I should never have told Larabee that she wasn’t my girlfriend.
I should never have told him that I didn’t intend to date.
There’s a very long list of “should haves” when it comes to Larabee. I had many of them, I found most of them out the hard way.
For instance, I think I should have let him think that she was my girlfriend. It would have saved me a lot of trouble in the long run…
“Do you have to do that?”
“Biting their heads off first is really the only way to eat them,” Clayton answered, smiling as he bit into another gummy bear. She gave him a look of disgust. He shrugged. He happened to like eating his gummy bears—and gummy worms and anything shaped like an animal with a head—by biting off their heads first. Perhaps that meant he had some kind of psychological issues. That was probably true.
“It is not,” she insisted. “I don’t understand why you have to do that.”
“I don’t understand why you have to be here,” he countered. “I thought we were done with the lab for the break, and yet you’re here, at my booth in the restaurant, bothering me about how I’m eating the gummy bears from my sundae. You’re trying to ruin this, aren’t you? Too bad. I refuse to let anything come between me and my sundae today.”
“This is my booth. You took it.”
“Nope. This is the booth I use because no one can see it,” Clayton disagreed. He’d noticed that even the staff seemed to forget it was there. He liked that. Then no one would notice if he had a random shift. He could do that in peace and still have a meal out every once and a while. That made this his favorite restaurant. Not because of the food—it was kind of crappy, all told—but he liked the privacy.
“I had it first.”
“What? Like that crap about the bench? You can have that. This place is mine. You don’t know what it’s like trying to find a place where I can actually eat a full meal without problems.”
“What, you have irritable bowl syndrome?”
“I think Larabee does, judging from the way he always leaves the bathroom, but no, not me,” Clayton answered. He gleefully took a bite of another gummy bear, chewing its head off. “I have other problems.”
“Oh, the being any age thing, right?” she asked, reaching over to save one of the gummy bears from a decapitation. “Or is this because of your really bad date the other night? The one Larabee set up for you? Did you use that line on her, too?”
“It’s not a line, and no, I didn’t. I didn’t…” Clay sighed as he replayed the date over in his mind. He thought that he’d hit rock bottom before, but now… Now he knew. He’d figured that dating was something he was not going to be able to do, since he still couldn’t control the random shifts, but he’d forgotten to factor in his own lack of social graces to that equation, and the night wound up being almost as bad as the day he found out about his power.
In fact, the same cops had been there.
They’d almost arrested him when they found the id in his wallet that said he was Clayton Moore. He was not even sure how he’d managed to get out of that one. His boss hadn’t showed up this time, but maybe they’d remembered him and just decided that it was better to leave Clay alone.
“Sure you didn’t,” she muttered, looking down at the gummy bear with something close to pity. Then she put it in her mouth, swallowing it whole. He shook his head. That was no way to eat a gummy bear. She didn’t even get the gummy part if she did that. It was stupid. “You said it went badly. How else could it go badly if you didn’t tell her that?”
“Hey, you just think I’m a little weird for saying that, so why would that have to be part of why it went wrong?”
“Because it’s you?”
Clay shot her a dirty look. “This is my booth, April. Go away.”
She shook her head. “I’m waiting for my food.”
“You’ll be waiting for a long time. They never bring it back here,” Clay told her. She gave him a look. “I told you—my booth. I know it pretty well by now.”
“Chili burger with fries?” the waiter said, setting down the food in front of her. She smirked, and Clay shook his head. That never happened to him. Maybe it was because the kid that gave her the food was a teenage guy and she was a… fairly attractive girl.
“Thank you,” she said as the kid grinned and walked away. She lifted a fry and looked at Clay. “You were saying?”
“It’s just you.”
“Actually getting service in this booth. Just you.”
“Stop it with the gummy bears.”
“Why should I?” Clayton asked, calmly biting off the head of another one. He smiled at her, and she rolled her eyes. April was never going to accept the way he ate them, but he didn’t care. Only a few more weeks and this class would be over. They were never going to see each other again. He was looking forward to that. “I like eating their little heads first. Have you even tried it?”
“Eat it. Head first,” he said, giving her another one. “Bite it right off. I bet you never eat them any other way after this.”
She gave him a look, shaking her head. He refused to let her back down, though, forcing her hand up to her mouth. “Just eat it.”
She rolled her eyes, biting the head off the gummy bear. He smiled in triumph, but it didn’t last long. “No. Not her. I can’t believe he brought her.”
April turned around to see what he was looking at. Larabee was there, and next to him was the girl he’d tried to set Clay up with last week. He’d actually wanted the twitches to come so he could rush off to the bathroom and hide there. Well, honestly, he’d excused himself, gone into the bathroom, and snuck out as a little kid. He didn’t know how Larabee kept finding these girls or why they’d agree to go out with Larabee’s friend—hello, it was Larabee—but maybe they were all just grateful that it wasn’t Larabee himself that was asking.
“What’s wrong with her?”
“She started planning marriage on our way to dinner. Mind you, I didn’t realize what I was getting into when I got in Larabee’s car, but yeah, we were going to get married. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Apparently, Larabee told her all she would ever need to know, and she just loves me.”
April snorted with laughter. “Did you tell her about the brain damage or the age thing?”
“Yes. And she said it was cute.”
“Oh,” April said, giving the other girl another look. “Yeah. She doesn’t seem like that bright of a crayon. Did she just trip over her own feet?”
“I’ll see you later,” Clayton said, about to leave for the other door. April caught him by the coat, and he frowned at her. “Don’t. This won’t be pretty. She’s… insane.”
“I get the booth and the bench.”
“Deal is, you give me the booth and the bench. She’s almost here, despite her klutziness, so agree quickly because—”
“Moore! I need more from my Moore!” the psycho cried, throwing her arms around him and hugging him before leaving a lipstick mark on his cheek. “I can’t believe you didn’t call. Larabee said you lost my number, but since he was meeting you, I came with to see my Moore again. I needed more. I still do!”
April made a gagging noise. “Well?”
“It’s a little late now, isn’t it?”
“I can fix this, but you have to agree to my terms.”
“I hate you,” he muttered, but the other girl had put her hand under his shirt and was trying to get it into his waistband. “Yes, fine. I agree to the terms.”
April grinned. She turned to the girl he was trying to fight off and tapped her on the shoulder. The girl stopped. “Yeah, um, hi. I think you should get your hands off my boyfriend.”
“What? He just said he hated you.”
“It’s a sign of affection, isn’t it, Clayton?” April asked, reaching up to her neck for the chain she always wore. “In fact, we’re going to get married. I just keep the ring around my neck because it needs to be resized. It was his mother’s.”
Clay stared at her, and then she gave him a real kiss, not a lipstick smear, while he stood there, stunned. Larabee started clapping. “I knew it! I knew you two were together. Sorry there, Amy.”
Amy the psycho backed away, bursting into tears. “I can’t believe you did this to me, Moore! I’ll hate you for the rest of my life!”
“Ha,” April said, grinning. “I better not see you in my booth.”
Clayton glared at her. “I really do hate you.”