I got up with Sidney’s alarm the next morning and got into the shower. Once dressed, I headed downstairs to the kitchen where Sidney had a mug of coffee waiting for me at the table next to him. He had the newspaper spread out in front of him, not on the sports page, as he ate an english muffin and a banana. I began giggling at the sight. He looked up at me with his usual ‘now what’ look.
“Is something funny?” he asked as I took my seat and a sip of the deliciously strong coffee.
“Just the sight of you sitting at the table reading the paper. I know you had to grow up fast, but I didn’t think you’d turned 40 already,” I cracked. He rolled his eyes at me before looking back down at the article he was reading.
“Just shut up and drink your sludge,” he shot back. I did as he said and took another sip, sighing out my pleasure before sliding my chair over directly next to him and beginning to read the paper too. He sighed and looked at me, annoyed. “Can I help you?”
“No. I’m just shutting up and drinking my sludge while reading the paper,” I told him while beaming.
“Do you know how annoying it is to have someone reading over your shoulder?” he asked.
“I’m not reading over your shoulder. I’m next to you, not behind,” I responded. He groaned and folded up the paper and slid it across the table. “Hey, I was reading that.”
“You were not,” he argued. I laughed in response. “Are you always this annoying in the morning? I don’t remember you being like this.”
“And I don’t remember you being so stuffy. Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about shopping. While I still hate that I’m spending your money on clothes, I need to know how much to get. We never settled how long I was going to stay. A few days? The end of the week?” I asked. Sidney got up from the table to throw away the banana peel and put his plate in the sink.
“Stay until Christmas,” he said as he did. I rolled my eyes and laughed.
“Okay, seriously though.” He turned back to me and I could see by the look on his face that he was being serious. “Really? Christmas?”
“Yeah, until Christmas,” he confirmed.
“Are you sure you can put up with me for that long?” He laughed at my question and grabbed his car keys off the hook on the wall. He walked to the door to the garage before turning to look back at me.
“Vero will be here soon. Buy what you want. I’ll see you later this afternoon.” With that he was out the door. I remained at the table drinking my coffee until I heard a car pull into the driveway.
Vero and I chatted the entire way to the mall, mostly small talk. We discussed the stores we were going to check out among other things. She parked and then led the way. I followed her lead and walked into the first store. That was when I realized that shopping with Vero was like an Olympic sport.
She weaved her way through the racks like an expert and I simply tried to keep up. It was like she instinctually knew which racks or wall displays held promising clothes and which didn’t. I also soon found myself holding at least 50 pounds worth of clothes and she just kept piling them on. Her comments of “adorable” and “this would be so cute on you” had my head spinning.
“Okay, go try them on,” she ordered as I peered over the pile in my arms at her.
“This is more clothes than I would need for two months. I’m not staying that long,” I argued. She laughed and pointed towards the fitting rooms.
“It’s not. Now go.”
“I can do laundry,” I continued.
“Of course, but you don’t want to be seen with Sidney wearing the same outfit twice. Trust me.”
I did as she said and tried everything on. Vero insisted on seeing every outfit so it took forever to get through all the clothes. When we were done she pulled some out of the room and left the rest. Then she marched right over to the register with a comment about those outfits being a start. A start?!
“Vero, this is too much,” I told her, cringing when I saw the total pop up on the register. Not only was she putting this bill onto her credit card, but Sidney was going to have to pay her back.
“No, it’s fine. Now where she we head next?” I took the oversized bag from the employee and followed Vero back out into the mall.
We went into a few more stores and despite my arguing, Vero just kept piling the outfits onto the checkout counter and paying. I wasn’t exactly sure why I needed two cocktail dresses, five other dresses she said were for going out, what looked like a dozen pairs of leggings in different styles, and many multiple sweaters, tank tops, halters, etc. Oh, I don’t want to forget about the numerous pairs of shoes and the workout clothes. How long did she think I was staying?!
“Last stop,” she announced as we walked into Victoria’s Secret. Finally, a place that was actually necessary. We browsed around and I started grabbing what I needed. “How about this?” I glanced over to see what Vero was holding up and I shook my head. She had a lacey black teddy with a matching thong.
“I really don’t think there’s any need for that,” I shot her down. She frowned.
“Why not?” she questioned.
