I've decided to post my chapters a day earlier on my lj and dw :)
. : t h e . l o v e l y . c a f é : .
C h a p t e r . F o u r
Welcome to the Night Shift
“That’s the thing with magic. You’ve got to know it’s still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you.”
-Charles de Lint
“Carly,” I moan pathetically, weakly scrabbling at the closed bathroom door. “Hurry up…I’m dying out here!” I groan pitifully, curling myself into a tight ball on the floor. Voilà, ladies and gentlemen, Sam Puckett’s impression of a dead fetus. I have to clench my teeth together to stop myself from laughing at my own joke; every time I so much as move I feel like my stomach’s going to explode.
The telltale creak of the door and the audible click of the light switch cut through the hazy fog of pain that has taken refuge in my head. I just squeeze my eyes shut and utter another feeble gurgle.
Freddie’s amused voice makes my eyes fly open. “Something wrong, Princess Puckett?”
“I don’t have time for this, Freddie Fucking Benson,” I gasp, thankful that in my state of distress I have somehow managed to turn away from the door. “Just get Carly – or call the morgue – I think I may have cholera,” I wheeze, clutching at my stomach.
“How about I have Carly get you some pants and I’ll make breakfast?” Freddie suggests lightly. He lifts his foot as if he’s contemplating stepping over me, but moves to the side at the last minute.
It barely registers that I’m only wearing an over-sized shirt and boxers and I snap, “Oh my god, what the hell is wrong with you? Is this what you do every time you see a dead body lying at your feet? Offer them tea and biscuits to make them go away?” However, my traitorous stomach lurches at the thought of – oh sweet Jesus – food, and when that thought leads my mind to think of meat, I think I’m going to pass out from the sheer need.
“Freddie? Sam? Is everything all right?” Carly’s worried voice drifts down the hallway.
“She thinks she has cholera,” Freddie says dryly.
“Sam.” Carly crouches down in front of me. “You don’t have cholera.”
“I think the symptoms beg to differ,” I gasp weakly. “I’m nauseated, I’m feverish, and I think my stomach is going to eat itself if you keep on stalling any longer.”
Carly raises an eyebrow. “When was the last time you ate anything?”
I open my mouth to fire back a snappish retort, but then it hits me. I gape at my best friend. Ladies and gentlemen, Sam Puckett’s impression of a dying goldfish.
“I can’t remember,” I whisper, suddenly feeling dizzy and out of place. I start to panic. “Carly! I can’t remember the last time I ate! This is unacceptable – I need meat, Carly,” I tell her desperately. I would be clinging on to the front of her shirt if I weren’t still trying to remember when my last meal was.
Carly sighs in exasperation, but I can see a hint of fondness in her expression. “I thought so,” she says with conviction. “Freddie, there’s a pound of beef jerky in the cabinet above the refrigerator.”
“I’m on it,” he says immediately. I roll my eyes. He is so whipped.
Carly turned towards me with a goofy smile playing on her lips. I narrow my gaze at her, wondering if I was imagining the slightly predatory smirk that had appeared just moments before.
“He’s perfect, S,” she gushes in a whisper. “Did you know that he’s the CEO of the Pear Company? He invented the MoodFace app for the Pear Phone and he’s produced a couple of web shows!”
I offer her what I hope is an encouraging smile. She seems to buy it, because she continues to blather on and on about his accomplishments and how rich he is. “He bought me a Swarovski necklace yesterday! I couldn’t show you because – you – you know…But it’s gorgeous–”
“Talking about me, Carly?” Freddie suddenly appears in my line of vision holding – I suck in a deep breath.
Carly beams up at Freddie. She’s about to say something but I’m pushing past her and lunging for the bag of beef jerky. Freddie lets out a startled yell and takes a few steps back. I end up crashing into his legs and tackling him to the ground. I ignore Carly’s shocked cries and triumphantly yank the beef jerky out of Freddie’s limp hands. I savagely tear through the flimsy plastic bag and shove the delicious meat into my mouth.
I’m not too ashamed to admit that I may have had a tiny orgasm.
I feel my eyes roll back into my head. “Oh god, yes!” I moan, throwing my head back in pleasure. “Oh yeah…oh yes! Oh god that is so good. Oh…yeah!”
“Sam?” Carly says timidly.
I turn around to face her, my mouth still full of half-chewed beef jerky. Carly looks slightly shocked, and several emotions seem to be warring across her face, the most apparent of them seem to be amusement and…jealousy? That can’t be right.
“Sam, I think you should probably get off of Freddie.”
I blink, and turn back around to see that Freddie’s face is scarlet, and he is pointedly looking away from me. It’s just now that I remember that I’m not wearing any pants, and I’m about to stand up when I realize that I’m straddling Freddie’s thighs. The none-too innocent moans I had just been making suddenly sound in my ears and I flush, suddenly at a loss for words.
“Okay then, I’ll just – erm – take my meat and go.” I try to appear as nonchalant as possible as I gather the scattered meat into my arms.
Freddie is the first one to recover. With his eyes still determinedly averted from me, he remarks casually, “God, Puckett, are you like some meat porn star? That was disgusting.”
I stiffen and slowly turn my head to bore my eyes into his skull. “Oh, I bet you just love that, don’t you, Fredifer,” I sneer. “You probably wouldn’t even know what a vagina is even if it came running at you with a ten-foot pole.” I barrel on when he snaps his head towards me. “You know what, Benson? You can take that holier-than-thou attitude and stick it so far up your ass it comes out of your mouth, you – you meat hater!”
I salvage the remains of my dignity and the rest of my meat and stomp back into my room. Once I’m sure that my door is locked, I throw the packaged meat on my bed in a rage. Inside, I’m seething.
