Behind the Eight Ball

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Chapter 54 - Friends with Benefits?

Gran hands me a few bills and tells me to keep the change. She pats my cheek. “It truly is good to see you again, Love Face. I’m off to bed. I’m not built for these late hours. Brynn be sure to lock you after Love Face leaves will you?”

She heads down the hallway to her room. I frown. Grandma Rose looks… fragile. Her back is slightly hunched and she walking gingerly as if the task as somehow become difficult.

My eyes drift back to Brynn and it’s hard to mistake the sadness in them. I wonder how bad things are and at the same time I’m fearful to ask, so I just stay quiet. Brynn turns away to the kitchen and comes back with two paper plates and some napkins.

When she returned I felt compelled to say, “I didn’t have anything to do with this, just so you know. I promise you I’m not conspiring with anyone for us to get back together." Although I had to admit it felt good to know I had her grandmother’s seal of approval. Obviously, she thought Brynn was making a mistake walking away too.

Brynn still doesn’t say anything and it’s starting to unnerve me. She puts a milkshake in front of us both and slice of pizza on each plate. I reach out for her hand and she stops moving. “I’ll leave if you want me to leave. I told you before I’m not trying to make things more complicated for you. It wasn’t my intention to come here.”

“I know,” she tells me. “But it doesn’t make it any easier knowing how much Gran wants this too.” She says, waving her hand to include both her and I. I take her other hand and pull her towards me. “I really do like that woman.”

This causes Brynn to crack a smile. “No mercy. Is that it?”

“Who else is going to call me Love Face?” I counter, “That’s a tough title to lose. You never did tell me why she calls me that.”

Brynn pulls her hands away and she takes a seat across from me at the table. “It happened when I showed her a picture of you. I wouldn’t tell her your name, because I knew she'd get the connection to your mom right away.  I just said you were a boy from school. She took one look and said, ‘Oh, I could stare at that face all day. Careful Brynn, that’s a face you can love.’ Henceforth and forevermore giving you the nickname, Love Face.”

“I personally like it much better than Wonder Boy.”

This actually caused Brynn to laugh and I was happy to bring that pure joy back to her face, I hate her looking unhappy, even knowing her reasons are extremely valid.

“Makes me wonder if we had continued dating what nickname you would have come up with for me,” I say, taking a bite of Pizza because my stomach was about to growl.

“Hmmm, that is an interesting question?” Brynn said eyeing me over her milkshake. She took as a long slow sip through the straw and it brought my attention to her lips. I feel the stab of pain, as my mind immediately jumps to wanting to kiss her so bad I ache inside.

I see a smile slowly stretch over her lips and I know I must be blushing as I can feel the heat creep into my cheeks. Damn it. It doesn’t help that this isn’t our first date. I don’t have to wonder what her kisses would be like. Brynn’s way of kissing me has been permanently imprinted upon my brain and my body wants so badly to experience it again.

I let out a slow breath.

“We are never going to make it as friends are we?” Brynn says lowering the cup.

“Don’t give up on me just yet. This is all new for me. I’ll get a handle on it… eventually.” I had to add in that last part as even I felt doubtful and it certainly doesn’t help the way she’s looking at me right now. The way her eyes were glued to my lips, I began to wonder if perhaps I’m not alone in my struggle, in which case… why were we struggling again?

This time it was Brynn’s turn to sigh. She takes a bite of pizza and looks away. She looks a bit embarrassed and won’t let her eyes return to mine. I thought I should try and steer us to safer waters.

“How did the play go tonight?”

Brynn immediately brightens. “Really well! Everything went off without a hitch. I always love when everything comes together. There is such energy around the first and last performances. The first such excitement it's electric and then it becomes a bit of a melancholy love fest at the end. Everyone feels good about themselves and the work that they’ve done but at the same time, sad to see it all end. You know?”

“Yeah, I can see that,” I thought it’s kind of how I felt about our relationship.

“When do you have to get back? I don’t want you getting into trouble on your first day.”

“This is my last stop. Mr. Brock said he’d settle up with me when I come in for my shift tomorrow. My parents are expecting me home sometime after midnight.”

I see her glance at the wall clock and take a mental note of the time. I had nowhere I needed to be for at least 45 minutes to an hour. She smiles at me again.

She tells me more about the play and I tell her more about my first day at the pizza shop and between the two of us we polished off half the pizza and our shakes. She stands up to take the leftover pizza to put it away and I follow her with the plates and empty cups trying to help her clean up.

“Paris is a wiz at keeping me straight. I still don’t know how she does it, with everything else she’s got to keep track of it’s pretty amazing to watch.” I say, putting our plates and cups in the trash. I turn to see Brynn wearing an odd expression on her face. If I didn’t know better I’d swear she was jealous.


Edited: 09.11.2019

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