I tried to ignore the headache pounding behind my eyes. There was something about today that just wasn't going over well with me. I tried my best to smile and laugh when Matt would say something funny, or when Jeff would tell us a story. I hid my chagrin when I saw that Lucas would be taking the trip to Gas Chamber with us. It wouldn't have bothered me on any other day. Just today.
I rubbed the bridge of my nose, resting my arm on the edge of the window. Matt had the air conditioner on, full blast, and the cold air was directed right at my face. It chilled between my brows, hardening the pounding like it was ice. It felt like a sinus headache, but nothing was wrong. I wasn't sick.
"Shannon, you just missed the street you were supposed to turn down," Matt said nonchalantly, interrupting my thoughts.
"Shit!" I stomped on the breaks and spun the wheel, bouncing over the edge of the curb. Horns blared and tires squealed, but I kept going until I wheeled us onto the right street.
Everyone was silent.
I cleared my throat. "Sorry about that."
"At least you used your turn signal," Jeff drawled.
I heard Matt laugh, and I tried to, but I couldn't. It was like my throat was closed off.
"Shannon, man, are you okay?"
I looked at Matt. He looked like he was trying to read my expression, but couldn't. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just pissed that I have to do this."
"What are we doing, anyway?" Jeff asked. I heard him shift in the backseat. Lucas jumped off of Matt's lap and wiggled into the back with him.
"I have to 'interview' someone for a job." Since two people quit today. It wasn't that I didn't want to tell them, I just didn't want to believe it. I didn't want to think about my baby suffering. It was the only thing I had left.
"Interview?" Matt laughed.
I tried. Nothing came out. "I know, man. I'm just gonna size him up, maybe ask to see him draw something. He's getting the job no matter what. I'm fucking hungry as hell, and I don't want to do this."
"What's his name?"
"Kyle something." I shook my head. "I haven't actually TALKED to him yet. He emailed me."
"Can we go to El Chapala?" Jeff put in.
I looked at him in the rearview mirror briefly. "I guess."
"Did you hear that Lucas?" Jeff lifted the dog to his face and pressed a hard kiss to the side of his head. "We're going to El Chapala!"
"Man, I'm hungry for some Mexican," Matt said. He rubbed his stomach. "Damn hungry."
"So am I, man, but I have to deal with this fucking moron that wants a job first." I slowed to a stop at a red light. "And then we have to drive another fucking half hour to get to El Chapala."
"Jesus, man, we don't have to go there if it's that much trouble."
I rubbed my eyes. Great. Now my friends were pissed at me.
"Sorry," I mumbled. "I'm just fucking stressed."
I could see Matt nod out of the corner of my eye.
The light changed and I pressed the gas, turning one-handedly. I turned again almost immediately, smiling slightly at the sign hanging over my shop. It was nice to see it was still there. I felt like it was slipping between my tattooed fingers.
I pulled up in front of the door and put the car in park, but didn't turn it off. "You guys want to wait out here?"
Matt looked at Jeff over his shoulder. "What do you say, man?"
Jeff shrugged. "I'm up for anything, man."
Matt looked back at me. "I guess we'll come with you."
"Okay." I turned off the car and pulled out the keys, opening the door. I didn't feel like dealing with anything today. The air was hot and humid, my clothes sticking to me before I even hit the sidewalk. I pulled the back of my pants up slightly - they were always falling down because of my wallet - before I walked into the shop.
Everything seemed normal. Two people were getting tattoos done; the familiar buzzing sound soothed my jagged nerves. The air was cool and everyone greeted us. The only thing out of place was the two empty cubicles right next to each other.
And the complete goddess at the counter.
I stopped in my tracks. "Who. The fuck. Is THAT?"
Matt bumped into me. "Jesus Christ, Shannon - "
I groped behind me, snagging the front of Matt's shirt. I jerked him against me. "Who. The fuck." I tore my eyes away from her to stare at Matt. "Is THAT?"
"Who?" Matt turned with my head. "Oh."
"What's goin' on?" Jeff drawled, stepping up to my side, Lucas hanging against his arm. He whistled, patting his stomach with his free hand. "Damn. I shouldn't look - Jill's probably sensing infidelity as I speak."
Matt laughed. I couldn't. For a different reason.
Sam, one of the straight-up body piercers, noticed us and pointed. The girl turned around.
My heart palpitated, then stopped.
"Ho-ly shit," Matt whispered.
This... woman - if that word even suited her... assets - smiled at us. Her tight black polo - Oh, Jesus Christ - barely touched the waistband of her low-slung jeans, showing off the smoothest, tannest stomach. Her moppy, cherry-colored hair swung as she walked, covering the goldest eyes I'd ever seen.
Were they real? No eyes were that color. The lightest topaz, shining like gold in the sun.
She raised her hand. "Hi," she said cheerfully, reaching us. A waft of something delicious overpowered my motor skills.
I just stared at her.
"Shannon, say something, man." I heard him, but nothing was comprehending. I felt him move behind me, then his hand came around. "Hi, I'm Matt."
Her nose wrinkled when she smiled. "Hi, Matt."
"And I'm Jeff." I was suddenly behind the two of them, gawking with my mouth open. She greeted him too, then looked at me expectantly. She wasn't a bitch, though. Her eyes were glowing, a small smirk creating dimples in her cheeks. She seemed curious, like she was coaxing me to speak.
She broke through the two, hand extending. She wasn't awkward, even though I was. I'd never been this way around a woman before. I didn't know what to do with myself.
"She's waiting, Shannon," Matt said.
I could see my arm moving, but it felt numb. It hurt to raise it. I couldn't feel anything. When she clasped my hand a jolt of electricity shot up my arm, straight into my neck.
My heart started pounding.
"Is he okay?" she whispered, eyeing me suspiciously.
Matt and Jeff looked at each other over her head, laughing.
I shook the cloud from my brain. The shock I just received sort of woke me up. "Jesus, I'm sorry." I readjusted my hat. "I'm Shannon, I own the place."
"I know." Her nose wrinkled, her teeth shiny and perfect. "I'm here for the job."
I let go of her hand. "What?"
She laughed, her eyes dancing like fire. "I'm Kyle."
A/N: Couple of things. One: YES, I know Jeff's significant other's name is Beth. Since this is a STORY, my friend is now Jeff's significant other. Two: This is current. Shannon doesn't work for the WWE anymore.
That's about it. I'm tired, but excited for this story.