“Coffee’s fine,” I said. I was a little hungry, but I felt uncomfortable eating in front of him and Jane.
“Are you sure you’re not hungry?” Jane asked, running her fingers on his arm, but this time, he actually recoiled from her touch.
“Nope,” Jack sighed, then muttered under his breath, “but I wish I was.”
“What?” the waitress asked, leaning in closer to hear him.
“Nothing.” Jack smiled at her. “Just the coffee.”
“Thanks,” I told the waitress when she lingered at our table, and she left to get our order.
“Thanks again for saving us.” Jane pressed herself against him. “If there’s anything I can do to repay you, just let me know.” There was definitely something strange going on, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
His skin was beach bum tanned, unnatural for people in Minnesota in March. His eyes were a weird blue-gray color, and there was something tremendously boyish about them, about him really, but otherwise, nothing seemed to stand out as overly attractive.
“Are you famous or something?” I blurted out, and Jane looked embarrassed enough for both of us so I didn’t bother blushing.
“What do you mean?” He sounded confused.
“Everyone’s staring at us. At you,” I corrected myself.
Jack just shrugged and looked down at the table but didn’t bother checking to see if I was right.
“I’m not famous,” Jack said. He looked like he wanted to explain things more, but then the waitress appeared with three mugs and a pitcher of coffee.
“Is there anything else I can get you?” the waitress asked.
“We’re fine, thanks,” Jane snapped, putting her hand possessively on Jack’s thigh until the waitress left.
“Come on. What’s going on?” I rested my arms on the table and leaned in closer to him because I’d lowered my voice.
“I don’t have an answer for it.” Jack picked up the pitcher of coffee and poured a cup for himself and me, and then filled Jane’s too. “Do you take cream or sugar in yours?”
I was perfectly capable of doing it myself, but I think he wanted to occupy himself so I would be less likely to notice him hedging the question. He dumped a creamer and two packets of sugar in my coffee, and stirred a creamer in his, then settled back in the booth.
“I take cream and sugar too,” Jane added, and Jack pushed the bowl of creamers and sugar towards her.
“So you’re not famous?” I refused to let it go without a direct answer.
“I can assure you that I’m not famous,” Jack smiled. This one thing I would say about him; he had to have one of the greatest smiles of all time.
“You just look so familiar to me,” I said.
“I know, right?” He gave me a perplexed look that mirrored my own.
“So do I know you from somewhere?” As soon as I said that, I knew that wasn’t exactly it either. I could almost guarantee that I’d never seen him before, but there was something undeniably familiar about him.
“That’s not possible,” he shook his head.
“How is it not possible?” I asked. “Did you just move here or something?”
“It’s complicated.” He touched his coffee cup and made like he was going to drink it, but he never even lifted it off the table.
Jane resigned herself to drinking her coffee and watching us talk. She finished one cup and poured herself another.
“How is it complicated?”
“It just is.” Jack flashed me another one of his amazing smiles.
Somehow, he managed to look very young, like he was fifteen, while simultaneously looking older than me. It was something about his eyes. They were very young and very old, at the same time.
“How old are you?” I asked pointedly.
To my surprise, Jack laughed, and I found something even more incredible than his smile. Easily, he had the greatest laugh in the universe. It sounded so clear and perfect.
“How old are you?” Jack countered, grinning at me.
“I asked you first.” I leaned back in my seat, crossing my arms over my chest, and that made him laugh again.
“Why does that even matter?” Jack asked. “You want to know more.”
“I’m seventeen,” I sighed.
“Twenty-four,” Jack said with a wry smirk.
“Don’t you feel a little odd running around with two seventeen year old girls?” I asked.
In some part of my mind, it did logically seem wrong for a twenty-four-year-old to be picking up two random teenage girls. But sitting here, in the booth with him, nothing felt more natural or safe.
“I’m mature for my age,” Jane interjected.
“As I recall, if I hadn’t been around, you would’ve gotten yourself killed.” He rested his arms on the table, leaning more towards me. “What were you doing anyway?”
“We were trying to get into a club, but my feet were killing me and I just wanted to get home,” I said. He looked at me for a minute, the serious expression looking out of place on him, and then shook his head and refilled my cup of coffee.
“What club were you trying to get into?” Jack asked, and added cream and sugar to my drink. He had yet to touch his own cup, but I decided not to say anything.
“I don’t know,” I shrugged. I just let Jane drag me wherever she wanted to go and hoped that by the end of the night, I managed to make it home in one piece. “What were you doing downtown? Clubbing it up?”
“Hardly,” Jack said. “I was… getting something to eat.”
“At midnight?” I raised an eyebrow at him.
“I’m kind of a night owl.” Time must’ve just occurred to him, because he glanced over at a clock hanging on the wall. “It’s getting really late. I should probably get you home.”
“I’m wide awake,” Jane chirped, but unlucky for her, I didn’t feel the same way.
Even with the coffee and the adrenaline rush from earlier, I felt very tired. I wanted to continue hanging out with Jack, but my whole body had started to ache, especially my legs and ankles.
“I’m starting to drag.” To punctuate the statement, I yawned loudly.
Jack paid for the check, even though I tried to make a play for it. It was only a couple bucks, and I was tired, so I didn’t fight that hard.
When I stood up, my legs fought to give out underneath me, but I managed to stay up on my feet. For a second, though, I thought Jack was going to pick me up and carry me out to the car. Jane must’ve gotten the same idea, because she inserted herself between us.