Monday afternoon in a coffee shop in Santa Marcela,
The murmur of other patrons along with the smell of freshly brewed coffee, which Genevieve loved with a passion, filled the room. However, the atmosphere around her was rather gloomy. There would always be these kinds of issues that surfaced even in the most pleasant places and with the most agreeable people.
"I don't want to know." Genevieve's gaze flickered from Lia's face to the window behind her.
They fell in a silence. It wasn't comfortable or awkward. Whatever Lia had to say, Genevieve had heard it all before. Lia was probably getting fed up of being ignored as well. It always ended up this way. That elephant in the room that they'd silently agreed to ignore for a full year, but that would inevitably come up in times like this, keep interposing between them.
The warm sunshine radiated through the glass panel tickling Genevieve's cheeks and projecting shades of trees onto the wooden table and the grey floor. The Fall season was already slipping away and leaving them to the mercy of the Winter with its shorter and colder days.
Was Lia still staring? Genevieve glanced at her. Lia was definitely staring. She held Genevieve's gaze, one eyebrow arched and lips pursed. Her head was slightly tilted. Don't just sit there with that judgemental look on your face.
Genevieve sighed and shook her head. Peace and tranquility were so difficult to obtain when drama just kept popping up. Not even in her vacations, she could get a break. Hah! Genevieve snorted. How ironic it was, considering her job. Even if she had chosen to be part of the military, she was a pacifist at heart. It was her circumstances that had pushed her there and it was her sense of duty what had made her stay.
Strenght was such a funny concept. She had become both physically and mentally stronger with time and training. However, emotionally, she was a wreck waiting to happen. What a cute little wreckage she would be.
At least, the iced coffee surely would make everything better in a second.
The coldness of the cup stung Genevieve's fingers. She let it rest on the table and instead leaned in and sucked through the straw. The bold bittersweet flavor caressed her tongue. Any problem disappeared as long as her mouth was full of coffee. They had kept her away from her precious coffee for too long. How Lia could just take small sips with such patience was a mystery.
Lia's eyes softened. She took Genevieve's right hand in hers. The tension on Genevieve's shoulders melted away at the warmness of her gentle squeeze.
"Please consider everything that has happened. Sometimes, it's better to take a step back and accept that some things are not meant to be. I don't know how else to say it."
"I know." Genevieve's gaze was downcast. Lia was right, but she could never admit it out loud because if she did, everything would change. Changes were terrifying.
"Yeah. You know. Pero, yo te digo las vainas y te entran por un oído y te salen por el otro. You never listen! My abuelita said that quien no oye consejos, no llega a viejo. Wise people listen to advice, Eve."
Genevieve pulled her hand back, looked away and chewed on her bottom lip. Sadly, she wasn't wise... She walked through life with her heart in her sleeve, and she ignored the much-needed advice. These were truths that couldn't be masked and that were now being blatantly thrown on her face. If this continued, she would break. That ugly side of her that nobody should see would be exposed.
"Lia, you don't know the whole story, so please, just don't. Don't say those things anymore."
"I don't want you to get hurt again. It isn't wor—"
"Shut the fuck up." As always Lia had to stick her nose in Genevieve's business. People weren't perfect and Lia was in no position to judge. Surely, her words did go in one ear and out the other for Genevieve. All these ugly truths swirling in Genevieve's mind as if they owned the place needed to go.
Lia let out a deflated sigh and fidgeted with her bracelets. Genevieve pulled out her phone from her purse. Now, this was an awkward silence that apparently none of them was willing to break. An awkward silence was much better than a mental breakdown, nonetheless. As long as Genevieve could pretend that her emotional side was in check, the mentally and the physical side would be in perfect shape. It was a delicate balance, centered on one thing, or more like one person.
Soon, she would be here. Genevieve kept tapping on her phone, mindlessly going through her social networks. There wasn't even anything interesting to do on her phone, not when she had probably just hurt her best friend.
Genevieve put down her phone. "Li—"
Their eyes met and they chuckled. All the awkwardness vanished in an instant. Allowing someone to read you like a book all the time had its perks. The longest they had ever managed to stay mad at each other had been two days—longest thirty-three hours and twenty-four minutes of Genevieve's life.
"Did you finish reading Our Destiny: Pulling Heartstrings?" Lia grinned, an expecting expression on her face. Her slightly squinted eyes sparkled under sunlight. Talking about Our Destiny had become a reconciliatory measure in each of their disagreements. It worked every time.
