Sharon’s note: Writing is hard. It’s a balancing act to make characters that the reader likes and wants to read more about, but still create drama and plot so that everything stays interesting. Also, I’m a squishy person who doesn’t like doing bad things to my characters. Inserting any conflict is hard, but it must be done. Warning: Setup approaching.
The restaurant was fantastic. The second you stepped inside you were assaulted by bright colors and the smell of sizzling meat. A teenage girl that was a bundle of nerves with a terrified smile took our order. She had to be new.
Sam looked amazing. He wore a gray suit that fit him like a glove. I’d worn the only dress I’d brough, which was a sun dress with a sunflower pattern on a blue background. I’d made due, and I thought I looked alright. Judging by the way he was looking at me, Sam thought I’d done just fine.
The three guys at the table next to us appreciated it too, because one of them gave a little wolf whistle as I sat down. Sam frowned at him, but I shook my head. “Ignore him.”
One of the other guys at the table slugged his friend in the arm and mouthed an apology at me. I smiled and gave him a nod.
The shy girl dropped off our house made chips and salsa while we thought over our order. As promised, there were three types, and they were all amazing. I made appreciative noises. “I have to admit. This is as good as you said it would be.”
Sam beamed. “Yeah. Wait until you try their guacamole.”
I played with a chip, swirling it through the salsa. “So, you said that you were a councilor. What type? Where do you work?”
“Oh.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I do a lot of work with families and the like. I like to choose all my clients, so I’m self-employed.”
The shy waitress was setting a tray full of drinks on the table next to us just as Sam shifted in his seat. His elbow caught the edge of the tray, throwing the drinks into the air so they came crashing down, covering everything nearby with margaritas and glass.
The waitress put both hands to her mouth and whimpered. “I am so sorry!”
Sam looked stricken and scrambled to his feet. “Oh, no, it’s all my fault. Here, let me help you clean this up.”
He grabbed her tray and started scooping the bigger pieces of glass onto it. The waitress shifted on her feet and started to cry. “Please don’t. My boss will get pissed.”
Sam stopped and frowned up at her. “What? Why?”
With perfect timing, a short man with a huge mustache and an apron stalked out of the kitchen, bouncing between spanish and english as he swore at his waitress. She cringed and started whimpering apologies. Sam looked back and forth between the man and the waitress then stood. It was easy to forget how tall he was, but as he drew himself up it was impossible to notice every inch.
“Hey, Al.” Sam crossed his arms and his shoulders bulged. The motion was softened by a familiar smile. “What’s wrong?”
“Move, Sam.” Al was nearly bouncing with rage. “This clumsy little cow-”
“Whoa, whoa, Al?” Sam took a step forward and put a hand on the other man’s shoulder. “Is something going on? This isn’t you.”
Al hesitated and his eyes got bright before he spun around and stomped back to the kitchen. Sam grinned apologetically at me. “I need to go check on him, real quick. I’ll be right back.”
I nodded, then sat awkwardly alone at the table as my date tried to council the cook or manager or whatever. The waitress was starting to clean up the mess on the floor so I got down to help her.