
“Something with no onions or spice,” Izzy replies, groaning. “Maybe Henry can whip up a grilled cheese for me?”
“Deal. And for you ladies?”
We place our orders, and the three of us lean back, relaxing. Charlotte looks me over enviously again, shaking her head. “Seriously, Mia, can’t get over the outfit today. You trying to show off the curves?”
“What curves?” I ask, looking down at today’s band T-shirt. It’s just a BTS logo, twin columns rising on a black shirt.
“Hey, you’re rockin’ it.” Charlotte laughs. “It fits the girls just right.”
I roll my eyes. Charlotte always seems to see something in me that I don’t. Men don’t seem to find me interesting. Or at least, the men I find interesting don’t find me interesting.
Deflecting back to her, I ask, “How’re things looking for you? That guy in Accounting ever come back downstairs to get your number?”
Charlotte snorts. “Nope. I saw him the other day, but it’s okay. It’s his loss.”
She does a little hair flip and I can’t help but smile. She hasn’t always had the best luck with guys, but she never gives up and always keeps a positive attitude about the whole dating game. Her motto is ‘No Mr. Wrongs, only Mr. Rights and Mr. Right-Nows.’ Maybe not the classiest, but a girl’s got needs, and sometimes it’s nice to have an orgasm from a guy not named B.O.B.
We eat our lunches, chatting and gossiping and bullshitting as always. It’s never a big to-do since we share lunch together at least once a week, if not more, but it’s still nice to catch up. Izzy and I have been friends for so long, and Charlotte and I met in college. They’re important to me.
“So, when do classes start up again, Izz?” Charlotte asks. “So you can, I don’t know, get some sleep and not have fallen arches?”
Izzy snorts. “Too soon, I think. But if I can string together another two semesters—”
“Wait, two?” I ask in shock. “Honey, you’re like the super-duper-ooper senior at this point. Seriously, some of the professors are probably younger than you by now.”
“Hey, we’re the same age!” Izzy protests, but shrugs. “You know, I had a freshman ask me if I was a TA the other day?”
“Ouch, that had to hurt,” Charlotte says. “What did you say?”
“I pointed him in the direction of the student union and turned him down when he asked for my number. Seriously, I’m not sure if he even needed to shave yet. I don’t have time to teach eighteen-year-old man-boys what and where a clit is!”
Charlotte and I laugh, and I punch her in the shoulder. “You’ll get there in your own time, girl. But still, why the wait?”
“Mostly the internship,” Izzy admits. “I can juggle classes and work, or internship and work, but I can’t do classes, internship, and work. There’s just not enough hours in the day.”
I nod, understanding that Izzy has plans and dreams. But unlike most, she’s willing to sacrifice and work hard to reach hers.
We shift topics, like we always do, until we’ve covered all the usual topics and my tummy feels pleasantly happy without risk of an afternoon food coma.
Wiping our mouths with our napkins, I glance at my phone, checking the time. “So, Char . . . rock, paper, scissors?”
“Nope, this one’s mine!” Charlotte says, giggling as I lean into Izzy, preventing her from moving as Charlotte grabs the check and runs up to the counter.
“Hey! Hey, dammit!” Izzy protests. “I—”