"I don't know. I have been really busy..." Genevieve sipped her drink, biting on the straw as she averted her gaze from Lia. Messing with Lia was way more fun than it should be.
Lia's face darkened. She slumped her shoulders and pouted, as dramatically as she would do so.
"Reading the best story ever!" Genevieve snickered and Lia bounced in her seat, making it slide back a bit, but enough for the screeching sound to echo through the entire room.
Lia grimaced but did not react at the few gazes in her direction. "Did you read the Epilogue again? I freaking love it. I could read it over and over for hours!" She had a silly grin on her face.
"Of course, I read it. It's just perfection. When Henry took Tiffa—"
A longer piercing sound, similar to nails on a chalkboard made several heads turn toward the girls' table as the chair beside Genevieve was pulled back. The owner was too frigging careless to get decent chairs. Charlie smiled sheepishly as she sat down and gave Genevieve a peck on the lips.
"I hate these chairs but the coffee here is so good. Sorry I'm late. My boss made me stay overtime. Some idiot in the office decided to give the flu to half of the department and now we are short in personnel. It isn't my fault that"—Charlie closed her eyes and let out an exasperated breath that sounded almost like a grunt—"now, I'm ranting. Sorry." She turned to Genevieve and brushed some strands of hair behind her ear. "What were you talking about, Rose?"
"You are just on time. Here, I got you a Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino, gorgeous. We were talking about the final book of the Our Destiny trilogy, obviously." Genevieve laughed.
Charlie's eyebrows knitted together but she smiled brightly once she drank some of her beverage. Coffee equals happiness. "I'll never understand how you can like those books. I read the first book. My eyes were bleeding by the end of the first chapter. Or was it after the second page? The main character, Mary Sue is annoying, gullible, and naive. She spent seventy percent of the book crying and the other thirty percent lashing out at all the wrong people. The guy is so ugh—"
Genevieve cleared her throat and tried to imitate Charlie's voice. "The guy is a cliché bad-boy with a dark past, a golden heart, and a silly name."
Lia chirped in, doing her best Charlie impersonation. "How ridiculous can a name get? I don't know. Axel Ryder Law level of ridiculousness, maybe?"
Charlie nodded. "Yeah. And not only that—"
Genevieve put on a mock frown. "He cheated on the silly girl with her two-faced best friend less than forty-eight hours after starting his relationship with the dumb girl."
Lia swung her arms dramatically. "And the pendeja forgave them! Of course, they kept on going behind her back."
"You get it. I'm pretty sure he said wasn't me. You know how that works." Charlie laughed, her perfectly straight teeth peeking between her luscious pink lips.
Charlie was so beautiful that Genevieve could never tear her eyes away from her. It was impressive how she had managed to fall so hard after what had happened with Sebastian. Actually, no, it wasn't. Charlie had been an angel that had helped Genevieve's when she needed her the most, and now she was Genevieve's reason to live.
Charlie nudged Genevieve's side. Both her and Lia were staring at her expectantly. They were obviously waiting for her to say the next line. This was the one thing the three of them had in common.
"Well, I'm supposed to be a fool, right?" Genevieve put her hands on her hips and a fake frown on her face.
"Hey." Lia winked at Genevieve and then at Charlie. "Wasn't me."
Charlie sighed, a small smile tugging at the corners of her lips. "Maybe it wasn't you."
As usual, their impersonations were on point. Eddy Murphy would be so proud. If Genevieve did not love her job so much, she for sure would be a stand-up comedian like her idols. Had she not been so impulsive three years ago, her life would be, in fact, completely different. However, having these two people by her side outweighed any good that could have come in her way, otherwise. Genevieve smiled. Despite the problems, life was wonderful.
"Psst..." Lia motioned Charlie to lean forward. "The girl's name is Faye Hale because the author wanted to make her name sound innocent and badass at the same time. I'm not sure she did a good job, though."
Charlie giggled and then cleared her throat. "I know, Mary Sue is the nickname I gave her because she is too perfect. She can do just about anything, except dance, fight and being rational. My point stands; I don't understand how you can like that book. Lia, the few partners you have had were all on the sweet-nerdy side. How can you be obsessed with phony Travis Maddox?"
