“Daaamn.” Phillip drew the word out, chuckling.
Cody leaned forward, completely unfazed. “I have better one-liners saved up. Want to hear them?”
“No. Not nearly buzzed enough for that.”
“Come on,” Cody insisted. “Trust me, it’s a true talent I have.”
“Well, you keep living the best life you can, and I’ll keep waiting for you to give me your orders.”
“Ouch.” He clasped his hand on his chest, falling back against the booth. “You wound me. Why so mean?”
“Because I just want to take your orders so I can go back to pretending to work when I’m really just reading,” I replied, smiling as sweetly as I could.
Cody laughed as he reached over, snatching the phone out of one of his friends’ hands. “Well, let’s not keep you from working too hard.”
The guys finally gave me their orders, and I walked back the short hall, past the restrooms and through the double doors into the kitchen. I found Bobby in the back, tugging a hair net on, smashing his man bun. I turned in the orders and then wheeled around, heading back to the counter.
“You guys need anything else?” I asked the girls as I picked up the empty fry basket.
Abbi shook her head. “Nah. I’m probably heading out of here soon.”
“Are you walking home?” Looking over her shoulder at the guys, Megan sighed as she eyed Phillip. “Why does he have to be so good-looking?”
“You have the attention span of a gnat. You ask me if I’m walking home and then immediately start talking about Phillip.” Abbi rested her head on the countertop. “Your ADD has ADHD. And yes, I was planning to walk home. I live, like, five blocks from here.”
Megan grinned as she faced her. “You do realize I actually have ADD, right?”
“I know.” Abbi raised her arms but kept her head down. “We all know that. You do not need to be a professional to know that.”
“Did I ever tell you about that time when my mom was convinced I was one of those indigo kids?” Megan picked up her braid and started fiddling with the ends. “She wanted to get my aura tested.”
Slowly, Abbi lifted her head and looked at her, her lips slightly parted. “What?”
Leaving them to that conversation, I took that basket to the kitchen and checked the guys’ orders. When I stepped back out into the hallway, I spotted Cody in the hallway leaning against the wall across from the restrooms.
My steps slowed. “What’s up?”
“You got a second?”
I eyed him warily. “Depends.”
After running a hand through his shaggy blond hair, he then dropped his arm. “Look, I actually did want to see you.”
“Uh, for what?” I crossed my arms and shifted my weight from one side to the next.
“I needed to talk to you about Sebastian.”
My brows lifted with surprise. “Why?”
“Sebastian and I are good friends, but I know you guys are closer. You’re like his sister or something.”
“Anyway, I wanted to ask you something.” He looked away. “Has Sebastian said anything about not wanting to play ball to you? Like I said, he and I are close, but he won’t talk to me about something like that.”
I stiffened for a fraction of a second and then folded my arms. There was no way in hell I was going to betray Sebastian’s confidence. Not even to his friend. “Why would you think that?”
He then tipped his head back against the wall. “He’s just... I don’t know.” Cody dropped his arm from his head. “He just doesn’t seem into it. Like he’d rather be anywhere but at practice. Couldn’t seem to care less about the upcoming season. When he’s on the field, he’s only half-there. He’s got talent, Lena. The kind of talent he doesn’t even have to work for. I’ve got this feeling he’s going to throw it all away.”
Biting the inside of my cheek, I searched for something to say and finally settled on, “It’s only football.”
Cody stared at me like I’d grown a third hand out of the center of my forehead that then flipped him off. “Only football? You mean it’s only his future.”
“Well, that sounds a little dramatic.”
He raised a brow as he pushed off the wall. “Maybe I’m just imagining things,” he said after a moment.
“Sounds like it,” I replied. “Look, I’ve got to check on your order, so...”
Cody studied me a moment and then gave a little shake of his head. “So, you’re done doing the small-talk thing. Gotcha.”
Heat invaded my cheeks. Was I as transparent as a window?
“I’ll leave you be.” Shoving his hands into his jeans, he pivoted around and walked back to the front of the diner, leaving me standing there, staring after him.
I wiped my oddly damp palms along my apron as I exhaled roughly.
By the time I’d grabbed the food and delivered it to the guys’ table, Abbi and Megan were ready to leave.
“You guys heading out now?” I asked.
“Yep.” Abbi slung her bag over her shoulder. “Friends don’t let friends walk home by themselves. Especially if said friend is likely to take rides with strangers.”
Megan rolled her eyes. “So, I saw Cody come from the back. Were you talking to him?”
I nodded as I picked up the cleaning rag. “He wanted to talk about Sebastian.”
“Uh-huh,” Megan murmured. “You know what I was thinking?”
Abbi’s expression said it was anyone’s guess.
Megan raised both brows and lowered her voice. “I wonder what Sebastian would think if he ever found out his best girl friend totally made out with his best guy friend. Drama.”
I sucked in a sharp breath. Drama llama, indeed. But I was hoping God liked me enough that I never had to cross that bridge.
The girls left and I turned my attention to the book I had stashed behind the counter, choosing not to dwell on what Megan said. If I did, I would probably break out into a cold sweat or something.
I’d made it about a page before I felt my phone vibrate in my back pocket.
I took one glance at it and I was no longer thinking about Sebastian and football or Cody and secrets.
I saw who the text was from.
I didn’t read further.
I deleted it without reading.
Mom was in the kitchen when I finally made my way downstairs after a shower, my hair still damp at the ends. She was at the dull blue counter, pouring coffee into her thermos. Her shoulder-length blond hair was impressively straight, thanks to a flatiron. The white blouse she wore didn’t have a single wrinkle in it.
“Morning, hon.” She turned, a faint smile curving up her lips. “You’re up early.”
“Couldn’t sleep in.” I’d had one of those annoying mornings when I woke up at 4:00 a.m. and thought in detail about everything in the world. Every time I tried to go back to sleep, something else would pop up in my head, from catching the eye of a college scout to what Cody had said Saturday night. If Sebastian didn’t want it, was he really throwing it all away?
“You feeling okay?” she asked.
“Yeah, just some insomnia this morning. I have practice later, so figured I’d just get up.” I walked to the small pantry and opened the door, scanning the shelves. “Pop-Tarts?”
“Out of them. I’ll pick up some on my lunch break. It’s going to be a cereal day for you.”
I grabbed the box of generic corn flakes and went to the fridge. “I can grab some later.”
“I don’t want you doing that.” She eyed me over the rim of the thermos. “I don’t want you to use the money you make on Pop-Tarts. We have money for groceries, hon.”
She gave me a half grin. “Generic Pop-Tarts, though.”
“I know we have money for that, but if you don’t like them—”
“Because they’re literally one of the worst things you could put in your mouth,” she cut in and then paused, her gaze glancing to the ceiling. “Well, there are worse things.”