Well, that sure turned her smile upside down. It also caused her to glare back at me.
“Like you have room to talk, Noah. Why are you with Piper? You sure as hell never look happy when you’re with her, either. You usually look irritated, actually.”
“Touché. You’re right,” I shrug as I lean back against my chair, “We kind of have an agreement. So, it is what it is. But, it’s nice to know you’ve been watching.” I give her a quick wink.
She narrows her eyes as she sits back in her seat and crosses her arms over her chest. “Well, you might want to explain that to her, because I’m pretty sure she thinks otherwise. Like, she probably has the church booked and wedding magazines all over her apartment.”
It seems that even the mention of marriage also has an adverse effect on my cardiac system. Or maybe it’s just any reference to Piper?
We are getting way off track here, so I scoot my seat underneath the table, getting closer to Tatum and shift toward her, crooking my finger for her to lean in as well. After a slight hesitation, surprisingly she does. I shield the side of my mouth with the back of my hand and lower my voice to a whisper. “Let’s drop the Piper topic for a second, it’s giving me heartburn, and concentrate on you for a second.” Her hardened mask breaks and she laughs even though I couldn’t be more serious.
“I’m going to give you a loser lesson. Let’s call it, ‘Loser 101: Introduction to All Things Loser.’” Another small smile breaks across her lips and I’m once again momentarily distracted by her mouth.
Glancing back up, I look into her eyes and grin. “Okay, so number one. His name isn’t really Cash, you know this right? His name is Herman. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if he’s not man enough to even stand behind the name his mother gave him, well?”
Tatum’s eyes widen and she covers her mouth. “How did you know that?” she whispers back from behind her fingers. She looks like an adorable little girl with her huge blue eyes gaping back at me. It’s captivating. I burn the image into my brain before letting her in on my secret.
“I’m a bartender. I’ve seen his I.D. In fact, I make him show it to me every time he comes into the bar because it makes me laugh.”
She drops her hand, huge smile displayed. “You’re evil.”
“Yes, yes I am.” I hold up my pointer finger. “That’s number one. Number two…” I draw out, “He’s what? Twenty-four? You know what I see every time he hands me that I.D. other than his name and age? His goddamn huge-ass senior ring … from high school. He really needs to learn to let go of what were probably the best years of his life and just move on. So, if they still feel that their high school years are relevant – loser. Lesson number two.”
I count it on my fingers as I lean in even closer and whisper my final lesson in her ear. “The third one is the most important, so listen closely.” I take a discreet whiff of her hair before continuing. “You may not believe this but it’s the truth. You deserve to be treasured. You should be with someone who respects you, who makes you a better person, and most of all who makes you happy. He, however, treats you poorly. I see it every single time I’m around the two of you, and I have to say it takes a lot of restraint on my part not to beat the shit out of him when I see him do it.” I lean away from her and hold up three fingers in front of her shocked-as-shit facial expression. “So, they don’t respect you and treat you how you should be treated – loser. Lesson three.”
I clear my face of its smartass smirk so she understands that I’m completely serious. “Never settle for less than you’re worth. You don’t give yourself enough credit. Hopefully, one day, you’ll see what everyone else sees.”
She graciously accepts my compliment with a half-smile and after sliding herself back into her chair, she studies me intently.
“Interesting lesson there, Noah. Thank you for the wise words. But, as I clearly displayed last night, I have issues. Not everyone would take me back after what I did last night. But he did. Because, he loves me. We all have our faults, not everyone can be perfect, like you. I hope you know that’s not meant to be an insult, so please don’t take it that way. I just mean that some of us are flawed and have to deal with what we’re given.” She breaks from my eyes to watch the waitress pick up the empty plates from our table. Once they’re cleared, she begins again, still gazing off in the distance.
“Broken hopes and expectations can leave very, very broken people. So, after a while, you learn not to aim so high, because when people fail you, you land hard and there’s only so many times a person can be shattered before they’re beyond repair.”
She brings her eyes back to mine. “What you’re so quick to label as settling, I simply call survival,” she finishes with a defeated shrug of her shoulders.
After her statement, she casts her glance away from mine to smile at the person passing by. Although as usual, it’s not genuine. It’s the same one she plasters on her face to appease everyone around her.
What the hell happened to her?
The waitress conveniently drops the check off at our table, providing Tatum the perfect way out of this conversation and therefore any further interrogation. She stands and pushes the chair out from underneath her with the backs of her knees. “Ready?” she asks, purse already in hand and stepping towards the direction of the register.
Well, I guess that’s all I’m getting from her for now. I know it’s not much, but I’ll take it.
It’s not like I can actually concentrate on asking her any more questions, because there’s one gigantic conclusion I’ve just drawn and it’s currently blocking any other thoughts from entering my mind.
A person who judges someone without really knowing them, without walking in their shoes, or without at least attempting to understand what they’ve gone through or experienced during their lifetime – loser.
Lesson number four.
“Two fleeting souls,
Too slowly drawn,
Impatient fate calls.
The jolting collide intertwines their lives
And splinters their walls.”
“Catalyst” – Noah Reese
L.B. Simmons is a graduate of Texas A&M University and holds a degree in Biomedical Science. She has been a practicing Chemist for the last 11 years. She lives with her husband and three daughters in Texas and writes every chance she gets.
Connect with L.B.:
· Website: http://www.lbsimmons.com/
· Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lbsimmonsauthor
· Twitter: https://twitter.com/lbsimmons33
To celebrate the cover of her newest novel, Running in Place, L.B. is offering her readers an awesome Giveaway!
· Winner 1: $100 Amazon gift card
· Winner 2: A set of signed paperbacks of Running on Empty and Recovery.
· Winner 3: ARC of Running in Place, to be sent to the winner in mid October.