Knowing Lucy is going to be ten minutes late, I decide to cross the street to grab us coffees before we head into the craziness that is Costume Corner, made extra crazy today because it's the day before Halloween. When I enter the coffee shop, I immediately regret my decision. Betty is standing by the counter, and the moment she sees me, she rolls her eyes.
“What are you doing here, Noah? I'm not supposed to be talking to you.”
“Oh, and why is that?” I ask, knowing full well why I’m getting attitude. That’s the problem with being from the small Navy town of Monday Harbor. Everyone here knows all your business. It’s one of the reasons I was so set on getting out four years ago when I enlisted in the Navy. Being home on leave for the last month means I’m once again hanging out with my high school friends who never left town.
“Because Natalia says you're on her shit list. You broke her heart.”
“I did not break her heart. We were hanging out for a few weeks, that was all. She knew the deal,” I say.
Betty smirks. “Same way I knew it when we were in school?”
“Are you still holding a grudge because of our one-night stand? We were seventeen.”
“No,” she says, waving her hands as if it’s old news. Which it is. “I’m just supposed to be mad at you because my best friend is.”
“Natalia and I were a terrible match. She knows that. I know that. All we did was argue. Picking up old fights.”
“Oh, so that's the reason, that's the excuse you're using now? The girl is too argumentative? When we were together—”
I interrupt, “We weren't together. I stayed over one night.”
“Okay. But the reason you said we couldn't be a thing was because I don't like to travel. And I know you told Shirley that since she'd never read Robinson Crusoe, you could never be together. And the reason you told Tabitha you couldn't go out anymore was because she hadn't memorized the entire Wayne's World movie. Your bar is ridiculously high. No girl is all of these random things.”
I shrug, not telling her just how wrong she is. There is one girl who is all of these things and more.
“Whatever,” she says, “Natalia's pissed. Therefore, I am too.” Then she scrunches up her nose and laughs. “But I can make you coffee. What do you want?”
I chuckle. This town has always been way too small for my liking. I wouldn't be here at all if it weren't for Lucy, my best and oldest friend, the girl who I never had a chance with because she put me in the friend zone back in third grade. “I’ll take two double tall pumpkin spice lattes,” I say, inserting my debit card into the chip reader.
“Let me guess, you’re getting Lucy’s coffee?”
“Yeah, we’re meeting up to get our costumes.”
“A little last minute, isn’t it?”
I nod, knowing she’s right, and worrying there won’t be any options left for us. It’s weird, because every year since forever, we’ve had a plan for Halloween. Well, every year except last, when I was out to sea. “She’s been crazy busy with finals and work.”
“But you’ll be at Jake’s Halloween party tomorrow, right?” she asks.
I nod. “Of course, I’d never miss it.”
“And you're going with Lucy?”
I nod. “Yeah. Tradition.”
“Well, FYI, Natalia is going to be there.”
“I figured,” I say. “I’m sure the whole crew will be there, right?”
Betty nods. “It's a small town, too small, especially for you, when you've slept with practically every girl within a five-year age range.”
“I feel like my reputation proceeds me, and I'm not hurting anyone. I’m just having fun. Everyone knows what to expect.”
Betty nods. “Sure,” she says. “And what does Lucy think?”
“Lucy? Lucy is...” I run a hand through my hair, not wanting to discuss the real reason I ended things with Natalia. I’m leaving town again soon and I can’t leave without finally being honest with my best friend. “You know how Lucy is.”
Betty gives me a sad smile. “Way too good for you?”
“God, thanks a lot,” I say, taking the coffee then looking across the street at the costume shop, scouting to see if Lucy's arrived.
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