AN: 'My Happy Ending' is nearly over (go read it if you haven't already!), so I figured that it was time for another story. The story will be longer than 'The Thirteenth', but shorter than 'My Happy Ending' and 'Loved Forever'. This is only a short/mini story… maybe 4-6 chapters in length? So, things will probably move a bit faster than they usually do in some of my other ones. Once again, I don't usually go for short stories. Reviews are welcome (and encouraged)!
Oh, and I haven't read through this yet… so sorry in advance for any mistakes.
"How did I get sucked into doing this?" Jennifer Piper groused under her breath, a small frown forming as she tied the small white apron around her waist. Picking up a small notebook and pen with one hand, she flicked the other through her chocolate brown hair to pull it back away from her eyes.
Her grinning, freckle faced cousin passed her, juggling two plates and a small bowl of salad. "Because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time?" he suggested before glancing at a receipt and finding table 4.
Jennifer's frown deepened as she waited for him to come back – this time carrying two dirty bowls and an empty glass. "You do know that I was sacked from my last job as a waitress, right?" she asked, following him back behind the bar as he dumped the bowls in the sink and re-filled the glass.
Tom Piper flashed her one of his puppy dog grins, "better not tell Dad that…"
Jennifer brightened momentarily, "I will if it means that I won't have to take this shift"
"Ah, don't think that you're getting away with it that easily," Tom laughed, "just face it, you're stuck here until four pm. You should be glad that it's not later"
At that moment, the owner of the café – a large portly man with kind eyes but a stern mouth – came back behind the bar. He nudged Tom out of the way in order to reach the cash register, shooting Jennifer a strict look at the same time. "Come on, cupcake," he said, "Café Montegna is not going to run itself, you know…"
"I know, Uncle," Jennifer sighed, forcing a tired smile onto her face and moving out from behind the counter. She scanned the floor for any tables that were ready to order. There were plenty of customers vying for her attention.
Even on a slow day, most tables at Café Montegna would be full… but now that most people were on holidays, it was busier than ever. And seriously under-staffed… which would be why her Uncle had asked her to take a shift for them that afternoon. It hadn't been the first time she had helped out her Uncle, nor would it be the last. Though she would ordinarily be happy to help out, she could think of better ways to occupy her time.
You justhad to stop by for an iced chocolate, didn't you Jen? She asked herself with a pout, making her way to a table next to the window. A friendly looking old man sat by there, menu aside and waiting for someone to come over. He was a regular customer at Montegna and Jennifer knew him well.
However, before she could reach him, her cousin stepped in front of her. Surprised, she stopped short. At twenty-two years old, Tom was five years older than her seventeen, and yet they still got on really well. He grinned down at her with a goofy smile, "hey, don't worry about ol' Joe… I'll get his order"
Jennifer fixed him with a suspicious look, "why?"
He tried for what he thought would be an innocent shrug, "oh, there's no special reason"
"Bullshit," she shot back, "let me guess… some large group just walked through the door that you don't want to take care of?"
"Ouch, I'm hurt that you would think I'd leave you all the hard jobs, Jen," he said, hand splayed over his chest. His blue eyes drifted to her right, where the door was. Jennifer followed his gaze as he continued talking.
"Oh, but isn't that a coincidence? A large group did just walk through the door… it's a pity I've got to take Joe's order. But you don't mind taking care of our newcomers, do you?" he asked, batting his eyes as her.
"Only girls can bat their eyelashes," she informed him with a light shove, "so don't even think about trying that again in the future… it's just disturbing. And yeah, I'll go take care of the large group. We all know how bad your memory is"
"I love you, Jen," he beamed, saluting her with his notepad. Jennifer pretended to screw up her nose.
"Ew, Tom… that's incest"
He just laughed and turned around to take care of one of their favourite customers, leaving Jennifer to head over to the door where the new group was waiting to be seated. She automatically did a quick count of the numbers as she weaved through the tables on her way over.
"So, five people?" she asked the girl at the front of the group as she came closer. The girl turned around, streaked dark blonde hair swishing just above her shoulders.
"Jennie!" she called out with a grin, "I knew your Uncle owns the café, but I didn't know that you were working here today"
Jennifer was startled for a second as she blinked at her best friend, Lucinda Kutcher, "uh, I don't work here"
Lucinda looked down pointedly at the apron and then at the notepad in her hand. "I don't usually work here… just occasionally to help out," Jennifer clarified, putting the notepad away in the pocket of the apron and tying her hair up in a ponytail.
