“Jesus man… Debbie is batshit crazy right now. She’s upsetting Dolly and we have enough shit going on.” Edge leans back and slaps the table as he shoves the screen in David’s face. “Control your bitch, man.” His crude words make me blink and the fantasy of riding off into the sunset evaporates fast.

“I’ll put your order in.” I look down at David whose scowl shifts from the phone to Edge.

“Where is she?” He takes the phone. “Is that Tabatha with her?”

And that made me want to throw up. I suck. What is wrong with me? He’s fucking married! With a baby!

“So… anything else?” The table tingles with an energy I don’t understand but it’s there—alive and burning into me.

“That’s it,” David growls but gentles as he looks up at me.

With a nod, I spin and almost break into a run. Why did overhearing that small conversation upset me? These crazy delusions that he likes me or that I will ever be his have to stop. I hate Debbie, and I hate that he’s taken. Also, anything dealing with his super cute baby girl makes me uncomfortable. Guilty. I’ll probably go to hell.

“Edge, tell Dolly to ignore her.” David’s voice travels across the diner as I bolt into the kitchen and close my eyes, leaning against the door. I will not cry, I will not cry, I chant in my head.

“You okay, Charlie?”

My eyes fly open to stare at Jorge and Manuel, our day cooks. Pushing off the door, I plaster on a fake smile and look up at the vent on the ceiling to stop the tears from falling. The last thing I need is for my mom to see me like this.

“I’m fine.” I sniff and hand them my order. “Just bad allergies today.”

They both scan my face. Manuel takes the napkin and shakes his head, mumbling about how he’s happy he’s not a teenager. I sigh and wipe under my eyes, making sure my mascara hasn’t run.

“Charlize? In the office.”

I jump, almost scream at my mom who stands holding the office door open. Straightening my shoulders, I say, “In a minute. I need to get their drinks.” It sounds so obvious I cringe.

“Jessica?” My mom holds up a finger not taking her eyes off me as she yells.

“Yes, Mrs. Armstrong?” Jessica swishes over with her phone in one hand and a carrot stick in the other. Her bright pink pixie hair and the way she dresses and talks just screams slut. Today she’s wearing a plaid miniskirt with a white tuxedo shirt and knee-high socks. I guess she’s going for the porn schoolgirl look. I attend a private school and our uniform is nothing like that.

“Can you please take care of the Disciples’ table? I need a word with my daughter.”

Both our mouths drop. Jessica recovers first and smiles sweetly. “No problem. What did they want?” Her pretty brown eyes laser into mine as she arches a thin eyebrow.

“Coke and… water.” I shake my head at my mom.

“Don’t give me that look.” She snaps her finger and motions for me to enter the small office.

“God,” I mumble and roll my eyes as I pass, holding my breath as I enter. We had a flood in the kitchen that made its way into the office, which had old carpet to begin with. The mildew smell seems to get worse as time passes and neither of my parents has done anything about it. I guess my mom is waiting for my dad and vice versa. Whatever, it stinks and needs to be replaced.

She shuts the door and starts to pace. I take the pen from behind my ear and click it over and over again. If she starts lecturing, it could take a while, so the pen is a subtle hint to hurry up.

“What’s going on with you and that biker?” I blink at her. Wow, she’s not even trying to sugarcoat it. Sighing, I lower myself into the cheap aluminum chair and cross my legs.

“Ummm, nothing.”

Her eyes narrow on me, which I hate. So, I look over her shoulder at the only thing that hangs in our office: an old calendar of my mom when she was twenty.

“I need you to be honest with me.”

I lean back and put my elbow on the edge of our desk. In reality, it’s a table that wasn’t suitable for the restaurant because of a big dent in the middle.

“And I am.” I try to take a breath without gagging.

“So, you’re not hanging out with the Disciples?” I’m about to respond, but she lifts a finger. “Because they’re bad. So bad you have no idea. Those men do drugs, deal drugs.”

She paces again. “I’m sure they kill people, Charlize. They are not our type of people. I don’t want to sound like a snob but—”


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