Someone knocks on my door.
“I swear to god if that’s you, Freddie, I’m going to break your stupid face in,” I warn.
The doorknob jiggles and turns. Carly slams the door open. Her expression is so furious I almost take step back. Almost.
“Before you say anything,” she says quietly, “I have a key. Second, this ‘thing–’” She gesticulates wildly with her hands. “–With Freddie has to stop now. So put on some—flipping—pants, eat your – your – gosh darned meat, and meet me outside. Do it!” she orders when I open my mouth to protest.
“Fine,” I mutter, scuffing the floor with my toe.
Carly shoots me one last glare before closing the door behind her.
I stick my tongue at the door.
“DO IT, SAM!” Carly screams.
I turn around in a huff. That girl just knows me too god – too gosh darned well.
“Tell me why,” I say for the fifth time in a row, “Carly thought it was such a bright idea to get us to hang out together.”
Freddie doesn’t respond and squints at the rollercoaster we’re in line for. His hands are shoved in the pockets of his jeans and he deliberately turns his head away from me.
I glare at him. Uptight bastard.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that,” he says pleasantly.
“I said,” I reply loudly, “that you’re an uptight little fuck-face!” Everyone around us immediately looks scandalized. A couple of parents steer their children away from me and step out of the line. I sneer at them.
“She was born with a tail,” Freddie explains to a group of teenagers in front of us. “She’s afraid she’s going to die a virgin because no one likes her. My theory is that she wasn’t loved as a child.”
Four security guards tackle me before I can break his neck. Freddie shrugs apologetically at me as he’s escorted to the front of the line.
I’m still seething by the time Freddie’s done with the ride. The guards release me with a warning; they were almost about to ban me from the amusement park but Freddie had declined to press charges. Plus, I hadn’t gotten the chance to inflict any bodily harm on him. The guards had recognized that my war cry meant shit was about to get real, and got in the way before I could castrate Freddie.
We ride most of the rides separately in a cold silence. Although I would prefer to enjoy the park in silence, Carly’s threatening me with nothing but tofu and Brussels sprouts for a whole month, so I don’t really have a choice unless I want to get kicked out of her apartment.
I don’t forget the comments that Freddie made, and the perfect plan finally hits me just as the sun is starting to set. I walk in the direction of the only water ride there; Freddie is forced to follow me and I almost laugh maniacally at his stupidity. Sometimes I really admire my self-control.
I don’t waste any time in racing up the empty stairs, waiting impatiently at the top for Freddie to catch up.
“You do realize that we’re not wearing swim suits.”
“Scared of a little water?” I offer him a smug smile before I’m shooting down the snake-like tunnel.
Once I’m at the bottom I waste no time in scrambling out of the tunnel and hiding behind the bright orange structure. Freddie emerges soon after and he immediately stands up with a grimace, shucking off his shoes and socks in the knee-deep water. I instantly hook my foot around his ankle and sweep his legs under him. He falls with a yelp and a splash, but I’m already yanking at his jeans and tugging them off of his feet. I let out a woop of victory and race off, my sneakers squelching every time my feet hit the floor.
I’ve been running for a few minutes when I hear Freddie’s angry voice behind me. I swear under my breath and run out of my shoes, barely stopping to yank my socks off and throw them into a trashcan. Freddie’s red face breaks into my line of vision and I’m running for my life, the night breeze cooling down my sweaty face as I weave between lines and dodge food stands and irritated people.
I stop to catch my breath at the Ferris wheel line, Freddie’s jeans clutched in my sweaty hands, chest heaving from exhaustion and adrenaline.
My head snaps up and I’m already running, but this time, Freddie’s one step ahead of me and I barrel into him. I feel more than hear his exhale of surprise as we tumble over the chain that fences in the line and we’re crashing into the ground. Freddie’s back breaks my fall, but I’m too dazed and tired to react.
“Hey! You two!” the line usher waves us over.
Freddie makes a half-hearted grab at his pants but I bare my teeth at him. He raises his hands defensively before reluctantly following me to the front of the line.
I’m ready to fight with the usher, but he’s grinning from ear to ear. He shakes his head. “Young love these days,” he sighs. “Since you two have displayed such passionate feelings for each other, I’m letting you on the Ferris wheel first.”
“What the hell, man?” a teenager demands.
The usher ignores him and lets us pass. I enter the compartment warily. It’s one of those rides that boxes people inside some glass case so we can see the outside but can’t actually experience for ourselves.
I gulp. It’s also one of those rides that practically screams impending doom.
The ride has barely started and Freddie snatches his jeans back and makes to put them back on. I vaguely note that we’re both barefoot.
I lunge at Freddie but twists out of the way and laughs when I crash into the seat.
“If you wanted to get into my pants you should have just said so,” he taunts, waggling his eyebrows.
“Fuck you, Benson!” I snarl.
He rolls his eyes. “You wish.”
I burst out laughing. It’s starts out as a low chuckle, but as the reality of this situation dawns on me my whole body is shaking from laughter. I clutch my sides as I spasm uncontrollably.
Freddie looks at me like I’ve just grown three heads but soon enough the corner of his mouth twitches and he’s laughing alongside me.
“I’m fucking crazy,” I say between tears.
“You’ve only just figured that out?”
I collapse on the ground in front of his feet. “There have been some suspicions but I’ve ignored the signs for too long.”
His burst of laughter almost has an affectionate edge to it. “You’re really something, Sam.”
Something in the pit of stomach jolts and warms me to the tips of my ears. “I guess you’re not so bad. I kinda wish we’d done this sooner.”
As fireworks flare up in the sky, my last words ring in my ears, loud and clear over the background of steady booms.
I kinda wish we’d done this sooner.
Welcome to the Lovely Café.