Chapter 9

Duece sat down at the table, carrying two milkshakes. Mandy shared a smile with him as they made eye contact. As soon as he had a chance to settle in the padded chair of the restaurant booth, her feet were on his lap. He was her “footstool”, that was the ritual. He didn’t mind.
He handed the shake over to Mandy, she smiled even bigger and took a sip. The cold was refreshing on this hot evening. She looked over a Duece and said, “What, no two-straws-one-shake this time?”

“Fuck that, I barely got any last time. You are a milkshake fiend!”

They both laughed, drawing the attention of everyone else there. This didn’t stop the laughter any faster, it only emboldened it. Finally the audience shook its head and resumed their own meals.

Mandy rested her cheek on a closed fist with a worried look on her face. “I wonder what is up with Zwain today. He did not seem himself at all.”

“I know. I hope the fucker’s alright.”

“Do you even try to filter that mouth of yours?” scolded Mandy, her brows furrowing. She even removed her feet from his lap, resting them on her empty shoes on the floor.

“I… You know. It kinda gets too easy sometimes. You know I don’t mean it that way.”

“Sure. But still, you’re setting a precedence that you can’t handle situations with any sort of maturity”

Duece was now caught off guard. He would be the first one to joke about his own immaturity in most situations, but always felt like he could rise up when the moment called for it. Part of his brain searched for a silver lining to this situation, but was unable to find it.

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, just smarten up.”

Duece fought really hard to not make a remark. He desperately wanted to say something about how he already is the smartest ass in the world, so he might not need to smarten up any more. He mentally won that struggle and those words did not find their way to his lips, but the rest of his face must’ve betrayed him.

“Oh, go on. Get it out, you look like you’re about to pop a blood vessel. I’ll give you a pass, you at least tried.”

Through strained vocal cords, still trying to hold back the remark, Duece said, “And succeeded. This is the face of victory.”

“It’s certainly the face of something, ” chuckled Mandy, ” Now drink up, your shake is melting.”

Duece took a long drag of vanilla. He over acted a refreshing sigh to signify the shake’s magnificence. When he was done he said, “I really am sorry. I do hope he’s alright. It’s kind of funny how much you don’t realize he’s the life of the band until something like this happens.”

“The perfect frontman. On his good days he electrifies the world around him.”

“I hope this isn’t from any sort of pressure about the concert in a few days.”

“Zwain, pressure over the concert?”

“Hah, you’re right. Even if the rest us died in a car crash, Zwain would still do the show, hell the whole tour, just to honour us.”

“And you know he would kill it. That song of his is just so good.”

“Fucking rights it is!” said Duece before clamping a hand over his own mouth. “Oops, lay off the swearing?”

“Nah, that’s an appropriate time to use it. Fucking rights indeed”

They shared another laugh, this time the rest of the people in the room paid them no heed. Duece felt the return of Mandy’s socked feet to his lap. He reached down and began giving her a footrub. Mandy felt like butter melting into mashed potatoes. She looked into his eyes. He smiled at her and she returned it.

“So, how about we finish up with these shakes and get on back to see how they’re doing?” asked Duece.

“Sounds like a plan,” was Mandy’s response.

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