"Ah, okay," Lucinda nodded, "anyway, table for seven please"
"Seven?" Jennifer echoed, she was sure that she had counted five people. Lucinda caught her confused look.
"Two people are going to meet us here"
"Okay then, follow me," she said, having spotted a free table big enough for the group. As Jennifer led them to a table near the far corner, she glanced back quickly at the group. Now that she was closer, she recognized another two from school.
"Did you want to join us, Jennie?" Lucinda asked as she slid into a chair and hooked her jacket over the back. Jennifer shook her head as she retrieved five menus from the bar counter and passed them out.
"Nah, I'll be right… did you want to hear the specials?"
"Maybe later when the others get here," Lucinda replied, "but can I have a –"
"- red lemonade?" Jennifer finished for her with a small smile, "you're so damn predictable"
"I love having you as my waitress"
"Yeah, well, don't get used to it"
In the end, the table settled on getting a jug of red lemonade and a jug of water. Jennifer had just finished passing out the empty glasses, when the last two members of the group slid into the remaining chairs. She reached for two more menus and handed them out absently.
"Thanks," one of the two said, smiling at her as he took the menu. Jennifer smiled back, noting the pale blue eyes and sandy brown hair. Oh, you're cute… she thought, mentally making a note to ask Lucinda his name later on.
"Am I going to get my menu any time soon, sugar?" another voice drawled, just to her right, "or are you going to stand there checking out my friend the whole time?"
Jennifer's smile quickly faded to a scowl as she turned to face the last member of the table, the remaining menu still held tightly in her hand. The blue eyed cutie pretended to be hurt as her attention was switched elsewhere. "Aw, come on, Caffy…" he began complaining with a hidden smile, "you always get all the girls, why can't you let the rest of us have a little bit of fun?"
This question was addressed to the youth sitting on his right. One look at the guy, and you could tell why he would always get the girls. While he was not quite cute in the same way as his sandy hair friend, he was undeniably good-looking. He had straight, but messy, black hair and gorgeous green eyes. His nose was straight and his mouth currently pulled up into a smirk.
Jennifer didn't bother making a note to ask Lucinda his name. Every girl from her school knew who he was… besides, as appealing as he may be, she knew better than to get involved with some-one like Xavier Caffy. He was arrogant and a player, amongst many other things… there was also something unpredictable about him. As some-one who loves to be organized and neat, Jennifer didn't find that particular trait very tempting.
"So what, are you checking me out now, Jen?" Xavier queried with a raised brow, before leaning forward in his seat and slipping the menu out of her hand. The movement jolted Jennifer out of her daydream, and she felt herself flush. The truth was that she had been checking him out, as much as she loathed admitting it.
"Oh, get over yourself," she said, glaring at him, "I was not checking you out"
"That might've been a little more convincing… were you not blushing, gorgeous," he told her, looking highly amused.
"I am not gorgeous," she contradicted him automatically, before cursing herself inwardly… and him. Avoiding his gaze, she mumbled something about coming back to take their orders in a minute. She then went of to find her damn cousin. Maybe he would offer to swap tables with her?
Jennifer had had no such luck. Tom had somehow managed to elude her for most of the afternoon, and she had been stuck waiting on Xavier, her best friend and their buddies. On the plus side, she had been left with a fairly generous tip. It was Xavier's eighteenth birthday and he had shouted everyone lunch. He was certainly wealthy enough to do so…
Jennifer glanced at the clock as she cleared away some plates from a table. It was nearly four o'clock.
"Hey, Tom… can I take off now?" she asked her cousin as he walked past. He glanced at the clock and then at the café floor. There were considerably less people than there were before.
He shrugged, "yeah, sure. I'll finish up your tables… thanks for the help, Jen"
"No problem," she lied, taking off her apron and grabbing her bag and jacket. She stood up on her tiptoes to kiss her cousin on the cheek, "you're the best, Tom. Love you!"
