July 5, 2011
Frankie hit the diner two days after her scuffle with Nikos a new woman. With her sparkling new attitude, she breezed past the narrow-eyed Chloe without so much as a rumble in her not-so-nervous-anymore stomach.
So, neener, neener, neener.
She had to remind herself she was a new woman when she almost ran smack into Nikos, who was taking inventory. “Morning,” she said with a cheerful smile, the one she’d rehearsed nine hundred gotrillion times in the mirror on her days off. The happy, secure, well-adjusted, “not in need of help from the psych department” smile.
“I suck,” he said, deadpan and somber in all his gorgeousness.
“Did you lose count of the olive jars again? You want help?”
“That’s not what I mean, and I think you know it.”
“Ohhhhh, you mean the other day, right?” she asked, all breezy and carefree as part of her new-woman package. “Forget it. What’s done is done.” She looked for the fresh green peppers in the fridge. “No, I know Cosmos must need peppers chopped. I heard two orders for omelets on my way into the kitchen. What’s on tap for today, slave driver?”
“Frankie?” He grabbed her arm, swinging her to face him.
She gave his hand a pointed look, lifting her arm in questions, returning to her promise to remember he was just a man. No matter how manly. “What C’mon, haste makes waste.”
“Slow down and listen to me make nice with you for being a jackass. It doesn’t happen often.”
“That you’re a jackass or that you make nice?”
He grinned, warm, sexy. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about Mitch and Carrie and Marco and whatever else I didn’t tell you about. I swear in the future, anything Mitch does, if he so much as thinks about behaving badly, when I psychically tap into his mind, you’ll be the first to know.”
She couldn’t help but laugh. “Well, thanks, but I don’t care what Mitch has done anymore. I didn’t care as much about what he’d done as about what I didn’t know he’d done. I think it was more about how utterly humiliating it is to be the last one to know what was right under your nose. I felt stupid and blind is all. But I’m over it because his past bad behavior is out of my control. So let’s get on with the business of this thing called slave labor.”
Now he chuckled, too, deep and rich, something she’d missed on her time off. So pathetic, Frankie. “So, friends?”
She backed up against the cool exterior of the refrigerator with a grin. “You mean like the kind who call each other on the phone and talk nail polish, Tiger Beat, and Scott Baio crushes? Or the kind that have a peaceful, honest working relationship with no random surprises that leave one another blindsided?” she teased.
“It’s a tough choice. I mean, we are talking Scott Baio here, but I’ll take peace, honesty, and goodwill toward men for five hundred, Alex.”