Say Your Mine

Chapter One: Evaporator Coil

There are certain things you should be expected to do when working at a bookstore. Taking inventory. Reading to children on Tuesdays at 3:00 sharp. Shelving books. And magazines. Occasionally, selling coffee and hot chocolate. Reading all of the books in your free time.

One thing you should not be expected to do is handy work.

Which is exactly what I am doing.

The air conditioning has been acting up for the past couple of months so I wasn't really surprised when my mother announced that it needed to be fixed. I wassurprised when she handed me a Fixing Air Conditioning For Dummies pamphlet and asked me to fix it for her.

Because hiring a professional to do it was just ludicrous.

I looked at the multiple screws and other metal objects in my hand, scrunching up eyebrows in confusion when they didn't magically place themselves in the control panel in front of me.

What the hell is an evaporator coil?

"Honey, do you think you could run to the post office for me?" My mother's voice bounced off the light brown walls surrounding us and I silently thanked her for interrupting my hopeless confusion. "A shipment was supposed to come in today but I haven't seen Henry since Monday."

Henry Belford was the 'just over thirty-five and still incredibly sexy' mail man that delivered all of our bills and packages. I am not surprised my mother has noticed and called him out on his absence. Whenever Henry stopped by with something for the store, mom spent at least five minutes drooling over his dazzling warm chocolate eyes.

Her words. Not mine.

A third grader could honestly sense the sexual tension that sparked between the two of them.

"Yeah," I replied quickly, putting the metal nuts and bolts on a shelf nearby. "I have lunch plans with Rachel at the Round About in a few minutes. I can stop by the office on the way back if you would like."

My mom emerged from the Foreign Literature section and offered me one of her broad motherly smiles. I used to laugh whenever she grinned like that because one of her eyes would squint closed and the right side of her lips would curve upward. Now I couldn't imagine life without them.

She reached a pale hand into the back pocket of her old Levi's and emerged with a ten-dollar bill. "You are the best, Maddie."

I took the money gratefully and shoved the crumpled bill into my faded purple sweater. "Thanks, Mom. I can also lay into Henry about his absence this week while I am down there. Just say the word and my wish is your command. All though, I don't think he will want to rip your clothes off and make you Mrs. Bel—"

My mom laughed and smacked the top of my head, successfully ruffling some of my honey colored hair out of my braid. "Don't make me regret giving you money."

"I'll try my best."

I fixed the few fly away strands she created and watched as she looked over my shoulder at the control panel. The one that looked exactly the same as it did this morning—not fixed. I could almost predict the words that would come out of her mouth next.

"How is the air conditioning coming?" She smirked.

She knew exactly how it was coming.

"You mean, how it isn't coming?" The humor seeped through my voice as I pointed a finger at the various metal screws and other whatnots on the Epic Romance Shelf. "What the hell is an evaporator coil?"

"How would I know?" She picked the discarded metal objects up and dropped them into her pocket. "I'll call someone about it while you are out at lunch. I don't even know why I asked you in the first place."

"Because you wanted to discipline me for being a rebellious and dreadful teenage daughter?"

"Go before you give me a heart attack." She said, pushing me towards the door. "You're already going to be late and I am willing to bet five dollars that Rachel is already there, ordering for you."

True to her word, my gaze fell on the clock over checkout and I realized I was going to be late. I could bug my mom about her parenting skills and Henry Belford later. I couldn't be late meeting Rachel.

Again.

"Love you!" I yelled over my shoulder as I swung open the door to Sarah's Corner and stepped outside.

~…~…~…~

The Round About Café was located in the center of town, which was about five blocks to the left of Mom's shop and I'd have to sprint if I wanted to make it to lunch on time. I groaned and immediately began jogging down the street, regretting my choice in wardrobe that morning. The sun was out and the air was slightly humid. I could already feel the backs of my knees sticking to my jeans and my armpits beginning to sweat.

The things I did for friendship.

Even though I ran, by the time I finally made it to the café I was six minutes late. My breathing was heavy and I had the urge to air out my sweater when I pulled open the large glass door. The welcome bell chimed over my head and everyone swiveled in their seats to stare at me as I walked inside.