This time it was Tom who pretended to screw up his nose and mimicked her voice to complain, "ew, Jen… that's incest"
Jennifer rolled her eyes, "damn, Tom… you need to get out more"
From the corner of her eye, she saw her uncle walk into the back kitchen, and decided that it was probably best if she left while he was out of sight. "Give my best to Aunty Debbie," she called out to Tom before slipping out the door and into the cold.
Jennifer pulled the jacket tighter around her as she grimaced. "Damn Melbourne weather," she muttered under her breath. It was supposed to summer, and yet it was cool and windy. At least it wasn't raining… just yet, anyway… She looked up at the dark grey sky and decided that a storm probably wasn't too far off.
Mumbling curses at the weather under her breath, she ducked her head against the wind and headed for the crossing. She still had a fair bit of walking to do to get to the train station. Once across the main intersection, Jennifer decided to take one of the side-streets, hoping that it would be a short cut to the station. The last thing she wanted was to be caught out in the rain.
As she was walking down one of the streets, her mobile phone went off, making her jump. Stopping at the side of the road for a minute, she rummaged around in her bag as the polyphonic ring tone of Green Day's American Idiot continued to play.
"Hello?" she said, having finally found and answered her phone.
"Jeez, could you take any longer answering your phone?"
"Hi to you too, Luci," Jennifer grumbled, swinging her back over her shoulder and continuing to walk down the street. It was a fairly narrow one way street and easy to cross, but she still preferred to walk down to the zebra crossing anyway.
"You already said 'hello' when you answered the phone," Lucinda reminded her, "anyway, I still reckon you should've joined us for lunch today"
"Mm, not much I can do about that now… besides, I had promised my uncle that I'd help him out"
"Well, still… Xavier has some really cute friends that I think you would've liked. Not to mention the fact that Xavier is certainly a cutie himself"
Jennifer bit her lip to stop a frown. Frowning causes wrinkles… apparently. "Cute isn't exactly the word that I would use to describe Xavier Caffy," she muttered, half to herself but loud enough for Lucinda to hear her.
"Oh, really…? Then what word would you use?" a new voice asked from just beside her.
"Ah!" she cried out spinning around quickly and nearly losing her balance. She swatted away the hand that came out to steady her, and didn't bother stopping herself from glaring outright at Xavier Caffy. She was angrier at how he startled her, than anything else.
"You're right, cute doesn't quite fit…" Lucinda continued to chatter away into the phone, oblivious to what was happening up Jennifer's end of the line, "devilishly handsome, comes to mind"
Damn straight, Jennifer thought reluctantly as she fought the impulse to smooth his black hair back away from his amused green eyes. Why couldn't she have eyes like that? Hers were so plain and… boring. "Hey, Luci… can I call you back later?" she asked into the phone, dragging her brown eyes away from his green ones, "something annoying just came up"
Xavier raised an eyebrow, but refrained from saying anything until after she had hung up the phone. "So, you talk about me with your friends, eh?" he asked her, apparently pleased at the idea.
"Don't get so smug," Jennifer informed him as she slid her phone back into her bag, "it's never anything good"
Even as she said it, she could hear a little voice in her head screaming out liar, liar – pants on fire! and wondered who the hell had come up with such a stupid rhyme in the first place. She couldn't tell whether he believed her or not, and tried telling herself that she didn't care what he thought.
Yet another lie.
The smirk on Xavier's face was enough to tell her that he saw right through that lie. But just in case it hadn't, he leaned in close and whispered in her ear, "liar…"
Whatever smart retort Jennifer had prepared, quickly died in her throat as his breath brushed lightly against her hair. God, did he really have to stand so damn close?
As she didn't quite trust her voice enough yet to speak, she reached up and laid her hands across his chest. Choosing to ignore how firm and smooth he felt under the thin fabric of his shirt, she gave him a small shove. "I have to get home…" she muttered, ducking her head and stepping away from him.
"You've got to learn how to control that blush of yours, sugar," Xavier remarked as he watched her walk off, "if I didn't know any better, I'd say that you like me"
Jennifer felt herself flush a deeper red and was thankful that she now had her back to him. Rolling her eyes, she called back to him without turning, "don't flatter yourself, Xavier… what, does your ego grow with every birthday or something?"
He didn't respond, but she heard him laughing.
Fifteen minutes later and Jennifer still found herself wondering around the city. She would've been at the train station five minutes ago, if it weren't for the stupid road constructions. Reflecting back on it, she realised that if she had gone the way she usually went… the long way… she would've been there ten minutes ago.