“Am I going to wear it under my workout clothes?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I just thought you and Sid had slept together.” My jaw dropped in shock at her comment. She saw the look on my face and laughed. “I’m forward, I know. It’s a bad habit. Feel free to ignore my verbal harassments.” Normally I would have, but something about Vero made me want to talk.
“We have before. Slept together, I mean.” She grinned over at me before moving closer.
“So get it!” she exclaimed. I groaned.
“It’s not like that. I don’t know. We’d been drinking every time. It’s not like it’s a common occurrence. It’s just not like that with us,” I tried to explain.
“Because you’re just friends?” she asked.
“Right. Sid’s my best friend. Sex only makes things complicated and I don’t want anything to ruin my friendship with him.”
She rolled her eyes at me, but gave up the subject and headed for checkout. I followed her and smiled as I did. Despite everything, I’d had a great day just talking with Vero. I could see why Sidney considered her to like a sister to him. She said what she felt without being rude, and her personality just clicked with mine. It was nice to have someone I knew I could talk to, especially about Sid.
Sidney made his way out of the locker room and into the lounge looking for Flower so they could head home. He found Flower, along with Max, Staalsy, Geno, and Tanger crowded around one small area. He was about to ask what they were doing when he heard a female voice begin to talk. He quickly recognized the voice as belonging to Vero. They had her on speakerphone.
“She just went to the bathroom so I don’t have much time,” she was saying. He paused when he realized she was talking about Misty. Just thinking about her made him think of that morning. He would have been annoyed if anyone had done what she had this morning, but once again, like all the other times, he only thought it was cute and put a smile on his face.
“Okay, so how is she?” Flower asked. Sidney opened his mouth to protest, but though better of it and remained quiet. He wanted to hear what Vero’s opinion was.
“Funny. We spent the entire day laughing. Easy to talk to, even if she is a little tight lipped about their relationship.” Hold on, they were talking about him and Misty?
“She wouldn’t tell you anything?” Max asked next.
“She just repeatedly said they were just friends. ‘Sidney’s my best friend’ blah, blah, blah. That was it.” Sidney couldn’t help the little stab he felt when he heard that. It’s not like it was news to him, but it still didn’t feel good.
“How was she with the shopping?” Staalsy questioned next.
“It was like pulling teeth to get her to buy anything. She did not want to spend any of Sid’s money and fought me every step of the way.”
“Not golddigging slut. Good,” Geno commented.
Sidney felt his jaw and fists clench. He understood what they were doing, but that didn’t mean he liked it. It was nice to know his teammates were checking on Misty for him, but he did not like what their questions were implying about her or him. How could they possibly think he’d either be too dumb or naïve to spend an entire summer with someone who was just using him and not realize it? He was about to step in when Tanger spoke up.
“Back to her and Crosby. I know she kept saying they were just friends, which I personally think is bullshit, but you read people better than anyone. How do you think she feels?” he asked.
Sidney waited once again to hear the answer because Tanger was right. Vero was spot on about people, and if she felt Misty had feelings for him, it was almost 100% accurate. He sent a silent prayer up for a good response. Unfortunately that didn’t work out so well for him.
“I really think…..”
“Hey, Crosby, you in on the pool?” Billy asked, referring to some stupid pool the guys had going in the locker room. He gritted his teeth as all five guys spun around to see him standing there.
“No, thanks,” he grumbled in frustration.
“Busted, eh?” He heard Vero’s voice ring out. “Hey, Sid!” The connection was disconnected after that and he narrowed his eyes at the group. He was just as annoyed at not hearing Vero’s opinion as he was that they were checking up on Misty.
“What the hell are you guys doing?” he questioned.
“I was just talking to my girlfriend,” Flower said nonchalantly with a shrug. Sid glared right back at him.
“Oh, relax. I already knew, but the other guys wanted confirmation,” Max told him.
“Knew what?” he asked.
“That Misty isn’t out to get ahead because of you,” Staalsy explained.
“Good pick. We approve,” Geno piped in.
“There’s nothing to approve. We’re…..”
“Just friends, we know,” Tanger interjected with a shake of the head. Sidney sighed and rattled his car keys.
“Ready to go?” he asked Flower, who nodded and followed him out of the locker room.
“I’ll ask Vero about it when I get home,” he offered.
“Don’t. I already know,” Sidney told him.
“Then why are you being such a pussy about making a move?” he asked. Sid stopped walking, but Flower continued out to the parking lot. Good question.