Can't Quit You, Chapter 3: Pashmina
Sandy’s eyeing me from across the table with that knowing smirk on her face. She’s on her third beer, completely loosened up, and I know right then that if I don’t say something, she will.
I don’t mind. It doesn’t matter who knows, and I’d just as soon let Sandy have her fun. So I lean back in my chair, arms crossed, and return her smile.
“Something on your mind, Sandy?”
“You,” she replies, eyes narrowing as she points an accusing finger my way. “You’ve got a new boyfriend, don’t you? I called you last Saturday night and you didn’t answer. You’re always home on Saturday nights. You always answer. Unless you’re on a date!”
“Ooh!” Bijou turns to me abruptly, claps her hands cheerily a couple times, then props her elbows on the table and rests her chin on top of her hands. “Do tell!”
“First, he’s not my boyfriend,” I assert. “We’ve been on two dates, that’s all. I’m not going to rush into something.”
“Well, who is it?” Sandy demands, leaning forward across the table and staring me down.
I start to answer, but am interrupted when I hear the front door swing open and Penelope’s raucous greeting from the next room.
“Evening, ladies!” she calls, and emerges into the kitchen, where the three of us are seated around the table, a few seconds later. There’s a textbook tucked under her arm, which she carelessly discards on the counter before throwing the fridge open and diving inside.
“Hey, Penny,” I smile. “How was study group?”
“Lame, as always,” she sighs, reappearing from behind the door of the fridge with a beer in her hand. I raise an eyebrow; she takes the hint, swaps the beer for a Coke and nudges the fridge closed with her hips.
“So,” she continues, smiling warmly at Sandy and Bijou, “did you tell them about you and Howdy yet?”
Bijou stifles a sound that’s somewhere between a gasp and a giggle-snort. Sandy, on the other hand, doesn’t make any attempt at modesty.
“Howdy?” she laughs, throwing her head back and bringing her fist down against the table in the same motion. The beer that’s still clutched between her fingers sloshes in its container and a few drops splash onto her hand. She wipes them off on the leg of her jeans and continues.
“I never even imagined the two of you together!” she insists, her smile so broad that I’m pretty sure I can pick out every last one of her teeth. “You’re so…down to earth, and he’s so – I don’t know, out there.”
“He’s fun,” Penelope says, a little defensively, as she grabs a seat at the table.
“Of course,” Bijou replies, recovered from her brief moment of impropriety. “We just always assumed that if Pashmina decided to date one of them, it would have been Dexter.”
“Why?” I ask, but Sandy cuts me off with a sudden excited gasp. Neither of them seem to notice that I haven’t managed to get a word in yet.
“Pashmina!” Sandy’s still got the same ridiculous grin across her face, but now there’s a sly, mischievous character to her expression as well. “If you’re not with Dexter, can I have him?”
Bijou looks startled and turns to Sandy abruptly.
“Did something happen between you and Maxwell?” she gasps.
“No, nothing like that,” Sandy reassures her. “I’m just trying to get him to be more adventurous. And girlfriend, I would not mind being the meat in that sandwich.”
Bijou looks confused.
“Sandy wants a three-way with the two nerdiest guys we know,” Penelope clarifies. Sometimes it worries me that she apparently knows more about sex than Bijou does.
Now Bijou just looks offended.
“Sandy!” she exclaims, glaring at her. “You’re going to put unseemly ideas in Penelope’s head! Don’t talk about things like –” She’s cut off suddenly by the sound of her cell phone ringing. She hesitates for a moment before fishing it from her purse and glancing down at the screen.
“It’s Boss, isn’t it?” Sandy demands, after Bijou appears to have decided against answering it. Sandy snatches it from her, despite Bijou’s protests.
“It is,” Sandy confirms as the phone falls silent in her hands. “Are you still ignoring him?” Bijou tries to reclaim her stolen property, but Sandy keeps her at bay with one arm while scrolling through her texts with the opposite hand. “‘Hey, how are you’…‘When can I see you again’…‘Do you even want to see me again’…‘Please give me an answer either way’…Bijou!” Sandy barks as she tosses the phone onto the table. “This is pathetic. On you, I mean. The least you can do is let him know if you don’t want to see him anymore.”
“I know,” Bijou sighs as she grabs up her phone and stashes it away in her purse again. “But I haven’t decided yet…”
“Right, I forgot. Because you’re really into Hamtaro, but at the same time you know how much you’d like another night with Boss’s giant –”
At times like these, I’ve found it’s best not to get involved. Instead, I grab a beer from the fridge, crack it open and hand it to Penelope.
“Just this once,” I tell her. “It’s going to be a long night.”