To top it all off, it had begun to rain.
"This sucks," she muttered to no one in particular.
What happened next was kind of a blur for her. One minute she was waiting at the crossing, watching some musicians perform outside the department store display windows, and the next… well, she remembered hearing the crossing signal, a screech of tires, a car horn and some shouting.
Upon hearing all the noise, Jennifer looked up to see a light blue car swerving straight towards her and two other pedestrians – a mother and her teenage son. Shocked and unsure of what to do, she froze, mouth open and eyes wide.
As the car continued to come zooming right at them, she heard a scream. Jennifer wasn't sure if it was she, the other pedestrians or one of the by-standers that had screamed. Whoever it was, it brought her back to her senses and she tried to move to the side. However, try as she might, her legs suddenly felt like jelly and she thought despairingly, I'm not going to make it… I'm not moving fast enough…
Then, just as she shut her eyes tight to prepare for the impact, she felt herself tugged sharply to the side and held back against a solid, male body. Jennifer felt the wind of the car rush past her and she opened her eyes to find that she was inches from being hit. The thought made her slightly ill and her breath caught in her throat.
Though her heart was still beating wildly, she somehow managed to calm down her breathing slightly. Suddenly aware of the firm arm banded around her waist, supporting her, Jennifer slowly twisted around in his grip to thank the guy who had saved her.
"Thanks…" she began, before finding herself staring into the unnaturally serious green eyes of eighteen-year-old Xavier Caffy.
"Are you okay?" he asked, his usual arrogant and mocking tone replaced by something else. Something foreign.
He actually sounded worried.
Jennifer didn't know which had shocked her more… the car, or the revelation that Xavier did care about her on a certain level. Then again, what jerk wouldn't be concerned after watching a girl nearly get run over?
That's when it struck her that she wasn't the only one on the crossing. "The others?" she asked suddenly, eyes darting around and her voice slightly panicked. Glancing to the side she saw the boy shaking slightly, but otherwise okay. His mother, though, was lying limp in one of the by-standers arms.
"Oh dear God," she whispered, starting to feel light headed again, "did she… I mean, is-?"
"Shh…it's okay," Xavier murmured in her ear, tightening his arm around her as he felt her weaken, "she's fine… she only fainted"
"Ah…" she breathed, before wincing slightly, "mm… think you can loosen your grip just a bit?"
Xavier did as she wanted and the pressure around her middle eased up a little bit. However, he didn't let go of her completely and she found that she was oddly thankful for that. She tried to herself that she was just enjoying the support and that it had nothing at all to do with the fact that she may be attracted to him.
Because she wasn't.
The black hair boy didn't say anything, but continued to stare at her with unreadable eyes. Jennifer became all too aware at how close they were now standing. There wasn't all that much room between them, and she could feel his heart beating like crazy. Must be the adrenaline… she mused silently, to think that Xavier Caffy, of all people, was the one to save me…
"Come on," he said with a tight smile, "I'll take you home"
Almost out of habit, she began to protest, "no, really… thanks, but the train station is-"
"- too far away," he finished for her, "now stop being so stubborn"
Realising that she was not in the mood for the train ride back home, Jennifer sighed and reluctantly agreed.
The slow smile that Xavier gave reminded her of his usual smirk, and she began to relax slightly. She was a girl who enjoyed routine, and their meeting wouldn't be complete without him finding something to tease or annoy her about.
"What?" she queried, catching his gaze and raising an eyebrow. He had let go of her now and she followed him down the street, trying hard not to sound as freaked out as she was before.
"Oh, nothing," he remarked with a shrug and hidden smile, "just didn't expect you to actually give in, that's all"
She wasn't sure if that was an insult or not, so she decided to let it pass. "What were you doing back there, anyway?" she asked, the question suddenly coming to her, "coincidence or do I have myself a stalker?"
Xavier laughed, "oh, you wish, sweetheart… my car is just around the corner, I was on my way there. Besides, if anyone has a stalker here, it'd be me. If I remember correctly, you were actually headed in the opposite direction before"
"Yeah, well… that was before I realised that the roads were blocked"
"Mm, here I was, minding my own business and walking down the street, when, all of a sudden - I hear a screech of tires and look up to see you just about to get run over by a car," he said, reaching deep into the pocket of his jeans and pulling out a set of car keys.
