"Josephine Muriel Masterson" Kyle Masterson yelled up the stairs looking at his watch if you don't come down here in 5 minutes I'm leaving for work and you can find your own way to the Diner.
Knowing she was meeting up with Tyler and that she wasn't going to walk all the way there in heels she replied
"Alright dad I'm coming down don't pop a blood vessel". Applying red lipstick she rubbed her lips together, spritzed herself with perfume and adjusted the red headband in her hair one last time before walking downstairs to catch a ride with her father.
"All this for a breakfast date with Tyler"
her dad said looking at Jo. She was wearing a white 50s sundress that tapered at her knee with a pair of Red opened toe heels a straw tote over her shoulder. Kyle sat looking at her amazed especially since less than a 6 months ago she had worn the same pair of combat boots every day.
"Dad its Memorial day weekend and me Tyler were gonna hang out with some of his friends later on.
"Doing what" Kyle asked giving her usual the third degree.
Going to the movies, the beach, she said knowing they weren't going to do any of that , "you know teenage stuff".
"Well don't get so busy that you miss curfew" Kyle said.
"I won't" she said with a smile rolling her eyes up. "Now can we go you're gonna be late for work".
"Alright let me just check in on your mother" Kyle said
"She has a head ache again "? Jo asked concerned. "Dad maybe she should go see a doctor".
"I told your mother that", he said, " but she keeps saying its just her allergies or something". "If this continues I might have to take time off and make sure she goes". I'll be right back honey" he said walking briskly to their bedroom.
When they got into in the car Jo zoned out her fathers classic rock station as they drove thinking instead of Tyler and their "plans". They would meet at JohnnyCakes and as soon as her father pulled off they were headed to a motel outside of town. She knew she should be excited but it seemed like all they ever did was have sex or Jo would sit there watching Tyler in his own world working at editing his movies.
He always asked Jo for her opinion and she would nod and smile or comment here and there just to show him she was interested even though she wasn't.
What she was interested in was getting into the footage he kept in a locked file in his room after what she had found out yesterday. The footage that he said was random , that He said wasn't good enough for the public eye ...
Jo was sleeping soundly next to a snoring Tyler when his cellphone buzzed in his jeans she shook him lightly to wake him but he started snoring more loudly than before.
She knew she shouldn't look in his phone but he was always so secretive about it making her wonder exactly what he was being secretive about. She peeked over her shoulder to see if he would wake up as it buzzed again then slid out of the bed in halted movements to make sure she didn't wake him.
Pulling his phone out of his jeans she unlocked it by guessing after two attempts to use his birth year. When Jo opened it she stared at it stunned.
The message read: footage by Friday next. Midnight. Cash on delivery.
A gold necklace with a red gem in the center was posted as a picture with the letter V as the sender name.
Jo Suddenly paranoid checked once more that Tyler was still sleeping listening for any change in his breathing pattern. Slipping the phone back into Tyler's pocket Jo shaking crept slowly over to her purse took out her phone and texted Danny. Finished she put her phone away before slipping quietly back in the bed with Tyler...
They pulled up to Johnnycakes and Jo got out to wait for Tyler. After about 10 minutes she looked at her phone and saw a text message from him saying he was running late and would be there soon.
Instead of standing there in the parking lot in heels Jo decided to wait inside for him. She opened the door to the diner and out of habit her eyes flew to her and Rico's old booth where she saw Rico.
She smiled fondly thinking maybe she should say hi to him when she spotted.. Lacey sitting in HER spot where she and Rico used to study and hangout sharing one cheeseburger with two separate milkshakes and two straws each so they could sample eachothers as they compared notes.
They were engrossed in an animated conversation laughing, before Rico's eyes instinctively sensing her presence looked up and saw her.
Jo wanted to play it cool and walk over there all put together to show Lacey that she had moved on. That she wasn't the wild haired tomboy or the shy nerd girl that wasn't beautiful enough to fall in love with but was good enough to depend on. That She wasn't the damn Giving Tree.
But Danny had rejected that girl for LACEY. The Pretty in Pink girl who already had the dream boyfriend and the barbie doll friends. The girl who was ashamed to be seen with him because she felt it would tarnish her spotless reputation, the girl who didn't give a damn about his feelings unless it fell in line with hers, and Now she was selfishly waving herself under Rico's nose using him just to prop up HER shattered ego.
Where was she when Rico moved to Green Grove friendless and lonely, oh that's right she was 13 playing with her new friends and ignoring Jo's existence. Where was she when Rico almost lost his father to a heart attack. Knowing her she wouldn't have cared anyway if her first and last name wasn't attached to the crisis.
Now that selfish bitch was looking at her as innocently as if they were 11 again as if she hadn't caused Jo .. and Danny so much heartbreak.
And just the thought that she was suddenly setting her sights on Rico made the vein in Jo's temple pulse, rage flowing through her as she felt her breath quicken in and out of her flared nostrils.
Jo unable to resist propelled herself forward aching to give Lacey a piece of her mind -
Rico and Lace's eyes followed Jo right up to the table. She stood in front of it her arms crossed looking Lace up and down.
As an uncomfortable silence descended on the two previously laughing diners Jo said almost sneering. "I see you've been busy now that you're back from seclusion"."What no fun Lacey without a legion of adoring fans.
Lace unfazed by Jo's obvious jealousy smiled brightly at her ."Hello Jo" she said in a friendly greeting. Its good to see you too".
"Rico and I were just having breakfast and we'd love if you'd join us".
"I was just telling him that i cant possibly finish all this by myself" she said referring to her omelet as Rico smiled looking at it.
"Yeah Jo" Rico said to her then looked at Lace for confirmation. "It will be just like old times" he added like they were distant school mates who had run into each other at a reunion.
"No thanks" Jo said slightly confused that Lacey hadn't erupted at her but was confidently pleasant with her instead.
"I'm meeting up with Tyler in a few minutes".
" Oh Okay then" Rico said politely "It was good to see you".
"Yeah Jo it was really nice to see you" Lace said a cheerful grin on her face as she calmly turned back towards Rico and they began making bets on how long it would take her to finish her food. Rico teasing her saying with her appetite probably less than 3 minutes tops.
For the first time with Rico Jo felt like she was intruding. Like she was on the outside of one of his jokes.
Jo walked away finding a barstool facing the nearest the window. She could see Tyler's car pulling up to a parking spot. While he walked towards the diner she waved to let him know she was still there all the while thinking about how comfortable Rico and Lacey were together.
Lacey used words like Rico and I, We, and Us and it wouldn't have stung so badly if Rico hadn't nonchalantly accepted her refusing to join them so easily, as if her presence was an unplanned but minor distraction to their morning.
Watching him He just seemed so relaxed and... self assured. She tried to figure out what had happened, where the adorable, nervous, quirky boy was that she remembered.
Tyler motioned with his head for her to meet him outside the door, as another burst of laughter erupted from their old booth.
Surprised by how quickly her anger had turned into sadness a heartbroken Jo walked away in Tyler's arms her mind filled with a million regrets.
What Jo didn't see as she retreated from the table was the brief glance Rico gave her full of indecision and longing.