“It can be fast-paced, but that’s where the action is.”
“This must be boring to you.”
“I haven’t been bored, I can assure you of that.”He gives me one of his charming smirks.“I wasn’t sure what I would think about this town, but it has some appeal.For all you know, you could love New York.”
“I’d like to see it.There’s a lot of places I would love to visit, but this is home.This is where my parents are, and a lot of the town is like family to me.It’s also a place filled with memories.Is it like that for you in New York?”
“It’s where I work.”He shrugs.
“Is your family there?”
“My father is on a trip right now.”
“Will he back for Christmas?”Gabriel might be leaving sooner than I thought.
“They went on the trip for Christmas.The whole tree and lights thing has never really been our thing.”I guide us toward the diner, thinking it will be our best bet since it has a bit of everything.“You weren’t kidding.People are watching.”
“Don’t pay them any attention.They don’t mean anything by it, they’re just curious.Is the diner okay?”I point to it across the way from us.“They have the best milkshakes.”
“Perfect.”We cross the street together, and he opens the door for me as his hand goes to the small of my back.
Once we’re inside, I see a few empty booths.
“You want strawberry, Noel?”Meg asks from behind the counter as she eyes up Gabriel.If she wasn’t three times my age and happily married, I might be jealous.
“Yes please.”I know she’s making it clear to Gabriel that they know me but they don’t know him.
“Make that two,” Gabriel tosses back as I slide into a booth.“I will say that in New York you can be surrounded by people and still be invisible.”
“Invisible is the last thing anyone can be in Troping, especially if you’re not from here but are with someone that is.”
“And you were worried I could be a serial killer?”he teases, making me laugh.Had I joked with him about that?I guess every girl thinks that when going out with a man she doesn’t know.
“You’re right.I hope you don’t have any skeletons in your closet.The longer you stick around, the more likely they’ll find them,” I tease him back.“Nothing stays secret around here.”I shake my head, handing him one of the menus.Gabriel shifts in his seat nervously before taking it from me.
“You okay?”I glance around, wondering if everyone staring is bothering him.He said he didn’t care, but it might be getting to him.He grabs my hand, which pulls my attention back to him.
“I’m great.”He gives me a smile that has me forgetting about everything else.Except that kiss.I’m never going to forget that.
“Do you want another slice of pie?”the waitress named Meg asks me as she narrows her eyes on the empty plate in front of me.
“I’m not sure I could hold another one,” I answer, running my hand over my full stomach.My belt is already straining with the force of all that I’ve eaten.
“You said that three slices back,” Meg says with a deadpan expression.
“I think he means it this time,” Noel jokes and takes out her wallet.“I think the check is all we need.”
“I’ve got it.”I’m quick to push the hand holding her wallet back into her bag.“It’s on me, dollface.”
“Dollface,” Meg mumbles to herself as walks back to the counter.
“Thanks.”Noel smiles at me as she closes her purse and looks around the diner.“Oh wow, it’s late.I didn’t notice we were the last people in here.”
“I assumed that’s why the people working here have been giving us the stink eye.”I laugh, and so does Noel.“It’s their own fault for having such good pie.”Reaching out, I take her hands in mine, and she looks up at me.“I think I might have gotten caught up in talking with you.”