"I bet you would've love to see that happen," Jennifer scowled.
"Oh, lighten up, sugar," Xavier drawled, smoothing back his hair from his green eyes, "you're the one who hates me, remember? I, on the other hand, simply adore you…"
She rolled her eyes, clearly not buying a word that he was saying. "So where is this car of yours?" she asked instead, "I'm starting to think that it may have been quicker to just walk to the train station-"
"What and miss out on the pleasure of my company?" he interrupted with mock offence.
"- it would've saved me a lot of time… and sanity"
Xavier grinned while Jennifer glared.
They seemed to be doing that a lot lately.
Walking around the corner, he clicked a button on his keys and the lights of a car nearby suddenly blinked. Jennifer's frown deepened, "trust you to have the flashiest and most expensive car on the whole damn street"
"That's not necessarily a bad thing, honey… though I have a feeling that that Bentley behind it is worth more," he eyeing his black sports car convertible with something more than pride.
"Don't call me that," she told him, stepping around the passenger seat and letting herself in.
Xavier shot her his famous grin as he got behind the wheel, "whatever you say, sugar"
Jennifer groaned aloud and reached for the door handle, "that's it – you're way too infuriating, I'm catching the train!"
Glancing at her with an amused look, he leaned his elbow casually on the side of the car door.
She turned around to face him incredulously. "Did you just lock me in?! Not that it matters… I mean, you drive a bloody convertible - I can easily jump over the side," she grumbled, undoing her seat belt and getting prepared to jump over the door. The windows were already down, so it would be easy enough.
"Not when the car is moving, you can't," he remarked, his green eyes harboring an evil twinkle.
She didn't even get to finish her question, as Xavier chose that moment to start the car engine. In several quick, smooth movements, he had taken off the handbrake, shifted the gears and pulled the car out of the parking spot.
Jennifer let out a curse and she fell back into her seat, having no choice but to put on her seatbelt. "Goddamn it, Xavier!" she yelled, "how on Earth did you manage to get your license?"
"I'm still wondering that myself"
She found that it would probably be best if she simply kept her mouth shut and held tightly onto her seat as he careened down the near empty street. After several minutes though, she couldn't help but ask, "have you never heard of your brake pedal?"
He could just barely make out her words over the wind. "Brake pedals?" he asked innocently, "what's that?"
"You're going to be the death of me, you know that?" she called.
"I don't know what you're talking about, after all… I was the one who saved your life"
"Only so you can have the honour of taking it away"
"Aw, I'm hurt that you would think such a thing!"
"No, you're not," she muttered as they slowed down in the city peak-hour traffic, "you're either going to get us killed an accident or you're going to drive me insane"
Xavier looked sideways at her, a triumphant smile in place. "Ah, but if I were to drive you insane, you'd still be alive…"
"Your point being?"
"You said that I'd kill you"
"I said… you -" she faltered slightly, before sitting back in her seat with her arms crossed, "I hate you"
"No you don't. You love me"
"How the hell did you get that idea?"
"You know what they say, 'there's a thin line between love and hate'," he replied smugly.
"Yeah, and right now I'm no way near that line. In fact, I'm so far into hate that I can't even see the love anymore"
Undeterred, Xavier simply cocked an eyebrow, "anymore…? Oh, so you did at one stage?"
Jennifer figured that there was no point in talking to him, and vowed to keep silent instead. She figured that he'd try and twist around anything and everything she said, anyway.
Two minutes later and he managed to get her talking again.
Though it wasn't really her fault, he had asked for her address. It wasn't like she could just ignore that question… could she?
"Nice car," she murmured, as they left the city and began winding along a main road that would lead to her street, "got it for your eighteenth birthday?"
"Yep, ain't she a beauty?"
"Gorgeous," Jennifer replied dryly, "new?"
"Second hand, actually. Dad got it off a family friend… for some reason, he doesn't quite trust me with a new car"
"I wonder why," she said as he indicated and swerved around the corner into her street.
"Actually, I do. Don't know about you though…"
Xavier pulled the car up to a stop outside her house, "your stop"
He looked over at her when she didn't move, "you going to get out, or maybe you enjoy being with me more than you thought?"