Genevieve wrapped her arms around Charlie and huffed out a laugh
Genevieve wrapped her arms around Charlie and huffed out a laugh. "We read it because of Tiffany and Henry!"
Charlie gasped but cuddled up in Genevieve's embrace. "Tiffany? As in the mean girl of the book Tiffany? Why would you like her?"
Lia grinned excitedly and cleared her throat. Genevieve straightened up and psychologically braced herself. Once Lia started talking about the reasons why she loved that couple, there was no stopping her.
Lia clapped her hands together. "I have been waiting for you to ask that question for so long. C'mere my sweet padawan." If Lia didn't come from a military family she would be an actress, definitely.
A joyful smile decorated Lia's face. "At first, Tiffany comes off as the typical mean girl. She is beautiful, popular, spoiled and a puta. However, as the book progresses, she grows up and realizes that the bad boy all the girls want is simply not worth it. In the second book, after everyone turned their backs on her for telling Faye that her beloved boyfriend was cheating on her with her supposedly best friend, she finds herself a pariah in the school."
Genevieve sunk into her chair a little
Genevieve sunk into her chair a little. People were staring. Why couldn't Lia ever mind her volume? One would think that boot camp would have taught her to be quiet. But, she would probably have to die and be born again to change that. If that ever happened, though, she wouldn't be Lia anymore.
Lia usually talked a little too loud or was a little too bold. Later, she would feel self-conscious and ask if too many people were staring. It always happened. On a second thought, Lia should never change. It was fun watching her freaking out about something she had already said hours or even days ago.
Someone shushed Lia and she turned to glare at the person before continuing gesticulating wildly and rushing her words barely giving herself time to breathe. "Anyway! Instead of plotting revenge, she moves on and falls for a completely normal guy—the kind of guy that is always under the radar. In one of her classes, the teacher tells everyone to get in groups and she is left alone, but then, Henry arrives late for class and has to work with her. It is still kind of cliché but their relationship is so cute. Her character development is actually credi—"
Lia choked, drawing a silent chuckle from Charlie.
Genevieve stood up and patted Lia's back. "I've told you to talk slower. Do you need a glass of water or something?"
"No! Let me finish!"
Genevieve went back to her seat and Lia continued the story. "Her character development in actually credible. In the case of Axel, he changes once he realizes he has been hurting over and over the person who loves him most, while Faye doesn't change at all from the first book to the last one! But Tiffany, she starts off as the most annoying queen bee and ends up as a normal person that can be sarcastic but is also kind of cute."
When Lia finally shut up, Genevieve clutched the cup in her hand and drank some more coffee to calm down. Sadly, her cup was almost empty. Genevieve took a deep breath. The main couple's relationship was much more real for her; she had been in Faye's shoes before.
Genevieve glanced at Charlie. "Unlike Lia, I don't think that the characters are that ridiculous. I do hate Axel sometimes. However, he is funny and nice once you get to know him, even sweet and shy sometimes. He covers what he considers weaknesses with silence and a frown. A relationship wasn't something he was ready for when he started dating Faye."
Lia arched an eyebrow. "That doesn't justify cheating."
Genevieve nodded. "He does come with a lot of baggage. But, his bad boy façade is just a mask. Sleeping around isn't a big deal for him but he isn't the depraved sex addict everyone takes him for. Anyway, he is not a bad person, just a shitty boyfriend."
Charlie crossed her arms over her chest. "And Mary Sue?"
"Faye comes from a broken family. Frank, her father, was once a wealthy bad boy. But, after marrying Briana, her mother, he blew all his money away on drugs. Faye witnessed her dad beat her mom almost every day. When he crossed the line and hit Faye, Brianna sold their huge house to pay off their debts and moved to a cheaper state."
Charlie scoffed. "As usual, the Mary Sue has a sad backstory, but she should know better than getting involved with a guy like phony Travis Maddox."
It is curious how easy is to judge other people while completely overlooking your own issues, isn't it Chae Rin? Genevieve sighed and gave Charlie a small smile which she returned with a wide grin and a wink.
The afternoon flew away fast while Genevieve and the girls chatted and laughed. It felt like the old times. When it was time for the coffee shop to close, Genevieve and Charlie bade Lia goodbye and went back to Charlie's apartment.
When it was time for the coffee shop to close, Genevieve and Charlie bade Lia goodbye and went back to Charlie's apartment.