“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” Friday cries out. She sets her machine to the side and stalks to the back of the shop on those super-high heels she wears. She jiggles the curtain to let them know she’s there. Ryan pulls it to the side and invites her in. She’s only gone for a minute or two but when she comes back, she’s blinking back tears. She clears her throat. “She’s fine.”
“You promise?” Finny asks. She grabs on to Friday’s forearm and makes her look at her.
“I promise,” she says. Her voice is raw and abraded.
“Okay.” Finny releases a sigh and Friday gets back to work.
Everyone is quiet until Lark comes out of the back of the shop. “That’s all we can do today,” she says. She has her gloves pulled up to her elbows but I can see clear plastic wrap extending from the sleeve on one arm.
Ryan follows her out and squeezes Lark’s shoulder. She smiles back at him.
“So, what’s Ryan like?” Finny whispers.
Lark looks at him again. “Don’t talk about him like he’s not here,” she says, and she signs while she talks. Her cheeks flush. “And he’s very nice.”
He grins at her, but doesn’t sign anything.
Finny looks at me and holds a finger to her lips. Apparently I’m not supposed to make a comment about how the two of them are looking at one another.
“What are you guys getting?” Lark asks.
She comes over to look at mine. Mine isn’t quite finished. Paul still has to shade it in.
“Oh…” she breathes.
Then she goes to look at Finny’s and does the same thing.
“You guys are so meant for one another,” she says on a giggle. “You even got them in the same places on your bodies.”
Finny gets done first, so she comes to let me see her new ink. She had it put on her upper shoulder, right where I like to kiss her the most.
“It’s you and me and Benji,” she says. “You guys are my heartbeat. Even more important to me than my music, and I’ve had a love affair with music for a very long time.”
She leans over to look at the spot Paul is working on. “Can I see yours?”
Paul sits back so he can show her. It’s not quiet done yet, but it’s close enough.
“Wow,” she says. She kisses me, and I know she loves it as much as I do.
“It’s always going to be me and you and Benji.”
“Unless maybe it’ll be me and you and Benji and…one more…” She lets her voice trail off.
My heart starts to thud. “Are you…?”
She holds up her hands to stop me. “Oh, God, no. It was just an idea…” She waits with a wince on her face.
“A really awesome idea,” I tell her.
“Friday left room for another name,” she says. She grins at me and kisses me again.
I would like nothing more than to marry her and have more kids with her, particularly now that I have the means to support her.
“I can’t run a machine with you two kissing over it,” Paul grouses.
Finny sticks out her tongue at Paul and goes to talk with Friday.
Lark’s stomach growls loudly. “I’m hungry.” She lays a hand on her belly.
Paul chuckles. “You better get some food, because he can’t leave yet.”
Lark looks at Ryan. “You want some lunch?” she asks, signing while she talks.
He shrugs and gets to his feet as if to say, Why not?
They leave together, and Finny and I look at one another and grin.
“He doesn’t date hearing girls,” Paul says again. “It’s his rule.”
Finny laughs. “I had rules too. I think we broke all of them when Tag and I got together.”
“Don’t get your hopes up,” Paul says.
But he’s grinning, too. And Friday…well, she looks like she’s plotting.
“Stay out of it, Friday,” Paul growls.
She turns her back to him and ignores him, which I think is normal for her. Paul pretends to complain, but inside I think he’s grinning too.
And so am I.