My eyes automatically traveled to the back of the café, to the farthest booth in the back—our booth. A lone girl was sitting there and her bright green eyes were beaming at me.

Rachel Woods.

Her wild blonde hair was pulled back in a high ponytail and her lightly tanned face was smiling at me. I kept walking until I stood directly in front of our table and rested my sweaty hands on its sticky surface. I needed to take a minute and catch my breath. My fingers immediately found the fabric under my arms and began fanning it, as I had wanted to do since I stepped inside

"I am surprised." Rachel said as I slid myself into the booth across from her. There were two milkshakes already sitting across from each other on the table. One Strawberry. One Oreo. Our usual, which she no doubt ordered knowing that I would be late.

I owed mom five dollars.

"I didn't think you would be here for at least another ten minutes. This has to be a new record. You were only six minutes late! We are making progress, Mads." She continued.

"Shut up." I swatted Rachel's arm with my napkin but found myself laughing along with her anyways. "I was helping mom fix the air conditioning. Well, I was trying to. She seriously handed me a pamphlet this morning and was all 'Good luck!' Like, I would know anything about evaporator coils!

"What the hell is an evaporator coil?" Rachel asked.

"Exactly!" I exclaimed. No one knew what a damn evaporator coil was! "Mom is so weird sometimes. I work at a book store—her book store—not some hardware store."

Rachel raised her right hand in the air and placed it over my mouth, effectively shutting me up. "There will be no more talk of books or work or evaporator coils. It's the weekend, Maddie. You know, the end of the week? No school. No work. No books. Just boys, parties, and lots of fun."

I pushed Rachel's hand off of my mouth and wiped the sleeve of my sweater across my lips. "Okay. Got it. No work. No books. Boys. Parties."

Rachel smiled and we both shared a laugh. The last boy I had associated with was Ryan Jefferies. He asked me out in the 8th grade and tried to make out with me after his mom dropped us off at the movie theatre. Ryan and I both had braces at the time.

It didn't end well.

The waiter, a good friend of my moms named Hannah, chose that moment to sashay over to our table and place our plates down in front of us. A turkey club with extra tomato for Rachel and a bacon cheddar burger for me.

We dug in to our lunches and slurped down our milkshakes as if both of us hadn't eaten in days. That was one of the best things about being a teenager. My days running on the cross-country team had given me the metabolism of a hyper six-year-old and I could still eat like a starving football player.

"Guess what I heard?" Rachel asked after several minutes of comfortable silence and eating. She dipped a crisp golden French fry into the pool of ketchup on her plate and popped it into her mouth.

I held up my finger in that awkward 'please wait while I finish chewing and swallowing this massive piece of cheeseburger' gesture. Rachel took another bite of her sandwich and waited patiently while I finished chewing.

"What?" I asked when I was sure there was no more bacon or cheese left in my teeth.

Rachel's eyes lit up.

The girl practically thrived off of gossip and ridiculous drama. "I heard we are getting a new student on Monday. Kendra Chase told me this morning at dance rehearsal when we were practicing our routine for the pep rally. Apparently, she heard it from Jake's sister, Becky, who overheard Jake talking about it with the student council after school on Friday. And Jake is the student body president so it has to be true, right?"

The words piled out of Rachel's mouth so quickly and on top of one another other that I could only catch the gist of what she was saying. There was a new student entering Lakeside on Monday and Jake Saunders, the Student Body President, was heard talking about it after school.

"Why would someone come so late in the semester?" I found myself asking out loud. I didn't really know if I was aiming the question towards Rachel or asking myself but Rachel answered it anyways.

"I know!" She shrieked, "It's pretty weird right? Maybe, he got in some serious trouble at his old school and was expelled. Oh! Or maybe he has parents that got some super cool job offer over here! I can't believe we are having a transfer. We haven't had a transfer since sophomore year!"

"The new kid is a he?" I asked.

"I hope so," Rachel plopped another fry in her mouth. Her eyes closed in delight and I could only assume it wasn't about the French fry. "We don't need another self-obsessed girl at school. That's for sure."

I had to agree with her on that particular statement. Lakeside had its fare share of carbons. We didn't need anymore taking over our high school and infiltrating our carpools.

