It was a sign of their youth, that they had not outgrown tribes, that the bakery/Deli gangs liked to hang out together and go to the annual picnics together and the union BBQ together. The bakery hated the butchers, the butchers were convinced that dairy kept trying to encroach on their territory at one end and that Deli was coming after them on the other, and the were united in quivering loathing to the Natural/Organic vendors and clerks.
Those folks made points of hanging around the loading bays and coughing, until the union rep, cigarette hanging from his lower lip, advanced on them menacingly.
"We're all outside, more than 300 feet from any foot items and 500 feet from customers," he snarled. "Since I'm the union representative who helped craft the smoking agreement, you can rely on me to get it right.
Emma and Mercedes sniffled, but withdrew.
Snowy looked up from her four-square seat on the plate. "Chris, I love you. C'mere."
Grinning, Chris walked over to Snow, who stood up and planted a kiss on him. Chris reciprocated with interest and approval.
"I see tongues," Michelle piped up. She had been waiting for
James, but he perversely decided to skip his break.
"There's no money on that," Jules said gloomily.
"You've got to be ready for extreme possibilities," Eliza said brightly, texting someone on her cell.
"Oh, don't go all X-File."
Snowy had her hands in Chris' hair. She finally pushed away and said, "Whoo! Someone give me a cigarette, 'cause I'mm done!" She laughed and went inside.
Chris pretended to sweepn a cowboy hat from his head and mock-bowed. He made notes on a clipboard, then went back out to his car, parked beyond the dumpsters.
"Kissing booth at the next Labor Day picnic," Jules told Eliza. "Chris, James, David. Sarah, Allyson and you."
"Get Nicky and J from the other store," Eliza agreed. Her hand
snaked out and she caught Vinnie by the shircollar. "Vinnie, who's the best? Jules----" Jules caught him by the chin and sweetly kissed him. She pushed him to Eliza. "Me?" Eliza slipped him the tongue. Vinnie stood there, dazed, his lips wet and red.
"Or James?" Jules asked. "We want to get a kissing booth."
Vinnie lowered his head, and looked at them under his long forelock. "Better show me again," he said, his face straight.
A few minutes later---not many---James walked out. Eliza wheeled and repeated the challenge. James narrowed his eyes,
and suddenly grabbed Vinnie and gave him a furious kiss; then,
he turned to Eliza and Jules and gave them each, they agreed, as hot and wet a kiss that they'd ever gotten from anyone in the Bakery Department.l
"This is so the bakery from hell," Chris said. He was wearing nice slacks and a black sweater for once, but he had his usual cigarette behind one ear. "Are we looking at any union write-ups?"
"Y'look nice," Eliza drawled. "Birthday?"
"Having dinner with your manager," Chris said. Before his back had cleared the door, all of them had their cellphones out, texting.
Snowy stuck her head through the door. "Nope, no chance. There's chaparones. Alex and Ally are going, too."
"To keep us from killing each other, I expect," Chris said.
He favored them all with an evil grin, and walked back into the store.
Michelle found out that James was hanging with Vinnie, and she surprised the bettors by being okay with it.
“Threesomes . . . I didn’t get any money down,” Elize mourned. She was carefully applying her Black Rose lipstick in the women’s locker room.
“We don’t know it’s a threesome.” Jules said. She was lying on the floor with her feet against the wall.
“Michelle said she went out with both of them. Now, tell me? What is that if it isn’t a threesome?”
“I don’t think Vinnie is bi,” Snowy said, emerging from the toilet stall. She began washing her hands with lavish squirts of soft soap. “I think he’s just into guys.”
Elias began counting money out.
“Five says he swings both ways.” She said.
Snowy narrowed her eyes.
“Give me odds.”
* * * * * * * *
Chris sat in his truck, cursing himself. No one was worth this. He had other stores to cover. Yet there he was, on a fucking Friday night outside the Penny-Saver’s, about to go inside and see if he could torment the night manager.
His dinner with the weekend guy, his wife and Big D had been fine, as far as it went. Big D didn’t wear a tie, and he actually had a killer grin when he wanted to flash it. Ally got the grin, and Alex. Not Chris.
Dave thought Chris was the enemy.
Chris just wanted to see the man grin again.
* * * * * *
“Promiscuity is a sad, sad thing.” Snowy told James. She was making a series of icing rosettes. James was chewing sugar-free gum. He had just unwrapped a stick and popped it into his mouth.
“What now, O Cake Lady?” He asked.
“Threesomes with people under twenty. I hope you have warm socks on.”
She nodded at the bowl of metal tips.
“Stick those in the sink, will ya, hon? I mean, whoo. I thought you got enough of that weird shit with Marti.”
James straightened up.
“I had to take a restraining order out on Marti. Be sure and add that when you go back to the smoking area.”
Snowy didn’t look up.
“Everyone knows about it, dude. Not even Chris could get her out of that one.”
“She was kind of obsessed.” James said. He pulled a letter out of his pocket. “Look.”
“Oh, sweet Christ,” Snowy said. “She’s not writing you, is she?”
James shook his head, impatient.
“Look at it, Snow.”
“We are delighted to . . . you sold something? Shit. Does this mean I have to find a new Doughnut Boy?”
“No, why would I want to leave this slice of heaven?”
In the doorway, Manager David groaned.
“You’re quitting? Let me have two spoons.”
“No.” James said, at the same time as Chris’
“You’ve run off another employee?”
Predictably, David focused on Snowy. She held out a square of white paper, to which a chocolate rosetee was affixed. Under the stares of the other three, he licked it off.
“Man,” he said beatifically, “That’s good.”
He looked at James, who was swallowing convulsively, to Chris, who seemed rooted to the linoleum.
“What?” David asked innocently.
Snowy’s eyebrow’s quirked.
“Dave, hon, you have icing on your face.” She held out the corner of a wet towel, and Dave let her wipe the chocolate from his upper lip. She grinned at the other two.
Lord. This is better than a soap opera.
Go. Feed tesla321. Chocolate and sexy men.