She rolled her eyes, "unlock the doors and I'll get out"
"Oh," he said, reaching back and unlocking the car doors, "what happened to jumping over? It is a 'bloody convertible', after all…"
"I was being nice, didn't want to step on your seats"
"Since when do you care?"
Jennifer thought about that for a minute, "you're right… I shouldn't care, should I?"
"Just admit it," he said with what would pass as a charming smile, "you love me"
Pulling a face, she undid her seat belt and tucked her legs underneath her. Stepping up on the seat carefully, she poked her tongue out at Xavier before jumping over the side.
"Hey!" came the sharp protest, "I did unlock the door for you, you know!"
"Oh? Sorry… my mistake," she said, her smile deceptively innocent, "but you forgive me, don't you? After all… I do love you, oh-so-much"
Xavier grumbled under his breath and she laughed lightly. Though she didn't like to admit it, Jennifer actually quite enjoyed her bantering with the annoyingly desirable eighteen-year-old. She walked around the car and came to stand by the driver's side.
"What, you're not going to walk me to my door?" she asked in mock surprise, leaning over and resting her hands on the side of the car door, "and here I was, thinking that you were the perfect gentleman"
"Where did you get a silly idea like that?"
"Probably from the same people who told me that you have half a brain"
"They really are silly, aren't they? After all, everyone knows that I have more than just half a brain"
"Must you always have the last word?"
There was a silence in which Jennifer straightened up, tucking her brown hair behind one ear. "Listen, I do want to say 'thank-you' for today…" she said, in the most sincere voice she could, "I, well – just… thanks"
When he didn't say anything, she gave a small nod of her head and turned around to walk up the pathway leading to the front door. She managed to get all the way to the doorway without looking back once. She knew he was still there though, seeing as she hadn't heard him rev up the engine and drive off.
Jennifer was digging around in her bag for the house keys, when Xavier called out behind her. "Want to go on a date with me, tomorrow night?"
Unsure whether she heard correctly or not, she abandoned her search of the keys and turned around slowly. "What?" she asked.
Xavier grinned, one hand resting on the steering wheel and the other against the door. "Maybe I should rephrase that… the date wouldn't be with me, exactly, so you can wipe that horrified look off your face," he told her, "it'd be with my cousin – a double-date"
She glanced at him suspiciously, "what's the catch?"
"No catch," he assured her, "Isaiah is nineteen, smart and fairly decent looking…"
He took on a smug smile.
"… not as sexy as me, of course. Then again, not too many people are, are they?"
"You're not really all that special to look at, you know…" Jennifer lied.
"We both know that you're lying there. So, up for tomorrow night?"
"No, you're not"
"I have a boyfriend"
"No, you don't"
"Why should I go?"
"You owe me"
She stared at him, "come again?"
Xavier's smirk increased, "oh, I could so say something there… but I'm a nice boy, so I won't"
"I don't want to know… and what do you mean I owe you?"
"I saved your life, didn't I?"
"So, I get to play the IOU card, don't I?" he stated logically, as though it were obvious.
"That's the biggest load of bullshit that I've ever heard"
"No, it's not"
"Give me one good reason why I should let you play the 'IOU card'…"
"I know you better than you may think, Piper. You wouldn't be able to stand the thought of being in debt to anyway… especially me," he said, irritatingly confident.
Jennifer hadn't really thought about it before. However, now that he mentioned it… she did hate the feeling of owing someone something. Especially when that 'someone' was Xavier Caffy. "So I go on this double-date tomorrow night, and we're even?"
"I know you do, I've heard you enough times"
"I thought so"
"I'll pick you up at seven o'clock tomorrow night?"
She sighed, nodding grudgingly. "Fine. Seven," she muttered.
Xavier seemed pleased. "You may want to dress up a bit," he suggested.
Opening her bag, she began to look for keys again. Back half turned to the convertible and the boy in it, she queried, "why… where are we going?"
Oh, that was so helpful.
As though reading her thoughts, he added, "trust me"
Yeah, like that was going to happen. "See you later, Xavier," she said, finally finding her keys and inserting it in the lock.
"I'll see you tomorrow night… honey"
Damn, what had she gotten herself into?
« -fox.-- please review
Mm… this chapter alone was 10 pages… anywho, review please?