Rachel and I stumbled upon the term "carbons" a couple of years ago when we spotted Marcie Kensington shopping with her mother at the local organic market. They had been sporting matching pink velour jumpsuits and platinum blonde highlights.

They were carbon copies of each other. Everything, from their ridiculously low IQs to their reputations as the Head Cheerleader of the Lakeside Panthers, was shared. And they weren't the only ones. It was shocking to see the amount of blonde dye and hairspray that was wasted on the female citizens of Lakeside, California.

"And I hope he is cute!" Rachel continued, dreaming out loud. I didn't bother bursting her bubble by saying the new kid could very well be a girl. For all we knew, there could be a new boy at school on Monday. "The boys here are all so lame. I am so done crushing on brainless jocks. They aren't worth my time!"

"That's because you have already dated all of the brainless jocks at Lakeside, Rachel. There aren't any left." I pointed out.

Rachel gave me the stink eye as Hannah came to clean our plates off the table and hand us the check. We both put our wrinkled ten-dollar bills into the checkbook and pushed it to the end of the table. The tips of both crumpled bills peaked out of the black leather assuring everyone that we had paid.

We slid out of the booth and walked to the front of the café, waving at Hannah as we left. The bell chimed over our heads as we stepped outside and the hot air hit me like a ton of bricks. It was at least 10 degrees hotter than when I walked inside.

The walk back was going to suck.

I turned to Rachel and wrapped my hands around her shoulders. "Pick me up on Monday morning?"

She wrapped her arms around my back for a squeeze before letting go. "You better be outside by 7:45 sharp or your ass is walking to school."

She smiled and walked in the opposite direction while waving goodbye over shoulder.

~…~…~…~

Inside the post office, the air was much cooler than the sauna outside and I let out a sigh of relief. Casually looking around, I noticed Henry was nowhere insight. The relief I felt began to evaporate and I forced myself to walk up to the front desk.

The woman looked at me impatiently and tapped her long nails on the counter so I quickly asked if there were any shipments for Sarah Daniels.

There were none.

What a fail.

I thanked the woman working for her time and absorbed the last bit of cold air before entering the sweltering humidity outside. I hadn't even started walking yet and I could already feel myself sweating. Again. The fanning of my shirt earlier hadn't even been worth it.

When the shop's sign came into view, I did a small victory dance in my place. Then I stopped. I probably lost more hydration in that small dance than I did on my whole walk home. I pushed open the old wooden door open with my foot and stepped inside. I smiled when I saw two heads, one brown and one blonde, bent close together on the opposite side of the room.

Well, that explains why Henry wasn't at the post office.

"Ahem." I cleared my throat.

Both grown ups snapped their heads towards me and quickly jumped apart. They both looked like they had just gotten caught with a hand in the cookie jar before dinner.

It was adorable.

"Madeline!" Mom squealed. She knew she was busted. "Henry here came not to long after you left. He had the packages and he offered to help fix the air conditioning. Isn't that nice?"

She really meant, "If you say one thing that is sexual or inappropriate, I will ground you for an entire month."

I smiled knowingly at Henry who was now picking a silver screw off of the floor. He must have dropped it when I startled them. The thought made me want to laugh but instead I just made my way towards them. "Always saving the day Henry. We would seriously die without you. Seriously."

There was a moment of silence as I continued walking past them. I stopped when I reached the blue door at the back of the shop, the one that lead to our apartment.

"Well," I continued. "As painstakingly awkward as this encounter has been, I am going to leave you to hormonal kids alone. I have a lot of homework that I need to finish before Monday. So, I'll just be in my room. Upstairs. As in, not down here. With you guys. Who will be all alone. No supervision. Okay! Bye!"

Before I made a break for it and sprinted to the safety of my bedroom, I peeked over my shoulder and sure enough my mom had a hand over her face and Henry was beet red.

So worth the grounding.

A/N: I have started this sort of new/sort of old story. I wrote this story freshman year and I realized it was terrible but I loved the idea. So here I am. Starting from scratch. I am still working out where I am going to take the story but i do have the general idea.

So please…Review! Favorite Review! Alert! And feel free to point out any mistakes that I made. I am sure there is a ton! Thanks for being awesome! ~ Maggie