Tristan pulled his motorcycle into the parking lot of the 7-11, grateful that the rain had eased up enough for him to ride again. As he crossed into the fluorescent lighting of the store, he wondered how he always managed to be the one on ‘snack duty’ whenever he and James were supposed to get together. He couldn’t help but feel deciding which flavor of Doritos would go best with Godzilla was a waste of his intellect. Still, here he was, once again standing in a brightly lit convenience store heading toward the chip section.
Just as he was reaching for a bag of something that promised to mix sweet and spicy in new and exciting ways, it occurred to him that Serge was more than likely to have left Markus with a well-stashed refrigerator, filled with a wide variety of amazing home-made creations. If James wanted something else, he could go out and buy it himself.
“That’s it. From now on, he’s buying his own damned food,” he muttered, turning on his heel and heading for the exit. His focus was split between the floor directly in front of him and working out what he’d tell James later, causing him to run right into Deanna and nearly sending her crashing to the ground.
“Oh. Er... Sorry, I didn’t see you.”
She did a double-take, cutting short what was most likely going to be a quickly mumbled dismissive.
“What the hell, Tristan? It wasn’t enough to break my heart, now you’re trying to break my leg, too?” Tristan froze, unsure how to respond. Before he had a chance to stumble out a better apology, a smile had blossomed on Deanna’s face. “I’m kidding. I actually hardly recognized you for a second. What brings you here, anyway? I thought you and James were hanging out with Markus tonight.”
“James sent me on a snack run; I was just on my way there now.”
“That’s pretty much why I’m here, too. Only, I’m here to replace the beer he drank.”
“He’s very good at tricking people into providing him with food and beverage at no cost to himself.”
“So I’ve noticed. He had me picking up powdered donuts for him the other day.”
There was an awkward silence as Tristan tried to find a way to excuse himself without being overly rude.
“Funny how this place is always so convenient for one of us, but always ‘too far out of the way’ for him. I wonder if they’ll ever build more 7-11s in this town,” she mused.
“So how’ve you been?” she asked, obviously nowhere near as uncomfortable with the situation as he was. And why would she be? She wasn’t the one who’d gotten herself into a relationship for all the wrong reasons.
“Fine. Doing fine. And you?”
“I’m doing all right. I seem to be picking up quite a few clients now, which is nice.”
“Yeah, especially since I can’t really go back to Vegas. Mom’s doing OK now, but I’d rather not go too far away, you know?”
“Not that John and Luke aren’t around to help her out; they’ve been really great in fact.”
“That’s really good, but listen, I really should be going; Markus and James and all that…”
“Sure, sorry. It was good to see you again. I mean that.”
He hesitated again, wondering why he felt compelled to shake her hand. Just as he was trying to force a smile, he felt a strange pushing sensation deep in his brain.