Created by Diane Brown, Buena Beach is an online soap opera, giving up all the juicy details of some of the hottest guys and gals of Buena Beach, a small town in Southern California. Check back everyday for a new episode here on HelloBeautiful.com.
I still haven’t confronted Jen about the whole cupcake thing. One, I don’t want to betray Mario’s trust. And secondly, I fear that telling her I know all about her marijuana-infused baking techniques will change the dynamic between us; take our relationship to a place where she sees me as her boss rather than her lover; as an overbearing, staid adult and not her friend and companion. I’ve also wanted to ask Alice if she knew what was going on in our kitchen, but worried about her response either way. If Alice weren’t aware of her actions – that she’d, in essence, turned the two of us into drug dealers – she’d surely call the authorities. I know she’d never forgive Jen for risking ruin of our business. But there was that small chance that Alice knew exactly what was going on, which, if true, I’d be 100% pissed that Alice had risked ruining our business. So really, nothing made sense for me right now. Especially not Jen.
We’d been spending less and less time together. I was suspicious lately, figuring that Micah was trying to infiltrate my territory. But with the evidence I was able to gather on the couple of occasions I’d spied on them, I couldn’t build a case.
But even when we’re together in the mornings, and on the few afternoons we’re able to steal away, she’s distant. This morning specifically, she hasn’t even let me kiss her, making an escape each time I’ve come close. “What’s wrong with you today?” I finally ask.
“Nothing,” she says without looking at me. She turns on the mixer, an action meant, I’m sure, to quell any chance at a conversation between us.
Alright. This…this has gone far enough. We’re gonna have this out right now, even if it means the cupcakes are late to the display case and I miss this morning’s staff meeting. I walk over to the mixer and turn it off. “Hey!”
She looks up from the large silver bowl into which she’s just cracked half a dozen or so eggs. “What’re you doing?”
“What are you doing?”
She doesn’t say anything. She’s trying to figure me out. She’s trying to come up with some clever sort of quip to throw me off and make me smile.
Sighing, I make my way over to her, attempting once again to embrace her. And once again, my effort fails. “Dammit, Jen. What’s going on with you?”
She turns around and pushes me. Hard, her French manicured nails daintily scratching me. “Chris, you’re trippin’.”
“I don’t think I am,” I say, closing in on her, her back now facing me. I feel her tense up as I hold on to her shoulders. Part of me wants to shake her, demanding that she tell me what’s changed about us. But instead, I close my eyes, laying my cheek on her head, smelling her hair. “Jen…”
She takes a deep breath. Here we go. She’s gonna say something. Perhaps she’ll apologize, telling me she’s been stressed at home. Or she’ll fess up about the cupcakes, admitting she’s been anxious around me because of the guilt. “Chris?”
“What’s up, babe? It’s okay. It’s okay. What is it?”
Another deep breath, and she speaks. “I don’t think this is working.”
I feel my grip tightening around her thin arms, knowing I could do some damage if I really tried. But I’m not that guy. It would be easy to be that guy, to throw her across the steel table, and then kick her in that lying mouth of hers. But I can’t do it. I’m surely going to react poorly, but I won’t physically harm her.
I keep telling myself this as I let her go and push the table instead, knocking over and spilling her ingredients. There are tears pooling in her eyes, which just angers me more. Why did I ever get involved with her? What the heck was I thinking?
“Chris, I – ”
She does, more tears rolling down her face. Looking at her, I finally see her for what she truly is. A teenager. A damn child. Walking back over to the table, I push it again for good measure and throw her purse at her.
“Take you stuff and go.”
She’s whimpering and sniffling away, just staring at me in shock and disbelief.
“Now. And make sure you take your damn drugs with you.”
I shake my head, walking over to the back counter, grabbing her large canvas bag. And, just as Mario described, I find a plastic zipper-bag filled with what looks to be some sort of spice. “Your marijuana. What, do you just skim a little off the top of all the 20-sacks you sell? Or do you take all the remnants and stems and chop them up in a food processor? Just curious.”
The tears and sniffling abruptly stop, and she marches over to grab the plastic bag from me, along with the canvas bag and a few of the nearby containers. Once she gathers all of her things and heads to the door, she turns to face me, desperation in her eyes. “Chris, please promise me you won’t tell my dad.”
I ain’t promising a damn thing.
Looks like she reads my expression. Frowning, she turns away and leaves.
Once I clean up everything and call Julio, asking him to take Jen’s shift this morning, I speed over to the office, hoping to catch Danny before he takes off for some meeting or another. “Chris,” he says as I walk into his office. “We missed you at the staff meeting this morning. It’s not like you not to call in – is everything alright?”
Let’s just cut to the chase. “I’m quitting.”
“Sorry for not giving you two-weeks notice…”
He stands and comes from behind his desk. “What, you mean now?”
“I gotta get out of here, Danny. I appreciate all you did for me.”
“Chris…now, hold on a minute, son. This seems a little rash. You’ve got some vacation time. Why don’t you just take a week off and think about this a bit.”
I shake my head, telling him there’s nothing to think about. I’m surprised when he follows me out to my cubicle, still insisting that I think things over as I pack up my personal belongings. Not much – a few photos and the award I received my first year with the City. His efforts are pointless. Ties have been cut between his daughter and me, and I need to do the same with him. I don’t need any reminders of my failed relationship with a soon-to-be high school senior, especially when that reminder is her father.
Danny finally gives up, wishing me good luck and telling me he’ll be sure to stop by the café when he can. I want to tell him not to do me any favors, but instead ask him to tell the rest of the crew farewell. With a pat on my shoulder, he sends me off, and I exit the doors of Buena Beach’s Recreation Division for the last time.
Next, off to Buena Beach police headquarters.
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